Jacqueline Byrne is the visionary behind FlexSchool – a network of learning communities specifically designed to engage and support the creative, quirky, asynchronous minds of gifted and twice-exceptional (2e) students.
An acknowledged expert in education, Jacqui is a sought-after speaker, presenting to school district guidance counselors, state gifted boards, education associations and professional conferences. Jacqui is honored to be a member of the Bridges Graduate School Advisory Council, and is also on the Advisory Board for the documentary film The G Word.
Prior to founding FlexSchool, Jacqui co-founded the widely respected Ivy Ed college preparation and counseling firm. She has a B.A. from Yale University, and is a parent of twice-exceptional kids.
During her nearly thirty years in education, Donna Ruggiero has run the gamut of teaching and administrative work. Beginning as a novice special education teacher in Somerville, MA public schools, she first transitioned to independent schools at The Pennington School, NJ, as philosophy teacher and Assistant Dean of Students. Donna spent ten years as service coordinator and religion department chair at Stuart Country Day School, a K-12 girls’ school in Princeton, NJ, which took her to a brief stint as Assistant Program Director at the non-profit Princeton Center for Leadership Training while she worked on her second master’s degree. Thereafter she spent a decade honing her administrative skills as Dean of Students at Miss Hall’s School, MA, as Assistant Head of School at Purnell School, NJ, and as Associate Head of School at the Albany Academies, NY.
Donna holds a BA in Teaching from Wheelock College, an MTS in Theology from Harvard Divinity School, and an MA in Counseling from Rider University.
Originating from a small town in eastern Pennsylvania that is noted for its exceptional heart health because of the closeness of its community, Donna has taken this intrinsic “Roseto effect” to every institution in which she has worked. She knows that laying a safe and accepting community foundation is the key to a school’s success, and has finely tuned her skills in creating positive and inclusive schools that fortify student intellect, curiosity, and creativity.
Donna “Dee” Andeskie joins the Berkeley Heights campus in the fall of 2021 as the Assistant Head of School and art teacher. Her background includes a B.F.A from Syracuse University and an M.F.A from the Maryland Institute of Fine Art. For fourteen years, Dee was Studio Art Department Chair and Dean of Students at The Purnell School. Her previous experience includes work as an adjunct professor of art and art history at Middlesex County College, art teacher at Middlesex County Teen Arts High and Middleschool and DuCret School of Art. She is an Orton-Gillingham practitioner, has low and high ropes certification and has participated in a rich array of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) training and education. Dee is a competitive equestrian and outdoor enthusiast who promotes and models physical, emotional and intellectual balance. In her Teaching Philosophy, Dee notes, “Not every student fits a standard mold and not every path is a straight line. The joy of discovering what lies around the bend provides incentive for a life-long love for learning and creative exploration.”
Triona Echevarria is an accomplished international educator and leader who operates with enthusiasm for a mission and commitment to creating meaningful learning experiences for all students and teachers. For the past decade, Triona worked at EF Academy, an independent international boarding school, where she cultivated a true passion for transformative and experiential approaches to teaching and learning. She served as Head of the English Department alongside teaching IB English Language and Literature, Film and Literature, and English Language Acquisition to an incredibly diverse group of high school students.
In her Teaching Philosophy, Triona states: "In our ever-changing world, I have learned that there is no idealized setting for learning anymore; education must become a complex system that adapts to best serve every child. Constant communication, compassion, and flexibility are integral to student engagement and learning. Students don’t care what you know until they know that you care. Building trusting, meaningful relationships, therefore, is at the core of everything I do."
Kristen joins the Bronxville campus as the Assistant Head of School in the fall of 2022. Along with over 20 years of experience and training in the field of Special Education, Kristen holds an M.A. from the College of New Rochelle. Having completed extensive coursework in School Building and School District Leadership, Kristen is passionate about continuing the mission of the FlexSchool and creating safe and effective learning spaces for students.
For the last seven years, Kristen has served as Principal at the John Cardinal O’Connor School in Irvington, a school for students who learn differently. She also has many years of experience as a teacher and administrator for TheraCare in New Rochelle and teaching at Andrus in Yonkers.
As a leader in the field, Kristen’s main mission is to continue to make students feel heard, accomplished, and accepted. The well-being of the students is kept at the center of all of her decision-making. Kristen believes that true learning can only occur when instruction is experiential and meaningful. She is excited to join the team at FlexSchool which provides a safe, inclusive, and supportive environment for students.
Lynne Henwood has dedicated her career to advocating for gifted and twice-exceptional learners. She served as President of the New Jersey Association for Gifted Children (NJAGC) from 2018-2022 and remains an active part of the Board as Immediate Past President. She also serves on the Strengthening Gifted and Talented Education Advisory Committee (SGTEAC) for the New Jersey Department of Education. Previously, she was a gifted teacher and program coordinator for Washington Township Schools in Morris County, NJ. She has presented at several conferences (NAGC, SENG, NJAGC, ASPEN, Rutgers Gifted Education Conference) and has been a panelist on the MindMatters Roundtable and the G Word Panel Discussion.
Lynne earned a B. A. in Psychology from Dickinson College, a Gifted Education Certificate from Rutgers University, and an M. A. in Educational Psychology from the University of Connecticut Neag School of Education (Concentration: Giftedness, Creativity, and Talent Development). In 2018, Lynne was named New Jersey's Gifted Teacher of the Year and is the 2019 Mensa Foundation's Gifted Education Fellowship Award winner. Most recently, Lynne was awarded the NAGC 2020 Master’s & Specialist Award, and her NJAGC Advocacy Team won the NAGC 2020 David W. Belin Advocacy Award.
As a parent of four uniquely gifted children, Lynne understands that all children need to feel valued, accepted, and respected.
Kristin joined FlexSchool in 2019 and is now our Admissions Director. Prior to joining FlexSchool, Kristin spent 25 years as a media professional, including management roles in editorial, design and production departments. Kristin chose to make the shift to full-time educator after spending five years coaching middle and high school students in STEM competitions, channeling her journalism experience into teaching research, writing and presentation skills, as well as science concepts, introductory robotics and more. Driven by the belief that every child deserves the opportunity to shine, Kristin worked with her students to start a free STEM enrichment program at a nonprofit after-school program for children in underserved communities – a project that won the Youth Service America Grant in 2017. In addition to working with students of diverse backgrounds, abilities, talents and challenges in her years as a STEM coach, Kristin is also a parent of gifted and 2e kids.
Susan comes to FlexSchool from private IT consulting where her 30 year career included systems analysis, programming, project management and running customer service at a software start-up, heading marketing for a health care consultancy and finally going out on her own. The common thread in her career has been bridging the gap between creative types and deadlines. She brings that skill set to FlexSchool as Director of Technology. Susan has a degree in French Language from Oberlin College and is the parent of a 2e daughter.