Our Board of Directors


Amy Mangano- President

I joined Acorn School Board of Directors in January 2020. 

My family has been part of Acorn School since 2018 when our oldest started as a Chipmunk (3-year-old class). As a parent with a professional background in child development, I fully supported Acorn School’s philosophy of integrating play, nature and learning through a multisensory experience. I joined the board to support current and future generations of children at Acorn School. I feel honored to have the opportunity to give back to a wonderful school and community.
Gayle Vardakis - Vice President

Our family found Acorn School when we toured specifically looking at the Mighty Oak kindergarten program for our oldest son. During this October tour we saw and felt how special this little school in the woods is, and signed him up for preschool in the Tadpole class the next day. He then went on to continue his growth as a Mighty Oak. His younger brother followed as a Chipmunk, Chickadee, and just finished his Mighty Oak year.

I am an Occupational Therapist and have a passion for children learning, growing, and exploring in nature. 

My children often say that their tap root is Acorn School and its teachers, and i’m really happy to have this opportunity to give back to such a special place and community.


Debra Grott - Treasurer

My name is Debra Grott and I have been on the Acorn Board of Directors since September 2014 serving as Treasurer. Two of my three children who are now 31 and 26, were lucky enough to be Chipmunks and the Woolly Bears at Acorn School. Some of their closest friends were from their years at Acorn School. I am honored to be a part of the same strong traditions, educational concepts and loving environment which our  family experienced over 25 years ago. I currently work as a CPA in the Seacoast area, as well as, a Field Hockey coach at Exeter High School. I live in Hampton with my family and our dog, LuLu.

Annmarie Stucker - Secretary
Hello! My name is Annmarie Stucker and I joined the Acorn board in spring 2021. I live in Hampton Falls with my husband and four children, Will (8), Luke (7), Max (4) and Sam (2).
Will and Luke completed two years at Acorn and in the fall, Max will begin as a woolly bear! His brothers tell him all the time how much fun they had at Acorn and he cannot wait to experience it for himself!
I have been apart of the Acorn community for a lot of years and I am so honored that I am in a position where I can volunteer my time and give back to Acorn after all the wonderful experiences they have given my kids!
Maggie Basenberg

My name is Maggie Basenberg, and I am just completing my first year on the Acorn board. I live in Newfields with my husband and our three children, Connor, Molly, and Liam. Connor did three wonderful years at Acorn, and Molly is in her second year now. Liam is a future chipmunk. When I am not with my family, I spend a lot of my time involved with Irish Step dancing, judging competitions all over the country. What I love about Acorn is the community that surrounds this little school. I meet people everywhere who went to Acorn or who love it for one reason or another. My family has made wonderful friendships here. I joined the board to get involved, and it has been a fun wild year so far! I can’t wait to see what the next few bring for our wonderful little school. 

Rachel Bendroth

Rachel Bendroth is an Acorn School alumni, Acorn School enthusiast, and a future Acorn School parent. She just moved back to the Seacoast with her 3 year old son, Jack. She is passionate about trauma informed parenting, sensory development, and foster care. She and her son enjoy spending time with her family, playing outside (#1000hours), and traveling (pre-Pandemic). Rachel is a Nurse Practitioner at OHSU in Portland, Oregon, where she works remotely. 

Christina Connolly

I joined the Acorn School Community in the fall of 2015. Two of my children are Acorn alum and my five year old is looking forward to being a Mighty Oak. It has been such a joy to watch my children spend their precious first school years at a place that cherishes them almost as much as I do. We currently live in Newmarket and enjoy spending as much time as we can in my home state of Southern California (so we’re crazy for Disneyland).  I am honored to be a board member for Acorn School and to help carry on its wonderful traditions.

Kari Daigle
My name Is Kari Daigle, I had the honor of joining the Acorn Board in October of 2021. My daughter, Vivienne, is a Chipmunk and absolutely LOVES it. I have been a part of the healthcare field since I was very young, I’m a Registered Nurse at Portsmouth Regional Hospital where I worked as a bedside nurse and followed my passion as an educator where I co-developed the Licensed Nursing Assistant Program and am the co-instructor & educator. I love being part of the Acorn Community and having the opportunity to work behind the scenes of the magical workings of Acorn. I knew that I wanted to be part of Acorn’s growth and amazing impact on the community and all children who attend!
Emily Donatelli

Hi my name is Emily Donatelli. I was born and raised in Massachusetts and have happily lived on the Seacoast coming up on 5 years. Retired early childhood educator and speech therapist of 8 years – turned mama and network marker. I joined the board to have a hand in our child’s education and be a part of such a wonderful community. Becoming a Chipmunk was a big deal for our daughter as all the Donatelli cousins are Acorn graduates. My oldest is off to kindergarten in our town and the youngest is bursting to become a Chipmunk in the fall. 

Rachelle Merrill

My name is Rachelle Merrill, I have been on the Acorn board for the past year. I have three kids, Jaxson age 6, Mckenzie age 5 and Brielle age 3. Jaxson was at acorn for 2 memorable years, and Mckenzie is finishing up her very fun outdoor experience as a wholly bear. Brielle is my future chipmunk next year and she is beyond thrilled to be a part of Acorn. I work per-diem at Boston Children’s hospital as a registered pediatric nurse, I have been there for 15 years. I was on many hospital wide committees when working full time, but now that my main focus is on my children, I wanted to become more involved in their school and what they care about most! I love being part of the acorn community, we have made many great family bonds over the past years. It amazes me how Acorn as a community team has provided the best opportunity for these kids to learn and grow during this challenging time!

Sarah Renon

I joined this wonderful board in spring of 2021 during my daughter’s first year as a Chipmunk. We fell in love with this school as soon as we visited and I am so happy to give back to this community in some way. I live on the Seacoast with my husband and three children – one Acorn graduate and two future Chipmunks! During my free time, I enjoy spending time outdoors with our hound shepherd mix, cooking and playing the violin. I look forward to seeing the Acorn students thrive over the next few years!

Jenni Parlin
Hello! I joined the Acorn Board in the Fall of 2021. I have a current Woolly Bear and will have a Chipmunk starting Fall of 2022. Thanks to the wonderful staff, my Woolly Bear is excited to go to school each and every day. She has made so many friendships and thrives in the outdoor environment. Over the next few years I look forward to giving back to this wonderful community.