Our Staff

Marilyn Mansfield – Principal

Marilyn was raised in Ottawa and completed all of her studies there. She attended Carleton University/St. Patrick’s College (B.A. Sociology 1971) and then the University of Ottawa (B.A.Hon. Psychology), 1972 and M.Ed. 1977). From 1972-1979 she was employed at the University of Ottawa, first in the School of Human Kinetics and Leisure Studies as Academic Assistant to the Dean and then at the Child Study Centre. Marilyn met Dr. Sidlauskas (“Doc”) at the University when she was a student and at the time of Doc’s retirement from the Child Study Centre in 1979, she was the Out-Client Coordinator of the Centre. She moved to Aurora with “Doc” in 1979 and worked as her Executive Assistant at the Canadian Association for Learning Through Listening until 1981 when Venta Preparatory School was opened. From 1981-1993 Marilyn was the Vice-Principal of Venta. She was appointed Principal by the Board of Directors when Dr. Sidlauskas retired from that position in 1993. She has taught various courses through the years at Venta including English, History, French, Guidance and World Religions. Marilyn resides on the Venta school grounds and for the years 2005-06 and 2006-07 she also acted as Housemother in the school’s residence.

You can reach Marilyn by phoning 613-839-2175 and entering extension 0 when prompted or by email at mmansfield@ventaprep.com.

Sean Hopper – Dean of Students & Director of Operations

Sean has worked at Venta Preparatory School for over 30 years. He has his Bachelor of Science degree in Physical Education and Recreation Management with a minor in Psychology from Acadia University. He is currently the Director of Operations and Dean of Students and has recently updated his skills to include Sound Therapy Tomatis Consultant for the school. Sean along with his wife also own 5 Star Camps for the last 10 years.

Sean has extensive experience working with children and has also run recreational programs for physically disabled children in St. John’s Newfoundland, where he met his wife Anita working for the City of St. John’s, Parks and Recreation department.

Sean’s school operation duties include looking after the facility, the grounds and the food services. Although the operations area is a huge part of Sean’s position, his favourite part of his job is working with the children in his Dean of Students role. Sean enjoys counselling the children that face academic and personal struggles and help them to find the tools to overcome and persevere. Over the years he has developed many strong relationships and long lasting friendships with children that have now matured into wonderful young adults. Throughout Sean’s employment at Venta Preparatory School he has been involved in developing the school’s summer camp programs. He was also actively involved throughout his career coaching soccer and baseball for many years in the local community. Sean is First Aid/CPR, AED, Epipen Training Certified.

Sean has his level 1 and 2 coaching certification. He also has an extensive background in athletics including football, rugby, baseball, soccer, skiing and is a snowshoeing facilitator. He has his level 1 Ropes Course certification along with site specific certification on 5 Star’s own Ropes course and climbing wall.

Sean resides in Carp with his wife Anita, also an employee of Venta, along with his two children Justin and Angela, previous graduates from the Venta program, who are both in the process of finishing their respective university degrees.

You can reach Sean by leaving a voicemail at 613-839-2175 and entering extension 225 when prompted or by email at shopper@ventaprep.com.

Shaun Quinn – Director of Studies

Shaun Quinn started teaching at Venta in 1990. Over the years he has taught multi-subjects in Grades 7 and 8 as well as senior courses in Geography and Civics. However, Shaun was best known for being the Grade 8 teacher for more than 10 years, until he took the position of Director of Studies. Born and raised in Ottawa, Shaun attended Gloucester High School, followed by an undergraduate degree in Geography at the University of Ottawa. He then completed his Masters in Education (Organizational Studies) at the same university. In addition to supervising the academic programme and making sure the curriculum is delivered according to the Ontario Ministry of Education standards, Shaun organizes the annual ski trip and he is the Andrew House staff representative. Growing up Shaun was an avid athlete – particularly in hockey and lacrosse. He worked as a hockey instructor at Bob Fawcett’s Power Hockey School for 7 years . In 1985 he was the Director of a Lacrosse Camp in Huntsville, Ontario. He played Junior hockey in Navan, Junior lacrosse in Gloucester and Senior lacrosse in Huntsville. Shaun’s hobbies include golf, fishing, and spending time with family and friends at the cottage.

You can reach Shaun by leaving a voicemail at 613-839-2175 and entering extension 224 when prompted or by email at squinn@ventaprep.com.

Elizabeth Barnes – Director of Admissions

Elizabeth is your first point of contact when looking for information about Venta. She was born in Manitoba and raised in Quebec. Elizabeth attended Carleton University and University of Ottawa, majoring in English, and Second Language Teaching (DLS). Elizabeth lives in Carp, with her husband Chris, and together they are proud parents of nine children and two grandchildren. Elizabeth uses her commitment to children, youth and the community to inspire educators and community leaders to create new opportunities, innovative educational practices and inclusive programming for all members of society. In her spare time, Elizabeth enjoys spending time with her family, reading, cooking and running.

You can reach Elizabeth by leaving a voicemail at 613-839-2175 and entering extension 240 when prompted or by email at ebarnes@ventaprep.com.

Linda Zabel – Secretary

Linda was born and raised in Kingston, Ontario. Linda graduated from the University of Western Ontario with an Honours Business Administration (HBA) degree and a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in Psychology. After working in the business world, Linda took time off work to raise her three children. Now with two of her children off to University, Linda has decided to re-enter the work world. She joined the Venta family as the School Secretary. Linda lives in Kanata with her husband Joe and is an avid Ottawa Senators fan and loves to travel.

You can reach Linda by phoning 613-839-2175 and entering extension 0 when prompted or by email at lzabel@ventaprep.com.

Jen Thorvaldsen – Junior 1 Teacher

Jen, known to her students as Miss T., has been teaching at Venta since 2005. She completed her teacher training at the University of Newcastle in NSW, Australia. Upon graduating, she spent some time teaching in Ottawa before taking a one year position teaching primary school in England. Since joining Venta, Jen has furthered her teaching education by completing a specialization in Kindergarten instruction, and is currently working towards a specialization accreditation in teaching English as a second language. She is also a Level 1 Certified Tomatis consultant. Jen believes that before becoming successful learners, students must feel safe, comfortable, and accepted in their environment. She works hard to ensure that each of her young students builds self-confidence and self-worth as members of our academic community.

You can reach Jen by email at jthorvaldsen@ventaprep.com.

Chrysane Ngo – Junior 2 Teacher

Chrysane teaches Junior 1 at Venta. She has always enjoyed interacting with children of all ages, and decided to formally pursue a teaching career during her senior year of high school. Chrysane is a graduate of the University of Ottawa, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts Honours degree in English and Psychology. The following year, she completed the Bachelor of Education program at Queen’s University. In order to fulfill the requirements of the program, she completed varied practicum placements, including a three week placement at an IB International School in Vietnam. Chrysane has extensive experience working with children in a wide range of settings. She has worked as a tutor for students in many different grades and has helped them excel in different subjects. She has also worked as a camp counsellor for many years. Chrysane enjoys teaching at Venta because the small class sizes allow her to get to know each of her students individually, as as a result, she can tailor her teaching practice to best suit their learning style.

You can reach Chrysane by email at cngo@ventaprep.com.

Natasha Ljutic – Junior 3 Teacher

Natasha Ljutic is new to Venta this year and is thrilled to be joining the Venta team.

Natasha (Miss L.) completed an Honours BA with specialization in Leisure Studies at the University of Ottawa in December 2011. She then moved to Korea for six months, on a government scholarship, to teach English to children at a rural school both in a classroom setting and in after school programs. Upon her return, she completed a Bachelor of Education (primary and junior division) at Queen’s University. Following this, she completed the AQ Special Education Part 1 at Ottawa University. She has many years of experience working with children and youth with special needs in camps, as a tutor and in other settings, including a practicum placement while at Queen’s. She plans to complete Special Education Part 2 in the near future. With more teacher graduates than jobs in Ontario, Natasha moved England where, for the past 3 years, she held a full time permanent position at an elementary school in Cambridgeshire, teaching Year 4 (Grade 3 equivalent). She enjoyed the challenge of working in a different education system and gained knowledge and experience through both in the classroom and through a variety of professional development courses. She looks forward to adapting approaches learned in the UK to her work at VENTA. Natasha is a strong advocate for smaller class sizes where it is possible to get to know each student and to tailor lessons to accommodate individual learning styles and social skills. Outside of the classroom, Natasha enjoys just about any outdoor activity and especially running and rock-climbing.

You can reach Natasha by email at nljutic@ventaprep.com.

Emily Mosher – Grade 5/6 Teacher

Emily started teaching the Junior 3 class at Venta in 2005. She did her Honours BA in psychology at McMaster University and attended teacher’s college at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton. She has Additional Qualifications in Reading (Part 1) and Special Education (Part 1). Emily enjoys getting to know each student in her class. She concentrates on their areas of strength, areas for improvement as well as their likes and dislikes. Emily enjoys the Venta community, including the teachers, staff, parents and students. All of the extra curricular events, intramurals, field trips, drama performances, class garden all provide a great opportunity to develop a supportive and caring relationship with the students in the school. Her free time is mostly spent with her family, she loves reading and spending time outside.

You can reach Emily by email at emosher@ventaprep.com.

Spencer Mulvaney – Grade 7 Teacher

Spencer teaches grade 6,7 and 8 English, Geography and History at Venta. Spencer received his honours history and minor in English at Carleton University in 2015. He received his bachelors of education at Queen’s University in 2016 with a focus in At Risk Youth. Spencer has worked as a child and youth worker, lifeguard and camp counselor and has always had an affinity to working with children. He has interests in all kinds of sports, board games and of course reading and history of all sorts. Spencer is looking forward to bringing the best out of every student he teaches.

You can reach Spencer by email at smulvaney@ventaprep.com.

Dana Ciresianu – Grade 8 Teacher

Dana teaches Grade 7 & 8 Math and Science at Venta. This is Dana’s second year teaching, but she has been involved in the Venta community since 2010. Dana is a graduate of the University of Ottawa, where she earned a Bachelor of Science with Honours in Biology. The next year, she completed the Bachelor of Education program at the University of Western Ontario. Dana is certified to teach both Junior and Intermediate grades. She has been working with children in a variety of settings for the last eight years, both as a tutor and as a camp counselor. Other than teaching, Dana enjoys reading, playing recreational sports, traveling and spending time with her family and friends.

You can reach Dana by email at dciresianu@ventaprep.com.

AJ Seal – Grade 9/10 Math and Science Teacher

AJ teaches intermediate math and science at Venta, and is the coordinator of technology for the school. AJ earned his Bachelors of Science in Biochemistry at Carleton University in 2011. He went on to complete his Masters of Science in Biology at Carleton University in 2013. While completing his Masters he was a teaching assistant for a 3rd and 4th year Biology lab as well as a researcher in an animal cell culture lab. Finally AJ completed his Bachelors of Education at Queen’s University in 2016. AJ has experience teaching grade 8 through grade 12 students in both academic and applied settings.

You can reach AJ by email at aseal@ventaprep.com.

Amanda McKenzie – Grade 9/10 English & Social Studies Teacher

Amanda has been working at Venta since 2009. She was the evening study coordinator, activity time supervisor, as well as a tutor and supply teacher for her colleagues. Since 2010 she has been the homeroom teacher for Grades 7-9. Amanda loves teaching the Intermediate students as she enjoys their individual personalities and humour, and also enjoys helping them through various challenges. She is a native of Carp, and currently lives in Kanata with her husband and two little boys, one of whom now attends Venta. She attended the University of Ottawa to earn her Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in General Arts and a specialization in English. After graduating in 2008, she studied at Nipissing University to obtain her Bachelor of Education (Junior/Intermediate). Other than teaching, Amanda enjoys curling, reading, and spending time with her family and friends.

You can reach Amanda by email at amckenzie@ventaprep.com.

Sarah Keogan – Music Teacher

Sarah has been teaching music to Venta students since 2007. She was born and raised in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia where she was introduced to music and piano through her church and grandparents. She attended Acadia University where she majored in music education and minored in history. After graduating in 2005, she moved to Kingston, Ontario where she attended Queen’s University to obtain her Bachelor of Education. Sarah began her career in the 2006-2007 school year at Grenville Christian College in Brockville, Ontario, teaching music to students from Grades 7-12. She was also involved in extracurricular activities being a co-leader of Alpha House (the equivalent to Venta’s house system.) She moved to Ottawa in the summer of 2007 and began teaching at Venta. Sarah enjoys teaching the Venta students in class, and she also teaches some of our students private piano lessons. In her spare time, Sarah enjoys playing piano, reading, spending time with her friends, camping and traveling.

You can reach Sarah by email at skeogan@ventaprep.com.

Gillian Mattock – Junior Art Teacher

Gillian's qualifications and experience are in residential social work and art therapy in the United Kingdom, working with spirited and challenging children and teens, as well as adults with special needs. Gillian has used her love of art throughout her career to reach out to, and enrich the lives of the people she has worked with. Her skills include the ability to help people feel at ease quite quickly, and she likes to encourage those with little confidence to try and have a go, no matter what everybody is doing. She enjoys the company of youngsters and can engage them easily with exciting and interesting stories from around the world.

Gillian has enjoyed working as the Junior School art teacher at Venta Preparatory School for the past 15 years - “It is a superb team to be a part of”. She lives near Kinburn in the middle of nowhere, with her husband and pets, and her son and daughter come back to spend weekends regularly. She loves being outdoors, summer or winter, it doesn’t matter. What does matter is spending good times with family and friends doing things together. She always looks forward to starting another school year, and to seeing all of the returning students, as well as meeting new arrivals. It is such a joy to see their confidence and skills develop and their imaginations flow as they progress through the year. Please feel free to visit the art room when you visit your child's classroom. “See you there.”

You can reach Gillian by email at gmattock@ventaprep.com.

Kaija Savinainen-Mountain – Senior Art Teacher

Kaija has always been a creative person. Nature is a powerful touch stone and a deep well of inspiration for her art.

Kaija’s deep Nordic roots have given her the vision and voice unique to what and who she is. As a
professional artist, this experience and vision of practicing art has also informed her approach to teaching. As Senior Art Teacher at Venta Preparatory School, Kaija’s philosophy brings a positive, inclusive learning process to students who then are able to recognize their full innate, creative abilities. Kaija has also taught art to many “Alternate School” students – youth at risk, many who have been hurt emotionally, recovering from personal circumstances, and whose creative side has never been explored, or allowed to be expressed. The results are amazing, and moving. All of us have a vision, a valid creative voice.

Kaija brings her Finnish emigration experience to Canada into her work. Learning a new language and culture in her adolescent years in Thunder Bay and Lake Superior country gives her an understanding for all newcomers to this country. Kaija received Bachelors of Fine Art degree from the University of Lethbridge and was awarded President's Gold Medal for the Faculty of Fine Arts. From University of Ottawa, she received her Bachelors of Education, Summa cum Laude.

Other passions that Kaija brings to Venta is her love of cross country running, cross country skiing, paddling, and a life-long connection with equine friends.

Kaija truly enjoys seeing her students discover their creative side and gain confidence and personal growth as they learn to express themselves artistically.

You can reach Kaija by email at kaijasm@ventaprep.com.

Misha Costescu – Physical Education Teacher

Misha Costescu has had the honour of teaching at Venta since 2001, where he started as an Educational Assistant and primary Physical Education teacher.

He was born and raised in Carp and completed all of his schooling in the Ottawa area. He is a proud graduate of Bell High School's gifted program, as well as the University of Ottawa's Human Kinetics and Teacher's College programmes.

For 12 years at Venta, Misha was a middle school classroom teacher, but these days he is following his true love and teaches all Venta students Physical Education. As Misha likes to say, “It's the best feeling in the world to teach all of Venta's children the joys of being active and helping foster a life long love affair with health activity. I can truly say, I have the best job in the world!”

When not in the classroom, Misha organizes Venta's school intramural program, runs their lunch time sports clubs, coaches all of the Venta Viper school teams and runs the Duke of Edinburgh program for the senior students.

Outside of school, his wife and he have raised four wonderful children (three of whom are current Venta students) and spend a lot of their time involved in the sports and activities within the community.

You can reach Misha by email at mcostescu@ventaprep.com.

Cameron Ford – Child and Youth Worker

Cameron Ford is a graduate of the Child and Youth work program at Algonquin College. Cameron is well versed in areas that pertain to working alongside children, youth, and families. He is passionate when working with children and adolescents.

As a part of Cameron's post-secondary education, he has co-facilitated for the Purple Ribbon Campaign at Algonquin College to bring awareness to child abuse and neglect.

Cameron strives to elicite change for the youth, provide an honest, and safe place to fall, and help all youth realize that they are not alone.

You can reach Cameron by email at cford@ventaprep.com.

Sarah Scissons – Educational Assistant

Sarah Scissons has been working as an Educational Assistant at Venta since September 2015. In the 2016/2017 school year Sarah is working with the J3 and J5B classes. She attended the Child and Youth Worker program at Algonquin College, where she graduated with honours and was awarded the Youth Service Bureau Award for her dedication to youth in her care. Sarah has worked in a variety of educational settings, including Autism units, physical support units, and behaviour intervention programs. She has worked to support students ranging from Grade 1 to Grade 12. Sarah continues to further her education through online learning, including Sign Language 1 and 2 and ADHD in the Classroom. Sarah brings to Venta a positive energy, cheering on her students in the classroom, on the playground and during extra-curricular activities.

You can reach Sarah by email at sscissons@ventaprep.com.

Anita Hopper – Language Lab Coordinator

Anita has worked in finance her entire adult life, first with the City of St. John’s for several years then moved to Ottawa and worked with Lloyds Bank and HKBC Bank of Canada. After raising her family Anita decided to get back into the work force and has been the office manager in the Accounting department at Venta for 15 years.

10 years ago Anita and her husband Sean decided to start 5 Star Camps, a summer Outdoor Adventure day camp that has grown tremendously over the years to become a very successful business venture. While spending the summers inspired by working with children, Anita decided to change her career direction to work in a therapeutic setting. She now runs the Tomatis Listening Laboratory in the school where we offer an Auditory Sound therapy listening program for wellness to the students. This program helps the children find ways to cope with the stresses and pressures of everyday academic life, along with helping to give them the tools and listening skills to tap into their own abilities and therefore reach success in every aspect of their lives.

Anita is First Aid/CPR, AED, Epipen Training Certified along with her Tomatis Level 3, Consultant Certification.

You can reach Anita by leaving a voicemail at 613-839-2175 and entering extension 311 when prompted or by email at ahopper@ventaprep.com.

Zachary MacNeill – Custodian

You can reach Zachary by email at zmacneill@ventaprep.com.

2013 Old Carp Road Ottawa, Ontario K0A 1L0
(613) 839 2175
© 2017 Venta Preparatory School. All rights reserved.