Academic Leadership

Patricia Donnelly

BA, B.Ed, MA (English), M.Ed (Administration)
Chief Academic Advisor

Our Chief Academic Advisor, Patricia Donnelly, brings a breadth of experience and a passion for learning and teaching. An educator for over 40 years, she has worked as a high school English teacher, a coordinator of a program for gifted students, as a department head, a principal, and a headmistress, most recently at Sacred Heart School of Halifax. She has worked in public and independent schools both small and large, in rural and urban settings.

A believer in educational choice, she spearheaded the establishment of the senior boys’ division at Sacred Heart and is pleased to be part of building an outstanding academic program in a school focused on active learning both inside and outside the classroom. Patricia holds a B. A. and a B.Ed. from Memorial University of Newfoundland, an M.A. (English) from the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, and a M.Ed. (Admin.) from OISE at the University of Toronto.

Patricia is a Docent and Board Member at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, a debate coach, a voracious reader, and a fitness participant. Her two daughters, one of whom is also a teacher, live in Toronto, and her husband practices law in Halifax.

Shauna Wall
B.Sc (Hons), B.Ed., M.Ed (Curriculum)
Head of School

Shauna Wall comes to Summit Academy with a wealth of experience in both teaching and leadership at leading private schools in Canada and has worked alongside some of the most talented leaders in private education in the country. With Education degrees from McGill (B.Ed) and Acadia (M.Ed) and a B.Sc Honours in Microbiology and Immunology from Dalhousie University, her education and academic rigour speak for themselves. She acted as both Dean of Students and a classroom science teacher at the Sacred Heart School of Halifax for several years and most recently occupied the role of Vice Principal at Sacred Heart.

Ms. Wall is highly respected by those in her field and beloved by students, parents and staff alike.  Her enthusiasm for her role as Head of School, paired with her special interest and specialization in Curriculum development, School Policy and Staff and Student Leadership, has been instrumental in the growth and success of Summit Academy.

Christianne Chappell
B.Ed (Hons)
Teacher – Junior Primary

Christianne graduated from Liverpool John Moores Univerisity in England with a B.Ed (Hons) degree in Primary Education. She has 20 years of experience teaching young children and developing Early Years programs in leading independent schools in the UK, China and in Nova Scotia. Christianne believes in educating the whole child from the basics in reading, writing, and math to developing independence, sharing and cooperative play. She knows the first experience with school must be a positive one and her extensive training and experience help to facilitate this for each child.

Michele Barr
B.Ed, M.Ed 
Teacher – Grade Primary

Michele has been an early elementary teacher for fifteen years. She earned a Bachelor of Education at the University of Victoria and recently completed her Master’s degree in Education at Mount Saint Vincent University with a focus on early literacy and numeracy.

Michele encourages her students to take risks and make mistakes to help them unlock their full potential as learners. She loves seeing the children’s blossoming confidence as readers, writers, mathematicians and scientists as the year progresses. Her extensive world travels help her to foster a multicultural approach to learning within the classroom. 

Kathryn Arseneau
Teacher – Grade 1/2

Kathryn is entering her twelfth year teaching at the elementary level. Beginning in the public school system, she has spent the last ten years teaching in private schools in both Ontario and Nova Scotia. Her passion for teaching is evident; she is dedicated to educating young minds and learning her students’ individual needs in order to guide them to reach their full potential both in and outside the classroom.

Melissa Zwicker
BA, B.Ed
Teacher – Grade 3/4

Melissa Zwicker has been teaching in private schools at the elementary level for over seven years. Prior to pursuing a career in education, she taught English in South Korea in 2008-2009. After returning home to Nova Scotia, she knew that a teaching career was the path for her and graduated from Mount Saint Vincent University in 2012 with a Bachelor of Education. She believes that students deserve to be engaged, enthusiastic, and excited about their learning. Active learning is so integral to high academic success and achievement and Mrs. Zwicker strives to make hands-on and project-based learning part of the every day academic experience for her students.

Heather Babin
BA, B.Ed.
Teacher – Grade 5

Working with children has always been Heather Babin’s passion. She has experience in summer recreation and day camps, library programming, and as a preschool teacher in a daycare. Before teaching, Heather worked in the public school system as an Educational Program Assistant. These experiences have all been important steps on her path to becoming a teacher and have all influenced her approach to education. Heather has a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Education from Mount Saint Vincent University. Since graduating from Mount Saint Vincent University, Heather has taught upper elementary grades in both public and private schools. She believes that learning happens when students are actively engaged and are able to make meaningful connections, so strives to create as many real-world and hands-on learning experiences as possible. Heather sees education as a journey that should extend well beyond the four walls of a classroom.


Helena Trenholm
Teacher – Middle School

Helena has been involved in educating children and adults for over twenty years. She has worked in many different settings including classrooms, group homes, and tutoring businesses. Helena believes that her job as an educator is to prepare students to navigate in the world and make a difference. She firmly believes that school is much more than just the core subjects. Helena has also coached basketball from elementary to university levels and believes activity and sports build character and enhance a child’s ability to focus in the classroom.

Grant MacNeil
M.Sc., B.Ed.
Teacher – Middle School

Grant MacNeil will be joining Summit Academy with a breadth of experience in both teaching and scientific research. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree at McGill University in Biochemistry, having completed a co-op and internship program at an industrial biotechnology company in Montreal conducting research in the life sciences. Grant’s love for coaching hockey, specifically goalies, drew him to teaching, where he completed his Bachelor of Education degree at Queen’s University and taught internationally for two years at the Middle School level in Bahrain. Having recently completed a Master of Science degree at Dalhousie University in Microbiology with a specialty in viruses, Grant is excited to share his passion for science and discovery with his students. He strongly believes in the value of educating with authentic learning experiences and is enthusiastic about bringing these to Summit, to connect with students’ interests and learning strengths to best meet their individual education needs.

Danny MacCalder
B.Sc, B.Ed
Teacher – Middle School

Danny’s background includes 11 years of teaching experience both domestically and internationally, in both the public and private sectors. Danny completed his Bachelor of Science through Dalhousie University and his Bachelor of Education at the University of Ottawa. He believes that inspiring curiosity in his students is a central component in his role as an educator. Danny has an enthusiasm for diverse learning opportunities. His skill and passion for outdoor education and his confidence in exposure to diverse cultural experiences are valued assets in his role at Summit Academy.

Nora MacEwen
B.Sc, B.Ed
Teacher – Middle School

Educated at Bob Jones University where she attained her BSc in Education, Nora has been teaching for over thirty years, sixteen of them spent at Grace Christian School, a private school in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island where she taught from K-12, and also acted as Vice Principal. She has worked in various public schools on PEI and has spent the last thirteen years as an instructor at Holland College, also in Charlottetown. Nora also worked two terms teaching various courses at three separate universities in China. Nora also brings experience in curriculum development, mentorship, and academic support.

Rob Chambers
BA, B.Ed, M.Ed (candidate), RRCA Certified Run Coach & NCCP Trained Run Club Coach                                                                    Paddle Canada Advanced SUP Instructor, CrossFit Level 1 Trainer                                                                                               Teacher – Elementary Physical Education                                                                             

Born and raised in Nova Scotia, Rob has worked with youth for over 25 years, 15 of which have been teaching full- time in the Independent School System here in Halifax.

Rob is passionate about exposing people to Health and Wellness opportunities, and runs his own business outside of his teaching career- Kingfisher Functional Fitness. On weeknights, weekends, and during summer, he coaches and trains adults and youth in Running, Functional Fitness and Stand Up Paddle Boarding. Rob has also facilitated research projects between schools and the Dalhousie Health Performance Program in a variety of areas including outdoor/unstructured play and the Impact on resiliency in children.

At it’s core, Rob’s teaching philosophy is about connecting with kids, keeping it fun, and exposing them to as many opportunities to be fit and active for life.

Jade Decoste
Teacher – Middle School Physical Education

Jade earned her Bachelor of Education Degree at Acadia University and her Physical and Health Education Degree at Nipissing University. She has coached a variety of sports from beginner levels to assistant coaching for provincial and varsity levels. Jade has worked with children through sport and physical activity for numerous years and is excited to continue to bring fresh ideas to Summit Academy. She believes in creating a welcoming and inclusive environment, both in the classroom and in the gymnasium, instilling the skills for students to achieve their goals and become confident leaders. 

Shallon Costello
BA (hon), MA (French studies), International French Certificate (Abroad Studies Program)
Teacher – French

Shallon graduated with her Master’s degree in French studies from Western University and, upon moving back home to the Maritimes, gained a teaching position at Saint Mary’s University where she had previously received her Bachelor of Arts, with honours in French. Her experience and passion for teaching languages in both public and private institutions over the past five years lead her to specialize in curriculum development. After studying in France and experiencing French culture, she encourages the cultural aspect of the classroom as well as a practical and active learning atmosphere. She believes working with all ages is a privilege and enables consistent linguistic growth, one child at a time. 

Neven Prostran
BMus, MA Musicology, CUTL, RMT
Director of Music Education

Affectionately referred to as “Mista P” by Summit students, Neven has designed and executed a curriculum that is contemporary, physical, well-rounded and fun with a strong performance component. His teaching philosophy centers around the premise that people are fundamentally musical and that everyone can engage with music whether it be through performance, theory, improvisation, history, and more. He combines these components into a diverse educational experience supplemented by fun performance opportunities such as Pop Up Pop Songs, Holiday and Year End Concerts, and the much anticipated Summit Rap Battle.

Neven holds degrees and certificates from the University of Toronto and Dalhousie University, and is a member of the Nova Scotia Registered Music Teacher’s Association. He is a faculty member at the Maritime Conservatory of Performing Arts as well as the co-manager of the Scotia Festival of Music and the Peggy Corkum Music Room.

Becky Thompson
BA (hon)
Director of Art Education

Becky graduated from Oxford Brookes University in 1993 with a BA (Hons) in Fine Art and Art History.  She went on to gain her Post Graduate Certificate in Education at Southampton University and began her 20+ year teaching career.  Throughout her career, Becky has inspired artistic creativity with children ranging from primary to high school, teaching within the public and private school systems. For several years, Becky designed and delivered art workshops from her home studio and as part of the community recreation centre team.  A natural educator, Becky brings enthusiasm and fun to her students!