Sarah Chappell Armentrout, Head of School
As Head of School, Sarah is involved in all aspects of managing Carlisle Academy. From organizational oversight to fiscal and strategic planning, Sarah combines her passion for horses with a desire to serve her community. Sarah has been in the field of equine-assisted therapy since 1995 when she was first certified as a PATH Intl. instructor. Now an advanced level PATH Intl. certified riding instructor with a keen interest in developing the para-equestrian sports side of the program, Sarah enjoys helping her students reach their personal goals. Prior to the evolution of Carlisle Academy, Sarah, along with husband Nick, co-founded Equest Therapeutic Riding Center in 1998 where Sarah served as Executive Director for all of Equest’s 12 years. Earlier in her career, Sarah managed the Corporate Giving Program and eventually directed the Corporate Communications Department at Tom’s of Maine. She currently is Vice Chair of the York County Grantmaking Committee of the Maine Community Foundation. Sarah’s greatest joy is watching her three children flourish, and riding and jumping her horses.
Susan E. Grant, OTR/L; HPCS; Therapy & Adaptive Program Director
Susan Grant, a licensed Occupational Therapist with 35 years of experience, is Carlisle Academy’s full-time Director of Therapy & Adaptive Programs. She is a PATH certified therapeutic riding and carriage-driving instructor, as well as a Hippotherapy Clinical Specialist through the American Hippotherapy Association. Sue holds a specialty certification in Sensory Integration. Sue has extensive experience working with children and adults with physical, developmental and mental health disabilities within acute care, community-based independent living, and therapeutic riding settings. Prior to Carlisle Academy, she worked as Program Director for Equest Therapeutic Riding Center (which evolved into Carlisle Academy) for several years and was an integral part of that program since its inception in 1998. A devoted horse owner, Sue enjoys both driving and riding. She has a passion to serve Carlisle’s families and watch them progress and develop.
Cyndy West, Sports & Education Program Director
Cyndy comes to Carlisle Academy with 25 years of equestrian teaching and training experience. Cyndy’s background includes Pony Club and combined training, and she also holds her PATH therapeutic riding instructor certification. She spent a year in England training for her British Horse Society teaching certification (BHSAI), and then moved on to study and train in Switzerland where she discovered her passion for Dressage. Cyndy continues to train with top dressage coaches, is an active competitor, and has achieved her USDF Bronze Medal. She has a wonderful sense of humor and an enthusiastic teaching style, taking pleasure in teaching riders and horses of all ages and levels of experience.
Irene Steltzer, Director of Finance
Irene began her 33 year financial career in the advertising world after graduating from the University of Massachusetts/Amherst, in the print and promotional fields. In advertising, Irene created, executed and reported the financial aspects of all promotional campaigns. After a few years, Irene moved into the manufacturing industry to learn computers, and worked as an Assistant to the CPA and Computer Manager. While raising a family, Irene volunteered in her children’s schools through fundraising efforts, helping children with computers, math, and teaching the children to run their school store. Irene returned to the working world by being an Assistant for a Controller; running a Computer Lab for an Elementary School; and finally being an Accountant for a General Contractor’s small business. From here, Irene began her own business as a Bookkeeper in 2009, and met up with Carlisle Academy in 2011 as its Financial Director.
May Grose Dee, Program Coordinator
May Dee is Carlisle’s Program Coordinator and a PATH Registered Riding Instructor who joined the Carlisle crew in 2012. She coordinates the lesson schedule as well as over 50 sidewalkers in Carlisle’s Apprentice Program. A rider since she was little and an overall equine enthusiast, May has trained with several trainers throughout the Northeast for more than a decade. After graduating from the University of New Hampshire with a Bioscience degree, May focused her energy on riding dressage and competing, and is currently training through third level. May resides in New Hampshire with her husband and family of rescued pets.
Janet Smaldone, PT; HPCS, Staff Therapist
Janet joined Carlisle Academy as a physical therapist in 2011. She is a licensed physical therapist in four states, including Maine, and is a Hippotherapy Clinical Specialist credentialed by American Hippotherapy Association. She has over 25 years of experience in primarily pediatrics in a variety of settings, including 10 years at National Center for Equine Facilitated Therapy located in Woodside, California. In addition, she is trained in Pediatric and Baby NDT (Neurodevelopmental Treatment) and Craniosacral Therapy Level I and II. She is a student of yoga, has taken many yoga training courses, and incorporates yoga into her practice as a physical therapist as well as her personal life. Janet is an active dressage rider and has had instruction in western, English, and dressage riding.
Nationally Certified Instructors & Horse Professionals
Carlisle’s riding instructors are nationally certified, through PATH Intl. and CHA. Some instructors hold dual roles in administration. Our horse handlers are paid staff, which is not a typical industry practice. Carlisle Academy believes in safe, professional handling of our therapy horses and employs horse handlers with years of solid horsemanship skills.
Caitlin joined Carlisle Academy in 2013. She is a PATH Registered Riding Instructor and enjoys teaching both recreational and adaptive riding lessons. Caitlin brings her specialty not only in jumping instruction but also in working with children with autism, having had extensive experience in residential care environments. Caitlin grew up in Wells, Maine and spent her junior years competing in hunter and equitation finals. She went on to ride for Mount Holyoke College before transferring to, and graduating from, the University of New Hampshire.
Joyce joined the center in 2007 as an instructor and development coordinator, and more recently held the position of Director of Training & Leadership for Carlisle Academy. Prior to that, she taught therapeutic horsemanship for 9 years at Sweetser, providing hands-on experiences designed to facilitate relational, social and vocational skills to students with emotional and behavioral challenges. Joyce, certified as both a PATH Intl. therapeutic riding instructor and Equine Specialist in Mental Health & Learning, is pleased to continue teaching adaptive riding, bringing her love of horses and riding to her students.
Kris joined the staff in 2005. She holds certifications as a PATH Registered Instructor, Interactive Vaulting Instructor, Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning, and Certified Horsemanship Association (CHA) Level III Vaulting Coach. Kris is a lifelong horse person, having owned and raised many equines over the years from Belgians to Morgans. Kris competed on the intercollegiate circuit for Colby-Sawyer College and since that time has enjoyed participating in local pleasure and dressage shows. Over the past couple of years Kris has pursued her interest in the sport of equestrian vaulting and seeks to develop a team of vaulters for Carlisle Academy.
Lisa has worked for Spring Creek Farm and Carlisle Academy for the past 13 years, dividing her time between being a stable hand, horse handler, able-bodied whip for carriage driving, and teaching. Lisa attained her CHA Level 1 Instructor in 2013. Lisa got her first pony when she was 9 riding the trails and back roads of Shapleigh, where she grew up. Lisa has years of showing experience in both Maine and New Hampshire, and she is very active in the Mousam Saddle & Harness Club. She shows in all types of classes and has been president of the Club for five years. Lisa raised her current horse, Lady, from a baby and has won many awards with her.
Trish is Carlisle’s Horse Handler Team Leader and Horse Captain, joining the staff in 2008. Trish, a lifelong rider and horse owner, is a 1994 graduate of the University of New Hampshire with a degree in Equine Science. After pursuing careers in non-therapeutic equine settings, Trish became Horse Captain at Carlisle Academy, a job she describes as the horse’s secretary!
Cynthia joined the staff in 2008 as an exercise rider and horse handler. Cynthia attained her CHA Level 1 riding instructor certification in 2013 and teaches balance seat in Carlisle’s recreational riding program. Cynthia grew up riding, and from an early age studied with James Kennedy in Saddle River, NJ. Summers, she continued riding at Pleasant Hill Farm in Warner, NH, and went on to graduate from Mount Holyoke College where she rode under the tutelage of John Moffatt, a student of the Spanish Riding School in Vienna.
Jane joined Carlisle Academy in 2011. She is a CHA Level 3 Instructor; USDF Bronze & Silver medalist; and a Graduate “L” Judge. As an accomplished dressage rider Jane divides her time between training her own two horses Lyra and Corina, and horse handling and teaching dressage at Carlisle Academy.