Faculty Directory

Holly Young

Kindergarten Teacher

BA Elementary Education – University of Rhode Island

MA Masters of Arts in Teaching – Sacred Heart University, concentration in reading

When asked why she chose to teach at CLA, Mrs. Young said, “Giving students the gift of a Christian education gives them the core values and beliefs that they need to become wonderful members of the Christian community and society, especially given the ever-changing worldviews that we see today. I have chosen to teach at Christian Life Academy so that I could continue doing what I love – helping to mold young minds within academics and Christian faith.” 

Favorite Scripture:  “When I am afraid, I will trust in You.” Psalm 56:3


Kathryn Mucherino

Second Grade Teacher

B.S. Religion and Ministry, Liberty University

When asked why she chose to teach at CLA, Mrs. Mucherino said, “God is the perfect Creator. His perfection, organization, and thoughtfulness can be witnessed within all areas of Creation. A Christian education ultimately, provides students an opportunity to study God. God is present in their math, science, music, and art classes. He is present within every area of education because He Himself is the Great Teacher. A Christian education provides a deeper and more personal understanding of who God says He is. I have chosen to teach at Christian Life Academy because I believe in the values expressed through this Christian-based education. Children now more than ever are being pulled further into the world, and thankfully there are schools like CLA who desire to build up children to face the world and fight for the gospel rather than run from it. The tools students are learning here prepare them for work in the Kingdom.”

Favorite Scripture:  “Hearing this, Jesus said to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid; just believe, and she will be healed.” Luke 8:50

Silvia Picon

Middle School Math

B.S. in Computer Science, Cornell University

When asked why she chose to teach at CLA, Mrs. Picon said, “God put His great love in my heart for this school.  I believe in Christian education, because teachers and students together can discover, by the study of any subject in the classroom, God’s incredible love for us, because His Love is displayed in every aspect of His creation. Christian Education provides freedom to use God’s Word to renew the mind and transform people,  community and even the environment as those involved learn to worship the Creator and respect the creation we are commanded to steward.”

Favorite Scripture:  “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.” Psalm 23:6



Miss Isabella Andrade

Third Grade

Early Childhood Education & Bible Studies, Lancaster Bible College

B.S.  in Music Education, Western Connecticut State University

When asked why she has chosen to teach at CLA, Miss Andrade said, “I love the environment at CLA, from the first moment I walked in to apply to work for the summer camp. I have made some of my greatest friendships there. It truly is a Christ-centered school. You can feel everyone’s heart and their love for the students and families, but especially their love for Christ shines through in every moment.”

Favorite Scripture:  “But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31

Denise Kessman

K4 Lead Teacher

CDA, Child Development Associate Degree

When asked why she has chosen to work at CLA, Mrs. Kessman said, “I’ve taught at many different schools, none of which were Christian, and I instantly felt a peace at CLA from the staff, children and parents.  I support Christian education, because our children need a strong belief and upbringing in faith to prosper and succeed in God’s will for their lives!

Favorite Scripture: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Lean not to your own understanding, but in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.”  Proverbs 3: 5-6

Joshua Coles

Art Teacher, Technology

B.A. Messiah College

When asked why he has chosen to work at CLA, Mr. Coles said, “I teach art at CLA believing that art has a far greater purpose for Christians than just a hobby or a form of personal self-expression. Art is something that God intends to be used for His glory and to communicate His truth in visual images. Therefore, embracing the study of art from a Christian perspective is essential in equipping young artists to realize their potential and purpose in the spiritual gift of art-making.
Christian education instills the truth and knowledge of God’s Word and the recognition of the guidance of His hand, enabling young Christians to excel and become knowledgeable and skillful not for their own glory, but for His. It allows them the opportunity to become dynamic people of faith, affecting the world with the love of Christ in a way that serves as a witness to all. Christian education should present all areas of study through the perspective that all knowledge comes from the creation and wisdom of God, and that education is a key to understanding all He has done for us.”

“And he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills— to make artistic designs…and to engage in all kinds of artistic crafts.” Exodus 35:31-33

Craig O’Neil

Christian Life Academy Principal

B.S., Biology and State of CT Secondary Education, Southern Connecticut State University

Professional Teaching Certificate, Central Connecticut State University

M.S.,  Technology Education (pending thesis) with Vo-Tech Administration

When asked why he has chosen to work at CLA, Mr. O’Neil said, “The more I learned about science the more convinced I became that this world could ONLY have come about by God’s handiwork, which erased any doubt in my mind about his existence. This required a response on my part – accepting his free gift of salvation through Jesus for my sins and gladly serving him wholeheartedly with my life as an act of worship. CLA is an amazing little school where real education takes place every day, and to God’s glory.

It is an honor and pleasure to serve my Lord and Savior at CLA with the gifts, talents and skills he has supplied me for this purpose. I cherish being able to openly show kids who God is through science and I don’t go to work at CLA: A man who finds a job he loves never has to work a day in his life! (Mark Twain)

Favorite Scripture: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord… Jeremiah 29:11 – 14

Emily Uskudarli

Director, Little Blessings Childcare

Mrs. Uskudarli was born in Danbury, grew up in Newtown, and attended Newtown Schools. Mrs. Uskudarli knew from an early age that she wanted to work with children. Certified as a Head Teacher, Mrs. Uskudarli’s credentials include 12 years experience working with children and CPR and First Aid Certification. She has worked at Christian Life Academy since 2007 and is currently working toward her degree in education. She and her husband Ethan have 3 children. Mrs. Uskudarli’s family involvement with CLA runs 2 generations deep.

Her daughter and son are students at CLA, and her mother, Carina Stefanko, is CLA’s Kindergarten Aide. In her free time, Mrs. Uskudarli enjoys spending time with her family and 3 dogs, taking weekend vacations to Vermont, watching movies, and crocheting. Her family attends Shoreline Community Church in Branford, where she volunteers with the children’s ministry. She loves being part of a child’s learning process, and watching children grow physically, mentally, and spiritually.

Kathy Re

Preschool (K4) Paraprofessional

Mrs. Re has been teaching at Christian Life Academy for over 25 years and has been a member of Brookfield First for over 30 years.  “I believe in giving children a solid foundation in their young years & growing. Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6.”

Favorite Scripture: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; Lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6

Carina Stefanko

Kindergarten Paraprofessional

When asked why she has chosen to work at CLA, Mrs. Stefanko said, “Being a lifelong member of First Assembly of God, I was here when our former Pastor dedicated CLA as a “Lighthouse to the Community.” I was always inspired by his vision to reach families for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I was humbled to be asked join this wonderful mission in 2002. 

In our world today, who is going to speak the Gospel Truths into the lives of our most precious? Christian educators who are the hands and feet of Jesus on this Earth, that’s who!”

Favorite Scripture: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28


Mary Duncan

Fourth Grade Teacher

B.A. Elementary Education, University of Valley Forge

When asked why she has chosen to teach at CLA, Mrs. Duncan said, “After I graduated, I knew I wanted to teach in a Christian school because I wanted to the freedom to teach a Christian worldview.  I strongly support a Christian education because apart from God there is no wisdom. Now more then ever, it important to lay down a foundation of Biblical truths for our students to build on.”

Favorite Scripture: “Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.  The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights.” Habakkuk 3:18-19

Roxanne Lundberg

Admin Asst & Admissions Coordinator

Ms. Lundberg is Christian Life Academy’s Admissions Coordinator and Administrative Assistant. She serves as the friendly voice on the phone and a smiling face in the school office. She has worked at CLA since 1998 and her energy and efficiency keep administrative matters running smoothly. Ms. Lundberg grew up in Danbury. She is the mother of two grown children, both of whom attended CLA. She loves spending time with the Lord, and attends First Assembly of God Church in Brookfield, where she serves on the Nursing Home Ministry.  She enjoys taking her three little Chihuahuas to dog obedience class; whether they listen or not is another story.

Pastor Al Van Geersdaele


Pastor Al and his wife Louise have lived in Southbury since they were married in June of 1977.  They have two adult sons, Aaron and Joshua. They have two grandchildren; Aria who is one year old, and Isaac who is four years old, who attends Christian Life Academy.

Al trusted in Christ for salvation on October 10, 1981.  He worked at Southbury Training School as the Power Plant Chief Engineer, retiring on January 30, 2009 after 34 years.  He served as a Deacon in his former AG Church for 22 years and, during that time he took courses at the Berean School of the Bible.  He became a Certified Minister in 1988, became a Licensed Minister in 2005, and was Ordained in 2011.  

He became a full time Minister of Missions and Pastoral Care at First Assembly in February of 2009.  He became a part of the board of Christian Life Academy in April of 2019. He is active in C.L.A. Chapel services, teacher devotions, and is a Kid’s Church worker for Brookfieldfirst.

His passion is preaching in churches, prisons, and on the street; teaching, evangelism, and serving God’s people, especially kids.