Executive Director - Alison O’Handley

(902) 463-9179 extension 222 / executivedirector@dartmouthlearning.net

Hailing from a small fishing and farming community on Prince Edward Island, Alison values honest and respectful relationships, everyone pitching in to get the job done, good stories and a little fun!  That’s probably what led her to the nonprofit sector where she’s spent most of her career.  With experience in career development, community and youth development, education, and small business development Alison brings a wide range of skill sets and perspectives to her role of Executive Director.  An analytical and process-based thinker – Alison’s mind is always busy but she’s always willing to take a moment to chat and have a bit of fun.  Feel free to drop by and say hello.


Administrative Assistant – Karen Janik

(902) 463-9179 extension 221 / admin@dartmouthlearning.net

Karen has been with Dartmouth Learning Network since May 2012. In addition to being the first point of contact for DLN, Karen takes care of database management, learner enrolments, attendance and reporting student standings. Other roles include supporting learner intake, website updates and the coordination of special events and/or projects, including the end-of-year Learner Celebration and Annual General Report.


Community Learning Program Coordinator - Gail Thistle

(902) 463-9179 extension 223 / tutor@dartmouthlearning.net

Gail joined the team at DLN in February 2018. She has a Bachelor of Arts and Education from Memorial University with experience in classroom and one-on-one teaching. Gail has dedicated much of her career to the non profit sector in support of persons with significant challenges and barriers. Before joining DLN, she worked for several years in employment supports and services for persons with disabilities.

Gail values strong community relationships and building networks. She is passionate about connecting individuals with challenges to the resources they need to achieve their goals. She believes empowerment, personal growth and stronger communities are all realities for all citizens.

Gail feels proud and privileged to be part of a team of educators and volunteers that supports adult learners. She looks forward to learning something new every day!


Instructor – Brent MacPhee

(902) 463-9179 extension 224 / brent@dartmouthlearning.net

Brent loves math. In 2014, he finished his Bachelor of Engineering at Dalhousie University. In early 2015, he started volunteering with the Dartmouth Learning Network, tutoring math to adults at various levels, including pre-GED. In the fall of 2015 Brent started tutoring high school students in math and in physics. He realized that he really enjoyed teaching and helping people better understand math and decided to pursue this goal.

In 2017 he joined the Dartmouth Learning Network as a Math Level 2 and Math GED Instructor, where he encourages others to pursue their goals, whatever they may be.

In addition to the Dartmouth Learning Network, he has been involved in other community volunteer organizations and events such as Habitat for Humanity, Eastern Shore Ground Search and Rescue and Chester Race Week.


Instructor – Lyssa Steponaitis

(902) 463-9179 extension 225 / lyssa@dartmouthlearning.net

Originally from St. Margaret's Bay, Lyssa spent a significant amount of time in the United States, where she completed her Bachelor's Degree at Boston University and earned her Masters in Math Education at University of Massachusetts, Boston. Lyssa has been teaching for more than 10 years, mainly in Junior High Math and Science. Before teaching, Lyssa had broad experience across the not-for-profit sector. Since moving back to Nova Scotia in the summer of 2018, Lyssa has spent time working as the GED Instructor at Halifax Community Learning Network, substituting all over the Halifax Regional Centre for Education at different levels, and spent a year as a junior high Math teacher. She is thrilled to have joined the Dartmouth Learning Network as an Instructor in January 2021.

Lyssa strongly believes that if individuals "don't like" learning a specific academic subject (especially Math!) that they have not yet found the right teacher, or, the best way to interact with the subject. She works hard to help folks find a way to interact with material that works for them!

In addition to her work with DLN, Lyssa volunteers with the Scottish Rite Learning Centre for Children providing Orton-Gillingham tutoring, has been on stage with Dartmouth Community Theatre, and is rarely found without her knitting.


Employment Readiness Coordinator & Instructor – Amanda Sabo

(902) 463-9179 extension 227  / amanda@dartmouthlearning.net

Amanda came to DLN in 2015 as a recent Arts and Education graduate and has since updated her training with the Literacy Nova Scotia certificate in adult ed. She combines a passion for lifelong learning with teaching and coaching others to see the best in themselves. Amanda uses her skills with appropriate hands-on activities to ensure learners see, say, and feel their learning so they are active participants in their journeys. She is dedicated to helping her learners take control in their learning paths through the use of technology and critical thinking problem-solving activities.

In her spare time, Amanda delves into her many hobbies which include holistic pet care and crocheting.


Family Literacy Coordinator – Amanda Gillett

(902) 463-9179 / amandag@dartmouthlearning.net

Originally from the South Shore of Nova Scotia, Amanda completed her BA degree at Saint Mary's University and a Certificate in Human Resource Management that led her to an internship in Mexico City. She returned to Shelburne to work as a Youth Navigator and Caseworker for Big Brothers Big Sisters until embarking on what was to become 15 years of teaching abroad. One year led to eight years in South Korea.. teaching in academies, high schools, and universities, along with completing her Masters of Education and teaching license. Since 2012, Amanda has taught in Japan and Kuwait, mentored and trained teachers in rural schools of Malaysia, and became the founding teacher of a Reggio Emilia inspired holistic pre-school in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam.

Amanda feels fortunate to find a community of like-minded people at the Dartmouth Learning Network. She enjoys staying active outdoors while practicing yoga and meditation at home. When not studying or teaching, Amanda enjoys walking around Sullivan's Pond and Lake Banook, reading health related articles, trying out new recipes, listening to motivational podcasts, watching documentaries or comedies, and wishes to continue her travels abroad in the summers.

At DLN, Amanda strives to nurture a passion for lifelong education in a positive atmosphere that fosters dialogue, creativity, and reflection in herself as well as the students.



Moving On Up eLearning Team Members


Marcia Franklin - E-Learning Project Team Lead


Originally an EFL teacher in Thailand and high school teacher of English and Psychology in Australia, Marcia has since trained in both adult education and eLearning. She is currently completing the Master of Educational Technology program at UBC and works as an Instructional Designer at Bluedrop Training & Simulation.

Marcia started with Dartmouth Learning Network in August 2013 as the GED Instructor, providing academic support to adult learners in Reading and Writing, Math, Social Studies and Science. She also provided career and continuous learning advice/support to GED program participants. In August 2014 she took on the additional role of Community Learning Coordinator, where she recruited and trained volunteers to mentor learners one-on-one. She held these positions until April 2015.

In November 2014, Marcia assumed the position of eLearning Manager. In this role she oversees the development of Moving On Up, Dartmouth Learning Network's eLearning platform.

 Katie Purdy - Programmer and Instructional Design

Katie spent much of the early 1990s learning her alphabet in MS-DOS. She dabbled in computer science at Dalhousie University and web development at NSCC but is primarily a self-taught developer who knows firsthand the impact that online resources can make on one's skillset. She's incredibly excited to have the opportunity to contribute to a locally developed learning platform that will empower others in the community to also learn at their own pace. During her spare time, she loves to knit plenty of cute socks with Sammy (her elderly tuxedo cat) and her favourite berry Earl Grey tea by her side.

  • Brent MacPhee, Lesson Plan Design
  • Amanda Sabo, Lesson Plan Design and Instructional Design
  • Karen Janik, Quality Assurance

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