Who We Are
Michelle Buckland-Seward – Second Grade
Michelle Seward is a rural Rochester-area native and grew up as a third-generation participant of Bergen Evangelical Presbyterian Church. She continues to live on the same childhood farmland and works with her husband to raise their children to be filled with love for God and His creation.
Mrs. Seward received her Bachelor of Science in Adolescence Education for English and went on to pursue her Masters in Library and Information Science. Mrs. Seward’s classroom experiences are diverse and include teaching Bible studies, swimming lessons, and homeschooling. She enjoys sharing her passions of reading and learning with others.
Her biggest educational belief is that “every day is a learning day,” and her goal is to work with students to help them develop a greater appreciation for how literature can enrich their lives beyond the classroom, especially from a Biblical point of view.
Linnea Landin Burr - Music (All Grades)
Linnea Landin Burr is a wife and mother, and holds degrees from Houghton College in Choral Conducting (MM) and Instrumental Music Education and Piano (BMus). Prior to teaching at RCA, she taught 7-12 Choral Music in Bemus Point, NY. Mrs. Burr also served several summers as a teacher for Warren County Summer Music School in Pennsylvania, in addition to teaching private piano lessons. She has taught students from elementary through high school levels in Music Theory, Sight Reading and Solfege, Conducting, Choir, Music History, and Piano. Music ministry is close to her heart; she has passionately led the music teams for Community Bible Study in Rochester for five years. Her favorite pastimes include reading, painting, and knitting. Mrs. Burr is a member at Grace Road Church and volunteers in the children’s ministry.
Brandi Churnetski – Kindergarten
Pre-K/K teacher Brandi Churnetski enjoys working with this age group because of their constant “ah-ha!” moments, energy, curiosity, and transparency. After receiving her degree in Bible and Communications with an Elementary Education minor, she went on to teach for over 15 years in various PreK and elementary level classrooms, several of which were in classical settings. She believes that every child is a gift and teaching all subjects to the glory of God is what drives the best education.
“Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.” – The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams
“Education without values, as useful as it is, seems rather to make man a more clever devil. The task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles, but to irrigate deserts.” – C.S Lewis
Abbey Gebel - Third Grade Math & Reading
Abbey Gebel is a Buffalo native, who graduated from SUNY Geneseo with a Bachelor of Science in Elementary and Special Education, Bachelor of Music in Violin Performance, and a Master of Science in Reading. After spending the first fourteen years of her career as a private school reading specialist, she left the classroom to homeschool her five children. Now, after four years of teaching everything from Nursery School to Seventh Grade and, by the Lord’s providence, growing to love Classical Education, she is returning to her classroom roots while continuing to homeschool her three eldest children.
Mrs. Gebel rejoices over “A-ha!” moments, is a steadfast advocate for her students, teaches children to understand and be confident in themselves as learners, and embraces creative problem-solving. She integrates learning across the curriculum whenever possible and is not likely to pass up a teachable moment.
Mrs. Gebel is a musician, artist, collector of hobbies, and follower of Christ. Recognizing that all things work together for our good and God’s glory, she is delighted to open this chapter of God’s story at RCA.
Elizabeth Painter – Pre-Kindergarten & Art (All Grades)
Elizabeth Painter received her Bachelor of Science and Master of Science from Nazareth College of Rochester, NY. She taught middle school and high school art in Churchville, NY for ten years, before leaving her position to move to California.
A former military spouse, Ms. Painter has lived in San Diego, Hawaii, and Tennessee. She had the privilege of staying home for ten years to raise her three children Molly, Truman, and Virginia. After moving back to NY, she taught at Greece Arcadia High School for three years before joining the faculty at Rochester Classical Academy.
Raised by parents who are artists and musicians and have a deep love for the Lord, Ms. Painter had a rich upbringing with a strong knowledge and foundation in Christ. She imparts this love and reverence not only to her own children, but to her students as well. Ms. Painter is privileged to use her knowledge, training, and gifts to teach music and fine art, as well as Kindergarten at RCA.
Katie Ruth – First Grade
At age 21, Mrs. Ruth invited Christ into her life and proclaimed Him as her Lord and Savior. A little more than a year later, she met Andrew, the man who would become her husband, while he was on leave from the Navy. They married in 2005 and have three children.
Mrs. Ruth has a Bachelor of Arts in English and an Master of Science in Literacy Education. She has taught children ages birth through eighteen in public school, private school, homeschool, and daycare settings. Her background includes classical training in piano and voice and has dabbled in basic guitar. She has studied French and Latin and practiced the arts of dance and martial arts. Her absolute favorite pastime is reading, reading, reading. Greek mythology has been of particular delight since age sixteen. She plans to teach herself logic and drawing and continue her way through the Great Books of our culture. She adores anything and everything by C.S. Lewis; she has thoroughly enjoyed studying his books on the Medieval era. Literature and history are by far her favorite subjects!
“The devil is fighting with God and the battlefield is the human heart.” Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov
Laura Truesdell - Third & Fourth Grade Primary Teacher
Laura Truesdell is a local educator who has been teaching upper elementary students since 2005. Laura is a Rochester native and received her master’s degree as a Literacy Specialist from Nazareth College. When she is not helping students reach their potential in the classroom, she enjoys gardening and traveling with her family. She and her husband, Eric, have three boys attending RCA in Voyagers, Class Two, and Class Four.
Head of School
Daniel David Black
Daniel David Black comes to RCA as a committed Christian, a husband, a father, a scholar, a lover of books, and as someone who has received and bits and pieces of the classical education tradition over the course of his own education. After hearing the term classical Christian education for the first time in 2017, he has been privileged to work side by side with a group of passionate parents and educators to bring about this school.
Prior to his appointment at Rochester Classical Academy, Daniel David Black served as Associate Professor of Vocal Music & Conducting and Director of Choral Activities at Houghton University in Houghton, New York. Before coming to Houghton, he was the Director of Choral Activities at Lakeland University in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. His background includes teaching at Buffalo State College (Buffalo, NY), Villa Maria College (Buffalo, NY), Nardin Academy (Buffalo, NY), and Immaculata Academy (Hamburg, NY).
Dr. Black holds a Bachelor of Music from Northwestern University (Evanston, IL), a Master of Music from Houghton College (Houghton, NY), and a Doctor of Musical Arts from the University of Arizona (Tucson, AZ). He and his family attend Grace Road Church and he volunteers with the children’s ministry.
Pauline Clark has a grandnephew and two grandnieces attending RCA, and strongly supports the Classical education they are receiving. She has had a long career in finance with numerous banks including Citibank and Goldman Sachs in New York City, and in bond underwriting as a Senior Director with Fitch Inc. Most recently her career has led her into healthcare finance as a hospital CFO and Executive Director of the Finger Lakes Independent Provider Association, a safety net independent provider organization.
Pauline holds a Bachelor in Economics from New York University, and a Master of Business Administration from Cornell University. She attends Pittsford Community Church.
Katie Curtis is a classically trained vocalist with degrees from Roberts Wesleyan College in Music and Biblical Studies, and the University of Oregon where she received her Masters in Vocal Performance.
As a freelance mezzo-soprano, she has performed leading roles in Handel’s Giulio Cesare in Egitto, Bernstein’s Trouble in Tahiti, Menotti’s The Old Maid and the Thief and Amahl and the Night Visitors, Herman’s Hello, Dolly!, and Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance. After several years serving as an office manager and coordinator with Eugene Opera and Eastman School of Music, she is grateful to now serve her family at home full time.
When not at RCA you can find her performing around Rochester, on a Sunday at Grace Road Church, or mostly trying to corral her four kids into their van.
Mary Delmastro (On Sabbatical 2022 & 2023)
Mary Delmastro has taught art history at several local colleges for over ten years, including Brockport, RIT, and Finger Lakes Community College, where she is currently an Assistant Professor. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Rochester and a Master of Arts in Art History through Syracuse University’s program of Renaissance art in Florence, Italy. She also regularly teaches at the Memorial Art Gallery, developing courses for the Creative Workshops and giving lectures for the Docent Education Program. She, her husband, and their two young children attend The Well.
Joseph Long is an Associate Professor and the Chair of the Philosophy Department at SUNY Brockport, where he has taught since 2011. He works mainly in the areas of philosophy of science and ethical theory. Since 2015, Dr. Long has also served as the director for the Center for Philosophic Exchange, hosted by SUNY Brockport, and as the Editor-in-Chief for the Center’s journal, Philosophic Exchange. Dr. Long received his BA in psychology from the University of New Mexico, where he also majored in music (percussion performance) for two years. Dr. Long has an MA in theology from Southwestern Theological Seminary, an MA in philosophy from Texas Tech University, and a PhD in philosophy from Florida State University. He and his family attend Holy Cross Anglican Church in Webster, NY.
Jacob Seward is a stay at home Dad, farmer, and professional Legend Master. He enjoys helping run a local homeschool co-op in Bergen, NY. He has taken many tradesman classes to be able to keep his farmstead up and running, and is also excited to apply his skills to help RCA. Some Saturdays, Jacob can be found at the public Library, running tabletop games as a legend master, or leading groups of children in collaborative storytelling games.
God has blessed Jacob with a wife, four children, and a flourishing farm to take care of and run. Jacob enjoys working with his blessings to bring joy and education to others. He combines nature, education, and the Bible for many lessons around the homestead.