Our Faculty & Staff
Sara Farrell Okamura
Sara Farrell Okamura initially started a career in journalism, but soon moved to art, graduating from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts/Tufts. She has been a working artist with over thirty-five years of studio practice and exhibitions. These include shows in Chicago, New York, Boston, Washington, D.C, Mexico, and Japan. She has been the recipient of grants from the Illinois Arts Council, MASS MoCA’s Assets for Artists, the North Adams Award, the A.R.T. Fund (sponsored by the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation), and the Martha Boschen Porter Award. She has exhibited work at the Print Center New York; Thompson Giroux Gallery and Joyce Goldstein Gallery, in Chatham, NY; and Gallery 51, in North Adams, MA.
In addition to exhibitions, Farrell Okamura was codirector of 1935 Gallery, in Chicago—curating over thirty-five exhibitions in three years, including exchanges with artists from San Luis Potosi and Zacatecas, Mexico—and was founding executive director of Northern Berkshire Creative Arts, a community-based hands-on arts center on the campus of MASS MoCA. Further, she was also the School and Teacher Program Manager at the Berkshire Museum, Pittsfield, MA, and from 2000 to 2020 reviewed grants for the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Residency. Recently she has written art reviews for Greylock Glass, Hyperallergic, Boston Art Review, and Art Spiel.
After a long career at Pine Cobble, Linda Bernard was thrilled to rejoin the school in September 2023 to help the school to move into the future. Linda began at Pine Cobble as a part-time art teacher and then served for twenty-seven years as the fifth grade teacher. Subsequently at the school she was an arts liaison. She also created curricula for students and trained in the Orton-Gillingham and Wilson systems for teaching struggling readers. She was a reading specialist when the COVID era hit.
Originally from New York City, Linda attended the High School of Music & Art, in Harlem, which later merged with another school to form the LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts. This experience changed her life: it was there, in a nationally turbulent era, that she came to understand that kids had the potential to change the world. She went on to earn a BFA at Lehman College, where she took classes with such teachers as painter and visual artist Chuck Close. She and her husband, Scott—a furniture designer and onetime home builder—eventually settled in Shaftsbury, Vermont, where they have lived for more than four decades. There they raised their two daughters, Lauren and Caitlin, both of whom graduated from Pine Cobble.
Paul Olchváry was delighted to join Pine Cobble School in early 2023 and looks forward to being there every day, whether teaching early childhood sports or saying “Hola! Cómo estás?” when subbing Upper School Spanish. Previously a sub at the BART charter school, in Adams, Paul has translated many novels, short story collections, and nonfiction books for leading publishers from Hungarian, his other native language, and he owns a small press, New Europe Books. He has received translation grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and PEN America. A long time ago he taught essay writing for young college students in Hungary, where he lived for many years (after a year as a newspaper reporter in the Adirondacks) and where he was also an intern for the US embassy and the editor of publications for a major PR firm. After resettling in America he worked for two book publishers, including Princeton University Press, where he was senior copywriter. Paul has an MA in English/writing from Indiana University, Bloomington, and a BA in English from the State University of New York at Buffalo. Devoted to swimming, hiking, camping, campfires, and foraging for wild edibles, Paul lives in Williamstown, Massachusetts, with his teenage son, Akosh.
Assistant Head of School
Jamal Ahamad has nearly a decade of teaching experience in Berkshire County—he was most recently an English Language Arts teacher in the Mt. Greylock Regional School District. He has also taught algebra, African-American studies, and dance. Jamal earned a B.A. and an M.S.Ed. from MCLA, where he has served as an adjunct professor in the education department. In his spare time, Jamal frequently facilitates workshops for his fellow educators, choreographs and teaches dance, designs multimedia projects, and leads playwriting workshops.
Jamal’s energy, passion for education, and expertise with evidence-based instructional practices are invaluable at Pine Cobble as we build community and advance our academic program. He works closely with the faculty and families at Pine Cobble as we offer social and academic experiences that will benefit kids for a lifetime.
BA, MS Ed, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts
Ashley Amsden has worn many different educator hats over the last seventeen years, from teaching music lessons to leading trail crews, from facilitating ropes courses to earning an MsEd in integrated learning, and from leading hikes to teaching fifth grade. Now in her third year as the math specialist at Pine Cobble, Ashley finds so much joy and fulfillment in learning about how her students learn math and in matching their learning styles with the most engaging and effective activities to meet their specific needs. When she is not playing Fractions War or Target Number at school, she loves to garden, cook, knit, and hike, and—along with her husband, Michael, and their children, Maggie and Everett—to care for the many animals on her farm.
BM, Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam
MEd, Antioch University New England
Linda J.L. Becker
AB, Smith College
EdM, Harvard University
Anne Bona was born and raised in North Adams. She brings to Pine Cobble more than thirty-five years of experience across a variety of office and management positions. During her time in elementary school, she worked as a helper in the main office, but never did she guess it was a prelude to her current position. Her role in the front office allows her to interact with students, faculty, and parents, and she enjoys learning from all of these encounters. Having raised two children, who are now adults, she has the background to understand and be empathetic in various situations and she shares this experience with students on a regular basis. In her free time, Anne enjoys spending time with her family and friends, as well as baking.
Sports Teacher & Athletic Director
Tory Buck came on board as athletic director at Pine Cobble School in September 2022 after a tenure as a history teacher at the Eaglebrook School, in Deerfield, Massachusetts, where he was also head of the school’s baseball program and a basketball coach. Athletics has long been central to his life. While earning a BA in history from Bridgewater State University he spent four years on its NCAA Division III collegiate baseball team. Tory passes much of his out-of-school time weight training, as well as in the great outdoors—golfing, hiking, mountain climbing, and gardening. He once spent five months in South America, much of that time climbing mountains, including a 20,000-foot peak. A native of Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts, Tory lives today in nearby Erving, with his wife, Jill, and their three dogs, Obi, Rey, and Sunny.
BS, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts
BA, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts
MEd, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts