Directors

President and CEO

Richard grew up in New Haven, Connecticut. His mother was a special education teacher and his father an artist. He obtained his Bachelor’s degree from Bard College majoring in Psychology, and his Master's degree from Southern Connecticut State University in Special Education. He also attended the Tavistock Institute for Group Relations in Annapolis, MD, and the University of Wisconsin Summer Institute for Public Executives where he received a certificate in Psychiatric Administration.

Richard rose through the ranks as a Childcare Worker, Teacher, Activities Director and Director of Group living at a Connecticut Residential Treatment Center where he worked for fourteen years. His other significant experience was in New York, where he was the Executive Director of a large Residential Treatment Center with a Group Home division for 180 emotionally troubled inner city youth for ten years. He came to Grove School in 1986 as Executive Director.

Richard’s interest in working with adolescents was sparked at age 19 when he elected to do a 3 month volunteer “field period” as one of his college requirements. Both his parents’ work, as well as their personal interests contributed to his decision to see what working with children was about.

Richard has been an adjunct professor at Southern Connecticut State University and has served on numerous boards of directors in both New York and Connecticut. He currently serves on the board of directors of the Green Chimneys School in Brewster, New York.

Richard has many interests which he tries to pursue in his “spare time”.  They include art, architecture, sculpture, fitness, piano, reading, exotic cars and travel, especially in the Caribbean and Italy. He lives in Madison, near the school and remains close to his 3 adult children and 2 grandchildren.

In reference to his work, Richard states: “I am most proud of having made many wonderful relationships with terrific young people from all walks of life in my 50 years in this field. Today I count several former students among my close friends. I think it is the ultimate privilege to be able to do what you love and to love what you do”.

Executive Director

Peter was born into the field of helping adolescents as he grew up on the grounds of residential treatment programs and the Grove School campus. His present work at Grove is an extension of how he was raised and he feels privileged to make this his life’s work. Peter graduated from Bucknell University with a BA in Psychology and School Psychology and he earned his MS in Special Education with a concentration in Marriage and Family Therapy from Southern Connecticut State University. Peter also studied at the University of Lancaster in England during his undergraduate coursework.

Peter began his work at Grove during high school as a tutor and maintenance assistant. Throughout his college years, he worked as a care staff and later became a live-in Teacher/Counselor, teaching Math and Psychology. In 1996, he became a Residential Administrator. He then was promoted to Associate Director and later, Executive Director. Now, as Executive Director, he manages and supervises all of the daily operations of the school. He also facilitates the hiring and recruitment of teachers, care staff and other school personnel. Peter is an integral part of campus life and has direct involvement with the student population serving as a Student Advisor, Baseball Coach and the co-Advisor to the Student Council.

Outside of the Grove School community, Peter worked as an Employment Specialist with developmentally delayed adults at SARAH in Guilford, CT. Additionally, he interned as a counselor at a middle school in Lewisburg, PA during his undergraduate years. He also conducted psychological research at Montefiore Hospital in the Bronx, NY on borderline personality disorder and suicide.

Peter is proud of the school’s growth and development over the past 15 years. Being a positive impact on children and their families is an incredible opportunity. Peter remains in touch with many Grove alumni and their families.

Peter lives in Madison with wife, Kim, who is a financial planner and active member of the community, and their two sons, ages 12 and 9. His interests include baseball, tennis, painting, skiing, travelling and fitness. He is an avid Yankess and UConn Basketball fan. Peter has served on the Executive board of Friends of Madison Youth for over ten years and has led many fundraising efforts for the town. Peter has been selected to various committees with Madison Youth Services and he has been an active board member for Madison Little League serving as Fall Baseball Commissioner and as a coach for the past five years.  He serves on the Education Committe for Temple Beth Tikvah.

Richard Rubin, M.D.
Medical Director

Dr. Rubin is a board certified psychiatrist who has been at Grove for over twenty years. After graduating magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa with a BA in Chemistry from Clark University, he earned his medical degree at the University of Pennsylvania Medical School and did his psychiatric residency training at Yale University School of Medicine. He currently is on the clinical faculty at Yale where he supervises psychiatric residents and is an Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry. Dr. Rubin is on the attending staff of Yale-New Haven Hospital and the Hospital of St. Raphael in New Haven, CT. He is also President and Medical Director of Clinical Associates of Connecticut in Guilford, CT.

Dr. Rubin’s work covers the life span as he is also board certified in geriatric psychiatry. He addresses issues from a multi-systems orientation and he has spent his career integrating the various aspects of biological, intrapsychic and interpersonal interactions. He has lectured on topics ranging from psychopharmacology to the role of the therapeutic milieu in residential treatment.

As Medical Director of Grove School, Dr. Rubin oversees the all of the clinical services and the Health Center. He also sees students in individual psychotherapy, manages medication for a caseload of students and facilitates a therapy group.

In reference to his time at Grove, Dr. Rubin comments, “To help shape the creation of an environment that fosters the development and growth of the adolescents that come to the Grove School is enormously rewarding. To work in an environment that also contributes to the evolution of my own thinking and to my personal and professional growth has been, and continues to be, an extraordinary experience which has shaped and changed my life; it is a privilege.”

Education Director
Robert Ruggiero

Bob is a native of Connecticut who grew up in the Fair Haven neighborhood of New Haven as a member the first generation in his family born in America. His father came to this country at age 12 and his mother’s family immigrated to the US from Italy.  During the 1920s Bob’s parents only had access to an elementary education to become literate before joining the workforce, which helped Bob gain a perspective on the impact committed teachers can make even with limited time and resources.

Bob’s first experience in teaching was as a classroom assistant helping students challenged by severe Autism (BenHaven School). That experience gave him a belief in the intrinsic value in each student’s potential to learn, whether typical or exceptional. Bob earned his BA from the University of New Haven and his MS and 6th year Professional Diploma from Southern Connecticut State University, where he has served as an adjunct professor in Special Education since 2003.

Bob was a general education middle school teacher for four years, but has spent most of his career working in special education. He holds CT education certificates in Elementary Education (1-8), Special Education (K-12), and School Administration, including a Superintendent’s certificate. Most of his professional experience has been in residential settings with children and young adults who have impairments that affect learning. He came to Grove School in 2005, first as a consultant and was charmed by the gentle campus atmosphere, the students’ potential, and the caliber of the people who come to Grove to teach. Six months later he assumed the role of school administrator to participate in a Renaissance of facility building and program development that has yet to recognize an end point.

Among his related professional activities Bob has been co-chair of the CT State Council on Vocational Education (SCOVE); chaired the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce Business/Education Council; served as Accreditation Team Leader for the National Commission for the Accreditation of Special Education Services (NCASES), and as a member of several New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) review teams.   Bob has also served eight years on the Madison Board of Education (two as vice-chair); two years as a member of the Board of Directors for LEARN, and two years as a member of the Board of Directors for the CT Association of Boards of Education (CABE).

Bob enjoys being an educator, working with Grove students directly taking on the responsibility of helping to develop, organize and monitor their academic success. Bob is quite confident that his next 40 years in Education will be even more fun than the past forty.

Bob and his wife live in Madison and have two grown sons.  

Associate Director

Colin was born and raised in Rochester, New York. He has always enjoyed helping people and started working as a camp counselor and attending mission trips with his church’s youth group at a young age. Upon graduating with a BA in History from Castleton State College in Vermont, Colin became the Director of Camp Haccamo, a residential camp for children with special needs in New York. He also worked as the House Manager for a homeless shelter in Boston and as a counselor at an Outdoor Youth Development Program for adjudicated youth in South Carolina.

Colin came to Grove School in 1997 and has held various roles during his tenure. He initially worked as a Teacher/Counselor, teaching English and supervising a boy’s dorm. He was promoted to Residential Administrator and then became an Associate Director in 2007. His current role encompasses overseeing the Boys Residential Program, serving as Head Baseball Coach, leading the ASTEE trips to the Caribbean, serving as a Student Advisor, managing the On-campus Job Program and supervising the care staff. Colin also developed and leads the Waterfront Work Club, which is currently restoring the lake areas on the school campus.  He holds multiple certifications from Project Adventure and faciliates Grove's ropes course.   

The aim of Colin’s work at Grove is to prepare kids to grow up to be healthy, happy adults, remembering that change is not just about today, but the years ahead. He feels honored to be help guide students and families to change their lives. He also has fun with the staff and students on a daily basis, whether it is on the baseball field or on a sailboat in the Caribbean.

Colin and his wife live on campus with their four children who frequently play and interact with the Grove students. Colin enjoys spending time at his second home in Wilmington, Vermont, travelling, hiking and coaching Little League baseball.

Assistant Director

A native of the east coast of Canada, Darren joined the Grove staff in 1997. He holds a BA in Political Science and a Bachelor’s of Education degree from St. Thomas University. Darren also earned his Master’s degree in Special Education from Southern Connecticut State University. Prior to settling in Connecticut, Darren had a broad range of outdoor experience, working in the Canadian wilderness as a fisherman during his summer breaks from school.  This experience shaped his appreciation for the environment and helped him develop a strong work ethic.

Darren worked as a Teacher/Counselor and Residential Administrator before becoming an Assistant Director in 2008. His primary area of professional interest is technology, as he single-handedly manages all aspects of technology at Grove.  He is completely self-taught and continues to follow the latest technology trends to stay current with advances in the field. He is also responsible for introducing the farm program on campus, which he is currently looking to expand and is a Student Advisor and manages the campus as an On-Call Director during the week.

In his work at Grove, Darren helps students recognize their full potential by resolving dysfunctional patterns that have caused them to feel defeated in the past. He enjoys each student’s idiosyncrasies and loves the problem solving aspects of the job, especially when it involves developing the best course of treatment for each individual.

As an accomplished athlete, Darren brings his soccer enthusiasm to the Grove program by refereeing home games and assisting with development of the soccer program. He continues to play competitive soccer several times a week and coaches and referees part time in the community.  He also likes to travel and play golf in his spare time. Darren lives locally with his wife and their three children.

Associate Director

Janel’s interest in working with adolescents began as she coached sports with middle and high school students in her hometown of Westbrook, Connecticut. She came to Grove in 2002, after completing a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Southern Connecticut State University. She has also earned her Master’s degree at Southern Connecticut State University and holds a CT license in Marriage and Family Therapy.

Janel has held several different positions at Grove prior to becoming Associate Director in 2013. She created and developed the Transition Program in 2007 and was the director for several years.  She remains connected to the Transition Program by running weekly group therapy sessions and holds a position on our transition committee.  Janel is passionate about helping students launch into young adulthood with a path for success.  Currently Janel's focus is on coordinating and developing the female program.  Janel is a Certified Instructor in Therapeutic Crisis Intervention and has a large role in training staff.  She is a Student Advisor and coordinates all of the Senior Events, including graduation.

Janel is a Registered Yoga Teacher and teaches yoga, meditation, and guided imagery to the students and staff at Grove. She educates the community on mindfulness-based practices for emotional and mood regulation and empowers students to find their inner strengths. She is honored that students and parents trust her, along with the staff at Grove, to help them improve their quality of life.

An avid athlete and college field hockey stand out, Janel is a team player who enjoys the collaboration and camaraderie among the staff at Grove. Her interests include golf, personal training, reading, enjoying the beach, and healthy cooking.  Janel was married this fall and is enjoying establishing a home with her husband in Madison.

Assistant Director

Alex graduated from the University of Buffalo with a Bachelor’s degree in English and Psychology and earned his Master's of Science in Recreational Therapy from Southern Connecticut State University. He earned a Master’s degree in clinical Social Work at the University of Connecticut. In addition, he also trained and has certifications as a Therapeutic Crisis Intervention trainer, a Wilderness First-Responder, Leave No Trace Educator (Outdoor Ethics), High and Low Ropes Course Manager and is pursuing his certification as an AMGA (American Mountain Guide Association) certified guide.

Prior to working at Grove School, Alex interned at Weaver High School in Hartford, CT as a counselor and mentor for adjudicated teenagers in a Special Education classroom. He spent three years working at Hillside Children’s Center’s emergency placement unit in upstate New York as a Youth Family Development Specialist serving sexually and physically abused children. He also spent two years working as an Assistant Manager at a group home in Buffalo, NY for dually diagnosed adolescents with severe behavioral and emotional issues.

In June 2005 Alex began working at Grove School as a Teacher/Counselor. In September 2007 Alex joined the administrative team as a Student Advisor, Dorm Administrator, and Activities Coordinator. Most recently, Alex joined the Executive Team after being promoted to Assistant Director in 2012 and is currently looking forward to spending the years to come with his Grove family.

During the course of his high school career, Alex struggled to find a school that could provide him with a successful and meaningful experience. This was until his family found Grove School at the beginning of his sophomore year. Working at Grove provides Alex with the opportunity to give back to the school that gave him a second chance and helped him to enjoy the success he experiences today. Alex embraces Grove’s philosophy of using relationships as the ‘change agent’ in helping adolescents and families to find health and happiness. Alex is a firm believer that there are two essential ingredients to positive outcomes when working with struggling adolescents: a dedicated family and excellent treatment.

Alex is originally from Rochester, New York. Since moving to Connecticut, Alex has found that he is truly a New Englander at heart and enjoys calling the Shoreline home. When he is not at work he enjoys mountaineering, rock climbing, alpine skiing and cross-country skiing, road biking, cooking, travelling and most importantly, spending time with his wife, Rachel and black lab, Taco.

Assistant Director for the Arts

After growing up near Washington D.C, Kevin attended the University of Southern California and graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Cinema & Television.  Kevin worked in the film industry for more than ten years as a creative executive specializing in the development and pre-production of feature-films.

Ultimately, Kevin sought a more rewarding environment and decided to leave his career in entertainment and pursue a path in teaching.  After receiving his credential in single-subject social sciences from California State University-Long Beach, Kevin taught Modern American History and U.S Government to students from at-risk backgrounds in the Los Angeles Unified School District, before relocating back to the east coast and working as a private tutor for students in NYC.  After being featured in a New York Times article on the expanding role of tutors and educators in the lives of students, Kevin accepted a position as a member of the Grove faculty in the summer of 2013.

While serving as the Day Program Coordinator and the National Honor Society's faculty adviser has been fulfilling, Kevin is most excited to have launched Grove's Film Program.  Using professional expertise from his former career and combining it with a passion for working with students that have special needs, Kevin has found a unique home at The Grove School, where he currently teaches classes that include Film Theory, Screenwriting, Introduction to Film Production and even a professional training course in Careers in Entertainment.  Kevin was honored as staff of the month in his first year and is now one of the leaders of the school's emerging Arts Department. 

Despite missing the sunshine of California, Kevin has found his experiences at Grove to be among the most rewarding of his life.  In passing along his passion to students with similar interests, Kevin is proud of the relationships he has formed and the role of mentor that he has embraced.  When Kevin isn't talking about movies or television, he is most likely following one of his beloved sports teams or engaging in conversations about politics and current events. Kevin is incredibly enthusiastic about expanding the Film School at Grove and making other positive contributions to the community in the years to come.