Who We Are

Bridges of Peace and Hope is an international network of teachers, students, and friends collaborating on creative, arts in education projects that promote respect, understanding, and communication.

Advisory Board

 The individuals listed below are actively involved in the project as teachers, creative artists, and professional advisers. Click on their names to read more about them.

The background information regarding the advisers will be updated periodically to include new information and photos.


Ken Buescher

Picture of Ken Buescher

Teacher of the Year
Founding Member BoPH
Stadley Rough School
Danbury, CT USA

Ken has two Masters Degrees in Education and has taught elementary school for 25 years in Danbury, CT. Ken was named Danbury's Teacher of the Year 2009. He has received 2 CAS awards for Teaching Excellence and been selected as the New Times Outstanding Teacher. Ken has been a workshop presenter and basketball coach. He is chairperson of his school’s Character Ed and Child Study Team and a trainer in Assertive Discipline. He is the author of the book “Stop Complaining.” Each year Ken’s classes are involved in many community service projects. Ken’s wife Debbie is a teacher and quilter. She contributed work to the “These Are Our Hopes” quilt project. Ken is a survivor of the 1960’s and a self described “Dharma Bum.” He is a founding member of BoPH.

Click on the YouTube video to learn about what Ken and his students have been doing.



Maxwell Kofi Donkor

Picture of Maxwell Kofi Donkor

Master Drummer and Sculptor
Arts Educator
Born and raised in Ghana, W. Africa
Lives in Greenville, NY USA

Kofi was born and raised in Ghana in West Africa. He learned drumming at his grandfather’s knee in their native village in Otumi. Kofi graduated from the University of Science and Technology in Kumasi where his studies focused on his nation’s culture, sculpture, rural art and industry. Kofi has won numerous awards for his sculpture which has been featured at exhibits internationally. He came to the US to teach art and drumming in 1992. He has played with internationally renowned drummers Baba Olatunji and Mickey Hart, and has worked as an Arts Educator in schools around the country. He considers the preservation of Ghanaian art and culture to be an essential part of his mission. Kofi is the leader of Sankofa, a drum and dance ensemble that performs at schools, universities and cultural events. Kofi’s wife Alicia is from Poland and they have four children. Kofi and John Farrell are collaborating on a series of audio and video recording projects to expand the resource component of the BoPH project.


Michael Palmer

Picture of Michael Palmer

Pechersk School International
Kiev, Ukraine

Michael is an administrator at Pechersk School International in Kiev, Ukraine. He is originally from Ontario, Canada. As a university student Michael volunteered with the “Tools for Peace” organization and traveled to Nicaragua in 1988 to raise awareness of unjust wars being conducted in Central America. After university Michael moved to Africa to work as a teacher at a mission school in rural Zimbabwe. He has also taught and lived in Istanbul, Turkey. He has been involved in many local charity events. He has established a relationship between a local orphanage and some of the students in the upper primary grades where students and parents volunteer their time. Michael and his wife Mariya, have two young boys, one is nearly 4 and the other 4 months. Michael has been very actively involved in BoPH since 2006. Students at his school have been involved a BoPH projects for three consecutive years linking his school with students in many other countries.


Gael Lynch

Picture of Gael Lynch

Teacher and Author 
Founding Member of BoPH
Reed Intermediate School
Newtown, CT USA

Gael is a lifelong teacher, dedicated to promoting peace and harmony one child at a time in her own classroom. She currently teaches sixth grade language arts and world cultural studies, but has also taught much younger children in her tenure. The thread of writing and creative expression has been woven throughout the years of her teaching. Gael herself is a writer of middle grade and young adult fiction and is particularly interested in the lives and cultures of others as seen through the stories of the world’s people. Gael and her husband Tom have three grown children. Her proudest moment as a mom was bringing them back to Ireland for the first time where they stood on a hilltop in the very spot where her grandmother was born. Her hope is that the world’s children will become enlightened by the stories of the struggles and courage of the generations that have come before them in order to make peace the way of their future.

Gael and Tom are founding members of Bridges of Peace and Hope.
Read more from Gael at her blog http://www.gaellynch.blogspot.com/


Meg McLoone

Picture of Meg McLoone

BoPH Project and Event Coordinator
Academy of International Studies
Danbury, CT

Meg has a BA degree in Business and French from Muhlenberg College. She has always had a passion for languages and distant lands. While a junior in High School she was selected by the American Field Service to live with a family in Iceland. Junior year in College was spent in Strasbourg, France where she also continued Russian studies. Meg has worked at the United Nations in New York. She is a full time volunteer in the school PTO. She is actively involved in the “Roots and Shoots” and “Heifer International Projects.” She has been a private French teacher for 5 years, coached Odyssey of the Mind creative thinking teams for 4 years and works as a Child Associate at the Academy for International Studies in Danbury, CT. Recently she coordinated the installation and dedication of a peace pole at the school. "We are walking a bridge of peace" was inscribed on the pole. Meg and her husband have four children ranging in age from 7-14 years. She joined the board this year and has been the lead organizer for BoPH cultural events and concerts.


David John Hartnick

Picture of David John Hartnick

Educator and Coach
De Rust Futura Academy
Grabouw, Western Cape Province
Republic of South Africa

David John has been in the teaching profession for 28 years. He is currently teaching Physical Education, History and Languages(Afrikaans) at De Rust Futura Academy in Grabouw, South Africa. The school is situated in a rural area in the Elgin Valley.  David started international networking in 1996 while doing a Classroom-to-Classroom Programme with a teacher in Oriskany, NY. David’s students became involved with People-to-People International(PTPI) in 2000 and his classes have had penpals from around the globe. In 2001 a group from Montevallo University in Birmingham, Alabama visited his school and they began doing a classroom cultural exchange programme. David and his family have been hosts to many international travelers to South Africa and he visited Sweden in 2007. David met John Farrell in 2005 and again in 2007 when John visited schools in South Africa. His class created writing and art for the BoPH “These Are Our Hopes” quilt project. David is married to Nicholene and they have a 14-year old boy, Gary-John and a 10-year old girl, Amelia. 


Colleen Farrell

Picture of Colleen Farrell

College Student
Global Development Studies Major
University of Virginia
Charlottesville, Va  USA


Colleen is currently an undergraduate student at the University of Virginia. She has worked as a Student Area Coordinator for the human rights group Amnesty International. Her international experience includes volunteer work with children in Ecuador, as well as travels to several European countries. Colleen will be going to South Africa this summer with three other UVA students to carry out a self-designed project with the goal of bridging the divide between the rural disabled and "normally abled" populations in Northeastern South Africa. Colleen is also a singer-songwriter, and is seeking to develop and improve as an artist, and global citizen. She is optimistic about the potential of BoPH to serve as a creative outlet and cultural connector for open-minded individuals worldwide. Colleen is the daughter of Ann Marie and John Farrell.


Mary Jain & Darlene

Picture of Mary Jain & Darlene

Retired Teachers
Quilt Masters
Project Coordinators
Founding Members of BoPH
Edmeston, NY USA

Mary Jain Dayger and Darlene Humphrey are a team of retired school teachers that work with Hope River Music, Bridges of Peace and Hope, and the Arts in Education program at Edmeston Central School.

As project coordinators for Bridges of Peace and Hope the ladies do arm chair traveling to many parts of the world helping people communicate with each other. Since leaving the classroom the longtime friends have pursued hobbies in quiltmaking and bird watching, but they still enjoy working with students of all ages on a variety of volunteer projects. One project was the Bridges of Peace and Hope quilt . MJ and Darlene were a part of all of the stages of the quilt project including the final assembly.


Katie Farrell

Picture of Katie Farrell

Kathleen M. Farrell
Former Peace Corps Volunteer
Graduate Student, Teaching Assistant
University of Washington

Katie is a 2007 graduate of Boston College and she is currently completing her Peace Corps Master’s Degree in International Public Health at the University of Washington in Seattle. Katie served 2 years in the Peace Corps in Koza, Cameroon, Africa, working in the public health sector, assisting physicians, visiting rural clinics, and working with expectant mothers. As an undergraduate, Katie studied a semester at Rhodes College in Grahamstown, South Africa. While in South Africa Katie jumped off the Bloukrans Bridge, the highest bungee jump in the world. Katie plans to attend Medical School next and continue looking for ways to help others.



Raymond Flanigan

Bethel Photoworks
Bethel, CT USA


Maureen Tyra

Picture of Maureen Tyra

BoPH Project Coordinator
Middle School Teacher
Ridgefield, Connecticut USA

Maureen Tyra is currently an 8th grade teacher in Ridgefield Connecticut. She has been involved with numerous organizations involved in promoting peace and compassion through action. Maureen’s students correspond with students throughout the world in an effort to create global awareness and compassion. She is a member of the Peace Corps Coverdell World Wise Schools program. Maureen designed an 8th grade service project curriculum requiring all students to individually investigate problems in the world and then do service to help remedy the situations. Maureen was a co-chair and program coordinator for this years Bridges of Peace and Hope Heroes Award Presentation. She and her husband Gary have 5 children and one grandchild. They live in Bethel, Connecticut.


Ann Marie Farrell

Picture of Ann Marie Farrell

Ann Marie Farrell
Founding Member BoPH
Elementary Teacher
Hillsdale, NY      USA

Ann Marie has a Master’s Degree in Elementary Education and Special Education. She has taught kindergarten, grades 1 and 2 for 15 years. She is a founding member of Bridges of Peace and Hope and has been active in BoPH projects including pen pal exchanges with a class in Bucharest, Romania and another class in Lusaka, Zambia. Ann Marie has helped coordinate BoPH events and assisted in the hospitality arrangements for the South African group Thula Sizwe on their US tours including school visits. She has sung on John’s CD’s, helped write songs and activities, and played guitar and sang with all her classes. Ann Marie did volunteer  work with disadvantaged children in Ecuador and she is active in many volunteer roles in the community. Ann Marie is the mother of five young adult children. She and John live in Hillsdale, NY and spend time every summer with family and friends in Prince Edward Island, Canada.


Thomas Lynch

Picture of Thomas  Lynch

Board of Directors 
Founding Member of BoPH
Retired A.T. & T. Manager
Newtown, Connecticut

Tom is a former educator, counselor and senior sales executive. He received both his BS in Education and MS in Counseling from the University of Bridgeport and his Administrators Certificate from Southern Connecticut State University. Upon graduation from Bridgeport he taught and then directed an alternative co-ed high school for eight years before switching careers and going into sales. Tom spent twenty four years in sales the final twenty in various Sr. Management positions - the last six as Regional VP for National Accounts at AT&T Wireless . He has been married to the amazing Gael Murphy for thirty three years and is the proud father of Matthew, Caitlin and Timothy – 28, 25, and 22. He loves all types of good music and is an unabashed New York Giants, Yankees, and Knicks fan. Whenever possible he can be found enjoying the outdoors in his kayak .


Carol Gans


Lorraine Cich

Picture of Lorraine Cich

Music Teacher / Piano Arrangements
Thomas Jefferson Elementary School
Yorktown Heights, NY

Lorraine has a masters degree in Music Education and has been a music teacher for over twenty-five years in the Lakeland School District, Yorktown Heights, NY. She has been at the same school, Thomas Jefferson Elementary, the whole time. She teaches general music and chorus, helps lead the character education program, and manages a student volunteer service club called Helping Hands. Lorraine also developed and teaches a music technology and digital recording course at a high school in her district. Lorraine has served as Sunday School Music Director at her church and also volunteers for many community service events. She has worked with John Farrell on several projects including directing the children’s chorus for two of John’s cd’s, and arranging sheet music for the songs included here on the BoPH web site. Lorraine's mission is to foster peace and good will while instilling the joy of music into the hearts and lives of children. Her husband Fred is a Chiropractor and their daughter Emily is a student at Peabody Conservatory of Music. Lorraine looks forward to future collaborations with other music teachers through BoPH.


Jabulani Abel Dlamini

Picture of Jabulani  Abel Dlamini

Performing Artist
Leader of Thula Sizwe
Republic of South Africa

Abel is the leader of the Zulu song, dance and drumming ensemble Thula Sizwe.  He was born and raised on a farm in Kwa-zulu Natal region of South Africa, and is one of the youngest of 22 children.  Abel is a descendant of the musicians of the Zulu and Swazi King’s households. As a child he was taught many traditional songs and dances, as well as how to play traditional musical instruments. Abel has met and worked for Nelson Mandela. Since the end of apartheid and the election of Mandela as president of South Africa, Abel and Thula Sizwe have traveled the world promoting South African culture and goodwill. The group has done recordings and participated in many school visits and family concerts to promote Bridges of Peace and Hope. Abel lives in Shoshanguve township near Pretoria and he does many things to help members of the community there.


Dan McLoone

Picture of Dan McLoone

High School Student
Excellence in Citenship Award
Brookfield, Connecticut USA

Dan is a high school student in Brookfield, Connecticut. He is extremely excited to be taking part in Bridges of Peace and Hope, and is truly honored at being the youngest member of the BoPH Board. He has been involved in the presentation of the Bridges of Peace and Hope Heroes Award for the past few years. Dan is involved in his town’s Odyssey of the Mind group, participates in his church’s youth group, and is active in  other community service projects. He received the Connecticut Excellence in Citizenship Award in recognition for his academic performance and active participation in civic and community activities. Dan has had his poems published in the Connecticut Student Writers magazine and attended the National Youth Leadership Conference in Washington D.C. in 2009. The conference included a trip to the inauguration of President Barack Obama, and the opportunity to have private talks with Al Gore and Colin Powell. Dan’s interests include soccer, basketball, movies, and spending time with friends and family. He lives with his parents and 3 younger siblings.


John Farrell

Picture of John  Farrell

Founder Bridges of Peace and Hope
Performing Artist and Songwriter
Hillsdale, NY USA

John Farrell has a Master’s Degree in Creative Arts in Education and he has been visiting schools to sing and write songs with students, teachers, and families for over 20 years. John has visited more than 1500 schools in 17 countries around the world. He has recorded 7 Cd’s of songs and stories and is the author of three Boyds Mills Press picture books including “Stargazer’s Alphabet,” an International Reading Association Notable Book of the Year. John has been a keynote speaker and featured presenter at educational conferences in Europe, Asia, Africa and America. Together with his wife, Ann Marie, and a small group of friends John founded Bridges of Peace and Hope in 2006 after his first visit to Africa. The goal at the time was to promote respect, understanding and cooperation among children and teachers in many places by starting creative arts projects that allow them share their stories, music and artwork and collaborate on projects together. John and Ann Marie have five wonderful grown children.


Cheryl Arnett

Picture of Cheryl Arnett

Elementary Teacher
Winner 2010 Microsoft
Innovative Educations Forum
Sunset Elementary School
Craig, Colorado  USA

Cheryl earned her teaching degree and masters degree in elementary education for a second career late in life, but has been teaching first and second grade for the past 18 years in rural northwestern Colorado. She was the US winner of the 2010 Microsoft Innovative Education Forum in Washington, DC and represented the United States in the 2010 World Wide Innovative Education Forum in Capetown, South Africa. She became involved with the Bridges of Peace and Hope Project when pen pal letters from her students were delivered by BoPH founder John Farrell to a class in Lusaka, Zambia. Her students have pen pals around the world and Cheryl is committed to teaching global awareness and cultural understanding through the use of technology in the classroom. She believes that if children everywhere could become friends when they were six, there would be far less conflict and war in the world.