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Teacher Beth Omane-Stancil begins her fourth year here at MCS. She completed her Infant/Toddler training at the Center for Montessori Education in New York in 2004. Beth has taught toddlers in a Montessori setting for 11 years. She has also taught as an assistant in the Primary level for one year. Beth is originally from New York City, and attended Oneonta State University for two years, then transferred to Hunter College in New York. Beth has two children, Samuel and Rachael. Her daughter Rachael is in Upper Elementary as a fourth year student.
Assistant Nicole Pratt has over 15 years of experience working with children from birth to age five. This is Nicole’s second year in the Toddler room.
Teacher Sue Ferrari has over 25 years of Montessori experience and this year begins her 13th year at MCS. Sue received an AMI Primary 3-6+ Montessori Diploma in 1978 from the Montessori Teachers’ Training Center of St. Louis. Sue also holds a Bachelor of Environmental Design in Product Design from North Carolina State University where she graduated with honors in 1975. Sue spent six years working and teaching in Beirut, Lebanon, from 1978-1984. Sue attended the second assembly of AMI’s Educateurs sans Frontières in Spain in 2005 and will attend the third assembly in July 2011. In the summer of 2009 Sue completed her Master’s Degree in Montessori Education from St. Catherine University in St. Paul. Favorite Montessori thought: “The prepared environment should be ‘the keys to the universe,’ not the universe itself.”
Assistant Rochelle Hayes Rochelle is proud to have been a part of the MCS community for the past seven years. This is her second year as an assistant in 102. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Plan II (interdisciplinary honors program) from the University of Texas at Austin. She did her postgraduate work at Duke University as a doctoral student in the History department. She completed a Montessori assistant training course at MCS the summer of 2012. She has two sons: Jonathan, a student in 603, and Nicholas, a student in 303.
Teacher Mari Lindsay has 27 years of experience working with young children. She holds an AMS 3-6 Montessori Primary credential from the North Carolina Center for Montessori Teacher Education. From 1986 to 1998, Mari worked as an assistant teacher and then as a lead teacher at Lakeside Presbyterian Pre-School and Kindergarten in Erlanger, Kentucky. Through Durham Technical Community College, Mari completed 21 hours of training in Sign Language I and received her North Carolina Early Childhood Credential I and II (EDU 111 & 112). She has extensive training and experience as a wildlife rehabilitator. Mari is beginning her 15th year at MCS. Favorite Montessori quote: “He must find out how to concentrate, and for this he needs things to concentrate upon…Indeed, it is just here that the importance of our school really lies. There are places in which the child can find the kind of work that permits him to do so.”
Assistant Juliana Longiotti grew up in New Jersey and received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in photography at the Savannah College of Art and Design. Prior to becoming an assistant in Room 201, Juliana was a substitute teacher at MCS for four years and also a graphic designer for a firm in Durham. She has a son that was an MCS student from primary through his second Lower Elementary year. In her free time, Juliana enjoys photography, cooking, running, and being outdoors with her family.
Teacher Adam Miller begins his ninth year at MCS and his sixth year in Room 202. Previously, he worked in a three-year-old classroom at the Learning Tree Day Care in Erlanger, Ky. He also worked as a private duty gardener at Carol Woods for two years, and as a landscaper in Northern Kentucky for eight years. In the summer of 2006 Adam received his AMS Primary 3-6 Montessori Credential from the North Carolina Center for Montessori Teacher Education. Favorite Montessori quote: “The child’s first instinct is to carry out his actions by himself, without anyone helping him, and his first conscious bid for independence is made when he defends himself against those who try to do the action for him.”
Assistant Insaf Abdulla begins her tenth year working at MCS. She begins her second year in Room 202 after working as an assistant in Room 101 for eight years. Insaf was raised in Kuwait and has lived in the United States since 1991. Insaf has her Associate’s Degree in Office Systems Technology from Durham Tech and a Bachelor’s Degree in Arabic and Islamic studies from Kuwait University. She is the mother of four daughters and one son.
Teacher Kathy McHugh holds an AMS 3-6 Primary credential, which she completed through the North Carolina Center for Montessori Teacher Education in 1989. Kathy has worked at MCS since 1982 and is the mother of two MCS alumni. In 1997, Kathy created the first MCS all-day Montessori classroom. Kathy enjoys quilting and Contra dancing.
Assistant Godha Gopalarathnam completed her AMI Montessori Primary diploma in 1996 from the Indian Montessori Training Center in Bangalore, India. She has been working with children in Montessori schools since her undergraduate years. Godha has experience working as a co-teacher and a lead teacher in Montessori schools in North Carolina. She has her Bachelor of Science, with a major in Zoology. She enjoys science, reading, listening to music, and loves working in a Montessori classroom.
Teacher Beth Duffy joins MCS for her third year. Beth received her AMI diploma from the Ohio Montessori Training Institute and her Master’s degree in Education from Loyola. She also holds her Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education K-3 and has completed her reading certification. Beth’s four daughters attend MCS this year at the Primary, Lower and Upper Elementary levels.
Assistant Jessica Sherman completed her AMS Primary 3-6 Montessori Credential from the North Carolina Center for Montessori Teacher Education while interning with Sue Ferrari at Montessori Community School during the 2010-2011 school year. Upon graduating from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2007 with her degree in Early Childhood Education, she has worked in the public sector as a lead teacher with the State More At Four Program and the Federal Head Start Program. She is thrilled to return to MCS to teach and work alongside Beth Duffy. Favorite Montessori quote: “The exercise which develops life, consists in the repetition, not in the mere grasp of the idea.”
Primary Late Day Coordinator Jami Park holds a Bachelor of Science in Education from Southeastern Oklahoma State University. In June of 1999 she completed her American Montessori Society Birth to Toddler (0-3) credential from the North Carolina Center for Montessori Teacher Education. Jami came to MCS in 1996. Jami worked as an assistant in Room 102, before starting the Primary Late Day Program. Favorite Montessori quote: “The child is endowed with unknown powers, which can guide us to a radiant future. If what we really want is a new world, then education must take as its aim the development of these hidden possibilities.”
Primary Late Day Teacher Shahnaz Khan begins her 14th year at MCS. A native of Bangladesh, Shahnaz attended the University Women’s Federation College from 1987-1990, where she majored in Philosophy. Shahnaz is married and has three children. Shahnaz finished her AMS Primary 3-6 Montessori training in 2008 at the North Carolina Center for Montessori Teacher Education. She is excited to be a part of the Montessori Late Day Program with Jami. She is looking forward to a fabulous year. Favorite Montessori quote: “The children are initiated into the virtue of patience and into confident expectation, which is a form of faith and a philosophy of life.”
Primary Late Day Teacher Insaf Abdulla begins her tenth year working at MCS. Insaf was raised in Kuwait and has lived in the United States since 1991. Insaf has her Associate’s Degree in Office Systems Technology from Durham Tech and a Bachelor’s Degree in Arabic and Islamic studies from Kuwait University. She is the mother of four daughters and one son.
Primary Late Day Teacher Nicole Pratt has over 15 years of experience working with children from birth to age five. This is Nicole’s second year in the Toddler room.
Teacher Catherine Swanson returns for her fifth year at MCS. She has been a Montessori teacher since 2002, and has taught both Primary and Lower elementary. Catherine graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from UNC-Chapel Hill. She received her 6-9 NCME certification from the Montessori Teacher Training Institute in Clemson, S.C., and holds a 3-6 AMS certification from the Montessori Education Centers Associated in Clarendon Hills, Ill. She enjoys reading, running, and the outdoors.
Teacher Debbie Fixsen returns for her fourth year at MCS. Debbie has two children who attended the Montessori Artgarden primary program. She graduated from Brown University with a Bachelor of Arts in Comparative Literature and earned a PhD in Clinical Psychology at UNC-Chapel Hill. She has completed the AMS/MACTE Elementary I certification program at the Seacoast Center in N.H. Debbie is an avid reader, hiker, and animal lover. Favorite Montessori quote: “If the idea of the universe be presented to the child in the right way…… it will create in him admiration and wonder, a feeling loftier than any interest and more satisfying.”
Intern Frances Morgan begins her eighth year at MCS and joins Catherine and Debbie in Room 301. Frances has also served as an assistant at the Primary and Upper Elementary levels. She graduated from North Carolina State University with a Bachelor of Arts in English (Language, Writing and Rhetoric). Frances thoroughly enjoys playing piano, reading, yoga, and her two wonderful adopted dogs, Wardy and Monty.
Teacher Keturah Russell returns to MCS for her 18th year as a lower elementary teacher. Keturah graduated from Meredith College with a Bachelor of Art in Psychology in 1992 and received her AMS 6-9 Elementary Credential from the North Carolina Center for Montessori Teacher Education in 1992. She completed her internship here at MCS in 1992 and has been here ever since. Keturah is the mother of a daughter in Room 603 and a son in Room 601. She enjoys singing, riding her horses, reading, and playing guitar with the children. Favorite Montessori quote: “Establishing lasting peace is the work of education; all politics can do is keep us out of war.”
Teacher Jennifer Tobolski holds a Bachelor of Art in Sociology from Montana State University (2001) in Bozeman, Montana, an AMI Elementary diploma from the Montessori Institute of Milwaukee (2003), and a Masters in Education from Loyola College in Baltimore, Md. (2004). This is Jennifer’s tenth year of teaching and her seventh in room 302. She has two children in rooms 301 and 202. Jen and her family enjoy being outside riding bikes, hiking, camping, swimming, and doing all of those things families often enjoy doing together, often surrounded by water. She writes, “I believe Maria Montessori was a visionary. It says something that the method she created over one hundred years ago is still successful today. It has been amazing to watch these children evolve and see how the Montessori method prepares them for life. I have high expectations for children and I have seen them live up to our shared expectations over the years.”
Teacher Shelly Lyons has 12 years of experience in Montessori classrooms. She spent eight years at the Athens Montessori School in Athens, Ga., and one year at the Swannanoa Valley Montessori School in Black Mountain, N.C. This is her fourth year at MCS. She has a Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education from the University of Georgia and holds an elementary state teaching certificate in North Carolina and Pennsylvania. Shelly also holds an AMS elementary I credential from the North Carolina Center for Montessori Teacher Education. Besides teaching she enjoys camping, biking and hiking, creative writing, reading, playing Ultimate Frisbee, and spending time with her two sons, who also attend MCS. Favorite Montessori quote: “ The first duty of the educator, whether he is involved with the newborn infant or the older child, is to recognize the human personality of the young.”
Teacher Mike Miller is in his first year with MCS. He holds a Bachelor of Art in Business Management from Michigan State University. He will be receiving his AMS Elementary 6-9 certification in the summer of 2013 from the North Carolina Center for Montessori Teacher Education. Mike is originally from Michigan but moved to North Carolina in 2006 where he met his wife. They are expecting their first child in March of 2013 and live with their two dogs, Daisy and Willie.
Teacher Melissa Lee returns for her seventh year at MCS. Melissa holds an AMS Upper Elementary (9-12) credential from the Center for Montessori Teacher Education at the College of New Rochelle in New York. She also holds a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from Framingham State University in Massachusetts, along with Massachusetts and North Carolina Public School Elementary certification. Melissa has worked in public and private schools in North Carolina and Massachusetts. Outside the classroom, she enjoys running, reading, cooking, and being active outside as much as possible. A favorite Montessori quote: ”One test of the correctness of educational procedure is the happiness of the child.”
Teacher Don Henchel has been a Montessori teacher since 1981 and has taught Lower Elementary at MCS since 2005. He has a Bachelor of Arts in History from North Carolina Wesleyan (1973). Don holds an AMS 3-6 Primary credential from the Center for Montessori Teacher Education in New Rochelle, N.Y. (1982), and an AMS Elementary 6-9 Credential from the Seacoast Center in Scituate, Mass. (1994). He spent 20 years at the Montessori School of Raleigh and four years at Follow the Child Montessori School, also in Raleigh. He enjoys dialoging with his wonderful wife, hiking, watching movies, listening to music, anthropology and watching his sons grow into conscious young men. Don notes: “I believe in interdisciplinary education, cosmic curriculum, dialogue, meaningful and purposeful work, and keeping a healthy perspective on how each student learns. My strengths and experience are with the cultural curriculum, classroom management, research, and in keeping the balance between structure and creativity.” Favorite Montessori quote: “…you yourselves must be filled with wonder and when you have acquired that you are prepared.”
Teacher Michelle Reader returns for her 13th year at MCS. Michelle received her Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Centre College in Danville, Ky. (1996). She is a graduate of the Washington Montessori Institute of Loyola College in Timonium, Md., where she received the Association Montessori Internationale Elementary 6-12 diploma along with a Master of Education in 2000. Outside the classroom, Michelle enjoys singing in a local chorus, bicycling, hiking, reading, geocaching, and spending time with her partner and their two children. Michelle is very excited that her son will begin his journey at MCS this year as a primary student. Favorite Montessori quote: “The secret of good teaching is to regard the child’s intelligence as a fertile field in which seeds may be sown, to grow under the heat of flaming imagination.”
Teacher Jeff Kishpaugh has taught at MCS since 2010. Before coming to MCS, Jeff was an upper elementary teacher at Swannanoa Valley Montessori School in Black Mountain, North Carolina and at Spruce Pine Montessori School in Spruce Pine, N.C. Jeff took his coursework for Montessori training at the Center for Montessori Teacher Education in New York. Jeff received his Bachelor of Arts from Emory University and also did graduate work in Scotland. He enjoys meditation, walking, games, and being out in nature. Favorite Montessori quote: “Let us give the child a vision of the whole Universe… We should walk together on this path of life, for all things are part of the Universe and are connected with each other to form one whole unity.”
Lower Elementary Late Day Supervisor Rana Albishtawi has worked as a teaching assistant for 12 years at Glenwood Elementary School in Chapel Hill. Before that, she worked as a nurse’s assistant in Kuwait for two years. Rana holds an Early Childhood Education Credential certificate. Originally from Jordan, Rana is a mother of two. She is fluent in Arabic and English, and enjoys children. Rana begins her 11th year in the MCS Late Day program.
Teacher Peter Piché has been a Montessori guide since 1997 and has been a teacher at MCS since 1999. He has Montessori training at Primary, Elementary, and Adolescent levels. He is father to Ben, a student at MCS, and Kayla, graduate of MCS’s Adolescent Community. Presently, Peter is the guide for Humanities and Language Arts in Montessori Community School’s Adolescent Program for seventh and eighth grade, a program that he conceptualized and founded for the school in 2005. In his leisure time he enjoys vegetable gardening, exercise, and reading. He is also a USA Hockey official and Vice President of the Mid Atlantic Officials Association in Raleigh, NC. Peter is a strong advocate of learning as a life-long pursuit.
Teacher Michèle Widd has been a part of the MCS Adolescent Community since its inception in 2005. She is a guide in Science, Supplementary Languages, and Mindfulness and is also the staff advisor for Cool Beans Café, our student-run business. Her son, Ryan, attended MCS for 8 years and graduated from the Adolescent Program in 2011. Michèle holds a BS and MS in Chemistry from Stevens Institute of Technology and earned her Montessori Lower Elementary Diploma from the North American Center for Montessori Education 2005. She has lived abroad, traveled extensively overseas, and is fluent in Spanish, French, and Italian. Michèle is the trip coordinator for the Graduating 8th Year International Trip to Roatan, Honduras. In her free time she enjoys playing the guitar, singing, reading fiction and “young adult” novels, and SCUBA diving.
Teacher Melanie Leyden has been a Montessori guide since 1997 and is beginning her third year as the Math guide in the Adolescent Program at MCS. Melanie holds a Bachelor of Education from the University of Alberta and earned her Montessori Elementary Diploma (6-12) from the San Francisco Bay Area Teacher Education Center. Prior to her Montessori career, Melanie taught Middle School Science both in Canada and in California, and enjoyed being a counselor at a boarding school for challenging teens located in the Cascade Mountains. Melanie finds pleasure in the outdoors, playing hockey, cooking, gardening, and running.
Art Teacher Holly Dykes returns for her fourth year as the K-8 art teacher at MCS. Holly holds a Bachelor of Art from Duke University and a Master of Arts in Teaching from UNC-Chapel Hill. She also has a K-12 North Carolina public school credential in art and a 6-9 Montessori credential. Holly taught lower elementary and art at MCS in the early 1980s when the elementary program was just getting started. Since then, she has taught children and adults at Montessori Children’s House of Durham, Durham Arts Council and the Women’s Exchange and was elementary program director at Chiaravalle Montessori in Evanston, Illinois for 10 years. Holly has been teaching and administrating for over 30 years.
Pottery teacher Levy Vargas is an artist originally from Bogota, Colombia. He received his Masters in Fine Arts in 1997 with a major in sculpting. He has taught art and creative expression for several years to children and adults. He will be teaching Elementary and Adolescent Art Studios this fall.
K-8 Music & Elementary Choir Karen Anne Richardson holds a Bachelor of Music,
Honors Music Education (Voice) from the University of Western Ontario, as well as Primary and Elementary Montessori diplomas from the Toronto Montessori Institute for Teacher Training. Karen has been a classroom teacher at the Children’s House, Lower Elementary and Upper Elementary levels. Also a certified Musikgarten instructor, she has taught music classes for infants through elementary aged children in a variety of settings: the Durham Arts Council, her former home studio, Duke Hospital and MCS. Karen has completed her Orff Level I teacher training and this summer, will be embarking on ukulele teacher certification. She currently teaches K-8 music at MCS as well as private piano lessons after school. Both of her children have attended MCS since they were toddlers and this begins Karen’s 14th year here.
Kindergarten, Elementary & Adolescent PE Teacher Sabine Howe received a Bachelor of Physical Education from the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada. Sabine has 25 years experience teaching physical education to kindergarten through 12th graders and has coached soccer, gymnastics, volleyball, and track and field. Her interests include jazz dancing, kayaking, skiing, tennis, playing the guitar, and traveling. Sabine coaches the MCS Soccer Team and Jazz Dance Club. Sabine begins her 12th year at MCS and has two daughters.
Elementary Spanish and French Teacher and MCS Chess instructor Philippe Derfeuil grew up speaking French and Spanish. Philippe received his Licence from the University of Burgundy in Dijon, France, in 2000. Philippe plays chess in various chess clubs in the Triangle area and coaches the MCS Chess Club. This is Philippe’s tenth year at MCS. Philippe is married and has two young girls, Claire and Louise.
Adolescent Spanish Teacher Michèle Widd has been a part of the MCS Adolescent Community since its inception in 2005. She is a guide in Science, Supplementary Languages, and Mindfulness and is also the staff advisor for Cool Beans Café, our student-run business. Her son, Ryan, attended MCS for 8 years and graduated from the Adolescent Program in 2011. Michèle holds a BS and MS in Chemistry from Stevens Institute of Technology and earned her Montessori Lower Elementary Diploma from the North American Center for Montessori Education 2005. She has lived abroad, traveled extensively overseas, and is fluent in Spanish, French, and Italian. Michèle is the trip coordinator for the Graduating 8th Year International Trip to Roatan, Honduras. In her free time she enjoys playing the guitar, singing, reading fiction and “young adult” novels, and SCUBA diving.
Primary Spanish Teacher Patricia Calle Patricia has taught at both private and public schools in Ecuador, CA, and NC for over 10 years. She has also served as an Educational Consultant for Houghton Mifflin Publishing Company. Both of her children are students at MCS. One child is in Lower Elementary and the other is in Primary. She joined MCS in 2012 as the Primary Spanish teacher.
Head of School Cathy Constantine has been in the Montessori field for the past 26 years, as both a teacher and administrator. She began her teaching career in Children’s House. She opened her own school: Casa Dei Bambini, which is still in existence. This school is a modified Montessori program for children with learning differences and special needs. She received her 3-6 training from Northeast Montessori Institute in 1987, and continued to advance her studies by completing her 6-12 training from Seacoast Center for Education. She also taught at both these levels for four years each. She is a graduate of Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with a degree in Human Development and a minor in Early Childhood Intervention. Cathy has also been a teacher trainer for the Seacoast Center for Montessori Education.
Elementary and Adolescent Program Director Leigh Isemonger joined MCS in the summer of 2013. Leigh started her Montessori experience in 2000 at Heartwood Montessori School in Raleigh as a parent before becoming AMS certified as a Lower Elementary teacher in 2005. She was soon drawn to the Upper Elementary experience and went on to receive her Upper Elementary certification in 2007. After nine years of classroom teaching, five of which were at The Montessori School of Raleigh, Leigh decided to move into administration. Prior to becoming an educator, she worked in the corporate world of finance and management. Leigh was born and raised in South Africa and came to live in the U.S. after graduating from university. She has a BSc. majoring in geography and geology and a Master’s degree in town and regional planning. She lived in Southern California for 12 years before settling in Raleigh with her husband and two children.
Toddler and Primary Program Director Dave DeHarde joined MCS in the summer of 2012. Dave started his Montessori journey at the Greensboro Montessori School where he taught at the Primary and Lower Elementary levels. After fifteen minutes of touring the campus, Dave knew Montessori education would forever be a part of his life. In Greensboro, he sat on the board as a staff representative and served as a Division Head. He received his 3-6 years training from the Center for Montessori Teacher Education of North Carolina. After eight years of teaching, Dave decided to get more involved in administration. He holds a Masters of School Administration from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Dave and his wife Camille moved to Northern Virginia where he took a job as the Campus Director of the Boyd School at Broadlands. While in the D.C. area, they had their first child, Xavier, who is now one year old. Dave is very excited to return to North Carolina and be a part of this wonderful Montessori community.
Director of Admissions Cindy Zajic has a Bachelor of Arts in Humanities from the University of Colorado and did post-graduate studies at the University of Colorado and North Carolina Central University. She also holds a North Carolina Middle Grades teaching license. Cindy began her Montessori career in 1981 at The Post Oak School in Houston. Over the years, she has been involved with several private schools and has worked in many different administrative roles. She has also taught in the public school system. Cindy has an adult son that was a Montessori student and a husband that is employed at an area Montessori school. After living in Colorado for ten years, Cindy and her family now enjoy spending as much time as possible at the beach.
Business Manager Chrissy Moore earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from Elon University. Chrissy has over 15 years of experience in Accounting and Benefits Management and has worked almost exclusively with nonprofit organizations for the last 11 years. Chrissy and her husband, Dennis , have one son who is currently enrolled in a Montessori Curriculum. She enjoys reading, gardening, and cooking.
Director of Marketing and Communications Deborah Shah has a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from UNC-Chapel Hill and a Master of Business Administration from Kenan-Flagler Business School. She has over 15 years of corporate advertising and marketing experience. She served for 4 years as MCA Vice President and has many years of non-profit experience and/or board service with the American Heart Association, Lineberger Cancer Center, and the North Carolina Children’s Hospital Kids Cards program. Her daughter is a graduate from the Adolescent program after 11 years at MCS and her son started as a Toddler and is in Upper Elementary.
Office Manager Kate Owens joined MCS in the summer of 2013. She earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design from The Art Institute of Charlotte in 2010. Before her Montessori career, Kate was in a parallel role at the Aflac Raleigh Regional Office. Prior to that, Kate was a floater for Primrose School of Cary and a nanny for two families in the Raleigh area. Kate has over seven years of administrative experience and eight years of childcare experience. Kate enjoys shopping at Target, going to concerts, painting, kayaking, baking cupcakes in her tiny kitchen and Wolfpack football games. She is absolutely thrilled to join the fantastic administration team here at MCS!
Business Assistant Michelle Hynes This is Michelle’s 3rd year at MCS. She has a Bachelor’s in Finance from the University of Massachusetts at Lowell.
Facilities Manager Jay Fitzgerald returns for his third year at MCS. He brings a strong background in customer service and real estate, maintenance and management of properties, and loves fixing stuff! He appreciates the endless opportunities to apply his knowledge and skills here. He has a senior in high school, Hailey (a former MCS student), and a senior at Appalachian State University, Jason. He and his wife Susan will celebrate their 26th anniversary this fall.
Maintenance Assistant Jeffrey Upchurch returns to us this fall assisting Jay with maintenance items. Jeffrey is a retired communications worker who wanted to re-join the workforce with a part time job. We feel very fortunate to have him in our midst! He loves the Blue Ridge Parkway and The Outer Banks of North Carolina.