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Teachers and Staff

Teachers and Staff

  • All
  • Toddler/Primary
  • Lower Elementary
  • Upper Elementary
  • Adolescent
  • Specialists
  • Early Care/Late Day
  • Administration
  • Insaf Abdulla

    Assistant Teacher: Primary
    iabdulla@mcsdurham.org
    13 years at MCS

    AS (Office Systems Technology), Durham Technical Community College
    BA (Arabic and Islamic Studies), Kuwait University

    MACTE (3-6) credential, Center for Guided Montessori Studies

    Click to Read Bio
    Bio:

    Assistant Insaf Abdulla begins her 12th year working at MCS. This is her fourth year in Room 202 after working as an assistant in Room 203 for eight years. Insaf was raised in Kuwait and has lived in the United States since 1991. She 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 currently working towards her MACTE (3-6) credential. Insaf is the mother of four daughters and one son.

  • Lisa Anderson

    Lead Teacher: Lower Elementary
    landerson@mcsdurham.org
    <1 years at MCS

    BS (Early Childhood Education/Montessori), Chestnut Hill College

    AMS/MACTE Primary (3-6) Certification, Chestnut Hill College, PA
    AMS/MACTE Lower Elementary (6-9) Certification, Seacoast Center, NH
    Orton-Gillingham Comprehensive Training, Institute for Multi-Sensory Education

    Click to Read Bio
    Bio:

    Lisa has been teaching Montessori for over twenty years. She began her career in Philadelphia where she assisted in the development of a new Primary (3-6) classroom, afternoon cultural program and became the founder/director of the summer program. After relocating to Raleigh, Lisa then spent 11 years at the Montessori School of Raleigh where she worked as a co-teacher in the Lower Elementary program (8 yrs.) and then became the Learning Support Coordinator (3 yrs.). For the past two years, Lisa has worked in Cary as the lead teacher of a Primary (3-6) classroom. She is extremely excited to be working with Lower Elementary children again and thrilled to be a part of the MCS family. Lisa and her husband, Chad have two boys, Evan (a previous Montessori student) and Ryan (who will be in Children’s House at MCS next year). 

    Favorite Quote: “One test of the correctness of educational procedure is the happiness of the child itself. For a growing organism growth itself is happiness. The growth of the child is by means of activity. Activity according to vital laws of development is happiness.” - Maria Montessori

  • Jean Boyer

    Bookkeeper
    jboyer@mcsdurham.org
    <1 years at MCS

    BA (History), University of Texas at Dallas
    MS (Library Science), University of North Texas

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    Bio:

    Jean Boyer joined MCS in January 2015 after relocating to North Carolina in 2013. She has over 20 years experience in bookkeeping and accounting. Being from a military family meant Jean moved all over the United States as a child, but she settled in Texas for most of her adult life. Jean earned her B.A. in History and a Master’s in Library Science while in Texas, and also has graduate level course work towards a Master’s in Accounting. She has worked for The University of Texas at Dallas and UNC in accounting and administrative positions, and is excited about being here at MCS. Jean’s hobbies are reading (a lot!), going to sci-fi conventions, and spending time with her friend’s children.

  • Dave DeHarde

    Assistant Head of School
    Toddler and Primary Program Director
    ddeharde@mcsdurham.org
    4 years at MCS

    BA (Theatre with minor in Religious Studies), University of North Carolina at Greensboro
    MSA (School Administration), University of North Carolina at Greensboro

    AMS (3-6) credential, Center for Montessori Teacher Education, North Carolina

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    Bio:

    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. Previously, he was the Campus Director at the Boyd School at Broadlands in Virginia. In addition to his duties as Toddler and Primary Program Director, Dave also directs Early Care, Late Day Care, After School Programs, and our Summer Camps. Dave and his wife Camille’s son, Xavier, is in his second year of Primary at MCS.

  • Holly Dykes

    Art Specialist: Primary, Elementary, and Adolescent
    hdykes@mcsdurham.org
    9 years at MCS

    BA (Art and Indian Studies), Duke University
    MAT (Art), University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

    AMS (6-9) credential, North American Montessori Center
    Public School Teaching credential (K-12) - NC

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    Bio:

    Holly Dykes returns for her ninth year at MCS and her seventh year as the K-8 art teacher. Holly holds a Bachelor of Art from Duke University and a Master of Arts in Teaching from UNC-Chapel Hill. She 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 forming. Since then, she has taught children and adults at Montessori Children’s House of Durham, Durham Arts Council and the Women’s Exchange. She was the Elementary Program Director at Chiaravalle Montessori School in Evanston, Illinois for 10 years. Holly has been teaching and administrating for over 30 years.

  • Sue Ferrari

    Lead Teacher: Primary
    sferrari@mcsdurham.org
    16 years at MCS

    BEd (Product Design), North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC
    M.Ed (Montessori Education), St. Catherine University, St. Paul, MN

    AMI (3-6) credential, Montessori Training Center of St. Louis

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    Bio:

    Sue Ferrari has over 28 years of Montessori experience and this year begins her 15th year at MCS. Sue received an AMI Primary 3-6+ Montessori Diploma 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. 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 attended 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.”

  • Jay FitzGerald

    Facilities Manager
    6 years at MCS
    Click to Read Bio
    Bio:

    Jay FitzGerald returns for his 6th year at MCS. He brings a strong background in Customer Service and Real Estate with a concentration in the management and maintenance of properties. He loves fixing stuff, and appreciates the endless opportunities to apply his knowledge and skill sets on campus. Jay and his wife Susan recently celebrated their 29th anniversary. Their daughter, Hailey, an MCS alum, is currently a Junior at Appalachian State University. Their son, Jason, just received a Masters Degree in International Business from Appalachian State University.

  • Godha Gopalarathnam

    Assistant Teacher: Primary
    ggopalarathnam@mcsdurham.org
    5 years at MCS

    BS (Zoology), Stella Maris College, Chennai, India

    AMI (Primary) credential, Indian Montessori Training Centre, Bangalore, India
    HillRAP certification, The Hill Center, Durham, NC
    Phonics - Breaking the Code certification, The Hill Center, Durham, NC

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    Bio:

    Godha Gopalarathnam completed her AMI Montessori Primary diploma 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.

  • Rochelle Hayes

    Assistant Teacher: Primary
    rhayes@mcsdurham.org
    4 years at MCS

    BA (Plan II Honors Interdisciplinary), University of Texas

    MACTE (3-6) credential, Center for Guided Montessori Studies

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    Bio:

    Rochelle is proud to have been a part of the MCS community for the past nine years. This is her fourth 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 and completed a Montessori assistant training course at MCS the summer of 2012. ‎In the summer of 2014 she started her MACTE (3-6) certification training from the Center for Guided Montessori Studies. She has two sons: Jonathan, a graduate of MCS, and Nicholas, a student in 601.

  • Don Henchel

    Lead Teacher: Upper Elementary
    dhenchel@mcsdurham.org
    11 years at MCS

    BA (History), North Carolina Wesleyan College

    AMS (3-6) credential, Center for Montessori Teacher Education, New Rochelle, NY
    AMS (6-9) credential, Seacoast Center for Education, Scituate, MA
    AMS (9-12) credential, Seacoast Center for Education, Stratham, NH

    Click to Read Bio
    Bio:

    Don Henchel has been a Montessori teacher since 1981 and has taught Lower Elementary at MCS since 2005. In 2013, he moved to Upper Elementary in Room 601. 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 completed his AMS 9-12 credential from Seacoast Center for Education in Stratham, NH (2014). 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.”

  • Joey Henchel

    Late Day Staff: Primary and Elementary
    jhenchel@mcsdurham.org
    <1 years at MCS
    Click to Read Bio
    Bio:

    Joey Henchel was raised as a Montessori child. Both of his parents are Montessori teachers, so Montessori definitely runs in the Henchel family. This is Joey’s first year at MCS and he is enjoying his time learning each day, not only about the children, but himself as well. He grew up in Raleigh and has lived in North Carolina his entire life. Each and every day, Joey looks for new challenges to become a better person.

  • Ingrid Hester

    Spanish Specialist: Primary and Elementary
    ihester@mcsdurham.org
    <1 years at MCS

    BA (Languages - English, Spanish, and French) - La Salle University of Colombia

    Click to Read Bio
    Bio:

    Ingrid Hester is new to MCS this school year. She is originally from Bogotá, Colombia. She earned her bachelor’s degree in languages (English, Spanish, and French) from La Salle University of Colombia. She also has had training at CGMS in the Fundamentals of Montessori from The Center for Guided Montessori Studies in Petersburg, FL. Ingrid has been a teacher for more than 10 years and has worked with preschool, elementary, and high school students. She has experience teaching a dual language program (English to Spanish) in a Montessori children’s house, students 3 to 6 years old. In her free time she enjoys cooking, reading and spending time with nature.

  • Sabine Howe

    Physical Education Specialist: Primary, Elementary, and Adolescent
    showe@mcsdurham.org
    15 years at MCS

    BPE (Physical Education and German), University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada

    Gymnastics Coaching certificate: Level I and II
    Basketball Coaching certificate: Level I
    Track and Field Coaching certificate: Level I and II
    Soccer Coaching certificate: Level I and II

    Click to Read Bio
    Bio:

    Sabine Howe received a Bachelor of Physical Education from the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada. Sabine has 30 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 is the after school teacher/coach for the MCS Soccer Team, Jazz Dance, and Volleyball. Sabine begins her 15th year at MCS and has two daughters.

  • Leigh Isemonger

    Elementary and Adolescent Program Director
    lisemonger@mcsdurham.org
    3 years at MCS

    BSc. (Geography and Geology), University of Natal, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa
    MS (Town and Regional Planning), University of Natal, Durban, South Africa

    AMS (6-9) credential, Center for Montessori Teacher Education, North Carolina
    AMS (9-12) credential, Center for Montessori Teacher Education, North Carolina

    Click to Read Bio
    Bio:

    Leigh Isemonger joined MCS in the summer of 2013. She 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.

  • Shahnaz Khan

    Late Day Staff: Primary
    skhan@mcsdurham.org
    17 years at MCS

    BA (Philosophy), University Women’s Federation College, Bangladesh

    AMS (3-6) credential, Center for Montessori Teacher Education, North Carolina

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    Bio:

    Shahnaz Khan begins her 17th year at MCS. A native of Bangladesh, Shahnaz attended the University Women’s Federation College from 1978-1981, 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 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.”

  • Jeff Kishpaugh

    Lead Teacher: Upper Elementary
    jkishpaugh@mcsdurham.org
    6 years at MCS

    BA (Political Science), Emory University
    Postgrad Diploma (Russian Language), University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, Scotland

    AMS (6-9) credential, Center for Montessori Teacher Education, New York
    AMS (9-12) credential, Center for Montessori Teacher Education, New York

    Click to Read Bio
    Bio:

    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, NC and at Spruce Pine Montessori School in Spruce Pine, NC. Jeff took his coursework for Montessori training at the Center for Montessori Teacher Education in New York. He received his Bachelor of Arts from Emory University and 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.”

  • Melanie Leyden

    Lead Teacher: Adolescent
    mleyden@mcsdurham.org
    8 years at MCS

    BEd (Biological Sciences, Business, Psychology), University of Alberta, Canada

    AMS (6-12) credential, San Francisco Bay Area Teacher Education Center, Palo Alto, CA

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    Bio:

    Melanie Leyden has been a Montessori guide since 1997 and has been the Math guide in the Adolescent Program at MCS since 2008. 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 and worked as a counselor at a private boarding school for challenging teens.

  • Mari Lindsay

    Lead Teacher: Primary
    mlindsay@mcsdurham.org
    18 years at MCS

    AMS (3-6) credential, Center for Montessori Teacher Education, North Carolina
    Sign Language certificate, Durham Technical Community College

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    Bio:

    Mari Lindsay has 29 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, KY. 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 17th year at MCS. Her 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.”

  • Juliana Longiotti

    Assistant Teacher: Primary
    jlongiotti@mcsdurham.org
    5 years at MCS

    BFA (Photography), Savannah College of Art and Design

    MACTE (3-6) credential candidate, Center for Guided Montessori Studies

    Click to Read Bio
    Bio:

    Juliana is originally from New Jersey, attended college in New York and Georgia. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography from the Savannah College of Art and Design. Juliana is dedicated to becoming a Montessori teacher and is currently working on her MACTE (3-6) credential with the Center for Guided Montessori Studies. She enjoys photographing nature, cooking, gardening and hiking outdoors with her family.

  • Shelly Lyons

    Lead Teacher: Lower Elementary
    slyons@mcsdurham.org
    7 years at MCS

    BS Ed. (Early Childhood Education), University of Georgia

    AMS (6-9 Elementary I) credential, Center for Montessori Teacher Education, North Carolina
    Elementary State Teaching certificates (Pre-K - 5th): NC and PA
    HillRAP credential, The Hill Center, Durham, NC
    Phonics - Breaking the Code credential, The Hill Center, Durham, NC
    Open Circle Facilitator certificate, Open Circle, Wellesley Centers for Women, Wellesley College, Wellesley, Mass.

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    Bio:

    Shelly Lyons has 15 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 sixth 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. She is HillRAP certified from The Hill Center and will complete her Open Circle training this summer. Besides teaching she enjoys being a mom, singing, hiking, creative writing, reading, biking, and spending time with her two sons. 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.”

  • Eleftheria Mantzouka

    Late Day Staff: Primary
    emantzouka@mcsdurham.org
    <1 years at MCS

    BA (Classical Archacology), College of Southeastern Europe, Athens, Greece
    BA (American and European History), East Carolina University
    MA (Maritime History and Nautical/Underwater Archacology), East Carolina University

    AMS Primary (3-6 years) credential candidate, Center for Montessori Teacher Education, NC
    Certificate in French Language, French Institute, Athens, Greece

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    Bio:

    Eleftheria is a native of Greece, who is a candidate for her early childhood Montessori certification (AMS). Her formal and initial education was in ancient Greek and Latin in high school as well as English and French, so as to continue professionally into the field of archaeology with concentration in underwater archaeology.

    She earned two Bachelor degrees in archaeology (AUA, Athens) and history (ECU, NC), and a Master’s from ECU. She practiced archaeology in Greece, and worked for the Department of Marine Antiquities in Athens as an underwater archaeologist. Relevant articles, presentations and synopsis of her Master’s thesis can be found online.

    A path of discovery in ‘human history’ cut short from unforeseen country-wide austerity measures prevented her to practice overseas, but led her to the unexpected ‘discovery of the child’ when she became a mother herself.

    Over the past five years, she developed a deep love and respect for the child working with children of preschool age as an assistant in various environments and camps, including Montessori schools in NC.

    The marriage between her two professional ‘loves’ came in the blessing of Maria Montessori’s writings that left an indelible mark in her heart:
    “The Child, making use of all that he finds around him, shapes himself for the future.”

    Eleftheria sees the Child as the ‘archaeologist’ in constant discovery the past – all that exists before him, and how it relates in all senses to the present; the Child observes and analyzes the world around, the makings of humanity, and in the process of discovery, he becomes the safe keeper of History, the creator of new Knowledge and the designer of Future.

    It is her belief that the union of classical education and archaeology with the Montessori educational method will open up new paths and lead to unexpected discoveries for the Teacher and the Child. A mother of two boys spends most of the year in NC and summers in Greece, visiting remote places, taking pictures of nature, archaeological sites and people. When not reading mythology and history to her sons, or learning about the Olympic games, jogging in the woods, or swimming the family spends time cooking Mediterranean dishes, sharing stories of ancestors as well as folklore songs and dances.

  • Judy Martell

    Admissions Coordinator
    Elementary Professional Development Resource and Advisor
    jmartell@mcsdurham.org
    9 years at MCS

    BA (English Literature), Hope College
    M.Ed (Montessori Education), Xavier University

    Lower Elementary (6-9) credential, Xavier University
    Upper Elementary (9-12) credential, Center for Montessori Teacher Education, NY

    Click to Read Bio
    Bio:

    Judy Martell has had a long association with Montessori Community School. She began the elementary program as Directress in 1982 and expanded that program for four years. After teaching elsewhere in the area, she later returned to MCS as a consultant and then as Elementary Program Director for a number of years. Judy has a Masters in Montessori education and lower and upper elementary Montessori teaching certification. She is co-owner of a small Montessori materials company, Mandala Classroom Resources.

  • Kathy McHugh

    Lead Teacher: Primary
    kmchugh@mcsdurham.org
    33 years at MCS

    AMS (3-6) credential, Center for Montessori Teacher Education, North Carolina
    NC Environmental Education credential candidate

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    Bio:

    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 running, quilting, and Contra dancing.

  • Colleen McHugh

    Assistant Teacher: Toddler
    cmchugh@mcsdurham.org
    2 years at MCS

    AA (Early Childhood Education) candidate, Wake Technical Community College

    North Carolina Early Childhood credential

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    Bio:

    Colleen has seven years of experience working with young children. She holds her North Carolina Early Childhood credential which she received in 2010. She plans to continue her education by obtaining her Associates of Art degree in Early Childhood Education from Wake Technical Community College. Colleen is an alumna of MCS and her daughter is in primary at MCS. In her spare time Colleen enjoys crafts and running.

  • Adam Miller

    Lead Teacher: Primary
    amiller@mcsdurham.org
    12 years at MCS

    AMS (3-6) credential, Center for Montessori Teacher Education, North Carolina

    Click to Read Bio
    Bio:

    Adam Miller begins his 12th year at MCS and his eighth year in Room 202.  Previously, he worked in a three-year-old classroom at the Learning Tree Day Care in Erlanger, KY. In the summer of 2006 Adam received his AMS Primary 3-6 Montessori credential from the North Carolina Center for Montessori Teacher Education. His 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.”

  • Mike Miller

    Lead Teacher: Lower Elementary
    mmiller@mcsdurham.org
    4 years at MCS

    BA (Business Management), Michigan State University

    AMS (6-9) credential, Center for Montessori Teacher Education, North Carolina

    Click to Read Bio
    Bio:

    Mike Miller is starting his fourth year with MCS. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Management from Michigan State University. He received 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, Danielle. Mike and Danielle have a daughter named Alexis.

  • Angela Molfese

    Lead Teacher: Adolescent
    amolfese@mcsdurham.org
    2 years at MCS

    BA (History and Sociology), State University of New York at Cortland
    MA (Social Studies Education), New York University

    AMI (12-15) credential, NAMTA Orientation to Adolescent Studies
    AMI (3-6) credential, Montessori Institute of San Diego

    Click to Read Bio
    Bio:

    Angela has worked an as adolescent guide, specializing in the areas of Humanities and Language Arts, for the past ten years at Butler Montessori in Darnestown, Md. She has completed the NAMTA Orientation to Adolescent Studies and is currently working on her Primary Training at the Montessori Institute of San Diego. Angela also holds a Bachelor of Arts in History and Sociology from the State University of New York and a Masters in Social Studies Education from New York University. Outside of her work with adolescents, Angela enjoys exploring new places, be it by walking or reading, and feels fortunate to be a part of this community.

  • Beth Omane

    Lead Teacher: Toddler
    bomane@mcsdurham.org
    7 years at MCS

    AMS (Infant/Toddler) credential, Center for Montessori Teacher Education, New York

    Click to Read Bio
    Bio:

    Beth Omane has 14 years experience working with toddlers in a Montessori setting and begins her sixth year at MCS. In the summer of 2004, Beth received her AMS Infant/Toddler credential from the Center for Montessori Teacher Education from the College of New Rochelle in NY. Beth was born and raised in New York. She has two children, ages 15 and 13. Her favorite Maria Montessori quote: “The training of the teacher who is to help life is something far more than the learning of ideas. It includes the training of character; it is a preparation of the spirit.”

  • Sarah McCombie

    Music Specialist: Primary, Elementary, and Adolescent
    sosborne@mcsdurham.org
    <1 years at MCS

    BA (English), William Peace University

    Click to Read Bio
    Bio:

    Sarah McCombie is honored to join the MCS faculty. Sarah is passionate about fostering community in the classroom and nurturing a love for the place in which we learn and live. The 2015 Outstanding Graduate of William Peace University, Sarah spent her college years as a member of the award-winning band, The South Carolina Broadcasters. Sarah has served as the Interim Music Teacher at the Friends School of Wilmington as well as an instructor at Falls Academy in Raleigh. Sarah brings her expertise in old-time and bluegrass music to the classroom. She believes that music is a highly interdisciplinary area of study, a pursuit that seamlessly intertwines with other subjects. In her spare time, Sarah enjoys practicing yoga, cooking, and playing gigs around the Triangle with her fiancé in their duo, New Chatham Rabbits.

  • Jami Park

    Late Day Coordinator: Primary and Elementary
    jpark@mcsdurham.org
    20 years at MCS

    BS (Education and Biological Studies), Southeastern Oklahoma State University, Durant, OK

    AMS (Infant/Toddler) credential, Center for Montessori Teacher Education, North Carolina
    Understanding Learning Differences, The Hill Center, Durham
    Earth Partnership for Schools Institute, NC Botanical Gardens

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    Bio:

    Jami Park holds a Bachelor of Science in Education from Southeastern Oklahoma State University. She came to MCS in 1996 as a teaching assistant in the Toddler classroom. In June of 1999 she completed her AMS birth to toddler (0-3) credential from the North Carolina Center for Montessori Teacher Education. After receiving her AMS credential, she worked as lead teacher in the MCS Toddler classroom. She then worked as an assistant in room 102 before starting and coordinating 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.”

  • Nicole Pratt

    Assistant Late Day Teacher: Primary
    npratt@mcsdurham.org
    3 years at MCS

    AAS (Business Administration) credential candidate, Durham Technical Community College

    Public School Teaching credential: NC

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    Bio:

    Nicole Pratt has over 17 years of experience working with children from birth to age five. Previously, Nicole was an assistant teacher in the toddler room and assistant primary late day teacher for two years. This year, Nicole will be continuing in her role in the Primary Late Day Program while she finishes her Business Management degree at Durham Tech. Nicole’s daughter is an MCS student. During her free time, she enjoys the outdoors with her family, volunteering with her son’s baseball team, and running in 5k races for charity.

  • Michelle Reader

    Lead Teacher: Upper Elementary
    mreader@mcsdurham.org
    16 years at MCS

    BS (Biochemistry and Molecular Biology), Centre College, Danville, KY
    M.Ed. (Montessori), Washington Montessori Institute of Loyola College, Timonium, MD

    AMI (6-12) credential, Washington Montessori Institute of Loyola College, Timonium, MD
    Montessori STEM graduate certificate, St. Catherine’s University, St. Paul, MN

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    Bio:

    Michelle Reader returns for her 16th year at MCS. Michelle received her Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Centre College in Danville, Kentucky. She is a graduate of the Washington Montessori Institute of Loyola College in Timonium, Maryland, where she received the Association Montessori Internationale Elementary 6-12 diploma along with a Master of Education in 2000. She has also completed her Montessori STEM graduate certificate through St. Catherine University in St. Paul, Minnesota. Outside the classroom, Michelle enjoys singing in a local chorus, bicycling, hiking, reading, geocaching, and spending time with her partner and their two children. Both of her children attend MCS. Her son will be starting his first year in Lower Elementary, and her daughter will be starting her first year in Primary. 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.”

  • Keturah Russell

    Lead Teacher: Lower Elementary
    krussell@mcsdurham.org
    21 years at MCS

    BA (Psychology), Meredith College

    AMS (6-9) credential, Center for Montessori Teacher Education, North Carolina
    Open Circle Facilitator certificate, Open Circle, Wellesley Centers for Women, Wellesley College, Wellesley, Mass.

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    Bio:

    Keturah Russell returns to MCS for her 21st year as a Lower Elementary teacher. She graduated from Meredith College with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology in 1992 and received her AMS 6-9 Elementary credential from the North Carolina Center for Montessori Teacher Education that same year. She completed her internship here at MCS and has been here ever since. She recently completed Open Circle training in Massachusetts. Keturah is the mother of a daughter, in high school and a son in seventh grade. 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.”

  • Deborah Shah

    Director of Marketing and Communications
    dshah@mcsdurham.org
    6 years at MCS

    BA (Journalism), University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
    MBA (Marketing), Kenan-Flagler Business School at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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    Bio:

    Deborah Shah has a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from UNC-Chapel Hill and a Master of Business Administration from Kenan-Flagler Business School in Chapel Hill. She has over 20 years of corporate advertising and marketing experience. She served for 4 years as the MCS PTO Vice President and has many years of non-profit experience and/or board service in the Triangle area. Both of her children attended MCS. Her daughter graduated from the adolescent program and her son attended through 5th grade.

  • Kalpu Shah

    Lead Teacher: Upper Elementary
    kshah@mcsdurham.org
    2 years at MCS

    BS (Science), University of Mumbai, India
    P.G. Diploma (Applied Nutrition and Dietetics), University of Mumbai, India

    AMS (6-9) credential, Seacoast Center for Education, Stratham, NH
    AMS (9-12) credential, Seacoast Center for Education, Stratham, NH

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    Bio:

    Kalpu Shah has been a Montessori teacher since 1988 at the Montessori School of Raleigh. She has taught children at the Primary level as an assistant for 10 years, at the Upper Elementary level for 13 years, and as a Middle School Math Resource for two years. Along with that she is a teacher trainer at the Seacoast Center for Education and is also the Assistant Director of the training program. She has spent 25 years at the Montessori School of Raleigh and looks forward to continuing her Montessori journey at MCS. She enjoys cooking, reading, and teaching. Kalpu notes: “I am honored to be a part of the child’s journey as they strive to reach their potential. My job is to create an environment for them that allows for the unfolding of the spiritual embryo while making sure that the children are prepared to take on the challenges of the 21st century. It is the job of the Montessori teacher to nurture agile thinkers, create gracious collaborators, who are capable of promoting peace within themselves and the world around them. My strengths and experience are with the curriculum, classroom management, and in keeping the balance between structure and spontaneity.” Favorite Montessori quote from The Absorbent Mind: “The child can only develop fully by means of experience in his environment.  We call such experience ‘work’.”

  • Kate Spear

    Office Manager
    office@mcsdurham.org
    3 years at MCS

    BFA (Graphic Design), Art Institute, Charlotte, NC

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    Bio:

    Kate Spear joined MCS in the summer of 2013. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design from The Art Institute of Charlotte. Kate has nine years of administrative and managerial experience and ten years of childcare experience. Kate is the friendly voice that our families have grown so accustomed to hearing when they call the school. She takes great pride in answering the questions of parents and assisting them as needed. Outside of MCS, you will find Kate dancing at a concert nearby, painting or cheering loudly at Wolfpack football games. In August 2015 she married the love of her life, Jeff.

  • Jennifer Tobolski

    Lead Teacher: Lower Elementary
    jtobolski@mcsdurham.org
    10 years at MCS

    BA (Sociology and Native American Studies), Montana State University, Bozeman, MT
    M.Ed. (Education), Loyola University, MD

    AMI (6-12) certification, Montessori Institute of Milwaukee

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    Bio:

    Jennifer Tobolski holds a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Montana State University in Bozeman, Montana, an AMI Elementary diploma from the Montessori Institute of Milwaukee, and a Masters in Education from Loyola College in Baltimore, Maryland. This is Jennifer’s 13th year of teaching and her tenth year in room 302. She has three children in rooms 601, 202, and 102. Miss 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.”

  • Jeffrey Upchurch

    Maintenance Assistant
    5 years at MCS
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    Bio:

    Jeffrey Upchurch returns this year 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.

  • Levy Vargas

    Pottery Specialist: Elementary and Adolescent
    Physical Education Assistant Teacher: Elementary and Adolescent
    lvargas@mcsdurham.org
    5 years at MCS

    MFA (Sculpting and Painting), National University of Colombia

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    Bio:

    Levy Vargas is an artist originally from Bogotá, Colombia. He received his Masters in Fine Arts with a major in sculpting. He has taught art and creative expression for several years to children and adults. Levy teaches Elementary and Adolescent Pottery Studio, assists with Elementary and Adolescent Physical Education and assists with the Upper Elementary soccer team.

  • Michèle Widd

    Lead Teacher: Adolescent
    mwidd@mcsdurham.org
    11 years at MCS

    BS (Science), Stevens Institute of Technology, Hoboken, NJ
    MS (Chemistry), Stevens Institute of Technology, Hoboken, NJ

    NAMC (6-9) credential, North American Montessori Center
    Mindfulness Education for Children (K-7th) credential, Omega Institute for Holistic Studies, Rhinebeck, NY

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    Bio:

    Michèle Widd has been a Science and Spanish guide in the MCS Adolescent Community since its inception in 2005. 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 Montessori Center in 2005. She has lived abroad, traveled extensively overseas, and is fluent in Spanish, French, and Italian. In her free time, she enjoys playing the guitar, singing, reading fiction and “young adult” novels, and SCUBA diving.

  • Nan Williams

    Late Day Staff
    nwilliams@mcsdurham.org
    11 years at MCS

    BA (Art), High Point University

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    Bio:

    Nan Williams will be part of our Late Day staff this year. She is quite familiar to our MCS families as she has been a substitute teacher at MCS for many years. Nan enjoys learning about the teaching methods of the Montessori environment. She is a graduate of High Point University where she earned her BA in Art. Previously, she worked at the University of North Carolina in the Purchasing Department for 21 years. Nan is quite proud of her daughter, Jennifer, who received her nursing degree from East Carolina University and is currently working as a registered nurse in Greenville, NC. Nan enjoys crafts, singing, and working in her garden. The children at MCS add a great deal of joy to her life. ​

  • Cindy Zajic

    Head of School
    czajic@mcsdurham.org
    5 years at MCS

    BA (Humanities), University of Colorado

    Teaching License (Middle Grades): NC

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    Bio:

    Cindy Zajic has a B.A. in Humanities from the University of Colorado, attended the Graduate Teacher Licensure Program at the University of Colorado and graduated from the Teacher Licensure Program at North Carolina Central University. She holds a North Carolina Middle Grades teaching license and has taught in the public school system. Cindy began her Montessori career in 1982 at The Post Oak School in Bellaire, Texas. Over the years, Cindy has served in many capacities in Montessori administration including School Administrator, Business Manager and Director of Admissions. Cindy’s family includes a Montessori educated son, now a Michigan State University alumnus, and her husband, Executive Director of an area Montessori School.