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
    11 years at MCS

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

    Click to Read Bio
    Bio:

    Assistant Insaf Abdulla begins her eleventh year working at MCS. This is her third 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.

  • Rana Albishtawi

    Elementary Late Day Supervisor
    ralbishtawi@mcsdurham.org
    12 years at MCS

    Early Childhood Education certificate

    Click to Read Bio
    Bio:

    Rana has worked as a teaching assistant for 12 years at Glenwood Elementary School in Chapel Hill. She was a nurse’s assistant in Kuwait for two years. Originally from Jordan, Rana is a mother of two. She is fluent in Arabic and English and enjoys children. This is her 12th year in the MCS Late Day program.

  • Judy Bryniak

    Specials Assistant: Lower Elementary Spanish
    jbryniak@mcsdurham.org
    1 year at MCS

    BS (Elementary Education), Edinboro University, Edinboro, PA
    M.Ed. (Curriculum and Instruction), Cleveland State University, Cleveland, OH

    AMI (6-12) credential, The Ohio Montessori Training Institute, Cleveland, OH

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    Bio:

    Judy Bryniak is an elementary trained Montessori educator with more than 30 years of classroom experience. Her AMI certification was completed in Cleveland, OH. Judy now lives in Cary, NC and is close to family as well as her friends at MCS.

  • Patricia Calle

    Specialist: Primary and Lower Elementary Spanish
    pcalle@mcsdurham.org
    2 years at MCS

    BA (Early Childhood Education) - Universidad Católica de Guayaquil, Ecuador
    BA (Pre-School Education with Honors) - Universidad Católica de Guayaquil, Ecuador

    Multiple Subject Teaching credential (Elementary) - CA
    Montessori Fundamentals online training - Center for Guided Montessori Studies
    Primary Assistant/Specialist Overview in the Montessori Classroom - Montessori Community School

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    Bio:

    Patricia Calle 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. Patricia participated as a member of the County Educational Leadership Team in San Mateo, CA. She implemented, evaluated, and recommended a pilot reading program for the Redwood City, CA school district. She is an experienced Lead Teacher in Dual Language Immersion Programs and a member of the Positive Discipline Association. 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.

  • Michelle Campbell

    Business Manager
    mcampbell@mcsdurham.org
    <1 years at MCS

    BA (Business Administration in Finance), Florida International University
    MS (Finance), Chapman Graduate School of Business at Florida International University

    Certified Management Accountant (CMA)
    Certified Public Accountant (CPA)

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    Bio:

    Michelle has extensive education and experience in finance and accounting, including financial reporting, forecasting and budget creation. She is a member of the Institute of Management Accountants (CMA) as well as the North Carolina Association of Certified Public Accountants (NCACPA).

  • Cathy Constantine

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

    BA (Human Development and Early Childhood Intervention), Lesley University, Cambridge, MA

    AMS (3-6) credential - Northeast Montessori Institute, Warren, ME
    AMS(6-9) credential - Seacoast Center for Education, Portsmouth, NH
    AMS (9-12) credential - Seacoast Center for Education, Portsmouth, NH

    Click to Read Bio
    Bio:

    Cathy Constantine has been in the Montessori education field for the past 27 years, as both a teacher and administrator. She began her teaching career at the Primary level. She opened her own school, Casa Dei Bambini, a modified Montessori program for children with learning differences and special needs. She received her 3-6 training from Northeast Montessori Institute and continued to advance her studies by completing her 6-12 training from Seacoast Center for Education. She is a graduate of Lesley University in Cambridge, MA, 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. She has always felt that “being a Montessori teacher was the best job in the world.” Her passion for education and leadership has led to a lifelong goal of developing a model Montessori school - one that adheres to the tenets of Montessori philosophy and education. Her vision of this model school is one where everyone is open to believing in the child and teaching them the value of education; physical, social, and academic. She works everyday to make MCS this model Montessori school, where children can discover their passion and where they are supported and encouraged to reach their full potential as well as develop a strong sense of self.

  • Dave DeHarde

    Toddler and Primary Program Director
    ddeharde@mcsdurham.org
    2 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. 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. Xavier will be starting this year in the Toddler program. Dave is very excited to be a part of this wonderful Montessori community.

  • Molly Dempsey

    Math Teacher Upper Elementary
    mdempsey@mcsdurham.org
    5 years at MCS

    BA (English and Mathematics), Bowdoin College
    MS (Mathematics), University of Virginia

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    Bio:

    Molly Dempsey grew up in Massachusetts, attended college in Maine, and then moved south to Virginia for graduate school. There she met her husband, Bert, and from there they moved to Chapel Hill in 1995. Molly’s children started attending MCS in 1998. She has taught classes at University of Virginia, University of North Carolina, Washington and Lee University. She joined the faculty of MCS in 2008 as math teacher in the Adolescent Community. Currently, she teaches math in the Upper Elementary classrooms. Molly enjoys walking, running, and being outdoors. She also enjoys her two daughters, Alice and Lucy, MCS graduates from 2013 and 2008 respectively.

  • Philippe Derfeuil

    Specialist: Upper Elementary Spanish and French
    pderfeuil@mcsdurham.org
    11 years at MCS

    Licence Langues Étrangères Appliquées (Applied Foreign Languages), Université de Bourgogone in Dijon, France

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    Bio:

    Philippe grew up speaking French and Spanish. He received his Licence Langues Étrangères Appliquées from the Université de Bourgogone in Dijon, France. Philippe plays chess in various chess clubs in the Triangle area and coaches the MCS Chess Club.  This is Philippe’s eleventh year at MCS. Philippe is married and has two young girls, Claire and Louise, both MCS students.

  • Beth Duffy

    Lead Teacher Primary
    bduffy@mcsdurham.org
    6 years at MCS

    BS (Early Childhood Education K-3), Kent State University
    MS (Montessori Education), Loyola University

    AMI (K-3, Reading) credential - Ohio Montessori Training Institute
    Public Teacher/Reading Specialist (K-8): NC and OH

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    Bio:

    Beth Duffy joins MCS for her sixth year. Beth received her AMI diploma from the Ohio Montessori Training Institute and her Master’s degree in Education from Loyola. She holds her Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education K-3 and completed her reading certification. Beth’s four daughters attend MCS at Lower and Upper Elementary as well as Adolescent levels.

  • Holly Dykes

    Specialist: Kindergarten, Elementary, Adolescent Art
    hdykes@mcsdurham.org
    12 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 seventh year at MCS and her fifth 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 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.

  • Sue Ferrari

    Lead Teacher Primary
    sferrari@mcsdurham.org
    14 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 26 years of Montessori experience and this year begins her 14th 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
    4 years at MCS
    Click to Read Bio
    Bio:

    Jay FitzGerald returns for his fourth 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 daughter, Hailey, that is a former MCS student and a freshman in college. His son, Jason, is currently a graduate student at Appalachian State University. He and his wife Susan recently celebrated their 27th anniversary.

  • Debbie Fixsen

    Lead Teacher Lower Elementary
    dfixsen@mcsdurham.org
    5 years at MCS

    BA (Comparative Literature), Brown University
    PhD (Clinical Psychology), University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

    AMS/MACTE (6-9) certification - Seacoast Center for Education in Portsmouth, NH

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    Bio:

    Debbie Fixsen returns for her fifth 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.”

  • Godha Gopalarathnam

    Assistant Teacher Primary
    ggopalarathnam@mcsdurham.org
    3 years at MCS

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

    AMS (Primary) credential - Indian Montessori Training Centre, Bangalore, India

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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
    2 years at MCS

    BA (Plan II Honors Interdisciplinary), University of Texas

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    Bio:

    Rochelle is proud to have been a part of the MCS community for the past eight 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.

  • Don Henchel

    Lead Teacher Upper Elementary
    dhenchel@mcsdurham.org
    9 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. For 2013, he has 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 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.”

  • Sabine Howe

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

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

    Teaching certification: Education and High School
    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

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    Bio:

    Sabine Howe received a Bachelor of Physical Education from the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada. Sabine has 28 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, Jazz Dance, and Volleyball. Sabine begins her 13th year at MCS and has two daughters.

  • Michelle Hynes

    Business Assistant
    mhynes@mcsdurham.org
    4 years at MCS

    BA (Finance), University of Massachusetts at Lowell

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    Bio:

    This is Michelle’s 4th year at MCS. She has a Bachelor’s in Finance from the University of Massachusetts at Lowell.

  • Leigh Isemonger

    Elementary and Adolescent Program Director
    lisemonger@mcsdurham.org
    1 year 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

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    Bio:

    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.

  • Shahnaz Khan

    Primary Late Day Teacher
    skhan@mcsdurham.org
    15 years at MCS

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

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

    Click to Read Bio
    Bio:

    Shahnaz Khan begins her 15th 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.”

  • Jeff Kishpaugh

    Lead Teacher Upper Elementary
    jkishpaugh@mcsdurham.org
    4 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. Jeff received his Bachelor of Arts from Emory University and also did graduate work in Scotland. He enjoys meditation, walking, bicycling, 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.”

  • Melissa Lee

    Lead Teacher Upper Elementary
    mlee@mcsdurham.org
    8 years at MCS

    AA (Nutrition), University of North Dakota, Lake Region
    BS (Elementary Education, Literature Studies), Framingham State University

    AMS (3-6) credential - New England Montessori Teacher Education Center, Newton, MA
    AMS (9-12) credential - Center for Montessori Teacher Education, NY
    Open Circle Facilitator certificate - Upper Elementary
    Public School credential (K-6): MA and NC

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    Bio:

    Melissa Lee returns for her eighth 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.”

  • Melanie Leyden

    Adolescent Teacher: Mathematics
    mleyden@mcsdurham.org
    6 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 is beginning her sixth 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 and worked as a counselor at a private boarding school for challenging teens.

  • Mari Lindsay

    Lead Teacher Primary
    mlindsay@mcsdurham.org
    16 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 28 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 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.”

  • Juliana Longiotti

    Assistant Teacher Primary
    jlongiotti@mcsdurham.org
    3 years at MCS

    BFA (Photography), Savannah College of Art and Design

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    Bio:

    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.

  • Shelly Lyons

    Lead Teacher Lower Elementary
    slyons@mcsdurham.org
    5 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

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    Bio:

    Shelly Lyons has 13 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 fifth 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 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.”

  • Kathy McHugh

    Lead Teacher Primary
    kmchugh@mcsdurham.org
    31 years at MCS

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

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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 quilting and Contra dancing.

  • Adam Miller

    Lead Teacher Primary
    amiller@mcsdurham.org
    10 years at MCS

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

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    Bio:

    Adam Miller begins his tenth year at MCS and his seventh 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. 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
    2 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 in his second 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. Earlier this year, Mike and Danielle had their first child, a daughter named Alexis.

  • Frances Morgan

    Intern Lower Elementary, Primary Early Care Teacher
    fmorgan@mcsdurham.org
    9 years at MCS

    BA (English Language, Writing, and Rhetoric), North Carolina State University

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

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    Bio:

    Frances Morgan begins her ninth 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.

  • Dana Mustafa

    Elementary Early Care and Elementary Late Day Teacher
    dmustafa@mcsdurham.org
    1 year at MCS
    Click to Read Bio
    Bio:

    Dana Mustafa will be working in Primary Early Care and as well as assisting in Elementary Late Day Care. Dana is a senior at Elon University finishing her Bachelor’s degree in Political Science. She has worked as a Spanish teacher for Elon Elementary School. In addition, Dana was a tutor for three years at the Boys and Girls Club. She has also been a nanny to many MCS families for the past eight years. Dana is looking forward to joining the MCS staff.

  • Beth Omane-Stancil

    Lead Teacher Toddler
    bomane@mcsdurham.org
    5 years at MCS

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

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    Bio:

    Beth Omane-Stancil begins her fifth 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 12 years. She also has experience as an assistant in the Primary level. Beth is originally from New York City. Beth is married with two children, Samuel and Rachael. Her daughter Rachael is in Upper Elementary and her son is in the 8th grade.

  • Kate Owens

    Office Manager
    office@mcsdurham.org
    1 year at MCS

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

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    Bio:

    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!

  • Jami Park

    Primary Late Day Coordinator
    jpark@mcsdurham.org
    18 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

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    Bio:

    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.”

  • Peter Piché

    Adolescent Teacher: Humanities and Language Arts
    ppiche@mcsdurham.org
    15 years at MCS

    BA (Music Voice Performance), University of Western Ontario

    MACTE (3-6) credential - Toronto Montessori Teacher Training Institute
    MACTE (6-12) credential - Toronto Montessori Teacher Training Institute
    AMI (12-15) credential - NAMTA Orientation to Adolescent Studies

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    Bio:

    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, a 2012 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. He is also a USA Hockey official and President of the Mid-Atlantic Officials Association in Raleigh, NC.  Peter is a strong advocate of learning as a life-long pursuit.

  • Nicole Pratt

    Assistant Teacher Toddler, Assistant Late Day Teacher
    npratt@mcsdurham.org
    2 years at MCS

    Public School Teaching credential: NC

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    Bio:

    Nicole Pratt has over 16 years of experience working with children from birth to age five. This is Nicole’s second year in the Toddler room. Both of her children are MCS students. 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
    14 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

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    Bio:

    Michelle Reader returns for her 14th 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 is currently working toward a Montessori STEM graduate certificate through St. Catherine University in St. Paul, MN. Outside the classroom, Michelle enjoys singing in a local chorus, bicycling, hiking, reading, geocaching, and spending time with her partner and their two children.  Her son is starting his second year in Primary at MCS. 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.”

  • Karen Anne Richardson

    Specialist: Kindergarten, Elementary, Adolescent Music
    krichardson@mcsdurham.org
    15 years at MCS

    B.Mus. (Music Education and Voice), University of Western Ontario

    MACTE (2.5-6) certification, Toronto Montessori Teacher Training Institute
    MACTE (6-12) certification, Toronto Montessori Teacher Training Institute
    Musikgarten (birth-3 yrs) Teacher certification, Family Music
    Musikgarten (3-5 yrs) Teacher certification, Cycle of Seasons
    Musikgarten (5-8 yrs) Teacher certification, Music Makers
    Orff Pedagogy (Level I) - Royal Conservatory of Music, Toronto, Canada
    Ukulele Teacher certification (Level I) - James Hill Ukulele Institute, Toronto, Canada
    Ukulele Teacher certification (Level II) - James Hill Ukulele Institute, Toronto, Canada

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    Bio:

    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 Primary, 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 has obtained Level 2 ukulele teacher certification. She currently teaches K-8 Music at MCS. Both of her children attended MCS from toddler through 8th grade. This begins Karen’s 15th year here.

  • Julia Roberts

    Lunch Coordinator
    14 years at MCS
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    Bio:

    Julia coordinates our popular Lunch Bunch lunch program; this is her 14th year. Her son originally brought her to MCS. He was a student here for 11 years. She credits Montessori with teaching him “how to learn”. Her son will soon graduate from North Carolina State University with a degree in Professional Golf Management and a minor in Business. He is also a member in the PGA. She is one proud mama and she is very thankful for all that MCS has given her and her family.

  • Keturah Russell

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

    BA (Psychology), Meredith College

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

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    Bio:

    Keturah Russell returns to MCS for her 20th 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 the same year. She completed her internship here at MCS 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.”

  • Deborah Shah

    Director of Marketing and Communications
    dshah@mcsdurham.org
    3 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 16 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. Her daughter, started in Primary and is a 2013 graduate of the MCS Adolescent program and her son, started in Toddler and is currently in Upper Elementary.

  • Jessica Sherman

    Assistant Teacher Primary
    jsherman@mcsdurham.org
    4 years at MCS

    BA (Early Childhood Education), University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

    AMS (3-6) credential, Center for Montessori Teacher Education, North Carolina
    State Teaching License (Birth - K): NC

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    Bio:

    Jessica Sherman completed her AMS Primary 3-6 Montessori Credential from the North Carolina Center for Montessori Teacher Education. 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 enjoys teaching and working alongside Beth Duffy at MCS. Favorite Montessori quote: “The exercise which develops life, consists in the repetition, not in the mere grasp of the idea.”

  • Catherine Swanson

    Lead Teacher Lower Elementary
    cswanson@mcsdurham.org
    6 years at MCS

    BA (Recreation Administration), University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

    AMS (3-6) credential, Montessori Education Centers Associated, Clarendon Hills, IL
    NCME (6-9) credential, Montessori Teacher Training Institute, Clemson, SC

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    Bio:

    Catherine Swanson returns for her sixth 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, SC, and holds a 3-6 AMS certification from the Montessori Education Centers Associated in Clarendon Hills, IL. She enjoys reading and cooking in her spare time.

  • Jennifer Tobolski

    Lead Teacher Lower Elementary
    jtobolski@mcsdurham.org
    8 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 Art 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 11th year of teaching and her eighth year in room 302. She has three children in rooms 301, 202, and a future MCS child. 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
    3 years at MCS
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    Bio:

    Jeffrey Upchurch returns to us 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

    Specialist: Elementary and Adolescent Pottery, Elementary Resource Teacher
    lvargas@mcsdurham.org
    3 years at MCS

    MFA (Sculpting and Painting), National University of Columbia

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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 Art Studios during the day. He also teaches two popular after school classes: 3D Art and Ceramics Art.

  • Michèle Widd

    Adolescent Teacher: Science, Spanish, and Mindfulness
    mwiddwilliams@mcsdurham.org
    9 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

    Click to Read Bio
    Bio:

    Michèle Widd has been a part of the MCS Adolescent Community since its inception in 2005. She is a guide in Science, Spanish, 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 Montessori Center in 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.

  • Cindy Zajic

    Director of Admissions
    admissions@mcsdurham.org
    3 years at MCS

    BA (Humanities), University of Colorado

    Teaching License (Middle Grades): NC

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    Bio:

    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 1982 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.