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
    Late Day Teacher: Primary
    iabdulla@mcsdurham.org
    12 years at MCS

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

    MACTE (3-6) credential candidate, 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.

  • Rana Albishtawi

    Late Day Teacher: Elementary
    ralbishtawi@mcsdurham.org
    14 years at MCS

    Early Childhood Education credential
    Nonviolent Crisis Intervention credential

    Click to Read Bio
    Bio:

    Rana has worked as a teaching assistant for 14 years at Glenwood Elementary School in Chapel Hill. She was a nurse’s assistant in Kuwait for one year. Originally from Jordan, Rana is a mother of two. She is fluent in Arabic and English and enjoys children. This is her 14th year in the MCS Late Day program.

  • Hetal Amin

    Assistant Teacher: Upper Elementary
    hamin@mcsdurham.org
    <1 years at MCS

    BS (Molecular Biology and Microbiology), University of Central Florida

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    Bio:

    Hetal Amin has been a part of the MCS community for the past 7 years. This is her first year as an assistant in 602. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Molecular Biology and Microbiology from the University of Central Florida. Hetal was been working with children of all ages throughout the years in her active role in volunteer organizations. 

    She has three children at MCS:  Tilak, in 302, Asha, in 202, and Saha, in 204.  She enjoys spending time with family and friends cooking, eating and laughing.

  • Patricia Calle

    Spanish Specialist: Primary and Lower Elementary
    pcalle@mcsdurham.org
    3 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
    MACTE (6-9) credential candidate, Center for Guided Montessori Studies

    Click to Read Bio
    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 Lower Elementary students at MCS. She joined MCS in 2012 as the Primary Spanish teacher. Patricia is a member of the Strategic Plan committee and has served as coach for Girls on the Run after school program.

  • 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). MIchelle moved to NC from Miami, FL in 2011. She has a son named Terrence and loves music, dominoes, and spending time with her family and friends.

  • Cathy Constantine

    Head of School
    cconstantine@mcsdurham.org
    6 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 30 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 been a teacher trainer, at the elementary level, 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 leading a model Montessori school - one that adheres to the tenets of Montessori philosophy and education. Cathy has two Montessori educated daughters and is a grandmother. She has been married to her husband Jim for 30 years. She enjoys biking, music, and being with her family. Her favorite quote: “I can do it myself”.

  • Dave DeHarde

    Toddler and Primary Program Director
    ddeharde@mcsdurham.org
    3 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. This year, Dave and his wife Camille’s son, Xavier, will start his first year of Primary at MCS.

  • Philippe Derfeuil

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

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

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    Bio:

    Philippe is the Spanish and French specialist for Upper Elementary. He grew up speaking French and Spanish. He received his Licence Langues Étrangères Appliquées from the Université de Bourgogone in Dijon, France. Philippe is the coach of the MCS Chess Team and plays chess in various clubs in the Triangle area. This is Philippe’s 12th 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
    7 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 seventh 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

    Art Specialist: Primary, Elementary, and Adolescent
    hdykes@mcsdurham.org
    13 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 eighth year at MCS and her sixth 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 forming. 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
    15 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
    5 years at MCS
    Click to Read Bio
    Bio:

    Jay FitzGerald returns for his fifth 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, an alumna of MCS and currently a freshman in college. His son, Jason, is currently a graduate student at Appalachian State University. He and his wife Susan recently celebrated their 28th anniversary.

  • Debbie Fixsen

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

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

    AMS/MACTE (6-9) credential, Seacoast Center for Education in Portsmouth, NH
    Open Circle Facilitator certificate, Open Circle, Wellesley Centers for Women, Wellesley College, Wellesley, Mass.

    Click to Read Bio
    Bio:

    Debbie Fixsen returns for her sixth 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. and her Open Circle training. 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
    4 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

    Click to Read Bio
    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
    3 years at MCS

    BA (Plan II Honors Interdisciplinary), University of Texas

    MACTE (3-6) credential candidate, 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 third 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. This summer she started her MACTE (3-6) certification training from the Center for Guided Montessori Studies. She has two sons: Jonathan, a student in 603, and Nicholas, a student in 601.

  • Don Henchel

    Lead Teacher: Upper Elementary
    dhenchel@mcsdurham.org
    10 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. 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

    Physical Education Specialist: Primary, Elementary, and Adolescent
    showe@mcsdurham.org
    14 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

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    Bio:

    Sabine Howe received a Bachelor of Physical Education from the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada. Sabine has 29 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 14th year at MCS and has two daughters.

  • Leigh Isemonger

    Elementary and Adolescent Program Director
    lisemonger@mcsdurham.org
    2 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 Teacher: Primary
    skhan@mcsdurham.org
    16 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 16th 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
    5 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, 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.”

  • Melanie Leyden

    Lead Teacher: Adolescent
    mleyden@mcsdurham.org
    7 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

    Click to Read Bio
    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
    17 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
    4 years at MCS

    BFA (Photography), Savannah College of Art and Design

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

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    Bio:

    Juliana Longiotti is from New Jersey and 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. Outside of school, Juliana enjoys photography, gardening, running, and hiking the outdoors with her family.

  • Shelly Lyons

    Lead Teacher: Lower Elementary
    slyons@mcsdurham.org
    6 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.

    Click to Read Bio
    Bio:

    Shelly Lyons has 14 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.”

  • Kathy McHugh

    Lead Teacher: Primary
    kmchugh@mcsdurham.org
    32 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
    <1 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 will be starting at MCS this fall. In her spare time Colleen enjoys crafts and running.

  • Adam Miller

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

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

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    Bio:

    Adam Miller begins his 11th 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
    3 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 third 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
    <1 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 candidate, 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.

  • Dana Mustafa

    Early Care Teacher: Elementary
    Late Day Teacher: Elementary
    Assistant Teacher: Upper Elementary
    dmustafa@mcsdurham.org
    2 years at MCS

    BA (Political Science and International Studies) candidate, Elon University

    Click to Read Bio
    Bio:

    Dana Mustafa will once again be working in Elementary Early Care as well as Elementary Late Day Care. She will also be an Assistant Teacher in Room 601. She is a senior at Elon University finishing her Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and International Studies. She has worked as an assistant Spanish teacher at Elon Elementary School. In addition, Dana was a tutor and mentor for three years at the Boys and Girls Club of Burlington. Over the past year at MCS, Dana has been able to work within many of the Primary and Lower Elementary classes, gaining valuable experience and knowledge of the Montessori method. Dana hopes to become a certified Montessori teacher by completing her AMI training in the very near future. She looks forward to joining the MCS family for a second year.

  • Beth Omane

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

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

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    Bio:

    Beth Omane has 13 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 14 and 12. 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.”

  • Kate Owens

    Office Manager
    office@mcsdurham.org
    2 years at MCS

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

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    Bio:

    Kate Owens 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 eight years of administrative and managerial experience and nine years of childcare experience. She previously worked for the Aflac regional office in Raleigh. Kate is the friendly voice that our families have grown so accustomed to hearing when they call the school and 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. She is absolutely thrilled to be part of the administration team here at MCS!

  • Jami Park

    Late Day Teacher: Primary
    jpark@mcsdurham.org
    19 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.”

  • Marty Pomerantz

    Elementary and Adolescent Summer Program Director
    mpomerantz@mcsdurham.org
    2 years at MCS

    MA (Physical Education, specializing in Sports Administration), Michigan State University
    BS (Pre-Physical Therapy), State University of New York at Binghamton

    First Aid/CPR certified
    Licensed Commercial Bus Driver

    Click to Read Bio
    Bio:

    Recently retired from UNC-Chapel Hill after 21 years as Director of Campus Recreation and 38 years in the field. Very proud father of two exceptionally well-adjusted sons who are making significant contributions to society. One son lives in Charleston, SC with his wife and Marty’s two grandchildren, and the other lives right next door on Clark Lake, half mile from MCS, with his wife and Marty’s canine grandchildren.

  • Nicole Pratt

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

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

    Public School Teaching credential: NC

    Click to Read Bio
    Bio:

    Nicole Pratt has over 17 years of experience working with children from birth to age five. 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. Both of Nicole’s 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
    15 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

    Click to Read Bio
    Bio:

    Michelle Reader returns for her 15th 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 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.  Her son is starting his third 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

    Music Specialist: Primary, Elementary, and Adolescent
    krichardson@mcsdurham.org
    16 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 (Levels I, II, and III), James Hill Ukulele Institute, Toronto, Canada

    Click to Read Bio
    Bio:

    Karen Anne 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 Teacher Training Institute. 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, and Duke Hospital. Karen currently teaches music to primary through adolescent students at MCS. She established the MCS Chorus many years ago and, in 2010, founded our Adolescent Ukulele Ensemble. Both of her children attended MCS from toddler through 8th grade. This begins Karen’s 16th year here.

  • Julia Roberts

    Lunch Coordinator
    15 years at MCS
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    Bio:

    Julia coordinates our popular Lunch Bunch lunch program; this is her 15th 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 of 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
    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.

    Click to Read Bio
    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, now in high school after attending MCS through 8th grade, 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 Development
    dshah@mcsdurham.org
    4 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. Her daughter, Serena, attended MCS for 11 years and graduated from the Adolescent Program in 2013. Her son, Dhillon, started at MCS in Toddler and is currently in Upper Elementary.

  • Kalpu Shah

    Lead Teacher: Upper Elementary
    kshah@mcsdurham.org
    <1 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

    Click to Read Bio
    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’.”

  • Andrea Slanker

    Assistant Teacher: Primary
    aslanker@mcsdurham.org
    <1 years at MCS

    BA (English), Loyola University in New Orleans

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

    Click to Read Bio
    Bio:

    Andrea received her Bachelor of Arts degree in English with a concentration in creative writing from Loyola University in New Orleans. Her interest in teaching began when she served as a volunteer tutor and mentor for grades Kindergarten through 5th grade in the New Orleans Public School System. She received her AMS Primary certification through the Center for Montessori Teacher Education in North Carolina, and has worked in Montessori classrooms as a lead and co-teacher for the past six years.

    Besides teaching children, Andrea also teaches yoga and stress reduction techniques to adults. She enjoys cooking, long meandering walks in the woods, reading, following art and design blogs, and spending time with her family.

  • Catherine Swanson

    Lead Teacher: Lower Elementary
    cswanson@mcsdurham.org
    7 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
    Academy of Orton-Gillingham Practitioners and Educators (Associate Level), Greenhills School, Winston-Salem, NC

    Click to Read Bio
    Bio:

    Catherine Swanson returns for her seventh 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
    9 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

    Click to Read Bio
    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 12th year of teaching and her ninth 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
    4 years at MCS
    Click to Read Bio
    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
    4 years at MCS

    MFA (Sculpting and Painting), National University of Colombia

    Click to Read Bio
    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
    Science Resource Specialist: Primary, Elementary, and Adolescent
    mwiddwilliams@mcsdurham.org
    10 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 Science and Spanish guide in the MCS Adolescent Community since its inception in 2005. She is also the campus science resource specialist for Primary through Adolescent. 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.

  • Cindy Zajic

    Director of Admissions
    admissions@mcsdurham.org
    4 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 has done some post-graduate studies at the University of Colorado and North Carolina Central University. She 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.