Schedule a tour or observation today! Learn More.
Staff Resources

Staff Resources

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

    Assistant Teacher: Primary
    Late Day Staff: Primary
    iabdulla@mcsdurham.org
    14 years at MCS

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

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

    Click to Read Bio
    Bio:

    Assistant Insaf Abdulla begins her 14th year working at MCS. This is her sixth 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, a Bachelor’s Degree in Arabic and Islamic studies from Kuwait University, and has her MACTE (3-6) credential from the Center for Guided Montessori Studies. Insaf is the mother of four daughters and one son.

  • Lisa Anderson

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

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

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

    Click to Read Bio
    Bio:

    Lisa has been teaching Montessori for over twenty years. She began her career in Philadelphia where she assisted in the development of a new primary (3-6) classroom, afternoon cultural program and became the founder/director of the summer program. After relocating to Raleigh, Lisa then spent 11 years at the Montessori School of Raleigh where she worked as a co-teacher in the lower elementary program (8 yrs.) and then became the Learning Support Coordinator (3 yrs.). Prior to coming to MCS, Lisa worked in Cary as the lead teacher of a primary (3-6) classroom. She is extremely excited to be working with lower elementary children and thrilled to be a part of the MCS family. Lisa and her husband, Chad have two boys, Evan (a previous Montessori student) and Ryan who is an elder in Room 202. 

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

  • Benni Blount

    Assistant Teacher: Toddler
    bblount@mcsdurham.org
    <1 years at MCS

    BA (Sociology), Salem College

    Click to Read Bio
    Bio:

    Benni is excited to join the MCS family. She has spent a lot of time working with young children. She has been a teacher’s assistant in a public school for nine years and has worked in preschools in the Durham area for four years. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Salem College. In her spare time, Benni enjoys being outside with her family and movement through yoga.

  • Jean Boyer

    Bookkeeper
    jboyer@mcsdurham.org
    2 years at MCS

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

    Click to Read Bio
    Bio:

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

  • Tim Daniel

    Head of School
    tdaniel@mcsdurham.org
    <1 years at MCS

    BA (English), Northwestern University
    MA (Modern Letters), University of Tulsa

    Click to Read Bio
    Bio:

    A native of Akron, Ohio, Tim is the son, nephew, grandson, and great-grandson of Lutheran ministers. In spite of this lineage, he chose instead to follow in the footsteps of his mother, an elementary school teacher, and he has spent the overwhelming majority of his professional career as an independent school teacher and administrator. Perhaps the greatest influence on his career path came when he had the opportunity to attend Deerfield Academy, a boarding school in Massachusetts. With only a brief, two-year hiatus in the 1980s to collect his Masters degree (and meet his wife, Deborah), Tim has spent the last three-plus decades wearing virtually every conceivable “hat” (including that of parent) at independent schools in Ohio, Tennessee, Rhode Island, Michigan (where he served as Head of School at The Leelanau School), Minnesota and Georgia (where he served as Head of School at Brenau Academy). Just prior to coming to MCS, Tim served as Executive Director at Mohican School in the Out-of-Doors, an environmental education nonprofit in Ohio. Tim and Deborah have three children: Al (a sports journalist); Robert (an actor and occasional stand-up comedian); and Emma (a high school senior).

  • Dave DeHarde

    Assistant Head of School
    Toddler and Primary Program Director
    ddeharde@mcsdurham.org
    5 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

    Click to Read Bio
    Bio:

    Dave DeHarde started his Montessori journey at the Greensboro Montessori School where he taught at the primary and lower elementary levels. In Greensboro, he sat on the Board of Trustees as a staff representative and served as Division Head for the primary program. He received his AMS Early Childhood credentials from the Center for Montessori Teacher Education of North Carolina in 2005. After eight years as a Montessori educator, Dave decided to make the transition into administration. After completing a Master of School Administration from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Dave became the Campus Director at the Boyd School at Broadlands in Virginia. He joined MCS in the summer of 2012 as the Toddler and Primary Program Director. In addition to his duties as Program Director, Dave oversees all early care, after school programs, and summer camps. He is also the music teacher for toddler and primary. In July 2015, he was named Assistant Head of School for MCS. Dave’s older son, Xavier, is an elder at MCS. His younger son, Abel, will start in the toddler program in February of 2017.

  • Holly Dykes

    Art Specialist: Primary, Elementary, and Adolescent
    hdykes@mcsdurham.org
    10 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

    Click to Read Bio
    Bio:

    Holly Dykes returns for her 10th year at MCS and her 8th year as the K-8 art teacher. Holly holds a Bachelor of Arts from Duke University and a Master of Arts in Teaching from UNC-Chapel Hill. She has a K-12 North Carolina public school credential in art and a 6-9 Montessori credential. Holly taught lower elementary and art at MCS in the early 1980s when the elementary program was just forming. Since then, she has taught children and adults at Montessori Children’s House of Durham, Durham Arts Council and the Women’s Exchange. She was the Elementary Program Director at Chiaravalle Montessori School in Evanston, Illinois for 10 years. Holly has been teaching and administrating for over 30 years.

  • Jody Ellis

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

    BS (International Relations), Georgetown University
    MA (Education), Loyola University

    AMI Primary Certificate (3 – 6), Washington Montessori Institute, Columbia, MD
    AMI Elementary Certificate (6 – 12), Washington Montessori Institute, Columbia, MD
    Ropes Course Outdoor Adventure Educator, Upward Bound Enterprises
    Mindfulness Education, Friends Council of Education

    Click to Read Bio
    Bio:

    Jody has 27 years of Montessori teaching experience. She began her career in the Washington, D.C. area teaching a primary classroom and then a lower elementary classroom at Lone Oak Montessori School. Later, Jody was lead teacher for an upper elementary class at the Robert Goddard Montessori Magnet School in Landover, Maryland. When Jody and her family relocated to Wilmington, North Carolina, she taught in a primary classroom in the Montessori program at the Friends School of Wilmington. Jody is very excited about her recent move to Durham where she will be teaching lower elementary (one of her favorite age groups!) at MCS. Jody and her husband Rob, who is also a Montessori teacher, have three daughters who each had the good fortune to enjoy a Montessori education. Jody likes to run, meditate, read, and enjoys good meals with family and friends. Favorite quote: “Our job is not to make the child understand but to touch his imagination and to infuse him to his innermost core.” Maria Montessori.

  • Crystal Featherstone

    Administrative Assistant
    office@mcsdurham.org
    <1 years at MCS

    BA (English), Arizona State University

    Click to Read Bio
    Bio:

    Crystal Featherstone has recently moved to North Carolina from Maryland. She has over 6 years of experience in the administrative field. Crystal loves writing and children, and is very thrilled to be joining the MCS staff this year.

  • Sue Ferrari

    Lead Teacher: Primary
    sferrari@mcsdurham.org
    17 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

    Click to Read Bio
    Bio:

    Sue Ferrari has over 29 years of Montessori experience and this year begins her 16th 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
    jfitzgerald@mcsdurham.org
    7 years at MCS
    Click to Read Bio
    Bio:

    Jay FitzGerald returns for his 7th year at MCS. He brings a strong background in customer service and real estate with a concentration in the management and maintenance of properties. He loves fixing stuff, and appreciates the endless opportunities to apply his knowledge and skill sets on campus. Jay and his wife Susan recently celebrated their 30th anniversary. Their daughter, Hailey, an MCS alum, is currently a senior at Appalachian State University. Their son, Jason, just received a Masters in International Business from Appalachian State University.

  • Rochelle Hayes

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

    BA (Plan II Honors Interdisciplinary), University of Texas

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

    Click to Read Bio
    Bio:

    Rochelle is proud to have been a part of the MCS community for the past 10 years. This is her 5th 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. She completed her MACTE (3-6) certification training with the Center for Guided Montessori Studies in 2016. She has two sons: Jonathan, a graduate of MCS, and Nicholas, a student in 601.

  • Don Henchel

    Lead Teacher: Upper Elementary
    dhenchel@mcsdurham.org
    12 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 spent 20 years at the Montessori School of Raleigh and four years at Follow the Child Montessori School, also in Raleigh. He enjoys dialoging with his wonderful wife, hiking, watching movies, listening to music, anthropology, and watching his sons grow into conscious young men. Don notes: “I believe in interdisciplinary education, cosmic curriculum, dialogue, meaningful and purposeful work, and keeping a healthy perspective on how each student learns. My strengths and experience are with the cultural curriculum, classroom management, research, and in keeping the balance between structure and creativity.” Favorite Montessori quote: “…you yourselves must be filled with wonder and when you have acquired that you are prepared.”

  • Joey Henchel

    Late Day Staff: Elementary
    jhenchel@mcsdurham.org
    2 years at MCS
    Click to Read Bio
    Bio:

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

  • Ingrid Hester

    Spanish Specialist: Toddler, Upper Elementary, and Adolescent
    ihester@mcsdurham.org
    2 years at MCS

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

    Click to Read Bio
    Bio:

    Ingrid Hester is originally from Bogotá, Colombia. She earned her Bachelor degree in languages (English, Spanish, and French) from La Salle University of Colombia. She also has had training at in the Fundamentals of Montessori from The Center for Guided Montessori Studies in Petersburg, Florida. Ingrid has been a teacher for more than 11 years and has worked with preschool, elementary, and high school students. She has experience teaching a dual language program (English to Spanish) in a Montessori children’s house, students 3 to 6 years old. In her free time she enjoys cooking, reading and spending time with nature.

  • Sabine Howe

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

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

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

    Click to Read Bio
    Bio:

    Sabine Howe received a Bachelor of Physical Education from the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada. Sabine has 31 years of 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, badminton, and volleyball. Sabine begins her 17th year at MCS and has two daughters.

  • Shahnaz Khan

    Late Day Staff: Primary
    skhan@mcsdurham.org
    18 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 18th 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. She finished her AMS Primary 3-6 Montessori training in 2008 at the North Carolina Center for Montessori Teacher Education. Shahnaz 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
    7 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, North Carolina and at Spruce Pine Montessori School in Spruce Pine, North Carolina. Jeff took his coursework for Montessori training at the Center for Montessori Teacher Education in New York. He received his Bachelor of Arts from Emory University and did graduate work in Scotland. He enjoys meditation, walking, games, and being out in nature. Favorite Montessori quote: “Let us give the child a vision of the whole Universe… We should walk together on this path of life, for all things are part of the Universe and are connected with each other to form one whole unity.”

  • Melanie Leyden

    Lead Teacher: Adolescent
    mleyden@mcsdurham.org
    9 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
    19 years at MCS

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

    Click to Read Bio
    Bio:

    Mari Lindsay has 30 years of experience working with young children. She holds an AMS 3-6 Montessori primary credential from the North Carolina Center for Montessori Teacher Education. From 1986 to 1998, Mari worked as an assistant teacher and then as a lead teacher at Lakeside Presbyterian Pre-School and Kindergarten in Erlanger, Kentucky. Through Durham Technical Community College, Mari completed 21 hours of training in Sign Language I and received her North Carolina Early Childhood Credential I and II (EDU 111 & 112). She has extensive training and experience as a wildlife rehabilitator. Mari is beginning her 19th 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
    6 years at MCS

    BFA (Photography), Savannah College of Art and Design

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

    Click to Read Bio
    Bio:

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

  • Shelly Lyons

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

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

    AMS (6-9 Elementary I) credential, Center for Montessori Teacher Education, NC
    Elementary State Teaching certificates (Pre-K - 5th): GA 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 17 years of experience in Montessori classrooms. She spent eight years at the Athens Montessori School in Athens, Georgia, and one year at the Swannanoa Valley Montessori School in Black Mountain, North Carolina. This is her eighth 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 Georgia 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 has Open Circle facilitator certification. Besides teaching she enjoys being a mom, singing, hiking, creative writing, reading, biking, and spending time with her two sons. Favorite Montessori quote: “The first duty of the educator, whether he is involved with the newborn infant or the older child, is to recognize the human personality of the young.”

  • Eleftheria Mantzouka

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

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

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

    Click to Read Bio
    Bio:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Judy Martell

    Interim Elementary Program Director
    Elementary Professional Development Resource and Advisor
    jmartell@mcsdurham.org
    10 years at MCS

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

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

    Click to Read Bio
    Bio:

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

  • Sarah McCombie

    Music Specialist: Primary, Elementary, and Adolescent
    smccombie@mcsdurham.org
    2 years at MCS

    BA (English), William Peace University

    Click to Read Bio
    Bio:

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

  • Kasey McCoy

    Late Day Staff: Toddler
    kmccoy@mcsdurham.org
    <1 years at MCS

    BA (Fine Arts), Bowie State University, Bowie, MD
    M.Ed (Education), Grand Canyon University, Phoenix, AZ

    NC Intervention credential, Wake County Public School System

    Click to Read Bio
    Bio:

    Kasey McCoy is originally from Maryland. She has worked as a Special Educator for the District of Columbia Public School System in Washington, D.C., and has recently worked as a Special Educator for the Wake County Public School System. Kasey has over 8 years of experience teaching elementary school aged children. She holds a Bachelor degree from Bowie State University in Fine Arts with a concentration in Computer Graphics. She also holds a Masters Degree in Education with a Concentration in Special Education from Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Arizona. Kasey is passionate about equipping children with the knowledge to help them grow and excel. In her leisure time, she enjoys visiting parks and gardens. As a hobby she enjoys making digital art. She is very excited to join the MCS family.

  • Kathy McHugh

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

    AMS (3-6) credential, Center for Montessori Teacher Education, North Carolina
    Earth Partnership for Schools Institute, North Carolina Botanical Gardens
    NC Environmental Education credential candidate

    Click to Read Bio
    Bio:

    Kathy McHugh began her journey at MCS as a parent when her son was enrolled a primary student in 1981. She received her AMS 3-6 primary credential through the North Carolina Center for Montessori Teacher Education in 1989. She is the mother of two MCS alumni and the grandmother of a current primary student. Kathy enjoys dancing, gardening, and hiking with her family.

  • Colleen McHugh

    Assistant Teacher: Toddler
    Early Care Staff: Elementary
    cmchugh@mcsdurham.org
    3 years at MCS

    AA (Business Administration) candidate, Wake Technical Community College

    North Carolina Early Childhood credential

    Click to Read Bio
    Bio:

    Colleen has eight 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 Associate of Arts degree in Business Administration from Wake Technical Community College. Colleen is an alumna of MCS and her daughter is currently a primary student at MCS. In her spare time Colleen enjoys crafts and running.

  • Adam Miller

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

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

    Click to Read Bio
    Bio:

    Adam Miller begins his 13th year at MCS and his ninth year in Room 202.  Previously, he worked in a three-year-old classroom at the Learning Tree Day Care in Erlanger, Kentucky. 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

    Admissions Director
    admissions@mcsdurham.org
    4 years at MCS

    BA (Business Management), Michigan State University

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

    Click to Read Bio
    Bio:

    Mike Miller is starting his fifth year with MCS. Mike 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 two daughters, Alexis and Gabrielle.

  • Angela Molfese

    Adolescent Program Director
    Lead Teacher: Adolescent
    amolfese@mcsdurham.org
    3 years at MCS

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

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

    Click to Read Bio
    Bio:

    Prior to coming to MCS, Angela worked an as adolescent guide, specializing in the areas of humanities and language arts, for ten years at Butler Montessori in Darnestown, Maryland. She has completed the NAMTA Orientation to Adolescent Studies and her primary training at the Montessori Institute of San Diego. Angela also holds a Bachelor of Arts in History and Sociology from the State University of New York and a Masters in Social Studies Education from New York University. Outside of her work with adolescents, Angela enjoys exploring new places, be it by walking or reading, and feels fortunate to be a part of this community.

  • Beth Omane

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

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

    Click to Read Bio
    Bio:

    Beth Omane has 15 years’ experience working with toddlers in a Montessori setting and begins her sseventh 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 New York. Beth also serves as an Infant/Toddler AMS Teacher Consultant for the Institute for Advanced Montessori Studies in Silver Springs, Maryland. She was born and raised in New York. She has two children, ages 16 and 14. 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.”

  • Jami Park

    Late Day Coordinator: Primary and Elementary
    jpark@mcsdurham.org
    21 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

    Click to Read Bio
    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. Later she worked as an assistant in room 102 before starting and coordinating the Primary Late Day Program. Jami currently coordinates toddler, primary, and elementary late day programs, as well as teaching lower elementary science lab. Her 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.”

  • Camille Perkins

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

    BA (Biology) Guilford College

    Click to Read Bio
    Bio:

    Camille was born and raised in a small town in Virginia. She has 4 children, ages 3.5, 3.5, 14, & 25. She worked at The Greensboro Montessori School for 7 years before moving to Chapel Hill. She was a long term sub at Montessori Day School before accepting her current position at MCS. Camille enjoys cooking, spending time in nature and going to the beach. One of her favorite Maria Montessori quotes: “It is not enough for the teacher to love the child. She must first love and understand the universe. She must prepare herself, and truly work at it”.

  • Michelle Reader

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

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

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

    Click to Read Bio
    Bio:

    Michelle Reader returns for her 16th year at MCS. Michelle received her Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Centre College in Danville, Kentucky. She is a graduate of the Washington Montessori Institute of Loyola College in Timonium, Maryland, where she received the Association Montessori Internationale Elementary 6-12 diploma along with a Master of Education in 2000. She has also completed her Montessori STEM graduate certificate through St. Catherine University in St. Paul, Minnesota. Outside the classroom, Michelle enjoys singing in a local chorus, bicycling, hiking, reading, geocaching, and spending time with her family. Both of her children attend MCS. Her son will be in his second year in lower elementary and her daughter will be in her second year in primary. Favorite Montessori quote: “The secret of good teaching is to regard the child’s intelligence as a fertile field in which seeds may be sown, to grow under the heat of flaming imagination.”

  • Keturah Russell

    Lead Teacher: Lower Elementary
    krussell@mcsdurham.org
    22 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 22nd year as a lower elementary teacher. She graduated from Meredith College with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology in 1992 and received her AMS 6-9 elementary credential from the North Carolina Center for Montessori Teacher Education that same year. She completed her internship here at MCS and has been here ever since. She recently completed Open Circle training in Massachusetts. Keturah is the mother of a daughter, in high school and a son in eighth grade. She enjoys singing, riding her horses, reading, and playing guitar with the children. Favorite Montessori quote: “Establishing lasting peace is the work of education; all politics can do is keep us out of war.”

  • Deborah Shah

    Marketing and Communications Director
    dshah@mcsdurham.org
    7 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

    Click to Read Bio
    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 many years of experience in corporate advertising, marketing, and communications. She served for 4 years as the MCS PTO Vice President and has many years of non-profit volunteer experience and/or board service in the Triangle area. Both of her children attended MCS. Her daughter is a graduate of the adolescent program and her son attended through 5th grade.

  • Kalpu Shah

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

    BS (Science), University of Mumbai, India
    Post Graduate 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 14 years, and as a middle school math resource teacher 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’.”

  • Derek Starkenburg

    Lead Teacher: Adolescent
    dstarkenburg@mcsdurham.org
    <1 years at MCS

    BEDA (Bachelor of Environmental Design in Architecture), North Carolina State University
    M.Arch (Master of Architecture), North Carolina State University
    MA (Earth Sciences), University of Northern Colorado
    Ph.D. (Atmospheric Sciences), University of Alaska Fairbanks

    AMI (12-15) credential, NAMTA Orientation to Adolescent Studies

    Click to Read Bio
    Bio:

    Derek is the adolescent science guide at MCS. He has experience working as a designer at Fentress Architects in Denver, CO where he gained skills in graphics and three-dimensional spatial thinking, and also had the opportunity to work on the design of the Denver Academy high school building. Derek’s passion for weather, climate and geography drove him to seek degrees in earth sciences and atmospheric sciences, where he employs the three-dimensional drawing skills from design to illustrate physics and science for education. During his last year at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks, Derek received the GK-12 fellowship which provided the opportunity to teach science to 3-6th-grade students in local schools on a weekly basis. Derek completed the AMI Montessori Orientation Program to Adolescent Studies in July 2016, and is excited to be joining the MCS community.

  • Catherine Swanson

    Lead Teacher: Lower Elementary
    cswanson@mcsdurham.org
    Click to Read Bio
    Bio:

    Coming soon!

  • Jennifer Tobolski

    Lead Teacher: Lower Elementary
    jtobolski@mcsdurham.org
    11 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 14th year of teaching and her 11th year in room 302. She has three children in rooms 601, 202, and 102. Miss Jen and her family enjoy being outside riding bikes, hiking, camping, swimming, and doing all of those things families often enjoy doing together, often surrounded by water. She writes, “I believe Maria Montessori was a visionary. It says something that the method she created over one hundred years ago is still successful today. It has been amazing to watch these children evolve and see how the Montessori method prepares them for life. I have high expectations for children and I have seen them live up to our shared expectations over the years.”

  • Jeffrey Upchurch

    Maintenance Assistant
    jupchurch@mcsdurham.org
    6 years at MCS
    Click to Read Bio
    Bio:

    Jeffrey Upchurch returns to MCS this year to work with Jay on maintenance items. Jeffrey is a retired communications worker who wanted to re-join the workforce with a part-time job. We are very fortunate to have Jeffrey in our midst! He loves the Blue Ridge Parkway and The Outer Banks of North Carolina.

  • Levy Vargas

    Ceramics Specialist: Elementary and Adolescent
    Physical Education Assistant Teacher: Elementary and Adolescent
    lvargas@mcsdurham.org
    6 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 ceramics studio, assists with elementary and adolescent physical education and assists with the upper elementary soccer team.

  • Linda Wilson

    Development Director
    lwilson@mcsdurham.org
    2 years at MCS

    BA (English), Mary Washington College of the University of Virginia, Fredericksburg, Virginia

    K-12 Education certificate, Mary Washington College of the University of Virginia, Fredericksburg, Virginia

    Click to Read Bio
    Bio:

    Linda is beginning her second year at MCS as our Development Director. She is the grandmother of Vivianne, a second year, and Andrew, a first year, both have been at MCS since their toddler year. She earned her BA in English from the Mary Washington College of the University of Virginia. She took graduate courses in education at the University of Virginia in Arlington and later at   Duke University in Durham. Linda began her teaching career in Northern Virginia and continued in Durham, where she developed and led Durham’s first ungraded primary program. She later designed a family group experience for Duke Preschool and Primary Program, now Duke School for Children.

    As her children moved through the public school system, she worked in various volunteer capacities to raise money for the schools and for her historic neighborhood, planning and leading balloon launches, grocery raffles, and several home tours. She served on the Durham Merger Issues Task Force that planned the merger of Durham’s City and County school systems. Searching for ways to improve the lives of low-wealth women and their children, she founded and became the executive director of Candles of Hope. This non-profit gave her an opportunity to take her fundraising skills to a new level and to become involved in the philanthropic community in the Triangle. She applied her skills to the needs of Preservation Durham, meeting a six-month deadline to raise $300,000 for a black history project in conjunction with the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

    Her daughter, Heather, introduced Linda to Montessori when she obtained her Montessori credentials in Bergamo, Italy. Linda lives in Durham with her husband Bill, sharing their Victorian neighborhood with two daughters, two grandchildren and assorted pets.

  • Alexandra Zapata

    Spanish Specialist: Primary and Lower Elementary
    azapata@mcsdurham.org
    <1 years at MCS
    Click to Read Bio
    Bio:

    Coming soon!