"You cannot put your child in a better place in the whole world. Not only will they learn and do everything you’ve been told here (at the Open House) tonight, but additionally they are truly loved by all the staff.”
"As parents, we hope that in our children’s lifetime they will meet at least one person who leaves an impression on them. All of you have done just that for Jordyn. You have no idea of how your dedication to children, your ability to communicate, and your desire to see each and every one of your students succeed is appreciated."
"I walked into school last week and….children were in groups of two’s an three’s intrigued by all sorts of learning toys, guided by their wonderful teachers. There was that low hum of conversation that you associate with a very good classroom. I told the nearest teacher: “Somewhere, Maria Montessori is smiling.”
The following are brief sketches of the people who make OMS what it is.
Betty Hengst is the educational director and co-founder with her late husband, Werner, of Our Montessori School. Werner, an IBMer for most of his years, became a convert to the Montessori Method when he discovered, in writing his Master’s thesis, that Montessori teachers agreed far more often with the principles of sound management than did actual corporate management! Betty has a B.A. in English from the University of Florida, an M.A. in Education from Long Island University, a Montessori certificate for ages six to nine from Whitby, a Montessori certificate from St. Nicholas Training Centre for ages 2 1/2 to 7, and is permanently certified by N.Y. State in Early Childhood Education for nursery, kindergarten, and grades 1 through 6, as well as in English for grades 6 through 12 and taught one year of Montessori at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton School. Besides her 45 years in Montessori, Betty taught English in a very innovative high school in Melbourne, Florida. She also holds teaching certificates in Florida and Virginia and each year takes workshops in Early Childhood Education.
Barbara Diehl, Esq. joined OMS in February of 2016 when co-founder, Werner Hengst died, taking his place as administrator of Our Montessori School. Barbara, a Yorktown lawyer who has worked with OMS for twenty-five years, is already known to many in the OMS community and works beautifully with co-founder and educational director, Betty Hengst, executive director, Elizabeth Silverman, and Our Montessori School's new CPA, Manix McClusky. Barbara’s reputation as a Yorktown lawyer is sterling, as is her reputation for caring deeply about education in her community. She graduated from Bryn Mawr College with a major in chemistry and earned a NY State provisional teaching certificate for secondary school science. Barbara taught additional educational courses at West Chester University as well as science at both high school and college levels. She then obtained her law degree from Pace Law School and did an internship in education law matters. And she served on the Yorktown School Board for 21 years. Barbara has a wonderful mix of detailed knowledge and common sense, as well as being a long-time friend of the school. Among her many talents: she’s our go-to person whenever we need an excellent speaker! There is no more perfect person to take Werner’s place in guiding OMS now and in the coming years. She has shown herself to be an invaluable part of the OMS team.
Elizabeth Silverman, our executive director, begins her thirty-third year at Our Montessori School. It’s hard to describe her many talents unless you’ve dealt with her, and then you know. Maybe the place to start is her own schooling—she was a Montessori baby, and it shows! She began with us as a parent doing our extended day program, which she approached the same way she does everything she tackles—by giving it her all, down to planning exquisite snacks and fascinating activities for the children with the love and patience typical of the Montessori person. Elizabeth holds a Montessori certificate from St. Nicholas Training Centre in London. She is our Montessori teacher trainer and developed five workshops the teachers find invaluable, so much so that they are now offered almost every year to teachers and parents as one of our “perks.” Before coming to us, Elizabeth worked for many years as a clinical research technician at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and contributed to two books, Best Bets for Babies and Tips for Toddlers. She takes innumerable workshops in Early Childhood Education every year. She is also certified in CPR for the professional rescuer and first aid. At OMS we know how blessed we are to have such a wonderful person capable of getting involved in practically every aspect of running the school, whether it’s showing the school to parents, dealing with various inspections, or seeing that each class has proper coverage during the flu season. We continue to be amazed at Elizabeth’s deep understanding of Montessori’s philosophy, excellent judgment, versatility, and incredible energy, which enables her to deal with numerous subjects at the same time. Only with such a person are we able to continue our determined effort to run the school efficiently, and with a minimum of administrative overhead, so that we can maintain our outstanding student-teacher ratio.
Our Head Teachers
Cheri Baron begins her fifteenth year at OMS as head teacher of the senior class as well as her part-time post as spokeswoman and Director of Family Events. She holds a B.A. in art education from Salem State College, where she received the high honor of being named a Presidential Arts Scholar, and she is certified in art for grades kindergarten through eighth grade in Massachusetts and Wisconsin. She volunteered a whole year in the senior class in order to learn from our former head teacher Clara Marullo, and Clara pronounced her quite simply, “a treasure.” Cheri has taught art at the Beverly School for the Deaf, the Milwaukee public schools, and at UWM College for Kids. She also taught pre-kindergarten and kindergarten at the Crossroads Montessori School and home-schooled her own children for three years, before enrolling them both in our school. She has illustrated two wonderful children’s books: The Wrong Side of the Bed and The First Gift of Christmas and for five years painted murals as a free-lancer. Cheri attended the annual American Montessori Society Conference in Boston where she learned from the best about a new approach to spelling, the interdisciplinary approach to cultural subjects, and the world as a village. To become certified to teach the Jason Project, on which we base our science program, she attended a conference in Milwaukee for curriculum development of the Project and a Yorktown workshop. Cheri’s enthusiasm, exceptional energy level, and thoughtfulness, together with her intelligence and people skills have completely captivated our seniors, who respond to her warm, respectful, caring manner. Several sentences in Cheri’s resume helped us know she was the right person for us “…at the Worchester Art Museum I first witnessed children ignite with passion as sparks of creativity flew…” and “children are not to be molded, but persons to be unfolded.” In addition, Cheri is certified in both CPR and first aid.
Randa Dobrayel begins her twenty-second year at OMS as head of our junior class, French and Arabic teacher for that class, and French teacher for our nursery/ kindergarten classes at the Lutheran campus. She received her degree in Pre-School and Elementary Education from the French University of St. Joseph (a Jesuit University) in Beirut, Lebanon. Randa taught elementary French for five years at Notre Dame des Soeurs Antonines and taught Arabic for one year in Scarsdale, N.Y. Randa successfully completed the Montessori course given by Elizabeth Silverman, takes several workshops in child development each year, recently one on the dark side of America’s achievement culture based on the documentary Race to Nowhere, and is certified in both first aid and CPR. She tutors French privately. Randa’s initiative, creativity and enthusiasm for learning, which she easily transmits to her students, make her a wonderful teacher, and, to a child, her students declare they love coming to school!
Enza Moschetta-Marricco begins her seventeenth year at Our Montessori School as head teacher of one of our Stepping Stones classes. She attended The Instituto Magistrate di Formia in Latina, Italy, which is a teacher-training institute, completed Elizabeth Silverman’s Montessori course, holds a Child Development Associate (CDA) Credential for infants and toddlers and is fluent in both Italian and Spanish. Each year Enza takes a large number of courses in child development and is certified in first aid, CPR for the professional rescuer, and use of the Epi-Pen. She has been co-director of our summer camp and amazed all with her creative ideas for our campers. Enza has proved herself an awesome teacher. She has a natural gift for teaching and is gentle and loving with, and much loved by, our little ones. Enza is tireless in designing new ways for her little ones to learn, and the children delight at her attractive classroom that seems to have something special every day. She fully understands that even the youngest are capable of doing so much more than most people realize, and that they love doing it!
Marge Palombo begins her thirty-first year at OMS as head teacher of our nursery/kindergarten class in Carmel. She attended Westchester Community College for two years, and, for eight years, ran a day-care center in White Plains. She also has taught in our summer camp for many years and for two years was director of our Yorktown summer camp. Marge received her Montessori Certificate, having successfully completed the St. Nicholas Training Centre course, takes a large number of workshops each year including some for infants and toddlers, is certified in first aid, CPR for the professional rescuer, in the use of the Epi-Pen and is certified by the OCFS to administer medication. She also worked with the Yorktown Girl’s Lacrosse Association for the training and advancement of young women in athletics. Marge is an energetic, loving, conscientious teacher.
Maria Lofaro Reit begins her third year with us, this year as head teacher of one of our Stepping Stones classes. She has an A.A.S. degree in Early Childhood Education from Westchester Community College and a Bachelor of Arts in Education Studies from the New School University in New York, NY. We are so thrilled to announce that Maria completed her Montessori training through KHT Montessori, LLC. Congratulations to you, Maria! She has lots of experience working with children, having been a nanny with children ages two through ten, directed a gym class for ages three through nine at Kids U in Pleasantville, NY, was head teacher for Head Start in Stamford, CT, was head infant teacher at Robin’s Nest Daycare and teacher’s assistant at Purple Circle Daycare. She is a conscientious, talented teacher who won honors in English Communications and service learning in high school; Deans List and President’s List at Westchester Community College and The New School where she also graduated with honors.
Alexandra Rundle begins her twenty-fourth year at OMS as head of one of our nursery/kindergarten classes. She holds a B.S. with high honors in Early Childhood Education from San Diego State University and successfully completed the St. Nicholas Montessori Training under Anne Burningham, as well as Elizabeth Silverman’s math workshop and recently one on the dark side of America’s achievement culture based on the documentary Race to Nowhere. Alex, who is certified in first aid and CPR for the professional rescuer, has taught at several nursery schools and camps, including the Infant Toddler Center at San Diego State University, one of the first infant/toddler programs in the country. She also studies voice and sings and acts in community theatre musicals. Alex brings excitement and variety to the classes with all her wonderful ideas.
Sylvia Stiehl begins her second year at OMS, this year as head teacher of one of our nursery/kindergarten classes. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Pedagogy and a Magister Degree in Early Education from the University of Warsaw in Poland, and Montessori Primary (ages 3-6) certification from the Polish Institute of Montessori. Sylvia was a Montessori teacher for two years in Poland, for one year at Shalom Yeladim Early Childhood Center in NYC, at Montessori Garden in White Plains for two years and an assistant teacher at OMS last year. She did a wonderful job in bringing us new ways to use extensions of the Montessori equipment and was so very generous in sharing all her ideas with her fellow teachers. She is a teacher who truly knows when to step in and when to step back with our nursery/kindergarten children. Looking at Sylvia’s resume, we noticed that after a year of Sylvia’s teaching with us, what she put on her resume says it best: Strong work ethic, caring attitude to attend to children’s needs, flexible, dedicated, team player, caring personality and genuine love of children, plus a through knowledge of Montessori philosophy and curriculum implementation. Besides this, she has helped train Montessori teachers!
In addition to its Head Teacher, each class at OMS has at least one Assistant Teacher as well as teachers in several other areas such as Art, Music (Choral and Instrumental), Dancing (Ballet as well as Folk and Aerobics), Physical Education, Drama, Chess, and one or more of the following languages: French, Latin, Spanish, and Arabic. In the following pages the talents of these additional teachers are highlighted, though most work in all areas of Montessori teaching.
Sal Catalfamo begins his sixteenth year with us as chess teacher and is a life-long chess enthusiast who has taught the game in several local schools, adult education programs and after-school programs. He is president of the Northern Westchester Chess Club and a member of the U. S. Chess Federation. As a certified tournament director, he holds chess tournaments all over, and a number of our students have become good enough to participate in them. Sal has captivated his students with his knowledge of and love for the game.
Nina Eckwerth begins her thirty-second year at OMS, again as an assistant teacher in a Stepping Stones class and as co-head of our summer camp in Carmel where she does an excellent job. Nina took the St. Nicholas Montessori Training Centre course, and refresher workshops in Montessori math, sensorial materials, and practical life given by Elizabeth Silverman, besides the many workshops in early childhood development she takes each year. In addition she holds OCFS certification in administering medication and is certified in CPR for the professional rescuer with AED and Heartsaver first aid. Nina is a loving, caring teacher who can see both the forest and all the trees when working with children.
Amy Giles, Ph.D., begins her second year as art teacher for classes offered to all elementary students—juniors and seniors. We have come to know Amy as a parent and as a person, and as such she has been a wonderful force for promoting understanding among us all and for being so pro-active in letting the community in on what several people have called us, “a little jewel” and “a diamond in the rough”. Amy holds a BFA from the University of Evansville with a major in Studio Painting and a minor in Studio Drawing and Graphic Design, a Master’s in Art Education from the University of Illinois, where she received a special teaching certificate for K through grade 12, and later a NY State special teaching certificate also for K through grade 12, and, finally, a PhD. in art education from the University of Illinois. Her teaching experience has been just as impressive; she taught kindergarten at Hackley, all subjects, pre-kindergarten through first grade at University Primary School in Illinois, and, to me most impressively, team-taught under Dr. Lilian Katz, international leader in early childhood education. Amy has taught art for every age, from nursery through college as well as in museums, and to other art teachers. She has also been a visiting lecturer at art schools. Honors and awards include two travel research grants, and making the list of teachers rated as excellent from the University of Illinois. In the past year, we have seen the magnificent work the students have produced under her teaching.
Patricia Guerrazzi begins her nineteenth year at OMS as assistant teacher, extended day teacher and one of our Parents’ Night Out teachers. She holds a Child Development Associate (CDA) Credential for the Preschool level. She has also taken Elizabeth Silverman’s Montessori workshop on language, takes many workshops on child development each year including many on infants and toddlers, is certified in first aid, CPR for infants, children and adults, in the use of the Epi-Pen and has taught in our summer camp. Patty has an amazing ability to know exactly what needs to be done and how to do it.
Damarys Hance begins her fifteenth year as an assistant teacher in Stepping Stones. She attended the University of Puerto Rico for four years, studying education, and worked as a teacher in Puerto Rico for one year. For six years before that, Damarys was a dental assistant. She completed four Montessori workshops given by Elizabeth Silverman in cultural subjects, language, sensorial, and practical life and each year takes a number of workshops in child development including many on infants and toddlers. She is certified in first aid, CPR and in the use of the epinephrine pen. Damarys has a gentle way with our toddlers, and the children love nothing better than hearing her read a story while sitting on her lap. She is excellent at anticipating the children’s needs.
Robyn Mabus begins her twenty-seventh year at OMS as physical education teacher and assistant classroom teacher. She attended Mesa College in San Diego and taught aerobics at Daley Junior College in Chicago. Robyn has been an ACE CES (American Council of Exercise) and AFAA CES (Aerobic & Fitness Association of America) certified Spinning Instructor for over six years. Before coming to OMS, she was a flight attendant for two major carriers. Robyn completed the Montessori workshop in sensorial materials, one in practical life given by Elizabeth Silverman, and is certified in CPR for the professional rescuer, basic first aid and the Epi-Pen as well as AED. Robyn is the perfect person to teach phys. ed.—she’s so fit she’s affectionately known as Miss USA—she has brought much variety and many new sports to our physical education program. She also makes a fantastic classroom assistant because of her upbeat attitude, common sense, and wonderful rapport with children—not to mention the inspiring way she imparts her knowledge of nutrition to the children, who really have started on the road to healthy eating.
Alison MacDougall begins her nineteenth year at OMS as assistant teacher. She completed Elizabeth Silverman’s Montessori workshops in language, math, practical life and the cultural subjects. Alison previously was head teacher for twenty-three years at the Children’s Station and the Southeast Early Childhood Learning Center, both in Brewster. Twenty of those years she worked with Jill Jacobs and Judy Meyer, who are locally famous for their outstanding “Jill & Judy” teacher workshops, which many of our
teachers have attended. Alison takes many workshops in early childhood development each year, is certified in CPR with AED, Heartsaver first aid and has taught in our summer camp. During our interview with Alison, one of our mothers whose older child had had her as a teacher walked in and was thrilled to see her as a prospective OMS teacher and said, “Hire her! On a scale of 1 to 10, she’s an 11!” She has, indeed, turned out to be a great addition to our school; she knows how to be aware of the whole room, even while giving individual attention to a single child.
Annemarie Mango begins her ninth year as an assistant teacher and in our Parents’ Night Out program. She holds a B.S. in education from Seton Hall University where she graduated magna cum laude! She taught third and fourth grades in New Jersey at a parochial school. Annemarie just finished taking a Montessori training for ages three to six years through KHT Montessori, LLC. She is one of three teachers who completed it this year. Congratulations, Annemarie! She is certified in CPR, first aid and in the use of the Epi-Pen. Rave reviews from the teachers she has worked with give evidence of what a valuable, loving assistant she is in the classroom.
Meagan Matos begins her second year at OMS as assistant teacher in the same class she headed last year. Her fantastic assistant, Sylvia Stiehl, will head the same class. (Meagan needed more time right after the birth of her second child.) Meagan has a BS in Psychology and Masters in Early Childhood Education, Childhood Education and in Special Education (N-6), all from Mercy College. She holds NYS certification in Early Childhood Education Birth-Grade 2, in Elementary Education Grades 1-6 and in Students with Disabilities. She has been teaching since 2003 in local and New York City schools on the nursery, preschool, kindergarten and third grade levels. Some schools at which she taught are quite impressive as well: Ecole Internationale de New York, where she was head teacher of both a nursery/ kindergarten and a third grade class, Chappaqua Friends Nursery School, Rodeph Sholom nursery school and GymCare school for four-year-olds. Meagan has many honors and awards: she graduated from her Master’s program cum laude, was in the Psi Chi Honor Society in Psychology, the Pi Gamma Mu Honors Society in Behavioral Science, Phi Delta Kappa Honors Society, and was on the Dean’s list. Meagan just completed her Montessori training through KHT Montessori, LLC we are delighted to say! She is loved by both children and parents, and did a wonderful job last year as head teacher.
Michele Modesitt begins her thirtieth year with us as an assistant teacher. She holds a Bachelor’s in Early Childhood Education from Bloomsburg University in Pennsylvania, and is certified in Pennsylvania in Early Childhood. She also holds a Montessori certificate from St. Nicholas Training Centre and attended Elizabeth Silverman’s Montessori workshops on the sensorial materials, practical life, math and language. Each year Michele takes a number of workshops in child development, and is certified in first aid, CPR/AED and in the use of the Epi-Pen. She has taught ages four through seven in a summer camp in Lake Mohegan and has supervised the crib room for infants to three year-olds at Yorktown’s United Methodist Church, where our main office is. She also has worked many, many summers at our Camp for Little Kids. Michele is an energetic, loving teacher and a great help in the classroom.
Teresa Reverdito Rosas begins her second year with us as Spanish teacher for nursery-through sixth grade. Teresa, a native speaker from Uruguay, was wholeheartedly recommended by our own music teacher, Krystyna Seweryn, both as a wonderful teacher and as a wonderful person. Teresa holds a BS in Elementary Education and a Master’s in Primary Elementary Education from Instituto De Formacion Canelones, Uruguay. She has taught Spanish at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton School, St. Columbanus School, and St. Patrick’s School (kindergarten through sixth grade), for ten years, has been head teacher of several good pre-schools, including The International School and Flying Goose, as well as having taught elementary school, all subjects, at a school in Uruguay, for sixteen years. Our students all seem to look forward to Spanish class and enjoy the many fun ways, like songs and games, Teresa introduces to learn a foreign language.
Adriana Sarova begins her twentieth year at OMS as head of a course in Latin and classical history that she developed for the juniors and seniors, and teacher of French in our nursery/kindergarten, junior, and senior classes. She holds a Master’s Degree in Latin, French and English from Commenius University in Bratislava (in the Slovak Republic) and completed Elizabeth Silverman’s Montessori course and is certified in CPR, first aid and the use of the Epi-Pen. Adriana taught for twelve years at the Language School of Presov, where her students ranged in age from third grade to adults, and for twelve years at the High School of Presov. She is also a NY State certified teacher. Adriana also studied piano for nine years. She simply has amazed us at OMS with her natural, gentle Montessori approach with children and the self-motivation we find so valuable in a teacher.
Rosemarie Scholl begins her thirty-fourth year at OMS. For many years she was head teacher of a nursery/kindergarten class, but because of the economy, we didn’t have enough students to continue the class. That loss is another class’s gain, because Rosie makes a very strong assistant in the nursery/kindergarten class, where she contributes her incredible abilities to excite children about learning by constantly providing new and attractive ways to explore their world. Rosie previously taught at La Petite Ecole nursery school and took many courses in art and in-service training at Children’s Hospital in the Bronx, where she was a child development worker. She also has headed her own class in our Summer Camp for Little Kids, where she taught for four summers. Rosie holds a Montessori Certificate from St. Nicholas Training Centre and each year takes a large number of workshops. She is certified in both first aid and CPR. Rosie puts her all into teaching and so thoroughly understands the Montessori approach that children really utilize the equipment to the fullest and get along with each other just as the books say they will in the proper environment. She also loves to garden and incorporates her knowledge of ecosystems and conservation wherever she can.
Athina Schwartz begins her fourteenth year at OMS as an assistant teacher. She holds a B.S. in Elementary Education from Pace University where she minored in psychology, is certified to teach nursery through sixth grade by NY State, and has completed the OMS Montessori workshops given by Elizabeth Silverman in language, math, the sensorial material, and the cultural subjects. Athina is certified in both CPR and first aid and has taught in Our Montessori School’s summer camp. She previously worked as a substitute teacher for three years and also as an office assistant. Athina definitely is a natural-born teacher and relates beautifully to her students.
Krystyna Seweryn begins her nineteenth year at OMS as elective music teacher, regular music teacher and assistant teacher. She holds a degree in music teaching from the College of Music Pedagogy in Poland, where she taught first, second and third grades, and attended a workshop on partnerships with parents. Krystyna is an extremely gifited teacher as well as musician and brings a treasure trove of ideas for teaching music notation and other aspects of playing an instrument in a way that is exciting and fun. When I told her that her “try-out” lesson was exactly what I would envision if I had imagined a model music lesson for this age child and that she was a natural teacher, she told me that her mother, father, grandmother, only brother and sister-in-law are all teachers. So it runs in the family! She has taken Elizabeth Silverman’s Montessori workshops on math (and a refresher!), language, cultural subjects, the sensorial equipment, and the practical life material. In addition Krystyna takes many workshops each year, including those on infants and toddlers, is certified in CPR, and has taught in our summer camp.
Luisa DeVittor Siles begins her sixteenth year with us as an assistant teacher, and regular dance teacher. She returned in 2007 after years at home with her child, much to the joy of her teacher friends who missed her energy and talent. When she worked with us before, she was both our physical education teacher and assistant teacher. Luisa graduated cum laude from the University of Ubino in Italy, majoring in physical education, and is certified to teach physical education in Italy, where she was a tenured teacher for nine years. She has completed Elizabeth Silverman’s Montessori workshop in math, and is certified in CPR with AED and Heartsaver first aid. Luisa taught jazz dance to adults here, has taught ballet, jazz, and tumbling at Dance Magic in Peekskill, taught at Katonah Playcare, and in Our Montessori School’s summer camp. When she first came to us, another teacher remarked, “We’ve struck gold with Luisa!” and, indeed we had. Luisa has the ability with children that is a wonder to behold—she knows exactly the right thing to say to each child at each moment.
Deniz Soyuer begins her thirtieth year with us as assistant teacher. Deniz has a Master’s degree in Architecture from the University of California and has worked for a time as a draftswoman in Turkey. She holds a Montessori Certificate from St. Nicholas Training Centre, has taken Elizabeth Silverman’s Montessori workshop in the cultural subjects and takes a number of workshops in Early Childhood Education every year including one recently on the dark side of America’s achievement culture based on the documentary Race to Nowhere. She is also certified in CPR as a professional rescuer and in the use of the Epi-Pen. Deniz does a wonderful job getting the children interested in using the Montessori equipment.
Denise Tillman begins her twelfth year as ballet teacher for nursery/kindergarten, juniors, and seniors. She also teaches regular dance (creative movement and more) at our Carmel campus. Denise studied dance with June Evans and Sally McCracken as a child, and later with Don Farnworth as a member of his Young America Dance Company. She also studied the Feldenkrais Technique with Alicia Fortinberry, at the School of American Ballet, with Margaret Craske, and trained with Jack La Lanne in body sculpting instruction. Denise has ballet teacher certification through Don Farnworth and has more than thirty years of previous experience teaching dance. Her experience includes teaching ballet, pointe, jazz, and stretch exercise in her own studio, teaching adult stretch-exercise and creative dance for preschoolers at the Saw Mill River Club, ballet for children, jazz, and modern dance at the NWCA, ballet at World Cup Gymnastics, and dance at the Harvey School. Denise currently teaches at the Westchester Ballet and at Town and Country residence for seniors. In addition to teaching dance, she directed a class in theatre production and gave a class in story theatre at Cavalier Camp. Denise uses a wide range of music to give students exposure and uses pantomime and storytelling to involve students in a very personal way. Years ago when she came to give a trial lesson for us, one little one couldn’t contain herself—she announced, “I LIKE this dance teacher.”
Linda Yen begins her thirtieth year at OMS as assistant teacher. She taught nursery school for ages three through six in her native country, Taiwan, and has a wonderful way with children, plus an ability to know exactly what needs to be done and a willingness to do it. She completed Elizabeth Silverman’s Montessori workshops on language, nursery math and the sensorial materials, is certified in first aid and CPR for infants, children, and adults, and each year takes a number of workshops in Child Development and Early Childhood Education, including many on infants and toddlers.
Lunch and Extended Day Staff
Many different people make up our lunch and extended day staff.
Rita Fennessy begins her thirty-eighth year at Our Montessori School in our extended day program. Rita gives a relaxed, homey air to her extended day sessions and is a conscientious, responsible person, a good one to have charge of our extended dayers. She went to Drake Business School and previously worked for New York Telephone. She attended Our Montessori School’s “New Ideas in Extended Day” workshop and has helped in our summer camp. Rita has Epi-pen training and is certified in first aid and CPR.
Lusine Hayrapetyan begins her second year in our extended day program. She studied engineering at the University of Armenia where she majored in Computer Science. Lusine was an elementary school teacher for six years in Yerevan, Armenia and volunteered at Kent Kidz Preschool in Carmel. She is fluent in Armenian and Russian and enjoys sewing, knitting, crochet, cooking and baking. Lusine is calm and communicates well with the children knowing when to give them their freedom and to step in only when necessary.
Maria Magyar begins her second year doing lunch for us. She holds a Bachelor’s in Nursing with a health science orientation, which she earned in her native country, Hungary where she also received training in baby-sitting and as an au pair. She knows how to encourage children to enjoy their lunchtime, not just rush through it.
Jamie Palevic begins her fourteenth year at OMS. In observing Jamie with the children, even from the first days, we saw that she is as confident and helpful as a teacher with many years of experience. Jamie has completed Elizabeth Silverman’s Montessori course and CPR for the professional rescuer.
Alexia Tate begins her first year at OMS in our extended day program. She holds a Bachelor of Science in communications and advertising from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. She promises to bring a new excitement to the children in extended day, as she will use her many musical and storytelling talents. She has been a musical theater teacher, done musical story-time, was coordinator in NYC for Singer’s Forum for seven years, event manager for Alliance for Downtown NY, promotion coordinator for Deutsch, Inc., and event planner for the NY Genealogical & Biographical Society. She also does movement for young children, plays the ukulele and some percussion instruments!
Edimeire Tavares Thater begins her second year in our lunch program. She is fluent in Spanish and Portuguese and has tutored children in both languages. Edimeire holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Tourism from Pontifical Catholic University of Campinas, Brazil, In addition to working as a tutor, she has worked as a babysitter and nanny. Edimeire plays the organ, and enjoys working with children creating arts and craft projects. She brings a warm smile and easily engages with the students at lunchtime.
Clara Zappetti, grandmother of Antonio and Gianni Vanacore, will begin her third year doing lunch with us. She worked as a children’s workshop assistant for her daughter, Dr. Kristy Vanacore and is a NYS real estate broker. We love having three generations at OMS. Clara is wonderful with the children, often bringing arts and crafts for those fast lunch-eaters to do until the afternoon session begins.
And Our School Secretary, Nurse and Other Staff
Diane Dobbins begins her eighteenth year as secretary in our office. She attended Baruch College/CUNY and Berkeley Secretarial School. She completed Elizabeth Silverman’s Montessori workshops on cultural subjects, practical life, and sensorial materials and has been trained in first aid and using the epinephrine auto-injector pen. Diane was a Girl Scout leader and taught an after-school art program. Diane previously was a secretary for Pepsi-Co, worked free-lance as a home “organizer,” and started her own gift-basket business called “Service with Distinction.” We first met Diane through the two latter jobs and were impressed with her integrity, flexibility, and organizing skills, which have been a great asset in our office.
Linda Elkind and Karen Faeth will alternate as our nurse from the Yorktown School District. Linda graduated from Misericordia School of Nursing as an RN and received a B.S. in health care from Iona College. Karen received a B.S. in nursing from Plattsburg State University and has some credits towards a Masters Degree from N.Y.U. They will do the screenings recommended by the Department of Education for our kindergarten through sixth grade—for vision, hearing, and scoliosis. They will also make sure immunizations are up-to-date and deal with the cuts, scrapes and tummy aches that come with the territory.
Farah Biggs begins her second year with us as photographer who helps us record the many special events and everyday activities that go on each day at Our Montessori School. She is responsible for our Facebook page and the many smiling faces of your children. It’s impossible to underestimate how valuable the work she does for us is—a picture is worth 1000 words for parents, grandparents and friends looking at Facebook to see what your children are doing in class at OMS. Farah received an Executive Management Certificate from Columbia University before they changed the title to Master’s Degree, earned a BS in Business Administration and International Business from Fordham University (a double major), and studied architecture & industrial design at the University of the Philippines. She was a Big Sister in the Big Brother/Big Sister program at Fordham University and when she was a senior in high school, mentored a high school freshman and was a student teacher for sixth graders. She has extensive experience in the financial world: she was a financial services analyst, a program manager in investment banking and a design, development and product manager for Enterprise Technology. As for Farah’s other interests, she is a Six Sigma Master Black Belt and enjoys cooking, gardening, art, singing, dancing, traveling, interior design and fitness!
Jamie Cantrell begins her twentieth year at OMS, this year again as editor of and chief reporter for our newsletter. (After being an assistant teacher with us for many years, she retired to be at home with her four grandchildren.) She attended Fordham University and retired from twenty-three years at Reader’s Digest, where she was an administrator and contract consultant. Jamie, an excellent writer, has greatly enlivened our newsletter with profiles of individual teachers, news of former students and of many classroom activities and special events.
Manix McClusky begins his second year at OMS take over the accounting aspect of co-founder, Werner Hengst’s job. He graduated from Queen’s College (when it was free!), has been a CPA for thirty-one years and is a former IRS agent. He has been a big help in getting OMS on Quickbooks for a much more efficient way of keeping up with all things financial.
Liala Sardo begins her eleventh year with OMS, as layout editor for our newsletter, which has upgraded its look from “desktop”! Liala holds a B.S. in TV-R production from Ithaca College, where she minored in psychology. She also studied at the School of Visual Arts in NYC, SUNY Purchase, and Westchester Art Workshops—all art courses. She is a graphic designer, and worked at Wendy Tittel Graphic Design, Sunburst Communications, and the Museum of Broadcasting (now the Museum of TV and Radio). She plays the piano and guitar as hobbies and speaks Italian, loves to cook and loves to solve puzzles.
If you have read this far, first of all, congratulations! Secondly, you now have a glimpse of the special qualities of the teachers at OMS. The richness of their backgrounds and their true interest in how children learn and grow in a caring, stimulating, positive environment is so evident. Each is handpicked to contribute toward making Our Montessori School “A Happy Place to Learn.”
A happy place to learn!
Quality Care & Education
Our philosophy is based on the work of the Italian educator, Dr. Maria Montessori. Where everyone had always asked, "How should we teach?", Montessori asked, "How do children Learn?" Her keen ability to observe the learning process resulted in a method of education which is designed to help the child accomplish the task of becoming a person.
Montessori recognized early that different children mature at different rates and are ready for different learning experiences at different times in their lives. To teach children at a level for which they are not yet ready confuses them and creates a sense of failure and incompetence which may haunt them all their lives. To teach them beneath their ability wastes their time and bores them.
Many of the learning materials in Our Montessori School are "self-correcting." This means that if a child makes a mistake, it is not the teacher who points out the error. Rather, the material allows the child to find and correct the error. In this way, repeated trials are encouraged without a sense of shame or failure.
In a very real sense, our children become responsible for their own learning and their own behavior. They learn to respect themselves and others, and they develop the inner discipline without which true freedom is not possible.