Learn more about the Montessori Community School Teachers and Staff.

  • Toddler/Primary

    Insaf Abdulla

    Teacher: Primary
    15 years at MCS
    AS (Office Systems Technology), Durham Technical Community College
    BA (Arabic and Islamic Studies), Kuwait University
    IMC (3-6) credential, Center for Guided Montessori Studies
    Bio: Insaf Abdulla begins her 15th year working at MCS. This is her seventh 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 IMC (3-6) credential from the Center for Guided Montessori Studies. Insaf is the mother of four daughters and one son.

    Phardia Adibe

    Assistant Teacher: Toddler
    <1 years at MCS
    Bio: Phardia Adibe is elated to be a part of the MCS faculty. She is originally from Connecticut and began her journey as an MCS parent when her children enrolled as primary and toddler students in 2012. She has worked as a substitute teacher and support staff throughout the classrooms for the past 4 years prior to accepting her role as an assistant teacher. Her favorite Montessori quote is “Imagination does not become great until human beings given the courage and strength, use it to create”.

    Benni Blount

    Assistant Teacher: Toddler
    2 years at MCS

    BA (Sociology), Salem College, Winston-Salem, NC

    Bio: Benni is excited to start her second year with the MCS family. She has spent numerous years working with young children. She has been a teacher’s assistant in a public school for nine years and also 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 outdoors and spending time with her family.

    Ana Catherine Dickens-Massengill

    Teacher: Primary
    <1 years at MCS

    BA (History and Political Science), Meredith College, Raleigh, NC

    AMS Primary (3-6) Certification, Center for Montessori Teacher Education, NC

    Bio: Ana Catherine is thrilled to be joining MCS this year as a primary teacher. She was first introduced to Montessori while working as a nanny during her undergraduate studies at Meredith College and post graduate work at Duke University. Prior to coming to MCS, Ana Catherine spent five years at Trillium Montessori in Cary as the lead teacher of a primary (3-6) classroom. In addition to her teaching responsibilities she also served as the School Director. During her free time Ana Catherine enjoys serving on the board of directors for two local area non-profits, adventures in nature, and gardening. Ana Catherine and her husband, John, live in downtown Raleigh with their two dogs and cat.Her Favorite Montessori Quote: “The first duty of an educator is to stir up life, but leave it free to develop.”

    Sue Ferrari

    Teacher: Primary
    19 years at MCS

    BEd (Environmental Design/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

    Bio: Sue Ferrari has over 30 years of teaching Montessori at the primary level and she is now in her 19th year at MCS. Sue holds a Bachelor of Environmental Design in Product Design from North Carolina State University, where she graduated with honors in 1975. While studying design, Sue became interested in auto-didactic materials. Her research led her to the work of Dr. Montessori. She was so inspired that after graduation, Sue pursued and received an AMI Primary Montessori Diploma at the Montessori Training Center of St. Louis. Soon after completing her training, Sue spent 6 years living and teaching in Beirut, Lebanon. After returning to the States, she taught for many years at a Montessori school in Raleigh, before moving to MCS.Sue is very interested in using Montessori education as an instrument of peace, especially in the Middle East. Over the past 13 years, she has attended three summer assemblies of Educateurs sans Frontieres (EsF), in Burgos, Spain, Dallas, Texas and most recently, in Hyderabad, India. EsF is an international organization under AMI, that supports peace initiatives through Montessori work around the globe.

    In 2009, Sue completed a Masters of Arts in Montessori Education from St. Catherine University in St. Paul, MN.

    Her most recent favorite quote of Dr. Montessori: “An education capable of saving humanity is no small undertaking; it involves the spiritual development of man, the enhancement of his value as an individual, and the preparation of young people to understand the times in which they live.”

    Rochelle Hayes

    Teacher: Primary
    6 years at MCS

    BA (Plan II Honors Interdisciplinary), University of Texas, Austin, TX

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

    Bio: Rochelle is proud to have been a part of the MCS community for the past 11 years. This is her 6th year teaching primary. 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 IMC (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 603.

    Mari Lindsay

    Teacher: Primary
    20 years at MCS

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

    Sign Language certificate, Durham Technical Community College, Durham, NC

    Bio: Mari Lindsay has over 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 Preschool 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 20th 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.”

    Colleen McHugh

    Teacher: Toddler
    4 years at MCS

    IMC (Infant/Toddler) Credential candidate, Center for Guided Montessori Studies, NC, expected February 2019

    North Carolina Early Childhood Credential

    Bio: Colleen has eight years of experience working with young children. She holds her North Carolina Early Childhood credential which she received in 2010. This fall, she plans to begin her infant/toddler Montessori certification through the Center for Guided Montessori Studies. She expects to complete this training by February 2019. Following her Montessori training, Colleen plans to further 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

    Teacher: Primary
    15 years at MCS

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

    Forest Kindergarten Certification, Cedarsong Nature School, Vashon, WA

    Bio: Adam Miller begins his 15th year at MCS and his 12th 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. In the spring of 2017, Adam received his Forest Kindergarten Certification from the Cedarsong Nature School located on Vashon Island in Vashon, Washington.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.”

    Camille Perkins

    Teacher: Toddler
    2 years at MCS

    BA (Biology) Guilford College, Greensboro, NC

    NC Early Childhood Credential

    AMS (Infant/Toddler) credential candidate, Center for Montessori Teacher Education, NC, expected May 2018

    Bio: Camille was drawn to the Montessori philosophy after observing the independence and respect in her son’s primary class at Greensboro Montessori School. She knew the philosophy resonated with her own family values and began her Montessori journey by becoming a volunteer, substitute, and finally accepted a toddler position where she continued to work for seven years until her twin girls were born. After moving to Chapel Hill and staying home a few years with her girls she accepted a primary assistant teacher position at MCS. This experience has allowed her a broader perspective on what is expected of the children after graduating the toddler program and how all the curriculums build off each other. This year Camille is excited to return to her roots as a lead toddler teacher having completed her residency portion with the Center for Montessori Teacher Education, where she is pursuing an AMS full Infant/toddler credential. She looks forward to providing an environment that will allow each child to develop to his or her own potential. Camille is a proud mother of three daughters and one son and enjoys spending time at the beach when not in Chapel Hill.
  • Lower Elementary

    Lisa Anderson

    Teacher: Lower Elementary
    2 years at MCS

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

    AMS Primary (3-6) Certification, Chestnut Hill College, PA

    AMS Lower Elementary (6-9) Certification, Seacoast Center, NH

    Orton-Gillingham Comprehensive Training, Institute for Multi-Sensory Education

    Bio: Lisa has been teaching Montessori for over 20 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 returning for her third year as a part of the MCS family. Lisa and her husband, Chad, have two boys, Evan and Ryan (both previous Montessori students).Favorite Quote: “The future of the world is in my classroom today.” by Ivan Welton Fitzwater

    Michelle Reader

    Teacher: Lower Elementary
    18 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

    Bio: Michelle Reader returns for her 18th year at MCS. She is excited to be returning to lower elementary after 12 years working at the upper elementary level. 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 is in his third year in lower elementary; her daughter is in her third and Elder 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.”

    Catherine Swanson

    Teacher: Lower Elementary
    9 years at MCS

    BA (Recreation Administration and Leisure Studies), University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC

    NCME (6-9) credential, Montessori Teacher Training Institute, Clemson, SC

    AMS (3-6) credential, Seton Montessori Institute, Clarendon Hills, IL

    AMS (9-12) credential, Montessori Elementary Teacher Training Collective, Lexington, MA

    Bio: Catherine loves teaching at MCS, and she truly values the relationships formed with students, families, and colleagues over the years.  She has been a Montessori guide since 2002, working with students ages three to 12. In addition to working with students in the classroom, Catherine spends time outside of school tutoring students in reading and spelling.Her favorite Montessori quote is, “One test of the correctness of educational procedure is the happiness of the child.”

    Jennifer Tobolski

    Teacher: Lower Elementary
    12 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

    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 15th year of teaching and her 12th year in room 302. She has three children in rooms 601, 301, and 203. 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.”
  • Upper Elementary

    Don Henchel

    Teacher: Upper Elementary
    13 years at MCS

    BA (History), North Carolina Wesleyan College, Rocky Mount, NC

    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

    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.”

    Jeff Kishpaugh

    Teacher: Upper Elementary
    8 years at MCS

    BA (Political Science), Emory University, Atlanta, GA

    Postgrad Diploma (Russian Language), University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, Scotland

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

    AMS (9-12) credential, Center for Montessori Teacher Education, NY

    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

    Teacher: Upper Elementary
    10 years at MCS

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

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

    Omega Institute’s Ecological Literacy Immersion Program & Permaculture Design Course 2014

    Duke Integrative Medicine’s Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program March 2015

    NAMTA Montessori Mathematics For The Adolescent Advanced Workshop June 2016

    Bio: Melanie began her lifelong work with children when she worked for Parks and Recreation during her summers between her university years. Upon graduation from university, she taught middle school science and later worked as a counselor in a boarding school that dealt with troubled teens. Upon completion of her Montessori Elementary studies, Melanie was an upper elementary guide for 11 years, prior to becoming the math guide in the Adolescent Community at MCS for the last 9 years. Melanie is excited to be returning to upper elementary, as this will be her first year working as a member of the Upper Elementary team here at MCS.Melanie enjoys cooking, gardening, all outdoor pursuits, running, and playing ice hockey. She is still working hard at her never-ending quest to play golf mindfully!

    Her favorite Montessori quote: “We shall 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.”

    Kalpu Shah

    Upper Elementary Program Director
    Teacher: Upper Elementary
    4 years at MCS

    BS (Science), University of Mumbai, Mumbai, India

    Post Graduate Diploma (Applied Nutrition and Dietetics), University of Mumbai, Mumbai, India

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

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

    Bio: Kalpu Shah has been a Montessori teacher since 1988, when she started at the Montessori School of Raleigh. She taught children at the primary level for 10 years, the upper elementary level for 15 years, and was a middle school math resource teacher for two years. Kalpu is the Assistant Director of the training program as well as an upper elementary teacher trainer at the Seacoast Center for Education. She has spent 25 years at the Montessori School of Raleigh and is pleased to be continuing her Montessori journey at MCS. At MCS, Kalpu is the upper elementary program director as well as a teacher. 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’.”

  • Adolescent

    Sarah McCombie

    Music Specialist
    Intern: Adolescent
    2 years at MCS

    BA (English), William Peace University, Raleigh, NC

    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 of learning for the sake of learning. 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, namely literature and writing. Sarah plans to formally begin her AMS Adolescent training in the summer of 2018. In her spare time, Sarah enjoys horseback riding, cooking, and playing gigs around the Triangle with her husband in their duo, New Chatham Rabbits.

    Angela Molfese

    Adolescent Program Director
    Humanities and Writing Specialist
    4 years at MCS

    BA (History and Sociology), State University of New York at Cortland, Cortland, NY

    MA (Social Studies Education), New York University, New York, NY

    AMI (12-18) credential, NAMTA Orientation to Adolescent Studies

    AMI (3-6) credential, Montessori Institute of San Diego

    AMS Secondary I-II (12-18) credential candidate, Clark Montessori Secondary Teacher Training Program, Cincinnati, OH (expected completion August 2019)

    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. She recently completed the Racial Equity Institute’s Phase I workshop. 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.

    Derek Starkenburg

    Science and Math Specialist
    2 years at MCS

    BEDA (Bachelor of Environmental Design in Architecture), North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC

    M.Arch (Master of Architecture), North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC

    MA (Earth Sciences), University of Northern Colorado, Greeley, CO

    Ph.D. (Atmospheric Sciences), University of Alaska, Fairbanks, AK

    AMI (12-18) credential, NAMTA Orientation to Adolescent Studies

    Bio: Derek is the adolescent guide for math and science 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 representation skills from design to illustrate and elucidate physical and mathematical processes 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 a part of the MCS community.
  • Arts & Enrichments

    Holly Dykes

    Art Specialist: Primary, Elementary, and Adolescent
    11 years at MCS

    BA (Art and Indian Studies), Duke University, Durham, NC

    MAT (Art), University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC

    AMS (6-9) credential, North American Montessori Center

    Public School Teaching credential (K-12) – NC

    Bio: Holly Dykes returns for her 11th year at MCS and her 9th 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.

    Ingrid Hester

    Spanish Specialist: Toddler, Upper Elementary, and Adolescent
    3 years at MCS

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

    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 St. 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
    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

    Bio: Sabine Howe received a Bachelor of Physical Education from the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada. She has 31 years of experience teaching physical education to kindergarten through 12th graders and has coached soccer, gymnastics, volleyball, and track and field. Sabine has coached Badminton and taught Jazz Dance for over 17 years to children 8 – 13, where the children showcase their talents twice a year at end of season evening performances. The jazz group also showcases their work for all students at in-house performances. Sabine has put together an upper elementary MCS Mini Olympics with opening and closing ceremonies for the last 17 years where parents and the whole school can come and watch. She has coached the upper elementary Soccer Team (together with Levy Vargas) for the past 17 years. The team travels to other local elementary schools to compete. Sabine started a Mileage Club at MCS where all elementary and adolescent students who are interested can run/walk to earn mileage points and special “foot tokens” (for every five miles completed). Last year we had a student who completed 300 plus miles over the course of the year! Sabine has started a gymnastics and parkour class to upper elementary and adolescent students.Her interests outside of school include jazz dancing, kayaking, skiing, tennis, playing the guitar, and traveling. She is fluent in German. Sabine joined the Afro/Brazilian Drumming group, “Batala” and has been playing and performing with them at various festivals through the Triangle over the past year and a half. 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.

    Sarah McCombie

    Music Specialist: Primary, Elementary, and Adolescent
    2 years at MCS

    BA (English), William Peace University, Raleigh, NC

    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 of learning for the sake of learning. 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, namely literature and writing. Sarah plans to formally begin her AMS Adolescent training in the summer of 2018. In her spare time, Sarah enjoys horseback riding, cooking, and playing gigs around the Triangle with her husband in their duo, New Chatham Rabbits.

    Levy Vargas

    Ceramics Specialist: Elementary and Adolescent
    Physical Education Assistant: Elementary and Adolescent 
    7 years at MCS

    MFA (Sculpting and Painting), National University of Colombia, Bogota, Colombia

    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, assists with the upper elementary soccer team, and teaches ceramics and 3D Art after school.

    John Warren

    Spanish Specialist: Primary and Lower Elementary
    <1 years at MCS

    BA (International Affairs), Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL

    MA (International Education), New York University, New York, NY

    Bio: John Warren has twenty years of experience teaching language arts in both English and Spanish to a wide variety of learners. He is a graduate of Florida State University with a major in International Affairs. John also graduated with distinction from New York University with a Master’s degree in International Education. In 2012, he was the banner-bearer for the Department of Humanities at NYU’s Steinhardt School. During his time at NYU, John was president of the student board and received a service award from the department faculty. John is passionate about learning new things in his own life, and he hopes to pass on that enthusiasm to his students as well. He will not only be teaching Spanish at our primary and lower elementary levels but also will be bringing his wealth of experience as an ESL instructor to children as well as adults to our Late Day programs and classes.
  • Support Staff

    Camille Herring

    Late Day Staff: Elementary
    <1 years at MCS
    Bio: A 2015 graduate of George Washington University who recently moved to our area. Camille has a wealth of experience working with young people, having worked for the AnBryce Foundation in Washington, DC during her student days, as well as with Teach for America and Klondike Preparatory Academy in Memphis, TN and E.W. Oliver Elementary School in Riverdale, GA.

    Shavonne Joyner

    Late Day Staff: Primary
    <1 years at MCS

    BBA (Management), Augusta State University, Augusta, GA

    MA (Teaching), Augusta State University, Augusta, GA

    Bio: Shavonne is excited to begin her first year with the MCS family working with the primary late day students. She has worked in public and charter schools for the past seven years. Shavonne began her career teaching 8th grade Math in Thomson, GA. She later moved to Durham where she taught 7th grade Math and Kindergarten. She has also been a first grade teacher assistant for one year and a substitute teacher for the last five years. Shavonne loves to color, ride roller coasters, travel to new places, listen to music, and roller skate.

    Shelly Lyons

    Resource Teacher
    slyons@mcsdurham.org

    9 years at MCS

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

    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, MA

    Bio: Shelly Lyons has 18 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 ninth 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.”

    Kasey McCoy

    Late Day Staff: Toddler
    2 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

    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. She is also a current student at Grand Canyon University and is currently working towards a degree in Psychology. As a hobby she enjoys making digital art. She is very excited about the up and coming school year.

    Kathy McHugh

    Late Day Staff: Primary
    34 years at MCS

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

    Earth Partnership for Schools Institute, North Carolina Botanical Gardens

    NC Environmental Education credential candidate

    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.

    Muhammad Mustafa

    Late Day Staff: Elementary
    <1 years at MCS
    Bio: Muhammad Mustafa, who has joined our Elementary Late Day Program, is no stranger to MCS. Currently a student at East Carolina University, Muhammad is also the son of our very own Insaf Abdulla (Primary Teacher in 202).

    Andy Strother

    Maintenance Technician
    <1 years at MCS
    Bio: Andy Strother ibrings to MCS many years of experience as a maintenance technician and chief engineer at local apartment communities and hotels.

    Aisha Sykes

    Late Day Supervisor: Adolescent
    <1 years at MCS

    BS (Biology), North Carolina Central University, Durham, NC

    Bio: A recent graduate of North Carolina Central University with a bachelor of science degree, Aisha is no stranger to MCS. She worked at MCS this summer as a camp counselor. Aisha also has two years of experience working in childcare facilities. She enjoys being outdoors, exercising, and spending time with her family. Aisha also enjoys helping children learn and grow in ways that will impact their future lives.
  • Administration

    Jean Boyer

    Bookkeeper
    jboyer@mcsdurham.org
    3 years at MCS

    BA (History), University of Texas at Dallas

    MS (Library Science), University of North Texas

    Bio: Jean Boyer joined MCS in January 2015 after relocating to North Carolina in 2013. She has over 20 years of 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

    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 journalist); Robert (an actor and occasional stand-up comedian); and Emma (a college freshman).

    Dave DeHarde

    Assistant Head of School for Operations and Facilities
    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

    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 July 2015, Dave was named Assistant Head of School. In addition to overseeing all operations and facilities at MCS, Dave is the director for all early care, after school activities, and summer camps. Dave’s two sons attend MCS in the toddler and primary programs.

    Crystal Featherstone

    Office Manager
    cfeatherstone@mcsdurham.org
    1.5 years at MCS

    B.A. (English), Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ

    Bio: Crystal Featherstone is thrilled to be returning to MCS. She has worked in administration for over 5 years. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English with a concentration in creative writing. Native-born Baltimorean, she enjoys exploring the hidden secrets of North Carolina. She loves to read, write, and socialize.

    Mike Miller

    Admissions Director
    admissions@mcsdurham.org
    5 years at MCS

    BA (Business Management), Michigan State University

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

    Bio: Mike Miller is starting his sixth year with MCS. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Management from Michigan State University and an AMS Elementary 6-9 certification from the North Carolina Center for Montessori Education. Prior to joining the administrative team at MCS, Mike was a lower elementary teacher and very much enjoyed seeing first-hand the power of a Montessori 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
    Humanities and Writing Specialist: Adolescent
    amolfese@mcsdurham.org
    4 years at MCS

    BA (History and Sociology), State University of New York at Cortland

    MA (Social Studies Education), New York University

    AMI (12-18) credential, NAMTA Orientation to Adolescent Studies

    AMI (3-6) credential, Montessori Institute of San Diego

    AMS Secondary I-II (12-18) credential candidate, Clark

    Montessori Secondary Teacher Training Program, Cincinnati, Ohio (expected completion August 2019)

    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. She recently completed the Racial Equity Institute’s Phase I workshop. 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.

    Chanel Morgan

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

    B.A. (English/Writing), North Carolina Central University, Durham, NC

    Bio: Chanel Morgan is a recent graduate of North Carolina Central University, where she majored in English and writing. She enjoys traveling, reading, watching documentaries, and spending time with her family. Chanel is excited to be a part of Montessori Community School.

    Keturah Russell

    Assistant Head of School for Academic Programs and Support
    Toddler, Primary, and Lower Elementary Program Director

    krussell@mcsdurham.org
    23 years at MCS

    BA (Psychology), Meredith College

    AMS (9-12) credential candidate, Seacoast Center Montessori Training Program (expected completion June 2018)

    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.

    Bio: Keturah Russell became a member of the MCS community in 1992 when she began her Montessori lower elementary teaching career. She graduated from Meredith College with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology in 1992 and received her AMS Elementary I credential from the North Carolina Center for Montessori Teacher Education that same year. She is a certified facilitator for Open Circle and is currently in training to receive her Elementary II (9-12) credential from Seacoast Center Montessori Training Program. Throughout her many years at MCS she has served on AMS accreditation committees, on the school’s board of trustees as the faculty representative for several terms, on the development committee, and has worked as the lower elementary program director. Keturah lives in Chatham County with her veterinarian husband, Johnson, a menagerie of pets and their two high school-aged children, Morgann and Tallis, who both attended Montessori Community School.

    Deborah Shah

    Marketing and Communications Director
    8 years at MCS

    BA (Journalism), University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC

    MBA (Marketing/Consumer Behavior), Kenan-Flagler Business School at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC

    Bio: Deborah Shah first came to MCS as a parent in 2002. She later joined the staff in 2010. Deborah has a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism with a concentration in Advertising from UNC-Chapel Hill and a Master of Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing and Consumer Behavior from Kenan-Flagler Business School in Chapel Hill. She has years of experience working in advertising agencies, corporate advertising, marketing, and communications. She served for 4 years as the MCS PTO Vice President and co-chaired the annual auction. Deborah has extensive non-profit volunteer experience and/or board service in the Triangle area. Both of her children attended MCS.

    Kalpu Shah

    Upper Elementary Program Director
    Teacher: Upper Elementary
    4 years at MCS

    BS (Science), University of Mumbai, Mumbai, India

    Post Graduate Diploma (Applied Nutrition and Dietetics), University of Mumbai, Mumbai, India

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

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

    Bio: Kalpu Shah has been a Montessori teacher since 1988, when she started at the Montessori School of Raleigh. She taught children at the primary level for 10 years, the upper elementary level for 15 years, and was a middle school math resource teacher for two years. Kalpu is the Assistant Director of the training program as well as an upper elementary teacher trainer at the Seacoast Center for Education. She has spent 25 years at the Montessori School of Raleigh and is pleased to be continuing her Montessori journey at MCS. At MCS, Kalpu is the upper elementary program director as well as a teacher. 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’.”

    Linda Wilson

    Development Director
    3 years at MCS

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

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

    Bio: Linda is beginning her third year at MCS as Director of Development. She is the grandmother of Vivianne and Andrew, both of whom started as toddlers at MCS. She holds a BA from the Mary Washington College of the University of Virginia with graduate courses in education at the University of Virginia and Duke University. 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 led a family group experience for Duke Preschool and Primary Program, now Duke School for Children.An active public school volunteer, 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 also 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.

    Linda lives in Durham with her husband Bill, sharing their Victorian neighborhood with two daughters, two grandchildren and assorted pets.