Teachers and Staff
Learn more about the Montessori Community School Teachers and Staff.
Lea Finestone – Toddler Lead Teacher
Joined MCS in 2021BA (Diversity Studies) University of West Florida.Bio: Lea graduated from The University of West Florida with a degree in Diversity Studies and a minor in Psychology. She has had many years of experience working with children including several in Montessori environments. She is very excited that she and her son Jude are part of the MCS community.
Tina Margas - Toddler Lead Teacher
Joined MCS in 2023
BA (Liberal Studies with Montessori Education Concentration)
AA (Early Childhood Education & Child Development)
Durham Tech Community College
Infant Toddler Montessori Teacher Credential
Institute of Advanced Montessori Studies
Bio: Tina’s family was drawn to the Montessori philosophy in 2004 when looking for preschools in Durham. Through the years, Tina grew and served in local Montessori communities as a volunteer, parent, support staff, board member, and after-school director. In 2012, she began her journey with toddlers, working as a teacher assistant for five years, then as a lead toddler teacher to date. Tina has developed professionally through hands-on experience in AMS accredited environments and through online and in-person workshops such as the AMS National Conference on several occasions, TEACCH Autism Basic Training, and NC State’s Early Childhood Outdoor Learning Environments program. She enjoys music, yoga, toddlers, and gathering with friends.
Jess Batson - Toddler Support Staff
Joined MCS in 2022
Bio: Jess was drawn to Montessori philosophy after taking an Early Childhood Development class in college. This established an appreciation of the individuality of children, each with their own personalities and needs, and how the Montessori method can foster one’s innate qualities. She began her time at MCS as a member of the Elementary Late Day team, additionally providing support as a P.E. assistant. Jess is thrilled to enter the classroom this year to support the toddlers in Room 102. She enjoys being outside in the sun, gardening with her partner, hiking local trails with their dogs, Mavis and Loretta, and exploring new vegetarian dishes around the Triangle.
“Any child who is self-sufficient, who can tie his shoes, dress or undress himself, reflects in his joy and sense of achievement the image of human dignity, which is derived from a sense of independence.”- Maria Montessori
Emily Levinstone - Toddler Support Staff
Joined MCS in 2023
BA (Music: classical vocal performance/opera, Theatre Studies),
Bio: Emily (she/her) comes to MCS with a keen interest in psychology and human development, particularly related to how we can, as we grow, learn and effectively use tools from various modalities of therapy in order to regulate emotions. She believes strongly in the de-stigmatization of mental health. Emily is forging a new career path after six years of working in digital marketing and customer success/account management. With a passion for and belief in the creative arts as a facilitator of cultural growth and individual expression, Emily brings to MCS her creativity, adaptability, and Montessorian desire to nurture independence, curiosity, and joyful learning in today’s students.
Jomaya Reynolds - Toddler Assistant
Claudia Cushman - Primary Teacher
Joined MCS in 2023
University or North Carolina – Greensboro
AMS (3-6) credential, North Carolina Montessori Teacher Education Program
Bio: Claudia has been a devoted Montessorian for over 27 years. While completing her training from NC Montessori Teacher Education program, she worked as an intern and Assistant Primary teacher at MCS in 1996. After completing the training, she worked for three years running the Pittsboro Montessori Program then started her own small Montessori school here in Durham called the Montessori Morning Program for 8 years.When not celebrating the lives of small children you can probably find her studying something that has to do with the natural world. A naturalist for many years and a perpetual learner, she keeps her fingers involved in creative ways of expressing herself.She received a BFA in Design from UNC-G in 1979 and enjoys playing piano, cello, guitar and ukulele occasionally.She has two sons who live in Durham and is excited to be back in the Triangle to share in their lives and developments.
Rochelle Hayes – Primary TeacherJoined MCS in 2011
BA (Plan II Honors Interdisciplinary), University of Texas, Austin, TX
IMC/MACTE (3-6) credential, Center for Guided Montessori Studies
Zoom Academy Teacher Training BadgeBio: Rochelle is proud to have been a part of the MCS community for the past 14 years. This is her eighth 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 completed her Zoom Academy teacher training in 2020. She has two sons: Jonathan and Nicholas, both graduates of MCS.
Manasvi Gandhi - Primary AssistantJoined MCS in 2023
Gujarat State University
Post Graduate Diploma (Human Resources),
H.L Commerce College, India
AMS (3-6) credential,
Center for Montessori Teacher Education, NC
Bio: Manasvi is excited to be part of the MCS family. She is a passionate and dedicated teacher with 9+ years of experience. She was born and raised in India. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Commerce with a post graduate diploma in HR from India. She has worked as an HR representative before she moved to the US. Manasvi’s journey as a Montessori teacher began once she moved to the US in 2015 and since then she has had the opportunity to work in various Montessori schools. She strives to create a nurturing, loving and engaging environment that encourages children to explore, discover and learn at their own pace. She is an AMS certified teacher in early childhood education (3-6) and has completed various professional development courses and trainings over the years. This comprehensive training and work experience has equipped her with a deep understanding of child development and Maria Montessori’s philosophy.Manasvi lives with her husband and their dog named Max. Outside of teaching, she enjoys going on nature hikes, traveling, cooking, and spending time with her family.
Adam Miller – Primary TeacherJoined MCS in 2004
AMS (3-6) credential, Center for Montessori Teacher Education, NC
Forest Kindergarten Certification, Cedarsong Nature School, Vashon, WA
Bio: Adam Miller begins his 16th year at MCS and his 13th in Room 202. In August of 2020, Adam started the first Forest School nature immersion program at MCS. Before moving to NC, 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.
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.”
Natalie Powell - Primary Support Staff
Anna Schuckman – Primary Teacher
Joined MCS in 2019
BA (English), UNC Chapel Hill, NC
MFA (Design), The George Washington University, Washington, DC
AMS Primary (3-6) credential, Center for Montessori Teacher Education, NC
Bio: Anna joined MCS in the Toddler program in 2019 and transitioned to Primary in 2021, utilizing her previous Montessori Primary training. She taught primary and completed her teacher training while at a Montessori school in Cary, NC over several years. She has previous teaching experience in both traditional public and private school settings. Anna and her husband Dane have a daughter in the Toddler program at MCS and a 10-year-old son.
Luke Thirolle - Primary Support Staff
Joined MCS in 2022
BA (Anthropology and Storytelling),
New York University
Bio: Luke attended MCS as a child, from Primary all the way through the Adolescent Community, and is so glad to be back. She studied anthropology and storytelling at NYU. During college, she worked with Teach for America’s JumpStart program, which aims to close the education gap by providing teaching assistance to underfunded preschools. Luke is thrilled to be giving back to the MCS community that raised her and intends to pursue Montessori certification.
Lindsay Porter – Lower Elementary TeacherJoined MCS in 2018
BA (Religion and Philosophy) Hendrix College, Conway, AR
M.Ed (Integrative Learning) Endicott College, Beverly, MA
AMI (6-12) certificate, Montessori Institute of North Texas, Dallas, TX
Bio: Lindsay has been a Montessori teacher and assistant since 2005. She and her husband, Don, and their two children Charles (Lower Elementary) and Madeleine (Lower Elementary) moved to Carrboro five years ago from Stony Brook, Long Island, where she was a Lower Elementary Montessori teacher. She is originally from Austin, TX, where she taught and assisted at Austin Montessori School and Cedar Park Montessori School. Lindsay enjoys choral singing, world cuisine, contra dancing, and civic engagement.
Favorite Montessori quote: “Establishing lasting peace is the work of education; all politics can do is keep us out of war.”
Amanda Hart - Lower Elementary TeacherJoined MCS in 2022AMI (0-3) credential
The Montessori Institute, Denver, CO
Bio: Amanda is new to North Carolina and excited to join the MCS community along with her two elementary age children. She brings 20+ years of Montessori experience and although they have all been in Nido, Toddler and Primary classrooms, she is switching gears this year to learn and grow as a Lower Elementary teacher. Amanda values the beauty, collaboration and independence of Montessori and has already found so much to love about Montessori Community School.
When not working with children, Amanda enjoys hiking, editing the thousands of photos she takes of her own children, drinking strong coffee and cold-water swims.
Shelly Lyons – Lower Elementary TeacherJoined MCS in 2009
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 has 21 years of experience in Montessori classrooms. She has taught at the Athens Montessori School in Athens, Georgia, and the Swannanoa Valley Montessori School in Black Mountain, North Carolina before coming to Montessori Community School. She has a Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education from the University of Georgia and holds elementary state teaching certificates 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 and being a mom, she enjoys singing, hiking, creative writing, reading, biking, and spending time outdoors.
Favorite Maria Montessori quote: “The land is where our roots are. The children must be taught to feel and live in harmony with the Earth.”
Michelle Reader – Lower Elementary Teacher
Joined MCS in 2000
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 University, St. Paul, MN
Bio: Michelle has taught at both the upper and lower elementary levels. She received her Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Centre College in Danville, Kentucky. Michelle 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 bicycling, hiking, reading, kayaking, and spending time with her family. Both of her children attend MCS. Her son is in the Adolescent Community, and her daughter is in Upper Elementary.
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 – Lower Elementary TeacherJoined MCS in 2016
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. Her favorite Montessori quote is, “One test of the correctness of educational procedure is the happiness of the child.”
Jennifer Banghart – Lower Elementary Teacherjbanghart@mcsdurham.orgJoined MCS in 2006
BA (Sociology and Native American Studies), Montana State University, Bozeman, MT
M.Ed. (Education), Loyola University, MD
AMI (6-12) certification, Montessori Institute of MilwaukeeBio: Jennifer 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 18th year of teaching and her 15th year in room 302. She has three children, one at Chapel Hill High School, one in the Adolescent Community, and one in Upper Elementary. Ms. 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.”
Hetal Amin – Upper Elementary Teacher
Joined MCS in 2022
BS (Molecular Biology and Microbiology), University of Central Florida
AMS Montessori Elementary I-II Credential
Bio: Having visited 25 preschools in 2007 in search of the perfect start for her son’s education, Hetal Amin stumbled into a Montessori classroom at MCS. It has been an exceptional journey ever since. Although Hetal has a BS in Molecular Biology and Microbiology from the University of Central Florida and an array of experiences in various fields, the opportunity of volunteering at her son’s Montessori school led her to change careers and go into teaching. She has her AMS Montessori Elementary I-II Credential. She brings with her a certain mix of wit, enthusiasm, and desire to continuously learn and grow. Not only does she enjoy sharing laughs and daily stories with her own family, but also with her students and families.
Jeff Kishpaugh – Upper Elementary TeacherJoined MCS in 2010
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 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 – Upper Elementary TeacherJoined MCS in 2008
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 9 years. Melanie has just completed her third year working with the Upper Elementary team and is excited to be embarking on her fourth year. Melanie enjoys cooking, gardening, all outdoor pursuits, going to the gym, 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.”
Keturah Russell – Upper Elementary Teacherkrussell@mcsdurham.org
Joined MCS in 1992
BA (Psychology), Meredith College
AMS (9-12) credential, Seacoast Center Montessori Training Program
AMS (6-9) credential, Center for Montessori Teacher Education, North Carolina
Early Childhood (3-6) credential candidate, North American Montessori Center
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 also a certified facilitator for Open Circle and recently completed her Elementary II (9-12) Montessori credential. 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 children, Morgann and Tallis, who both attended MCS.
Frances Foner – Adolescent Guide
Angela Molfese – Adolescent GuideJoined MCS in 2014
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, Clark Montessori Secondary Teacher Training Program, Cincinnati, OHBio: Prior to coming to MCS, Angela worked as an 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 has 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.
Jayes Sebastian - Adolescent Guide
Joined MCS in 2023
BA (Biology, English, Certificate in Community Studies),
University of Colorado at Boulder
Juris Doctor (Public Interest Law),
City University of New York School of Law
PhD (Ethnic Studies),
University of California, Riverside
Jayes brings extensive experience as a social justice organizer, facilitator, and educator to the Montessori Community School. They spent 10 years teaching and researching about the relationship between colonialism, systemic power relations, and the law while earning a PhD in Ethnic Studies. Jayes holds bachelor degrees in Ecological and Evolutionary Biology, English Creative Writing, and a JD in public interest law as well as a certificate in the Study and Practice of Leadership and Community Studies. A student of early Montessori education and a former soccer coach, they recently moved to Durham and are excited to engage with the MCS community. Jayes enjoys being in the woods, reading speculative fiction, cooking, traveling, and spending time with friends and family.
Arts & Enrichments
Molly Coley – Music Specialist
Joined MCS in 2021
Bachelor of Music in Jazz Studies, The New England Conservatory of Music Boston, Massachusetts
Master of Arts in Musicology (as of 9/1/21), Duke University Durham, North Carolina
Bio: After spending her undergraduate years at the New England Conservatory of Music as a jazz singer, Molly went on to start graduate work at Duke University in Musicology. There she studied music history and culture, and recently earned her Master of Arts degree. In the past, she has served as a vocal coach, a choral director, a band director, and a college teaching assistant. She is extremely inspired by the opportunity to work in a Montessori environment, and to help to foster a love of music in the students at MCS.
Favorite Montessori quote: “It is well to cultivate a friendly feeling towards error, to treat it as a companion inseparable from our lives, as something having a purpose, which it truly has.”
Sabine Mendez – Physical Education SpecialistJoined MCS in 2002
BPE (Physical Education and German), University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
Gymnastics Coaching certificate: Level I and 2
Basketball Coaching certificate: Level I and 2
Track and Field Coaching certificate: Level I and 2
Soccer Coaching certificate: Level I and 2
Volleyball Coaching certificate: Level 1 and 2
Jazz Dance Training: 25 years
Bio: Sabine received a Bachelor of Physical Education from the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada. She has 36 years of experience teaching Physical Education to kindergarten through 12th grade and has coached soccer, gymnastics, volleyball, and track and field. Sabine has coached badminton, volleyball, and soccer here at MCS and taught dance for over 20 years to children 8 – 13, where the children showcase their talents twice a year at the end-of-season performances. The dance 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 21 years where parents and the whole school can come and watch. She has coached the Upper Elementary Soccer Team (together with Levy Vargas) in the past and 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). Sabine has started a gymnastics and parkour class for Upper Elementary and Adolescent students during PE and for CE (creative expressions). Her interests outside of school include dance, kayaking, paddleboarding, cooking, rollerblading, playing the guitar, and traveling. She is fluent in German. Sabine joined the Afro/Brazilian Drumming group, “Batala” in 2016 and has been playing and performing with them at various festivals throughout the Triangle over the past six years. Sabine is the after-school dance, volleyball, and badminton coach. Sabine is married and has two daughters who also attended MCS, and three other adult children with her husband, Harry.
Josefina Llodra – Spanish Specialist
Joined MCS in 2021Elementary Education specialized in Second Language Learning from Universidad de los Andes, Santiago ChileSBS Singapore Math Course certificate levels 1, 2, and 3. Santiago, Chile.Center of Guided Montessori Studies Infant/Toddler expected to be completed by February 2022.Bio: Josefina was born and raised in Chile, where she studied in an American School in Santiago, and afterward completed her University studies in the same city. She arrived in North Carolina in 2016, because she was hired to start a Spanish Immersion Program at a School in the area. A couple of years later, Josefina had twins, so she decided to take some time to stay home and now she is delighted to be back in school. During her free time, she likes to run and exercise, cook, embroider, read, paint, and spend time with family and friends. Josefina is excited to share as the MCS Spanish Specialist.
Levy Vargas – Art and Ceramics SpecialistJoined MCS in 2011
MFA (Sculpting and Painting), National University of Colombia, Bogota, Colombia
Bio: Levy 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 currently teaches art and ceramics.
Maria Wintermute - Long-term Spanish Substitute TeacherJoined MCS in 2023
BA (Global Affairs and Spanish),
University of North Carolina, Greensboro
Bio: Maria has been teaching and involved in bilingual (Spanish and English) education for the past six years in the area and in Argentina. She graduated from UNCG with a major in Global affairs and her minor in Spanish, and has completed her TEFL certification. She loves teaching all of the cultural and musical aspects that come with learning a new language! When not teaching she loves to spend time with her family, garden, bike and learn about other cultures and ways of life. She is so excited to be joining the Montessori school this year as the Long term Spanish substitute.
Lisa Anderson – Student Support CoordinatorJoined MCS in 2015
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 26 years. Her career began after graduating college in Philadelphia with a BS in Early Childhood Education and a minor in Montessori. Lisa has taught at both the primary and lower elementary levels in PA, VA and NC. After working as a classroom teacher for many years her passion for helping neurodivergent students led her to expand her skills by receiving training in Orton-Gillingham, as well as training from the Hill Center. She worked as a Student Support Coordinator providing services for students with learning differences. Lisa and her husband, Chad, have two boys, Evan and Ryan (both previous Montessori students). She enjoys being a part of the MCS community.
Favorite Quote: “All students can learn and succeed, but not on the same day in the same way.” William G. Spady
Kirsten Ford - Late Day StaffJoined MCS in 2023
BA (English with a concentration in Technical Writing),
University of North Carolina, Wilmington
Bio: At a very young age, Kirsten began to work with children and found a special love for after school and enrichment activities for kids of all ages. However, what grew her interest more was her time working with Americorp, creating initiatives for children that will allow them to explore and learn no matter their circumstances. Even though her background is English, writing and communication, she enjoys merging them with childcare. This school year, Kirsten works as a late day staff member, playing, learning and enjoying the outdoors.
Michael Lyons - Late Day StaffJoined MCS in 2022
Bio: Michael has been a part of the MCS family since 2009 when he started first grade in classroom 301. He has come back to MCS again after his first year of college at Slippery Rock University where he will return in the fall of 2024 to continue pursuing a BFA in Musical Theater. Michael developed a deep love for the school during his years as an MCS student and is excited to be spending another year on the beautiful campus with all of the amazing students and staff.
Sara McCauley - Toddler and Primary Community Support StaffJoined MCS in 2021BA (Sociology and Education)
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Bio: Since childhood, Sara has had a passion for teaching and learning. She discovered Montessori in college and was quickly energized by its unique, spiritual philosophy. After working in sociological research post-graduation, Sara made her way to MCS as a Primary/ Late Day support staff in 2021. She completed her AMS assistant training later that year and assisted in room 203 from May 2022- May 2023. This school year, she is supporting both Toddler and Primary teams. Outside of school, Sara teaches yoga and strength training, and enjoys podcasting and graphic design.
Kathy McHugh - Late Day TeacherJoined MCS in 1982
AMS (3-6) credential, Center for Montessori Teacher Education, NC
Earth Partnership for Schools Institute, North Carolina Botanical Gardens
NC Environmental Education credential candidate
Mindful Educator Essentials, Mindful Schools
Bio: Kathy began her journey at MCS as a parent when her son was enrolled at MCS as a Primary student in 1981. She joined the staff as a classroom assistant in 1982 and received her AMS 3-6 primary credential through the North Carolina Center for Montessori Teacher Education in 1989. She has over 30 years of experience as a primary classroom teacher.
Kathy is the mother of two MCS alumni and the grandmother of a current Upper Elementary student. She enjoys contra dancing, being outdoors, reading, and playing games with her family.
Amya Owens - Late Day StaffJoined MCS in 2023
North Carolina Central University
Bio: Amya is a Maryland native who is currently a second year student at North Carolina Central University majoring in elementary education. Amya is very eager to learn while helping her students make strides to become the best version of themselves, as she is now a part of the late day staff. Although this is Amya’s first year with MCS, she has previously worked with grade school children in an aftercare program with a local daycare in Maryland. Amya is extremely excited to be a part of the Montessori approach and loves the experience she is able to give students. Amya has three younger siblings and in her spare time, she likes to spend as much time with them as possible.
Tom Stewart - Auxiliary Programs ManagerJoined MCS in 2022
BS (Business Finance)
North Carolina State University
University of North Carolina
Certified Public Accountant
Tom is a North Carolina native who holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Finance from North Carolina State University and a Master of Accounting from University of North Carolina. Tom is a registered CPA in the state of North Carolina and prior to joining MCS in 2022, he worked as an accountant for over 12 years across a variety of industries. Tom has greatly enjoyed the pivot from corporate accounting to Montessori education staff where he has worked as a substitute across all program levels. Tom has two daughters at MCS, Olivia (Upper Elementary) and Lily (Primary). He is enthusiastic about all North Carolina sports and has coached youth soccer in Chapel Hill. He loves being outside and being part of the energetic community at MCS.
Delphine Andrews – Director of Communications
Joined MCS in 2019
BA (Visual Communications), School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC
MA (Strategic Communications), School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC
Bio: Before coming to MCS, Delphine spent four years working in membership communications at the Museum of Life and Science. Her past experiences also include graphic design, corporate advertising, customer relations and database management. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism with a concentration in Visual Communications/Graphic Design, Minor in Creative Writing, from UNC-Chapel Hill and a Master of Arts with a concentration in Strategic Communications from UNC School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Delphine is grateful to have attended a Montessori school in Virginia as a child. She has two nieces who attended MCS. She is a true tree hugger at heart and believes art is the purest form of expression.
Lisa Bohn – Director of Community Engagement
Joined MCS in 2019
BA (Dramatic Arts and English), University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC
MFA (Acting), UNC Greensboro, Greensboro, NC
Bio: Lisa is a Chapel Hill native who returned with her family to Chapel Hill in 2018 after teaching theatre on the university level for fourteen years in Georgia and Arkansas. At Arkansas State University, in addition to teaching in the Department of Theatre, she also served as a Faculty Fellow in Professional Development. In that position, she taught workshops and classes in online teaching, using digital programs for creative projects, enhancing students’ critical thinking skills, and more. Before earning her Master of Fine Arts in Acting from UNC-Greensboro, she worked as a teaching assistant with exceptional children in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools. She went to undergrad at UNC-Chapel Hill, where she double majored in Dramatic Arts and English. She and her husband have two boys, and they enjoy board games, being outdoors, watching movies, and crafting.
Shavonne Joyner – Director of Diversity, Equity, and BelongingJoined MCS in 2017
BBA (Management), Augusta State University, Augusta, GA
MA (Teaching), Augusta State University, Augusta, GA
Bio: This is Shavonne’s sixth year with MCS and she is looking forward to getting to know our new families. She is also excited to be able to collaborate with faculty and the Administrative team on a full-time basis, as the Director of Diversity, Equity, and Belonging. In her leisure time, she enjoys traveling to new places, roller skating, reading, listening to music, and trying new foods. She received a BBA in Business Management and a MA in Teaching from Augusta State University, in Augusta, GA. Her favorite quote of all is from James Baldwin; “Not everything that is faced can be changed. But nothing can be changed until it is faced.”
Dana Wynne Lindquist – Director of Development
Joined MCS in 2023
MA (English/Creative Writing), North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC
AB (Psychology), Duke University, Durham, NC
As a proud parent of two adult Montessori-educated daughters, Dana is thrilled to be back on a Montessori campus. She knows from experience that a shared passion for Montessori education creates a vibrant parent community. Dana has taught English at the high school and college levels and English as a new language to adult learners, middle schoolers, and preschoolers. She has previously served as director of development for two non-profits, as a fundraising-engaged board chair for the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina, and as a committed volunteer for several local non-profits and for numerous large fundraising events. Dana looks forward to nurturing a culture of giving at MCS.
Jim Meehan - Facilities ManagerJoined MCS in 2021
Bio: Jim has been our facilities manager since the fall of 2021. Prior to working at MCS, Jim spent 10 years working as maintenance director in assisted living facilities. He has lived in Durham with his wife and three children for the past 20 years.
Mike Miller – Director of Admissions and Advancement
Joined MCS in 2012
BA (Business Management), Michigan State University
AMS (6-9) credential, Center for Montessori Teacher Education, North Carolina
Bio: Mike 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 Teacher 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 an MCS education. Mike is originally from Michigan and moved to North Carolina in 2006. Mike has two daughters, Alexis and Gabrielle.
Megan Moore – School Nurse
Joined MCS in 2020
Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) University of Cincinnati, OH
Medical-Surgical Certification (MEDSURG-BC); American Nursing Credentialing Center (ANCC)
CPR Instructor; American Red Cross (ARC)
Certified Vision Screener; Prevent Blindness North Carolina (PBNC)
Puberty Curriculum Instructor; Unhushed Org
Bio: Megan began her healthcare journey in 1994 as a hospital volunteer at Bethesda North Hospital in Cincinnati. While later attending nursing school in college, she became employed as a Certified Nurse Assistant and dually worked as a Pharmacy Technician at the same hospital.
She moved to Durham in 2009 with her husband to pursue warmer weather and a charge nurse position at the Duke Regional Hospital on a Medical-Surgical Unit. Her hospital-based specialties over the years include Cardiac Step-Down, Orthopedics, and Medical-Surgical Nursing. Within a few years of working at Duke, she obtained Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support Certification (ACLS), progressed on the clinical ladder to earn a Clinical Nurse IV Certification (CNIV), and later became a Nurse Manager for a Duke Private Diagnostic Clinic.
In 2018 she switched gears and began working as a School Nurse when her son was 4 years old in order to have a schedule that better aligns with being available for her family. After working with adults for many years, she now finds so much joy in working with children every day! Megan and her husband Brad reside in Durham and have one son who attends the Upper Elementary (UE) program at MCS.
The position of the National Association of School Nurses (NASN) states that “School Nurses play an essential role in keeping children healthy, safe, and ready to learn so that they may grow into healthy and productive adults.” Megan’s passion aligns with this stance.
Katherine Perretta – Director of Finance and Operations
Joined MCS in 2021
BA (Economics), North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC
JD (Law), School of Law at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC
Member of the North Carolina State Bar
Bio: Katherine is a North Carolina native who has lived abroad in Florence and Amsterdam. She attended a Montessori school in Cary, NC as a child sparking a lifelong interest in school administration.
Katherine joined MCS after her previous role as an administrator to another Montessori school, in which she implemented modern systems for enrollment and finance. She has also held positions as Director of Business Operations for a household staffing firm, as well as, Podcast Manager for an international non-profit parenting association. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, crafting, and cooking with her husband and two daughters.
Kalpu Shah – Director of Academicskshah@mcsdurham.org
Joined MCS in 2014
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, NHBio: Kalpu 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. This year, Kalpu will serve on the board of the Triangle Montessori Schools Association. She spent 25 years at the Montessori School of Raleigh before coming to MCS. She enjoys cooking, reading, and teaching. She 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’.”
Trudy Weber – Office Manager
Joined MCS in 2022
BS (Psychology and Sociology), Florida Southern College
Bio: Trudy is very excited to join the MCS community! She has lived most of her life in Florida, where she graduated from Florida Southern College in 2015 with a B.S. in Psychology and Sociology. After college, she moved to Chicago where she worked as a Nanny for twin boys while pursuing a certificate in Early Childhood Education. Done with Chicago winters, she decided to move to North Carolina last year. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, baking, reading, and discovering the Triangle area with friends.
Angie Wenger – Head of School
Joined MCS in 2021
BA (Mass Communications) Drake University
M.Ed. (Independent School Leadership) Vanderbilt University
Angie comes to MCS with 20 years of experience in schools. She previously served as Director of Admissions and Marketing at University Lake School in Hartland, Wisconsin. In addition to her work attracting and enrolling new students, she also directed the school’s international student program. Her administrative leadership experience at previous schools includes roles in development, communications, and marketing. She began her education career in the classroom, teaching high school English and English as a Second Language.
She has completed an M.Ed. in Independent School Leadership at Vanderbilt University this summer and was selected for the NAIS Fellowship for Aspiring School Heads in 2020. She previously pursued graduate studies in Educational Policy and Leadership at Marquette University, including coursework in secondary Montessori education. She received her undergraduate degree in Mass Communications from Drake University.
Angie and her husband Dan (who have 2 college-age children) relocated to Durham from Wisconsin.