• Meet Our Faculty

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Carol Baird

Carol Baird lived in upstate New York, California, and London before settling in New York City. After toiling for fourteen years in the corporate world as a Manager in Temporary Employment, Carol had two boys and also had a career change epiphany. Combining a love of children with a love of dance, she trained with Kinderdance, and brought their program to Manhattan in 1996. Carol now teaches and oversees instructors who teach Kinderdance in over 30 schools throughout Manhattan and the Bronx. She has been on the faculty at West Side Montessori School as a movement specialist since 2000. For more information, visit her website: kdnyc.org

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Mimi Basso

Mimi Basso earned her Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education from New York University. She earned her Montessori Early Childhood Credential from NYU-MTEP and Infant Toddler Certification from CMTE/NY. She served as Associate Head of School at West Side Montessori School for five years and then went on to serve as the Director of School Accreditation at the American Montessori Society. Mimi is currently the Co-Director of WSMS-TEP and is Head of School of West Side Montessori School.

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Jessica Bradfield

Jessica received her BA from Arizona State University in Elementary Education. She taught at schools in Phoenix, Boston, Kingston (Jamaica), Columbus, Washington, D.C. area, and New York City. While receiving her Montessori certification in New York, City, she helped with the creation and development of the first NYC Montessori charter school, trained and mentored new teachers, and led the Lower Elementary team. She received her MA in Education from Columbia University Teachers College where she was mentored by Lucy Calkins and developed a readers and writers workshop program for the Montessori charter school. Jessica currently teaches in a 6-9 classroom at Metropolitan Montessori School and as an instructor for WSMS-TEP.

013

Uniit Carruyo

Uniit spent ten years teaching in Montessori Infant Toddler environments prior to joining the WSMS-TEP team, including starting the first Montessori Infant Nido in Ithaca, NY. Uniit’s book, Team Teaching in Early Childhood: Leadership Tools for Reflective Practice, won the 2018 Teacher’s Choice Award. She self-published her children’s book, Clarice, a story about the transformation of the child from the spiritual embryo to the conscious worker, in 2015. Uniit holds an MS Ed in Leadership from Bank Street College of Education, a BS in Psychology, and is an AMS-certified Infant Toddler teacher from the Center for Montessori Education, New Rochelle, NY. In addition to teacher training, Uniit works with schools and families through Wiggles & Wings.

013

Karen Deinzer

Karen Deinzer began her teaching career in 1987 at The Village School for Children in Waldwick, NJ. She earned the Infant Toddler credential through CMTE/NY in 1993 while working with Mimi Basso. Karen went on to run her own Montessori school located in North Kingston, RI. She spent three years as the Educational Director of the Infant Toddler program at Twin Parks Montessori School in New York City and is currently the Infant Toddler Head Teacher at West Side Montessori School. Karen is one of the founding instructors for the Infant Toddler program at WSMS-TEP.

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Katherine Fordney

Katherine Fordney received a BFA in Acting from the North Carolina School of the Arts. A Montessori child herself, Katherine became reacquainted with the philosophy as an adult, receiving her AMS certification for children three to six from Midwest Montessori Teacher’s Training Center in Evanston, IL, and completed her MA in Early Childhood Special and General Education from Bank Street College in Manhattan. She has taught in Montessori schools in Illinois and New York City. Katherine joined WSMS as a head teacher in 2009 and WSMS-TEP in 2014.

013

Melissa Freeman

Melissa Freeman earned a BA in Elementary and Special Education from Syracuse University and an AMS Montessori Early Childhood credential from WSMS-TEP. She has a Masters in Early Childhood Special Education from Fordham University. She has worked at the Alcott Montessori School in Ardsley, NY, and in Montessori schools in Maryland in both elementary (6-9 year olds) and early childhood (3-6 year olds) classrooms. She is a former head teacher at WSMS in a 3-6-year-old classroom and currently works in an administrative role for WSMS-TEP. Melissa joined the TEP faculty in 2006. In addition to teaching Sensorial, she has also taught Philosophy, Observation and Practical Life.

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Maria Gravel

Maria Gravel earned her Early Childhood degree from Hunter College. She has NYS (N-6) and NJS (K-6) certifications. She has her Montessori Early Childhood credential from both AMS and AMI. She was the founder and director of Seton Day Care Center and Elizabeth Seton Pre-School from 1972-2008. She has over 40 years of experience in early childhood schools and classrooms. She has been an active member of the American Montessori Society (former Chair of the AMS Certification Committee, member of the Archives committee, participant and lecturer at annual AMS Conferences) and has written numerous articles on the care of infants and toddlers. Maria continues to serve as a Field Consultant for CME|NY. Maria is a founding Instructor and Field Consultant for the WSMS-TEP Infant Toddler program.

013

Giuliana deGrazia (Giuls)

Giuliana deGrazia (Giuls) graduated from the University of St Andrews in 2007 with an MA in English Literature and Art History. She holds a Master’s in Liberal Arts from St. John’s College in Annapolis, MD and a Master’s in Early Childhood General and Special Education from Bank Street College. She completed her AMS Early Childhood Montessori certification at the Institute for Advanced Montessori Studies in Silver Spring, MD. She has taught at West Side Montessori School since 2011, and she teaches the Montessori Philosophy course for WSMS-TEP. Prior to teaching, Giuls worked for a non-profit organization, the Touchstones Discussion Project, which promotes discussion-based learning. She is also an Advisory Board Member at Wilmington Montessori, the school she attended as a child.

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Tara Greaney

Tara Greaney earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and a Montessori teaching certificate from Fairleigh Dickinson University in 1974. She received a Master’s of Science in Educational Leadership at Bank Street College as well as an AMS Infant Toddler credential from WSMS-TEP in 2014. Tara has over forty years of experience in early childhood education with twenty-six working with infants and toddlers. She was Director of the Early Program at The Caedmon School, the first Montessori school in New York City, from 1982 to 1989. In 1989, Tara helped design and implement the Cravath Children’s Center, the first corporate day care in New York City. She has served on the Board of Trustees for both the Caedmon School and the New York City Montessori Charter School. Tara has been an instructor in the Infant Toddler Program of WSMS-TEP since the initiation of the program in 2013.

013

Sheba Kapur

After completing her Bachelor of Science at the University of Toronto, Sheba was introduced to the “Montessori way” by an acquaintance. Impressed with what she observed in an early childhood classroom, Sheba applied to Toronto Montessori Institute where she obtained her Early Childhood (3-6) and Elementary (6-12) Montessori certifications. Since then, Sheba has taught in Montessori classrooms from early childhood through middle school. Currently, Sheba is the Elementary Level Coordinator and a teacher educator at WSMS-TEP. Sheba also consults for a local Montessori school.

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Donna Longdon

Donna Longdon is a head teacher at West Side Montessori School and has a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Hunter College, a Master’s Degree in Early Childhood and Elementary Education from NYU, and New York State N-6 Permanent Certification. She received her AMS Montessori Early Childhood Credential in 1993 from NYU/MTEP. While at WSMS, she has served as the faculty representative to the board, co-presented a Music and Literacy Workshop, presented at AMS annual conferences, and written for AMS Montessori Life Magazine.

013

Margot Mack

Margot Mack (EC Cultural Studies/Art) earned a Bachelor’s degree from Empire State College and the AMS Montessori Early Childhood Credential from CHAMP-MTEP. She has taught at WSMS since 1990 and is currently the Head Teacher in the Late Afternoon Program. She left WSMS for several years, when she had the opportunity to teach at two NYC Montessori schools, Resurrection Episcopal Day School and the Family School. Margot spent ten years designing and manufacturing her own line of jewelry, and continues to create collages and multi-media artwork. She received her Master’s of Science in Early Childhood/Special Education at Concordia College.

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Robyn Mernick

Robyn Mernick received a BA in Psychology from Boston University. She received her AMS certification for children aged three to six from Northeast Montessori Institute, and her MA in Early Childhood Education with a Montessori focus from Endicott College. She began her career teaching in schools in Massachusetts and Maine. When she moved to New York in 2009, Robyn was directed to West Side Montessori School by a number of colleagues. In addition to working as a head teacher in an early childhood classroom, Robyn has been a member of the WSMS-TEP faculty since 2009. She has also served as a supervising teacher and field consultant for student teachers, and a mentor to new head teachers at West Side Montessori School.

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Beata Owczarzak

Beata Owczarzak (EC Sensorial/Math Assistant Teacher) was born and raised in Poland, where she lived until 2002. In 1996, she graduated with a Master’s degree in Early Childhood Education. She began her career working with students from kindergarten through the third grade. While searching for the new ways to help children learn and flourish, she discovered how special the Montessori method is. She started her Montessori teacher journey at WSMS in 2012 as an assistant teacher, completed the WSMS-TEP credential in 2014, and joined the TEP faculty team. In 2016, she received her Master’s degree in Early Childhood/Special Education from Concordia College.

013

Lisanne Pinciotti

Lisanne Pinciotti (EC Child Development, Program Co-Director) has been involved with Montessori education since 1985. Her experience in the early childhood classroom and as the Financial Administrator at Children’s House Montessori School in NJ provided a strong foundation for future endeavors. Lisanne earned a BS in Business Administration (University of Dayton), a Master’s in Early Childhood Education (Rutgers University), an AMS Early Childhood Credential (CMTE/NY), and an AMS Administrator Credential (CMTE/NY). Lisanne joined WSMS-TEP in 2014 as Director of Teacher Education. She enjoys Field Consultant visits and has presented at numerous NJMAC, AMS, and NJAEYC workshops. Lisanne believes that supporting the efforts of professional associations is an important way to contribute to growth of the field, and therefore has served in various capacities for AMS and NJMAC.

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Marcia Polanco

Marcia Polanco has been a teacher at West Side Montessori School since 1985. She earned her Montessori Early Childhood Credential through CHAMP-TEP. Marcia was born in the Dominican Republic, and at the age of 4, she migrated with her family to the United States. Marcia grew up in New York City and is fluent in Spanish. Marcia has a deep love for the Montessori science and social studies curriculum, and is especially fond of astronomy and biology. During the summer months, she is a consultant at other Montessori schools and gives teacher workshops for teacher development. Marcia has been an instructor for WSMS-TEP since 2012.

013

Jody Quam

Jody attended the University of Minnesota where she earned her BS in Elementary Education and later her Master’s degree. After a year of teaching in Minneapolis public schools, she took a position in Taichung, Taiwan. There she taught ages 5 -7 in an English immersion setting. In her fourth and final year, she served as the Head of Early Childhood, helping to open a third campus. In 2010, she completed her 6-9 training at CMTE/NY and began working with adult learners soon after. Jody currently teaches in a 6-9 classroom at Metropolitan Montessori School, where she also co-leads the Elementary Program (6-12). She works for two teacher training programs: WSMS-TEP and METTC (Montessori Elementary Teacher Training Collaborative in Lexington, MA).

013

Wendy Reveri

Wendy was a Montessori Elementary Teacher for fourteen years, with two years at the Upper Elementary level and twelve years as a teacher and academic team leader at the Lower Elementary level at Metropolitan Montessori School. Wendy now works in an administrative role leading curriculum documentation projects school-wide. She is a teacher educator, having worked with both CMTE and WSMS-TEP on course development, delivery and mentoring of adult learners. She has served as a Montessori consultant and as a member of school accreditation visiting teams for the AMS. She holds an AMS 6-12 Montessori teaching credential, as well as a BA from Johns Hopkins University and an MBA from New York University.

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Beverly Smith

Beverly Smith is the Level Coordinator for the Administrator Course at the West Side Montessori School Teacher Education Program and the Assistant Head of School at West Side Montessori School. Beverly serves as President of the New Jersey Montessori Association Corporation (NJMAC). She was Head of School at Acorn Montessori School in Lebanon, NJ from 2012 through 2016. Before relocating to New Jersey, Beverly spent twenty years at Washington Montessori School (New Preston, CT) as a middle school educator, as well as the Specials’ Coordinator and Programs Director from 2001-2012. She is currently a mentor in the AMS Emerging Leaders Fellowship (ELF). She worked for the Center for Montessori Teacher Education for 15 years in the Administrator program. Beverly holds a B.S. in Education, an M.A. in counseling, an AMS Secondary I credential and an AMS Administrator credential.

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Gelsey Steinbrecher

Gelsey Steinbrecher is a Chicago native and Montessori child who graduated in 2007 with a BS in Psychology from Cornell University. Gelsey was selected to be a New York City Teaching Fellow in 2008 and taught students with Autism Spectrum Disorders in New York City public schools for two years. She graduated from Mercy College with a Master’s in Education in 2010 and earned her AMS Early Childhood Credential in 2012. Gelsey was a head teacher at WSMS until 2016, when she joined WSMS-TEP full time. Gelsey has served as an adjunct professor for the Concordia College Montessori Master’s Program since 2017.

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