• Meet Our Faculty


Lisanne Pinciotti, Program Director, EC and Admin Level Coordinator

Lisanne Pinciotti discovered Montessori education as a graduate student in 1985. Her subsequent experience in the early childhood classroom and in administrative roles at Children’s House Montessori School in New Jersey provided a strong foundation for future endeavors. Lisanne earned a BS in Business Administration (University of Dayton), an M.Ed. in Early Childhood Education (Rutgers University), an AMS Early Childhood Credential (CMTE/NY), and an AMS Administrator Credential (CMSM/NY). She joined WSMS-TEP in 2014 as Program Director and finds joy in field visits, school consultation, and learning alongside aspiring Montessori educators.  Lisanne believes that supporting the efforts of professional associations is important to the growth of the field, and therefore has served in various board positions and work groups over the years for NJMAC and NYSMA (NJ and NY state advocacy groups) and served two terms as the Administrator representative and Secretary of the AMS Teacher Education Action Commission.


Karen Deinzer (IT)

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.

Maria Rosado (IT, EC)

Maria Rosado has been teaching for over ten years in Montessori Infant Toddler environments. Maria joined the Twos program at West Side Montessori School in 2015, and joined the WSMS-TEP team in 2017. Maria is a field consultant and has traveled to China as part of WSMS-TEP for the past three years. Maria holds an MS in Literacy and a BS in English Language Arts and Education from CUNY Hunter College. Maria is an AMS-certified Infant Toddler teacher from WSMS-TEP and holds New York State Professional Certification in Literacy: Birth through Grade 6 and Childhood Education: Grades 1-6.

Melissa Freeman (EC, MIE, Admin)

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.

Sheba Kapur (EL, MIE, Admin)

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 credentials. Since then, Sheba has taught in Montessori classrooms in the US and Canada, from early childhood through middle school. Currently, Sheba is the Elementary Level and Practicum Coordinator and a teacher educator at WSMS-TEP. Sheba also consults for a local Montessori school.

Katherine Schneider (EC, EL, MIE, Admin)

Katherine Schneider is the Coordinator for the Montessori Inclusion Endorsement Program and has instructed aspiring teachers at the Early Childhood level since 2015. Katherine has an arts background and 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 Early Childhood credential from Midwest Montessori Teacher Training Center in Evanston, IL, and completed her MA in Early Childhood Special and General Education from Bank Street College in Manhattan. Katherine joined West Side Montessori School as a head teacher in 2009. Katherine is passionate about working with children with disabilities, as well as instructing teachers in Montessori inclusive environments.


Gerald Ardito (Manhattanville)

Dr. Gerald Ardito has been an educator for the past 20 years. For 8 years, he taught STEM topics to middle school students in a New York City suburb. During that time, he developed and implemented an entirely self-directed 8th-grade Biology course. Since 2013, he has been a teacher educator, focused on Adolescent, Science, and Computer Science/Computational Thinking education. Dr. Ardito’s research has focused on the development, implementation, and management of autonomy-supportive classrooms and the student learning networks that arise within them. Dr. Ardito is currently the Interim Associate Dean of Graduate Studies and an Associate Professor of Computer Science Education at Manhattanville College.

Carol Baird (EC)

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

Mimi Basso (Admin)

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.

Karen Bell (MIE)

Karen Bell is an educator who is passionate about doing what is best for children. She is a certified Montessori Guide for 1st-3rd and is licensed as both a General Education and Special Education teacher. Karen received her Bachelor’s Degree in Special Education with a minor in Montessori Studies from Westminster College. She is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership. 

Karen and her husband have 7 children between them.  They enjoy hiking, camping, watching movies, and attending their children’s sporting events. 

Natalie Danner (MIE)

Natalie’s work focuses on the education and care of young children with and without disabilities. She holds a Ph.D. in Early Childhood Special Education from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and is an American Montessori Society-credentialed early childhood educator. She believes that Montessori environments, with multi-age classrooms and the opportunity for choice and individualized hands-on learning, offer ideal opportunities for all children to learn. Through consultation and education, she partners with teachers and leaders to become even better at their most important craft.

As the Early Childhood Content and Engagement Coordinator on the Illinois Early Learning Project at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, she creates online early childhood content (blogs, podcasts, and tip sheets) to share evidence-based practices with teachers, caregivers, and families of young children. Prior to Illinois, she worked in higher ed in Oregon and Nebraska as a teacher educator. Her experience also includes ten years of teaching and leadership experience in independent and public school settings in New York and Arizona, specializing in the Montessori approach.

Her research explores the inclusion of young children with disabilities in preschool classrooms, the development of early childhood special education teacher education standards, and the professional development needs of in-service and pre-service teachers surrounding inclusion.

Loren DeNicola (Admin)

Loren DeNicola earned her Master’s Degree from New York University in Early Childhood Education in 2003 and her Montessori Early Childhood Credential from NYU-MTEP. She has NYS (N-6) Permanent Certification. Loren is the former Director of WSMS-TEP. She joined the faculty of WSMS-TEP in 2008 and has been an instructor for Philosophy, Student Teacher Seminar, Observation, and Child Development for Early Childhood. Loren currently serves as a Field Consultant for EC and the Administrator programs. Loren is the Associate Head of School for Teaching and Learning at West Side Montessori School.

Heather Gerker (EC)

Heather Gerker is a doctoral student in Educational Studies, with an emphasis on Education Policy. She has worked in the early childhood field for over ten years in many capacities: as a Montessori early childhood teacher, teacher educator, and a teacher education program director. Currently, she is a Teacher Educator with Greater Cincinnati Montessori Society and West Side Montessori School Teacher Education in NYC. Heather is trained in Results-Based Facilitation and passionate about organizing, facilitating, and connecting within communities. She served as President of Cincinnati Montessori Society and was the co-founder of the Kentucky Montessori Alliance. Heather earned her Master’s degree at Endicott College in Early Childhood Education while also receiving her Montessori teaching credential. Her research interests include how policy impacts different pedagogies in public schools (specifically Montessori education), teachers as advocates for policy change, and the role of collective impact in shifting education policy.

Jennifer Graham (EC)

Jennifer Graham earned her BS in Elementary Education from Elmira College in 1996 and her American Montessori Society Early Childhood credential from the Center for Montessori Education in 1998. Jennifer taught for several years at Montessori schools in NY before opening Our World Montessori in 2004. After eight years as the head of school at OWM, Jennifer realized her passion was to be in the classroom with the children. She returned to her roots as an Early Childhood teacher at Woodland Hill Montessori School in North Greenbush, NY where she teaches today. Jennifer joined WSMS-TEP as a course assistant in the summer of 2021 as part of her practicum for the AMS Instructor Academy and is thrilled to become part of the Early Childhood faculty.

Maria Gravel (IT)

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.

Nancy Lindeman (EL, MIE)

Nancy Lindeman has been a special educator since 1978. She has worked in a variety of roles as a special educator including; special education teacher, special education mentor, special education director, inclusion specialist, and currently a Montessori inclusion teacher educator and professor. Nancy recently retired as the program director from the Institute for Montessori Innovation at Westminster College. She is Montessori EC, El I-II certified, and holds a Montessori Administrator certificate. Lindeman has founded and directed a Utah public Montessori charter school and two private Montessori schools where she has participated on IEP teams for over 30 years. Nancy is a faculty member in the WSMS-TEP Montessori Inclusion Endorsement and Administrator programs and consults with Montessori schools to develop inclusion plans.

Dr. Barry E. McNamara (MIE)

Dr. Barry E. McNamara, Ed.D. is the Associate Dean and Professor of Education at Concordia College, New York. He received his BA from St. Benedict’s College, his MS Ed. from University of Kansas (Special Education: Learning Disabilities), and his doctorate from Columbia University’s Teachers College in Special Education: Learning Disabilities. In addition to teaching at the college level, Dr. McNamara was a special education teacher in a self-contained classroom setting and a resource room. He was also a Learning Disability Teacher Consultant. He has published widely in professional journals and other publications and is the author of a number of books. He is the coauthor of Keys to Parenting a Child with ADD, Keys to Parenting a Child with a Learning Disability, and Keys to Dealing with Bullies. He is the author of three textbooks in special education, Learning Disabilities: Bridging the Gap between Research and Classroom Practice (2007), published by Pearson. His most recent book, Bullying and Students With Disabilities was published by Corwin Press. Dr. McNamara is a faculty member in the WSMS-TEP Montessori Inclusion Endorsement program.

Margot Mack (EC)

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.

Catherine Mason (IT)

Catherine A Mason has worked with children aged 0-18 years old in Music, English Language, and dance for over 10 years. She fell in love with the art of teaching from a very young age and found her truest self by discovering Montessori philosophy. She enjoys interacting with children and helping others to realize the child’s truest form through creativity, independence, and curiosity. She has taught in Montessori environments since 2013 and received her AMS Infant Toddler certification in 2016. Since then Catherine has enjoyed spending time guiding Parents, Teachers, and Toddlers in increasing knowledge of child development and recognizing an innate sense of wonder. Catherine returned to the states in August 2022 after teaching abroad in Shenzhen, China at a play-based International School. She founded Seedling Education Group, an education and consulting firm to mentor and guide parents and educators on Montessori philosophy.

Catherine is a certified Positive Discipline Educator at the Parent and Classroom levels since 2018. She is currently enrolled at Xavier University pursuing a Master’s Degree in Education with an emphasis on Montessori Education. When she is not exploring educational topics, she enjoys spending her time outside in nature with her family and her dog.

Sinead Meehan (EL)

Sinead Meehan attended West Chester University where she earned her BS in Elementary Education. In 2014, she completed her Elementary I (6-9) Montessori training at the Institute for Advanced Montessori Studies in Silver Spring, MD. Following the completion of her Montessori certification program, she taught at both public and Montessori schools in Williamsburg, VA and the greater Philadelphia area. Sinead recently graduated from St. Catherine’s AM2 program where she received her MA in Education. Sinead is currently teaching elementary children and is an elementary instructor at WSMS-TEP.

Robyn Mernick (EC)

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.

Lorena Parada (Manhattanville)

Lorena Parada joined Manhattanville’s School of Education in July 2022. She most recently was an Academic Counselor and Project Assistant to the Acting Director for Academic Counseling at SUNY Westchester Community College in Valhalla, NY.  Her professional experience includes working in Enrollment, Advising, and Project Management. She is passionate about supporting students to completion and designing processes with students in mind. She earned her B.A. in Psychology from Manhattanville and her M.S.Ed in School Counseling, with a Bilingual Extension in Spanish from Long Island University, in Purchase, NY. She is a proud Manhattanville alum and first-generation graduate.

Rosemary Quaranta (EL, Admin)

Rosemary Quaranta, MEd is currently Head of School at Xavier University Montessori Lab School and Teaching Professor for XU Montessori Teacher Education Program. Rosemary holds AMI credentials (EC, EI-II) and has over forty years of experience in Montessori classrooms with children ages 3 – 12. She has also been a strong lecturer for AMS and MACTE accredited programs. She is passionate about Montessori Education, consulting and lecturing with schools nationally and internationally. She is excited to be part of the growth of the Elementary program at WSMS-TEP.

Lesley Roth (EC)

Lesley Roth, MEd, has served in several Montessori leadership capacities including, Early Childhood Lead Teacher, Principal of the Xavier Montessori Lab School, Teaching Professor, and Director of the Xavier University Montessori Institute. Lesley is a licensed reading specialist and serves as a school consultant. Lesley currently teaches the Early Childhood Philosophy course.

Annie Schor (IT, EC)

Annie Schor has been a Montessori teacher for seven years. She has her Infant Toddler credential through the American Montessori Society. She has been a faculty member for the Teacher Education Program at West Side Montessori School since 2017. Teaching adults who are earning their Montessori credentials the importance of incorporating art, music, and movement into the curriculum is fulfilling for Annie.

Recently, Annie went back to school to earn her Master’s degree in Special Education. Annie earned her Bachelor’s degree in Fine Art from Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota, FL. She uses her art background to inspire the children to explore a variety of art activities to further their development. The awe and wonder on a child’s face when they are engaging with work that is meaningful to them is something that continues to bring joy and purpose to her teaching practice. In her free time, Annie enjoys reading, yoga and exploring New York City.

Heather Sharo (IT)

Heather Sharo graduated from Rider University with an Elementary Education/Art degree. After observing a Montessori environment, Heather was inspired. She enrolled to earn her Early Childhood credential (CMTE/NJ) and then a few years later, her Infant Toddler credential (CMTE/NY). Currently, Heather is an Early Childhood teacher at Acorn Montessori School in New Jersey. With twenty years of teaching experience, Heather is passionate about Montessori education. Heather joined the West Side Montessori Teacher Education Program as a field consultant. She currently serves as an Infant Toddler Field Consultant and instructor of the Early Childhood Overview course.

Wyatt Tolles (EL)

Wyatt Tolles is a 6-12 teacher at Acorn Montessori School in New Jersey. He began his Montessori journey working in the aftercare program at Acorn while he was in high school. Prior to becoming an elementary guide, Wyatt taught in an early childhood classroom. Wyatt earned a Bachelor’s in Psychology and Mathematics (Rutgers University), an AMS Early Childhood Credential, and an AMS Elementary I-II credential (Princeton Montessori Center of Education). The philosophy, child’s independence, and math materials were what first captivated Wyatt in Montessori education. Nine years later, he continues to lead 6-12 Elementary classrooms and created Acorn’s school’s scope and sequence for the age level. Outside of the classroom, Wyatt loves reading, hiking and fishing, animals, and country music.

Jody Trimm (EL)

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).

Kira Walker (EC)

Kira Walker (née Haag) has been at WSMS since 2017, first as a TEP student and assistant teacher. She has been a head teacher since 2019. Kira is a Montessori child herself and attended Hershey Montessori from age two through Upper Elementary. After graduating from NYU, she found her way back to Montessori as an assistant at a school in downtown NYC. Believing in the Montessori Method and wanting to commit to the philosophy, Kira trained through WSMS-TEP, where she now works closely as an instructor, supervising teacher, and field consultant. In addition to her AMS credential, she has a Master’s degree in Early Childhood Education from The City College of New York and a New York State teaching license.

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