Betsy Mitchell – Head of School
Betsy received her undergraduate degree in Elementary Education from George Washington University in 1971. She taught for several years in the Prince George’s County Public School System before coming to MSNV as a classroom assistant to MSNV’s first elementary teacher, Harvey Hallenberg. After several years of volunteer involvement as a parent and Board member at MSNV, Betsy was hired as our Head of School in 1985. Since then, Betsy has successfully grown MSNV to what is now a highly regarded Montessori school with two thriving campuses, serving children from age 2 through 6th grade. The success of that growth is attributed to her ability to cultivate highly qualified and motivated teaching professionals, administration and support staff. Betsy has also been a driving force in the development of MSNV’s outdoor curriculum and the designation of both campuses as certified wildlife habitats. Betsy has three grown children, all of whom attended Montessori.
Nancy Smith – Interim Campus Director
Nancy holds her Master’s degree in Montessori Education as well as a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology with a minor in Sociology and Social Work. She has 40 years of experience working in Montessori education in Virginia, Wisconsin, Kentucky, and Colorado. This includes work at MSNV as a lead teacher for 9 years and more recently as an AMS Consultant for MSNV. Since 2007, Nancy has been an instructor at the Northern Virginia Montessori Institute (NVMI) where many MSNV teachers received their Montessori certification. Nancy was also on the faculty at the Montessori Institute for Teacher Education (MITE). When she is not training teachers, Nancy acts as an AMS Consultant for other Montessori schools. She has enjoyed a number of years as a Head of School, Montessori Conference presenter, school and state board member, and published author.
Ann Payne – Assistant Interim Campus Director and Assistant Admissions Director
Ann received her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from William and Mary and her Master’s degree in Social Work from Smith College. She attended a Montessori school as a child and took courses at the Institute for Advanced Montessori Studies in Maryland in 2003. Ann has worked as a clinical social worker, autism therapist, and Montessori Primary teacher. Originally from Maryland, she lived in England and Germany for five years before returning to Virginia in 2010. Ann has one son, who is currently enrolled in the Primary program at MSNV. She enjoys reading, traveling, and writing children’s books.
Margaret Masters – Business Manager
Margaret earned her undergraduate degree in Economics from the University of Virginia. Having started work with MSNV in June 2000, Margaret has more than twenty years of accounting experience. Margaret has successfully handled the billing, financials, budgeting, payroll, health and safety, and human resources issues at MSNV. She has three children, all of whom attended Montessori.
Anna Sipin – Accounting Clerk
Anna attended Jefferson Business College in Washington, D.C. for a Secretarial Diploma and took Computer-Assisted Bookkeeping with International Correspondence Schools. She joined MSNV in April 2012, bringing with her 19 years of administrative and accounting work experience. Anna assists in the business office with accounts payable, payroll, inventory, credit card and other accounting issues. Anna recently moved to Virginia from Alaska with her family.
Beth Bell-Leresche – Admissions Director and Elementary Drama Teacher
Beth earned her degree in International Relations from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and is in the middle of her master’s degree in Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University. She worked for 20 years in the immigration and refugee fields before coming to MSNV in 2005 as the Admissions Director. Beth also co-taught summer theatre camp for years before coming on as MSNV’s elementary drama teacher in 2011. Beth has two children, one of whom works at MSNV and the other who attended MSNV.
Ariadne Allan Autor – Director of Development
Ari graduated from Smith College with a bachelor’s degree in Government and has continued her involvement with Smith as an alumnae class officer and annual fund representative. An award-winning investigative journalist, she produced television documentaries for PBS before joining MSNV’s staff. Ari now manages development and alumni relations for MSNV while also coordinating parent fundraising volunteers. A board member of Nadar Por Vida, she also was a founding instructor of the Falls Church Recreation and Parks Ballet Program and has appeared in Ballet Nova’s Nutcracker. Ari enjoys sharing her love of dance and swimming with children. She has two sons who attended MSNV through the lower elementary program.
Oanh Tran – Office Manager
Having joined MSNV in 2003, Oanh earned her B.A. in Integrative Studies in Social Work from George Mason University. She was heavily involved in community outreach programs helping at-risk youth, mentoring at an advocacy center for people with disabilities, organizing workshops designed to help adolescents increase self-esteem and coordinated an annual cancer research event. Oanh also has previous experience as a Montessori teaching assistant and holds a Virginia Real Estate license. She is the mother of two MSNV alumni.
Diana Hwang – Office Manager
Diana received her Bachelor’s degree in English with a concentration in Film and Media Studies from George Mason University. She has taught preschool and school-age children, and was formerly a Preschool Assistant Director. Diana enjoys working with children, traveling, reading, and loves film and popular culture.
Ned Mitchell – Facilities Manager
Ned received his B.A. in Queer Studies from George Washington University in 2008, with a minor in Technical Theater. He managed a local theatrical rigging and drapery company for two years before he was hired at MSNV. He is responsible for ensuring that MSNV has a safe, effective, and beautiful learning environment for the students and staff. He has a particular interest in energy efficiency and sustainable design and practices. He attended MSNV from pre-primary through third grade.
Hillbrook Education Faculty
Tina Savage – Pre Primary Teacher
Tina graduated from George Washington University with a degree in Liberal Arts and Speech Communication. Having attended a Montessori school from age 2-12, Tina worked in many different capacities in Montessori schools since her teen years. She completed her Primary Montessori training at The Washington Montessori Institute in Washington, D.C. and has been teaching at MSNV since 1998. She has four children, all of whom attended Montessori, including one daughter who is the Upper Elementary teacher at MSNV.
Gina Moeller – Pre Primary Assistant
Gina has a Bachelor of Science degree from Penn State University. Gina has volunteered in numerous capacities since 1992, and worked as the Pre Primary assistant at MSNV before her third child was born. She and her family have fond memories of MSNV and she is happy to be back, sharing her love of arts and crafts with children. All three of Gina’s children attended MSNV.
Jared Oerke – Primary Teacher
Jared studied Special Education at the University of Virginia and completed his Master’s degree in Early Childhood Education at Loyola College, Maryland. He received his Montessori training at The Washington Montessori Institute at Loyola University. Before joining the staff at MSNV in 1998, Jared taught on the Pre Primary level at Family Montessori, in a Head Start School in Charlottesville, and in a high school in Kenya. Jared has also worked as a program assistant for the Discovery Museum in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Atim Obidegwu – Primary Teacher
Atim earned a Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology and Sociology from York University in Toronto and a Master’s degree in Anthropology from University of Toronto. Atim worked in the human resources field and health insurance industry prior to becoming a teacher. She then received her Montessori certificate from the Washington Montessori Institute at Loyola University in Baltimore and served as a Primary teacher for 12 years prior to joining MSNV. She has four children, all who attended Montessori and are college graduates, two of whom now have post graduate degrees.
Laura Portch – Primary Teacher
Originally an art major, Laura has worked with children since 1986. She has been employed with MSNV since 1990, first as an assistant and teacher in the All Day Montessori Program, and then as a Primary teacher. She obtained her Montessori training at the Institute for Advanced Montessori Studies at the Barrie School in Wheaton, Maryland in 2000. She is a flautist and a Suzuki trained flute teacher and loves history and Irish culture. Laura has two children, both of whom are MSNV alum.
Heidi Bishop – Primary Teacher
Heidi received her BA in Elementary Education with a minor in Preschool Education from the University of Northern Colorado. She worked as a Montessori assistant for 6 years before obtaining her Montessori training from the National Center for Montessori Education in Bellevue, Washington. Since then, she taught in various capacities, including three years in Germany and two years in Japan prior to coming to MSNV in 2006. Heidi has three children.
Jean Carr – Primary Level Coordinator, Primary Teacher
Jean earned a Bachelor’s degree from Whitman College in Washington and a Master of Education in Special Education from the University of Oregon. She taught special education in public school before she received her Primary Montessori training through Southwestern Texas Montessori Training Institute. She Jean developed and taught a state-accredited Montessori kindergarten program, developed and taught enrichment programs for students in kindergarten through grade 3 and has taught at the Center for Talented Youth at Johns Hopkins before coming to work at MSNV in 1993. Jean has six children and six grandchildren.
Rachel Romano – Primary Teacher
Rachel completed her Montessori training at the Institute for Advanced Montessori Studies at the Barrie School in Wheaton, Maryland. She has worked at MSNV since 1993 in many different capacities, including that of Extended Day teacher and summer camp Instructor. Rachel loves children and art and has one daughter who attended MSNV.
Sara Grossman – Lower Elementary Teacher
Sara received her Bachelor of Science degree at the University of Maryland, College Park in Physical Education, Recreation, and Health and her Masters of Education from the American University. She completed her Montessori Pre Primary credentials from the National Center for Montessori Education and her Elementary 1 & 2 level certification from the Institute for Advanced Montessori Studies. Sara joined MSNV’s growing elementary program in 2012, while maintaining her job as a teacher trainer and consultant for IAMS. Both of Sara’s children, now grown, attended Montessori schools.
Kimberly Jackson – Elementary Teacher
Kimberly completed her Bachelor of Arts degree in English at George Mason University and her Primary Montessori certification at The Advanced Institute for Montessori Studies. She began her career as a Montessorian in 1988 when she was hired by MSNV to work as a Primary assistant. Having initially taught in the San Francisco Bay area, followed by two years in Herndon, VA., Kimberly also ran her own small Montessori school in Harpers Ferry, WV. In 2008, she completed her 6-9 training from NAMC and returned to MSNV in 2011, because she says, “It is truly one of the best Montessori communities that I have experienced from the East to the West coast!” Kimberly has two children, one who has graduated from MSNV and another who still attends.
Amanda Glithero – Elementary Teacher
Amanda has a Bachelor’s degree in Montessori Education from Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio and is certified in both upper and lower elementary education. She came to MSNV in 2008 after interning at two different schools near Cincinnati in their lower elementary programs.
Catharina Jacknow – Elementary Teacher
Catharina graduated magna cum laude from George Mason University with a BA in English and Studio Art and received her 6-12 Elementary Montessori training at the Institute for Advanced Montessori Studies in Maryland. Her first experience in Montessori education began as a child, when she attended Montessori schools from the age of 18 months to 7 years. Before joining MSNV, she worked for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as a writer, editor, and website designer. Catharina came to MSNV’s elementary program in 2003, first as an assistant and then as a classroom teacher. Both of Catharina’s children graduated from MSNV.
Elizabeth Kyvig – Elementary Teacher
Elizabeth received her Montessori training and Master’s degree in education at the Center for Contemporary Montessori Programs at St. Catherine’s University in St. Paul, MN. She came to MSNV in 2011 after teaching for six years in Lower Elementary at a Montessori charter school in Minnesota. Elizabeth is certified in Primary, Lower and Upper Elementary Montessori education.
Jackie Savage – Elementary Level Coordinator, Upper Elementary Teacher
Jackie attended Randolph Macon Woman’s College, earning her BA in History in 2006. After spending a year as the Lower Elementary assistant at MSNV, she decided to pursue her elementary Montessori training. She attended the Washington Montessori Institute at Loyola University in Columbia, Maryland and earned her AMI diploma in Elementary Education and a Master’s degree in Education in 2008. Jackie opened MSNV’s Upper Elementary program in 2008.
Joanna Gibson – Elementary Assistant
Joanna earned her BA in Psychology from St. Mary’s College of Maryland, with minors in Biology and Environmental Studies and received her MAT in Elementary Education from Trinity Washington University in Washington, DC. Joanna joined MSNV in 2012 after serving as the lead teacher at a mixed-age homeschooling cooperative in central Virginia. She is thrilled to be learning more about Montessori through hands-on experience.
Aaron Pierce – Elementary Assistant
Aaron earned a BA in Philosophy with a minor in Music from Washington College, in Chestertown, MD. He first came to MSNV as a parent in the spring of 2006, and by 2008 had begun work at the school, initially with the Extended Day program and now as an assistant teacher in the MSNV Elementary program. Aaron is pursuing his Montessori certification through the Center for Guided Montessori Studies. He is the father of two girls, both of whom attend(ed/s) MSNV, and plays a pretty good bass.
Thea Bartha – Learning Specialist
Thea has her undergraduate degree in Early Childhood and Special Education, and her master’s degree in Reading Education from Boston University. She is a trained elementary Montessori teacher and has taught for many years. Thea has two children, one of whom currently attends MSNV.
Valleybrook Educational Faculty
Claudia Wright – Pre Primary Teacher
Claudia completed her Associates degree in Teacher Education as well as her Montessori training for infant/toddler certification. She is currently working towards her Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education at Liberty University. Claudia has worked with MSNV since 2002 in numerous capacities, including work in the Extended Day care and summer camp programs, before starting her teaching on the Pre Primary level. Claudia is fluent in both Spanish and English.
Gloria Park – Pre Primary Assistant
Gloria earned her undergraduate degree in psychology from Virginia Commonwealth University. She worked for the Boys and Girls Clubs in Richmond, interned at the Children’s Museum of Richmond, and was a teaching assistant at Chimborazo Elementary School before coming to MSNV in 2012. Having started with us as a substitute teacher, Gloria now teaches in the Pre Primary and Extended Day programs.
Rachyl Chaney – Primary Assistant
Rachyl graduated in 2009 from Appalachian State University with degrees in Psychology and Spanish and is currently pursuing her M.A. in psychology at George Mason University. Rachyl has also spent time in Ecuador and China teaching English to young children. She started working at MSNV in 2011, initially in the Pre Primary class before moving into Primary.
Janine Labak – Primary Level Coordinator, Primary Teacher
Janine earned her undergraduate degree and her Masters in Social Work in California. She completed her Montessori Certificate at the New England Montessori Education Center in Boston. Before moving to Virginia, she taught at two different Montessori schools in Connecticut and then began working at MSNV in 1998 – first as Admissions Director, substitute teacher and summer camp teacher before returning to teaching in the Primary classroom. She has two children, both who attended Montessori through grade school.
Ingrid Fol – Primary Teacher
Ingrid obtained a Topography degree in her home country of Belgium and worked in that field for a number of years before moving to Argentina where she lived with her husband. After relocating to the U.S., Ingrid joined the MSNV faculty in 2006 as the school’s Spanish teacher before going on to earn her Primary Montessori Certificate from the Northern Virginia Montessori Institute. She enjoys speaking different languages, and is fluent in Dutch, Spanish, English and French. Ingrid loves spending time outdoors with her husband and three children, all of whom are MSNV alumni.
Camilla Roberts – Primary Assistant
Camilla earned her Associate’s Degree from Northern Virginia Community College and attended Marymount, majoring in psychology. She has taken the Montessori Fundamentals Course and began her Montessori Primary teacher training this year. Prior to working at MSNV, Camilla was a sports coach for children and a lead teacher in a preschool. Camilla started working at MSNV as an extended day program leader in 2010. She has also taught as a substitute in the Pre Primary and Primary classrooms, an assistant in MSNV’s camp program, and the PE teacher for Elementary students at the Hillbrook campus.
Deepti Jain – Primary Teacher
Deepti has a Bachelor’s Degree in Graphics and Marketing from George Mason University, as well as a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology from Bombay University. She began working at MSNV in 2010, having completed her Primary Montessori training certification from the Northern Virginia Montessori Institute. She enjoys cooking, traveling, and arts and crafts, and is fluent in Hindi. She is married with two children, including a daughter who attended MSNV.
Tracy Rigo – Primary Teacher
Starting as a Marine Biology major, Tracy completed her Montessori training course at the Northeast Montessori Institute in Ashburn and is in the process of earning her degree in early childhood education. Tracy has a background in management and customer service before beginning her work with MSNV in the Extended Day program in the fall of 2005 and now is a teacher in the Primary class. Tracy has two children, both of whom attended MSNV.
MSNV Enrichment Facility
Kofi Dennis – Primary Drama Teacher
Kofi is an early childhood education specialist who studied creative dramatics at the School of Performing Arts at the University of Ghana, and brings interactive storytelling, drama and creative movement to MSNV. As a master artist with the Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning through the Arts, Kofi trains new Institute teaching artists and offers workshops and professional development to child-care providers and pre-school teachers around the country. Kofi has been part of the duo, Anansegromma of Ghana, which has shared West African culture in area venues since 1995. Kofi has three daughters, all of whom attended MSNV.
Iyona Blake – Music Teacher
Iyona received a vocal performance diploma from Duke Ellington School of the Arts and a Bachelor of Music in Performance Degree from the Shenandoah Conservatory of Shenandoah University. Additionally, Iyona was trained in Orff Schulwerk at George Mason University and continues to incorporate the Orff teaching method to her music teaching style. Iyona has taught vocal and general music in the Arlington and Fairfax County School Systems to students from preschool to the high school grade levels, including children with special needs and disabilities. She is a trained professional singer and actress, voice instructor in the Musical Theatre department at Howard University and private vocal coach. Iyona is the wife of Billy O. Blake. Together, they are the proud parents of two children.
Indira Bustillos – Primary and Elementary Spanish Teacher
Indira started working at MSNV in 2012 in the after school Spanish classes and now teaches Spanish for all of MSNV’s Primary and Elementary children. She has a BA in Spanish and Latin American Studies, and has taught in the Fairfax and Arlington County FLEX programs. Senora Indira will be assisted by Beca Sandoval during elementary enrichments. Her son Guido currently attends MSNV.
Suzy Scollon – Art Teacher
Suzy earned her Master’s degree in Studio Art from Virginia Commonwealth University and her Bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University where she studied Art Education and Piano Performance. She was also awarded a Certificate of Sculpture from the Corcoran College of Art and Design. Suzy has taught art in elementary, middle and junior high schools in D.C., Alexandria, and Arlington Public Schools. She also taught children’s art classes at the Corcoran. While living in Japan, she studied Ikebana (Japanese flower arranging), which she continues to study and teach. Suzy creates relief tile installations and figurative sculpture. Suzy’s three boys attend MSNV.
Peter Leresche – Technical Theatre Teacher
Peter earned his Bachelor’s degree in Religion from Shenandoah University, with a minor in Technical Theatre. He has worked at MSNV since 2011, initially in the Extended Day program and PE classes. With years of experience working as a technician in area theatres and churches and having won several awards for his theatrical designs, Peter co-taught MSNV’s summer theatre camps for the last 8 years. Outside MSNV, Peter works as lead technician for the Keith Elgin Band, is the Worship Technology Manager at the Vine Church, and is the Technical Director for the TV show Arriba Juventud and its producing company Danny Entertainment.
Claudia Rohaly – PE Teacher
Claudia has a BA in Child Psychology from Wesleyan College. She retired from the US Navy after 20 years and, before coming to MSNV, taught, coached, and directed camps for tennis lovers for 30 years. Claudia has educated students of all ages and loves working with children.
Other MSNV staff includes Extended Day teachers and assistants and a bus driver.