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 12. 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.
Elizabeth Hickey – Valleybrook Campus Director and Associate Head of School
New this year to MSNV, Beth holds a Master’s Degree in Public Policy from the University of Maryland College Park and a Bachelor’s Degree in Business and Economics from Boston College. Beth’s daughter pursued Montessori education through eighth grade and is now in college. Prior to MSNV, she served as a teacher and Primary Level Coordinator at Oak Meadow Montessori School in Massachusetts. Beth, who earned her AMS Early Childhood credential from the Institute for Advanced Montessori Studies, also taught at the Primary level in several Maryland Montessori schools. Her professional background includes experience in the commercial and investment banking industry as well as focus on environmental issues as a founder and coordinator of the Environmental Finance Center at the University of Maryland.
Margaret Masters, Director of Accounting and Human Resources
Margaret earned her undergraduate degree in Economics from the University of Virginia and her Senior Professional in Human Resource Certification from HRCI. Margaret supervises the billing, financials, budgeting, payroll, health and safety, technology, and human resources issues at MSNV. She has three children, all of whom attended Montessori schools.
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.
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 joined MSNV in 2010 as the office manager. She supports the staff, families and students and works in a variety of ways to ensure MSNV operates smoothly and efficiently. She 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.
Beth Bell-Leresche – Admissions Director
Beth earned her degree in International Relations from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and is mid-way through 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.
Christina Perucci – Assistant Admissions Director
Christina received her undergraduate degree in Sociology and Peace & Justice Studies from Tufts University and her master’s degree in Applied Educational Psychology from Teachers College, Columbia University. She has worked as a Reading Specialist in schools and community centers in the Bronx and East Harlem and has also managed an after school reading program serving public schools across New York City. Originally from Northern Virginia, Christina has lived in Boston, San Francisco, New York and Germany. She has two children at MSNV, a son enrolled in the lower elementary program and a daughter enrolled in the primary program. She enjoys running, yoga, cooking, traveling and reading.
Ariadne Allan Autor – Director of Development and Alumni Relations
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 manages development and alumni relations for MSNV. 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.
Catarina Cronquist – Director of Marketing and Communications
Catarina received her B.A. in International Affairs, with concentrations in International Economics and Development Anthropology, from The Elliot School of International Affairs at The George Washington University and her master’s degree in Gender and Development from the Institute for Development Studies, University of Sussex, UK. She has worked with the Embassy of Sweden, the Crafts Center, Bread for the World, and, most recently served as lead contact for coordination and communications with the Program for Biosafety Systems at the International Food Policy Research Institute. She has lived on the west and east coasts of the US, as well as in Sweden, Jamaica and the UK, and has traveled and worked throughout East Africa and Southeast Asia. Catarina attended Montessori at the primary level and the eldest of her two children is currently a second year primary student at Valleybrook.
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.
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.
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.
Kim Thomason – Elementary Teacher
Kim received her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Virginia in Sociology. She completed her Montessori 6-9 credential from the Institute for Advanced Montessori Studies. Kim joined MSNV in 2014 after teaching for seven years at a Montessori school in South Carolina. She also previously taught for two years at a Montessori school in Fredericksburg, Virginia. In addition to her role as an elementary teacher, Kim works as support staff at the Institute for Advanced Montessori Studies.
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.
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.
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.
Tim Schwartz - Elementary Teacher
Tim, who joins MSNV this year, has been a lower and upper-elementary teacher in the Washington, DC area for the last 11 years. He received his Bachelor of Arts with High Honors in Creative Writing with a focus on Poetry and minors in Literature, Philosophy, and Religious Studies from Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida in 2000. He holds lower and upper elementary credentials from the Institute for Advanced Montessori Studies. Tim has presented a number of workshops at national Montessori Conferences on a range of topics: including poetry, woodworking, ecology, peacemaking, and jazz. A published poet, he is also an avid maker, tinkerer, crafter, carpenter, and scientist. Tim’s greatest joys come from his daughter, Beatrice, who happily attends MSNV with him each day.
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.
Catharina Jacknow – Upper 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 seven 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.
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, both of whom attend MSNV.
Heidi Bishop – Resource 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 six 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 as a Primary Teacher. Heidi has three children.
Claudia Wright – Pre Primary Teacher
Claudia completed her Associates degree in Teacher Education as well as her Montessori training for infant/toddler certification from Montessori Institute for Teacher Education in 2011. 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. When she is not teaching, Claudia and her husband spend their time outdoors- participating local running/obstacle races, sports and traveling.
Jessica Mejia – Pre Primary Assistant
Currently earning her associate degree in Early Childhood Development at Northern Virginia, Jessica aspires to transfer to George Mason and start her Montessori training. Entering her second year at MSNV, Jessica worked in the summer camp, extended day and PE program before becoming a Pre Primary Assistant. She is fluent in both Spanish and English.
Laura Portch – Pre 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 alumni.
Kimberly Jackson –Pre Primary 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 who attended MSNV.
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.
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.
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 who 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.
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.
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.
MSNV ENRICHMENT FACULTY
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.
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 is assisted by Beca Sandoval during elementary enrichments. Her daughter Antonella currently attends MSNV.
Rebeca Sandoval – Primary and Elementary Spanish Teacher and Extended Day Coordinator
Beca has worked at MSNV since 2007 in numerous capacities. She is currently working on her Bachelor’s degree in Business Management. Beca loves all things creative and sharing that love with the children at 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.
Claire DeFelice – Music Teacher
Claire earned a dual Bachelor’s degree in Music Education and Performance from The Crane School of Music, and a Master’s degree in Music Education from Ithaca College. She has taught elementary through high school instrumental (band) and vocal music, and performed in jazz ensemble, concert band and an Afro-Cuban drum circle. Her teaching is influenced by her passion of making music a social and cultural experience for children, where students can express themselves artistically and emotionally. Claire strives to create a musical space where students connect their authentic experiences to the world in which they live.
Peter Leresche – PE Teacher and 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, and is the Technical Director for Danny Entertainment.
Claudia Rohaly – PE Teacher
Claudia has a BA in Child Psychology from Wesleyan College. She retired from the US Navy in 1997 after serving her country for 20 years, including service in Operation Desert Storm. Before coming to MSNV, Claudia taught, coached, and directed camps for tennis lovers for 35 years. She has competed in tennis tournaments around the world and recently ranked 4th in the nation (singles). 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.