Meet our Educators

Dedicated, Caring and Certified

"The greatest development is achieved during the first years of life, and therefore it is then the greatest care should be taken." - Maria Montessori
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Aja-Nicole Hope

Dragonflies Lead Teacher

Ms. Aja first joined MDS as a substitute and floater teacher in 2012. She fell in love with the Montessori philosophy and the MDS community, and in January of 2015, she became a full-time Co-Lead Teacher. In the spring of 2012, Aja-Nicole graduated from Hunter College with her bachelor’s in English Language Arts. She went on to pursue her Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education, and in the Spring of 2015, she graduated from Hunter College.

 

She obtained her Montessori Teacher Certification in 2016.  Aja-Nicole has worked with children for over fifteen years, including working at summer camps, teaching dance and drumming classes to children of various ages, and running/organizing after-school programs for children from 8-16 years old. Ms. Aja loves the community here at MDS and continues to look forward to sharing her love, excitement, and joy of learning with every student.

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Amanda Amico

Sparrows Lead Teacher

Amanda is excited to be joining the MDS community this year! She has been an early childhood educator since 2012 and has spent decades working with children of all different ages and stages in summer camps, after school programs, and as a nanny. She has a special place in her heart for teaching toddlers and loves seeing how they come into their own in the classroom as the year progresses. Amanda holds a Bachelor's Degree in Early Childhood Education and Children and Youth Studies from Brooklyn College and is pursuing a Masters in Early Childhood Special Education.

 

She is a born and raised New Yorker, but never tires of exploring all the parks, museums, neighborhoods, cuisines, and sites the city has to offer. Amanda loves music, animals (especially her 2 cats, Gus and Seymour), spending time with family and friends, long walks,  reading, and trying out new recipes.

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Angeline Faulk

Dragonflies Assistant Teacher

Ms. Angeline, a Brooklyn native, Angeline has worked at MDS as an assistant teacher since 1994. She has a special fondness for facilitating “messy art” projects with her students. Ms. Angeline has one son and loves to ride her bike, skate, go to movies, bowl, and plant flowers.

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Cheryl Denner

Bumblebees Assistant Teacher

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Dedree George

Sparrows Assistant Teacher

Ms. Dedree has been with Montessori Day School since 1998. She enjoys teaching through the Montessori method. She loves seeing the children happy and working hard. Ms. Degree is currently completing her Child Development Associates Certification. She is very interested in trauma-informed care for children. Ms. Deedree has a great interest in music & loves to travel.

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Dianna Cruz

Hummingbirds Assistant Teacher

Ms. Cheryl has taught at MDS since 1988. She was born in Trinidad, where she studied business administration at St. Mary’s College. Cheryl has worked with every age group at MDS and is a certified Montessori teacher. In 1992 she became the lead teacher of our first infant/toddler class, The Puffins, and held that position for the next 14 years. In 2002 Cheryl was awarded ”Woman of Distinction” honors by the Y.W.C.A. for her dedication and contribution to the community. “Each day is a joyful experience for me as I prepare a peaceful learning environment in the classroom, and I am always looking forward to working with each child’s unique approach to learning as they follow their independent ideas.” Cheryl lives in Brooklyn with her daughter, and enjoys traveling, costume design, music, and story-telling combined with music and art.

Ms. Dianna is a born and raised New Yorker. She has been working with MDS since January 2021. Ms. Dianna is passionate about working with children and has been doing so since 2014. She has received professional dance training in ballet, tap, hip-hop, modern, and praise dancing, using her knowledge to teach children of all ages in various after-school programs, dance studios, and organizations. Currently, she is pursuing her Masters degree in Dance Education with K-12 NYS teaching certification from Hunter College.

 

“My favorite thing about teaching at MDS is witnessing my students make their own creative choices and learning new skills from those choices that they can carry with them in the future!” Outside of MDS, Ms. Dianna enjoys choreographing, painting, baking brownies, and playing animal crossing on her nintendo switch. 

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Entisar Ali

Hummingbirds Assistant Teacher

Ms. Entisar, originally from Yemen, began teaching at MDS as an intern in 2017 before becoming an assistant teacher in 2018. She has an Associate’s Degree in Early Childhood Education. “I love watching children grow to become independent and critical thinkers, and I appreciate the Montessori method for emphasizing that every child has unique needs where they learn at their own pace.” She has two wonderful children of her own, and she enjoys swimming, gardening, and traveling in her spare time.

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Evelyn Faison

Doves Lead Teacher

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Frances Serrano

Penguins Assistant Teacher

Ms. Frances has taught at the Montessori Day School since 2000. She holds an Associate’s Degree in Early Childhood Education from Kingsborough Community College and certification from the Montessori Institute of America for ages 0-7. Born and raised in Brooklyn, Frances is a descendant of Puerto Rico, where both her parents were born, and she speaks fluent Spanish. What she loves most about the Montessori approach is that it allows children to explore and discover while learning at a natural pace. Her favorite part of teaching is planning meaningful lessons, especially fun art projects that create a hands-on learning experience.

Ms. Evelyn is a native of Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. She has served the MDS community for over 38 years. She is our veteran teacher who began her partnership with our school as an intern in 1985. She studied Early Childhood Education at Malcolm - King College in Harlem while completing her Montessori certification. "I enjoy creating learning atmospheres that foster a child's love for learning and humanity." Ms. Evelyn loves to garden and spend time with her family and D.J. in her spare time. She holds a Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do and enjoys reading. She has three children, ages 31, 22, and 14. They are all MDS Alumni. She lives in St. Albans, Queens, with her partner and the youngest of their three children. 

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Huw Gower

Visiting Music Teacher

An accomplished recording and touring guitarist in the UK and the US since the 1970's, Mr. Huw began his second career in 1990 when he was hired as a music teacher by PS 3 in the Greenwich Village. By 1992, he had received his accreditation as a certified Orff Music specialist; an immediate affiliation with Turtle Bay Music School as their primary Outreach Program provider gave him a unique opportunity to deliver music to an ever-expanding spectrum of schools throughout the greater NY area for the next 15 years. Recommended by TBMS, in April 1993 he was invited to become one of the MDS specialists.

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Jeannine Cook-Fischer

Dragonflies Assistant Teacher

Ms. Jeannine received her Associate's Degree in Business, but soon followed her passion for working with children. She went on to work in private and co-op preschool settings as an Assistant Teacher for four years, and obtained a Level 3 NYS Assistant Teacher certification. She began her career at MDS in the Sparrows classroom as a summer intern. She was then hired as an Assistant Teacher in the Sparrows room for the 2013/2014 school year. In spring of 2016 she completed the West Side Montessori School Infant/Toddler training program. Presently she is enrolled in Grand Canyon University for her Bachelors in Education. Ms. Jeannine loves to read and write and is a proud mother of two.

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Jessica Cantor

Seagulls Lead Teacher

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Joy Simms

Seagulls Assistant Teacher

Ms. Joy, originally from Jamaica, has been teaching at MDS since 2001. “Knowing I’m making a positive difference in a child’s life makes teaching wonderful work,” she says. Joy earned her certification in Montessori teaching and an Associate’s degree in child development, with additional credits toward a B.A. in early childhood education. Outside of school Joy enjoys crocheting, reading, and spending time with family.

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Kenya Robertson

Sparrows Assistant Teacher

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Kris Jermyn

Doves Lead Teacher

Ms. Kris has taught at MDS since the summer of 2015. She joined as a student intern before being offered a teaching position in the Summer Program, Extended Day, and as a Community Helper. Ms. Kris graduated Summa Cum Laude from Brooklyn College, earning double Bachelor's Degrees in Early Childhood Education and Children/Youth Advocacy. She has taught at the Goddard-Riverside Head Start program, was a tutor at Reading Partners, and was a Staff Coordinator at TheraCare, an Early Intervention Center. Ms. Kris became a Doves Co-Lead Teacher in 2019. Her classroom motto: Teamwork makes the Dream work! Born and raised in Morningside Heights, she lives with her husband of 22 years and their pup, enjoying tacos, cosplay, and ping pong.

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Kristina Georgopoulos

Sparrows Assistant Teacher

Ms. Kristina was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. She lived in Texas for seven years, where she learned about Montessori school and fell in love with the teaching. She has been working with children since 1999. She is excited to be a part of the Montessori Day school of Brooklyn, and looks forward to continuing her work with your children. Kristina enjoys diamond painting in her spare time and spending time with her two dogs, one cat, and her family.

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Marion Mitchell

Seagulls Assistant Teacher

Ms. Marion came to MDS by way of Trinidad where she helped run a daycare and studied telecommunications. She has been with MDS since 2004. “I love seeing the kids overcome a difficult task and achieve goals. It’s a joy to teach here.“ Marion loves dancing (especially to reggae music), spending time with her two kids and doing hair.

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Melanie Munoz

Hummingbirds Lead Teacher

Ms. Melanie, a born and raised New Yorker, graduated from BMCC with an associate’s in Early Childhood. During her undergrad career, she interned at two Montessori schools, including MDS. Melanie graduated from City College with a bachelor’s in Interdisciplinary Studies, majoring in History. And in 2021, she received her Masters’ degree in American History. She has worked with children for nearly ten years in various settings, including camp counselor, nanny, babysitter, intern, and toddler teacher. The opportunity to work at MDS feels like a full-circle moment, having learned so much from her internship here. Melanie enjoys reading, studying history, cooking, and traveling with her son and husband when not teaching.

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Melissa Sakow

Bumblebees Assistant Teacher

Ms. Melissa joined MDS in 2021 as an Assistant Teacher in the Bumblebees. She completed her Montessori teacher certification in the spring of 2022. She has always loved supporting children's natural curiosity and worked as a nanny, high-school English teacher, writing coach, and elementary reading specialist. However, her favorite age group has always been preschool. She has her M.A. in Media, Culture, and Communication and took a detour into nonprofit communications and leadership for several years before returning to education. Melissa loves to hike and bike, play the flute, and try new restaurants in her free time.

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Nina Garland

Floater/Assistant Teacher, 

Movement Instructor

Brooklyn native Ms. Nina has been with MDS since 1989. After studying Montessori philosophy, she instituted the school’s movement program, now an integral part of MDS culminating in an annual performance. She’s studied ballet, tap and jazz and worked as a choreographer and performer for over 40 years, working with a host of theater, dance, and music luminaries including Max Roach, Ben Vereen, Katherine Dunham, Ozzie Davis and many others. Her favorite part of teaching, she tells us, “is watching the children grow and discover the world around them. It’s a source of joy and wonder that just never dies.” When not teaching she likes sewing, embroidery, and going to the beach.

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Pamela Riera

Bumblebees Lead Teacher

Ms. Pam has enjoyed teaching and leading children from the young age of 14. Over the last six years, she has taught in a Montessori setting and has been passionate about working with children in all areas of their development. She has a strong background in Bilingual Spanish Immersion classrooms. Ms. Pam received her Bachelor’s in Psychology from John Jay College and is currently pursuing a Masters in Early Childhood Education with a concentration in Bilingual Education from Brooklyn College. As a first-generation immigrant, she knows the struggles that can come with cultural differences and emphasizes diversity and respect within the classroom. Ms. Pam enjoys utilizing her creativity and art skills to find new approaches to teaching and ensure that each child has a memorable interactive learning experience. Through her creativity and art skills, she focuses on guiding and empowering each child as they grow in their independence. 

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Poppy O'Neill

Seagulls Lead Teacher

Ms. Poppy joined the MDS staff in August 2015. She grew up in the great state of Maine and moved to Brooklyn upon graduating from Vassar College. Previously, Poppy taught English Language Arts in a middle school in Brooklyn after getting her masters from Brooklyn College. She is now working on her Master's in Early Childhood Education from Brooklyn College. When not teaching, Poppy loves to read, knit, craft, bake cookies, and go on adventures with her family. Poppy’s two sons are former MDS students; one a former Seagull and one a former Dragonfly.

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Samantha Knightly

Atelierista

Ms. Samantha is a Brooklyn-based artist and educator who believes in the importance of process-based art education. She holds a BFA in Drawing & Painting from SUNY Purchase and is pursuing her Master’s in Art Education at the City College of New York. Samantha has taught art classes at various art institutions, nonprofits, and museums across New York City.

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Samantha Perez

Doves Assistant Teacher

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Sarah Hdija

Dragonflies Lead Teacher

Ms. Sarah came to MDS in Fall 2012 with several years of previous experience working with children and families. Sara holds a masters of education in bilingual school counseling from Hunter College.

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Sasini Thakolchaisri

Penguins Lead Teacher

Ms. Sasini has worked as an educator since 2000, mainly as a Special Needs teacher. She taught as a classroom teacher and then as a S.E.I.T (Special Education Itinerant Teacher). In the 2014-15 school year, Sasini was placed in the Doves classroom at MDS and loved it. When she found out about an available position, Sasini didn’t hesitate to apply, knowing what a great school MDS is. She graduated from Bank Street School of Education with M.S.Ed. in Special Education and from Barnard College with a B.A. in Environmental Science. Sasini enjoys getting to know each of her students, working with their strengths and helping them with their challenges. She is a New Yorker. Her family is from Thailand, but Sasini doesn’t cook Thai food (everyone always ask that, and then is disappointed when she says “no”). She enjoys Sudoku, Scrabble, mixed media collage, and sculpture (stone and wood).

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Yvette Gil

Penguins Lead Teacher

Ms. Yvette has been with MDS since 2016 and in the Penguins classroom since 2019. She studied at Hunter College. According to Yvette, “Toddlers are a wonderful plane of development to guide through, as we witness the expansion of their language development, joyous and inquisitive spirit, and assisting them in mastering the art of toileting.” In her time, Yvette loves being with her pups Louie and Peanut, museum-going, eating pasta, and watching sitcoms.