“The teacher, when she begins work in our schools, must have a kind of faith that the child will reveal himself through work.”
Amherst Montessori School is an independent non-profit school, governed by a Board of Trustees and administered by a group of Directors. Our Board of Trustees is comprised of parents, grandparents, alumni parents, and community members.
Michele Miller, President, has recently transitioned from her career of 13 years as a real estate developer and property manager to pursue work as a Mindfulness Instructor and Educator. She is certified by the UMass Medical Center's Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) Teacher Training Program. In addition to this work, Michele has a strong interest in concepts that relate to energy, intuition, and spiritual connection and is currently doing some experiential work in these areas. She is very grateful for the opportunity to serve as the President of the Board and focuses much of her energy on compassionate leadership. She credits her children Victoria (Lower Elementary) and Alexander (Casa de Niños), for creating the most purposeful and challenging work of her life.
Sara Smiarowski, Treasurer, is a CPA with over 13 years of experience in finance and accounting roles. She started her career at a public accounting firm in Boston, specializing in start-up, private equity backed clients and small to medium sized manufacturers. Since that experience, she has worked in roles ranging from controller to CFO in closely-held businesses in the Pioneer Valley to large, multi-national corporations. She and her husband Chuck lived and worked in Boston for almost 10 years, before moving to western Massaschusetts in 2010. They love living in this area and being part of a closely knit and conscientious community. They have two young children, one who attends Amherst Montessori.
Kasey Jernigan, Clerk, is a PhD candidate in anthropology. She holds a Master’s in Public Health with a focus on epidemiology, and her research is in the areas of medical anthropology and participatory action research with indigenous communities. As a tribal citizen of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, she is interested in how health and heritage are understood and enacted in everyday life contexts. Kasey brings to the Board a passion for education, social justice, and dedication to the importance of diversity in classrooms and across educational experiences. Her previous work at Harvard Medical School focused on understanding the pathways to biomedical research careers by examining the educational and career trajectories of 3,000 students from underrepresented groups in the sciences. This research contributed to revised recruitment and retention polices at HMS. Kasey and her husband, Amit Sharma, have one son, Jai, in Casa de Niños.
OTHER ELECTED MEMBERS
Patience Bousel currently has a practice in Amherst as a Clinical Somatic Educator, Trager Practitioner, and Licensed Massage Therapist. She has been involved in natural health for over 35 years, a passion that developed gradually alongside her career as a harpsichord technician. A fascination for Montessori began many years ago, when she was teaching French at a bilingual school in Washington D.C., and visited a Montessori classroom of three year olds. She has enjoyed being a witness to her granddaughter Geisel’s past three years at AMS, and is delighted that Geisel will be continuing in her second year of Lower Elementary. Patience has explored many avenues of personal growth, including The Work of Byron Katie, a tool for clear non-judgmental communication. In addition, she has participated in the Art of Mentoring (through Vermont Wilderness School), where she joined the staff in September 2015. She looks forward to deepening her understanding of Montessori education, and AMS in particular, through her service on the Board of Trustees.
Kate Cell is a Senior Campaign Organizer in the Climate & Energy program at the Union of Concerned Scientists, a nonprofit organization that puts rigorous science to work to build a safer planet and a healthier world. Kate conceived, project-managed, and co-authored 2014’s National Landmarks at Risk: How Rising Seas, Floods, and Wildfires are Threatening the United States’ Most Cherished Historic Sites, a publication featured in over 1,000 media stories worldwide. In 2015, she managed a project on the equity dimensions of coastal climate change, working with the NAACP and other organizations in the environmental justice movement to examine disparities between communities in hurricane preparedness, and reform. Kate holds a B.A. from Macalester College and an M.F.A. in Poetry from the University of Iowa Writer's Workshop. She and her husband, Sean Meyer, have one son, Luka, who is in Lower Elementary at Amherst Montessori.
Anna Rima Dael is the executive director of Instititional Advancement & Springfield Technical Community College Foundation. She is passionate about creating sustainable nonprofit organizations and cultivating culturally competent next generation leaders for the sector. Most recently, Ms. Dael was executive director of the Country Dance & Song Society and a founding faculty member of the Nonprofit Management & Philanthropy program at Bay Path College.
Building on a career foundation and training as an actress and stage manager, Ms. Dael transitioned to work in theatre administration and has held positions at Summer Theatre at Mt. Holyoke College, StageWest, Artpark (Lewiston, NY) and Studio Arena Theatre (Buffalo, NY). Her interest in other areas led to her pursuit of a graduate degree in Nonprofit Management from the Milano School of Management & Urban Policy at the New School University where she was a Milano Finance Fellow in Community Development Finance.
Ms. Dael has worked as a consultant to various organizations in the New York City metro area including Shelter for the Homeless in Stamford, CT; Figure Skating in Harlem; Harlem Congregation for Community Improvement; and Inner Action Plus. Locally in the Pioneer Valley, recent consulting clients include Library for American Landscape History, MotherWoman, and the Springfield Symphony Orchestra.
Ms. Dael also served as a Program Manager with the Human Service Forum in Springfield, MA providing capacity building services and training for human service executives. Ms. Dael also was affiliated with the Berkshire Bank Foundation of the Pioneer Valley managing their grants program distributing $400,000 in grants to area nonprofits.
Ms. Dael is an active volunteer with the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network, MotherWoman and the Fiddler’s Green Contra Dance. Past volunteer commitments include the UMass Fine Arts Center where she served as an advisory board member and co-chair for their Gala fundraiser. She also served on the distribution committee for the Emergency Food & Shelter Program at the United Way of the Pioneer Valley, and was a past chair of the Western MA Funders Forum. In 2007, BusinessWest recognized Ms. Dael in the inaugural cohort of 40 under 40 up and coming community leaders. She was 2012 Diversity Fellow with The Partnership Inc.
Ms. Dael’s bachelor degree is in Anthropology and Theatre Arts from Mt. Holyoke. Originally from the Philippines, Ms. Dael spent her childhood in several Southeast Asian countries, but home is here in the Pioneer Valley. She resides in Amherst, MA with her husband and daughter, Karana, who is in Upper Elementary at Amherst Montessori.
Bill Girard holds a PhD in anthropology from the University of California, Santa Cruz and an MA in religious studies from the University of Chicago. His dissertation considers Honduran religious communities' varied response to that country's 2009 coup d'état. He currently teaches courses on cultural anthropology and religion in Latin America around the Valley. Before beginning graduate school, Bill worked in a number of educational settings, ranging from an inner city high school in Chicago to a bilingual elementary school in Copán Ruinas, Honduras. A graduate of Montessori, Bill is excited to be serving on the AMS Board of Trustees. He and his wife, Blake Doherty, have one son, Simon, in Casa de Niños.
Kerry Ratigan is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Amherst College. She earned her PhD from the University of Wisconsin, Madison in 2013. Her research and teaching focus on local governance and social policy in China. She has been going to China for research, work, and travel for over a decade. In addition to her college-level teaching, she has taught at the middle and high school levels at Teda International School, located in the Binhai District of Tianjin, China. Originally from Massachusetts, she was delighted to move to Amherst in 2013. She and her husband love the sense of community in the area and at Amherst Montessori. They have a son in the Toddler program.