“The child is both a hope and a promise for mankind.”

-Maria Montessori

Board of Trustees

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. 

2018-2019 Board of Trustees


Kate Cell, Chair, 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 Upper Elementary at Amherst Montessori.

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 who both attend Amherst Montessori.

Kerry Ratigan, Clerk, 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 two sons, one who is in the Infant program, and another who is an alumnus of AMS .


Luis Feliz hails from the sun-drenched, cerulean shores of the Caribbean, the birthplace of the modern world by some accounts. He resettled with his family in Western Massachusetts from his transplanted home in Queens, NY seven years after departing from the Pioneer Valley upon graduating from Amherst College where he studied creative writing and the history of the black diaspora in the Caribbean and Latin America. Shortly after completing his undergraduate studies, he moved back to NYC where he interned in a fast and demanding reporting environment as a fact-checker at The Nation magazine, all the while grappling with the hope of a career as a writer. Failing better, he proceeded to work in strategic communications and research for labor unions. Since 2016, Luis has worked at the New England Farm Workers’ Council in Springfield as the Director of Workforce Development. In that capacity, he oversees six grant programs that provide career training and educational services to youth at-risk of transforming their lives. He and his partner Zuinda have a steadfast commitment to Amherst Montessori and what the school’s underlying educational philosophy has to offer all children. Their daughter is in the Children’s House classroom.

Traci Hess (bio forthcoming)

Jennifer Lefort is a clinical psychologist at the Center for Counseling and Psychological Health at the University of Massachusetts, where she coordinates the Psychological Assessment Service and the Postdoctoral Fellowship training program. Jennifer earned her Ph.D. from Fairleigh Dickinson University in Teaneck, New Jersey. Her past professional experiences include working for several years at an inpatient psychiatric hospital; for the last ten years she has also served on the human rights committee for Pathlight, a Springfield-based agency that supports individuals with developmental disabilities. She and her husband, Darren Clapprood, are originally from western Massachusetts, and they were happy to settle in the area to remain close to family while enjoying the culture, cuisine, and community of Amherst. Jennifer and Darren have two young children who attend Amherst Montessori.  

Dr. Shelly A. Perdomo-Ahmed serves as Assistant Vice Chancellor for the Advocacy, Inclusion and Support Cluster for the Division of Student Affairs and Campus Life at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. For 19 years Dr. Perdomo-Ahmed has provided leadership to diversify and enrich the university curriculum and co-curricular programming for students. She has led strategic planning efforts and has effectively translated plans into operational priorities. As an authentic, compassionate leader and educator, Dr. Perdomo-Ahmed has been a catalyst in establishing sustainable collaborative partnerships across the university to support the needs and interests of underrepresented, cultural and identity groups.

Dr. Perdomo-Ahmed’s dissertation “Unpacking Voice and Silence: A Phenomenological Study of Black Women and Latinas in College Classrooms” and her publication entitled “Raw Tongue: How Black Women and Latinas Bring their Multiple identities into the Collegiate Classrooms” in Intersectionality and Higher Education: Theory, Research and Praxis provides a framework to understanding how Women of Color employ voice and silence as powerful strategic tools for empowerment and change.

Dr. Perdomo-Ahmed is a native of Harlem, New York City and one of 5 siblings and a first generation Dominican-American. She received her doctorate and Masters in Educational Policy, Research and Administration from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and her Bachelors in Latin American Studies and Cultural Anthropology from Mount Holyoke College.

Aubrey Whitfield is a PhD candidate in accounting at the University of Massachusetts. His research focuses on judgement and decision making related to the audit review process, audit quality, and audit team interactions. Aubrey is a CPA with over 6 years of experience in auditing public and private clients. He started his career at a large public accounting firm in New York City, and gained experience auditing medium to global insurance companies. Aubrey holds a M.S. in Accountancy from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and a B.S. in Mathematical Decision Sciences from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Prior to earning a master’s degree, Aubrey taught high school level mathematics in Fayetteville, NC. He and his wife, Meredith, are both from North Carolina but find Western Massachusetts feels more like home than their time in New York City ever did. They have two young children who attend Amherst Montessori.