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“The teacher, when she begins work in our schools, must have a kind of faith that the child will reveal himself through work.”

-Maria Montessori

Head of School 

B.A. Environmental Studies, Brown University

Susanna joined Amherst Montessori in August 2015 as Director of Communications, before stepping in to serve as the Interim Head of School in June 2017. In January 2019 after a formal search process, the Head of School Search Committee and Board of Trustees voted to appoint Susanna as permanent Head of School.

Susanna's background in communications informs her collaborative leadership style and focus on building respectful, strong relationships with teachers and families. Prior to joining Amherst Montessori, Susanna was Director of Communications at Stoneleigh-Burnham School, where she led and coordinated a full rebrand of the school's marketing and communications. Previously she held positions at Colby College working in civic engagement and human rights, for the public affairs documentary series FRONTLINE, and for Orion Magazine. Susanna is passionate about leadership, listening and communicating effectively, and approaching her work and relationships with positivity and openness. She is thrilled to serve as Head of School at AMS.

In addition to her duties as Head of School, Susanna is responsible for admissions, enrollment, marketing, and communications. She loves being a part of AMS (both as an administrator and parent) and is eager to share the Montessori philosophy and engaged, vibrant community of AMS with other families as they search for early education for their children.

Susanna and her husband Jon have two daughters who attend AMS: Aida, who is in Elementary, and Carolina, who is in the Sassafras classroom. Daffodil, the Bernese Mountain Dog, can be found lounging in Susanna's office from time to time. Susanna enjoys hiking, fly fishing, and traveling domestically and internationally with her family. 

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GretchenCourage250x333Assistant Head of School for Education

M.A., Early Childhood Education, Goddard College 
B.A, Religion and Fine Arts, Boston University

Montessori Administrator, American Montessori Society
Early Childhood Credential, American Montessori Society

Gretchen's impressive and varied career as Montessori teacher, administrator, and consultant spans decades. "I relish combining my dedication to the Montessori curriculum, my experience with children and parents, and my coaching and mentoring of teachers to serve in a thriving school community. My style is collaborative, communicative, and supportive and I am genuinely excited to be part of a school culture with these values."
 
Her work as a mentor and coach has sparked her interest in adult development and confirmed her respect for the lifelong process of learning that characterizes Montessorians. She enjoys the sense of inquiry that naturally leads guides to observe and reflect and to ask questions, such as How did that work? Was my lesson clear? Were my words kind? What else is needed? 

She values the attention we pay to our own continued growth and how that translates so profoundly into the work we do in the classroom and our relationships with school families and colleagues.

Gretchen has had many years of experience in Montessori schools in NYC and MA. She has worked as a classroom teacher and administrator in both independent and public Montessori schools and brings a wealth of experience from these inter-connected worlds. Gretchen has served as a Children’s House and Lower Elementary Guide, Mentor, School Founder, Head of School, Teacher Trainer, and Consultant.

Gretchen earned her BA in Religion and Fine Arts at Boston University and her MA in Early Childhood Education through Goddard College, mentored by Montessori author Rosa Packard. She holds American Montessori Society credentials in Early Childhood and Montessori Administration and has completed her Elementary I coursework. She holds a MA teaching license in Early Childhood and grades K - 8. Gretchen is currently a student in the Yoga Teacher Training course at the Yoga Center Amherst.

She enjoys drumming, yoga and meditation, gardening, dancing, camping, hiking, kayaking and all things Indian, and she especially enjoys spending time with her spouse, Karen, and her grown children, Emilie and Stephen, both Montessori alums.

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Assistant Head of School for Finance & Operations

M.S., Accounting, Western New England University
B.A., Western New England University

Kelly joined Amherst Montessori in May 2015. She has a background in office administration and bookkeeping, and earned her Master’s degree in Accounting with a concentration in Fraud and Forensics.

Kelly served in the Air Force, and has been actively involved in the PTO at her children’s elementary school. She lives in Belchertown with her husband and their two children.

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Administrative Assistant

Certificate in Educational Leadership for International Schools, State University of New York, Buffalo

M.S., Multidisciplinary Studies,  State University of New York, Buffalo

B.A. Elementary Education, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Nancy has taught for over 20 years and has been actively involved in education for the past 30. She has taught at public and private schools as well as internationally. She taught grades K, 1, 2 and 4. She was an Early Childhood Director at Mont’ Kiara International School and an adult English Language Learner teacher in the following countries, the Dominican Republic, Hong Kong, Cambodia and, Malaysia.  

Nancy grew up in Amherst and attended Fort River Elementary School. She is a graduate of Amherst High School. Nancy earned her elementary teaching degree at UMass Amherst and a Master of Science degree in Interdisciplinary Studies as well as an advanced certificate in International School Administration from the State University of New York, Buffalo.

In the 1980’s Nancy worked closely with newly arriving Cambodian refugees resettling in Amherst and she supported families during their assimilation to their new home country. Nancy learned the importance of lending her helping hands to people and places in need at a very young age and she carried this meaningful practice into her own family home and her teaching practice. During her teaching years, service-learning projects were a mandated part of her teaching curriculum. In the 1990’s Nancy volunteered for International Social Services in Hong Kong where she taught beginning English conversation to Vietnamese refugees before they resettled in their new host country.

In 2007, Nancy and her family relocated from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia where they lived for 14 years, to Hadley, MA to start a new family adventure. Upon her return, Nancy taught in the Amherst Public Schools, at the Lander Grinspoon Academy in Northampton. She also worked at Mount Holyoke College for several years as a Program Supervisor where she mentored beginning teachers in public schools across the Pioneer Valley.

Nancy has an extensive background in service-learning, multicultural and peace, and conflict resolution education. Over the years Nancy has facilitated professional development workshops for K-12 teachers through the Global Horizons Program at the Center for International Education at the University of Massachusetts. Throughout her teaching career, Nancy and her students planted several International Peace Poles on school grounds and at public parks around the world. Nancy enjoys being an active part of a school community and providing support to students, their families, teachers, and administrators. 

Nancy and her husband Yahman have 2 grown sons. They are proud parents of Zachary and Adam. Zachary attends Bridgewater State University and is an elementary education major. He is also a member of the Massachusetts National Guard, United States Army Reserves. Adam attends Isenberg School of Management at the University of Massachusetts and works part-time as an after-care counselor at the Sunderland Elementary School. 

Along with international travel, spending time with her parents, cycling, charity work and caring for their dog Buddy and their guinea pig Daisy, Nancy finds time to write. She is a published author with the Reserve & National Guard Magazine where she writes about her son’s involvement and experiences in the United States military. She also writes about her global teaching and learning experiences with a number of her pieces featured in international teacher magazines such as The International Educator and The Learning Teacher Network. 

Advancement Assistant

B.A. German with minors in writing and TESOL, University of New Hampshire

Jessica joined the team at Amherst Montessori in July 2019. A lover of languages, literature, and other cultures, she majored in German, living in Berlin for two months in the summer of 2016 to immerse herself in the language. After studying abroad, she relocated to Boston for two years, working her way up to assistant manager of a family-owned natural wellness store in Cambridge.

In 2018, Jessica relocated to New Hampshire to pursue an interest in education, becoming a substitute teacher in her hometown. After moving to Turners Falls in January 2019, she became a therapeutic paraprofessional in the middle school, solidifying her love for working with children. As an educator and person, she values honest and direct communication, patience, positivity, a good sense of humor, and restorative practices.

During her free time, Jessica enjoys creating and performing music, writing poetry, listening to records, playing with her cat Lettuce, reading, and eating ice cream.