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

-Maria Montessori

Classroom & Aftercare Assistant

B.S., Sustainable Food & Farming, University of Massachusetts - Amherst

Bri has been working as a childcare provider since high school and, she knew she wanted to work with children in a school setting after taking her first education course in college. After growing up on a small farm in western Massachusetts and being immersed in local agriculture, she decided to study Sustainable Food and Farming at UMass Amherst. She has worked on a variety of farms and previously worked as a classroom assistant at Meadowlark Childcare in Northampton. During her internship at the Amherst Winter Farmers’ Market, she designed and led nature-themed craft activities for children on a weekly basis. In college, she learned about a wide breadth of topics, from herbalism to forestry, but found a passion for nature-based and agricultural education. Bri is excited to be working at the Amherst Montessori School, as the Montessori method and nature-based education have many intersections. Bri joined Amherst Montessori School first as a substitute and then as a classroom assistant in Casa de Niños and in Children's House level after care.

Bri spends her free time practicing photography, drawing, making music, spending time in nature, and experimenting in the kitchen.

Infant Aftercare Lead

B.A., Sociology, with a minor in Education, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Jenna joined Amherst Montessori School in 2018. She has 10 years of experience working with young children as both a babysitter and a nanny. During that time, she has found infants and toddlers to be her favorite age group, and is excited to be a part of the Amherst Montessori community.

Jenna lives in Northampton with her husband, Aaron. In her free time she enjoys cooking, baking, gardening, and listening to podcasts.

Toddler Aftercare Lead

Bunker Hill Community College

Since 2017, Harmony has served as the Toddler Aftercare Lead at Amherst Montessori in addition to assisting the Toddler I classroom during the school day.

Harmony was born and raised in the Pioneer Valley. She discovered her love for working with children through babysitting and nannying. When her nephew was born, she relocated to Boston to assist with his care, and made the decision to pursue childcare as her career. She enrolled in Bunker Hill Community College to achieve her Early Education and Care Certification, and began working at Mass Audubon Boston Nature Center's Pathways to Nature preschool.

In her free time, Harmony enjoys yoga, gardening, and spending time at home with her fiance and fluffy cat Gypsy.

Elementary Aftercare Lead

 B.A., English, University of Massachusetts - Amherst

Filipa graduated from UMass - Amherst in 2015 with a degree in English, after which she began a yearlong Americorps Museum Educator program at the Providence Children's Museum in Providence, Rhode Island. There she created an 11-month STEAM-based curriculum that included sewing activities, storytelling with comics and stop-motion animation, and engineering projects with recycled and found materials. She also facilitated an afterschool learning program at the Boys and Girls Club for elementary-aged children. 

After completing her Americorps program, she became the site supervisor and group leader for the Hampshire Regional YMCA afterschool program. And this past summer she served as the Arts and Crafts Specialist at Camp Norwich, where she developed and ran the arts and crafts programs for campers in grades kindergarten through ninth grade. 

Filipa loves to craft and runs her own crafting business. She is also fluent in Portuguese, French and Cape Verdean Creole, and English. 

KirstenDudkiewiczToddler Aftercare

B.A., Psychology and Theatre, Marlboro College

Beginning in 2018, Kirsten stepped into the Toddler I classroom as a co-lead guide after serving in that classroom as an assistant for four years. Kirsten will be a frequent face in Toddler aftercare, as she and Katie, our other Toddler I co-lead share aftercare responsibilities.

Kirsten has worked with children since high school when she first trained as a YMCA counselor for Camp Nokomis on the beautiful Lake Winnipesaukee. Since then she has served several youth programs in New England such as the Boys and Girls club, Monadnock Family Service's youth program “Acting Out,” and most recently the Adolescent residential program at the Brattleboro Retreat. Her introduction to Montessori was first hand when she transferred to Hilltop Montessori School in Brattleboro for an extended three year middle school experience.

A native of Vermont, she enjoys picking apples (and baking pies of course!) taking long walks and nature swims, and campfires with friends.  She enjoys theatre, music, singing, and performs with the New England Youth Theatre Alumni Association. She also finds traveling to be very rewarding and the best learning experience. She is lucky to have visited several countries like Japan (where her father, step-mom and little brother live), Germany, England, and Saudi Arabia. She now lives in Hadley with her husband, Jim, and old cat, Harvey; a pooka.

Toddler Aftercare

Infant and Toddler Credential (in-progress), North East Montessori Institute, Warren, Maine
B.A., Psychology, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Beginning in 2018, Katie stepped into the Toddler I classroom as a co-lead guide in the midst of her Montessori Infant/Toddler training. Katie will be a frequent face in Toddler aftercare, as she and Kirsten, our other Toddler I co-lead share aftercare responsibilities.

Katie has been caring for young children for over twenty years in day care centers and home settings, and has been implementing Dr. Montessori's method via personal research and practice for almost fifteen years. The method fit seamlessly with her focus on building a career based in peace and respect. In 2010 in an effort to expand her knowledge and reach, Katie trained with the Liddle Kidz Foundation to teach infant massage techniques to new parents. After two trips to Vietnam as a volunteer teaching infant massage to caregivers in orphanages, Katie discovered a love of working with underserved populations and returned to the United States ready to provide massage therapy to children in need. Katie relocated to Ashland, Oregon from the Boston area to complete her massage therapy education where she also trained to be a birth doula. Upon returning to Boston, Katie worked for several years providing nurturing touch and massage therapy for children in palliative and hospice care, as well as attending births as a doula. She is also a certified yoga teacher with practice teaching typically developing and differently abled children. 

After the birth of her own child, Xavi, in 2015, Katie was fortunate to be able to return to work as a nanny in Boston and Cambridge, bringing Xavi along. During that time, Katie served as a Montessori home consultant providing child care as well as environmental design and education for families interested in the Montessori method. In 2016, Katie made her Montessori education official and attended the Infant and Toddler Course through North East Montessori Institute. 

Eventually, busy city life became less appealing. In the fall of 2017 Katie and her family left Boston for Amherst. Katie is excited and inspired to be joining other Montessori professionals at AMS and to be implementing Dr. Montessori's practices as part of a team of experienced practitioners in a group care setting.  

Katie strives to create an environment where each child is a respected member of the community, and she believes that the path to cultivating peace is through empathy, kindness, and the utmost care for a developing sense of self-confidence and independence. She is passionate about supporting each child and family with regard to their individual needs in the classroom and beyond. 

In addition to her work with children, Katie enjoys volunteering, social justice work, and travel. When she's not researching conscious caregiving practices, she can be found weeding the garden, practicing yoga, or hanging out in the woods with her family and their two dogs. 

christinemariani Toddler Aftercare Assistant

A.S., Child Studies, Mount Ida College
B.A., Liberal Studies, Mount Ida College

Christine began working at Amherst Montessori School in 1995, making her the school's longest-standing guide and employee. She has seen the community through many changes over the years, including the opening of the new school building on Pomeroy Lane in 2012.

In her 20+ years as a classroom assistant, Christine has led countless children through the earliest stages of their education. She brings immesuarable kindness, patience, and experience to her role in the classroom, and implements Montessori philosophy in every interraction with her students. On a given day in the Toddler room, you can find Christine guiding her students through the day's activities with a genuine respect for their independence and capabilities, and a profound warmth which fosters lifetime bonds. It is not uncommon for alumni of various ages to come back to AMS for a visit with Christine!

In her free time, Christine enjoys reading, snowmobiling, scrap-booking, and camping. A lover of books, Christine pays regular visits to the library looking for new titles to supplement the Toddler classroom collection. She also loves spending time with her husband, Rico, her dog, Jake, and her two step-daughters, Samantha and Rachel.