Ian is the Director of Educational Technology at Milwaukee Montessori School. 2013-14 was his first year as the Technology Director, but he has been with Milwaukee Montessori School since 2011. While at MMS, he has worked with students in the school's afterschool programs, taught summer classes, and served as an Assistant Teacher in a Montessori classroom. Ian earned a BFA in Applied Media Arts with focuses in animation, graphic design, drawing and painting, and art history from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. He is also a 2013 Peabody College Fellow of Vanderbilt University.
Ian has recently studied computer science and programming under the direct tutelage of Steve Bergen, TEDx alumni and sitting Executive Director at Tech International Charter School in the Bronx, New York. Prior to joining MMS, Ian was fortunate to work from home as a freelance artist and graphic designer with his two beautiful children who are current MMS students - Ezran and Bellen. His freelance work experience covered the artistic and graphic gambit of fine art portraiture of families and children, murals, tattoo design, as well as logo and apparel design.
In his free time, Ian enjoys physical fitness and bodybuilding, drawing and painting, writing, music, reading about science and philosophy, Godzilla movies, and epic pillow fights with his children.
Deepti Arora grew up in India, and after earning a Bachelor's Degree in Education from the Rajasthan University in 1999, she taught middle school language and moral science at Central Academy School in Alwar, Rajasthan for two years. In 2003, she moved to Milwaukee and joined the MMS faculty in 2005 as a Toddler Teacher. After two years, Deepti joined a Lower Elementary classroom as an assistant teacher, and in 2009, she earned her Montessori teacher diploma through the American Montessori Society.
Deepti is now a Montessori Directress in the Lower Elementary. Deepti continues to develop as a teacher; she studied reading instruction at the Columbia Teachers' College Reading and Writing Project in New York City during the summer of 2011. She strives to create an atmosphere of calm, order, and joy in the classroom. She sees her role as helping and encouraging children while they develop self-confidence and inner discipline. Outside of school, Deepti enjoys spending time with family and friends, cooking, biking, and playing board games.
Laurie Asch has been teaching piano and voice at Milwaukee Montessori since 2012. She received her Bachelor's Degree in music education from St. Olaf College with a triple emphasis on piano, voice, and violin. Her master's degree in Music Education is from UW-Madison. Mrs. Asch is currently directing orchestras ages 5-8 at Bayside Middle School and in Fox Point. She also teaches three violin ensemble classes at Tamarack Waldorf School in Milwaukee. Laurie performs in the Festival City Symphony, noted for its educational concerts.
She also performs regularly in string trios or quartets at weddings. Previously she sang in Master Singers, and accompanied numerous recitals as a pianist. Laurie has taught many facets of music in various school systems including elementary music, orchestra, world drumming, choir and piano. Laurie has also enjoyed traveling to many parts of the world ; Austria, India, Mexico, and Tanzania and has often studied/performed music there. Laurie is married and has three grown children.
In the fall of 2014, Jamie Ault became a member of the MMS faculty as an Assistant Teacher in Lower Elementary and now works in Upper Elementary as a science and history teacher. She earned a bachelor's degree in biology from Waynesburg University, in Waynesburg, PA.
Since graduating, Jamie had held a wide range of positions in non-traditional education and the non-profit sector. Her prior educational experience includes teaching environmental science at nature centers, in camp settings and at afterschool programs in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Michigan. She spent two years teaching conversational English (ESL) and organizing educational and cultural events in Policka, Czech Republic. Her non-profit experience includes work as an AmeriCorpVISTA in Erie, PA, and administrative work for Growing Power Inc and Global Youth Leadership Institute in Milwaukee, WI.
In the coming years, Jamie is looking forward to working with MMS students and passing on her love of learning. In her free time, Jamie enjoys cycling, painting, gardening and spending time with her husband, two daughters, and cat.
Kara, a Directress in the Children's House since 2008, received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the UW- Milwaukee in 2005. After graduating, Kara joined the MMS staff as an Administrative Assistant, and was quickly impressed with the level of work the students were doing in their classrooms. Her interest in the Montessori philosophy grew when she became an Assistant Teacher in a Montessori classroom in 2005. Soon after, she began Montessori Early Childhood training at the Midwest Montessori Teacher Training Center in Evanston, Illinois. In 2008, Kara completed her Montessori training as well as Orton-Gillingham training to provide multi-sensory literacy instruction to young children.
She has enjoyed leading her own classroom, and sharing in the growth and learning the children experience there each year. In her free time, Kara enjoys biking, hiking, and attending Brewer and Packer games. She is always looking for a good book to read and new restaurants to try in the area. Kara loves to travel, and her favorite place to visit is her grandfather's childhood home in Switzerland.
Sara Bauer initially joined the Milwaukee Montessori School staff as a substitute in April of 2016. After a brief break in 2017, Sara is now back to MMS as a teaching assistant in the Junior High classroom. Sara’s love for teaching first developed as a 16-year-old at her first job with the Milwaukee County Lifeguard Corps, where she was able to instruct the lifeguard crew and give swimming lessons to children. While attending the University of Minnesota for both her undergraduate degree in Horticulture and a graduate degree in forest hydrology and watershed management, Sara continued to pursue her love of teaching by instructing both swim and SCUBA.
In her free time, Sara loves to be outdoors, travel, laugh with her friends, and play board games. She has a long history with the Montessori philosophy; as she started attending a Montessori school when she was 3 years old and continued through the fifth grade. After being a teaching assistant at Garden Homes Montessori for a year, she developed a love for teaching Montessori. Specifically, she chose MMS for its compassionate environment and its wonderful group of educators who put the children first.
In the summer of 2008, Marcy Berenschot found herself at Milwaukee Montessori School after graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee with a Bachelor of Science degree in English education and a state certification to teach grades 9-12. She began her time at MMS by sharing her love of words and reading with Lower Elementary students and in the following year, started teaching English Language Arts at the Upper Elementary level where she has remained since. In the summer of 2010, she spent two weeks continuing her education of reading and writing pedagogy at the Columbia Teachers College Reading and Writing Project in New York City. Shortly after, she returned to school part-time at UW-Milwaukee to pursue her Master's degree in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in reading, and concurrently became state certified to teach reading to students from early childhood to age 21. She completed her Master's program in December of 2014.
In anticipation of her professional work, Marcy student taught at Rufus King International Baccalaureate High School and Roosevelt Middle School of the Arts, both in the Milwaukee Public School district. Throughout her schooling, she volunteered both as a writing tutor in both MPS and The Milwaukee Rescue Mission. Additionally, she spent five summers as a camp counselor with the Jewish Community Center of Milwaukee. When she is not teaching, reading, or continuing her own education, Marcy enjoys cooking, exploring the city of Milwaukee with family and friends, traveling, and running. A runner for 15 years, she has completed three half marathons and countless 5Ks throughout the Midwest on both roads and trails.
Alyson joined the MMS faculty as a teaching assistant in Mrs. Arora's room and athletic coach assistant. After one year there, she transitioned to work in the Upper Elementary Program. She moved to Milwaukee from Hudson, WI. She studied Animal Science and Chemistry at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. After moving to Milwaukee and with encouragement from friends and family, Alyson began managing a newly opened boutique fitness studio in the Third Ward. Through the fitness studio, Alyson was introduced to the MMS family, which ignited her desire to find a role where she could contribute to the community in a more significant way. She wants to share her passion for helping others and fostering an active healthy lifestyle.
In her free time, Alyson loves to stay active with her dog Tyra, travel as much as possible, and enjoy great food and company. Alyson is excited to be a member of the MMS faculty. She looks forward to applying her science background in the classroom and her fitness in athletics.
Mary Beth DiFuccia joined the MMS administrative team in 2009, just days after moving to Milwaukee. You may see her greeting parents at the front desk, handling orders and supply invoices in the office, or liaising with the food service provider in the Grotto at lunchtime. Mary Beth has a degree in Psychology and Elementary Education from Seton Hill College in Pennsylvania, and she worked in several corporate offices before joining the team at MMS.
Prior to moving to Milwaukee, she and her husband moved with their three children more than twenty times in a thirty-year period. While she is grateful to have friends across the country and in Canada, she is happy to now call Milwaukee home. Mary Beth's children and ten grandchildren are the joy of her life. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, taking long treks with her dog, Maggie, and most especially working in her garden. Mary Beth is proud to have recently earned the designation of Master Gardener.
Originating from Arizona, Susan decided in the 1980's that she wanted to move to Wisconsin to see the snow. Milwaukee is certainly the perfect place since we have snow even in Mid-April! Susan later attended Wisconsin Lutheran College, majoring in Child Psychology. In previous years, she was employed at Zion Lutheran, which is where she discovered that she loves working in a school atmosphere because she finds joy being around children. Susan is eager to begin her position as the new friendly face of MMS' Front Desk!
Outside of work, Susan appreciates the great outdoors and aspires to begin gardening and canning at her home. She also loves spending time with her children and will soon get to enjoy the arrival of her first grandchild!
Catherine Brys has been working professionally with children for over 18 years. After earning a Bachelor's Degree in Early Childhood Education from the UW-Milwaukee, Catherine started her career at MMS in 2000 in the Nighthawks afterschool program. Then, she served an assistant teacher in the Junior High, Upper Elementary, and Lower Elementary classrooms. In 2002, Catherine earned a Montessori Elementary Teaching Certificate from the Association Montessori International and became a Lead Teacher in Lower Elementary. After ten years of teaching at both Lower Elementary and Upper Elementary, she assumed a position in the after-school child care program.
In March of 2014, she became the Director of Child Care and Extra-Curricular Programs. Catherine's two young children proudly attend MMS. She and her husband enjoy movies and travel. A member of Mensa since 2007, Catherine greatly enjoys crosswords and solving puzzles and riddles as well as playing trivia and board games. She is also an enthusiastic reader and food lover.
Julie Christensen has been working at Milwaukee Montessori School for 17 years. She received her Bachelor's Degree in Exercise and Sports Science in 1997 at the University of Wisconsin- La Crosse. She started as the Physical Education Teacher in the fall of 1997 and continued to teach at that position for 11 years. She earned a coaching emphasis that she has put to good use starting Milwaukee Montessori's after school sports programs. Those programs included basketball, volleyball, and track and field.
After serving as a Physical Education Teacher, she became the Athletic Director and After School Programs Director, in which she has served ever since. She also works in the Nighthawks room and one of the Milestones rooms as well as serves at the Summer Program Coordinator. One of the signature events Julie runs at the school is "Jump Rope for Heart." In serving as the coordinator since 2001, she has brought many students and faculty together to raise money for the American Heart Association. The school has raised thousands of dollars and in 2014, the school raised $11,600. In her spare time, she also volunteers for COTA, which is the Children's Organ Transplant Association.
She is the mother of two young boys, Nathan and Cooper and has been married to her husband Rob for over 15 years. She enjoys going to Brewers games, watching movies, and spending time with her family and friends.
Milestones Teacher, Marie Cisse, was born in Senegal, West Africa, and she is trilingual in French, Spanish, and English. She holds a bachelor's degree, and has trained in the High Scope Curriculum, the Socio-Emotional Foundation For Early Learning, and the Creative Curriculum. Before joining the MMS faculty in 2013, Marie had 18 years of experience working in Head Start, and also worked at the Urban Day School where she planned and implemented developmentally appropriate activities to promote the children's learning and social skills. She works to engage each child's individual needs and learning styles, and enjoys watching children grow into avid and independent learners.
Outside of school, Marie is interested in religious studies and meditation. Additionally, she and her husband are active members of their church where they volunteer at the local soup kitchen. Marie also enjoys travelling, and hopes to participate in service trips that will take her to other parts of the world.
Allen Cote is a composer, multi-instrumentalist, and multimedia artist, originally from Austin, TX and currently based in Milwaukee, WI. Cote received his Bachelor's in English at Southwestern University, and spent several years as a fixture in the Austin music scene and a veteran of the SXSW music festival. He has contributed to recordings and performances by Buffalo Gospel, Heidi Spencer and the Rare Birds, Peter Mulvey, The Championship, Juniper Tar, Hayward Williams, Pezzettino, Whitney Mann, The Wildbirds, Hugh Bob and the Hustle, Trapper Schoepp and The Shades, and many others. Cote is well-versed in guitar, bass, lap steel, ukulele, mandolin and various percussion; and may be found performing his own original compositions - ranging from folk to avant-garde electronica - solo and with various ensembles. He was awarded the Wisconsin Area Music Industry's "Specialty Instrumentalist of the Year" in 2011. Allen Cote and John Crockett have twice presented their sound installation "Tonal Motion" at the acclaimed Milwaukee Art Museum, and are in the process of refining the installation for further exhibitions.
A former journalist, Cote's photography has been featured in The Williamson County Sun and The Austin Chronicle; and was auctioned off for charity at Southwestern University's "A Day Without Art" exhibition. Currently, Cote composes the music for local culinary show Wisconsin Foodie, airing several times weekly around the state on Wisconsin Public Television. He also provides music to marketing and new media firms, and has taught guitar and ensemble lessons at Milwaukee Montessori School for seven years.
Pamela (Pam) Davison, a parent of five former MMS students is excited to join the community as an assistant teacher. Pamela has been creating and teaching theater programs for over 30 years. After graduating from UW-Stevens Point with a drama major and dance minor she began her career in NYC as a cast member in the dinner theater circuit. While traveling to different states she landed in North Carolina and stayed long enough to become Artistic Director and playwright for The Old Greensborough Storybook Theatre.
Returning home to the Milwaukee area Pamela became involved with First Stage and soon became the Education Director while also acting, directing, and writing plays for them. She then went on to start her own drama consulting business; directing, writing plays and creating a curriculum to teach history and English using drama techniques. In the last 10 years, she managed Morning Star Productions, a theater company for which she also served as director and playwright. During this time she also taught drama and directed yearly musicals at Eastbrook Academy. As a parent at MMS, Pamela volunteered to direct and choreograph the Junior High Musicals from 2008-2011 and 2015-17. Pamela thrives on finding creative ways to help children learn and looks forward to using those skills in the classroom at MMS.
Elaine Gragotta came to MMS in the fall of 2015 to serve as a Lower Elementary Assistant. She is a Milwaukee native and has lived in southeastern Wisconsin her whole life. Elaine has worked as an Early Childhood Educator for the past five years, most recently for Ebenezer Day Care. She earned her Montessori Lower Elementary teaching credentials in the summer of 2015 through North American Montessori Center. Her excitement to be an assistant at MMS clearly shows each day in the classroom. She is sure that there will be many thrilling years working with the children. Elaine holds MMS in the highest degree and considers it to be a wonderful school with a staff that is warm and welcoming.
Heather Eiden, has been teaching at MMS since 2000. As a current CH Playgroup Teacher, she loves working with toddlers whose work is spontaneous and honest, and she feels it is important not to underestimate what they can learn. Her artistic side remains an integral part of her life. A native of Milwaukee's east side, Heather grew up immersed in the art community. She started working with ceramics when she was 16 years old, and began teaching art at the Saint Peter and Paul Daycare Center when she was just 18. Heather went on to earn a Bachelor's of Fine Art in 1997, a Master's of Science in Art Education in 2014, NAMC Certified Infant/Toddler teacher, and Montessori certification for 0-2 year olds. Heather is currently working on a series of tiny clay sculptures inspired by her travel in India, Spain, and Mexico. She is also creating a book documenting the projects her students have done over the last decade. Outside school, Heather practices and teaches yoga.
Britney, MMS Music Director since 2012, was born in Chicago and raised in Milwaukee. She grew up surrounded by the performing arts, ranging from choral and band training to jazz ensembles and musical theatre. A proud graduate of the Milwaukee High School of the Arts, Britney has trained in a number of genres including jazz and classical flute, voice, and piano. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music Performance from Lincoln University in Pennsylvania as well as a Master's Degree in Music Education from Vander Cook College of Music in Chicago.
In addition to teaching music, Britney is a singer, songwriter, fine artist, and music producer. In 2012, she released an independent album entitled, "Open Mic, Open Heart" and an introductory Jazz fundamentals book for children entitled, "The Jazz Club." She has performed in venues across the country, including Summerfest, The Kennedy Center, and the International Association for Jazz Educators Festival. Along with attending a wide variety of concerts and performances, Britney enjoys cooking, drawing, spending time with loved ones, and making YouTube videos.
Rogelio Gonzalez (aka Roger) joined the MMS faculty in 2002 as a Jayhawks' teacher. Since then, he has served in many roles at the school: teaching assistant, coach, mentor, photographer, and videographer. He has an Associate's Degree in Fire Science from the Milwaukee Area Technical College, and takes courses in time-based media from the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design to support his creation of digital marketing materials for the school.
Rogelio's true passion is in supporting individual and community health and has a bachelor degree in Health and Wellness Management at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. He is a proud veteran of the United States Military, having served on peacekeeping missions in Egypt and Israel where he earned an army commendation medal and medals for good conduct and achievement. The discipline, loyalty, and perseverance he learned from his time in military service are values that guide his work with the youth at MMS. He lives in the Canon Park neighborhood with his wife and dog, Hector. When he is not working, he enjoys playing basketball and football, working on his photography, reading, and camping.
MMS Art Specialist, Karen Gorecki, works with the Children's House and Lower Elementary to provide vital foundations for artistic growth within each student. Born and raised in Milwaukee, Karen earned a Bachelor's Degree in Fine Art from the UW-Milwaukee in 2001 and was the recipient of the prestigious Logan Travel Scholarship in 2000. Ms. Gorecki's clay sculptures and paintings are known for their "brooding and humorous symbolism," and she has had them shown extensively in the Milwaukee area as well as Washington D.C.
Prior to joining the MMS faculty in 2007, Karen demonstrated her artistic talents in the field of Visual Merchandising, which included window and store displays at Saks 5th Ave. and Nordstrom's, as well as renowned holiday installations in Milwaukee, Chicago, New York City, Newark, NJ, and Clinton, CT. Outside of teaching, Karen enjoys painting, sculpting, and absorbing inspiration from traveling, music, witty shows and movies. She cherishes time with her dog, Charlie, and her family and friends.
Julia Grubich joined the Milwaukee Montessori School faculty as a Spanish teacher in the Fall of 2017. She attended Marquette University from August 2010 to May 2016. As an undergraduate student, she studied Spanish, with a focus on Peninsular Literature, and Theology. Julia spent a semester in Madrid, ES in the fall of 2012, during which time she lived with a Spanish family and assisted at la Universidad de Complutense, Madrid’s oldest public university.
In the spring of 2013, she was an after-school Spanish teaching intern with Futura Language Professionals. While with Futura, Julia taught Spanish to kindergartners thru second graders. As a senior, she co-founded and ran the first undergraduate humanities research conference at Marquette - MuHu Con.
She received her Bachelor's degree in May of 2014, and two days later she jetted off to León, ES to walk part of the El Camino de Santiago, a pilgrimage in the north of Spain, with a group of MU students and professors. After returning from the Camino pilgrimage, she moved to Oakland, CA for 9-weeks to participate in Middlebury College’s Summer Spanish School. During this nine-week program, she immersed herself in a “Spanish” campus, during which time she pledged to only use English in emergency situations.
Julia entered Marquette’s Spanish Graduate Program in August 2014. While in grad school, she had the opportunity to present at three conferences: one at Carroll University for the NCCLA’s annual conference, one at the University of Accra in Ghana, for the bi-annual conference on African diaspora in Spanish and Luso-speaking countries, and most recently in Madrid, ES at la Universidad de Alcalá.
In May of 2016, her first paper was published thru El Citadel, a Graduate Spanish Journal. Upon receiving her Master's degree in May of 2016 she accepted a position to teach English in Mostóles, ES at a public bilingual primary school. She lived in Mostóles for 8 months before returning to the US. Julia spent the last semester teaching at Marquette University and in Spring of 2018 she will be teaching at Carroll University.
In her free time, she loves spending time at the Crossfit gym, Unity Fitness & Training. She also enjoys taking her best friend’s pups out for the day.
Jacey Hartweg has been with Milwaukee Montessori School since 2015. Having just graduated college from Iowa Wesleyan College she is eager to begin her career in teaching. While in college she was involved in tutoring math and science courses, playing basketball, and many other activities. She discovered MMS because of it's reputation for a superior learning experience. She already loves the atmosphere and relations teachers enjoy with their students. Jacey also enjoys working along side her great peers!
Blair Hatchett recently joined the MMS faculty as a Toddler Teacher working in the Toddler I program. She grew up in Milwaukee, WI with her mother and five sisters. During her teenage years, she discovered her passion for children when she found herself always wanting to babysit toddlers. Studying through the Early Childhood Education Program at MATC; Blair gained knowledge in this field that would become more than a job, but a passion. For the past eight years, she's been privileged to work with children 12 months to 13 years of age through programs such as SPARK, ACE, and Boys and Girls Club of Greater Milwaukee CLC (Community Learning Centers.)
Blair says," My favorite part of my job is seeing the moments where a child catches on to what's being taught, whether it's a toddler learning how to hold a spoon or a youth learning how to read." She's motivated by seeing others grow and come into their own. She loves to read and share her knowledge with others. She's excited to bring her love for literacy to the MMS team.
Milestones' Teacher, Audrey Jonese Hayes, moved to Milwaukee from Gary, Indiana in 1990 and joined the MMS team in November 2013. After raising five of her own children, Audrey began working with young children. She is currently working toward a bachelor's degree in Early Childhood Development at Concordia University. She has worked in childcare for the last thirteen years, most recently at the YMCA North Side Branch and in Head Start and K4 at the Urban Day School.
She believes that the early years in a child's life are an important foundation for future educational endeavors, so she strives to maintain a positive classroom environment full of warmth, compassion, and open-mindedness. An avid volunteer, Audrey seeks out ways to give her time and talent to her community, church, and workplace. MMS has been a great fit for Audrey; she says, "the staff and students are a pleasure to be around, and I really enjoy working in an environment where everyone is respectful to one another."
Jazzmin recently joined the MMS faculty as a Toddler Teacher working in the Toddler III program. She grew up in West Allis with her two brothers and mother. When she was a junior in high school, she knew that she wanted to be a teacher. She has worked with children from age 3 weeks to 12 years old in both the child and home care settings.
Jazzmin says, “MMS was once only a dream of mine, I believe this is where I am meant to be.” She is excited to now be a team member and show the school what she brings to the table. Expanding her mind and finding a place where she could continue to further her education was a big attraction of MMS for Jazzmin. Welcome to the MMS community!
Georgia Kane began at MMS in 2012 as a student teacher in the art room. Before the end of her placement, she was offered a position at MMS. She began working in the Junior High classroom as a Teaching Assistant where she taught ACT/SAT prep vocabulary, created daily journal prompts to foster creativity in writing and built meaningful relationships with her students. Georgia has become a Jayhawks instructor, taught and assisted in the summer art programs, and produced many illustrative works for the school.
She now serves as a Lower Elementary Directress after having completed her Montessori teacher training at the Midwest Montessori Teacher Training Center for Elementary ages 6-9. On the weekends, Georgia enjoys painting, biking, snowboarding, rock climbing, yoga, kayaking, flying kites, organizing, poker, board games, cook-outs and lazy afternoons sipping espresso. As for the future, she looks forward to showing her paintings at galleries and creating children books.
Nicole joined MMS in 2014 as a Teacher in the Toddler Program and now works as the Toddler I Program Directress. Nicole graduated from Alverno College in 2012 with a bachelor's degree in Community Leadership. She brings a few years of experience in childcare, working at KinderCare, as a nanny, as an intern at day camp in Sussex, and most recently at the YMCA. She is a NAMC Certified Infant/Toddler teacher. Her internship allowed her to oversee a day camp, schedule soccer camps and create communities. When working with young children, the thing most enjoys is watching them grow and hearing the new things they say each day.
When she is not busy at work, Nicole enjoys spending time with her husband of nine months, Drew. She also pursues her passion for running, and is helping with mini-renovation projects on her new home in Menomonee Falls.
Lijana (LEE-anna) Lileikyte–Haasch joined MMS in 2016, as a teacher in the Toddler I Program. Originally from Lithuania, Lijana has spent the last five years living in Okauchee, Wisconsin.
Lijana enjoys working with children and is driven to unlock every child’s door to learning and overcoming any obstacle a child might have. Lijana believes that a patient nature combined with a sense of humor helps take the ups and downs of every day in stride while focusing on the end goals.
In 2011, Lijana graduated from Šiauliai University, B.A. Audiovisual Arts – Art and Design (Photography focus). In 2009, Lijana completed the Nursing program from Šiauliai State College, Department of Health B.S. Nursing (Anesthesia and Intensive Care focus).
Before Lijana moved to the United States she worked at the Mother and Child Clinic as an anesthesia nurse in the operating room. In her spare time, Lijana enjoys working on her photography, she especially loves macro photography. Her work can be seen on her website . She also loves to draw, read and travel.
Lizz Loder has been a Montessori Directress for nearly three decades. She received her under graduate degree from Lawrence University and her American Montessori International (AMI) Montessori training from The Midwest Montessori Institute where she studied under the late Hildegard Solzbacher. Lizz has been a Children's House directress at Milwaukee Montessori since 1992, after serving as a directress at New World Montessori School. In addition to working with the students in her class, Lizz enjoys coaching and mentoring new faculty.
She also works closely with the Head of School, Admissions Director and Director of Development carrying out a number of administrative duties. Lizz has attended The National Association of Independent Schools Summer Leadership Institute as well as Leading the 21st Century Elementary School presented by Independent School Management. Lizz has served as a visiting team member in the accreditation process for the Independent Schools Association of the Central States and as the faculty representative from Milwaukee Montessori. She was recently appointed to the Professional Services Committee of the Independent Schools Association of the Central States.
Lizz is active in her faith community where she has led book discussion groups on parenting and family issues. She has also volunteered with her alma mater and a number of arts organizations in Milwaukee. Lizz is firmly committed to the mission and life of Milwaukee Montessori School and she enjoys attending school events, seeing them as opportunities for a more casual, relaxed time to get to know the families of Milwaukee Montessori. She is married to Bruce Loder and they have two adult children, Kaity MMS '02 and Will MMS '05.
Diane Mackay brings to Milwaukee Montessori School her extensive knowledge of, passion for, and experience with Spanish language and culture. She is an advocate of Montessori education for its organic and individualized approach to student learning. A Colorado native, she pursued studies in Spanish and English at the University of Utah, immersing herself in study abroad opportunities in Chile, Peru, Mexico, and Spain. Diane earned a Master of Arts in Spanish Language and Pedagogy and served as Assistant Director of a study abroad program in Asturias, Spain.
Also passionate about education, teaching, and diversity, Diane earned certificates to teach Spanish and English to native and non-native English speakers and has taught students of all ages, including as a high school Spanish teacher and as an adjunct university faculty. As adjunct faculty, Diane taught grammar, literature, and history of Spanish-speaking peoples, and was rated in the 90th percentile by students in instructor evaluations.
Diane additionally enjoys singing, playing and teaching piano, competition coaching, gourmet cooking, reading both fiction and non-fiction, salsa dancing, organization, real-estate, interior and graphic design and travel. She particularly enjoys spending time with her husband, daughter, and son.
Over twenty-five years ago, before joining the faculty at MMS, Kathy Maki worked in the summer recreation department at Milwaukee Public Schools teaching games, crafts, and group activities to four, five, and six-year olds. It was there that she discerned a love of teaching, and she went on to earn an Associate's Degree in Early Childhood Education from Milwaukee Area Technical College. Upon graduation, she began working at MMS in 1989 in the Toddler Program and has remained in the Toddler Program ever since. Every day, she loves seeing the two- and three-year old children develop new skills and language, as well as build relationships with them through the years.
Kathy and her husband, Chris, have two wonderful children, Alexandra, who is a MMS alum, and Jack. Kathy loves to travel with her family and hang out at home reading and playing with their yellow lab and orange tabby cat.
Harper has returned to MMS this fall as a Teaching Assistant with Ms. Veal and co-teaching Art Lab with Heather Eiden. Originally from Evanston, Illinois, she has since moved to Wauwatosa and lived there for the past 15 years. She has a masters degree in Art Education and a BFA in Photography. For over 10 years, Harper taught art to elementary-aged students in the Wauwatosa school district. Before beginning this fall she co-taught a summer photography class with Roger Gonzalez.
One reason Harper returned to MMS is the Montessori philosophy of understanding how children learn new material. Her children also attend the school and she is excited to be able to see them grow each day. In her off time, Harper loves to cook, tend to her massive vegetable garden, travel, play with her kids, and of course, take photos of her many adventures.
Debbie Mather has been with Milwaukee Montessori School since September of 1999. She came from a school in Ohio, where she worked in the development and business offices. Her three sons all attended MMS, where they received a strong educational foundation. When she isn't at work you can find Debbie pursuing her hobbies of archery, golf, and gardening. She enjoys working at Milwaukee Montessori School because of the multifacted job she holds and her wonderful co-workers.
Megan Van Dusen joined Milwaukee Montessori School in the fall of 2015 as a private music lesson teacher and lead coordinator of the private music lesson program. She began attending Wisconsin Lutheran College in September of 2013 and attained her Bachelor of Arts degree in Music with an emphasis in Piano Pedagogy in 2017. Megan started private piano lessons at the age of 4 and over the past 18 years has continued to explore her deep-rooted passion for the instrument. She discovered her love for teaching when she began to offer piano lessons in her early high school years. Additionally, she spent many hours playing music for residents at the local nursing home and accompanying for a number of children's choirs. Her musical journey thus far has brought her many opportunities including private flute lessons, voice lessons, participation in the Wisconsin Music Teachers' Association Festivals, and Washington County Concerto competitions.
She continues to study piano as well as harpsichord. Megan is actively involved in both the Concert Choir and Chamber Choir at WLC. Aside from music, many of her passions include reading, being active outdoors, knitting, volunteering at her church, and spending time with family and friends.
Jon has enjoyed coaching and teaching Physical Education at Milwaukee Montessori School since 2003. He holds a degree in Sports Management along with certifications in: Center Creative Leadership, NFHS Master Coach, USA Impact, and Minnesota Volleyball Instructors. He has spent many weeks working and learning alongside great Olympic, and college coaches including Hugh McCutcheon, Karch Kiraly, and Bond Schymansky. These experiences have helped him develop his coaching philosophy. On top of coaching Volleyball at MMS, he also coaches Track and Field. When he is not teaching or coaching you can find him on the water, skiing as the acting Show Director for the Pewaukee Lake Water Ski Club.
A third generation teacher, Deepali Namboothiry has been an integral part of MMS community since 2002. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in English Education from Vaze College, Mumbai, India in 1997. During her college education, Deepali enthusiastically explored various aspects of humanities including Psychology, Economics, Philosophy and Political Science. In 1999, she pursued her Master's Degree in English Education, with a minor in linguistics from Mumbai University. Inspired by her mother's charming narrations and experiences about her students, Deepali stepped into the world of education completing her Bachelor of Education from the University of Mumbai. Honored as, "Excellent Student of the Year" for her research during Masters, Deepali was delightfully welcomed as a teaching faculty in Vaze College when she returned to the institute from which she earned her Bachelor's degree.
Marriage brought Deepali to Milwaukee, and subsequently to Milwaukee Montessori School. Deepali acquired her Diploma in Montessori training from American Montessori Society in 2008. She has worked with different age groups in Milwaukee Montessori School including Child Care, Children's House, and Lower Elementary programs. In the summer of 2011, she spent time continuing her education of reading instruction at the Columbia Teachers College Reading and Writing Project in New York City. For the past four years, she has been teaching English Language Arts at the Upper Elementary level at Milwaukee Montessori School. Deepali continues to narrate intriguing stories to her son and daughter about her day with students, instilling love for learning, and lessons about compassion.
Carina Pabon joined the MMS team in December of 2016 as our new Front Desk Administrative Assistant. Her passion for working with families brought her here. You may see her welcoming parents and students, documenting attendance, and assisting the administrative team. Carina studied Art Therapy at Alverno College and will be finishing her degree in Psychology and Behavioral Science at Mt. Mary University.
John began playing the violin when he was two years old and hasn’t stopped since. Born and raised in Mequon, Wisconsin (a suburb of Milwaukee), John learned the art of performance at a young age through his involvement with both the Milwaukee Youth Symphony and the Homestead High School Orchestra.
At the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Patek continued performing and studying the violin. He’s had the opportunity to work with notable teachers such as Joan Rooney, Vartan Manoogian and Stefan Muhmenthaler. After graduating from UW-Madison in 2004 with a degree in violin performance, John continued his studies at the Conservatory of Neuchatel in Switzerland, where he earned his Master’s degree.
John continues to perform actively in Switzerland, Italy and in the Midwestern United States. He also teaches several group and private lessons.
Sarah came to Milwaukee Montessori School in the fall of 1975, to start a new Lower Elementary class. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Albion College in Albion, Michigan. Sarah earned her Montessori Elementary Teaching Certificate from the Association Montessori International in Bergamo Italy. She has taught Lower Elementary, Upper Elementary and helped start MMS' adolescent program with Margaret Novak-Brown in 1982. Sarah is a member of the North American Montessori Teacher's Association. She has served on the board of Wisconsin Quilters and was a member of the education committee of the Zoological Society of Milwaukee.
During the summer, Sarah enjoys traveling, quilting and other needle arts. She has been a docent at the Milwaukee County Zoo, studied at several archeological sites including Crow Canyon and has sailed Lake Michigan and around the coast of Florida on the Schooner Denis Sullivan. While at Milwaukee Montessori, Sarah organized MMS' participation in environmental education programs at McKensie Environmental Center, Upham Woods and Nature's Classroom. She began the Montessori Model United Nations program at MMS, Odyssey of the Mind and has co-led several student trips to Europe that included living with families, going to local schools and sightseeing.
From a young age, Ashley knew that she wanted to work with children. Her love for them began when she was 15 years old and worked as a babysitter for several families, and then eventually as a full-time nanny. After high school, Ashley began her schooling to work in the education field. Initially attending University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh to study Early Childhood Education, Ashley later sought better opportunities here in Milwaukee, and so, she moved back to her hometown. Here in Milwaukee, she plans to finish her schooling within the next year or two.
Ashley hopes to learn more about the children here at MMS and aims to help them grow as individuals. She loves the structure of each classroom and how each is different in their own way. Ashley’s goal is to make sure the children have as much fun learning as she has teaching them new things; such as putting on their coats, or even simple tasks like throwing their garbage out. Her ultimate dream is to someday run her very own child care center!
Outside of MMS, Ashley loves spending her free time with family, traveling, and exploring new cities. She continually stays active whether it’s going for long runs or playing soccer with her 10-year-old cousin!
Brittany Ross has brought her passion for working with Toddlers to MMS. She is a newly minted graduate of Nathan Hale High School and looks forward to attending MATC this fall, where she plans to study Early Childhood Education. Coming from two foster parents who fostered over 64 kids to date, she has always been around youngsters and has loved every second. Those foster parents eventually adopted Brittany and her two siblings. Brittany most certainly has no shortage of people her life with nine nieces and nephews and countless friends.
Besides her professional life, Brittany loves to draw, write, and spend time with her friends. She is excited about the opportunity MMS is presenting her and is thrilled to be able to live out her passion here with our Toddlers. Brittany hopes to work her for many years to come!
Ron Saari was born and raised in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. He attended the local Northern Michigan University, earning a Bachelor's of Science degree in 2011. His studies focused on Elementary Education along with minors in Mathematics and Social Studies. In 2012, he decided to pursue his career as a future educator and joined forces with a superb MMS staff in 2013 as a Children's House Assistant. Prior to joining MMS, Ron spent five years working at a before-and after-school childcare program at his local elementary school. Because of his passion for enhancing students' learning, he decided to also work MMS's Nighthawks Child Care after-school program.
In his spare time, he enjoys writing poetry, making music, grilling out, fishing, & watching the Detroit Lions. Says Ron, "One of the greatest things about teaching children is the fact that ten to twenty years from that moment, you can say you were one of the many pieces to a child's puzzle of success. That, my friend, is one of the most rewarding feelings you can and will ever have as an educator."
Elizabeth Schroeder has a passion for teaching and is excited to learn more about the various elements of education and the Montessori method through her internship at Milwaukee Montessori School. Elizabeth is in the class of 2020 at Wisconsin Lutheran College and is majoring in both 2D Studio Art and Spanish. She is a recipient of the Presidential Scholarship Award and a member of WLC’s prestigious Honors program. At WLC, she serves as a Spanish tutor for her fellow students and as the vice president of the Spanish club.
Aside from Spanish, Elizabeth also enjoys spending time with her niece and nephew, baking desserts, drawing, reading, watching television, playing bassoon in the WLC concert band, and playing tenor saxophone in the WLC jazz band.
Cece Sullivan has been a Montessori teacher for over 15 years, five of those years with Milwaukee Montessori School. Ms. Sullivan received her Children's House Montessori training at the Midwest Montessori Institute in Milwaukee during the time her children were attending MacDowell Montessori School, and received her bachelor's degree from Ashford University, graduating Magna Cum Laude. Cece has taught at a number of Montessori schools and also worked at the Schlitz Audubon Nature Center for 16 years as the program registrar and building rental coordinator. During that time, she was instrumental in helping to develop the live raptor program, helping to establish the nature preschool at the Center, and implementing a speakers' bureau for outreach programs.
In addition, Cece has worked at a quilt store, designing and stitching quilt tops, and teaching quilting classes. She currently works part-time at a natural pet food store. Cece is a member of Immanuel Presbyterian Church and has served as a deacon, usher, Girl Scout troop leader, Sunday school teacher, and as a member of the special events committee. When she has the opportunity, Cece enjoys designing and making quilts, working in her gardens (flowers and vegetables), is an avid reader, and enjoys traveling. Ms. Sullivan has two daughters and one granddaughter and lives in South Milwaukee with her collie, Shenanigans.
Katie started at Milwaukee Montessori School in 2013, bringing ten years of working with children. Before coming to MMS, Katie worked at the West Allis West Milwaukee Recreation department. During her time working there, Katie ran her own playground field house, as well as arts and crafts, sports and many other fun activities. Katie also ran a dance program and was also a co-director for a gymnastics program. Katie attended MATC where she studied psychology and business before focusing on education. She is currently in the process of completing her NAMC Infant/Toddler Certification. Katie looks forward to using her past experiences to help the toddlers gain much new knowledge. She is very excited to be a part of the MMS community and everything that goes along with it.
When Katie is not at work she enjoys spending time with her family, traveling to new places, attending softball and baseball games. Katie recently bought her first home in West Allis and is getting married in October of 2015. Working with children is an great opportunity to watch them grow and it is also a great joy to see their smiling faces each and every day.
David Swanson grew up in Chicago. He earned a bachelor's degree in Mathematics and Biology from Northland College in Wisconsin in 1998. Soon after, he began teaching at the Nature's Classroom Institute and Montessori School in Mukwonago. There, he combined his love of the outdoors with his love of math and teaching. As he worked within the NCI's experiential classrooms, David began working toward his Elementary Teaching Diploma from the American Montessori Society. In 2009, he began teaching math and science at MMS.
David is a lifelong learner dedicated to his growth as an educator, and he truly values the curricular depth available to students at MMS. He strives to foster community learning in the classroom: where students help and teach each other. Outside of school, David spends most of his free time in the natural world kayaking, paddle-boarding, hiking, fishing, camping, gardening, and spending time with his daughter and son. He is an adventurer who continually seeks the experiences and challenges inherent in being in the wilderness.
Amy began working in child care this past week and can often be found with the Children's House Playgroup. Prior to joining MMS, she worked at New Horizon Daycare Center in child care for roughly three years. After working there she moved to the Green Bay Avenue School and worked as a Paraprofessional with K4 and K5 students for about a year and a half. Her college degree was from Concordia University Wisconsin in Early Childhood Education.
Amy is eager to take on this new environment at MMS, and she says that it is much calmer and different, in a positive way, then her prior places of employment. This comes from Amy after having only been here for a week. When not working, she loves to spend time with her family, roller skate and has recently taken up bowling.
Monica Van Aken Ed.D. has served as the Head of School at Milwaukee Montessori School since 1999. In 1926, her grandmother completed her training with Maria Montessori and was her father's Montessori teacher in Germany until the time that Hitler closed their school because it was filled with children from Jewish families. Her mother took her Montessori training in Germany with Montessori's proteges along with Mario Montessori in England.
For over 30 years, she taught at Whitby Montessori School in Greenwich, Connecticut where she attended school up until high school. Because Monica knew how to use all the Montessori materials, in the summer when she visited her grandparents in Germany, her grandmother paid her (in chocolate at first) to sit and help her students with their lessons. Monica was ten years old at the time and quite happy to be paid for the responsibility she had. She remembers deciding that she was going to be a teacher after taking that first bite of chocolate at the end of her day of "work".
Coltyn will be working as our Music Teacher, Private Lesson Coordinator, and Private Voice Teacher. Coltyn is no stranger to what his new position entails, as he has taught private music lessons for the past year and a half. Originating from Neenah, WI, he attended Wisconsin Lutheran College as a Music Education major. He has always taught lessons in the evening hours, so he is eager to make the switch and begin instructing here at MMS during the daytime. He loves teaching children, so he is sure to be a great addition to our school!
Coltyn spends much of his free time singing in his band, Fin Fun, on weekends and also performing in improv comedy shows. A man of many talents!
Alesa Weiss came to Milwaukee Montessori School in the summer of 2015, to take on the role of Front Desk/Development Assistant. Alesa was promoted to the Director of Development position in May of 2016. Originally hailing from Tulsa, OK, Alesa has lived in Milwaukee for the past five years. For most of her professional career, she worked at the YMCA as a customer service and administration member. She has a Bachelor's Degree in Community Education & Engagement from UW-Milwaukee.
The thing that drew Alesa to the school was the unique and exciting way Milwaukee Montessori School approaches learning. She looks forward to being part of a new community and supporting the school. In her life outside of work, Alesa loves to listen to Dolly Parton and take motorcycle trips with her husband.
Anoma Wijenayake has been a Directress in the MMS Children's House since 2002. In all, she has 26 years of experience teaching and mentoring three-to six-year old children. Anoma earned a college degree in Early Childhood Education from the Open University of Sri Lanka and a Casa dei Bambini Montessori Diploma for ages 3-6 from the Association Montessori International. In 1986, she began working as a lead Montessori teacher in Sri Lanka, and in 1988, she moved to the United States after accepting a position at the Montessori School in Mauldin, South Carolina where she taught for three years. Anoma then taught at the Montessori School of Yorbalinda in Anaheim, California for three years before coming to Milwaukee.
Anoma lives in New Berlin, with her husband and three children who have all graduated from MMS. She is actively involved in the Wisconsin Sri Lankan community's cultural activities throughout the year, including teaching the Sinhala language to children. Anoma enjoys outdoor activities, reading, sewing, and traveling, as well as watching football, basketball, volleyball, and Cricket with her family.
Jaime has been teaching at Milwaukee Montessori School since 2005. She has an extensive visual arts background which includes a Bachelors of Fine Arts degree from UW-Milwaukee with an emphasis in sculpture and printmaking, and an Art-Education Teaching Certificate for K - 12 students. Jaime Wszelaki has also studied film and animation at MIAD as well as 3D character modeling and animation at DIGI-Pen Institute of Technology in Seattle, WA. She teaches 4th-8th grade students cumulative visual art concepts and techniques that have allowed her students to win numerous awards within Scholastic Arts, Wisconsin State Fair Youth contests, and the Milwaukee Regional Art Fair.
As the Robotics Director, she works with 1st -8th graders in incorporating innovative robot construction and programming capabilities. She facilitates robotics classes, clubs, and the award- winning MMS competitive robotics team, which has been possible because of her robotics programming training at Carnegie Mellon's Robotic Institute in Pittsburgh, MA. Jaime is a proud recipient of the FIRST LEGO League Coach of the Year award. Her work with MMS students in robotics has earned them yearly recognition and awards for robotic design, robotic programming, teamwork, scientific research and overall presentational ability. Seeing a child's creative imagination at work in their production of an innovative expressive artwork or an engineered design is a brilliant moment for Jaime. She says that she plans to spend her career fostering each child's creative growth in order to prepare them for their journey in life.
Stephanie Ziemke has returned to Milwaukee Montessori School to serve as the Director of Institutional Advancement. In this role, she will work towards strengthening the culture of giving, establishing a major gifts program, and refining the School’s communication and marketing strategy. She approaches this new role with big expectations but most importantly sharing with families how Milwaukee Montessori School changes the lives of children in the Milwaukee area.
She has a bachelor's degree in Political Science, a graduate degree in Public Administration, a graduate certificate in Nonprofit Management and course work completed for another graduate certificate in the Spiritual Guidance of Children. Most recently she worked as the Director of Annual Giving at Westtown School, a K-12 day and boarding school outside of Philadelphia.
Prior to relocating to the Philadelphia area, Stephanie served as the Director of Development for Milwaukee Montessori School. During her time in that role, she set an MMS Fund record each year for three consecutive years and worked with parents to achieve over 95 percent participation in the Fund.
345 North 95th St., Milwaukee, WI 53226 | T: 414.259.0370 | F: 414.259.0427