ECMS Staff

Aiden Rountree, Extended Day Team

Bio coming soon!

Ala Ochumare, Anti-Bias Anti-Racist (ABAR) Organizer

A native of New Haven, Ala is a co-founder and anti-bias organizer of the New Haven Chapter of Black Lives Matter as well as ECMS’s ABAR Organizer. Along with being a mother to a spectacular teenager, Ala is also a Life coach and practicing healer. Ala is also the youth program coordinator at New Haven Pride Center and a facilitator with CityWide Youth Coalition’s Black and Brown Queer Camp.

Alejandra Corona Ortega, Elementary Assistant, ABAR Team

Bio coming soon!

Amelia Allen Sherwood M.Ed., Dean of Social Emotional Learning

Amelia is deeply passionate about education especially early childhood. She has a B.S. from Lincoln University in Pennsylvania and an M.Ed. in Education Leadership from Concordia University in Portland, Oregon. She is currently finishing up her Montessori training from the Montessori Teacher Academy in Dana Point, California. Amelia has been with ECMS since the school opened in 2014.

Amy Schlank, Instructional Coach

Bio coming soon!

website.jpgAsiya Toorawa, Elementary Assistant

Asiya comes to ECMS after completing her BFA at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She hopes to weave her love and knowledge for the arts – together with Montessori principles – to inspire children in the classroom.

Carolina Silva, Primary Assistant

Bio coming soon!

ProfilePhoto.jpgDave Weinreb, Magnet Resource Teacher

Dave is passionate about building effective school systems, championing adult learning, and enriching school life with partnership and connection. Since moving to New Haven in 2015 he has taught 5th grade Spanish-speaking newcomers at the Fair Haven School, founded the City of New Haven’s LGBTQ Youth Task Force, participates as a Board Member of the Fair Haven Community Management Team, consults for Yale’s Code Haven, and serves as adjunct faculty at Relay Graduate School of Education and Quinnipiac University’s School of Education.  Previously, he worked as the founding high school placement director, staff recruitment lead, enrichment coordinator, and technology enthusiast for The Equity Project (TEP) Charter School in Washington Heights, NYC. He earned his M.A. from Johns Hopkins University, bilingual/TESOL cross endorsement via ARCTELL, his B.A. in History and Urban Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, is currently pursuing his M.Ed. in School Leadership from Teachers College, Columbia University.

ElizaHalseyEliza Halsey, Executive Director

Eliza has a BA from Yale University and a Master’s in Public Administration from New York University’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service.  She was born and raised in New Haven and attended New Haven public schools.  In 2011, she co-founded New Haven Parents, a parent group working to ensure all children in New Haven have access to excellent public schools and high-quality preschools.  This work led her and a group of parents to work together to create Elm City Montessori School. She has previous education and non-profit leadership experience as the New Haven Director for All Our Kin and the Director of Quality Assurance and Evaluation for Public Allies, a national leadership development organization whose Connecticut chapter she helped found.  Eliza began her work in youth/leadership development in 2000 at a small NGO in Nepal working with street children in Kathmandu.

Emma Moreno, Primary Assistant

Emma is a certified Montessori teacher through the United Montessori Association. holds an Associate Degree in Early Childhood Education from Penn Foster College, and a B.A. in Child and Family Development from the American Public University. Throughout her entire career, she has focused on children’s well-being through instructional strategies including cooperative and individual learning, direct instruction, discovery learning, problem solving, invention, and recall mentioning just a few. Through these strategies especially the Montessori method she has supported children’s cognitive, emotional, social, and physical growth.

Erin Burgett, Primary Guide

Bio coming soon!

Gameliel Moses, Extended Day PM Coordinator

Bio coming soon!


Heidi Crosby, Elementary Guide

Bio coming soon!


Henry Webb, Custodian

Bio coming soon!

James Erard, Elementary Guide

Bio coming soon!

Jennifer Langlois, Social Worker

Bio coming soon!

Joelle Rosenbuell, Elementary Guide

Bio coming soon!

John Freeman, Montessori Coach

John holds an Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) elementary diploma. He taught Montessori elementary in the Hartford Public Schools and was the founding principal of Hartford’s Annie Fisher Montessori Magnet School. John is a state-certified reading specialist and language arts consultant. Until recently, John lived for 25 years in one of Hartford’s most challenged neighborhoods. He views ABAR as a path to societal liberation, and children gaining reading fluency as an access to their exploring the world. John’s wife, Carolyn, was the founding principal at Hartford’s Montessori Magnet at Batchelder. John is a Montessori consultant for AMI and has provided guidance to public Montessori schools across several states. John’s family currently hosts two exchange students from China, who attend a local high school.

Jordan Bacon, Elementary Assistant

Bio coming soon!

Julia Webb, Principal

Julia Webb has a BA from Dartmouth College and an Ed.M. in Curriculum and Teaching from Teachers College Columbia University. She attributes her passion for teaching and learning to her own experiences as a child in a Montessori School and later as a student in New Haven Public Schools. Julia has spent the last 15 years as a teacher and leader in public schools in New York City and New Haven. In this work, Julia has developed systems for coaching teachers and for student social emotional growth and mastery of skill and content. Julia is committed to creating meaningful and challenging learning environments for adults and children to grow.

Katabba Muhammad, Primary Assistant

Bio coming soon!

KyoungsookKyoungsook Song, Primary Guide

Kyoungsook Song holds an LLB from Seoul National University in South Korea and AMI diploma in Primary education from the Montessori Training Center Northeast (MTCNE). She is currently taking the course of Master of Education in Early Childhood Education through University of Hartford. She has been with ECMS since the school opened in 2014. She has also worked as a Sunday School teacher for 1-5 year-old children at the New Haven Korean Church and as a Korean language teacher at the New Haven Korean School since 2008.

Liz Fernandez, Office Coordinator

Bio coming soon!

Marifrances Cooney, Primary Guide

Marifrances has been involved in Montessori education since 1994. She holds an AMS Early Childhood certification for the Center for Montessori Education/NY, a B.A. in Psychology and Child Studies from Charter Oak State College, and an M.Ed. in Montessori Early Childhood Education from the College of New Rochelle. Marifrances is the Early Childhood Practical Life presenter and a field consultant for the Center for Montessori/NY. Previously she was a founding member of Great Beginnings Montessori school in Fairfield, and a head teacher and assistant primary coordinator at Hudson Country Montessori in Danbury.

Melissa Mcclain, Reading Specialist

Bio coming soon!

Melissa Cardoso, Primary Assistant

Melissa obtained her Bachelor’s Degree in 2019 for Education at Charter Oak State College. She also has an Early Childhood Degree from Gateway Community College. Before joining the team at ECMS Melissa worked at Lulac Headstart Inc. Where she was a head teacher in a preschool classroom for 9 years. Melissa has always believed that children learn best when the learning environment is designed to meet the developmental needs of each child and one that encourages exploration, creativity and independence. Melissa had been dedicated to working with young children throughout her entire career. She is a native Spanish Speaker.

Michelle Brenes, Elementary Guide

Bio coming soon!

Myesha Hermitt, Primary Assistant, Extended Day Team

Bio coming soon!

NakishaNakisha Cadore, Student Support Team

Nakisha Cadore holds a B.A. in Elementary Education with a concentration in English from Johnson C. Smith University. She has worked as a student teacher intern in New Haven and in Charlotte, NC, where she also taught literacy through Freedom School Partners. Nakisha also brings to ECMS a wealth of experience in youth mentoring and political canvassing.

Nemesi Ayala, Primary Assistant, Extended Day Team

Bio coming soon!

Neslin Iyilikci, Primary Guide

Neslin has B.A. in Psychology from Istanbul Bilgi University and an M.A. in Clinical Psychology from T.C. Dogus University in Istanbul and is certified in Early Childhood Education through the Maryland Center for Montessori Studies in Baltimore. Before joining the team at ECMS, Neslin worked as a co-teacher and intern at Bridges Montessori in Towson, MD. Neslin also brings to ECMS her extensive background and experience in developmental psychology.

Neva Caldwell, Extended Day Team

Neva trained as part of the first class of Elm City Montessori’s AMI Primary Assistants before joining the ECMS team in 2014. She has worked with children as a Teacher’s Aide at Ridge Hill School in Hamden and through extensive volunteer work throughout the New Haven community including the Yale New Haven Hospital, New Haven Healthy Start and the PACK Program.  She also worked with the New Haven Board of Education for more than 13 years and with Special Education programs.

Nicola Watterson, Primary Guide

Nicola is excited to bring her passion for education and dedication to children to the new Hickory classroom this year. She has experience working in private Montessori schools both in her native Scotland, and her adopted home here in Connecticut, and was an assistant within the ECMS primary program last year while she completed her state certification. Nicola earned a BSc in Psychology from University of Stirling (Scotland) and a primary AMI diploma from MTCNE in Hartford. She is committed to providing an authentic Montessori experience to the children who join the Hickory family.

Patrick Whitney, Primary Assistant

Patrick earned his BA in anthropology from Southern Connecticut State University, spent time working as an archaeologist in Ethiopia and New Haven, and has been working with Elm City Montessori since 2016 as a Primary Assistant. He loves learning about psychology and child development, and is currently pursuing his 0-6 teaching certificate from Charter Oak State College. He enjoys living in New Haven.

Ramya Subramanian, Elementary Guide

Ramya is excited to bring her practice of the Montessori method to the public sector, after having taught at an independent Montessori school in Milford since 2009. Her passion for the method stems from having watched her daughter thrive in a Montessori school, and her own continued love of learning.  She holds a BA, MA, and M.Phil  in English Literature and Linguistics from Madras University, and an MLS from Rutgers University.  Her Montessori credentials include AMS Certification in Primary and Elementary I and II. She also holds Connecticut State Certification in Elementary Education. When she is not at school or making materials, she is out hiking in the woods with her dog, Tulsi.

SharonSharon Harrison, Elementary Assistant

Sharon has dedicated her career to creating and nurturing a lifelong love of learning in children. An enthusiastic and dynamic teacher, Sharon is AMS Certified and holds certificates in Early Childhood Education and Child Psychology. Before joining the team at ECMS, Sharon was a Head Teacher at both the New England School of Montessori in Milford and the Hudson County Montessori School in New Rochelle, NY. She has also taught in Kingston, Jamaica.

SusanSusan Clark, Elementary Guide

Susan Clark is an AMI trained Elementary guide with 18 years of classroom experience. She has worked as a consultant at several area Montessori schools and is a Course Assistant for the Montessori Training Center Northeast. Susan is currently working towards her Masters of Education with a Montessori Concentration at the University of Hartford. Helping to grow the Elementary program at Elm City Montessori right now feels just right.

Tonika Lowe, Extended Day AM Coordinator

Bio coming soon!

TroyCaldwellTroy Caldwell, Extended Day Team

Troy is currently working on his Associate’s degree at Gateway Community College.  He joined the ECMS team in 2014. Troy previously worked as a lunch and recess teacher at Ridge Hill School and as a volunteer with the New Haven Best Buddy program.