ECMS Staff

alissalevy-e1390252779222Dr. Alissa Levy, Principal

Dr. Alissa Levy has a PhD in Urban Public School Administration from the University of Southern California and has degrees in English, Math and Brain Research. A public school teacher for the past 12 years, she has held many positions including math teacher,instructional coach, PTA board member, and education consultant for Boeing, Inc. Alissa attributes these successes predominately to her childhood experiences in a Montessori classroom. Alissa hails from a long line of public school educators who inspire her to help all children develop in a supportive, nurturing, and inclusive environment.

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.  Eliza has led the ECMS effort from its inception as its Board Chair.  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.

KimberlyKimberly Garley-Erb, Director of Social-Emotional Learning

Kimberly has a B.A. from Colorado College and an M.A. in Education from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champlain. After serving in the Peace Corps (Belize), she worked as an elementary teacher. Upon moving to Connecticut nearly 10 years ago, Kimberly created an online parent resource serving greater New Haven. She most recently worked as the director of Alphabet Academy, an early learning center in Hamden, CT.

AdamAdam Weimann, Tutor

Adam Weimann holds a B.A. in English from Albertus Magnus College in New Haven. Prior to joining the team at ECMS, he worked in the New Haven Public School system as a substitute teacher. He looks forward to continuing his career at Elm City Montessori.


AmeliaAmelia Sherwood, Family Partnership Coordinator

Amelia has a B.S. from Lincoln University in Pennsylvania and an M.Ed. in Education Leadership from Concordia University in Portland, Oregon.  Amelia has been with ECMS since the school opened in 2014. Prior to joining the team at ECMS, Amelia was a co-teacher for two years at the Montessori School on Edgewood in New Haven.

AnnieAnnie Armugum, Primary Assistant

Annie is a certified Montessori Assistant Teacher. She came to ECMS after several years at The Montessori School in Wilton, CT, where she was an assistant teacher in a primary classroom. Annie also has experience as a multi-age childcare provider and a mental health counselor for both adolescents and adults.


Anthony Wiley, Tutor

Anthony is studying Liberal Arts at Gateway Community College and has worked at ECMS since December 2015. A working musician, Anthony also teaches music and is a band assistant at James Hillhouse High School. He has been an intern with the Yale Music in Schools Initiative since 2014.

April Gaudioso, Tutor

Cassandra Simmons, Tutor

Cassandra holds a B.S. in Corporate Communications from Southern Connecticut State University. She joins us from the Children’s Center in Hamden, where she was an administrative assistant, childcare worker, and educational liaison. Cassandra previously worked as patient support representative at the Hospital of Saint Raphael, and she has been actively involved in her community as a Girl Scout parent troop leader, block watch member, and church usher.

Chrissy Rogers, Elementary Assistant

Chrissy is a member of the elementary classroom team and an ECMS parent. She holds a B.S. in Child Studies from Charter Oak State College and is currently studying in the AMI Elementary Training Course through the Montessori Training Center Northeast. Chrissy has worked as a private childcare provider throughout New Haven and Fairfield Counties. She is a seasoned observer of young children, a creative facilitator of practical learning, and a dedicated model of peace, compassion, and understanding.

Daniel Paige, Tutor

EmmaEmma Moreno, Student Support Team

Emma holds an Associate Degree in Early Childhood Education from Penn Foster College, a B.A. in Child and Family Development from the American Public University, and is a certified Montessori teacher through the United Montessori Association. 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, memorization, and recall. Through these strategies, she has supported children’s cognitive, emotional, social, and physical growth. Learning about the Montessori Method has made Emma a better teacher and given her even more tools and skills to help children’s development.

FaithFaith King, Primary Guide

Faith has a B.A. from Warner Pacific College, her AMI Montessori Certification from Montessori Northwest, both in Portland, Oregon and her Master’s in Education from Loyola University Maryland.  Faith has been at ECMS since the school opened in 2014. Before coming to ECMS, Faith worked as a nanny for seven years and also as a preschool teacher’s assistant.

FrancoiseFrancoise Leger, Primary Guide

Francoise comes to Elm City Montessori School from Hartford, CT.  She attended University of Connecticut and University of Hartford and has a BA in Sociology and MEd in Elementary Education. Francoise received her AMI Primary training at the Montessori Training Center of New England and also holds her Provisional CT teaching Certification in both Elementary K-6 and Montessori Primary. Francoise holds Montessori in a special place in her heart, because her own children attended AMI Montessori schools. Francoise is a dedicated and committed individual whose passion is teaching children and instilling a lifelong love for learning.

JacciJacci Bova, Primary Assistant

Jacci is the Assistant in the Maple Room at Elm City Montessori. She has experience working with a diverse range of populations, including special needs students, mentally ill adults, and adults in recovery. Jacci is devoted to improving the lives of others: while teaching at ECMS, she also works as a House Manager at a local recovery facility and is a student at Gateway Community College.

JenniferJennifer Richards, Magnet Resource Teacher

Jennifer has her AMI certification from the Ohio Montessori Training Institute and holds a B.A. from Skidmore College and an M.S. in Geology from Texas A&M. Prior to joining the team at ECMS, Jennifer worked as a Montessori Primary Directress and English Teacher in Osaka, Japan. She has extensive Montessori teaching experience, having taught in Montessori schools in Florida and Ohio, and she has worked as a hydrogeologist in Ohio and Pennsylvania.

KyoungsookKyoungsook Song, Primary Assistant

Kyoungsook Song holds an LLB from Seoul National University in South Korea and AMI Assistants certification from the Montessori Training Center Northeast (MTCNE). She is currently taking the AMI Primary Guide Training course through MTCNE. Kyoungsook 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 for 8 years.

L.B. Steinicki, Outdoor Educator

L.B. holds an A.S. in Early Childhood Education, a B.A. in Psychology with a specialization in Mental Health, and an M.A. in Recreation & Leisure Studies Management Administration. L.B. has extensive experience designing curricula and leading programs at Solar Youth, Common Ground, and the Discovery Museum and Planetarium in Bridgeport, as well as many other camps and summer programs throughout the state. L.B. is also a professional hula-hooper, stilt walker, and fire spinner as well as a Mary Kay independent beauty consultant.

LizzyLizzy Beck, Public Ally

Lizzy holds a B.A. in English from Yale University and taught high school English for three years at Buxton School, a progressive boarding school in Western Massachusetts. Prior to classroom teaching, Lizzy worked for Artspace in New Haven, and for the children’s publishing company Scholastic Book Clubs. She is happy to return to New Haven and excited to contribute to the work of the ECMS elementary team this year through her service with Public Allies Connecticut.

Melissa Cardoso, Primary Assistant

Melissa earned her Associates Degree in Early Childhood Education at Gateway Community College. Before joining the team at ECMS, she was a head teacher in a LULAC Head Start preschool classroom in New Haven for nine years. Melissa has been dedicated to working with young children throughout her entire career. She is a native Spanish-speaker.

MichelleMichelle Arias, Office Manager

Michelle Arias has a B.S. in Business Administration with a concentration in Accounting from Northeastern University and has her AMI Assistants Certification from the Montessori Training Center Northeast. She has a diverse and interesting background. During college she taught English in China through her school’s international co-op program. She also spent time in South Africa, studying micro-finance and working directly with urban entrepreneurs to help grow their businesses. She loves the arts and education and is excited to work directly with the students of New Haven.

NakishaNakisha Cadore, Paraprofessional

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.

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.

NevaCampbellNeva Caldwell, Student Support Staff

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.

Patrick Whitney, Tutor

Patrick holds a B.S. in Anthropology from Southern Connecticut State University and is currently training for his EMT License. Before joining the ECMS team as a tutor, he worked as a substitute teacher throughout the NHPS district. Patrick also has experience as a baker, a teaching assistant, and an archaeological researcher both in Connecticut and in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Samantha Prybeck, Primary Guide

Samantha Prybeck is a New Jersey native who discovered Montessori education while living in Portland, Oregon. She studied at the Montessori Institute Northwest and is certified at the Primary level by the Association Montessori Internationale. Samantha has worked with the Portland Montessori Collaborative, Tiny Revolution Montessori, and Whole Child Montessori Center, all in Portland, Oregon. She earned her B.A. in English from Reed College and her M.Ed. in Montessori education from Loyola University Maryland.

In 2013, Samantha volunteered at the International Montessori Congress, where she had the pleasure of meeting fellow Montessorians from around the world who share her passion for the Montessori method and believe it is truly education for peace which prepares children to become global citizens. Samantha is delighted to return to the East Coast, bringing her Montessori experience to New Haven.

The joy and wonder she observes in children never cease to inspire her. In addition to nurturing the innate abilities of young people, Samantha enjoys bicycling, cooking, dancing, and playing ukulele.

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.

shivaniShivani Bammi, Tutor

Shivani will complete her early childhood certification with the Khalsa Montessori Teacher Education Program in June 2017. She has led the Kindergarten of the John Martyn Memorial School in rural India, the preschool of the Saint John the Evangelist ACE Academy in Southern Arizona, and the primary class of the Georgetown Montessori School in Washington, DC. She is inspired every day by her colleagues and the work being done at ECMS.

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.

Tara Cote, Lead Outdoor Educator and Space Manager

Tara Cote, ECMS’s Lead Outdoor Educator, has a Bachelor’s Degree in French Cultural and Linguistic Studies and International Studies from Arcadia University. She also holds a Certification in Sustainable Agriculture from the University of Vermont and is a Certified Interpretive Guide through the National Association of Interpretation. Tara has extensive experience in farming, outdoor education, and childcare. She most recently was an Assistant Director at the Sustainable Farm School in Hartford and taught and coordinated summer programs at the 4-H Center at Auerfarm in Bloomfield, CT. Tara continues to teach summer programs and lead field trips at Common Ground in New Haven.

TonyaTonya Wiley, Elementary Guide

Tonya joined the ECMS team in 2014. Prior to ECMS, Tonya worked with middle and high school students for nearly ten years, teaching groups of students about suicide and crisis prevention.  Tonya will receive her AMI certification from the Montessori Center Northeast in June 2017. She is excited to be working with younger students and admires a Montessori environment for the opportunity it gives children to make choices and be independent.

TroyCaldwellTroy Caldwell, Tutor

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.


VictoriaVictoria Bartlette, Student Support Staff

Victoria has a B.A. in Biology and is currently working on her M.A. in Biology, with a concentration in Entomology. In addition to her extensive scientific research, Victoria has worked as substitute teacher for NHPS. She joins ECMS as a member of our Student Support Team, focusing on supporting our primary students.