ECMS Staff

Alejandra Corona Ortega, Elementary Assistant (Pine)

Alejandra is a Mexican migrant who has called New Haven her home for over ten years. Her background is in Ethnic Studies and Education. She is currently working on her Connecticut Teacher Certification with the Relay Graduate School of Education. She is an ardent believer in education as a tool for social justice.


Amelia Allen Sherwood M.Ed., Anti-Bias & Anti-Racism Director

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

Anja Filan, Special Education Teacher

Anja has been working with children and families in Boston, New York, and Connecticut for a number of years. As an educator, Anja works to partner with children, teachers, and caregivers to create inclusive spaces where students feel affirmed and empowered. She passionately believes that the intersection of ABAR education and Universal Design for Learning are essential in teaching for social justice.

Carolina Silva, Primary Assistant (Maple)

Dave 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.

Diane Flowers, Operations Manager

Diane, a native Marylander, has lived in Connecticut for the past 8 years. With a BA in English, she pursued a career in education and taught Pre-K and middle school English and History. She eventually moved to California, where she lived for 7 years, and had the opportunity to experience working for a toy company. This gave her experience and insight into several aspects of business management. It was also a fun place to work, as you can imagine. After leaving California to be closer to family and friends, she started substitute teaching for a charter school in Washington, DC. Eventually, she became the Office Manager there, and then the school’s Business Manager. After her move to Connecticut, she worked for Hartford Schools and for a local non-profit. Now, she finds herself back in the field of education, excited to make a difference, in some small way, in the lives of children in New Haven. Fun fact: Between working and moving from state to state, she found time to attend and graduate from the Esthiology program at The Aveda Institute. She loves all things health and beauty.

Dianne Schindler, Ph.D., Reading Interventionist

Dianne earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Secondary Education (Social Studies) from the University of Maine, and has worked as a classroom teacher for elementary, middle, and high school students. She also earned an M.A. and Ph.D. in Cultural Anthropology from the University of Connecticut.  She has over ten years of experience as a university instructor and adjunct professor in Anthropology and Women’s Studies. She is passionate about social justice and education, and aspires to help her students both reach and exceed their goals.

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.

Erin Burgett, Primary Guide

Gameliel Moses, Outdoor Educator


Heidi Crosby, Elementary Guide (Pine)

Heidi has an elementary teaching degree from the Association Montessori Internationale and has been using it teaching and assisting at Elm City Montessori since 2018. When she is not living and breathing all things Montessori, she is making art, cooking and laughing with her children, or walking the family dog, Milo.

Henry Webb, Custodian

Irving Iñahuazo, Elementary Assistant (Birch)

James Erard, Erdkinder Science

Jennifer Langlois, Social Worker

Jennifer has her Masters degree in Social Work from Fordham University. She did her undergraduate work in Social Work at Southern Connecticut State University. She was born and raised in West Haven Connecticut and truly loves the neighbor city of New Haven. Before coming to ECMS  Jennifer worked at a preschool for 4 years, supporting children through developmental stages and gaining skills in social and emotional learning. Jennifer fell in love with ECMS when she learned the Montessori philosophy allows the children to guide the work. Jennifer is committed to helping the ECMS community grow in their social and emotional learning.

Joelle Rosenbuell, Elementary Guide (Chestnut)

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 (Oak)

Jordan grew up in Milford and has lived in CT all his life.  He graduated in 2018 from Fairfield University with BA in Studio Art with a double Minor in Education and Classical Studies. He is an active painter, loves learning and teaching and is very passionate about ABAR work.

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.

Kat Marcil, Elementary Assistant (Ginkgo)

Katabba Muhammad, Primary Assistant (Hickory)

KyoungsookKyoungsook Song, Primary Guide (Mulberry)

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.

Laura Salazar, Elementary Assistant (Chestnut)

Laura, originally from Mexico, moved to the U.S. about 12 years ago to learn the English language, experience American culture, and seek opportunities beyond those available to her in her hometown. Laura fell in love with the Montessori Method while volunteering at a local school in her community in Boston MA and has passionately pursued broadening and enriching her own explorations of the Montessori method since. She holds her Early Childhood Education Montessori Certification from The American Montessori Society and an Associate Degree in Education from Bunker Hill Community College. Laura has been working as an assistant and guide in Montessori schools for a decade while continuously attending Montessori related workshops and events throughout the country. She has also taught Spanish in schools, public libraries, and parenting groups. Laura is currently working on getting her B.S. in Child Studies and Connecticut Teacher Certification with Charter Oak State College.

LeShawna Murrell, Nurse

Lindsey Witte, Physical Education Teacher

Marifrances Cooney, Primary Guide (Cherry)

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.

Michelle Brenes, Elementary Guide (Willow)

Myesha Hermitt, Social Emotional Learning Team

My name is Myesha Hermitt, I have my Certificate and Associate’s in Science in Early Childhood Inclusive Education. I’m continuing my education in Elementary Education. Before joining the ECMS team, I was a head Pre-K teacher at a Private preschool in the Wilton area. I was also a team lead at the school, overseeing a team consisting of eight teachers. I am excited to now be apart of the ECMS team learning and growing in the field of Montessori.

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.

Nicola Watterson, Primary Guide (Hickory)

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 (Cherry)

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.

Polite Wilson, Elementary Guide (Birch)

Ramya Subramanian, Elementary Guide (Oak)

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.

Reilly Stevens, Primary Assistant (Cherry/Sassafras)

Samantha Funk, Primary Assistant

Samantha (Sam) Funk (she/her) is originally from Wisconsin, where she graduated with a degree from Beloit College in 2020. As a recent graduate, Sam comes to New Haven and the Elm City community with a degree in Theatre Arts and double minors in Spanish and Religious Studies. Sam is passionate about anti-bias, anti-racist work; social emotional learning; and the Montessori method–all frameworks she will utilize as she begins her new role as the assistant in the Sassafras classroom.

Saundra Stephenson, Erdkinder Math

SharonSharon Harrison, Elementary Assistant (Willow)

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 (Primary) and AMI Certified (Lower/Upper Elementary) 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.

Shira Engel, Erdkinder Humanities

Shira is passionate about culturally responsive and sustaining pedagogy, social justice through literacy, and educating the whole child. A lifelong New Yorker until 2020, she previously worked as a founding public middle school teacher in Brooklyn, an elementary educator in The Bronx, and as a Community Involvement Specialist through AmeriCorps.  She earned her M.A. in Secondary English Education from Teachers College, Columbia University, her B.A. in English and Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Wesleyan University, and is currently pursuing her Dyslexia Specialist Certification through the Wilson Reading System program.

SusanSusan Clark, Elementary Guide

Susan Clark is an AMI trained Elementary guide with 24 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 holds a Masters of Education with a Montessori Concentration from  the University of Hartford. Helping to grow the Elementary program at Elm City Montessori right now feels just right.

Tamika Toney, Building Swing/Substitute

My Name is Ms. Tamika I have an Associates degree in early childhood education and I’m currently finishing up my Bachelors Degree in special education at Southern Ct state University. I have several years of Lead Teaching experience. I have expertise in differentiating instruction, and demonstrate my communication and leadership skills being a highly adaptable and versatile educator. These experiences have helped me blossom into a well-rounded and compassionate individual. I love teaching and hope to become a Montessori guide in the near future!

Victoria Rodriguez, Operations Associate

Victoria comes to us with more than ten years of experience working as a paralegal and managing an office. Originally from Mexico, moved to the United States at five years old, she identifies as a true native of New Haven! She enjoys writing, reading, working out and volunteering within the community. She has a passion for children and immigration rights and has children in Birch, Chestnut and Mulberry!