IMS classrooms are staffed by a dedicated team of Head Teachers and Classroom Teachers. Our Head Teachers are Montessori Certified, either through the American Montessori Society (AMS) or Association Montessori Internationale (AMI). Their Montessori experiences provide the secure foundation on which the school’s curriculum is based.
Click on each program name to be directed to their information page.
Shenoa Landon is the Lead teacher in the Nido classroom. Shenoa is a native Ithacan who graduated from TC3 and Binghamton University with a degree in fine arts and technical theatre. After college, Shenoa was introduced to Montessori and worked at IMS in the Elm Room and toddler afterschool. After three years at IMS she moved to North Carolina where she earned her Montessori Infant/Toddler credential along with the RIE Foundations (Resources for Infant Educaring) training. Shenoa is also a Montessori Trainer at the Northeast Montessori Institute where she leads future Montessorians in respectful caregiving of the infant. Shenoa has 7 years of infant experience, having led an infant room at the Christian Montessori School of Lake Norman and most recently leading the Nido at IMS! When Shenoa is not working with babies, she enjoys gardening, traveling, spending time with her partner, friends and family, and blogging about football. Go, Giants! PS She is also Olive’s sister!
Alex Muok was born and raised in California, where she gained over 10 years of experience doing childcare. She moved to Ithaca in 2013 and is currently pursuing her bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice at TC3 so that she can help troubled youth. She has a strong passion for helping others and is very excited to continue her journey at IMS! In her spare time, she loves watching documentaries and caring for her three kittens.
Yoko Roy is the lead teacher in the Hickory Room and the Toddler Level Coordinator on the Leadership Team. Yoko began her journey at Ithaca Montessori School in 2004! Yoko was born and raised in Tokyo, Japan. There she studied journalism at Bunka Gakuin college and was an editor of a women’s magazine for fifteen years. Yoko moved to the U.S. in 1999 and started at IMS as an Assistant Teacher in the Primary Program. After one year, she found her passion working with Toddlers and is now a lead teacher in our Toddler Program. She received her certification from the Montessori Infant / Toddler training at the Princeton Center for Montessori Teacher Education in 2008. She lives in Trumansburg with her two daughters, Naomi and Emma.
Macie Brasselmann began her journey at Ithaca Montessori School in 2014. Prior to joining IMS, Macie spent 11 years working with children in a variety of settings as a play therapist, one to one child aide, caseworker, and independent living skills teacher for children in foster care. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Ithaca College and completed her senior seminar in Montessori Philosophy and Education.
Michael Amadeo is a Hickory Room teacher and Toddler After school Team Leader. He has been working with children on and off for nine years, and at IMS for two years. He moved to Ithaca to attend Ithaca College where he graduated with a BS in Sociology in 2010. Michael is hoping to apply his knowledge of social patterns to effective and nurturing childcare. Michael is a longtime musician, enjoys reading, and being in nature.
Destiny Pfeffer is a teacher in the Hickory room and toddler after school. She recently moved from Jupiter, Florida where she was working at Turtle River Montessori as a Toddler teacher and After School lead. She received my Child Development Associate (CDA) Credential in 2004 and have worked with children on and off for 15 years. She has training in the Conscious Discipline method by Becky Bailey which covers Social-Emotional Learning and Classroom Management. She attended the pre-med program at Florida Atlantic University (FAU) then transferred to a State School in Tennessee as a pre-pharmacy student. She loves to travel and everything Disney. She is extremely excited to be a part of the Ithaca Montessori School.
Kimberly Cocchiola is the Lead Teacher in the Oak Room. Kim began her journey at Ithaca Montessori School as part of the summer program in 2014. She has worked in both the Oak Room and Walnut Room summer programs as a toddler lead and a primary lead. Kim was born and raised in CT and began her Montessori journey in 2006 at the Fraser Woods Montessori School. There Kim cultivated, grew and led the toddler curriculum and program for 11 years. Prior to this experience she spent 4 years at FWM in a 3-6 classroom, mainstreaming a child with autism. Kim has spent 15 years working with children with autism using ABA, RDI, Play Therapy and Sensory Integration. Through her years working with children with autism Kim had the opportunity to work alongside and train with behavior analysts, speech and language pathologists, oral motor specialists, occupational therapist, physical therapists, play therapists and more. In Kim’s spare time she enjoys time with her family, farming, fishing and being outdoors. Kim is very excited for her transition into Ithaca Montessori School and looks forward to working with and getting to know the families and children.
Sarah Heavens-Soda comes to us from London, England. She has worked with children for over 10 years and has gained her associates degree while working in England. She also has worked in Germany teaching English for a year. She moved with her wife Danielle to America in September 2014. She has worked in many of the classrooms as a substitute teacher. In Sarah’s spare time she enjoys exploring Ithaca and what America has in store for her. This is Sarah’s first Montessori school, but she has fallen in love with the teaching ways and cannot wait to carry on her teaching career learning more and more about the Montessori way of life.
Elizabeth Ferguson has been with IMS since the summer of 2015. She has a background in Human Development and Mental Health and earned a Masters of Divinity and Theology. She is also a Licensed Massage Therapist. She has worked in the fields of massage therapy, counseling, church ministry and during end-of-life transitions. Elizabeth enjoys hiking, Tai Chi, yoga and being the mother of her three adult children.
Beth Pallace is the Lead teacher in the Willow Room. A native of the Ithaca area, Beth came to Ithaca Montessori in August of 2012 with a diverse resume of experiences working with youth and families in Tompkins County. Not only is connected to Ithaca families through her work with young children in the area, she is a business owner too! You will find her at the Ithaca Farmers Market on the weekends playing along the shore with her two small children, or serving up fresh pastries, empanadas and steamed momos. Beyond these accomplishments, Beth holds a bachelors degree in Anthropology.
Juliet Halloran is a teacher in the Willow Room. Juliet is new to the Ithaca Montessori School, but was born and raised in Ithaca. After a few years adventuring in Colorado, she is excited to be back in her hometown and to be a toddler teacher at the Ithaca Montessori School. She has many years of experience working with young children and most recently worked as an Older Infant teacher at the Jewish Community Center in Denver, Colorado. She holds a B.A. in Environmental Studies and loves to incorporate her love of nature into her teaching. Juliet loves to explore all the natural beauty this area has to offer and her favorite outdoor activity is hiking the many wonderful trails throughout the area, especially those found in the Finger Lakes National Forest. She also enjoys reading, learning about plant and herbal medicine, swimming, and traveling.
Heather Peluso is a teacher in the Willow Room. Heather, a native of Buffalo NY, came to Ithaca after graduating from SUNY Cortland with a B.A. in History. Shortly after coming to Ithaca, Heather realized her passion for child care, and has been caring for children in centers, home based care and preschool for 15 years. Heather received her Child Development Associate (CDA) Credential in 2006. She lives on West Hill with her husband, two daughters, Sydnie and Reese, and a goofy Golden Retriever. You might find her playing softball evenings at Cass Park during the summer.
Sarah Mirabile is a 2015 graduate of Mansfield University where she studied Psychology with a concentration in Life Span Development. In the past 3 years, Sarah has accumulated teaching experiences in a variety of settings: a home day-care, a public elementary school, an educational learning center, and (now) a Montessori school. She has worked with children ranging from ages 0-9 years. Sarah was first inspired to be a teacher at age 11 when her 5th grade teacher profoundly inspired her to share her desire for learning with others. Sarah has always had a passion for philosophy and upon learning about Maria Montessori’s, Sarah was determined to learn more and engage her students in its exercises. In Sarah’s free time, you can her writing poetry, connecting to nature, or visiting with her friends and family.
Khaliha Clemons is the Lead teacher of the Elm Room and the Child Guidance Specialist at IMS. First came to IMS in the winter of 2007 for a college internship, and found the principles of Montessori education in line with her own teaching philosophy. She graduated from Keuka College with her Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood & Special Education. She spent 5 years working in our summer camp program, and two years as an assistant teacher in the Pine Room before attending the Princeton Center for Montessori Teacher Education for Primary level certification.
Heather Frost is the Outdoor Science Lab teacher and Elm Room classroom teacher. After graduating from Wells College with a Psychology Degree, Heather started working for SpringBrook. She participated in their self-determination program and focused on creating home-based programs for children with special needs. In Ithaca, Heather has enjoyed being a Gardens 4 Humanity educator, a nanny, and a volunteer with the Cool School Food Program. In her free time, you will almost always find Heather engaged in an outdoor activity. She especially loves hiking, growing vegetables, sledding, and learning the names of all the wildflowers that she encounters.
Kathryn Barnett is a classroom teacher in the pine room. She first came to the pine room of the beginning of the fall 2017, for an new job experience working for a Montessori school and their own philosophy of teaching. She has her associates in early childhood ministration and is working towards a bachelors degree, from ashford University.
Kamrie Blakeslee was Born in Texas, raised in Pennsylvania and moved to New York in 2010. She spent most of her time helping care for her 7 siblings which is where she gained a lot of my experience with children. She graduated High School in 2014 and went to Corning Community College to pursue Nursing, and soon to be going to TC3 for child care. She spent 4 years working as a CNA and HHA before switching to something she also enjoys just as much, being around Children. She is enjoying her experience at IMS and plans to continue growing in her knowledge of this philosophy. In her spare time she likes to go shopping, being outside, and traveling where she spends lots of time with her family.
Angelina Oszust will be our Lead teacher in the Walnut Room as she is receiving her AMI Certification for 3-6. She began her journey at Ithaca Montessori School in 2013. She holds her A.A.S in Early Childhood and a New York State Teaching Assistant certificate. She has been a part of two Montessori schools in the Albany area, Bought Montessori and Woodland Hill Montessori. Most recently, she worked at a childcare center in Vestal, NY with 3 year olds as well as before and after school. Angelina enjoys theater and camping in her spare time, she also led a Sunday School class before moving to the area.
Luiz Duarte is a classroom teacher in the Walnut Room. Luiz was born and raised in Brazil, and moved to Ithaca last October. He has a bachelor’s degree in Physical Education and a master’s degree in Sport Psychology. Luiz has worked for many years as a gymnastics coach, and teaching physical education in International Schools and colleges in Brazil. Luiz and his wife decided to enroll their son at Ithaca Montessori School. Soon after, Luiz was offered a position as a substitute teacher position in the toddler and primary classrooms at IMS. A few months later, he accepted a position as a Walnut classroom teacher. Luiz and his wife used to practice rock climbing and hiking in Brazil. His family now enjoys all the parks Ithaca and the Finger Lakes area can offer.
Skylar Janney is a teacher in the Walnut Room. She just moved to Ithaca in late July. She is from Orlando, FL where she grew up with her brother, sister and parents. In May 2017, she graduated from the Florida State University with her B.S. in Family and Child Sciences. In her last semester at FSU she interned at a classical school, student teaching 1st grade. That experience led her to IMS where she is happy to work with children and families. On weekends, you can find her enjoying beautiful Ithaca scenery, and in the winter you’ll see her bundled up trying to survive the cold. She looks forward to meeting everyone in the IMS community.
Elsa Sinurat is a Walnut teacher, who came to Ithaca from Jakarta, Indonesia a decade ago when her spouse pursued his Ph.D. study at Cornell. She holds a Bachelor and professional degree in Psychology from the University of Indonesia and worked in the field of industrial and organizational psychology. As she also has a deep interest in managing the development of human resources, Elsa pursued her master degree in Human Resources and Development from the same university. Using her knowledge as a psychologist, she had various experiences in assessing psychological assessment of school-age children. Her deep interest in children education later drove her to complete the Early Childhood Education at TC3. She believes that the teaching opportunity in IMS will be a very important experience for her to enrich her exposure in children education that later could benefit her further endeavor for a higher level of education. In return, she expects to be able to give her contribution to this field. As her deep involvement in children education also brings her to teach currently at Sunday School.
Olive Landon is a Co-Lead teacher in the Pine Room and has worked as a teacher in our Primary Program since 2006. In addition to working towards a degree in Early Childhood Education at TC3, Olive received her Montessori certification from the Montessori Early Childhood training & certification program at Northeast Montessori Institute in 2013. She has led the Pine Room since 2012. Olive lives in Dryden and enjoys creating stories and songs with our students. She is also a big fan of Dr. Seuss!
Laura St. John is a teacher in the Walnut Room. Laura grew up in the Washington D.C. area and moved to Ithaca to attend Ithaca College where she received her bachelor’s degree in sociology. During her time as a student, Laura fell in love with Ithaca and could not imagine her life anywhere else. After working as a manager at Purity Ice Cream for a few years, she moved on and taught children with autism at the Franziska Racker Centers. With a newfound devotion for early childhood, Laura began looking around at other schools and found Ithaca Montessori School. She could not be happier to be a part of the community here! When she is not here at IMS, you can find Laura at the Sciencenter or at one of the state parks in the area with her son.
Terresa Mattison is a classroom teacher in the Pine room. She started in October of 2017. She is very excited to learn all the wonderful approaches to Montessori, and be part of such a beautiful environment. She graduated from Corning Community College with an Associates in Early Childhood Education, and is currently working toward her Bachelor’s degree in Social Work through Keuka College. She has a variety of experience working with children at various levels of care, and age groups. She loves the Ithaca area, and spends most of her weekends here. Her family and friends are the center of her world, and a huge part of her life. She has a love for being outdoors, painting rocks, hiking, swimming, trying new foods, meeting new people, and going on adventures. She also has a love for dogs. Terresa is thrilled to be a part of IMS community, and to see what the future holds!
Linda Chen is a music teacher. She began her journey at Ithaca Montessori in 2009. Linda holds her M.A. and Ed.M in Music and Music Education from Columbia University. Her passion involves teaching singing, and making music to children of all ages. Linda is a registered Music Together teacher, and is also Orff Level I and II certified. She received her Kodaly Level I Teacher Certification at NYU and Dalcroze training in NYC. Linda lives in Ithaca and enjoys baking and outdoor activities.
Interim Executive Director
Walaa Maharem-Horan has a degree in psychology, with a concentration in special education, from McMaster’s University. She is the founding director of Ithaca Welcomes Refugees, a non-profit here in Ithaca. She is an incoming board member of the Ithaca Public Education Initiative, and a translator (Arabic) for the Ithaca City School district. Walaa has extensive experience as an operational manager, including budget and fund raising experience, for several small-to-medium size companies in Ithaca. Walaa is passionate about IMS. She has already done a great deal on behalf of the school in her short tenure as a board member, including spearheading and submitting grants to help Ithaca Montessori School grow.
Ellen Walsh is invested in helping the school continue on the path of excellence in early childhood education IMS embarked on 49 years ago and driven to support the educational staff in giving all IMS students the gift of a vibrant and fun education. Ellen comes to us with 10 years’ experience teaching Tae Kwon Do to children. Ellen holds a B.S in Animal Science from Cornell University. She has worn many hats professionally, from pastry chef to operations coordinator for a local solar company, but all have had the common thread of providing her customers with the best service with a smile. She loves taking advantage of all the beautiful parks in the Ithaca area, cooking with her family (and taking the opportunity for a chemistry lesson!), and volunteering in the community. Ellen resides in Danby with her husband and her two children.
Pam Weatherby began her journey at Ithaca Montessori School in 1999. She attended the Center for Montessori Teacher Education in New Rochelle, NY in 2001 to complete her Primary Montessori certification. She worked as a primary lead teacher for 10 years prior to transitioning into an administration position at IMS. Pam worked as the Program Director at IMS from 2009-2015. She then spent another 2 years as a lead teacher in the primary program. Pam’s love for IMS and her passion to support the children, families and teachers at IMS has brought her back to the Program Director’s role again in 2017. Pam’s education background is in Human Services with a specialization in Early Childhood Education. She is also a student at Elmira College where she continues to further her education. Pam is happily married to her husband, Casey of 15 years. They have 3 children, Morgan, Maelin, and Hayden, whom have all attended IMS. Pam enjoys spending time with family and friends, traveling, cooking, camping and working in her gardens.
Christy Lewis joined IMS in 2015. Christy received her B.A. in English from Saint Bonaventure University in Olean, NY. She brings her love for children and education, combined with years of customer service and office experience to her role here at IMS. Christy has had experience working many years at summer camp programs as well being an assistant coach to a children’s recreational track team in her high school years. In addition to her childcare experience, Christy has multiple years of administrative work.
Outside of IMS, Christy and her husband, Ethan, live in Freeville with their two puppies! Christy enjoys going for hikes in Ithaca, as well as in the Adirondacks, as well as running, fishing, camping and reading.