Faculty & Staff IMS classrooms are taught by a dedicated team of Lead Teachers and Assistant Teachers. Our Lead Teachers are Montessori Certified, or are in their training process, either through the American Montessori Society (AMS) or Association Montessori International (AMI). Their Montessori experiences provide the secure foundation on which the school’s curriculum is based.
Nido | Maple Room
Tammy is the Lead guide in the Maple Room. She has her Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education and Childcare Administration, and is currently working towards her Montessori Certification. She has worked for four years in head start and a group family daycare that used the Reggio Emilia approach for one and a half years. When not teaching, Tammy enjoys hiking NY State trails, reading, watching television, and going to country music concerts.
Lilit is an Assistant guide in the Maple Room. Lilit has her Bachelor’s degree in Economics. After working in the field of finances for about a decade she moved from Armenia to the US with her husband in 2016. She is a mother of two children and decided to be a part of school as soon as the her oldest child went to preschool. After serving as a treasurer at her daughter’s preschool she has been attracted by teacher’s activities.
Teyara has three years of experience in Early Childhood Education. Teyara has interned in two daycares and has worked in one daycare. Next year she plan’s to continue her degree in Early Childhood Education.
Nido | Hickory Room
Sarah is the lead guide in the Nido Hickory Room. She has been a teacher for 7 years with infants to 3 years of age. Sarah holds a Child Development Associate (CDA) in Early Childhood Education. Sarah is taking the Montessori Beginnings training that focuses on the infant and toddler Montessori environment. This training is through the Center for Guided Montessori Studies. She is a mom of 3 wonderful children. She has been working in early childhood on and off now for 12 years. She is a very easy going person and easy to get along with.
Faten is the co-lead guide in the Nido Hickory Room. Faten will be working toward achieving her CDA and completing the Montessori Beginnings training for infants and toddlers. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management, a Certificate in writing Professional Email and Memos. Faten has over 10 years of experience as a child care provider and tutor. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family, extended family, students, and friends.
Omelaid is a substitute guide in the Hickory Room. She has two years of experience working in child care and with infants. She is interested in continuing her education toward a Child Development Associate. She loves to read, go hiking, and cook treats for her children.
Toddler | Oak Room
Yoko is the Lead Guide in the Oak Room. Yoko was previously the lead teacher of the toddler Hickory Room. 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.
Emily is an Assistant Guide in the Oak Room, and she loves working with children, seeing them grow and learning new skills throughout the year.
Racquel is an Assistant Guide in the Oak Room. She is a hard, dedicated worker who loves a fast past, adaptive environment. She is also excited and ready to learn at all times! Fully committed to the job and focused 100% of the time.
Toddler | Willow Room
Heather is the lead guide in the Willow Room. Heather, a native of Buffalo NY, came to Ithaca after graduating from SUNY Cortland with a B.A. in History. Heather has been caring for children in centers, home based care and preschool for 19 years. Heather received her Child Development Associate (CDA) Credential in 2006 and is now a fully certified Montessori Infant and Toddler teacher. She lives with her husband Josh, two daughters, Sydnie and Reese, and a goofy Golden Retriever Codder.
Anna is and Assistant Guide in the Willow Room. She was born in Syracuse and graduated from Syracuse University in 2019, earning a BS in Human Development & Family Science with a concentration in Queer Studies. Anna’s career in childhood education began at SU’s Bernice M. Wright Child Development Lab School. She worked there for 4 years, teaching toddlers and preschool-aged children. During college, Anna founded the SU chapter of Camp Kesem, which provides a free week-long summer camp to children whose guardians are affected by cancer. Anna moved to Ithaca in August 2020 with her partner. In her spare time, Anna likes to cook, go to the farmers market, and play with her cats, Max and Ruby.
Ellie is an assistant guide in the Willow Room. She has a Bachelor’s of Fine Art with a concentration in Art Education. She has taught Art in public school for 4 years. Aside from being an artist, she enjoys film analysis and spending time with her three Guinea pigs, Caramel, Gingerbread, and Oreo.
Primary & Kindergarten | Elm Room
Elsa Sinurat Semp
Elsa is a Lead Guide for the Elm Room at IMS. Elsa is a professional Psychologist, trained and licensed at the University of Indonesia, Indonesia’s top university, where she earned a Bachelor of Science degree (1994), majoring in Psychology, and a Master’s degree (2004) majoring in Human Resources and Development. Elsa is currently pursuing Montessori Teacher Certification with the Princeton Center for Teacher Education in Princeton, New Jersey. Elsa’s deep interest in children’s education led her to major in Early Childhood Education and earn an Associate of Applied Science degree (2017) at TC3 in Dryden, NY, after which, Elsa was employed as an Assistant Guide for Toddler and Primary at IMS for the 2017-2018 academic year. It is Elsa’s keen desire to deeply enrich herself with substantial and sustained exposure to professional development in children’s education by studying and teaching the Montessori method and philosophy so that she can make significant contributions to children’s education in this field in the future.
Jyoti is an Assistant guide in the Elm Room. Jyoti has worked for two Montessori schools in Williamsburg, VA and Chesterfield, MO, for the past six years. She has worked with primary and elementary level classes as an Assistant Guide. She has also managed before and after school extended care programs for both schools. She is a parent of two children who are Montessori alums. Prior to joining the Montessori school, Jyoti ran my own business for 10 years. In her spare time, she love’s gardening and going for hikes
Allison is an assistant guide in the Elm Room. She is currently working on her undergraduate degree at Ithaca College. She is majoring in sociology and health with hopes to pursue a career in child counseling or therapy. She has worked two summer camps, a theater arts camp and an outside camp. She has also assisted in teaching dance to young children. Allison is the youngest of two older brothers and grew up moving all over upstate NY. She loves reading, sewing, and being active. She is an avid skier and runner, and loves being outside.
Suzanna is an assistant guide in the Elm Room.
Primary & Kindergarten | Pine Room
Eamonn is excited to be the Lead Guide in the Pine Room. Eamonn is currently attending the Center for Montessori Guided Studies to obtain his Montessori Certification in Early Childhood. Prior to the pandemic Eamonn taught third grade math and literacy in Seattle, WA. This year will be Eammon’s third school year with Ithaca Montessori and his second year as Lead Guide in the Pine Room. In his personal time Eamonn enjoys training his dog and hiking.
Shahista is an Assistant Guide in the Pine Room. Shahista has completed two years of college and is looking forwards to completing her degree in Early Childhood Education. She has worked with children ranging in age from 4-15 years old for the past 7 years. In her free time, Shahista enjoys cooking, walking, and hiking.
Caroline is an Assistant Guide in the Pine Room. She has an Educational background in Early Childhood Development. Experience at The William George Agency for Children’s Service’s working with at-risk youth. Caroline holds an Associates Degree in Criminal Justice. She is an aspiring Pediatric Nurse, currently enrolled at Tompkins Cortland Community College.
Leah is an Assistant guide in the Pine Room. She is currently working towards her Associates degree in Creative Writing and Literature with hopes of one day achieving her degree in Special Education. She has two years of experience working with children ages from newborn to 6 years-old in school and Summer camp settings. Leah loves the theatre, cooking, and reading. She enjoys spending time with her family.
Primary & Kindergarten | Walnut Room
Tara is the lead guide for the Walnut Room. She holds a bachelors of science in Community Health from Lock Haven University and is currently pursuing her Montessori Certification in Early Childhood. Tara has been working at IMS since 2019. Tara adores her husband Adam, and daughter Ellinor. Tara is a huge nature and animal lover.
Kailee (Kay) Malpasso
Kay is an Assistant guide in the Walnut Room and has been with IMS for a year now. She was raised in Ithaca, graduating from Cascadilla School and is currently working towards her CDA. In her free time, she enjoys reading, hiking, and traveling to new places.
Sabrena is an assistant guide in the Walnut Room. She is in her second year at IMS in the primary program. She is a wife and a mother to her six year old daughter. During her free time she likes to go hiking, gardening, and baking.
Laura is an Assistant guide in the Walnut Room. Laura was born and raised in the UK. After earning a first class honors degree in Physical Activity, Exercise & Health (Leeds Metropolitan University, UK), she went on to achieve her Post Graduate Certificate of Education in Primary Teaching for ages 5-11 (University of East Anglia, UK). Since earning her degrees she has taught for many years in the UK. She has travelled around SE Asia, Australia, New Zealand and parts of South America. She moved to and taught in Madrid, Spain as well as moved to and taught in Stavanger, Norway. Laura got married and had 2 beautiful children, and arrived in Ithaca in November 2021. With and without her family, she enjoys exploring nature, listening to/watching live music, travelling, singing, running, and art.
Program Director and Head of School
Pam attended the Center for Montessori Teacher Education in New Rochelle, NY in 2001 to complete her Primary Montessori Certification. She has over 10 years of teaching experience at the Primary level at IMS. She has been in a Director’s role at IMS for over 8 years and the Head of School for almost 5 years. Pam’s education background is in Human Services with a specialization in Early Childhood Education. Pam is happily married to her husband Casey of 20 years. They have 3 children, Morgan, Maelin, and Hayden, whom have all attended IMS. Pam enjoys spending time with family and friends, traveling, camping, outdoor activities, and working in her garden..
Walaa 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 a 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 fundraising experience, for several small-to-medium size companies in Ithaca. Walaa is passionate about IMS and the work to help Ithaca Montessori School grow.
Donna grew up locally and graduated from Cayuga Community College with an Early Childhood Education Degree. She managed her own home daycare when her four children were young and then started her career at Ithaca Montessori as a Primary assistant. After receiving Montessori training Donna continued as a Primary lead teacher for 15 years. After leaving to explore teaching Infants at Bright Horizons she returned to Ithaca Montessori to lead the Nido classroom for 2 years before stepping into the Education Director role. Donna is an avid gardener and loves to spend time with her growing number of grandchildren.
Melanie was born and raised in Newfield NY. She comes to IMS with numerous of years experience as an Administrative Assistant. She is a proud fur-mom to her Miniature Dachshund Charlie, as well as, a very proud Aunt to many nieces and nephews. In her personal time, you can always find her at one of her siblings’ homes hanging out with all the kids. She loves the Pittsburgh Steelers and cooking!