Faculty & Staff

Administration

Head of School / Tamara Mount
Phone: 802.257.0500 ext 110
tmount@hilltopmontessori.org

tamara-head-of-schoolTamara Mount joined Hilltop as Head of School in the Summer of 2013 excited to combine her management and Montessori experiences. She began in Montessori as a two year old and attended through Lower Elementary at a school where her mother was the Head of School. After transitioning to a traditional school she then went to the University of Virginia, majoring in English and Environmental Science. After graduating, Tamara worked for a leading consulting firm in the Washington D.C. area providing environmental management consulting for ten years. Once she and her husband, Brad, had children of Montessori age, she delved back into the educational system that had always seemed right to her. Tamara obtained her Montessori Lower Elementary credential in 2008 from the Princeton Center for Teacher Education. She was the lead teacher in a Lower Elementary class for six years. Tamara’s son Darwin is a Hilltop graduate, class of 2016 and Huxley one currently in the Middle School. Tamara is honored and enthused to be able to lead this quality school with a close knit community as it continues to develop and grow in bringing the best of Montessori to the Brattleboro area.

Admissions Director / Lauren Campbell
Phone: 802.257.0500 ext 101
lcampbell@hilltopmontessori.org

Lauren and her family moved to Brattleboro in 1991 from Washington, DC. They have two sons who are graduates of HMS, Ian, class of 2002 and Colin, class of 2008. Lauren is a graduate of American University and worked as a designer for many years before starting her own design firm in Washington. Vermont then became the answer to living in a place she would not want to leave during the summer! In 1996 Lauren returned to work and joined Hilltop’s administrative team while her husband, Kevin Campbell, was developing Hilltop’s Middle School program. A deep appreciation for the Montessori approach to education grew as a parent and member of the HMS staff and continues today as she shows the school to other families considering a Hilltop education for their children. Lauren still loves her summers in Vermont and trips to visit her children as they travel further from home.

Development Director / Roselle Garro
Phone: 802.257.0500 ext 3
rgarro@hilltopmontessori.org
Roselle and her husband, Paul moved to the area in 2000, from Nantucket, MA. Roselle’s son Sebastian completed the three-year cycle in the Children’s House and is currently entering his second year of Lower Elementary.  As a parent, she is excited to share her love of Hilltop and the importance of a Montessori education while cultivating the Development program for the future.  She is thrilled to be a part of the Hilltop community and welcomes the opportunity to contribute to the ongoing success of the school.

Prior to joining Hilltop, Roselle spent 18 years in management at Whole Foods Market, as well as years on Nantucket island as a private chef and caterer.  She holds a BS in Business from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst.

When not at Hilltop, she can be found cooking or baking with her family (using any amazing local products) and skiing or traveling whenever the opportunity should arise.

 

Business Manager / David Nordstrom
Phone: 802.257.0500 ext 4
busadmin@hilltopmontessori.org

Dave joined Hilltop in June 2017. He has an extensive background in financial management, including more than ten years working at the Conway School, a small non-profit graduate college awarding a Master’s degree in Ecological Design. In addition to his finance responsibilities while at the Conway School, Dave worked with municipal and non-profit clients to develop land planning and design student projects dealing with pressing issues like food security, environmental justice, and climate change. Other job duties included human resources, financial aid, and facilities management. Prior to joining Hilltop Dave worked as the Accounting Manager at the Proteus Fund, an organization consisting of a number of collaborative grant making and fiscally sponsored programs working to advance  justice through democracy, human rights, and peace. Dave holds a BS from Westfield State University and an MALD from the Conway School. Originally from the Boston area Dave has called Western Massachusetts home for the past thirty years. He lives in Greenfield with his wife Rose and their Chihuahua JP.

 

Rebecca Fontaine / Administrative Coordinator and Front Desk Person  
Phone: 802.257.0500 ext 102

frontdesk@hilltopmontessori.org

 

 

 

Kegan Refalo / Facilities Manager

IMG_0801Kegan is our resident Jack-of-All-Trades.  His primary task is to manage all the behind the scene tasks so that the campus is a safe and beautiful learning environment. He will also be supervising the Middle School Student Building Projects and assisting with campus theatre productions.

Kegan has 5 years experience in remodeling and property maintenance. In 2003, Kegan helped design and build a youth drop-in center, then worked with the teens (11-15 yrs old) for 3 years. Kegan traveled across the east coast for 6 years as a theatrical tailor, after graduating with an A.A.S. degree in Tailoring from the Fashion Institute of Technology in 2006. Interwoven with his time in the Theatre Industry, he graduated with a B.A. degree in Interdisciplinary Studies from Appalachian State University, studied spanish in Rhonda, Spain for 4 months, and helped start The Jobs Project, a renewable energy focused non-profit, based in the heart of Appalachian coal mining communities.

Kegan moved up to Vermont in 2012 inspired by the state’s focus on local economies.  His time in Vermont has been a patchwork of overlapping projects working with small Vermont farms, a local meat processing facility, a small bakery, timber framing with an intentional community, restoring and repairing residential homes and putting on firework displays for Vermont community celebrations with Northstar Fireworks. In his leisure time, you will find him deep in the woods and traveling the world. Kegan is here and ready to dig in and grow at Hilltop, where all his diverse skills sets can take root.

 

Faculty

Toddler Program
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Marco, Amanda and Ellie

Ellie Pennell (Toddler Director)
Ellie Pennell joined Hilltop in 2010 as an aide in Willow Room, in 2011 she became the classroom assistant, and in 2014 designed and began directing our Toddler Program.

Ellie earned her Assistants to Infancy certification from The Montessori Institute in Denver, CO, and her Children’s House certification from the Montessori Training Center of New England in Hartford, CT.  She also holds a BA in Psychology from Miami University and a Masters in Education from Loyola University Maryland.

Prior to joining Hilltop, Ellie spent 2 years leading toddler classrooms in Massachusetts and 7 years at home raising her 3 children, the youngest of whom is now a student in Upper El. She applies her Montessori toddler training, experience, and warm and friendly style to Hilltop’s newest program.

When Ellie isn’t in the classroom, she is busy with her family, running with her dog, dreaming of the beach, or managing the office at a girls summer camp in Fairlee, VT.

Amanda Rupard (Toddler Assistant)
All through childhood Amanda wanted to be a teacher! In college, though, she was drawn to studying the wider world, earning a BA in Environmental Studies from UVM.  She has always gravitated back to working with children, however, from swim instructor, nanny, para educator and director of an early/after care site, to having 3 children of her own.

Amanda has been a part of the school community since 2006 when her first child started in Children’s House.  She has born witness to the power of a Hilltop Montessori education first hand, as he is now a graduate, class of 2017.  Her two other children are also at various points of this journey as well.

Amanda is so grateful and excited to be returning to the Toddler Program team this year.  Not only does she get to be more deeply involved in this community she loves, but also gets to return to her favorite age – those early toddler years where joy and wonder abound!

 

Marco Yunga Tacuri  (Toddler, Children’s House and AfterCare Spanish Speaking Assistant)
Marco joined Hilltop in 2015 as an After Care and Children’s House assistant, after seeing what a positive effect Hilltop had on his two children, who are in the Children’s House and Lower Elementary. He moved to Brattleboro in 2014 from his home country of Ecuador. In Ecuador he taught language through music to preschoolers and cultural studies and art to high schoolers and since moving to Brattleboro has taught Spanish at Northfield Mount Herman School and Four Rivers Charter School. He received his BA in Cultural Studies from the University of Cuenca in Ecuador, and his masters in Anthropology from the University of Lethbridge in Canada, where he studied traditional music in the Amazon. He plays guitar and many traditional Ecuadorian instruments and was the director of a traditional Andean band for ten years. He also has a love for woodworking, pottery, soccer, and mosaic-making. He is excited to bring his passion for social justice and culture, Spanish language experience, and creativity to Hilltop.

After Care Staff for the Toddler, Children’s House and Elementary Programs

 

Left to right: Emy Blohm, Maddy Johnson, Marco Yunga Tacuri, Jessica Thomas (Elementary) and Mariam Diallo (Director)

Mariam Diallo (Assistant & After Care Program Director)
Mariam has been the warm and welcoming pillar of Hilltop AfterCare since 2011. Mariam attended training through the Montessori Elementary Teacher Training Collaborative (METTC) at Lexington Montessori School and the Advanced Assistant’s Overview training at the Gordon College. She studied the philosophy, pedagogy and methodology of Montessori education and how to guide children with the vast array of Montessori materials. Mariam also has an Associate’s degree from the Community College of Vermont in Liberal Arts and a BA from Keene State College in Sociology.

Mariam has been a volunteer in orphanages in Mali, her homeland, and currently helps with an orphanage in Haiti, a project she began after the Earthquake. She enjoys cooking and sharing meals with friends and family, reading, travel, and learning about different cultures and new languages.

Jessica Thomas (Elementary After Care)
Jessica has returned to Hilltop! Jessica, originally from England, worked as the Lower Elementary teacher at Hilltop for over 25 years after getting her Lower Elementary Montessori certification. Both of her children are Hilltop alum, and she has two toddler grandchildren. She returned to us this summer to help with the SummerFun Toddler Program. She is now excited to continue helping the toddlers in the afternoons and working with the Elementary group afterschool! She will be spending lots of time outside in addition to doing art and science projects after school.

Emy Blohm (After Care Assistant)
Emy joins the Hilltop community fresh out of college. Hailing from Upstate New York, she holds a BA in literature and visual arts from Bennington College. Prior to Hilltop, Emy worked as an assistant children’s librarian and as a classroom assistant at a progressive elementary school in southern Vermont. Emy is excited to bring her creativity to the classroom. In her free time, she can be found painting, reading, writing, baking, and climbing Mount Monadnock.


Angelique Kasami, (Assistant)
Angelique is an assistant helping in the Children’s House, Toddler Program and AfterCare. Her family fled her homeland of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the former Zaire to a refugee camp in Uganda in 1996. She later attended the United States International University in Nairobi, obtaining a BA in International Relations and Psychology. She speaks seven languages and worked for United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) for 4 years as an interpreter. She also has experience working with children, including her own elementary aged daughter and children at the Refugee Support Center in Nairobi, Kenya. She worked for Oxford University as an assistant research manager in the Kyangwali Refugee Camp in Uganda. She is a member of Coburwas International Youth Organization to Transform Africa (CIYOTA), a refugee lead organization which she helped found in 2005.  In July of 2016, her family was resettled to Elizabeth, New Jersey and when her husband got a position with SIT in December they moved to Brattleboro. She is excited to join our welcoming community of children and families and we are thrilled to have her with us!

Children’s House (Ages 3 through Kindergarten)
birch room teachers childrens house
Serina and Cheryl

Birch Room / Cheryl Matthews (Director)
Cheryl has been teaching in the Children’s House program since 1987, she is truly a “Master” Montessori teacher. She has a BS from Lyndon State College and has both her Primary (age 3-6) and Lower Elementary (age 6-9) AMS (American Montessori Society) certifications as well as her elementary education state certification from Franklin Pierce College. Whether in the classroom or out in the natural world, Cheryl brings out the joy of learning unique to each child.

When she is not in the classroom Cheryl is busy with her family visiting children in Northern Vermont, gardening or sugaring, and caring for animals on her small farm.

Serina Keppel (Assistant and Early Education Partnership Program Director)
Serina Keppel is beginning her fourth year as part of our Children’s House team as she lends her knowledge and experience to the assistant position. Serina has her B.S. in Early Childhood Education from Boston University and has worked with young children for over 20 years.  She also holds a Vermont State Educators License with an endorsement in Early Childhood Education. Serina enjoys working in the pedagogy of Montessori with a terrific group of colleagues. In addition to her work in the classroom, Serina manages Hilltop’s partnerships with a number of Vermont early childhood programs such as the STARS step ahead recognition system and the state’s Act 166 public preK initiative.  Serina loves working in a school that she has long respected and appreciated as a parent.

Willow-Room
Rebecca and Jonathan

Willow Room / Jonathan Sellers (Director)
Jonathan joined the Willow Room in 2017. Jonathan has his Children’s House certification from the Princeton Center for Teacher Education. He has five years of experience teaching in Montessori Children’s House classrooms, including at Amherst Montessori School and the New Century School (language immersion) in Baltimore, Maryland. Jonathan has a calm, nurturing, thoughtful, and mature demeanor. His teaching style encourages children to find their paths and learn naturally in the Montessori environment.
His wife, Kate, is a midwife and they were excited to welcome their daughter, Josephine, in 2017.

Rebecca Baiser (Assistant)
Rebecca Baiser joined us in 2014 and puts Montessori training and experience into practice as the assistant teacher in the Willow Room. She obtained her Children’s House credential from the Princeton Center for Teacher Education in 2002 and received her Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education in 2007. She has been an educator for over a decade and has taught in schools in California and Brattleboro before staying home with her young son. She is excited to have found a position at such an authentic Montessori school. Her son, Isaac, is now in the Children’s House.

 

Elementary (Lower – grades 1 – 3 / Upper – grades 4 – 6)

dan-filler-elementary-directorDan Filler (Elementary Director)
Dan is the Director of Elementary. In this role he supports both teaching teams in their planning, implementation, observation, and development of all areas of the curriculum. He also directly teaches the children of both Lower and Upper Elementary in many subject areas. As the elementary art teacher, Dan works to integrate art into the rich science and cultural curriculums of the Elementary programs.

Dan graduated from Yale University with a BA in Art, and went on to receive his Masters of Art in Teaching (MAT) at Brown. Dan has his 6-9 and 9-12 year old Montessori certification from the Center for Montessori Teacher Education. His teaching experiences before coming to Hilltop include private and public school settings serving diverse student populations. Dan is also a member of the faculty for the Montessori Education Teacher Training Collaborative, providing training, mentoring, and evaluations for Montessori teacher interns.

 

Lower Elementary
lower-el-teaching-staff
Kerstin and Patrick

Kerstin Kjellberg
Kerstin joined Hilltop in the Lower Elementary in 2010. She holds a BA in English Literature from Clark University and completed her 6-9 Montessori teacher training during the summer of 2013 at the Center for Montessori Teacher Education (CMTE). Kerstin also has her certification in elementary Waldorf education, and taught for two years at the Waldorf School of Princeton in New Jersey.  In Vermont she has taught a combined 3rd/4th grade, and a 5th/6th grade, as well as worked as a one-on-one teacher for several children in the Windham County school district.  For four years after the arrival of her daughter, Kerstin taught English Literature and Language Arts to skiers and riders at Mount Snow Academy in Dover.

Kerstin attended the Enfield Montessori School in Enfield, CT, from age 2 1/2 to 9.  She has lots of fond memories of those early days, including tracing her finger on those scratchy sandpaper letters and polishing her shoes.  In her time away from school, Kerstin likes to write, swim, and spend time with friends. Her daughter attends Hilltop’s Middle School.

Patrick Burke
Patrick graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a major in Biology. Like so many Montessori teachers, Patrick had that “aha” moment through observing his oldest child when he started in Children’s House. He earned his Lower Elementary certification from the Center for Montessori Teaching in NY, and has been teaching at Hilltop since 2013. On his days off, Patrick soothes his spirit by strumming a guitar, tapping the keys of a piano, or writing music.

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Amelia Fontein  (Lower Elementary Assistant)

Amelia is excited to be joining the amazing community at Hilltop by working as an assistant in Lower Elementary and After Care. Amelia recently graduated from the University of Vermont, where she received her BS in
Environmental Studies. During her time as an undergraduate, Amelia worked as a Watershed Educator for the Lake Champlain Sea Grant, a program assistant for an after school center, and the co-director of a summer art camp. She hopes to bring her knowledge and passion for art, nature, and music into the classroom. Amelia loves working with children and is eager to learn more about Montessori’s teaching philosophy through her work at Hilltop. In her free time, Amelia loves hiking, canoeing, gardening, playing the ukulele, finding awesome swimming holes, and contra dancing.

Upper Elementary

upper-el-faculty
Dan, Jen and Tom

Tom Griffith
Tom has been teaching in the Upper Elementary at Hilltop since 1993. He “grew up” in Cleveland and received a BA in Music Theory from Kenyon College.  He and his wife Leslie moved to New Orleans where he began a career in woodworking in a small custom cabinet shop. They later moved to Bratttleboro so Leslie could attend SIT. Tom caught the teaching bug in a refugee camp in Panat Nikhom, Thailand, where they taught Laotian and Khmer refugees from 1985 to 1987. After returning to the states, they built a house in Westminster West and Tom received an MS in Environmental Studies from Antioch University New England. He completed Montessori training courses at the Seacoast Montessori Training Center and the upper elementary Montessori certification program at CMTE. They have 2 children, both of whom, in their opinion, have turned out pretty well in part as a result of their time at Hilltop (Evan, ’02 and Claire, ’03). Tom enjoys singing with the River Singers, taking care of the animals at home, and puttering around the house and the school.

Jennifer Hed
Jennifer hails from the west coast, finished high school and college round one in Texas, and spent a decade in D.C. working in public affairs before turning her sights on Montessori teaching.  She holds M.A.’s in Latin American Studies and Education, and completed her Montessori AMI elementary training at the Washington Montessori Institute.  After teaching upper elementary in the D.C. area, her family moved to Brattleboro in 2000, where her oldest daughter Natasha (graduate ’98) brought the family to Hilltop.  Jennifer taught music part-time in the area for several years before joining the Hilltop staff.  Her husband Steve is a farmer and sustainability coordinator, and helps keep up with their secondary-age children, Naomi and Noah.

Jennifer enjoys accordion, folk dance, spending time with her family and caring for honeybees (fingers crossed for this next winter)!  Jennifer loves learning, loves the Montessori “cosmic education” curriculum, and loves seeing children’s insights about the world unfold in the UE classroom.

 

Wenlearning-specialistdy Lynde – Learning Specialist
Wendy is our in-house Learning Specialist. She has a degree in Early Childhood Education and is a certified Wilson Reading Instructor. She has been teaching for over 30 years including more than 20 years working with children who need additional support in order for them to be successful in the classroom. Her Special Education experience has been both within the school and classroom setting, and also as a tutor outside of the school and classroom environments. In addition to her teaching experience she has a wealth of knowledge gained from professional development workshops and conferences focused on academics, behavior, and differentiated learning. Her passion is teaching children to read and equipping them in all areas so that they are able to fulfill their dreams for their lives.

Wendy has been married to her husband Steven for more than 30 years and has been a resident in Vermont for as long. Together they have raised two daughters, Aubree and Julienne, who are both married, live out of state, and have recently had children of their own! In her free time Wendy can often be found capturing memories and beauty through the lens of a camera. Her ultimate dream is to incorporate her photography with reading. Teaching reading and seeing children learn remains one of the foremost passions of her life.
Middle School (grades 7 – 8)
MS pic newsletter
Nora, Finn, Paul and Becky

Paul Dedell (Director)
After years working in the professional theatre as a production manager, music director, and designer, in the world of music as a guitarist and composer and running a historical restoration company, Paul finally found a home for all his passions at the Hilltop Montessori Middle School. He began his association with the middle school as a parent, whose daughter Sydney was in the second graduating class. At first he collaborated with students in writing music for Performance month productions, then taught freedom songs during the first ever Civil Rights Movement study, helped construct a classroom community shelter in the woods, and eventually began team teaching humanities with Kevin Campbell, the founder of the middle school. Finally, he was around so much that the school offered him the position as director of the middle school in 2000.

Finn Campman (Lead Teacher: Language Arts & Fine Arts)
Finn grew up in the Brattleboro area. He went to the Putney School and is a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College where he focused on 19th-century Literature, Philosophy, and World Peace. After working in publishing and graphic design in New York City he moved back to Vermont where he worked at Sandglass Theater in Putney as technical director and associate artist while forming his own theater, Company of Strangers. Finn has performed and taught all over the world with his theater company. Mentored by Kevin Campbell, he began teaching in the Middle School in 2000. Finn says, “It is the raw passionate creativity of middle school students that makes me love my job. Every one of my students is about to discover the meaning of the universe, every one is walking the tightrope of self awareness, grappling with the potential of abstraction and metaphor. There is no place, I can imagine, where the potential for humanity is more evident.”

Nora Gordon (Science and Math)
Nora received her MS in Environmental Studies and Science Education from Antioch University New England and holds a BA in Environmental Studies from Oberlin College. She has completed the AMI Montessori Orientation Program to Adolescent Studies and is excited to bring her passion for Montessori education and the natural world to her teaching of math and science in the middle school. A graduate of Hilltop herself (Class of ’00), Nora has worked with students of all ages in Hilltop’s classrooms and gardens since 2009. She is inspired by her love of the outdoors as well as her background in organic farming. When not in the classroom or on the land with her students, Nora can be found rowing, sailing, hiking, and skiing with her dogs, Rye and Maizie.

Becky Einsenhandler (Science and Math)
Becky joined the Hilltop Montessori staff in the summer of 2014 as an Elementary Assistant and AfterCare leader for Elementary aged children. She now brings her enthusiasm for math, science and health to the Middle School. Becky has a BS in Mathematics-Physics from Keene State College and an MS in Leadership for Sustainability Education from Portland State University. In her free time she loves gardening, swimming, hiking and reading.

 

Music & Physical Education

jay-cook-music-teacherJay Cook (Music)
Jay has been the school’s musical pied piper since 1990! He has a BA in Music from Middlebury College and plays an array of instruments, specializing in African style percussion groups. Jay is involved in drumming residencies in schools throughout the state and in keeping the beat with his band, Jazzberry Jam. He introduces rhythm and song to our youngest students; recorder, drums, ukulele and collaboration to our elementary students; brings us all together for All School Gathering sings; and does everything possible to have music be integrated into the life of Hilltop Montessori School.

Mace Sebby (Physical Education)
Mace is excited for the opportunity to join the hilltop community.  Over the past 10 years he has been teaching, coaching and motivating people of all ages to approach movement as medicine.  His efforts are focused on improving and encouraging a quality experience with physical activity in young people.  He holds certifications in fitness training, exercise therapy, and youth fitness.

In 2011 he founded Functional Fitness and recently opened a used bookstore in Wilmington.

 

 

“One can pass quite close to the child and yet not see him.”
—Dr. Maria Montessori
The Toddler Program
Ages 18–36 months
Children’s House
Ages 3–6
Lower Elementary
Ages 6–9
Upper Elementary
Ages 9–12
Middle School
Ages 12 –14