Faculty & Staff


Head of School / Tamara Mount
Phone: 802.257.0500 ext 110

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. Her two sons attend Hilltop in the Upper Elementary and 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

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 stays in Vermont for summers and feels it is an amazing place to raise children.

develope-director-amelia-farnumDevelopment Director / Amelia Farnum
Phone: 802.257.0500 ext 107

Amelia’s first connection with Hilltop was as a parent when her daughter entered the Children’s House in 2008.  In 2011, she accepted the role of Administrative Assistant at the school. Her broad skill base came in handy when the role shifted in response to the changing needs of the Admin Team. With the promotion to Director of Development, Amelia brings an arsenal of varied skills to the position and through her native Vermonter husband, many local connections. Her love of networking, brainstorming and executing FUN and innovative events, and commitment to Hilltop’s mission and brilliant faculty make her a great match for this job. Amelia earned a Bachelor’s of Arts degree in Psychology from Mount Holyoke College. Her checkered professional past includes time spent as an Arts Administrator, Video Editor, and Public Radio/Television staff.  Amelia’s husband Chad Farnum is the owner of Farnum Insulators, a local insulation and home energy auditing company. The three live in East Dummerston along with two dog, two cats and two rabbits.

Business Office / Colleen Frankiewicz
Phone: 802.257.0500 ext 111

Colleen joined Hilltop Montessori School as our Business Manager in January 2013. She oversees the operations of our business office; coordinating, tracking, budgeting and reporting all financial aspects of the school operations. Colleen loves numbers and looking out for the bottom line!

It was in 1988 that Colleen started her accounting career. Prior to joining Hilltop Montessori School, she worked for Pieciak & Co., where she was a Senior Staff Account and Tax Professional. Colleen serves as Board Treasurer for Green Mountain Camp for Girls.

Colleen lives in Brattleboro with her husband, Larry, their children and grandchildren. She enjoys cooking and spending time with her family. Her grand daughter is a member of the first Toddler class at Hilltop!


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





Kegan Refalo / Facilities Manager

IMG_0801Kegan joins the Hilltop Montessori team this summer, as a 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. He is excited to complete his Montessori Elementary Assistant training this summer.

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 travel 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.



Toddler Program
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 young children who now are elementary students at Hilltop.  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 h
er 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 entering his 11th and final year this fall.  Her two other children are also at various points of this journey as well.

Amanda is so grateful and excited to be joining 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 were in the Toddler Program and Children’s House. 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 – Children’s House and Toddler Program

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. She brings all of these interests to the children in AfterCare.

Nayeon Kim Maas (Children’s House, Toddler Program and AfterCare Assistant)
After receiving her B.A. degree in Education in Seoul, S. Korea, Nayeon worked for 5 years teaching in the classroom in a secondary school there. She also spent 2 years working in the English language programs in the Korean Department of Education. After achieving her Masters degree at the School for International Training (SIT), and then working at SIT for one year, Nayeon joined Hilltop in 2015 as a substitute teacher primarily in the Children’s House and After Care program. She became interested in Montessori education after she married and settled in Brattleboro, because of the independence and love of learning that she observed in her husband’s 5 nieces and nephews who have all attended Montessori schools.
Nayeon is a world traveler and has visited and explored in 5 continents, and now is very happy to be settled in Vermont where she enjoys outside activities with her husband in the natural world. She likes swimming, looking for new bike trails, and listening to classical music.

Angelique Kasami, (Assistant)
Angelique is a new 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 gardening or sugaring, caring for her chickens and cows, or attending her children’s various agricultural events.

Serina Keppel (Assistant and Early Education Partnership Program Director)
Serina Keppel is beginning her second 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 in early childhood programs for over 18 years. She is enjoying learning about the pedagogy of Montessori and working with a terrific group of colleagues. Serina is experienced with the State of Vermont STARS, in which Hilltop participates. She is also near completing the process of obtaining her Vermont State Early Childhood Educators License. She is excited to work in a school she has so respected and appreciated as her two children have been enriched through their years at Hilltop.

Rebecca and Jonathan

Willow Room / Jonathan Sellers (Director)
Jonathan Sellers is joining us as a teacher in the Children’s House. 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.

Rebecca Baiser (Assistant)
Rebecca Baiser is a fantastic addition to the team as she puts her 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
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.  She then traded her suburban existence for the country life in Wardsboro, Vermont and taught a combined 3rd/4th grade, and a 5th/6th grade, as well as working 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. Her experience in other school environments helped her to appreciate the multi-age, natural learning approach of Montessori that had been her start.

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 spend time outside with her daughter, visit friends, bake, read, pick any fruit that’s in season, and attend any fairs and festivals she can find.

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.


Upper Elementary
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, carpenter, and helps keep up with their other two children, Naomi and Noah, who are elementary and middle school age.

Jennifer enjoys biking, 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 insights about the world unfold in the UE classroom.

Amelia Fontein  (Lower Elementary Assistant & After Care Program 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.

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 dog Rye.

Becky Einsenhandler (Science and Math)
Becky joined the Hilltop Montessori staff in the summer of 2014 as Elementary Assistant and AfterCare leader for Elementary aged children. She is now ready to bring her enthusiasm for math and science to the Middle School. Becky has an 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, rock climbing, reading, and exploring her new hometown of Guilford, VT.


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.


Soren Pelz-Walsh (Physical Education)
IMG_1719Soren is very excited to join the Hilltop Montessori School community. Physical activity and healthy habits have been essential aspects of his life with many positive opportunities to engage in team sports and individual endeavors. He is pleased to  share his passion for a healthy lifestyle with Hilltop students, families and staff.

Soren grew up in Dummerston, Vermont where he attended the Dummerston Elementary and Middle School. He graduated from Brattleboro Union High School in 2012 and is currently finishing my Bachelor’s of Science degree in Physical Education and Health at Castleton University.

Soren is looking forward to beginning this journey at Hilltop and aspires to develop and instill a love of physical activity and healthy habits with the students.


“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