Head of School // Tamara Mount
Phone: 802.257.0500 ext 110
Tamara 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 graduated in the class of 2018. 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 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 107
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 first year of Upper 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.
// Deb Lagoy
Phone: 802.257.0500 ext 111
Deb and her husband live in Swanzey, New Hampshire. They have a son and two daughters who live in New Hampshire and Massachusetts. Prior to joining Hilltop, she has worked in the Public Accounting field for over 25 years.
Deb was the Staff Accountant that worked with Hilltop, from 2004 to 2013, when they out-sourced their accounting. Deb is thrilled to be working with the Hilltop staff again and looks forward to meeting the Hilltop families.
In their spare time, Deb and her husband can be found riding around town in their 1966 convertible Corvette Stingray and enjoy taking it to classic car shows.
Administrative Coordinators // Amber Arnold and Zoe Proctor
Phone: 802.257.0500 ext 102
Amber Arnold is excited to join the Hilltop team as a Co-Administrative Coordinator with Zoe and part of the Front Office Administration. Amber has three children all of whom are in Hilltop programs, her oldest Layla in Lower El, Elijah in Children’s House, and Laylani entering into the Toddler program this year. Amber moved to Vermont from Massachusetts in 2014 and has felt deeply connected to Hilltop’s education, community, and mission ever since.
In the past Amber has worked at Hilltop as one of the cleaning staff and is excited to be joining the team once again in a new role! Amber has taken the path of various decolonized styles of education in the fields of Marketing, Logo and Website Design, Sound Therapy, Folx herbalism, Cultural Somatics, and Embodied Movement. Amber looks forward to deepening her connection within the Hilltop Community and contributing her unique and culturally sensitive/ supportive offerings to all those who enter the Hilltop doors.
When not at Hilltop you can find Amber making Montessori works in her home with her children, harvesting plants and creating herbal medicines with her family, offering ritual, ceremony, and anti racist somatic healing workshops in the Brattleboro community, or in nourishing spaces devoted to uplifting and bringing love and light to marginalized voices around the state of Vermont.
A true Hilltopper (class of ‘08), Zoe has found her way back to us this year after a long hiatus, working afternoons and aftercare in the Children’s House this past Spring and now as Co-Administrative Coordinator, where she can’t wait to put all her love of organizing and spreadsheets to use and still be able to hang with the kiddos, which she loves.
Zoe spent her infancy napping in Tonia Wheeler’s office and her formative years around Hilltop, so much so that Hilltop grew to be an inseparable part of her life. During her hiatus Zoe dabbled with schooling, traveled the world, and worked different jobs before realizing that fighting the pull back to Hilltop was just plain silliness!
When not on campus, Zoe can be found swimming or skating (depending on the season), driving around dirt roads admiring victorian houses, or in Westminster West, where she and her husband, Ian (a fellow Hilltop alum, class of ‘01!) are building a house to live in with their beloved cat, Babs.
Phone: cell 248-974-6475
Ellie Pennell // Toddler Director
Ellie Pennell joined Hilltop in 2010 as an aide in WillowRoom, 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.
Sarah Palacios // Toddler Program Assistant
Sarah is excited to join the Hilltop community this year as an assistant in the Toddler Room. She is a recent graduate of Marlboro College, where she earned a degree in ceramics and grew her interest in alternative educational models. She is interested to continue to learn more about the Montessori method through observing the “absorbent minds” at work in the classroom. She is inspired to work with marveling, open-minded toddlers. Sarah hopes to bring her passion for sustainable agriculture and love of cooking and baking with whole ingredients into the classroom. She enjoys caring for her plants and animals and being outdoors as often as possible.
Françoise Zucchetti Clay // Toddler Afternoon Program
and After Care Assistant
Françoise’s journey in the Montessori field began when her 10 year old daughter started attending a Montessori school in 2003. Françoise believes that her daughter’s Montessori education helped build skills and self-confidence in a way that her prior schooling did not allow. Over time, Françoise became more and more involved in her daughter’s school, first as volunteer, then as a cook, and later as a teacher. Françoise completed her AMI Montessori training at the primary (3-6 year old) level in 2008 and taught as a lead teacher for 4 years before moving to the United States from France.
One of the things that Françoise loves about Montessori is the way it allows each child to grow according to his or her individual needs and abilities. She appreciates the focus on all aspects of a child’s development, not exclusively on the area of academics. Françoise is looking forward to bringing her Montessori experience to our Children’s House and Aftercare Programs this year.
Children’s House // Ages 3 through Kindergarten
The 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.
Mariam Diallo // Children’s House Assistant & the Before Care Program Director
Mariam has been the warm and welcoming pillar of Hilltop After Care 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.
The 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 a daughter, Josephine, in the Toddler Program and a new baby boy, Coleman, not yet a Hilltopper.
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, has completed the 3-year Children’s House cycle and moving up to the Lower Elementary this year.
Annie Woodward // Children’s House Afternoon and After Care Assistant Annie is excited to bring her love of children and teaching experience to Hilltop this year! She studied Education and Child Development at Marlboro College, where her thesis focused on the ideals of early childhood education and the importance of play in child development. She began her teaching journey in Early Headstart programs, and continued on to teach in a Waldorf school as an assistant, summer, and aftercare teacher, and then as a lead Kindergarten teacher.
She continued her teaching and training at a Waldorf Kindergarten in Colorado, leading the rest and afternoon program for two years, before moving back to Vermont in 2017. The last year she has spent working with individual children and families, and is looking forward to returning to teaching and being a part of the wonderful Hilltop community.
After Care Staff for the Toddler, Children’s House and Elementary Programs
Jessica Thomas // After Care Program Director and Children’s House Afternoon Assistant
Jessica, originally from London, England, was the Lower Elementary Director at Hilltop for over 25 years and is now the Director of the After Care program. She has a BA in Psychology and Education from Union Institute and University and her Lower Elementary certification from the Center for Montessori Education.
Both of her children are Hilltop alum, and she now has two boisterous pre-school age grandchildren.
When she is not at Hilltop, Jessica loves to spend as much time outside as possible, riding her bike, hiking, practicing yoga or working on endless house and garden projects.
Kathy Leone // Children’s House Afternoon and
After Care Program Assistant
Kathy is excited to be joining Hilltop as a Classroom Assistant in the Children’s House and as a member of the After Care team. She holds a Bachelors of Science in Ecology and Environmental Studies and is passionate about both science and education, born from all her experiences outdoors and in the classroom. Before coming to Hilltop, she worked in a variety of educational capacities including seasonal work for the Appalachian Mountain Club and the YMCA, and fulltime work for a public charter school and a public elementary school in Massachusetts.
Over the years, Kathy has also incorporated travel into her work as a wildlife field technician, getting as far away as South Africa, a remote island off the coast of California and as near as the Connecticut coast researching great white sharks, elephant seals, and salt marsh sparrows respectively.
During her free time, Kathy may be found hiking, kayaking, learning a new language, or playing board games with friends.
Before Care Staff for the Toddler, Children’s House and Elementary Programs
Mariam Diallo // Children’s House Assistant & Before Care Program Director (see bio listing in the Birch Room)
Sarah Palacios // Toddler Room and Before Care Program Assistant (see bio listing in the Toddler Program)
Kerstin Kjellberg // Lower Elementary Teacher
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 graduated from Hilltop Montessori School in 2019.
Patrick Burke // Lower Elementary Teacher
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.
Amelia joined the Hilltop community in 2016 as an assistant in Lower Elementary. She recently earned her certification as a Wilson Language Instructor and is excited to incorporate this literacy training into her work with elementary students. Amelia graduated from the University of Vermont, where she earned her undergraduate degree in Environmental Studies. She brings her knowledge and passion for art, nature, reading, and music into the classroom. Amelia loves working with children and continues to learn more about Montessori’s teaching philosophy through her work at Hilltop. In her free time, Amelia loves hiking, canoeing, gardening, playing bocce, finding awesome swimming holes, and contra dancing.
Tom Griffith // Upper Elementary Teacher
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 // Upper Elementary Teacher
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 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, she moved with her family to Brattleboro in 2000, where her husband attended SIT and oldest daughter Natasha landed at Hilltop (graduate 2008). Jennifer taught music part-time in the area for several years before joining the Hilltop staff. Her husband, Steve, is a farmer and school sustainability coordinator, and she has two children currently at BUHS.
Jennifer loves the Montessori “Cosmic Education” curriculum, and especially enjoys being surprised by children’s unexpected insights in every area of the curriculum. She also enjoys folk music and dance, caring for honeybees, and occasionally playing with the power tools in the garage.
Marco Yunga Tacuri // Upper Elementary and 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 Lower and Upper Elementary Programs. 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.
Jade Harmon // Elementary Art Teacher
Jade is delighted to be joining the Hilltop community as Elementary Art Teacher. The art room continues to evolve into a TAB-inspired (Teaching for Artistic Behavior) studio space that resonates beautifully with Montessori philosophy. In their art studio, students behave as true artists: designing their projects, choosing their medium, exploring their artistic voice, and navigating their unique creative process. Students create in a supported, gently guided environment as they absorb technique, art history, methods of reflection, and – most importantly – make a wonderful mess!
Jade received her BFA in art and creative writing from New College via The Union Institute. She has taught art to children of all ages. She loves exploring all methods of art making and specializes in comics, sculpture, graphic design, and fabric arts. She and her husband, Jay, have lived in the area since 2002. Their son, Eko, has completed the three-year Children’s House cycle and is currently entering his second year of Lower Elementary. When not teaching and making her own messes, Jade can be found writing children’s stories, walking in the woods, and making spontaneous costumes with her son.
Middle School (grades 7 – 8)
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 Eisenhandler // 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. In 2015, she joined the Middle school team, bringing an enthusiasm for math and health science. Becky has a BS in Mathematics-Physics from Keene State College and an MS in Leadership for Sustainability Education from Portland State University in Oregon. In her free time, she gardens, swims, hikes, plays bocce, and reads.
Music, Physical Education and Learning Specialist
Jay Cook // Music
Jay has been the school’s musical pied piper since 1996! He has a BA in Music from Middlebury College and plays an array of instruments. Jay enjoys instrumental and vocal improvisation, and plays bass, keyboard and sings with his bands, Jazzberry Jam and Hipfunk Associates. He introduces rhythm, movement and song to our youngest students; recorder, drums, ukulele, ensemble playing, music technology 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 joined Hilltop in 2017 to direct the Physical Education and athletic programs, and in 2019 he is excited to expand his role to assist the Upper Elementary with technology integration. Mace has over a decade’s experience teaching, coaching and motivating people of all ages and ability to consider movement as medicine. Working in the Montessori context, with ample opportunity to observe the physical development of his students, has deepened his commitment to a holistic approach in movement education.
When not at Hilltop, Mace enjoys adventuring in Newfane with his “patrol dog”, Abraham.
Wendy 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.