Faculty and Staff

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Jill Ash Administrative Assistant, Elementary

Jill Ash

Administrative Assistant, Elementary

I started at JWP in July of 2022.

What do you enjoy most about being part of the JWP community?
I enjoy playing a role in the education of young students, providing key daily organizational support to the School, and working with our team of dedicated teachers and administrative staff.

Fun Fact
One of my hobbies is photography. In 2021, I started offering professional photography services.

How did you decide to get into the type of work you do here at JWP?
I’ve spent my entire 25-year career in education. I started in the classroom and then went into educational marketing. I’m happy to be back in a school!

What are you most passionate about when it comes to your field and/or your role at JWP?
Meeting the needs of the students, staff, families, and the school as a whole.

What’s something new families should know about JWP?
How dedicated our teachers are and how much they care about the school, curriculum, and each student.

📨 Jill’s email: jash@jwpschools.org

Rachel Barrand Grade 3 Teacher

Rachel Barrand

Grade 3 Teacher

This is Rachel’s second year at JWP.

Rachel grew up in Saint Louis, Missouri. It was there where she recognized her passion for teaching. She attended Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas, where she received her Bachelor of Early Childhood Education. She taught for four years in Dallas, Texas while attending Southern Methodist University, earning her Master of Early Childhood Literacy. Rachel then moved back to Missouri and taught there for two years prior to moving to Massachusetts.

Rachel loves making strong connections with her students through small group work. She focuses on building a clear understanding of each student.

Rachel recently moved to Newton and loves her new community! She enjoys walks, exercising, and reading in her free time.

📨 Rachel’s email: rbarrand@jwpschools.org

Bridget Barrett-Parker Director, Walnut Park Montessori

Bridget Barrett-Parker

Director, Walnut Park Montessori

Bridget Barrett-Parker stands fully behind our school’s commitment to warmth and excellence. With a profound understanding of education and a strong background in Montessori philosophy, Bridget is delighted to be part of the JWP community.

Trained in both AMS (American Montessori Society) and AMI (Association Montessori Internationale) primary education, Bridget’s expertise shines through in her ability to inspire our students and staff alike. Her deep respect for human development informs every decision she makes, ensuring that our school provides a nurturing and enriching environment.

Beyond her role at JWP, Bridget is an avid runner and outdoor enthusiast. She leads by example, instilling in our community a passion for nature and adventure, fostering growth both inside and outside the classroom.

📨 Bridget’s email: bbarrettparker@jwpschools.org

Kristin Bedard Director, Advancement & Communications

Kristin Bedard

Director, Advancement & Communications

Kristin joined Jackson Walnut Park School in the fall of 2023.

She is from the Greater Boston area and lived in the JWP neighborhood with her family from 2015-2021.

Kristin attended an elementary school in Winchester called the Bartlett School. It had a similar, close-knit feel to JWP. From there, Kristin went to high school at Dana Hall School in Wellesley, MA, a wonderful next chapter for many JWP grads!

Kristin and her husband Rob have two sons, Lucas and Ethan. They live in Kristin’s hometown of Arlington, MA.

In her role as Director of Advancement & Communications, Kristin is excited to be collaborating closely with all members of the JWP community to bring philanthropic giving and engagement at Jackson Walnut Park School to new heights!

Outside of school, Kristin enjoys being out in nature. cuddling with her family’s Golden Retriever, Piper, cheering on Lucas’s hockey games, and watching and listening to Ethan sweetly recount songs from school.

📨 Kristin’s email: kbedard@jwpschools.org

Kathleen Berube, CSJ Latin Teacher, Grades 5 & 6

Kathleen Berube, CSJ

Latin Teacher, Grades 5 & 6

This is my 17th year at JWP. Prior to joining JWP, I taught grades five – twelve at various schools within the Archdiocese of Boston. I also served as an administrator at St. Paul’s Choir School in Cambridge.

What do you enjoy most about being part of the JWP community?
The spirit of community and the student, faculty, and staff enthusiasm for learning.

Fun Fact
I enjoy genealogical research and learning about my family roots.

How did you decide to get into the type of work you do here at JWP?
After a number of years in school administration it was time for me to go back to the classroom. JWP was seeking to introduce Latin to the curriculum.

📨 Sister Kathy’s email: kberube@jwpschools.org

Catalina (Cat) Bortone Floating Teacher, Toddler | Primary

Catalina (Cat) Bortone

Floating Teacher, Toddler | Primary

While working with children 12 years ago, Ms. Catalina discovered the Montessori Method, and she decided to become a Montessori educator. Since then, she has continued teaching at JWP.

This year is Ms. Cat’s 12th year teaching and her 4th year teaching in a Primary classroom. Prior to this, she was part of the Toddler community. During this time, she received her Master of Early Childhood Education with an emphasis in Montessori from Gordon College.

Ms. Cat grew up in Bucharest, Romania and enjoys sharing her culture with children.

Ms. Cat is passionate about instilling a love of learning in her students. She believes the Montessori classroom provides the ideal environment for children to learn and grow. She aims to guide students to become lifelong learners.

Kim Burk
Kim Burk Assistant Director, Kids' Corner

Kim Burk

Assistant Director, Kids' Corner

Kim joined Jackson Walnut Park School in January 2024. She brings an impressive background in Montessori education and independent school after-school/auxiliary programming. She’s joined us as Assistant Director of Kids’ Corner.

Christine Conley Substitute Teacher, Elementary

Christine Conley

Substitute Teacher, Elementary

I attended Jackson Walnut Park School, 2002-10. I worked at Kids’ Corner in 2021 and I was hired as a JWP in-house substitute teacher in 2023.

What do you enjoy most about being part of the JWP community?
I enjoy being with students and experiencing how they find the good in everything and are always excited to see you. The staff here is kind and generous.

Fun Fact
I am also a camera operator for the Boston Celtics and Boston Bruins. Let me know if you’re going to a game so I can get you up on the Jumbotron!

How did you decide to get into the type of work you do here at JWP?
I started working with children as a camp counselor at age 15.

What are you most passionate about when it comes to your field and/or your role at JWP?
Our opportunity as teachers to teach children how to pursue their own answers.

What’s something new families should know about JWP?
Like a small town, this is a very close community. We care about each other and show we care.

📨 Christine’s email: cconley@jwpschools.org

Carolann Costello Lead Teacher, Primary

Carolann Costello

Lead Teacher, Primary

I was introduced to Montessori through my 3 children, all of whom attended Walnut Park Montessori and Jackson School.

I was intrigued by the way my young children were learning without any visible effort and decided to do a career change into Montessori education to satisfy my curiosity.

I have had the opportunity to work with children in this special setting since 1999.

Outside of education, my passions are music, nature, animals (especially dogs) and yoga!

📨 Carolann’s email: ccostello@jwpschools.org

Sharmila Dabare Montessori Guide, Primary

Sharmila Dabare

Montessori Guide, Primary

I began at Jackson Walnut Park School this year in September.

What do you enjoy most about being part of the JWP community?
The staff being open to new ideas and embracing the Montessori pedagogy. The community working together to support all children and be inclusive.

Fun Facts
I love gardening. In the summer, I grow our vegetables and can them for the winter.

I taught myself to knit.

How did you decide to get into the type of work you do here at JWP?
I was a Montessori student in Sri Lanka. After completing high school, I worked in a school. A close friend suggested taking the Montessori training. Since I had embraced the methodology, I decided to travel within the US working or observing Montessori Schools. I have been fortunate to observe non-profit, for-profit, and public schools.

What are you most passionate about when it comes to your field and/or your role at JWP?
Offering lessons and keeping and maintaining an inviting environment for the students.

📨 Sharmila’s email: sdabare@jwpschools.org

Elizabeth DeAngelis Grade 3 Teacher

Elizabeth DeAngelis

Grade 3 Teacher

Elizabeth grew up in Newton, MA, and attended Salem State University, where she obtained her bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Management. After working in finance for a few years, Elizabeth realized that teaching was her calling.

Elizabeth began her teaching career in the Needham Public Schools and holds a Master in Elementary Education from Lasell University.

Outside of school, Elizabeth loves spending time with her family, playing with her Golden Retriever, cooking, and trying new restaurants.

📨 Elizabeth’s email: edeangelis@jwpschools.org

Sam de Soto
Sam de Soto Kids’ Corner Assistant

Sam de Soto

Kids’ Corner Assistant

Sam joined Jackson Walnut Park School in January 2024. They bring a breadth of experience supporting children in camps, music schools, and independent schools. They have joined us as a Kids’ Corner assistant.

Fang Ding Lead Teacher | Mandarin Teacher, Primary

Fang Ding

Lead Teacher | Mandarin Teacher, Primary

What do you enjoy most about being part of the JWP community?
Walnut Park is my family here in this country.

Fun Fact
I was born and grew up in China.

How did you decide to get into the type of work you do here at JWP?
I love children.

What are you most passionate about when it comes to your field and/or your role at JWP?
Supporting children and families.

📨 Fang’s email: fding@jwpschools.org

Lauren Driscoll Grades 1 & 2 Teacher

Lauren Driscoll

Grades 1 & 2 Teacher

Born and raised in central Connecticut, Lauren discovered her love of teaching early in life and pursued a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education with a minor in English Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) from Saint Anselm College in 2017.

Upon accepting a position as a first grade teacher at a private school in Wethersfield, Connecticut, Lauren moved back to her home state and spent the next few years learning and growing alongside her students. Through her experience as a classroom teacher, she recognized a need for educators to be trained in the specialty of social-emotional learning. This realization inspired Lauren to pursue her Master in Child and Adolescent Psychology in 2020.

In her free time, Lauren enjoys cooking, paddleboarding, reading, and skiing.

📨 Lauren’s email: ldriscoll@jwpschools.org

Stephen Duffy Head of School, Jackson Walnut Park

Stephen Duffy

Head of School, Jackson Walnut Park

Steve derives enormous satisfaction from working with faculty and staff to create a challenging, values-based, child-centered learning environment at JWP.

With over three decades as an independent school teacher and administrator, he still experiences a thrill when a student or a class makes a connection with a good book.

When he’s not at school, Steve enjoys spending time in northern New England—hiking, skiing, canoeing—or seeing a good play at the ART or Trinity Rep.

📨 Steve’s email: sduffy@jwpschools.org

Erin Enwright Assistant Teacher, Primary

Erin Enwright

Assistant Teacher, Primary

Erin grew up in Boston and attended Walnut Park Montessori as a preschooler.

She attended Providence College and earned a B.A. in Elementary and Special Education.

Erin worked in public schools until she had her children.

As her three kids attended and graduated from Walnut Park, Erin discovered her passion was in Montessori. She began working as the in-house substitute teacher in 2019 and started her Montessori training in July 2022.

Erin is excited to be a part of this community and the school where her love of all things Montessori began.

📨 Erin’s email: eenwright@jwpschools.org

Elizabeth Ferrera Spanish Teacher, Elementary

Elizabeth Ferrera

Spanish Teacher, Elementary

I started teaching at Jackson Walnut Park School in 2006.

I also worked at Children’s Hospital for several years as a Medical Interpreter and worked with a Sister of St. Joseph (Sr. Carlota) who held the amazing role of Chaplain at Children’s Hospital. Sr. Carlota inspired me and gave me a unique perspective of how the mission of the Sisters of St. Joseph is infused into this school.

What do you enjoy most about being part of the JWP community?
I have enjoyed working with the Sisters of St. Joseph and supporting their mission.

I enjoy the supportive leadership of our school and working with families that have always been appreciative of our work with their children.

Fun Facts
I love photography and scrapbooking.

I was born in Caracas, Venezuela and I’ve also lived in Argentina and Chile.

How did you decide to get into the type of work you do here at JWP?
I attended a similar school, with a personalized education, small classes, and the values and inspiration of the mission of the Sisters of St. Joseph.

What are you most passionate about when it comes to your field and/or your role at JWP?
Teaching the children Spanish, especially geography. I also enjoy teaching about the Hispanic and Latino cultures.

What’s something new families should know about JWP?
This is a hidden gem of a school with a unique education unlike any other.

📨 Elizabeth’s email: eferrera@jwpschools.org

Tracey Fiasconaro Coordinator, Kids' Corner

Tracey Fiasconaro

Coordinator, Kids' Corner

Tracey began working at Walnut Park Montessori in 1998, helping to create and direct the Kids’ Corner extended day program.

Inspired by Montessori philosophy, as well as the children and her colleagues here at Jackson Walnut Park School, she completed her Montessori training in 2002.

📨 Tracey’s email: tfiasconaro@jwpschools.org

Amanda Donigan Gibbs Director, Admission & Enrollment Management

Amanda Donigan Gibbs

Director, Admission & Enrollment Management

I joined JWP in July 2023. I have spent 13 years working in Education, 8 years in the classroom and 5 years in administration.

What do you enjoy most about being part of the JWP community?
I love that JWP has a strong sense of community. Everyone, parents and staff/faculty alike, cares deeply about JWP and about supporting the students as they grow and learn. It’s a warm and welcoming place to be.

Fun Fact
My daughter, Isa, will be joining the Toddler Classroom in January 2024.

How did you decide to get into the type of work you do here at JWP?
I have always had a passion for supporting school communities. I was very pleased to see a position open up at JWP that fit my experience.

What are you most passionate about when it comes to your field and/or your role at JWP?
I am most passionate about sharing the amazing work that happens on this campus with families in the larger community.

What’s something new families should know about JWP?
JWP is a caring community with dedicated and passionate educators, involved parents, and incredible students.

📨 Amanda’s email: agibbs@jwpschools.org

Nicole Girouard Director, After-School Activities & Summer Fun

Nicole Girouard

Director, After-School Activities & Summer Fun

Nicole loves working with children and has a genuine way of nurturing and leading them by example.

She is passionate about fostering their love for themselves, others, and nature.

Nicole is grateful to be a part of the Jackson Walnut Park School community.

📨 Nicole’s email: activities@jwpschools.org

Jessica Greatorex-Friel Librarian, Elementary

Jessica Greatorex-Friel

Librarian, Elementary

Jessica spent the first 11 of her 14 years at Jackson Walnut Park School as a first grade teacher.

After the birth of her son Jonathan, Jessica returned to JWP as a learning center teacher and has now found her passion as the school librarian for Kindergarten through 4th Grade.

Jessica enjoys turning the library into a “playground” where students can have fun connecting, interacting, and demonstrating their love of books.

She loves teaching because she enjoys interacting with children. She relishes in listening to their ideas, seeing the way their minds work and the way they grow in their knowledge, confidence, and skills.

📨 Jessica’s email: jfriel@jwpschools.org

Benjamin Hallas Learning Specialist, Elementary

Benjamin Hallas

Learning Specialist, Elementary

Ben enjoys seeing students succeed in areas they previously thought they couldn’t.

When Ben isn’t working with students he enjoys running, the outdoors, and reading.

📨 Ben’s email: bhallas@jwpschools.org

Brianna Hammonds School Counseling Intern

Brianna Hammonds

School Counseling Intern

Hello everyone!

I started interning here in September.

I enjoy being around all of the children here at Jackson Walnut Park School. They are full of so much joy and that makes my days here fun.

The staff is amazing.

One fun fact about myself is that I am into makeup/cosmetology. It is a personal passion that I plan to continue as well as being a future school counselor.

Julia Hardy Lead Teacher, Primary

Julia Hardy

Lead Teacher, Primary

Julia grew up in a multinational setting. After working for the United Nations and realizing the need for peace in the world, she decided to become a teacher.

In 2003, Julia began teaching at Jackson Walnut Park School.

She loves the peace curriculum and the commitment of the whole school community to caring for our planet, animals, and human beings.

📨 Julia’s email: jhardy@jwpschools.org

Meg Hildreth Lead Teacher, Toddler

Meg Hildreth

Lead Teacher, Toddler

Meg has been familiar with Montessori philosophy and pedagogy for many years, as two of her own children attended Montessori school.

She enjoys reading, gardening, and traveling. One highlight of her travels was riding a camel in the desert of Northern Africa.

📨 Meg’s email: mhildreth@jwpschools.org

Huy Huynh Evening Custodian, Toddler | Primary

Huy Huynh

Evening Custodian, Toddler | Primary

Huy moved to the United States from his homeland of Saigon, Vietnam in 1993.

He began working at Walnut Park Montessori in 2001.

Huy and his wife Uyenha are the proud parents of two daughters. Their 18-year-old is a senior at Boston Latin Academy and their 12-year-old is a 7th grader at Boston Latin School.

Huy loves enjoying the music and food of his Vietnamese culture.

He likes coming to work at JWP because of the warm, close-knit community that feels like family.

Angela Izquierdo Intern, Primary

Angela Izquierdo

Intern, Primary

Angela is a native of Bogotá, Colombia where she graduated from the Pedagogical University of Colombia. This is where she discovered her passion for teaching.

Her love of travel and new cultures brought her to the United States, where she has worked with children ever since.

Currently completing a Master’s in Childhood Education from Gordon College and the associated Montessori credential, Angela has discovered her love for the Montessori method and this increases each day she is at school.

She is enthusiastic and excited for a great year at JWP and knows her love for teaching will help children to grow and prosper.

📨 Angela’s email: aizquierdo@jwpschools.org

Dona Jayasundara Lead Teacher, Primary

Dona Jayasundara

Lead Teacher, Primary

My name is Dona Jayasundara, and if you’ve been around the Primary classrooms, you may know me as Ms. Dona.

I was born and raised in Sri Lanka and speak my native language, Sinhalese.

I’m very excited to be in my 21st year at Walnut Park Montessori School this year.

My teaching journey began when my son entered Walnut Park when he was three. I just fell in love with its philosophy. Since then, teaching has been not only my work but my passion.

I earned my American Montessori Society teaching certification through the New England Montessori Teacher Education Center.

As a Montessori teacher, I enjoy seeing the children gain skills that will help them in life and carry over into their future.

I enjoy teaching in all classroom areas, but the Science, Geography, and Peace Curriculum resonate with me, and I hope with the children, too.

I enjoy traveling, sketching, drawing, and spending time with my family.

📨 Dona’s email: djayasundara@jwpschools.org

Elena Koumna Grade 6 Assistant Teacher

Elena Koumna

Grade 6 Assistant Teacher

I was born and raised on the island of Cyprus and came to the US to complete undergrad and graduate degrees.

I decided to become an educator after pursuing my first graduate degree and holding a position as a graduate teaching assistant. I have a Master’s degree in Elementary Education and Political Science and have held different roles in education for about 12 years.

In my free time, I like to read, walk/hike, exercise, and explore coastal areas in the Mediterranean region during the summer whenever possible.

I live with my spouse, 3 daughters and our cat Nala.

Jackson Walnut Park is a special place to be. I love how small the school is and we are able to nurture students and give them the attention they deserve.

Jackson brings back childhood memories for me; as a child I attended a public school that was very similar to Jackson as far as the values instilled, school uniform, simplicity, kindness and diversity of individuals. I also can’t get enough of the beautiful and
serene campus at Jackson.

📨 Elena’s email: ekoumna@jwpschools.org

Nancy Landry, RN School Nurse

Nancy Landry, RN

School Nurse

A lifelong resident of Newton, MA, Nancy considers every day to be full of learning experiences. She cherishes interacting with and supporting the needs of the students.

Nancy enjoys skygazing, singing along with her Spotify playlist, and spending time with her husband and four Walnut Park Montessori graduates, Juliana, Andrew, Sofia, and Adam.

📨 Nancy’s email: nurse@jwpschools.org

Yeliz Malik Lead Teacher, Primary

Yeliz Malik

Lead Teacher, Primary

What do you enjoy most about being part of the JWP community?
JWP is a place that I miss during summer, and is a workplace that I look forward to being in every day!

Fun Facts
I originally studied tourism management yet I’ve succeeded in switching my carrier to my childhood dream, teaching!

I hug trees and talk to plants.

How did you decide to get into the type of work you do here at JWP?
I felt that our Montessori program was a place I would love my child to attend, so my son and I joined this school together. I plan to be part of this community until I retire.

What are you most passionate about when it comes to your field and/or your role at JWP?
Our whole child approach, individualized learning, and everything about the Montessori philosophy.

What’s something new families should know about JWP?
JWP is a special place for educators, parents, and most importantly for the children. It is a wonderful, loving community that works together in close collaboration with parents.

📨 Yeliz’s email: ymalik@jwpschools.org

Olivia Maly Grade 4 Teacher

Olivia Maly

Grade 4 Teacher

I started at Jackson Walnut Park School in the spring of 2023 as a third grade substitute teacher.

I began teaching fourth grade here this fall.

What do you enjoy most about being part of the JWP community?
The great sense of support that comes with being a member of this community. The PSA is like a breathe of fresh air and the staff looks out for one another.

Fun Facts
I love to ski and I have a long-haired miniature dachshund named Frank.

How did you decide to get into the type of work you do here at JWP?
I am the oldest sister of four children, a nanny, yogi, coach, and tutor. I have always found myself in supportive, caregiving roles.

What are you most passionate about when it comes to your field and/or your role at JWP?
Helping students find their confidence to succeed, both inside and outside of the classroom.

What’s something new families should know about JWP?
The welcoming nature of this community of children.  Although it can be overwhelming to be new in a tight-knit community, JWP students welcome new families with excitement and open arms.

📨 Olivia’s email: omaly@jwpschools.org

Kristina Mann STEAM Teacher, Elementary

Kristina Mann

STEAM Teacher, Elementary

This is my seventh year at JWP. I taught first grade for six years and this is my first year as the STEAM teacher.

What do you enjoy most about being part of the JWP community?
I love how my colleagues feel like family and how supportive parents are at JWP.

Fun Fact
I have two daughters, Hadley, who is 5 years old and Lochlan, who is 3 years old. They both started at Walnut Park in the Toddler Room and now are in Room 1!

How did you decide to get into the type of work you do here at JWP?
I went to school to become an elementary education teacher. I loved teaching first grade but I also really enjoyed the STEAM piece and I did many STEAM challenges in my first grade classroom. When the position opened up, I knew it would be a great new role for me.

What are you most passionate about when it comes to your field and/or your role at JWP?
I am passionate about making a difference in each student’s life. My goal as a teacher is to make sure each child feels comfortable and loved and that they are engaged and love to learn.

What’s something new families should know about JWP?
JWP is a wonderful community! JWP has small classes which allow teachers to get to know each child and meet their learning needs.

📨 Kristina’s email: kmann@jwpschools.org

Stephanie Marcucci Director, Teaching & Learning

Stephanie Marcucci

Director, Teaching & Learning

I started at JWP in September 2000 as as intern after completing my Montessori training course.

What do you enjoy most about being part of the JWP community?
The sense of community among the faculty and staff, the children, and the families. It’s wonderful to be part of a professional community that is so committed to each child and their growth. I love that everybody here (faculty/staff, families, children) are willing to engage in meaningful, and sometimes challenging conversations in order to find ways to set each child up for success.

Fun Facts
I have 3 kids (ages 12, 12, 8) all graduates of Walnut Park.

I love sports-playing, watching, talking about them!

How did you decide to get into the type of work you do here at JWP?
As a senior in college I observed in a Montessori classroom and knew right away that is what I wanted to do with my life!

What are you most passionate about when it comes to your field and/or your role at JWP?
I love working with other educators to develop strategies to meet the needs of all kinds of learners. I want to help to create environments where children love to learn!

What’s something new families should know about JWP?
JWP is a community filled with people who are passionate about learning. We want to learn and grow with each other. We are committed to making sure each child feels seen and understood.

📨 Stephanie’s email: smarcucci@jwpschools.org

Amy Martins Administrative Assistant, Toddler & Primary

Amy Martins

Administrative Assistant, Toddler & Primary

Amy came to Walnut Park Montessori 14 years ago and fell in love with the Montessori message. She’s drawn to like-minded families and colleagues who make this wonderful community unique. Amy has enjoyed building relationships with the many wonderful families here and loves helping new families settle into our community. In her spare time, she watches her children’s sporting events or spends time at the beach!

📨 Amy’s email: amartins@jwpschools.org

 

Karen McCue Kindergarten Teacher

Karen McCue

Kindergarten Teacher

Karen LOVES teaching Kindergarten! She is passionate about helping students become lifelong learners.

When Karen is not in the classroom, she enjoys meeting picture book authors and illustrators. She has an extensive library of children’s literature.

One of her favorite authors and illustrators is Tomie dePaola.

📨 Karen’s email: kmccue@jwpschools.org

Emily Merola Grade 5 Teacher

Emily Merola

Grade 5 Teacher

What do you enjoy most about being part of the JWP community
I enjoy our close-knit community and the families with whom we work.

Fun Facts
I am a twin mom.

I love to travel and cook.

How did you decide to get into the type of work you do here at JWP?
I have always wanted to be a teacher. I love inspiring creativity in the classroom and doing hands-on activities to help make learning fun!

What are you most passionate about when it comes to your field and/or your role at JWP?
Creative expression and incorporating children’s literature into my classroom.

What’s something new families should know about JWP?
Our community is very supportive and friendly.

📨 Emily’s email: emerola@jwpschools.org

Minoty Mody Assistant Teacher, Primary

Minoty Mody

Assistant Teacher, Primary

Minoty joined Walnut Park in 2020, working with Primary and Toddler classrooms.

Both of Minoty’s children attended Walnut Park, giving her hands-on experience striving to embrace the Montessori philosophy both at home and school.

Minoty grew up in India and has been in Boston since 2009. When not working or parenting her children, she enjoys some serious downtime.

Neal O’Brien Director, Kids' Corner

Neal O’Brien

Director, Kids' Corner

I have been part of the Jackson Walnut Park School community for over 20 years.

I attended Marian High School in Framingham, a Sisters of St. Joseph sponsored school.

I started at JWP in an assistant role for 10 years prior to being promoted to serve as a director.  I then ran Summer Fun at JWP for three years.

I also worked at The Cambridge School of Weston summer program for 15 years.

I have a son who started at Walnut Park Montessori at the age of three and graduated JWP in 2008.

I love outdoor activities and basketball.

📨 Neal’s email: nobrien@jwpschools.org

Ellen Peterson Kids’ Corner Staff

Ellen Peterson

Kids’ Corner Staff

This is Ellen’s 11th year at JWP!

She spent 18 years as an elementary school teacher in Melrose, and also works as a professional actor in the Boston area.

Reading stories to Jackson Walnut Park School students and taking them outside (no matter the weather) are two of Ellen’s favorite activities!

Megan Polli School Counselor

Megan Polli

School Counselor

Ms. Polli has been a part of the Jackson Walnut Park School community since September 2018, making this her 6th year at the school.

She loves the close knit feel of our community and how we come together to support a cause or how we care about one another. You feel it here, and that feeling aligns with Ms. Polli’s values.

Ms. Polli nurtures the social and emotional needs of children from Pre-K to Grade 6. She views each child as an individual and uses the whole child approach when supporting children in their growth.

When Ms. Polli is away from school she recharges by practicing yoga, hiking (being in nature), traveling, painting, spending time with friends and family, and playing with her cat Lionel Richie.

📨 Ms. Polli’s email: mpolli@jwpschools.org

Fred Pote Building, Maintenance, Grounds, and Security

Fred Pote

Building, Maintenance, Grounds, and Security

After 45 years in the telephone industry as part of the team at AT&T, Fred joined the Jackson Walnut Park School community in 2014.

Passionate about his family, politics, and sports, Fred especially loves soccer. He has over 30 years of experience playing, coaching, and refereeing the “beautiful game.” ⚽️

Fred’s daughter works at Walnut Park and two of his grandchildren attended Walnut Park.

Fred finds the JWP community an extremely friendly environment, where the parents, teachers, and kids are always smiling. He feels that JWP is a fun place to work!

📨 Fred’s email: fpote@jwpschools.org

Clarissa Robyn Lead Teacher, Toddler

Clarissa Robyn

Lead Teacher, Toddler

Clarissa grew up in Ft. Myers, FL as a performing arts student, getting a scholarship to study dance after graduating and gaining her Bachelor of Arts degree in Modern Dance from Point Park University in Pittsburgh, PA.

Her venture into early education began in college, where she worked at the Children’s School, getting experience in the classrooms, from infants to Kindergarten.

When moving to the Boston area, she was quickly drawn to teaching and landed a position at a local Montessori school. Within a few weeks, Clarissa knew this was the path for her. At Copper Beech Montessori, she began as an assistant and was inspired to get her AMS 3-6 training in 2008 right here at Jackson Walnut Park School!

After ten years in Jamaica Plain, Clarissa ventured into opening her Montessori school in Dedham, where she lives. After one year of success, Clarissa transitioned to a bigger Montessori school in Milton. She was the Toddler guide for six years, getting her AMI 0-3 training in St. Louis in the Summers of 2018 and 2019.

Clarissa recently completed an accelerated Master’s in Montessori Education from Loyola University Maryland.

In her second year at Jackson Walnut Park School, Clarissa expresses what she enjoys most about this school is being a part of an incredibly supportive community in all areas, both as a teacher in the classroom and Montessori professional.

Clarissa lives in Dedham with her son and labradoodle Penny. She is very active in her community, including volunteering her time and talents as a Town Meeting Member, as a board member of Dedham Education Foundation, and as a local artist of public art.

Clarissa has a Montessori enrichment space in West Roxbury as part of her company, Star Path Montessori.

In her free time, Clarissa loves going on adventures with her son, watching independent films at her local community theater, and visiting her family in Florida whenever possible.

📨 Clarissa’s email: crobyn@jwpschools.org

Analicia Ruggie Grade 2 Teacher

Analicia Ruggie

Grade 2 Teacher

This is my 4th year at JWP.

I attended Marian High School in Framingham, a Sisters of St. Joseph sponsored school.

What do you enjoy most about being part of the JWP community?
The small, tight-knit community of parents, teachers, and students.

Fun Facts
I love to ski and travel. I have a 2 year old Golden Retriever named Sulley!

What are you most passionate about when it comes to your field and/or your role at JWP?
I am passionate about making a difference in each student’s life.

My goal as a teacher is to make sure each child feels comfortable and loved and that they are engaged and love to learn.

📨 Analicia’s email: aruggie@jwpschools.org

Sandra Selvarajah Lead Teacher, Primary

Sandra Selvarajah

Lead Teacher, Primary

Sandra was born on the island of Sri Lanka, where she worked at United Nations (UN) and United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) offices before arriving in Boston in 1988.

Working in Montessori schools, and at Walnut Park, where she has been since 2000, is one of the best things that has happened in Sandra’s life.

Sandra is also an associate member of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Boston.

📨Sandra’s email: sselvarajah@jwpschools.org

Dorothy Simone Art Teacher, Elementary

Dorothy Simone

Art Teacher, Elementary

Dorothy Simone is an oil painter and mixed media artist.

She teaches adult painting and drawing at the Plymouth Art Center and elementary art at Jackson Walnut Park School.

Simone has taught at the Danforth Museum, the Fuller Craft Museum, and the South Shore Art Center.

“Over the years I have watched students grow artistically and become good painters and artists. Many who said that they were ‘only beginners.’ Being a partner in that is a special experience beyond words.”

Making art is soulful. The ‘relaxing feeling’ occurs after you put in the work and then your expression blooms like a flower. Like a flower garden, this expression of art must constantly be cultivated. It is not always easy but certainly worth the loving hours of tending your craft.

Focusing on creating is living in the now and that is joy.

📨 Dorothy’s email: dsimone@jwpschools.org

Kelly Sullivan Grade 6 Teacher

Kelly Sullivan

Grade 6 Teacher

I am a passionate educator with a strong commitment to fostering a love for learning within students of all ages.

With 15 years of teaching experience, I consistently strive to create engaging and supportive learning environments for all students.

My teaching philosophy is rooted in the belief that education is not just about imparting knowledge, but also about nurturing critical thinking, creativity, and problem-solving skills.

I take pride in helping students build confidence in their abilities and encouraging them to set and achieve their goals.

I am committed to making a positive difference in the lives of my students.

📨 Kelly’s email: ksullivan@jwpschools.org

Ruiying Sun Mandarin Teacher, Elementary

Ruiying Sun

Mandarin Teacher, Elementary

As a teacher, Ms. Sun loves to see her students grow, both academically and socially.

She loves sharing Chinese culture with others and learning all kinds of languages!

Besides teaching, Ms. Sun enjoys traveling, movies, and spending time with family, friends, and her cat.

📨 Ms. Sun’s email: rsun@jwpschools.org

Jaklin Ugras Lead Teacher, Primary

Jaklin Ugras

Lead Teacher, Primary

Jaklin loves the Montessori approach that gives children the freedom to express themselves in practical activities and enables them to develop as a whole person.

She has been teaching at JWP for over 20 years and has MACAR (Montessori Applied to Children At Risk) Certification.

Jaklin was born in Istanbul, Turkey and enjoys traveling.

She is passionate about learning different cultures and traditions.

📨 Jaklin’s email: jugras@jwpschools.org

Melissa Uhrynowski Physical Education & Health Teacher

Melissa Uhrynowski

Physical Education & Health Teacher

This is my first year at Jackson Walnut Park School.

What do you enjoy most about being part of the JWP community?
Seeing the growth of the students, both in physical education and in their overall lives.

Fun Facts

  1. I’ve sung the National Anthem at both Fenway Park and the TD Garden, with two different choirs.
  2. Everyone in my family is a fan of a different football team. I’m a Giants fan. My dad cheers on Washington. My sister is a Patriots fan and my mom likes the Dolphins.

How did you decide to get into the type of work you do here at JWP?
I was coaching summer camps with Viking Sports and I found myself coaching here at JWP. I felt the community feeling here and knew this was a place where I would like to work!

What are you most passionate about when it comes to your field and/or your role at JWP?
Seeing students enjoy physical education and seeing students work together as a team and be great team players.

What’s something new families should know about JWP?
It is an amazing community and we are a close-knit group.

📨 Melissa’s email: muhrynowski@jwpschools.org

Erin Walsh Grade 1 Teacher

Erin Walsh

Grade 1 Teacher

I joined Jackson Walnut Park School in the fall of 2019. Prior to that, I worked in public schools for 6 years.

What do you enjoy most about being part of the JWP community?
The close-knit, supportive community.

How did you decide to get into the type of work you do here at JWP?
I began my career working with children with special needs. I wanted to have a positive impact on their lives and I came to learn that they had just as big of an impact on mine. This inspired me to want to teach my own classroom to create a positive environment for all children.

What are you most passionate about when it comes to your field and/or your role at JWP?
Helping children to spread kindness and learn empathy.

📨 Erin’s email: ewalsh@jwpschools.org

Alison Wilman Grade 5 Teacher | Curriculum Coord.

Alison Wilman

Grade 5 Teacher | Curriculum Coord.

This is my seventh year at JWP.

What do you enjoy most about being part of the JWP community?
Our school is a tight-knit community of teachers, students, parents, and administrators.

Fun Facts
I am an avid Boston sports fan. When not at school, I love enjoying the outdoors with my husband and my dog, Bailey. The change in the seasons is my favorite part of New England as I love to go sailing, hiking, and snowboarding.

How did you decide to get into the type of work you do here at JWP?
Being raised by educators, I developed a love of teaching from my parents. This is my twelfth year teaching.

I started my career teaching kindergarten, first grade, and third grade prior to teaching fifth grade here at JWP. Fifth grade is such a pivotal year during which students learn to be independent, responsible learners. I absolutely love working with this age group.

What are you most passionate about when it comes to your field and/or your role at JWP?
I am most passionate about encouraging my students to develop their voice, prioritize their dear neighbors, and develop skills to become leaders within their communities.

What’s something new families should know about JWP?
Alongside academics, JWP focuses on the whole child. We help foster students’ development of their relationships, emotional skills, and overall well-being.

I strive to instill a thirst for knowledge in my students each and every day by inspiring them to think outside of the box when strategizing and problem solving.

📨 Alison’s email: awilman@jwpschools.org

Yang Zhou Lead Teacher, Primary

Yang Zhou

Lead Teacher, Primary

Yang taught part-time at JWP for 2.5 years and became a full-time teacher in 2019.

She has worked in almost every JWP toddler | primary classroom and is familiar with each classrooms’ teaching and learning styles.

In addition to her time in the classroom, Yang has also been responsible for co-teaching the JWP Toddler | Primary STEM Program and being the instructor of the Chess Club!

📨 Yang’s email: yzhou@jwpschools.org