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Upper Elementary Staff

Joe Ambrosino

Joe Ambrosino
Music Teacher - Toddler, Primary, Elementary
B.M.A.S., University of Delaware
M. Ed., Applied Education Technology, Wilmington University


Favorite Montessori Moment: My favorite Montessori moment happened when I was teaching music to a toddler group. I had brought a selection of instruments and juggling scarves for the children to use. I had a grand lesson planned: each child would start by playing a steady beat on maracas, then we would express rhythms through movement with scarves. This was quickly turned aside when one student approached the plastic bucket of maracas and rather than pick one out to play, he dumped the contents on to the floor and proceeded to wear the bucket like a helmet. He danced around the room to the music balancing the bucket on his head. I broke out laughing. At WMS, creativity will express itself as it wants. I feel privileged to have the opportunity to embrace it, nurture it, and watch it grow.

Nora Barry

Extended Day Assistant (Grades 3 & 4)

Susie Barton

Extended Day Assistant (Grades 5 and up)

Ana Brown

Ana Brown
Spanish Teacher - Primary, Elementary
B.A., Language & Literature - English & Portuguese, Maranhão University (Brazil)


Favorite Montessori Moment: During my time at WMS, the thing that has touched me the most is the way children are respectful and caring with each other; I’ve learned that empathy and compassion are sentiments that Montessorians truly take to heart. I also love the feeling of community that we cultivate in the school. This allows teachers, students, parents and staff to engage and cooperate toward the success of the children.

Allie Colflesh

Lead Teacher - Upper Elementary
B.S., Elementary Education, Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania

Favorite Montessori Moment: During the summer the students had to read the book "Hatchet" by Gary Paulsen. This book depicts the struggles of a young man, Brian, who finds himself stranded in the forest. Brian had to build a shelter, discovered how to make fire and find food with only the items around him and his hatchet. The book has allowed us to not only have meaningful discussions of survival, but it has allowed the students to have an awareness of their own skills. The students experienced building their own fire and seeing how difficult it is to light using only simple tools of magnesium and steel in Maker Space. They learned that putting petroleum jelly and cotton balls together made an easy fire-starter. They continued to learn how to fix the fire and allowed it to grow. The students were so proud of being able to both start the fire with a starter and keep it alive.

Brian also had to build a shelter. Some students had already built huts in the woods during their recess time on their own for fun. During Maker Space, the students created lean-tos using the materials you find in a forest. They did an unbelievable job! They were so proud and even started "accessorizing" their lean-tos with grills, floors, etc!

Rose Feehan

Instructional Technology Coach
B.S., Digital Media, Drexel University
M.S., Instructional Technology Specialist, Saint Joseph's University


Favorite Montessori Moment: My favorite Montessori experience is very routine and happens in every classroom at WMS, but something I had never experienced in any other kind of school. Last year, I had the opportunity to attend Morning Meeting (or "Circle Time") in a toddler classroom on a regular basis. I shared in a time when the class comes together, everyone is greeted, and each individual has a moment to know that he or she is a valued member of the classroom. During circle time, everyone takes a break from lessons to come together as a community. The children and teachers listen to each other, share their lives and know that they are treasured.

Jill Hallissey

Jill Hallissey
Physical Education Teacher
B.S., Exercise Science &  K-12 Health/Physical Education Certification, Eastern University


Favorite Montessori Moment: My favorite Montessori moments happen frequently throughout each day. What makes Montessori so special and unique is the opportunity for older students to help teach younger students in the same class. The wide variety of ages - especially as it relates to being in PE class - can sometimes be challenging in certain lessons. When I look around the gymnasium and catch a glimpse of a 6-year-old student helping to teach a 4-year-old student how to throw, catch, jump or skip, it truly is something special. Through a Montessori education, students really learn how to be positive leaders and understand the value in helping each other out.

Ben Loder

Extended Day Lead (Grades 5 and up), Coach: Soccer, Basketball, Running Club

Laurie Muhlbauer

Laurie Muhlbauer
Art Teacher - Primary, Elementary
B.F.A., Maryland Institute - College of Art


Favorite Montessori Moment: Choosing a favorite or most special "Montessori Moment" is challenging for me. I have been with WMS for more than 20 years and cannot picture myself ever teaching in any other school. From the first day I walked into WMS to this very day, every day is special here, because everyone is respected, everyone is appreciated, everyone is allowed and encouraged to learn and try, and everyone is allowed to be exactly who they are. Can you think of a more wonderful place to learn and teach?

Laurie Orsic

Laurie Orsic
Assistant Head of School
B.A.A.S., English - Theater, University of Delaware
AMS Certification:, Elementary I
M.A.T., Early Childhood Education, The College of New Jersey


Favorite Montessori Moment: Maria Montessori knew that children, from a very young age, love big numbers. They love telling you they have learned to count to 100, they wish they could have 1000 cookies and they love you "a million." My favorite Montessori math material is the Checkerboard because it satisfies the child's need to explore big numbers. Using the Montessori bead bars and the Checkerboard, the Lower Elementary students practice reading and multiplying numbers into the millions, ten millions and hundred millions.

Multi-digit multiplication is complicated, but much more comprehensible when a student moves step-by-step through the many lessons this hands-on material makes possible. Patterns emerge and sensible shortcuts reveal themselves. The paper and pencil process is easily taught because it mirrors the Checkerboard steps. And, most importantly, the student experiences the pure pleasure and satisfaction that comes from finding the solution to a really challenging multiplication problem. The Montessori Checkerboard lessons are magical.

Shelley Robyn

Lead Teacher - Upper Elementary
B.S., Elementary Education, Lincoln University
AMS Certification:, Elementary II


Favorite Montessori Moment: Each September, we pack up children and chaperones for a two-day adventure. Two of the three years of the 9-12 cycle, we go to YMCA camps for community building activities, bonding and fun. Students practice solving problems together and supporting each other through prepared challenges. Often outdoor experiences such as hiking, night hiking, canoeing and archery are on the agenda. We end the day with a bonfire and s'mores before retreating to cabins. I love the opportunity to observe, play and relax with the children in an outdoor setting. We all learn so much about each other and ourselves.

Amy Sacia

Instructional Support Specialist
B.S., Early Childhood Education, Kent State University

Favorite Montessori Moment:
When I look around Wilmington Montessori School, I see children who are thriving. Children at WMS are confident, inquisitive, self-motivated, friendly and kind. They feel at home in their classrooms and in their school. Children learn that mistakes are a natural part of the learning process, so they feel comfortable sharing their mistakes with peers and teachers. It is amazing to see the cheerfulness and joy in each child, knowing that it is there, in part, because Maria Montessori created a framework for teachers to give children the best education in their earliest years. My favorite part of the school day is peeking into classrooms to see children happily doing their life's work - learning.

Paula Sharpe

STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts & Mathematics) Coach, Middle School Science
B.S., Early Childhood & Elementary Education, Wilmington University
AMS Certification:, Elementary I


Favorite Montessori Moment: One of the most special moments for me in the Montessori classroom is during a child's "Birth & Life" (birthday) celebration. Each child gets so excited to "walk around the sun" with his or her parents watching and sharing moments of their lives with their school community. I always ask each child from the classroom to share one wish he or she has for the birthday child. As we go around the circle I am always so proud of what each child has to say about the birthday child. When I first became a parent, one of the milestones I most looked forward to sharing with my own children was "walking around the sun." While my own children no longer attend Montessori school, each year we take those steps around the sun.