Cheryl Allen, M.A., AMS, IMC
Elementary Montessori Guide
This is Cheryl’s 10th year at NewGate and her 25th year of teaching experience. As a child, Cheryl attended a Montessori school from age 2 through the 3rd grade. She earned her B.A. in History from Georgetown University and her Master’s in Teaching from Simmons College in Boston. Cheryl is an AMS certified Early Childhood and Elementary Montessori teacher, holds IMC certification in Advanced Elementary Montessori education, and is a Montessori teacher trainer for the Center for Guided Montessori Studies. Cheryl loves to create things, especially baking, sewing, and crafts. She has a son who graduated from NewGate and is now at the University of Florida and a daughter in the Secondary Program and loves spending time with her family.
Jeff Allen, M.A., AMI
Head of Upper School
This is Jeff’s 10th year at NewGate and his 25th year in education. In addition to his Montessori experience, Jeff has taught English, history, math, and maritime studies in both private and public schools. At NewGate, Jeff teaches History and the Humanities. He holds a B.A. in History and English from Tufts University and his M.A. in Teaching from Simmons College.
Jeff studied Secondary Montessori teacher education at the AMI affiliated North American Montessori Teachers’ Association Montessori Orientation for Adolescent Studies at Hiram College. He is also an International Baccalaureate Diploma Program Instructor. Jeff is currently completing the IMC Secondary Montessori Teacher Education Program. His interests include sailing, bicycling, woodworking, and spending time with his family. Jeff has a son who graduated from NewGate and is now at the University of Florida and a daughter in the Secondary program and loves spending time with his family.
Maria Alvarez, Ph.D.
Secondary Spanish & Humanities
This will be Maria’s 5th year at NewGate, and she feels truly fortunate to be a member of the NewGate community. She holds a B.A. and an M.A. from Stetson University, and a PhD from the University of Iowa.
She brings with her more than 30 years of teaching experience at varied levels, from Montessori primary to the university classroom. She has taught Spanish and English Language Arts for most of her career. Maria has led Montessori adolescent programs (12-15) for many years and is currently completing the IMC Secondary Montessori Teacher Education Program.
Maria’s experience with Montessori education began when her daughter was a toddler. After graduating from her Montessori program, her daughter entered high school as an IB student. Maria was teaching at the university level and became a proponent of the International Baccalaureate [IB] program and an active and enthusiastic member of the IB community. During her tenure as a university professor, Maria helped many IB seniors prepare for their final oral and written exams in Spanish. She has also served on admissions committees and especially enjoyed teaching English to Fulbright scholars from all over the world.
All of these experiences led her back to being a guide in the Montessori Secondary program, the position for which she feels the most passion. Maria feels a Montessori education is absolutely the best preparation for life. As Maria Montessori once said, “Our care of the child should be governed, not by the desire to make him learn things, but by the endeavor always to keep burning within him that light which is called intelligence.” Maria is particularly excited to be part of NewGate School’s Montessori IB program because she believes a Montessori education and the International Baccalaureate blend harmoniously in a symbiotic relationship to promote the vision Maria Montessori nurtured throughout her life: “Establishing lasting peace is the work of education.”
Maintenance & Repair
Emmanuel Alves was born and raised in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Most people know him as Manny. He has been living here in the USA for the past 16 years. Manny is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and owns and operates a Martial Arts school here in Sarasota where he teaches children and adults. He has a background in physical education, construction, personal training, security and fire science. He resides in Sarasota with his wife Katrina, who works for the Montessori Foundation, and his son, Dylan, who has been a NewGate student for 12 years. Manny works tirelessly to keep our school safe and beautiful—and as the toddlers like to say, “If it’s broken, Mr. Manny can fix it.”
Kristi Antczak, B.S., AMS
Community Development | Special Events
Kristi has been a part of the NewGate community as a parent for 10 years and has taught at NewGate for the last 7. She taught early childhood education for many years before beginning her Montessori journey. She received her B.S. in Early Childhood Education and is AMS certified in Infant-Toddler Education and has been a teacher trainer with the Center for Guided Montessori Studies. Kristi is an adult educator and has been featured in many webinars with the Montessori Family Alliance. Kristi enjoys spending time with her family, running, and working out. She is now NewGate’s Coordinator for Community Development and Special Events.
Admin. Assistant | Lakewood Ranch Campus
This will be Brittany’s 3rd year at NewGate as Administrative Assistant for the Secondary program at the Lakewood Ranch campus (LWR). Coming from a background of business management, customer service, and being a camp counselor, she has found her home at NewGate school. Brittany is grateful to have met, and to be working with, such wonderful students and staff. She enjoys reading, being out in nature, jewelry making, learning about the weird and unknown, and spending time with her friends, family, and animals.
Eva Bogard, Ph.D.
Eva Bogard has a Master’s and Doctorate degrees from the University of South Florida in Tampa, in Second Language Acquisition and Instructional Technology (SLAIT). She also earned a B.A. in German and French from the State University of New York / Oswego. She has been teaching for more than 25 years, including both public and private schools, ranging from Montessori primary programs through the university level. She is an IB Administrator, Diploma Program Coordinator, and secondary language instructor. Currently she teaches German and Information Technology in the International Baccalaureate program at the high school level in Sarasota. Eva also teaches Dual Enrollment classes for State College of Florida.
Eva’s eldest son graduated from NewGate and has gone on to study electrical engineering at Georgia Tech. Her two younger children have been at NewGate since they were toddlers. Eva’s interests include health and nutrition, visitning castles in europe, and taking long walks in the forest when she is with her family during the summers in southern germany.
Jennie Caskey, B.A., IMC
Elementary Montessori Guide
This is Jennie’s 7th year at NewGate as an elementary guide. She coordinates a wide-range of experiential education: hands-on science and technology; and music, drama, and wellness education programs for our elementary students. Jennie earned her B.A. in Liberal Arts at New College of Florida, with a concentration in Comparative Psychology. She holds IMC Elementary (ages 6 to 12) Montessori Teaching Certification under MACTE accreditation. She can often be found strumming a ukulele, sketching a portrait, or telling a story around campus. On the occasion that she is not found there, she is probably off dancing or observing nature and dreaming about ways to excite people about it.
Morgen Coe, B.S.
This will be Morgen’s second year at NewGate as a Secondary Mathematics teacher. He also has over four years of experience enabling students of all ages to succeed in mathematics. Morgen graduated from New College of Florida with a B.S. in Natural Sciences and Applied Mathematics. His undergraduate dissertation focused on improving high school mathematics education and optimizing curriculum based on student needs. As the older brother of a former NewGate student, he is deeply passionate about progressive education and is very excited to be a member of the NewGate community. Morgen is currently engaged in the IMC Secondary Montessori Teacher Education Program.
Assistant Toddler Teacher
Jesica was born in Puerto Rico and has two daughters. In Puerto Rico she worked with children at Los Laureles Head Start Center. Jesica moved to the United States seven years ago. She studied modeling and acting at the Fontecha school of modeling of the American Association International. She also studied to be a Clinical Medical Associate (CMA) at Texarkana College in Texas. Since moving to Florida, she has taken the required DCF childcare courses and finished her first Montessori Fundamentals course. Jesica wants to continue studying. This is her 3rd year working for NewGate School as a teacher’s assistant, and it is a pleasure for her to be able to teach the Spanish language. For Jesica, respect and love are the most important things. She loves animals, she enjoys doing fun things with her family, and she rides a motorcycle in order to do everything.
Jennifer Darmogray-Lombard, B.S., AMS
Elementary Montessori Guide
This will be Jennifer’s first year at NewGate but her 26th year in Montessori education. She will be teaching in the Upper Elementary program with Natacha Stutzman. Jennifer has 19 years of classroom experience. Over the years, she has been a Head of School, Montessori Teacher Trainer, Curriculum Coordinator, Summer School Coordinator, Supervising Teacher, and Parent Educator. She has also taken many hours of professional development in order to continually meet each child’s needs.
Jennifer holds a B.S. in education from the University of Northern Michigan and has both her AMS early childhood 3-6 and elementary 6-12 certifications. She has been a teacher trainer and received additional training in Applied Behavior Analysis with an Autism specialization. Jennifer is excited to join the NewGate team. “I love Montessori Education!” As Dr. Maria Montessori said, “The essential thing is to arouse such an interest that it engages the child’s whole personality.”
Jennifer believes that her objective as a teacher is to help each child discover the joy of learning, and to help the child develop a strong belief in his or her own ability. Each child is encouraged to do his or her best and to have a sense of pride in his or her accomplishments. She also believes it is of primary importance that her students appreciate and respect the differences of others.
Lydia Dumais, M.S.
Secondary Science & Art Montessori Guide
Lydia Dumais teaches high school science and art. She is also an International Baccalaureate Diploma Program Instructor. This is Lydia’s 5th year at NewGate. She graduated from New College of Florida, with a double major in Biology and History and an M.S. in Biology from Clemson University. She presented academic papers at the Florida Conference of Historians and New Scholars. Part of her undergraduate research included working with wild sea turtles in Costa Rica as part of international conservation efforts.
Lydia is engaged in the IMC Secondary Montessori Teacher Education Program. As a lifelong learner and having earned the IB Diploma in high school, she brings enthusiasm, hands-on learning, and a spirit of keen intellectual inquiry to the secondary program. In her spare time, she works on conservation projects, including working with leatherback sea turtles, gopher tortoises, and wetlands water quality monitoring.
Nora Faris, Ph.D
Lower Elementary Montessori Guide
This is Nora’s second year at NewGate. An educator for the last twenty-nine years, she is currently pursuing her IMC Elementary Teaching Credential through the Center for Guided Montessori Studies and a master’s in Montessori Leadership though the TIES Program at Endicott College. Nora’s education includes a B.A. from Emory University in English and Educational Studies, an M.A. in Curriculum and Instruction from Columbia University’s Teachers College, and a Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University in Language and Literacy. Nora started her Montessori journey fourteen years ago at The Montessori School in Chattanooga, TN where she began as a mom and worked as an administrator for her last nine years. Nora enjoys spending time with her husband and three children (two of whom are also at NewGate), as well as hiking, biking, and reading.
Alexandra Gallen, B.S., MACTE
Early Childhood Montessori Guide
Alexandra (Alex) joined NewGate during the summer of 2019. She fell in love with the Montessori Method when her daughter Juliette attended a Montessori primary classroom. Alex has been teaching in the early learning environment in public and private schools since 2007, upon graduating from the University of South Florida with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology. Alex also has an Early Childhood Montessori Credential from MACTE/Montessori Live and a diploma from the North American Montessori Center.
She is originally from Lima, Peru and is excited to implement the Spanish language in the learning environment. She is married and has three children, Linda, Juliette, and Thomas, and enjoys traveling, reading, spending time with her family and considers herself a ‘foodie.’ Her daughters will be joining us at NewGate.
Stanley was born in the Australian Outback on his family’s Wild West Show. When he first started in his career he was a bronco rider, bull rider and a rodeo clown. Later he came to America and traveled for many years with the Ringling Brothers Circus as a trapeze artist. His flying act, The Flying Waynes, was the first flying act to perform at the Radio City Music Hall in New York. His travels have taken him throughout many places of the world including, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Mexico, and every state except Alaska in the United States. Stanley has had more than enough fun and he is happy to be the bus driver at NewGate.
Jessica Gurney, M.A.
This is Jessica’s first year as part of the NewGate team, and her eleventh year as a teacher of English. Having taken a two-year break from teaching to stay at home with her two young boys, Jessica is excited to be back in the classroom helping students learn more about themselves and the world around them through the study of literature. She is passionate about facilitating her students’ journey to become confident and articulate communicators.
Jessica grew up in the south of England. She gained her undergraduate degree in English and US Literature from the University of Essex, and, after graduating, worked for the university as an admissions, recruitment, and outreach officer for four years. She pursued her dream of becoming an English teacher by receiving her Postgraduate Certificate in Education at the University of Brighton and a masters level certificate in Early Professional Development at Canterbury Christ Church University.
Jessica began her teaching career at a large public school in Kent, where she worked for four years as an English teacher and teacher of project based learning. In 2011, Jessica moved to Chicago, where she worked for six years at British International School Chicago (BISC) teaching grades 6 through 12, including specializing in the International Baccalaureate (IB). She held many positions during her time at BISC, including department leader, pastoral leader, and international trip leader. Jessica moved to Florida one year ago to be closer to family. In her spare time, Jessica enjoys reading historical fiction, theater, cooking, and finding new adventures with her family. During her two year break from the classroom, Jessica gained valuable experience through her work as an IB examiner.
Haley Horton, B.A.
Secondary / Middle School Mathematics & Science
This will be Haley’s first year at NewGate as a Middle School (grades 7 & 8) mathematics and science teacher. She has approximately 3 years of experience in mathematics education as well as a background in customer service. Haley graduated from the University of South Florida with a B.A. in General Mathematics. Most of her core classes were based in topology and real analysis and she hopes to be able to integrate that into her classes. In college, she enjoyed participating in quiz bowl as the team’s literature nerd.
Haley is looking forward to becoming a member of the NewGate community. She loves classic literature and is always looking for a new book to read. She is engaged in the IMC Secondary Montessori Teacher Education Program.
Simendea Kissman, M.A.
Secondary Montessori Guide - English, Social Studies, General Studies
Simendea will be joining us in the Middle School, or Cycle 1 (grades 7 and 8), co-teaching with Haley Horton. She has twenty years of experience as a generalist at the elementary level and teaching middle school English and Humanities (Social Studies, Art, Music Appreciation, etc.).
She has taught at international schools around the world as well as public and private schools in the US. Simendea holds a B.A. in English/Language Arts from Siena Heights University and an M.A. in teaching from Marygrove College. Having lived and taught in countries around the world, she has a broad view of the world with a deep appreciation for diversity. She is engaged in the IMC Secondary Montessori Teacher Education Program.
Amy Kremer-Treibly, M.A. - Secondary Guide
Amy has taught throughout the New Gate Secondary Program since 2002 primarily with English reading, writing and theater projects and has been teaching for 23 years. She is also an International Baccalaureate Diploma Program Instructor, Librarian and CAS Advisor. She has spent many years developing the Secondary Program’s experiential learning programs and looks for every opportunity to get students off campus and into the community for learning opportunities. She also leads the annual Drama Immersion Weeks with students at each Secondary level to build memorable theatrical productions in the space of a week. One of her great joys is helping every student find gateway books that lead to a life long love of reading, and she builds every opportunity possible to share books with students from toddler through high school levels.
Amy earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Anthropology at Loyola University where she also enjoyed studying Spanish during a study abroad term in Quito, Ecuador and learning about world religions as her minor. She began her teaching career in a refugee resettlement program teaching ESL to adult students from around the world followed by teaching Spanish at the elementary level. While teaching at a Great Books Foundation high school in Arizona, she earned her Master’s Degree in Experiential Education at Prescott College with a focus on building schools and learning experiences to promote engagement, eco-literacy and stewardship.
Amy enjoys her family time, reading, and travel, all preferably at the beach!
Natasha Lechuga, AMS
Early Childhood Montessori Guide
Natasha will be returning this year having recently completed her internship at NewGate, with her AMS credential. She is now a certified Early Childhood Montessori Guide and will be co-teaching alongside Caitlin Roper in the Cassatt Room. Natasha will be continuing to work on her Bachelor’s Degree in Education and plans to graduate this upcoming spring. Her family relocated last year to join our NewGate team from South Florida. She has a nine-year-old son who will be starting in our Upper Elementary classroom this year. Her husband continues to invest in real estate throughout the country and most recently in our own SRQ area! He was born in Cuba while Natasha was born and raised in Miami, FL. Her mother is a first-generation Cuban American while her father is from Lima, Peru. Natasha is fluent in Spanish and is looking forward to incorporating the language within the classroom. She absolutely loves children and believes wholeheartedly in the Montessori Method.
Mary Loughead, AMI
Early Childhood & Secondary Health, Wellness and Physical Education!
Mary joins us this year to coordinate the Upper School’s Health, Wellness, and Fitness Program and the Montessori Extended Day Program for the Primary Level. Mary is a recent graduate of Southwest Institute of Montessori Studies in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She was introduced to Montessori 4 years ago and worked as the Operations Coordinator at a Montessori School in Albuquerque, where she gained experience in both Administration and the classroom environment. This ultimately led her to attend Montessori Training in 2018.
She is currently working on her Bachelor’s Degree in Family and Child Studies through the University of New Mexico and will be graduating within the year. Prior to her work in Montessori she has a long line of experience in Nursing and Nutrition as she worked in the Healthcare and Fitness field before finding her home in Montessori Education.
Mary will be relocating to Sarasota by way of Albuquerque, New Mexico and is beyond excited to begin her work at NewGate and be close to family. In her spare time she enjoys spending time with her adopted dog, Grady. You can also find her doing all different forms of exercise from running to yoga. She has played soccer since her youth and has recently become very involved in Adult Competitive Kickball, which she travels around the country to play whenever possible.
Lorna McGrath, M.A., AMS
Director of the Montessori Family Alliance | The Montessori Foundation
Lorna served as Associate Head of School for 22 years. Even though she has stepped down as Associate Head to focus on other Foundation programs, Lorna continues to lead our family education program and will be a presence. Lorna has 40 years of experience in the field of education, teaching children from 18 months through 6 years old and from 12 through 18 years old in both public schools and independent Montessori schools. She received her Master’s Degree in Education with a concentration in Family Counseling from the University of Georgia, and her Montessori certification from the American Montessori Society.
Lorna has been an administrator at NewGate School since 1994. During her tenure at NewGate, she has played several important roles: Admissions Director, Compliance Officer, Educational Coordinator, and Interim Head of School. Lorna was also the Director of the former New Gate Center for Montessori Teacher Education. Lorna is a Montessori teacher educator, conference presenter, and school consultant. She has also spent many years as a certified instructor for the International Network for Children & Families, teaching classes in Redirecting Children’s Behavior, Redirecting for a Cooperative Classroom, Common Ground for Parents and Teens, and Parenting Instructor Network Training. She leads the Montessori Foundation’s Parenting Puzzle family education program.
Jenni Presley, M.Ed., AMS
Montessori Toddler Guide
Jenni holds a B.A. in Print Journalism and Photography from the University of Kentucky. She completed her Montessori Infant-Toddler (0-3) training with the Center for Montessori Teacher Education in North Carolina and earned her Master’s in Education with a specialization in Montessori from Xavier University. Her Master’s research focused on the complementary practices of Montessori and Magda Gerber’s RIE techniques and the ways that respectful, responsive caregiving can facilitate a positive learning environment for infants and toddlers.
This will be her first year at NewGate and her fifth year in the classroom. Jenni lives in Arcadia with her husband, Mike, and her 10-year-old son, Finn, who also attends NewGate. She and her family run a nonprofit farm animal sanctuary on their five acres and share their lives and most of their free time with dogs, goats, pigs, chickens, cows, a cat, and a duck.
Kat Ricker, B.A., AMS
Early Childhood Montessori Guide
Kat graduated from Ringling College of Art and Design in 2002. She received her Montessori Early Childhood certification from the American Montessori Society while teaching at NewGate from 2002-2009. She also spent eight years teaching at Island Village Montessori.
Kat returned to NewGate last year, excited to be back where she can really focus on the beauty and philosophy of Montessori. She always felt NewGate was like another family.
When Kat is not teaching, she enjoys spending time with her husband, friends, family, and her cat. Other activities include running, yoga, CrossFit, spinning, swimming, and dancing. She has a passion for vintage clothes and enjoys crafting.
Caitlin Roper, B.A., IMC
Early Childhood Montessori Guide
This is Caitlin’s 6th year at NewGate. She is a graduate of Florida Gulf Coast University with a Bachelors in Communication. Caitlin received her IMC Credential from the Center for Guided Montessori Studies. When she is not at NewGate she can often be found going on adventures with her puppy, Oliver, and continuing her lifelong love of learning.
Tanya Ryskind, J.D., AMS, IMC
Associate Head of School
Tanya has worked with the Montessori Foundation for many years and is an internationally admired leader in the Montessori school community. Tanya brings a broad set of experiences and skills from her years in both the legal and educational fields. Most importantly, Tanya has experience as a Montessori teacher trainer, an International Montessori consultant, motivational speaker, author, and frequent presenter at Montessori conferences around the world. She currently serves on the board of the Montessori Accreditation Council for Teacher Education (MACTE), the agency recognized by the United States Department of Education to accredit Montessori Teacher Education programs.
She holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of New Hampshire, cum laude, majoring in Social Services, with an emphasis on counseling. Her minor was in Spanish. She went on to earn her Juris Doctorate from the University of New Hampshire School of Law. She holds elementary Montessori certification from both the American Montessori Society and the International Montessori Council. Tanya’s continuing studies include Neuroscience and Learning through Harvard University, Oceanography and Meteorology at the State University of New York, Brockport.
Tim Seldin, M.Ed., AMS
Head of School
Tim Seldin is the President of the Montessori Foundation and Chair of the International Montessori Council. He is a noted Montessori teacher trainer, school consultant, and keynote speaker at scores of Montessori conferences around the world, including the Montessori Foundation’s annual international conference, which is held in Sarasota every November.
Tim has 48 years of experience in Montessori education, beginning with 25 years as a Montessori teacher and Headmaster of the Barrie School in Silver Spring, MD, which was founded by his family in 1932 and which he attended from age 2 through high school graduation.
As President of the Montessori Foundation, he served as Head of the NewGate School from 1993 through 1999, during the years when NewGate was the Lab School of the Montessori Foundation. Tim was, with Harvey Hallenberg, the co-founder and Director of the Institute for Advanced Montessori Studies. Tim earned a B.A. in History and Philosophy from Georgetown University, an M.Ed. in Educational Administration and Supervision from the American University, and his Montessori certification from the American Montessori Society. He is the author of several books about Montessori education. Tim served for many years as an officer on the Board of the American Montessori Society. He is also an International Baccalaureate Diploma Program Instructor.
Lauren Speed, AMS
Admin. Assistant Ashton Road Campus
Lauren has her AMS Infant/Toddler Teaching Certificate from the South Florida Montessori Education Center in West Palm Beach, FL. This is her 21st year at NewGate. She began her Montessori career in 1992 at Counterpane School in Fayetteville, GA, where her children attended.
A move back to Florida brought the family to NewGate, where she spent 16 years with the toddlers. Both of her children graduated from NewGate; her son in 2005 and her daughter in 2007. They have subsequently graduated from college; her son from New College of Florida and her daughter from Florida State University.
This will be her 5th year working with the administration, and she loves it! Lauren is looking forward to another great year at NewGate. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, watching YouTube videos, jogging, listening to music and watching movies.
Natacha Stutzman, B.S.
Elementary Montessori Guide
This will be Natacha’s third year as an Upper Elementary guide at NewGate and she recently completed her first year of Montessori Elementary training through the Center for Guided Montessori Studies. As a NewGate alumnus herself, she learned the incredible value of a Montessori education early in life and is thrilled to be back in the classroom teaching and giving back to the NewGate community. She received her Bachelor of Liberal Arts from the University of Florida, where she studied Political Science and French. During her time at UF, she studied abroad for a semester in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and was fortunate enough to travel around South America, an experience that reinforced both her global perspective as well as her love of learning about other cultures and languages. In her time off, Natacha can be found with her nose in a book on the beach or experimenting in the kitchen. She also enjoys traveling and practicing her Spanish, French, and Portuguese.