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New Gate Montessori School Faculty & Staff

Jeff AllenJeff Allen, M.A. - AMI Head of Upper School, Secondary Montessori Guide, History and Humanities - This is Jeff's 9th year at NewGate and his 24th year in education. In addition to his Montessori experience, Jeff has taught English, history, math, and maritime studies in both private and public schools. 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 enrolled in the new IMC Secondary Montessori Teacher Education Program. His interests include sailing, bicycling, woodworking, and spending time with his family.
Cheryl AllenCheryl Allen, M.A. - AMS, IMC, Lower Elementary Montessori Guide - This is Cheryl's 9th year at NewGate and her 24th 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 Masters 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.
Maria AlvarezMaria Alvarez, M.A., Ph.D. - IB Diploma Program Coordinator Secondary Spanish and Humanities - Maria feels truly fortunate to be a member of the NewGate faculty. She brings with her 25 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 is currently enrolled in the new 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 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 Montessori adolescent programs, 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 Montessori 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…”.
Kristi AntczakKristi Antczak, B.S. - AMS, Toddler Montessori Guide - Kristi has been a part of the NewGate community for 9 years and is in her 7th year teaching at NewGate. She taught early childhood education for four years before beginning her Montessori journey. She received her B.S. in Early Childhood Education from the State College of Florida. Kristi is AMS certified in Infant-Toddler Education and is a teacher trainer with the Center for Guided Montessori Studies. Kristi enjoys spending time with her family and is an avid Crossfitter.


Brittany BelviyBrittany Belviy - Administrative Assistant - Lakewood Ranch Campus - This will be Brittany's 2nd year at NewGate being administrative assistant for the Secondary program at the Lakewood Ranch campus. Coming from a background of business management, customer service, and 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 BogardEva Bogard, Ph.D. - Adjunct Faculty, German, Information Technology, IB Diploma Program Curriculum Consultant - Eva Bogard has a Master's Degree and doctorate 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 in Oswego. She has been teaching for over twenty years, including both public and private schools; ranging from Montessori primary programs through university courses at USF and the University of Tampa. She is an IB Administrator and 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 South College of Florida.
Jennie CaskeyJennie Caskey, B.A., IMC 6-12 Elementary Montessori Education - Upper Elementary Montessori Guide - This is Jennie's 5th year at NewGate as an upper elementary guide. She teaches with Elizabeth Zobel and Natacha Stutzman. Jennie earned her B.A. in Liberal Arts at New College of Florida, with a concentration in Comparative Psychology. She can often be found strumming a uke, 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.
Maria Silguero ChaffinMaria Eva Chaffin, M.S. - AMS Primary Montessori Guide - This is Maria Eva's 3rd year at NewGate. She has over 15 years of teaching experience. A native of Venezuela, fluent in both English and Spanish and with educational experience in both Latin and North America, Maria Eva brings unique, valuable and diverse experience to education. She holds a Master of Science in Exceptional Students Education from Nova Southeastern University, a Master's Degree in Business Education from Universidad Jose Maria Vargas, a Bachelor's Degree in Special Education from Universidad Jose Maria Vargas. She is currently completing her Doctorate in Education. She holds her Early Childhood Montessori Certification from the American Montessori Society. Montessori Teacher Certification in early childhood, and other educational certifications. Maria Eva has a passion for sharing language and working with special needs children.

Morgen Coe, B.S. - Secondary Mathematics
Morgen will be starting his first 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.
Lydia DumaisLydia Dumais, B.S. - Secondary Guide Science and Mathematics - Lydia Dumais teaches middle and high school science. She is also an International Baccalaureate Diploma Program Instructor. This is Lydia's 4th 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 Historians Conference and New Scholars. Part of her undergraduate research included working with wild sea turtles in Costa Rica as part of international conservation efforts. As a life-long 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 B.A., M.A., Ph.D. - Lower Elementary Montessori Student Teacher - Nora joins the NewGate Lower Elementary Classroom this year as a student teacher. An educator for the last twenty-eight years, she is currently pursuing her IMC Elementary Teaching Credential through the Center for Guided Montessori Studies. 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. A former English teacher, 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 (who are also at NewGate), as well as hiking, biking, and reading.
Stanley GillStanley Gill - Bus Driver - 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.
Loryn Haber Steele - B.A., M.A. - Music
This will be Loryn's first year at NewGate and her 11th year in music education. She brings a wealth of experience. Loryn earned her B.A. in English and Music from the University of Rochester; her M.A.T. in teaching music at Eastern Oregon University, and studied vocal performance and music education at the New England Conservatory. She writes "I am incredibly thrilled and honored to be teaching Music at the NewGate School. I cannot think of another subject that is so ingrained in our daily lives like the beating of our own hearts. Charlie Parker said, 'music is your own experience, your thoughts, your wisdom. If you don't live it, it won't come out of your horn.' I would not be who I am if it were not for the Arts in my life."
Robin HoweDaniel Robinson (Robin) Howe, III Ed.D. - AMS, Co-Head of School - Robin Howe is a Montessori educator and an International Baccalaureate Diploma Program and Middle Years teacher and program administrator. This is his 7th year at NewGate. Robin attended Montessori from age 2 through the 8th grade at the Barrie School in Maryland. He earned his B.A. in Spanish and Religion at Dickinson College; an M.A. in Bioethics from the University of South Florida; and his Doctoral Degree in Education Leadership from Argosy University. Robin has taught Montessori at the early childhood and elementary levels. He holds AMS Montessori age 3 to 6 and 6 to 12 teacher certification, AMI Adolescent Montessori Certification. He is a school consultant, school accreditation specialist, and teacher educator. Robin is an avid runner with a goal of running a marathon in all 50 states.
Tucker Lenora Humphrey, Secondary Art Guide - Tucker Lenora Humphrey has been an artist since childhood. She grew up in North Manatee County and graduated from Ringling College of Art + Design in 2009 with a concentration in metal sculpture. She worked as a studio artist and traveled all over the country. She returned 3 years and 8,000 miles later to focus on multiple local Mural and Public Sculpture projects, including collaborating with the Sarasota Chalk festival. That led to working with Ringling College at the Englewood Art Center and building up the under-served Youth program. Meanwhile, she married and started a family with fellow Ringling alum and working artist, Mark Humphrey. They share a studio near downtown called the Tiny Factory Studio. Tucker happily joins the NewGate family as a parent and a teacher. "Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up." —Picasso
Alina KipchumbaAlina Kipchumba, Ph.D., Secondary Science and Mathematics - Secondary and College Science instructor. Alina has been a college and high school science instructor for over 18 years. She has taught a wide variety of science classes such as introduction to biology, ecology, environmental science, conservation biology, marine science, chemistry, anatomy and physiology, and nutrition. Prior to teaching, she worked as a conservation biologist in Kenya. She holds a bachelor of science degree from the University of Nairobi (Kenya) and a doctoral degree in biological science from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She is also an International Baccalaureate Diploma Program Instructor. Alina is an avid reader. She enjoys reading biographies, scientific journals, and current affairs; watches scientific documentaries  sports (especially soccer and tennis); loves gardening, walking at the beach, traveling and spending time with family and friends.
Amy KremerAmy Kremer, B.A. - Secondary Guide, English - Amy earned her B.A. in Anthropology from Loyola University and her M.A. in Experiential Education from Prescott College. This is her 20th year of teaching, and her 16th year at NewGate. Amy is also an International Baccalaureate Diploma Program Instructor. She has spent many years coordinating the secondary programs immersion and experiential learning programs, and enjoys a well-deserved reputation as the teacher who truly taught our alumni the keen writing skills they have found so useful in university and their professional lives. She has a passion for literature, poetry, the theatre, and cinema, which she passes on to her students. Amy enjoys reading, travel, hiking, and world music.
Karen Lindell, B.A., B.Ed – AMI - Lower Elementary Montessori Guide
Karen has many years of teaching experience in the public school system in both Canada and the U.S. Born in Ontario, after teaching in traditional classrooms for several years, she moved to Hawaii where she worked with the Hawaiian state parks as an environmental educator. With a young child, she began to question conventional education and enrolled in the AMI teacher education center in Portland, where she earned her AMI elementary training. Karen is currently completing her M.Ed in Montessori with Loyola University. She is very excited to be joining the NewGate community this year as a lower elementary guide alongside Cheryl Allen and Nora Faris. Her son will also be entering NewGate this year as a Primary student.
Stephanie MarrStephanie Sands, B.A. - AMS, Art and Early Childhood Montessori Guide - Stephanie is a certified Early Childhood Montessori Guide and was trained at the Midwest Montessori Teacher Training Center in Evanston, IL. Stephanie earned her B.A. in Elementary Education at Marian University in Indianapolis, IN with a focus on Special Education. This is Stephanie's 3rd year at NewGate and her 9th year of teaching experience. In addition to Stephanie's Montessori experience, she has taught English abroad in South Korea and started a Transitional Kindergarten program at an elementary school in Indianapolis, Indiana. She is prepared, eager and passionate to educate children and share her talents and time with them. Stephanie is committed to bringing out the best in all her students while providing unique, authentic and hands-on learning opportunities both inside the classroom environment and in the outdoors. Stephanie strives to be creative, outgoing and most of all, patient. She enjoys spending time with her family, doing yoga, reading, running with her dog and everything about nature!
Lorna McGrathLorna McGrath, M.A. - Director of Family Resources at 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 39 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 Childrens Behavior, Redirecting for a Cooperative Classroom, Common Ground for Parents and Teens, and Parenting Instructor Network Training.
Rachael PawloskiRachael Pawloski, M. Ed. - Adjunct Faculty, Secondary Social Studies - Rachael earned her M.Ed. in Interdisciplinary Curriculum and Instruction from National Louis University. She also earned her B.A. in History and completed her teaching certification in Secondary Education at the State University of New Paltz in New York. This is Rachel's 2nd year at NewGate and her 13th year of teaching as a middle school instructor and her first year at New Gate. Rachael enjoys going on adventures with her family, beachcombing and swimming.
Kat Ricker, B.A. - AMS, Primary 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 spent the past eight years teaching at Island Village Montessori where she experienced many of the differences between a public charter Montessori school and her first love, NewGate. Kat is returning to NewGate this August. She is excited to be back at NewGate 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
Caitlin Roper - B.A., IMC - Early Childhood Montessori Guide
This is Caitlin's 4th year at NewGate, co-teaching in the Cassatt primary classroom. Caitlin has a degree from Florida Gulf Coast University. She is so excited to have successfully completed her teacher training and is certified by the International Montessori Council. Caitlin has a passion for life and children, which is evident to anyone who has ever met her. Her main 'hobby' is spreading Light through random acts of kindness. Her other hobbies are too numerous to list here, but whatever it is, she's probably tried it.
Christine Schaefer, B.A. - AMS, Primary Montessori Guide - Christine Schaefer received her Montessori Early Childhood Accreditation from the American Montessori Society while teaching at NewGate from 2003 to 2006. She has a BA with distinction in Human Development from Eckerd College, an associates in Applied Science/Graphic Arts from Mohawk Valley Community College in New York and a Professional Education Certificate (ages 3 through 3rd grade) from the state of Florida. Throughout the years, Chris has had the opportunity to work in several private and public school settings. She truly believes that the Montessori Method of Education is by far the best way to develop independent thinking in the child, socially, emotionally, and academically. Chris returned to NewGate last year where she feels she is truly free to “follow the child” and is very happy to be here. She lives on a small farm with her husband, 3 cows, half a dozen chickens, one pig, two dogs, a stray cat and other assorted animal visitors. Her daughter, son-in-law and three grandsons also have their home on the same property. When Chris is not working with children, she enjoys knitting, crocheting, sewing, clay sculpture, cooking and traveling.
Tim SeldinTim 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 47 years of experience in Montessori education, beginning with 25 years as a Montessori teacher and Headmaster of the Barrie School in Silver Spring, Maryland, 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 New Gate School from 1993 through 1999, during the years when New Gate 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 SpeedLauren Speed, AMS - Administrative Assistant - Lauren has her AMS Infant/Toddler Teaching Certificate from the South Florida Montessori Education Center in West Palm Beach, FL. This is her 20th 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 4th 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 watching YouTube videos, jogging, listening to music and watching movies.
David VillaniDavid Villani, Physical Education - This is Dave's 12th year at NewGate. Dave served in the United States Marine Corps for 4 years. He has worked with Real Estate investments and property renovations for 20 years. He was also a purchasing agent for 18 years. Dave joined NewGate School in 2006 and works as the Elementary and Secondary PE instructor and after-care specialist. Dave enjoys all kinds of fitness activities: running, biking and weights. Dave has completed the Marine Corps Marathon.
Kayla Snyder - Elementary Aftercare
This is Kayla's 1st year at NewGate. She has worked with children of all ages for more than 7 years. She enjoys singing, reading, and spending time with her family.
Natasha Lechuga - Primary Montessori Student Teacher -Natasha recently moved from Miami, FL to join our Newgate family. She is currently completing her practicum for her AMS certification, from MTTI down in South Florida. Natasha has her A.S in Early Childhood Education with ESOL/ESE inclusion, from Nova Southeastern University. She will be graduating in the upcoming school year with her Bachelors Degree. Her and her husband invest in real estate throughout the country, including in Portland, OR., Dallas, TX and Chicago, IL. Natasha has an eight year old son who was introduced to Montessori at eighteen months old. He too has joined the NewGate family! Natasha is fluent in both English and Spanish, and is looking forward to guiding her students in the foundations of the language. She absolutely loves children and believes wholeheartedly in the Montessori method. During her downtime she enjoys spending time with her family, traveling, and chasing scenic views. She enjoys cooking, prefers the mountains, and loves the moon. Natasha is an advocate for "Be Kind," and emphasizes this in the classroom. She will also be the co-teacher for Primary Aftercare this year.