Elementary Faculty

Julie AdamsLower Elementary Teacher


Julie Adams holds a bachelor’s degree elementary education and AMS 6-9 certification. Julie first joined our faculty in 1985. She has the distinction of being MSA’s first elementary teacher and taught for six years before taking time off to raise her children. Julie rejoined our faculty in 1997 and is now Head Teacher in one of our Lower Elementary classes.

Kristina Favaloro - Lower Elementary Teacher


Kristi Favaloro has a bachelor’s degree in education, and some graduate work in education technology, both from Westfield State College in Massachusetts.  She joined WHMS as a Lower Elementary Assistant in 2010. She became a Head Teacher in the fall of 2011. Prior to coming to WHMS, Kristi was the Lower Elementary teacher at River Run Montessori in Schenectady.  Kristi spent five years at the Alice Beal Expeditionary Learning Magnet School in Springfield, Massachusetts teaching third grade.  Kristi completed her AMS Montessori training at Seacoast in 2010.

Sandy Blakeman – Lower Elementary Teacher


Sandy Blakeman received her bachelor’s degree in literature at Bard College in 1981.  She has been teaching since 1983. She took elementary education courses at SUNY New Paltz  in 1984 and received her Montessori certification for ages 6-9 in 1987 and 9-12 in 1989 at the Center for Montessori Teacher Education (CMTE) in New Rochelle, NY. Before coming to MSA in 1992, Sandy student taught in public schools in Germantown and Red Hook. She began her Montessori career at Windmill Montessori school in Brooklyn, NY and then at the Montessori House of Children in London, Ontario. Sandy has been involved in Montessori teacher education through CMTE and was also a consultant in the development of Albany Public Schools’ Montessori Magnet School.

Olga FebusLower Elementary Assistant Teacher


Olga Febus holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Xavier Pontifical University in Colombia, South America, and completed master’s courses from Florida International University in Miami, Florida. Olga began her career as an elementary school counselor for Sacred Heart School in San Juan Puerto Rico. After living in the West Coast and Europe, Olga came to WHMS in 2004 and worked in Primary for two years prior to moving to Lower Elementary. Olga holds Early Childhood Certification from the Center for Montessori Education in New Rochelle, NY. Olga is an assistant teacher in Sandy’s Lower Elementary classroom.

Ann Ayers -Lower Elementary Assistant Teacher


Ann Ayers earned a bachelor’s degree psychology from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.  While living in California, Ann fell in love with the Montessori philosophy.  She received her primary Montessori teacher certification at the University of California at Irvine in 2000.  Ann worked in primary at WHMS for two years prior to having her children. She also taught at Pine Hills Montessori and Our World Montessori. She returned to WHMS to join the Lower Elementary program in 2009. Ann is an assistant teacher in Kristi’s classroom.  

Megan Mancini - Lower Elementary Assistant Teacher


Megan earned her Primary Montessori Certification from Northeast Montessori Institute in Rockport, Maine and studied Child Development at Southern New Hampshire University. She has taught at The Covered Bridge Academy in Smyrna, Georgia; The Cornerstone School in Stratham, New Hampshire; The Montessori School of Amsterdam in New York; and Cambridge Montessori School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Most recently she served as the coordinator of the Montessori and Me program and as a substitute teacher here at WHMS. Currently she is the Assistant Teacher in Julie’s LE classroom.

Bishop_CindyCindy Bishop – Upper Elementary Teacher


Cindy Bishop earned her bachelor’s degree in Psychology in 1993 from the State University of New York at New Paltz. In 2001, Cindy attended CMTE/NY in New Rochelle, where she received her Montessori 6-9 training. She taught in the Lower Elementary classroom until June 2006. In 2006, Cindy returned to CMTE/NY to earn 9-12 certification. Cindy currently teaches in the Upper Elementary.

Sherrie CluneUpper Elementary Teacher


Sherrie Clune received her bachelor’s in Social Studies and Teacher Education from the State University of Albany (1996). She is NYS certified in Social Studies, grades 7-12. Sherrie came to MSA in 1996 and received her Montessori training from CMTE in New Rochelle, NY during the summer of 1998. She taught in the Lower Elementary at WHMS until 2006. In summer 2006, Sherrie received her Montessori Certification at CMTE for the Upper Elementary level and is  now co-teaching with Cindy Bishop and Andrew McClain.

Andrew McClainUpper Elementary Teacher


Andrew McClain began his teaching career in Africa in while studying for his bachelor’s degree in sociology and English at the University of Zambia.  Upon his return to the U.S., he lived in Montana and Indiana, and taught at both public and Montessori schools. He received his teaching license for grades 5-9, from Indiana University and his 6-12 Montessori certification from the Center for Montessori Education in New Rochelle, New York. Andrew has taught in the Upper Elementary class since 1994. Additionally, he serves as faculty for the CMTE and was a consultant during the initial development of the City School District of Albany’s Montessori Magnet School.

Michele PraileauUpper Elementary Assistant Teacher


Michele holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Binghamton University and a master’s degree in Counselor Education from Syracuse University. She has worked with school-aged children as an Education Assistant at the Boys & Girls Clubs in New York City and with college students at Cornell University and the University at Albany. Michele has been an Assistant  in the Upper Elementary classes since 2007.

Patrick Cartwright – Upper Elementary Assistant Teacher


Patrick Cartwright has a bachelor’s degree in English from Hamilton College and a J.D. from Albany Law School.  Patrick is a part-time assistant in the Upper Elementary.  Formerly running a well-respected law firm, Patrick made a life changing decision to pursue his passion for teaching.   He is currently in his third year of a master’s program in teaching for elementary education.  Prior to his work as an attorney, Patrick worked as an environmental educator, ski and sailing instructor.

Katja Cecchetti-Higgins - Upper Elementary Assistant Teacher


Katja has a bachelor’s degree in Spanish from the University at Albany. Katja worked as a teaching assistant in the Middle School’s Spanish classes in 2009-2010. She joined the faculty as Sherrie’s assistant in 2012. Originally from Italy, Katja is also a licensed NYS Real Estate Agent.