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FACULTY

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Rosalie Adams
Head of School

Rosalie Adams serves as Head of School at Secret Garden Montessori and leads with a focus in service excellence, ensuring that the teaching staff and school community feel fully supported by the administration. Since joining the team in 2015, she has developed an immense love and commitment to the Montessori philosophy and practice.

Rosalie brings many years of experience in management, creativity and therapeutic work with children to her current role.  Prior to joining Secret Garden Montessori, she worked as Director of an Expressive Therapy Department at a Behavioral Health Campus in Pennsylvania. Her deep interest in the practice of leadership and experience as an art therapist informs her daily presence and engagement with the entire school community. 

Rosalie received a Master’s in Art Therapy from New York University, NY and practiced for 15 years as a Board Certified Art Therapist. She earned her RYS-500 level yoga teacher training in 2012 and continues to practice yoga and its principles for ease and peace of mind.

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Barbette Robillard
Curriculum Coordinator

Barbette Robillard joined Secret Garden Montessori in 2006 at the school’s inception as a home school cooperative. After almost 20 years of service as Lead Primary Guide, she now serves as the school’s Curriculum Coordinator.

Barbette brings 30 years of Montessori experience to her role. She rejoined the Board of Trustees in 2023 after serving as a founding member from 2008-2010. Her spirit and vision have greatly contributed to the growth of the school over the years.

Barbette enjoys painting watercolor and making art, gardening, hiking, camping and biking. She enjoys incorporating her interests like sewing and cooking into the daily life of the class.

Barbette has a bachelor's degree in art therapy and AMI Primary Diploma (Association Montessori Internationale) from the Washington Montessori Institute.

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Melissa Velez

Lead Toddler Guide

Melissa joined Secret Garden Montessori in 2012 as an active member of the School Board and Parent Council. In 2014, she began working as the Sprouts Classroom Assistant and moved into the Sprouts and Infant Lead Teacher role in 2017.

Melissa loves the calm, peaceful and prepared environment of the Montessori Classroom. She is proud to bring a felt sense of trust and integrity to her classroom by forging strong relationships with both the children and their families to ensure a feeling of comfort and safety.  Melissa feels blessed to be teaching Toddlers in their most formative years and is inspired by their honesty, curiosity and creativity.

Outside the classroom Melissa enjoys spending time with her family. Together they enjoy time outside and taking care of their animals. Melissa also enjoys art journaling, gardening, and sharing her love of Essential Oils.

Melissa holds a BA in Early Childhood/Elementary Education from Temple University. Prior to Secret Garden she worked at a Montessori School in Philadelphia. She recently completed her Infant/Toddler training at the Princeton Center for Teacher Education earning her credential in August 2020.

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Natasha Alessandra
Classroom Assistant

Natasha Alessandra joined Secret Garden Montessori in 2012 and is currently on Maternity Leave. Natasha feels passionate about the social/ emotional experience for each child and helping to cultivate compassionate, creative, confident leaders.

 

Natasha brings 20 years of early childhood experience to her role and is inspired by the Montessori philosophy. She enjoys involving the children in imaginative play on the playground, interactive storytelling, and incorporating American Sign Language into the everyday primary classroom routine.

  

Outside the classroom Natasha enjoys teaching and entertaining with hula hooping and flow arts. She is an experienced videographer and often films with TriTonix Recording. In the summer, Natasha can be found traveling to new hiking destinations or working on the Norma K 3 deep sea fishing.

 

Natasha holds a PA Paraeducator Certification as a one-on-one aid for children with learning differences. She also completed Princeton Montessori's Assistant Teacher Training. Natasha is currently working towards a degree in Psychology, and is on track to earn her Masters in Dance Movement Therapy and Occupational Therapy.

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Elizabeth Van Doren
Classroom Assistant
Lead Extended Care Teacher

Elizabeth Van Freesen joined Secret Garden Montessori in 2021 and currently serves as assistant to Ms. Melissa in the Sprouts Toddler classroom. She also leads the After Care Program at the end of the school day. Elizabeth brings with her a double major in Psychology and Theater, graduating from an all-women's college with distinction, and a passion for Drama Therapy. She has a deep desire to be part of a safe and supportive space wherein young global-citizens may explore, experiment, and thrive- which she is thrilled to have found at SGM.

 

Elizabeth brings a lifelong love of learning, as well as over a decade of both customer service and animal care to her role, and enjoys that each day is a new adventure full of possibilities. She has been inspired by not only the education received in the Montessori method, but by the children it serves, as well. 

  

Outside of the classroom Elizabeth enjoys reading, creating, and sweeping up the never-ending hair from her dog and cats. A lover of nature, she can often be found in the clearance section of garden shops, looking for any plants that may need a little more care and attention in order to thrive.

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Brianna Walter
Lead Primary Guide

Brianna Walter joined Secret Garden Montessori in 2022 and currently serves as Lead Primary Guide in the Primary classroom. Brianna brings a grounded presence and a strong practice of self-awareness to the classroom environment. She is excited to be of service to both the children and her fellow teachers and takes any available opportunity to further her knowledge of the Montessori philosophy and practice.

 

Brianna was first introduced to the Montessori philosophy in 2013 in Fayetteville, WV where many of the local children attended a Montessori Co-op. Brianna worked as a rock-climbing guide, and spent a season working with the children from the co-op. She quickly noticed how the children enjoyed learning, had internal motivation, were unafraid of failing, supported their friends and were able to engage with the older kids in the community. She befriended one of the Co-op teachers and learned more about the Montessori method and from that point, Brianna knew she wanted to be involved with Montessori Education. She feels honored to have the opportunity to guide the children and to watch them develop their personal interests. She’s also very excited at the prospect of growing alongside the children.

Outside of the classroom she loves rock climbing, attending concerts, painting, camping and most of all spending quality time with her husband Lee, daughter Sylvia, and their fluffy dog Harris.

 

Currently, Brianna is pursuing her lead teacher certification at Princeton Center for Teacher Education.

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Emma Turner
Classroom Assistant
Extended Care Teacher

Emma Turner joined Secret Garden Montessori in August of 2022 and she currently serves as classroom assistant to the Primary Classroom and After Care Program. Emma brings a peaceful and grounded presence to her work and enjoys engaging in play and creative arts with the children in the after care program. 

Emma holds an Associates Degree in Early Childhood Education from Raritan Valley Community College and brings two years of early childhood experience to her role at Secret Garden. Her education and experience have inspired Emma to encourage the children to be the best they can be by supporting a love of learning and helping them to tap into their creativity. 

Outside the classroom Emma enjoys painting, drawing, dancing, reading ,and crafting. 

Denisse Martinez
Classroom Assistant
Extended Care Teacher

Denisse Martinez joined Secret Garden Montessori in 2023 and currently serves as classroom assistant in both our Primary and ​Aftercare Programs. Denisse brings a confident yet quiet presence to her role and she enjoys having conversations with the children and observing how their minds and imaginations work.

Denisse brings six years of early childhood experience to her role and she is currently working towards a degree in Criminal Justice, on track to earn her Associate degree. Denisse's  education and experience have inspired her to support the children's leadership and independence.

Outside the classroom Denisse enjoys reading and playing sports such as soccer, basketball, and softball.

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Kacey Meckeler
Lead Primary Guide

 

Kacey joined Secret Garden Montessori in 2023 and currently serves as a Co-Teacher in the Primary classroom.

 

Kacey brings 5 years of experience in the world of Early Childhood Education, serving as an assistant in both a Waldorf and Montessori setting, and Co-Teacher in a Primary Montessori classroom. She is passionate in her pursuit of a warm, peaceful and accepting classroom environment full of students who value kindness, self-expression, and a love of learning.

 

Outside of the classroom, Kacey enjoys writing and playing music as a guitarist and a singer. She also enjoys handcrafts such as quilting and dying fabric with natural/foraged materials and knitting. 

 

Kacey holds an AA in Early Childhood Education and is currently pursuing her Montessori Primary Teacher certification from the Princeton Center for Teacher Education.

Secret Garden Montessori does not discriminate on the basis of race/ethnicity, faith, gender, sexual orientation or physical disability in the acceptance of families or employment of  personnel.

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