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School Director

Diane holds an AMS (American Montessori Society) Administrator Credential from the Center for Montessori Education, New Rochelle. She knows that the kind of environment adults provide for children matters. Diane believes that how children spend their days directly impacts the who they become as they grow into adulthood. Having researched best practices for pedagogy, she found that the Montessori method provides the best comprehensive approach to foster children's development toward their potential and joy.



Early Childhood Lead Guide

Lety holds an AMS (American Montessori Society) Early Childhood Montessori Teaching Credential from West Side Montessori School - Teacher Education Program, Manhattan in 2018. She has an Associate’s Degree in Elementary Education and worked as an early childhood teacher in her native country of Honduras. She has been working with children in bilingual preschools in Honduras and New York State for more than 20 years. Lety relocated to the United States in 2007 and began to work with Castle Island's Montessori program in 2012. 


Her students, their parents, and her co-workers all describe Lety as an energetic and fun-loving person. She is proud to be a link between the child and the prepared environment in the classroom and her goal is to help children's need to be free, to move, and to experience the atmosphere enjoying their work and play without interruption. She enjoys her role as an observer of individual interests and needs of each child. She is thrilled to be a part of the education of many children, including her own son, at Castle Island; and, to be children's guide within the Montessori philosophy.

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Early Childhood Lead Guide

Summer & Care Camps Co-coordinator

Maria holds a PAMS (Pan-American Montessori Society) Early Childhood Montessori Teaching Credential from the Learning Collaborative, formally Kennesaw State University, Georgia in 2016.


She loves working with children of all ages and began her career as a speech therapist with a Bachelor's Degree from Santa Paula University. She first started working with children when during her college years as a preschool assistant, and in the process of this work was when Maria fell in love with the Montessori methodology. The way that children learn at their own pace and in a practical way and by manipulating each of the materials appealed to what she already knew about how children learn. She observed how the children can acquire knowledge easily and always seem to be inspired to learn more. In addition to supporting their achievement and promoting their independence, it was in that learning environment that she made the decision to pursue Montessori teacher training. Since 2016 she has worked as a guide for children ages 3 to 6 years old in Costa Rica before beginning work here in 2022.

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Elementary Lead Guide

Minerva holds a Bachelor's Degree in Clinical Psychology from the National Autonomous University of Mexico and recently graduated with a Master’s Degree in Educational Psychology from The College of St. Rose. A native Spanish speaker, Minerva also holds an Associate's Degree as an Interpreter Translator in English and French. Upon moving to Troy in 1999, Minerva audited French classes at RPI for two and a half years. She also volunteered at the Troy Visitor Center and became a Literacy mentor.


Minerva began working with pre-school children in 2015 in a local catholic school and has always integrated the academic learning with the social, emotional and psychological aspects of the children
that have been in her classroom. She enjoys teaching children by helping them find their own solutions, exploring their creativity, and always respecting their individuality. Minerva has been introduced to the wonderful Montessori Method and is currently enrolled in a teacher education program, CGMS (The Center for Guided Montessori Studies) at which is pursuing a credential as a Lower & Upper Elementary Guide, anticipated for 2023. She finds the Montessori Method holistic, fostering learning with a sense of community and respect, and by promoting in children the love for learning in order to reach their own potential at the right time for each child.

Her family and friends describe Minerva as a warm, caring, and dedicated person and teacher who is always actively learning and looking for opportunities to grow as a person and as a professional.

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Early Childhood Assistant Guide

Luisa has an Associate's Degree in Office Management and has worked in her country of origin of Ecuador as a teaching assistant to preschool children at the private school, "Academia General Carlos Machado." Luisa has been an assistant teacher at Castle Island since 2016.

Her interest is to contribute to the integral development of children by becoming a guide that provides an appropriate working environment for the children. By taking care of the specific classroom materials, helping them when they need it, and encouraging their all efforts, she aspires to assist in the development of the children's cognitive skills within an atmosphere of joy, respect, and community. Luisa believes that the children's freedom to choose promotes respect and potential for their abilities, allowing them to develop their own learning and cognitive skills.

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Early Childhood Assistant Guide

Summer & Care Camps Co-coordinator

Teresa holds a BA from SUNY Oneonta, in Adolescent Education
with a concentration in Spanish (Grades 7 -12). She has been at Castle Island since June 2021, beginning as a summer Camp Lead Guide, and starting the school year as an Early Childhood Assistant Guide.


Since beginning work at Castle Island, I realized that being
"observant" is an important quality in working with children. Observation is the key to knowing more about the child's abilities and needs. The Montessori learning environment is teaching me that the child has the freedom to decide and express his/her thoughts and opinions; in other words, to become more independent. In Montessori each child develops autonomy and independence, allowing for better self- esteem, a sense of responsibility, and an understanding of limits and respect. I enjoy contributing to children's development and cognitive learning through my work as a guide, caring for the classroom environment, the materials, helping children and encouraging them to explore, complete, and create.

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Elementary Assistant Guide

After Care Coordinator

Jayde holds a BA from Washington State University in Merchandising with a minor in Spanish. After graduating, she realized she wanted something different out of her career and discovered a job teaching at a preschool. Jayde recognizes the importance of giving children the trust and independence they need to drive their learning. She feels joy in her work when she observes a child is enjoying what they are learning, and demonstrates they are curious to find out more.

Get in Touch
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Elementary Mentor Guide

CGMS Instructor

Tom holds an IMC (International Montessori Council) Elementary (ages 6-12) Credential from the Center for Guided Montessori Studies (CGMS.)  He also holds a Masters of Science Teaching Degree in Elementary Education and is a certified Elementary Education teacher in New York State. Before retiring in June of 2021, he taught 20 years for the Kingston City School district, 12 of those years as an Elementary (6 -9) Montessori teacher at the GW Montessori School, a Title I public Montessori school.


Tom is enjoying his retirement, but is also working for CGMS supporting and teaching new Montessori teachers.  Tom has been supporting the Castle Island Montessori Elementary Education teachers and students since 2021. He also has connections to the Catskill Montessori School, May Sands Montessori School in Key West, and Paz Montessori in Oaxaca, Mexico.

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Movement with Sports (Physical Education) Guide

After Care Guide

Born in Puerto Rico, Tamyalis grew up in Geneva, NY, and  has recently relocated to Albany. She is a native Spanish speaker and learned English from early childhood. She enjoys maintain Spanish in daily conversations with her family. She is currently studying nursing at Hudson Valley Community College.


New to Castle Island, Tamyalis looks forward to getting to know the children and their families. She is interested in the work her as it facilitate personal growth and self discovery of each and observe children as they discover their path.



Creative Visual Arts Guide

Bilingual Children's Library Coordinator

Laura joined the Castle Island community in the spring of 2022 as a parent library volunteer. She holds an Art major from Carson-Newman University, Tennessee. She is currently in the process of publishing her first children's book. Laura is a professional visual communication consultant and illustrator as well as a parent to two CIBM students and loves supporting children in finding their unique way of creating and observing the world around them through art and literature. She believes child-led art is the most effective way to discover the value of art (and the most fun!). 

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Dance Movement Guide

Parent-Toddler Guide
Communications Coordinator

Gracie holds a Bachelor of Science in Music Industry (Piano & Songwriting) from The College of Saint Rose. She has performed as a member of the Silver Arrow Band with both Piano and Vocals, with the Vocal Angels Gospel Choir, at various piano recitals and for small combo gigs including at the Rochester Jazz Festival.

She has been teaching for 10 years, working with musicians of all levels from beginner through advanced students and of all ages. She is adept at tailoring lessons to each student's needs, understanding that everyone learns differently. She likes to teach musical concepts in ways that are easy to grasp for every child. At Castle Island Gracie personalizes lessons, and guides the children to prepare for the Talent Show, the Bilingual Play Production and the Feria de Español!

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Dance Movement Guide

Parent-Toddler Guide

Anna Mayta is a dance artist, movement educator, and director of Mayta Fusion Dance. She graduated from Empire State College in June 2001 with a BA in Dance Education. Anna also practices and teaches yoga. In 2008, Anna earned a teacher certificate in yoga from Svyasa Swami Vivekananda Yoga University in Bangalore, India. She has been teaching, performing, producing multidisciplinary performance events, directing shows and choreographing for about 18 years. Having grown up in Chile to American parents and is bilingual English/Spanish.

Anna fell in love with Maria Montessori's educational philosophy in 2001 when she was first hired to offer her movement programs in a
Newburgh, NY Montessori school. An aspect of the Montessori method that she especially appreciates is that movement is a big part of the classroom experience; children learn as they move around the classroom. Through movement, they grow academically and also develop body control. Anna has been teaching her movement programs at multiple Montessori schools around Dutchess, NY.  She is so excited to be a part of Castle Island to share her Spanish language-based and multicultural movement programs here.

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Administrative Coordinator

Sara holds a Bachelor's of Science Degree in Information Systems Management from York College in Queens, New York, and has more than 15 years of experience providing IT solutions to faculty, staff, and students at three local colleges in the Capital Region. Her prior experience in help-desk settings includes providing hands-on technical solutions, facilitating training seminars, writing documentation and creating and maintaining websites (including this one!) Sara speaks Spanish fluently, originally from Nicaragua, has been living in New York since 1982, and has been working at Castle Island since 2019.

Sara is the one who greets parents and visitors in the afternoons; in addition to keeping the books, she works to support school's institutional development. And, the children are so pleased when she can fill in to substitute in After Care! 

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Family Counselor

Sophia earned their Master of Social Work at the University at Albany's School of Social Welfare and is a NYS Licensed Master Social Worker. Sophia's master-level coursework focused on care of children and families and they have worked as a therapist in local agencies serving children and families such as Northern Rivers and St. Anne Institute. Before becoming a social worker, Sophia spent over a decade as a youth worker and educator supporting children of all ages in an array of settings including after school programs, summer camps, private family homes, a self-defense program, and The Albany Free School where they were an intern and teacher for three years. 


Sophia believes that our relationship with the children we care for is the most crucial factor in guiding their growth toward becoming their very best selves. Sophia also knows that supporting these relationships means supporting caregivers in having the skills, tools, and resources to bring their best to their relationships with their children. Sophia is thrilled to be an additional resource and support for the amazing caregivers in the Castle Island community.

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After Care Guide

Rae Teator is a recent graduate of Tech Valley High School, and is currently studying to become a certified TEFL teacher. Rae was an intern at Castle Island during February 2022, worked throughout the entirety of Summer Camp 2022, and is excited to be a part of the school this year as the After Care Assistant. 

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Theater Arts Guide

Kristoph is a parent, partner, musician, clown, theatre maker, writer, activist, and educator. They are the Director of Development, Musical Director, and a founding member of Will Kempe's Players Cooperative. They are an Associate Artist with Troy Foundry Theatre. They are also a founding member of the Social Justice Artists Collective under the direction of Creative Action Unlimited. Their original adaptation of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (writer, musical director, Ruben van Taffeta) premiered last autumn in Troy, NY and now Anansi has its first staged performance here in Albany specially written for Castle Island Montessori School.

Their education includes a Bachelor of Arts in Cultural Anthropology from SUNY Albany, an Associates Degree in Theatre and Music: Vocal Performance from Schenectady County Community College, and Ethnomusicology training at Skidmore College. They have also received training in Pochinko clowning from Donna Oblongata and released two full-length albums with The Lucky Jukebox Brigade. They have worked in collaboration with other artists educating at the Albany Free School, Robert C. Parker school, and most recently performed at Woodland Hill Montessori School.

Credits include The Climb (actor/deviser, Creative Action Unlimited), George in North Country Pastoral (Siena College), Touchstone in As You Like It, and Iago in Othello (Will Kempe’s Players). Directing credits include: Comedy of Errors (Will Kempe's Players), Destination: Nowhere! (Siena College) and A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Will Kempe’s Players). Performs as Ragliacci. They offer workshops, commissioned work, and other good trouble.

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Maintenance Coordinator

Since April 2022, Jim has worked as a Maintenance Coordinator at Castle Island. With two decades of successful experience in multitasking, communication, and organizational skills in various professional environments. Jim is known for his due diligence, and attention to detail, while also working off hours and extra time to make sure the school is in it's best conditions at all times. A strong believer in letting his work and actions speak for themselves, Jim prides himself in preparing CIBM for each student, parent, event and perspective family on a daily basis. 

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After Care Assistant Substitute

Javier is a senior at Tech Valley High School and has a Red Cross Babysitting Certificate. In pursuit of 100 hours of Community Service for his graduation, he volunteers with the After Care Program.

Javier attended Castle Island in its early years and is bilingual English Spanish. He is passionate about Celtic music and is a piper and bass drummer of the world champion band, Capital District Youth Pipe Band. He enjoys reading, chess, skiing, and exercise, and also likes taking adventurous hikes in nature!

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Employment Opportunties

Castle Island seeks prepared, positive and productive professionals for employment in the following positions anticipated for the 2023-2024 Academic Year:​

  • ​Elementary I/II Lead Guide, Full Time, more info

  • Elementary Assistant Guide, Full Time

  • Maintenance Coordinator, Part Time


  • Volunteers Coordinator:

    • chess

    • gardening

    • cooking

    • yoga

Send resume and cover letter to: ​

Diane M Nickerson, School Director

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