DIANE M NICKERSON
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.
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.
Elementary Lead Guide
Cynthia holds a Bachelor's Degree in Human Development from SUNY Albany and is excited to be starting her elementary Montessori training at the Center for Guided Montessori Studies this academic year. She has worked with children in schools, childcare centers, and private homes for over 10 years. She also has experience living and teaching abroad both in Honduras and Spain, where she taught English and actively worked to improved her Spanish language proficiency. Cynthia grew up in the Albany area, and is looking forward to taking part in the community here once again.
Cynthia enjoys guiding children towards knowledge and seeing both the productive effort as they work towards understanding, and the proud look of accomplishment from mastering a challenging task. She loves learning, and looks forward to the new learning opportunities this year will bring for herself as well as her students.
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.
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.
Elementary Assistant Guide
Movement with Sports Guide
Ellie holds a Bachelor's Degree from the University of Vermont in Elementary Education. During her time at UVM she focused her studies on experiential hands-on learning; and has worked with students of all ages, ranging from early childhood to high school. She taught English in Spain for a year after graduating from university, fulfilling both her love of travel and of teaching. Ellie is excited to deepen her knowledge of Maria Montessori’s teaching philosophy and learn how she can create the best learning environment for her students.
Ellie grew up in Columbia County, just south of Albany. She always finds a way to be outside during the four diverse seasons of the Northeast and can often be found hiking, biking, skiing, or running.
Ellie is overjoyed to be welcomed into the Castle Island family and aims to be a caring, enthusiastic, and trusted guide to her students.
Elementary Mentor Guide
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 works as a camp teacher at Catskill Montessori School, and a volunteer teacher at May Sands Montessori School in Key West and Paz Montessori in Oaxaca, Mexico.
Music Composition & Performance Guide
Creative Visual Arts Guide
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.
Gracie guides children to be creative while practicing for refinement with visual arts skills and various medium. The children learn to access and maintain the art studio with confidence and independence and the elementary students develop an annual art portfolio to showcase in the school's gallery.
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!
Movement with Music 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.
SARA E MERCADO
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!
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.
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.
After Care Assistant
Rija is currently studying pre-law at UAlbany, and intends to further her education post-graduation at Albany Law School. She makes time in her studies to guide children, providing support in their daily lives. Rija believes that for a child to reach their full potential, a child must grow within a safe and nurturing environment - which Castle Island provides. She looks forward to applying her education toward this same objective.
Rija is multilingual, speaking seven languages! Also, she very much enjoys reading, swimming, hiking and, most of all, spending time with her family.
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.
Javier is a recent graduate of Tech Valley High School and holds training certificates in: Babysitting, Infant/Child First Aid & CPR, Lifeguarding, and Abuse Prevention. He is a summer camp counselor at Camp Scully in Wynantskill, and enjoys working with young people from early childhood through adolescence.
Javier is an alumni of Castle Island 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!
JOIN OUR TEAM!
Castle Island seeks prepared, positive and productive professionals for employment in the following positions anticipated for the 2023-2024 Academic Year:
Maintenance Coordinator, Part Time
10 Hours per Week
After Care Coordinator, Part Time, $20/hour
15+ Hours per Week
M-F, 3:00-5:30pm, Program Hours
Flexible Schedule, Supplemental Program Hours & Planning Time
Send resume and cover letter to:
Diane M Nickerson, School Director