Nieves Gonzalez-Montejano – Spanish
Nieves Gonzalez is our artistic and creative Spanish teacher. She holds a master’s degree in Montessori Education and the equivalent of a master’s degree in geography and history with a minor in Anthropology from University of Madrid. Nieves has been teaching Spanish at WHMS since 2000. Combining a variety of projects with Spanish instruction has been a hallmark of Nieves’ teaching style. Nieves’ Spanish teaching experience includes teaching Spanish to SUNY professionals. Her field work in Anthropology was in the highlands of Chiapas in Mexico.
Charles Austin – Music Lessons
Charles Austin holds an associate degree in music from Schenectady County Community College, and a bachelor’s degree in music Education from the College of St. Rose. Charles has been a private teacher for students in guitar, piano, bass, voice and musical theory. Charles has also written a book available to students designed to make the learning process more efficient and effective.
Cathy Schane-Lydon – Piano
Cathy Schane-Lydon holds a master’s in Education from Springfield College, Springfield, Mass. and a bachelor’s degree from Simon’s Rock College, Great Barrington, Mass. She also studied at Westminster Choir College, Princeton, New Jersey, and the Hartt School of Music at the University of Hartford, Connecticut. Cathy is currently in her third year of a Doctoral Program, EdDCT Music Education, at Teachers College Columbia University, New York.
Marla Bracco – Violin
Marla Bracco has been playing the violin since the age of six when she was introduced to the Suzuki method and its philosophies. Marla graduated from the five-year BM/MM program in violin performance from the Peabody Conservatory of Music of Johns Hopkins University. Marla studied under the renowned violinist and pedagogue, Shirley Givens. Previously, Marla taught at Waldorf School in Saratoga. Marla works with WHMS students throughout the week, both in teaching violin to individuals and as part of the WHMS Chamber Ensemble.
Janis Rink – Art
Janis Rink earned a bachelor’s degree in art education from The College of Saint Rose in Albany. Her experiences in art education have been varied. In addition to teaching art in the elementary school she was the art director for the town of Clifton Park’s summer recreation program. Additionally, Janis spends several weekends a month teaching art to the children at Wildwood Programs in Rotterdam. Janis also taught art at St. Helen’s school in Niskayuna. During the past year she worked as an adjunct instructor for the College of Saint Rose supervising and mentoring student teachers.
Maggie Schmonsky – Reading
Maggie Schmonsky joined Woodland Hill Montessori School as a Reading Specialist in 2006. She has a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from Western Michigan University and a Master’s Degree in Literacy Education from Sage Graduate School in Troy, NY. Maggie also earned an Advanced Certificate in Educational Technology at The College of Saint Rose in Albany, NY. A life-long learner, she is currently pursuing an Advanced Certificate at The College of Saint Rose in the School Building Leader program. Maggie holds a Permanent New York State Certificate in Elementary Education as well as a Professional New York State Certificate in Literacy Education. Over the years, Maggie has developed a passion for student advocacy. As a result, she developed and coordinates the Instructional Support Team at Woodland Hill. In this role, Maggie collaborates with classroom teachers, administration, students and their families in order to understand student needs and how to help them achieve success in and out of the classroom.
Ben Kelts – PE teacher
Ben Kelts joined WHMS in 2013 as our Physical Education teacher and Athletic Director. Ben taught for five years at Riverdale Country School in NYC for children in Pre K-grade 6. He also taught middle school and high school students for the past eight years at the Opportunity Charter School in NYC. He has coached lacrosse, basketball, gymnastics and soccer, and has taught sailing and boating, high ropes, First Aid and CPR as well as math. Ben has a bachelor’s in Physical Education and a master’s degree in Special Education from Manhattan College, as well as graduate level coursework in Physical Education from Canisius College and a master’s in Education/Curriculum and Instruction from University of Phoenix.
Susan Gordon - Music Teacher
Susie Gordon is our new music teacher. She is a veteran music teacher and most recently taught in Rabat, Morocco. Susan has taught around the world, including Islamabad, Pakistan, Quito, Ecuador, Kampala, Uganda, Cairo, Egypt, as well as in Keene Valley and Greenwich, New York. She has a bachelor's degree from Skidmore in Music and Theater Education, and a master's degree from Lesley University in Creative Arts in Learning. Additionally, Susan has graduate credit in movement education from the Hartt School of Music in Hartford, and Improvisation coursework from SUNY Fredonia and the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck.
Toni Roland - Math Support Specialist
Toni Roland provides math support for Middle School and Elementary students. Toni is a veteran teacher who has taught math to elementary through high school students for many years. Toni has a bachelor's degree in education from SUNY Geneseo, a master's in Human Resources and Curriculum from Georgia State University, and a master's degree in Mathematics Education from Texas State University.
Katja Cecchetti-Higgins – Support Staff
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 in 2012. Originally from Italy, Katja is also a licensed NYS Real Estate Agent.
Naomi Wimberley-Hartman - Movement Teacher
Naomi has taught and consulted at the Bank Street School for Children in New York City. Locally, she has taught at eba Dance Theatre, Abram Lansing Elementary School, and The Brown School. She has a master's in teaching Elementary Education from Bennington College, a master's in fine arts in Dance from the University of California, Irvine, and a bachelor's from Mount Holyoke College. She also holds a Professional New York State Teaching Certificate in Dance Education.
Jesse Roberts - Maker Space Coordinator
Jesse Roberts joined the WHMS faculty in the fall of 2016. Professionally, Jesse has worked as a software engineer and architect for 20 years in aerospace and higher education. He holds a bachelor degree in Theology and a master's degree in Philosophy, specializing in epistemology and ethics, from Biola University. Outside of his professional life, Jesse has a number of long-time hobbies and skills which he brings to the maker program including: pottery, woodworking, mechanics, engineering, metalworking, electronics and fiber craft.