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.
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, Primary and LE
Susie Gordon 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. Susie will be teaching Primary and Lower El students.
Iggy Calabria - Music Teacher, UE and MS
Iggy Calabria joins us as our Upper El and Middle School music teacher. Iggy has a bachelor's degree in English from Muhlenberg College, a bachelor's of music in Jazz Guitar Performance and a master's degree in Music Education from The University of the Arts in Philadelphia. An award-winning guitarist, Iggy has studied with jazz greats Jimmy Bruno and Pat Martino and has performed extensively in the Philadelphia and Albany area. While active and experienced in composing, arranging, and music scholarship Iggy strongly believes in the value of music education and examines and teaches music and music-making as an essential part of life.
Andrew Snow - Violin Teacher
Andrew Snow joined WHMS in 2017 and teaches Suzuki Violin and Viola and directs the WHMS Chamber Ensemble. Andrew began his instrumental studies as a young Suzuki student himself and in 2016 he graduated with his Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Viola Performance and Literature from the Eastman School of Music. Andrew is actively involved as a performing artist and has performed many times with local ensembles including the Albany Symphony, Albany Pro Musica, Burnt Hills Oratorio Society, and Musicians of Ma'alwyck.
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.
Kathleen Lyons - Art Teacher
Kathleen joined WHMS in 2017. She recently retired from the East Greenbush Central School District. Kathleen has a bachelor’s degree in art education and a master’s degree in education from The College of St. Rose. She has been teaching art to elementary students since 1994. She will be teaching Primary-MS students at WHMS.
Katja Cecchetti-Higgins – Support Staff
Katja has joined WHMS in 2012. She has worked as an Upper Elementary Assistant for three years. Katja is currently assisting with Spanish and Art classes for both Lower Elementary and Upper Elementary. She also floats in the Lower Elementary classes. Katja is a Spanish Lecturer at the University at Albany. She earned her bachelor degree in Spanish from the University at Albany. She holds a Master's degree in Latin American Literature and Culture from the University at Albany. Katja is currently pursuing a doctorate degree in Latin American Literature.
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.
Charles Austin – Music Lessons and School Band Director
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 Teacher
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 also wrote The Total Classical Pianist, published by Alfred, and invented the music teaching toy, Toccata Blocks
Emily Chin - Piano Teacher
Emily Chin holds a Bachelor of Music in Music Therapy, and she is a board certified music therapist. Her coursework was completed at Nazareth College in Rochester, NY. After graduation, she finished an internship in 2015 at a community music school in Rochester where she worked with people of all ages and abilities. Along with working at Woodland Hill, Emily is a music therapist at a hospice in Berkshire County, teaches lessons in piano, voice, and ukulele at the Berkshire Music School, and is the musician at a church in Lenox, MA.