Patrick Velde
Patrick Velde | Head of School
Catherine Greene
Catherine Greene | Assistant Head of School/Director of SMS Preschool & Diversity
Julie Smith
Julie Smith | Directory of Education & Strategy

TODDLER

Catherine Greene
Catherine Greene | Toddler Teacher
Amy Peterson
Amy Peterson | Toddler Teaching Assistant
Miho Kurasawa
Miho Kurasawa | Toddler Classroom Assistant
Betty Hastings
Betty Hastings | Toddler Teacher and Technology/Design Coordinator
Sara Saulpaugh
Sara Saulpaugh | Toddler Teaching Assistant
Rachel Dyer
Rachel Dyer | Toddler Classroom Assistant
Claudia Paden
Claudia Paden | Toddler Classroom Assistant

CHILDREN'S HOUSE

Jessica Feus
Jessica Feus | Children's House Teacher
Page Pisapia
Page Pisapia | Children's House Teaching Assistant
Karen Doty
Karen Doty | Children's House Teaching Assistant
Courtney Kotsionis
Courtney Kotsionis | Children's House Teaching Assistant
Hannah Southgate
Hannah Southgate | | Children's House Teacher
Laura Kuhn
Laura Kuhn | Children's House Teaching Assistant
Jaime Moreland
Jaime Moreland | Children's House Teaching Assistant

ELEMENTARY

Salem Parham
Salem Parham | Kindergarten Teacher
Misty Brecht
Misty Brecht | Elementary Classroom Assistant
Amy Sexton
Amy Sexton | Kindergarten & Elementary Classroom Assistant
Emy Knight
Emy Knight | Elementary Teacher
Francesa Griffin
Francesca Griffin | Kindergarten Classroom Assistant

Patrick VeldePatrick Velde
Head of School

Patrick has a Bachelor’s Degree in History from UNC Chapel Hill, a Masters in Teaching from Western Carolina, a Graduate Certificate in School Leadership from Appalachian State, and he is Montessori Trained with Secondary I and II Licensure from the Cincinnati Montessori Teacher Education Program. Most recently, Patrick has served as an Assistant Principal in the WSFCS system.

Patrick has extensive experience working in Montessori programs at the middle school level, and he is delighted to be returning to a Montessori setting after several years working in non-Montessori institutions. Patrick believes the Montessori approach provides the space for a student to develop a genuine appreciation for learning and the skills that will allow them to thrive in a variety of settings. The holistic nature of the method, the respect afforded to students, the development of invaluable skills along with acquisition of content, and the embrace of the natural world are just a small bit of what has continually brought me back to this as the most
effective means of working with students.

Catherine GreeneCatherine Greene
Assistant Head of School/Director of SMS Preschool & Director of Diversity and Toddler Teacher

Catherine began teaching at Salem Montessori School in 2012, although she first came to SMS in 2009 as a parent with two children enrolled.  As a parent she joined the Mindful Parenting class and felt transformed as a parent. Learning more about Montessori’s respectful approach toward young children and the grace and courtesy modeled, she was inspired to teach in the younger toddler classroom in 2012 and completed her Montessori Infant Toddler training in 2015. Catherine is honored to spend time with young children, creating joy in learning, laying the foundation for respect of self and others and working with parents as partners in their children’s education. Prior to starting at Salem Montessori, Catherine worked for almost 20 years as a massage therapist and yoga teacher. In 2018, Catherine paused her career as a massage therapist and yoga instructor to assume the role of Assistant Head of School at SMS and continue as a lead Toddler teacher. Catherine has called Winston Salem home for most of her life and is an active member of Home Moravian Church. She relishes time with her family, loves reading, dancing, singing, traveling and spending time in nature.

Catherine graduated from Davidson College with a degree in Political Science and a concentration in Gender Studies. In 2020, Catherine completed her Masters of Education with a focus on Montessori and multicultural, non-bias education from St. Catherine University.

Julie SmithJulie Smith
Director of Education & Strategy

Julie began Salem Montessori with a few other families in the basement of her home in the fall of 2000.  She wanted to offer a Montessori setting that was intimate and was family-oriented. It began with 8 students and each parent became familiar with the Godly Play curriculum and assisted with the teaching. Having a way to touch the spiritual life of each child was an important part of the program.

After two years a group of people met to consider the possibility of expanding the school and moving it to a new location. Karen Wilson was willing to play the lead and the school moved to Highland Presbyterian. Julie served on the board for 7 years and once the school moved to Home Moravian, taught in the 3-6 year old classroom for 4 years. At this time she also wrote and taught classes for parents. She is grateful to be serving as Head of School.

Julie has been involved with Montessori for 40 years. She attended Furman University, receiving a degree in early childhood education. Upon graduating she moved immediately to Boston and received her American Montessori Certification. Subsequently she earned a masters in counseling from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. She has worked in 5 different Montessori schools and in a variety of roles and has been a consultant to many other Montessori schools. Additionally she taught at Summit School for 3 years and served as the director of lower school and parent learning for 8 years.

Montessori captured Julie’s heart in high school. The deep respect adults show to children and the peaceful, orderly nature of the classroom seemed magical. This philosophy allows children to reach inside themselves and find their unique potential. Julie’s dream is that these children will help to transform the world.

Julie loves to read, cook, entertain and travel. She enjoys doing yoga and taking long walks. She loves above all, spending time with her husband and three grown children.

Amy PetersonAmy Peterson
Toddler Teaching Assistant

After working in textiles for several years, Amy longed for what she felt was a more meaningful career and found a match in Montessori. She believes in the Montessori approach and ultimately want to help children actualize their highest potential. She particularly loves being outdoors and helping children connect with the natural world. Specifically, she appreciates the half day program at Salem that touches the spiritual life of children. Amy is returning to Salem Montessori (2002-2009) after working at TMS (2009-2021).

Amy has a BS Textile Technology with a concentration in design from NCSU. Amy has an AMS Infant & Toddler Credential from The Montgomery Montessori Institute in Maryland. She completed the Inner Life of the Child in Nature Program from the Center for Education, Imagination and the Natural World and completed the Resources for Infant Educarers (RIE) Foundations class. Amy loves reading, landscaping, traveling and spending as much time as possible outdoors with her husband and two dogs.

Miho KurasawaMiho Kurosawa
Toddler Classroom Assistant

Miho began teaching at Salem Montessori School in 2015. Her two children attended Salem Montessori and she saw how her children thrived in the environment. Miho values how the Montessori method helps children be independent and confident. Miho loves to cook and garden. She is from Japan and met her husband, a native of Winston-Salem, while she was teaching Japanese in Taiwan.

Betty HastingsBetty Hastings Toddler Teacher and Technology/Design Coordinator Betty started subbing at Salem Montessori School and other local schools in 2012. Betty worked as a graphic/web designer for more than 20 years. In 2011, after being a regional production manager for 6 years, she decided it was time for a career change and decided to follow her heart and pursue teaching. While at SMS, she saw that children happy, and their teachers were too. She also noticed a peaceful feeling in herself as she walked through the classrooms that she didn’t get in the other schools. The beauty of the Montessori environment spoke to her design aesthetic, but it was Montessori’s deep respect of children, that she found truly life-changing. In the summer of 2013, Betty started her infant toddler Montessori certification and became a lead toddler teacher in the fall of 2013. Betty is passionate about Montessori and loves that she gets to help children learn about themselves as they learn about the world around them, and she feels grateful when she is able to help parents gain confidence in their parenting skills. Betty keeps her design skills sharp by maintaining our website, social media sites and designing our internal materials. Betty loves spending time with her family most of all, but also has fun reading, gardening, traveling and being in the great outdoors. Betty graduated from UNC Charlotte with a degree in Fine Arts, with an emphasis in Graphic Design.

Sara SaulpaughSara Saulpaugh
Toddler Teaching Assistant

Sara’s always had a passion for education and has worked with children of all ages, as well as adult learners. She previously taught in the public-school system as a 2nd grade teacher and as a K-5 English as a Second Language teacher. Sara was drawn to Montessori Education because it values and educates the whole child. It’s not a one size fits all education instead each child is valued and elevated as a unique individual. Working with children and adults has taught her that when a learner is understood and appreciated as a whole human being, they become an independent, confident learner who can develop to their full potential.

Sara graduated from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte with an Elementary Education with a minor in Spanish. She created with a Master in Teaching English as a Second Language from North Carolina State University. Sara enjoys spending time with her husband, son, and three dogs most of all, but she enjoys being outdoors, traveling, and hunting for shark teeth.

Rachel DyerRachel Dyer
Toddler Classroom Assistant

Rachel found Salem Montessori as a new mom bringing her then six-month old son to the school’s parent-infant class. She fell in love with the Montessori method for its deep respect for children and loving approach to the child’s emotional development. Rachel now has three children attending Salem Montessori. Rachel loves observing how the school has gently nurtured each child’s individual curiosity and creativity. Rachel says “Salem Montessori has provided an incredible foundation for my children and has given me long-lasting relationships with many families within our school’s community. I am thrilled to join this phenomenal teaching team and further deepen my connection to this special place.”

Rachel graduated from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a degree in Public Relations and a minor in Art History. Rachel and her husband both grew up in Winston-Salem, and they love exploring the community with their children. Rachel enjoys cooking, get-togethers with her girlfriends, art-making and being outdoors with her children, and spending time in the mountains with her family.

Claudia PadenClaudia Paden
Toddler Classroom Assistant

Claudia grew up in a family of teachers, her mom, her aunt, and both sisters. She went to Sewanee University where I majored in environmental policy and philosophy. Claudia has been a supporter of Montessori Education before she had her own child. She thinks child-led education is not only inspiring as a different model from the normal school curriculum, but truly lets a child figure themselves out while gaining confidence. She thinks it also encourages family bonds by teaching the child to engage in chores and household activities when not at school. Letting a child explore their own mind and world without giving strict schedules and rules, allows a child to find their place in the world, not just told where to be. 

Claudia says being in nature can cure just about anything. She loves hiking and camping and exploring new natural areas. She is also very passionate about locally sourced food and cooking delicious, nutritious meals for people. She lives on 15 acres and has started collecting her own little menagerie of animals.

Jessica FeusJessica Feus
Children’s House Teacher

Jessica started teaching at Salem Montessori School in the fall of 2008 when she and her husband moved to NC from NYC. Jessica loves the order of the Montessori classroom and how Montessori philosophy respects an individual’s own path of learning. Jessica’s two sons are former SMS students. Jessica was born in Corpus Christi, Texas, lived in Spain for 5 years, then moved to Manhattan Beach, California. Jessica graduated from UC Berkeley. Jessica was first introduced to Montessori as a teaching assistant while living in the Colorado Rockies. Jessica moved to New York City, where she completed her Montessori Training at CMTE-NY and her masters in Early Childhood Education from Teachers College, Columbia University. 

Jessica enjoys doing Bootcamp workouts, outings with my family, exploring restaurants, girls’ nights out, and traveling.

Page PisapiaPage Pisapia Children’s House Teaching Assistant Page first joined the SMS community as a parent in 2015 and began subbing in the toddler classrooms during the 2019-2020 school year. In addition to her youngest child who is a student in Children’s House, Page has four older children in kindergarten, 4th, 6th and 8th grades. Page received her BA from Amherst College and her MSEd from The Bank Street College of Education in Early Childhood Education (with a focus on Infant & Parent Development and Early Intervention). Page’s previous experiences include working as the director of a childcare center, teaching in a preschool classroom, assisting a child with autism in a kindergarten classroom, and working in a residential care facility for adolescent girls. Page has learned valuable lessons from the Montessori method over the years which have positively influenced her parenting experience. She loves working with young children and sharing in their delight when they master a new skill or they experience something for the first time. Working with young children helps to remind her to appreciate the simple joys in life. Washing dishes and folding cloth napkins is meaningful work that can be fun (with the added bonus of building fine motor skills)! In her free time Page enjoys reading, journaling and taking family walks around her neighborhood.
Karen DotyKaren Doty Children’s House Teaching Assistant Karen is a Montessori certified teacher with 25 years of experience and is certified to teach Children’s House and Elementary. She has also worked with toddlers in a Montessori setting. She was drawn to Montessori’s focus on the needs of children. She is passionate about this method.

Courtney KotsionisCourtney Kotsionis Children’s House Classroom Assistant

Courtney is excited to be returning to North Carolina after living in Brooklyn, New York for over a decade. Most of her professional experience is grounded in photo editing, website management, and design. However, in 2017, she branched out and started working at Brooklyn Nature Days, a forest school in Prospect Park. At Brooklyn Nature Days, she discovered her love for teaching, the philosophy behind child-driven exploration, and social and emotional learning. Upon returning to Winston Salem, she wanted to build on this knowledge and experience. She had always been interested in learning more about Montessori philosophy and so she couldn’t be more excited to join the community at Salem Montessori. Courtney will be joining as a floater for the Children’s House, where her daughter will also be a student. 

Courtney graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a BFA in studio art.  Courtney’s side passions are playing and writing music, painting, gardening, and interior design.

Hannah SouthgateHannah Southgate
Children’s House & Explorer Teacher

Hannah joined SMS in the fall of 2019, as an assistant on the toddler team but moved up to Children’s House in the fall of 2020. She was born in England but moved to the Cayman Islands at a young age. In 2015 Hannah moved to Miami where she spent 2 years as a lead teacher of a 3-6 Montessori class and two years as an assistant in both toddler and 3-6 classes. Hannah is drawn to Montessori because she loves that children can develop and learn at their own pace, on their own terms. She appreciates the respect children learn from each other in a mixed-age group. Her hobbies include anything outdoors, such as biking and hiking.

Laura KuhnLaura Kuhn
Children’s House Teaching Assistant

Laura started working at Salem Montessori in 2010, and after a brief two-year hiatus, returned to be a Toddler and Children’s House Assistant. After the birth of her two children she discovered the Montessori Method of education and enrolled her boys at Salem Montessori School. Inspired by their experiences, she joined the team as a Toddler Assistant Teacher. She spent six wonderful years and shared her love of gardening, outdoor explorations and art. Laura has a deep appreciation and respect for the natural learning process that occurs in the SMS classroom and is excited to be surrounded by such incredible children and families who love this school as much as she does!

You may see her around town or hiking with her husband and sons. Laura has an associates degree in Graphic Design with 15 years’ experience working in marketing and advertising.

Jaime MorelandJaime Moreland Children’s House Classroom Assistant I have always had an interest in children and education, which greatly increased when I had my own children. When they entered preschool, I subbed and eventually took on an assistant role in their school. As I have navigated parenthood, my natural parenting style seems to align with many Montessori principles. I have tried to foster independence in my children since they were very young. They learn many life skills through helping me with the cooking, cleaning, gardening, and other basic household activities. Once I was introduced to Montessori education, I knew it was a great fit for me and my family. I have several acquaintances and friends who have sent their children and/or have been teachers at Salem Montessori and have nothing but amazing reports of what an incredible place it is to be a part of. I met my husband, Eric, in Raleigh where I grew up. We moved to Winston-Salem in 2008 and eventually settled in Clemmons. I have three kids, Maverick 9, Lyla 8, and Maisie 4. The older two attend The Arts Based School downtown, and Maisie will attend Salem Montessori in the Fall. We love to be outside whenever we can be. Hiking, swimming, bonfires, and trips to the Outer Banks are our favorite family activities. Personally, I love to cook, especially using ingredients from my garden. In my spare time I enjoy reading, listening to music and running with my dog Willa.

Salem ParhamSalem Parham
Kindergarten Teacher

After a brief time away, Salem returned to SMS in January of 2019 with her twin boys. Salem began her teaching career at Salem Montessori School in 2009 as an assistant in 3-6. She was inspired to obtain her American Montessori Society certification in 2010. Salem worked at SMS for 3 years before pursuing her Masters in Education at Salem College. While working towards her Masters in 2013, Salem began teaching at Summit School as a Junior Kindergarten Assistant, and then as a Lead Kindergarten teacher for two years.

Salem enjoys spending most of her time outside with her husband, sons and dog. She takes great pleasure in gardening, visiting local markets, and connecting with others across our community. Salem is grateful for the opportunity to be an SMS teacher and parent, and for the privilege to share the Montessori philosophy with our community. Salem graduated from North Carolina State University with a degree in Public Relations and a minor in International Studies.

Misty BrechtMisty Brecht
Elementary Classroom Assistant

Misty started teaching at SMS in 2017, the same year her son enrolled. Misty appreciates that Montessori promotes personal autonomy and fosters confident and self-driven children. She believes that the Montessori approach supports a natural love of learning. In her free time, Misty enjoys doing anything that allows her to be creative; interior decorating, calligraphy, and photography are some of her favorites.

Amy SextonAmy Sexton
Kindergarten & Elementary Classroom Assistant

Amy attended the University of New Mexico from 2002, and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts in 2006. She studied abroad for a semester in Wales, where she continued her studies in mixed media and design. Upon graduation, she worked in the New Mexico film industry from 2006-2011. After many years, though, she became somewhat disenchanted by the business, and and decided to take a different path. Amy began looking into teaching, but was not impressed by the traditional method of teaching. She found Montessori through her older sister, whose son and daughter attended a Montessori school in Clemson, SC. By the summer of 2011, she found herself on the other side of the US, and completely immersed in studying the work of Dr. Maria Montessori. Amy studied Early Childhood for a year in Clemson, and the very next August, moved to Prague, Czech Republic to complete her practicum in Early Childhood Montessori education. She worked in the Early Childhood classroom for the next two years,  in a multilingual environment. Amy continued to work with Duhovka Montessori schools for the next 7 years, where she completed training for ages 6-12 years. She continued to teach within Duhovka, and taught ages 6-9 for the next 6 years. In 2017 Amy began supporting new teachers in the Montessori teacher training with the Duhovka Montessori Teacher Training Center.

Amy enjoys spending time in nature, reading, and singing. In her spare time she likes to go swimming, bicycling, and watching documentaries. She’s recently taken up the ukulele and embroidery.

Emy Knight

Emy Knight
Elementary Teacher

Emy Watson Knight fell in love with Montessori in 2002 on a visit to Salem Montessori with her mother.  Emy writes, “I am excited to join the Salem Montessori School community! I feel as though I’ve come full circle as an educator. At the time, my mother was an Elder at Home Moravian Church and asked me to accompany her to observe a small school that was interested in renting space at the church. This school was Salem Montessori.  Little did I know that this observation would have such a huge impact on my life. Within a month I enrolled in the Center for Montessori Teacher Education Program in Raleigh with a newfound purpose.”

Emy spent several years as a Children’s House teacher before going on to Barry University and earning a Master’s degree and certification for lower and upper elementary which encompasses grades one through six. She taught for 12 years in Montessori classrooms in Florida and North Carolina at a variety of grade levels. She moved back to Winston Salem in 2015 and taught at Summit as a first-grade assistant and for the last three years as a Kindergarten teacher. She also has been trained in Orton Gillingham at the Associate Level. Emy is a native of Winston-Salem. She is an alum of Summit and Reynolds High School. She grew up attending Home Moravian Church. She received a BA in Environmental Education from Prescott College. Emy has two sons and they both have attended Montessori programs. Emy enjoys camping, spending time in the mountains and horseback riding.

Francesa GriffinFrancesca Griffin Kindergarten Classroom Assistant Francesca started working at Salem Montessori School in 2015 as a classroom supporter for one year. She returned in the fall of 2019 as an assistant in the older toddler classroom, and moved back to her elementary roots in 2020.Francesca appreciates that a Montessori environment helps children develop their independence. Francesca graduated from Salem College with a major in education and a minor in business. She is licensed to teach K-6 and taught at Jefferson Elementary. Francesca is currently pursuing a masters in school counseling at Salem College. She enjoys spending time outdoors with her husband and son and daughter.

Our Board of Directors

Lauren Reid, Board Chair
Lizmar Bosques, Vice Chair
Richard Browne, Finance/Treasurer
Michael Albright
Cory Blalock
Jeremy Burnett
Richard Browne
Gabe Chrysson
Sarah Dalena
Chris Dyer
Ted Kazakos
JoAnn White
Salem Montessori School is a Non-Profit Corporation governed by a Board of Directors. The Board of Directors is comprised of eleven community members, no more than 50% of which may be current parents. The Board is also comprised of two ex-officio, non-voting members, the Head of School and the Assistant Head of School. The Board meets bi-monthly and has several committees which meet quarterly.
Salem Montessori – Staff July 8, 2021