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


Amy Peterson | Toddler Teacher
Andra McCune | Toddler Teaching Assistant
Rachel Dyer | Toddler Classroom Assistant
Claudia Paden
Claudia Paden | Toddler Classroom Assistant
Betty Hastings | Toddler Teacher and Technology/Design Coordinator
Katie Brackney | Toddler Teaching Assistant
Miho Kurosawa | Toddler Classroom Assistant


Jessica Feus | Children's House Teacher
Page Pisapia | Children's House Teaching Assistant
Jaime Moreland
Jaime Moreland | Children's House Teaching Assistant
Hannah Southgate | Children's House Teacher
Brittany DiSalvo | Children's House Teaching Assistant
J Jeffries | Children's House Classroom Assistant


Salem Parham | Kindergarten Teacher
Karen Doty | Elementary Teaching Assistant
Emy Knight | Elementary Teacher
Petra Salazar
Petra Salazar | Elementary Teaching Assistant
Mary Louise Callaghan | Elementary Classroom Assistant
Torin Brown | Elementary 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 him 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

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 Peterson
Toddler Teacher

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.

Rachel 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 she 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.

Betty Hastings
Toddler Teacher and Technology/Design Coordinator

Betty started subbing at Salem Montessori School and other local schools in 2012. While at SMS, she 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 loves reading, gardening and being in the great outdoors. Betty graduated from UNC Charlotte with a degree in Fine Arts, with an emphasis in Graphic Design.

Miho 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.

Jessica 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 her family, exploring restaurants, girls’ nights out, and traveling.

Page 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 is starting kindergarten, Page has four older children in 1st, 5th, 7th and 9th 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.

Jaime MorelandJaime Moreland
Children’s House Classroom Assistant

Jaime always had an interest in children and education, which greatly increased when she had my own children. When they entered preschool, she subbed and eventually took on an assistant role in their school. As she navigated parenthood, her natural parenting style seemed to align with many Montessori principles. Once she was introduced to Montessori education, she knew it was a great fit for her and her family. Jaime has 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. 

Jaime has three kids, Maverick, Lyla, and Maisie and her family loves to be outside whenever they can be. Hiking, swimming, bonfires, and trips to the Outer Banks are favorite family activities. Jaime loves to cook, especially using ingredients from her garden. In her spare time she enjoys reading, listening to music and running with her dog Willa.

Hannah 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.

Salem 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.

Karen Doty
Elementary 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.

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.

Petra Salazar Petra Salazar Elementary Teaching Assistant

Petra is a poet and licensed ELA and ESL teacher. After receiving a Masters in Education from George Washington University, Petra worked as a middle school English teacher. Petra went on to receive a Masters in Fine Arts in Poetry from UNC-Greensboro. Petra believes that Montessori provides a humane learning community that instills intrinsic motivation, confidence, self-understanding, and decision-making skills. Petra serves as managing editor for Snapdragon: A Journal of Art & Healing, writes poetry and nonfiction essays, and spends time cultivating curiosity with their spouse and 5 year-old child, who attends SMS.”

Salem Montessori – Staff July 8, 2021