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ADMINISTRATIVE STAFF

Wellan is led by the Head of School and a team of administrators, each of whom brings their own expertise, background and interests to our community.

Senior Leadership Team

Beth Black, Head of School

Joe Jolly, CFO, COO, and Director of Development and Legal Affairs

Caitlin Bowring, Curriculum Coordinator/Elementary & Middle School Division Leader

Teaching/Learning Team

Becky Alukonis, Beginners Division Leader

Katie Hamill, Primary Division Leader

Jennifer Cardy, Specialist Division Leader/Drama Program Coordinator

Colleen Dischiave, Coordinator of Student Support Services/School Counselor

Sarah Donnelly, Learning Specialist

Priya Venkateswaran, Administrative Coordinator for The Wellan Institute

Operations Team

Maddie Sosnowski, Assistant Director of Development, Technology, and HR

Erika McKeon, Assistant Business and Operations Manager 

Denielle Cesvette, School Nurse

Rich Scorzella, Facilities Associate

Becki Warshow, Administrative Associate

Jodi Fredrickson-Niemi, Receptionist

Advancement Team

Deanna Griffiths, Director of Admissions/Alumni Affairs

Sarah Chadwick, Advancement Associate

Haley Crocker, Communications and Marketing Associate

Auxiliary Team

Maria Gionfriddo, Director of Auxiliary Programs

Beth Black, Head of School

Beth is a strong advocate for Montessori education through her own experiences as a child, as well as the values she has come to hold after many years working and teaching in a variety of educational settings. She believes “that real learning happens when connections are made not only in the brain, but in the heart. A child who feels safe, valued, and free to explore is able to learn and grow at a deep, spiritual level. He or she can find joy in striving, recognize mistakes as learning opportunities, and integrate abstract thinking with practical life lessons.”


Prior to joining Wellan Montessori School, Beth was the Director of Enrollment and Marketing at Lake Forest Country Day School, a Pre-K through Grade 8 independent school outside of Chicago. Before that, she was the Director of Development for Chiaravalle Montessori School, as well as a founding administrator of the Conserve School in Wisconsin. Beth has completed Montessori coursework, led a faculty committee in completing the self-study for AMS reaccreditation, presented a curriculum workshop at the national AMS conference, and even inspired an HBO producer to feature a clip of Upper Elementary students in a made-for-television poetry special!

 

Beth holds degrees from Fairleigh Dickinson University (B.A. in Humanities/Spanish), the University of Wisconsin, Madison (M.A. in English Literature) and Northwestern University (M.S., Learning and Organizational Change).

 

Beth’s return to Massachusetts brought her back to her roots, as she grew up in Andover. In her spare time, Beth enjoys reading, gardening, quilting, international travel, and spending quality time with family and friends, including her husband, Keith; her two grown children, Colin and Emma; and her granddaughter Quinn.

Joe Jolly, CFO, COO, and Director of Development and Legal Affairs

Joe received his BA in Government and Anthropology from Skidmore College in 1998, and his JD from Cornell Law School in 2009. Prior to law school, Joe spent three years working as an archaeologist, managing excavations in Oaxaca, Mexico and throughout New York State, as well as five years working in the development office at Yale University’s Peabody Museum of Natural History. While in New Haven, he was elected for two terms on the city’s Board of Aldermen. Following law school at Cornell, Joe practiced law at the Boston offices of WilmerHale and Foley & Lardner, focusing on securities litigation, white collar crime and internal investigations. Prior to joining the School’s administration in 2017, Joe served for six years as a Trustee, and later Treasurer, on our school's Board.

When he’s away from work, Joe enjoys spending time with his family, backpacking, and slowly renovating his Victorian home.  He lives in Newton with his wife Susan and three children, Katie, Ben, and Ellie.

Caitlin Bowring, Curriculum Coordinator/Elementary and Middle School Division Leader

Caitlin finds it hard to believe that she’s entering her thirteenth year at the school! It has been an amazing experience to be a part of the growth of the Elementary and Middle School programs from a tiny group of twelve students to a thriving group of over one hundred students today. She looks forward to continuing to support these amazing programs! Caitlin holds a BA in Psychology and a MA in Elementary Education from Northeastern University. She earned her Montessori Elementary I certification at the Center for Montessori Teacher Education, New York.

 

Caitlin’s two children are students at Wellan, and she feels so lucky to be a part of this wonderful community as both a faculty member and parent! Outside of school, she loves to cook, read, and spend time with friends and family.

Becky Alukonis, Beginners Division Leader

Becky earned her BA in Psychology from the College of the Holy Cross and her M. Ed. from Loyola University Maryland. Becky has been a Lead Teacher in Montessori toddler classrooms since 2003 and completed her Montessori infant-toddler training through The Montessori Institute of Denver. She joined Wellan in 2012. Becky lives in Waltham with her husband, Ken, daughter, Madeline, and dog, Bella. She loves to teach the Beginner students new and novel songs and finger-plays. Becky appreciates the vibrant and joyful nature of the Wellan community!

Katie Hamill, Primary Division Leader

Katie holds a BA in Human Development from Lesley University. She completed her Montessori training for 3-6 year olds at the Northeast Montessori Institute. Prior to joining Wellan, she worked as an assistant in a Montessori Primary classroom in Maine. She hails from Cape Cod, but has also lived in Maine and Florida.

 

She loves working with children because every day is different! It is also wonderful to watch each child grow and mature over a three-year period. Katie has three children who attend Wellan, and they love their classrooms! Last year, she also welcomed a son. Katie feels very blessed to be a part of the school, and to watch her own children benefit from the education here as well.

Jennifer Cardy, Specialist Division Leader/Drama Program Coordinator

Jen holds a Bachelor’s Degree in the Humanities from the University of Chicago and a Master’s of Education with a focus in “Risk and Prevention” from Harvard Graduate School of Education. Before college, Jen graduated from the Harid Conservatory, a performing arts high school in Boca Raton, FL and went on to dance professionally with Boston Ballet II. 

 

The origin of Jen’s commitment to children is her own childhood experience as a Montessori student from ages 3-9. Jen has been fortunate to work with children in diverse settings and circumstances including art museums, ballet studios, mainstream preschools, non-profit organizations, charter high schools, private homes, and therapeutic daycare centers. Jen loves working directly with children; and due to her avid interest in how children form and maintain relationships, she also welcomes opportunities to support positive connections between children and the adults in their lives.  

When Jen is not at school, she can usually be found with her husband and three kids who are proud to be students at Wellan. Jen enjoys impromptu dance-parties in the kitchen, and she cherishes the few quiet end-of-day moments that family life allows. Jen is grateful to find a home at Wellan where children and the arts are highly valued. 

Colleen Dischiave, Coordinator of Student Support Services/School Counselor

Colleen is excited to join Wellan as the Student Support Services Coordinator and School Counselor.  Originally from a small town in Northern California, Colleen earned her B.A. in Psychology from the University of California, San Diego. After college, she moved to New York City where she obtained her M.A. and Ed.M. in Psychological Counseling from Teachers College, Columbia University. For the past 10 years, Colleen has worked in public, private, and charter schools as a school counselor, supporting families with high school placement, and most recently as a special education coordinator.

 

In her free time, Colleen loves to run and work out, and explore New England with her husband and 2-year-old daughter, Charlotte.

Sarah Donnelly, Learning Specialist

Sarah Donnelly joined our school in September of 2011 after completing her Montessori training at Northeast Montessori Institute. Sarah spent her internship year at Stoneridge Children’s Montessori School under the tutelage of Alison Ney and Linda Seeley, well-known Montessorians in the New England area. Sarah holds an M.Ed in Special Education from Endicott College as well as state licensure in Moderate Disabilities Pk–8. Sarah loves seeing the children so genuinely excited about working and appreciates the great family environment that exists at Wellan. 

When she is not working, Sarah is a member of Women Working For Oceans (W2O, a partnership with the New England Aquarium), Survivor Tails Animal Rescue, and she enjoys running and golf. Sarah resides in Medford, MA with her husband Jed and their two children who are also students at Wellan.

Priya Venkateswaran, Administrative Coordinator for The Wellan Institute

Priya was born in India and moved to the US in 2006. She got her teaching certification for the pre-primary level in India, and taught in private schools before moving here. She stumbled upon the Montessori philosophy while exploring careers and fell in love when she realized how effective it is. Priya completed her training in 2010 and has been teaching in a Montessori classroom since 2009. She joined our school in 2015 and is now coordinating a training class for interns and non-Montessori-trained support staff. When she is not teaching or convincing others about the benefit of Montessori, she likes to spend time with her family and read books.

Maddie Sosnowski, Assistant Director of Development, Technology, and HR

Maddie was born and raised in Michigan, but attended high school in a north Texas town that promptly inspired her to seek out something new on the east coast. She attended Boston University where she graduated with a BFA in Acting in May of 2017. She is a passionate advocate for arts education, and enjoys exploring a wide variety of applications for her training. Maddie joined our school in July 2017 and has since been busy wearing many different hats and learning new things every day. She loves the energy of the community at Wellan, and is constantly inspired by the vibrant positivity she sees in everyone there. 
 

Maddie currently lives and works in New York City as an actor on evenings and weekends, but is thrilled to be a part of the Wellan team from afar during the day! When she's not working, she enjoys running, cooking, traveling, and watching re-runs of Unsolved Mysteries with Robert Stack.

Erika McKeon, Assistant Business and Operations Manager 

Erika is excited to be joining the Wellan community! She received her Bachelor’s degree in Social Work from Salve Regina University and her Master’s in Business Administration from Western Governors’ University. Erika moved to Boston in late 2019 and looks forward to continue exploring the area. 

 

During her free time, Erika enjoys traveling, cooking, and hopes to develop more of a green thumb.

Denielle Cesvette, School Nurse

Coming Soon.

Rich Scorzella, Facilities Associate

Coming Soon.

Becki Warshow, Administrative Associate

Becki entered college as an English/Education major at Western Connecticut State University. She completed her BFA at Emerson College. She also graduated from the Second City Training Centre in both their improv and sketch comedy programs. Although she was born and raised in New York City, Becki has lived in New England for most of her life. Becki originally came to Wellan as a temp in 2018, covering the front office and working on projects for the business office. Becki is very happy to now officially be on staff.

Becki has a wide range of interests that vary from volunteering with animal sanctuaries in Africa, to running board game nights, to doing stand-up comedy and being an extra in film and television.

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Jodi Fredrickson-Niemi, Receptionist

Jodi Fredrickson-Niemi was raised in Waltham. Jodi has her Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education and Sociology from Salem State. Jodi has worked in the early childhood field for well-over twenty years at several childcare centers in Boston. Jodi is now taking her career in a new direction and is excited to join the Wellan community.

 

Jodi enjoys spending time with her husband, Ray, extended family, and friends on the weekends. Jodi enjoys biking, watching movies, playing tourist in her home state as well as traveling and being an actual tourist. But the best thing about traveling is always coming home and snuggling with her two cats, DukDuk and Goose.

Deanna Griffiths, Director of Admissions/Alumni Affairs

Deanna has worked at our school since it opened as Newton Montessori School in 2006. In that time, she has worked as a Primary teacher and Primary Division Leader. Deanna joined the administrative team in 2014 and has been managing Admissions ever since. Deanna has her Montessori Early Childhood certification, and holds a M.Ed. from Endicott College. She is passionate about the Montessori philosophy and bringing joy to the lives of children.

 

Deanna lives in Needham with her husband and daughters, Abigail and Emma. Deanna thinks of Wellan as her second home.

Sarah Chadwick, Advancement Associate

Sarah is thrilled to be in a new position at Wellan! After teaching in the classroom for seven years, she has moved into a new role working with Development, Community Engagement, and the Auxiliary Programs. This spring, Sarah received a certificate in Professional Fundraising from Boston University's Center for Professional Education. Sarah is a native of New Hampshire and holds a BM in Vocal Performance from Baldwin-Wallace College in Cleveland, Ohio and an MM in Opera Performance from The Longy School of Music in Cambridge, MA. In addition to her new role, Sarah teaches drama for the Enrichment Program at Wellan!

Haley Crocker, Communications and Marketing Associate

Haley received her BA degree in English and Studio Art from the University of Vermont. Prior to joining Wellan, she helped with marketing at a small floral design studio in Vermont, and she also worked at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston assistant teaching art classes to children. She is excited to join the Wellan community and its creative, supportive environment.

Haley enjoys making art—especially ceramics, printmaking, and watercolor. She also loves to dance, practice yoga, and go to museums and concerts. 

Maria Gionfriddo, Director of Auxiliary Programs

Maria holds a BFA in Studio Arts and Visual Culture from the Cleveland Institute of Art and an MLA in Museum Studies from Harvard Extension. She began her career as a teaching artist, working with community art centers and schools to provide contemporary arts education to students of all ages. Before joining our school, she was the Director of Co-Curricular Programs at Shady Hill School, where she also taught art and design.

With a background in community arts and museum education, Maria is passionate about learning that occurs outside of the school day and classroom. She is excited to continue developing new, engaging programs for Wellan’s After School, Vacation, and Summer Programs.

 

Outside of work, Maria enjoys spending time with her husband and twin boys, Grant and Harrison. She loves traveling, trying new foods, and exploring museums.