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.

Beth Black, Head of School

Teaching/Learning Team

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

Ruth Clifford, Curriculum Assistant and Specials Division Leader

Becky Alukonis, Beginners Division Leader

Katie Hamill, Primary Division Leader

Sarah Donnelly, Learning Specialist and Special Events Coordinator

Operations Team

Joe Jolly, Director of Finance, Operations, Development, and Legal Affairs

Heather Santiago, Assistant Business & Operations Manager

Maddie Sosnowski, Development and Business Office Coordinator

Jackie Hogan, Office Manager

Rich Scorzella, Facilities Coordinator

Advancement Team

Deanna Griffiths, Director of Admissions/Alumni Affairs

Ashley Robinson, Director of Marketing and Communications

Haley Crocker, Communications Assistant

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 brings her back to her roots, as she grew up in Andover. In her spare time, Beth enjoys gardening, quilting, biking, and spending quality time with family and friends, including her husband, Keith, and her two grown children.

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

Caitlin finds it hard to believe that she’s entering her twelfth year at the school! It has been an amazing experience to be a part of the Elementary program's growth from a tiny group of twelve students to a thriving group of seventy-five students today. She looks forward to continuing to support this growth while also helping to build the Voyager program.  


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.

Ruth Clifford, Curriculum Assistant and Specials Division Leader

Ruth Clifford graduated from Colby College with a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology, Neuroscience, and received her Master’s in Elementary Education from Lesley University. She completed her Montessori 6–9 certification through the Center for Montessori Teacher Education, New York in 2012, and taught in Lower Elementary at our school for five years. She then completed her 9–12 Montessori training through the Montessori Elementary Teacher Training Collaborative in 2016 and taught in Upper Elementary for three years. She loves the Montessori approach to education and enjoys working as part of the administrative team. She lives in Norwood, MA with her husband Nick, her dog Tycho, and her cat Mittens. When she’s not at work, she likes to do yoga, ski, and read great books.

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. Becky lives in Waltham with her husband, daughter and dog.

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 in her classroom. 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.

Sarah Donnelly, Learning Specialist and Special Events Coordinator

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. The great community environment inspires her when planning special events that will appeal to the whole parent community!


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, their two children who are also students at Wellan, and their two rescue dogs and cat.

Joe Jolly, Director of Finance, Operations, 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.

Heather Santiago, Assistant Business & Operations Manager

Heather was born in Natick, MA, and grew up romping through the woods and splashing through the streams of Townsend, MA, in search of adventure. She holds a Bachelor’s in Literature and Culture from Ellis College, and a Master’s in English from Southern Connecticut State University. Prior to joining Wellan, she was the Associate Dean of Faculty at Southern New Hampshire University, and taught foundations of writing to undergraduate students online. She is inspired by the Montessori philosophy, and by the level of unwavering dedication and care that teachers and staff put into nurturing the curious minds of young learners at Wellan.


In her off time, Heather keeps up her adventurous spirit by scouring flea markets for treasures, collecting and repairing books, taking day-trips around her beloved New England, and planning her next trip to Boston ComicCon.

Maddie Sosnowski, Development and Business Office Coordinator

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.

Jackie Hogan, Office Manager

Jackie is a proud New Englander – she was born in Boston, grew up in Cambridge, and now resides in Watertown. Jackie earned her associates degree at Chamberlin Junior College (now Mount Ida College), and she also has a certificate in Office Management. She has held an array of positions in both office and retail management; but she was drawn to working at schools in order to spend more time with her two daughters. Jackie considers her “core job” as being a mother. Before coming to Wellan, Jackie worked at Watertown Public Schools. She has been at our school now for two years, and she loves being around children and working with such a close-knit, nurturing community. She looks forward to continue watching the students grow. 


Outside of work, Jackie is an avid gardener and loves visiting the beautiful seacoast of Maine with her family.

Rich Scorzella, Facilities Coordinator

Coming Soon.

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.

Ashley Robinson, Director of Marketing and Communications

Ashley enjoys all things “Communications” from the craft of storytelling right down to typography—and is an avid user of the em-dash. She joined the Wellan community in 2015 with an interdisciplinary background in writing, graphic design, and other creative media. She holds a BA in English and Graphic Design from Stonehill College in Easton, MA. Her favorite projects during her time at Wellan include coordinating the rebrand and name change of 2019, producing admission materials and annual report publications, and creating fun campaigns to help more people learn about Wellan. It has also been a treat to supervise 3rd Grade Interns over the years, empowering students to take their own photos of the school and learn, as one student called it, “the magic of Photoshop.”


Outside of work, Ashley enjoys reading, dancing, art projects, volunteering as a tutor for English Language Learners, and visiting family in her home state of Rhode Island.

Haley Crocker, Communications Assistant

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.

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Wellan Montessori School

80 Crescent Avenue

Newton Centre, MA 02459

Phone: (617) 969-4488   

Fax: (617) 969-4430

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Wellan Montessori School is a non-profit school which admits students of every race, color, religion, sex, gender identity, national or ethnic origin, or political beliefs to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to the students of the School. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national or ethnic origin, disability, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or political views.