Marci Martindale founded CTMS over 25 years ago out of her home, with the goal in mind to provide an alternative educationally based option for preschool age children. Marci’s dreams have come true with the expansion into our new facility and formation of an elementary program. After the birth of her first daughter she discovered the Montessori Method of teaching. She went back to school and became a certified teacher for the preschool and elementary aged students, holding Montessori Teaching certificates for 3-12 year olds. Marci continues to attend classes and trainings to expand her knowledge and help to support the staff and families at CTMS. She is a certified facilitator of Positive Discipline Workshops for teachers and parents. She enjoys a good book, a cup of tea, cooking, dancing, shopping and spending time with family.
Phone: (860) 388-3536
Nicole worked in retail as an Assistant Manager for six years before becoming a full time Mom to her three children. She joined the CTMS staff in 2008 as our art teacher and has continued to be involved at CTMS as a parent. In 2011 she became our full time Administrative Assistant. Though Nicole’s passion and education is in interior design, she has discovered a new love in the Montessori Method. Over the summer of 2012 Nicole became certified as a Montessori Teacher’s Assistant as well as a Teacher Trainer for Positive Discipline. She enjoys hiking, skiing, camping, boating, reading and spending time with her family.
Phone: (860) 388-3536
Marketing & Communications
Tamara was born and raised locally and still lives in Lyme with her husband and two daughters. She graduated college with a B.A. in Graphic Design. Tamara joined CTMS administrative staff in the fall of 2014. She enjoys raising hedgehogs and sugar gliders, traveling, and spending time with her family at the lake.
Karen was born and raised in Connecticut. She graduated from Becker College with an Associate’s degree in business management. She then went back to school to get her nursing degree at Three Rivers Community College. Karen has worked for the past 25 years in acute care settings, from ICU at L&M, ambulatory care centers, to travel nursing in hemodialysis in California.
Karen enjoys sailing and traveling with her family and friends. Karen loves her three dogs, Bella, Sunny and Skye, with them she always has beautiful sunny skies. She resides in East Lyme with her husband, son and daughter. Her daughter attended CTMS for 6 years and now Karen is joining us as the school nurse.
Teaching Team: Toddler Community
Accreditations: AMS, MACTE
Caila has been part of CTMS since its conception. She was a Montessori student here through 6th grade, and fell in love with the Montessori philosophy. Caila continued to work and volunteer at CTMS through high school and college. After graduating college with a degree in animal sciences, she came back to CTMS inspiring our youngest students. Caila is now pursuing an additional degree in early childhood education as well as her Montessori Certification through Xavier University. Caila loves her dogs, art, the beach, and dabbles in photography.
Accreditations: AMS, MACTE, MAED
As a South Korean native, YoonJu got her Bachelor’s degree in Public Administration and a Master’s degree in Communication. After many years of working in Korea as a TV producer, an educational film producer, and an IT marketing account executive, she moved to the U.S. to settle down with her husband. While raising her two boys, she was highly attracted to child education, which drove her to become a certified Music Together teacher. As a Montessori mom, she was very impressed by the Montessori method and teachers, which led her to work in our toddler program. In 2016, she went back to school and became a certified Montessori teacher for birth to 3-year-olds through Northeast Montessori Institute. Under the COVID-19 pandemic, she was on sabbatical leave, and she earned her Master of Arts in Education at St. Catherine University. Her thesis was about the transition to a new classroom from home, using Attachment theory. Currently, she is interested in culturally responsive practice and its impact on learning and the social-emotional health of her students and families. She is also into self-efficacy, teacher advocacy and plans to contribute her knowledge and experiences to the larger community. She enjoys playing piano, reading books, singing, baking, handcrafting, and traveling with her family during her free time.
Toddler Assistant Teacher
Tiffany was born and raised in Lyme. She has always had a love for children, babysitting at a young age, and pursuing a degree in Early Childhood Education from CCSU. Her plans were put on hold when she had her first baby and decided to become a stay at home mom. Eventually when both of her boys were a bit older she decided to work in Social Services, before moving back into childcare. She had been a nanny for many years and enjoyed every moment she had with the little ones. It was during her time with the most recent family that she was introduced to The Children’s Tree and the Montessori philosophy, which she fell in love with. She enjoys spending time with her family and her two boxers and two cats. She loves to be at the lake, or the beach searching for sea glass. In her free time she enjoys reading, drawing, photography, and crocheting.
Assistant Teacher, Aftercare Teacher
Accreditations: BS from Boston College in Human Development, Minor in Sociology
Since Mali was 6 years old, she said she was going to be a teacher. Growing up with 5 younger siblings, Mali has been care taking and nurturing since day one. Whilst attending the elementary education program at Boston College, Mali discovered and fell in love with the Montessori philosophy. She journeyed around the globe, and in every country she was surrounded by kids. She lived at an orphanage in Bali, nannied in Hawai’i, and created the “School of Life,” which taught everything she wished she had learned in school. Mali has come back to her roots, and is excited to continue her education with Montessori training and to be immersed in the CTMS community, which feels like home. Mali is a beach babe, a runner, yogi, dancer, and raw foodie/vegan. She loves spending time with her two kids and her ginormous extended family. Email: Mali
Teaching Team: The Children’s House 3-6 year olds
Primary Teacher, French Teacher
Accreditations: AMS, MACTE
Bethany is a Waterford native. She studied French, Latin, and Education at Wheaton College, which is where she first began to fall in love with the Montessori philosophy. This interest was continued when she moved to Flagstaff, AZ after graduating, and worked as an Assistant in a small Montessori school. When moving back to CT, Bethany worked as a nanny and Montessori Assistant. She was inspired during the 2015 school year to obtain her Montessori Certification through NEMTEC. In her free time, she loves knitting, crocheting, cuddling with her cats, sewing, and baking.
Accreditations: Bachelors of Arts degree, Higher diploma in Primary Teaching
Accreditations: NMI, CMTE
Pamela Gozzi started with The Children’s Tree in 2005 as an assistant teacher. Pam is a busy wife and mother of two children who lives in Westbrook, CT. She owned her own dance studio for several years that specialized in preschool and elementary aged children, she also ran a decorating company with her sister. After being introduced to the philosophy of Montessori learning she was thrilled to be able to work at the Children’s Tree. Pam has been training at CTMS each year and has completed the advanced assistant primary teacher training at the Center for Montessori Education.
Tricia was raised in the Boston MetroWest area. Before college she spent a summer as a childcare volunteer on the Eagle Butte Reservation in South Dakota. She then earned her BFA from the University of Mass., Amherst with a double major in Painting and Art Education. Her thesis “Nightscapes” received the Deans Purchase award in 2003. After graduation, she was a landscape artist on Cape Cod and in the Seacoast of New Hampshire selling dozens of oil paintings before moving to Washington DC to pursue Floral Design. After many Floral adventures, including designing for the Obamas and Bidens, she fell in love with Montessori with the help of her older sister, who is an Elementary Guide. After being an assistant at Mater Amoris Montessori school in Maryland she earned her Masters Degree and Association Montessori International Certification for Primary age children from Loyola University in 2014. She taught at Christian Family Montessori School in Washington DC for 3 years before her first daughter was born in 2017. Tricia now lives in Waterford with her husband and two girls who attend Children’s Tree. She enjoys drawing, gardening, bicycling, hiking, yoga, birding, and reading.
Primary Assistant Teacher
Accreditations: AMI Montessori 3–6 Assistants Certificate
Shaina’s love and desire to care for children started early in her life. At a young age, she began babysitting and volunteering at her church every Sunday to provide childcare to infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. Shaina spent 6 years as a stay-at-home mom and she feels grateful for that opportunity she had to be with her 2 children. Over the last 9 years, she has worked as a Paraprofessional for Pre-K through 5th Grade. About 6 of those years were spent dedicated to children with special needs. Shaina lives in Waterford with her daughter, son, bulldogge, and tabby cat. During her free time, she enjoys traveling, boating, paddle boarding, running, and spending quality time with her family and friends. She believes health and nutrition are important, and incorporates them in her everyday life. Although newly introduced to the Montessori Method of Education when she came to CTMS, Shaina holds a high respect for it and completed her AMI Montessori Assistant Training in the summer of 2021. She enjoys being a part of the Primary Classroom.
Teaching Team: Elementary School: 1st-6th Grade
Elementary Teacher, Martial Arts Teacher
Lena started at CTMS as a parent and fell in love with the Montessori Method. She graduated from Mount Holyoke College with a Bachelor of Arts in Gender Studies, where she received the Helen Warren Smith Award for outstanding leadership and service. Immediately following graduation, she joined Teach For America, launching her 8 years as an elementary school teacher in the greater Hartford area. During her tenure as teacher, Lena took on many instructional leadership roles, facilitating professional development for new educators and writing curriculum materials. She then went on to become the Director of Education at Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame. She is currently in training for her Montessori Elementary Certification for ages 6-12. Lena is also an accomplished martial arts instructor and practitioner. She currently holds the rank of 2nd degree Black Belt in Kenpo Karate, Level 1 Jeet Kune Do Instructor Certification, blue belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and rank in Modern Arnis. She also enjoys the arts, particularly drawing, painting, and Latin and Ballroom dancing. She currently resides in Middletown, Connecticut with her husband and two children.
Elementary Assistant Teacher
Jeya worked as a Medical Scientist for five years before joining CTMS staff. She graduated with a Master of Science degree in Medical Laboratory Science from the University of Rhode Island. She learned about Montessori by researching developmentally appropriate toys for her daughter. She came across Montessori and fell in love with the concept. Both Jeya and her daughter joined Children’s Tree for the fall of 2021. Jeya completed her Montessori Elementary Teacher assistant training in the summer of 2021. During her free time, she enjoys traveling and spending time with her husband and daughter. Email: Jeya
Elementary Assistant Teacher
Eva was a stay at home mom for many years, worked in real estate and started as a substitute teaching at CTMS in 2017. She’s now one of the assistant elementary teachers and completed her Montessori assistant training in the summer of 2021. In her free time Eva enjoys camping, hiking, clamming and walking with friends by the ocean. Eva lives in Westbrook with her husband, children and her dog, Brewster. Email: Eva
Teaching Team: Enrichment
Circus Arts and Yoga
Om-Fly is Jen Taylor’s unique and innovative approach to teaching dance, yoga and mind/body mindfulness to children & adults in a focused but relaxed manner. As a dancer, yoga instructor, teacher and philosopher, Jen approaches teaching the art of body movement and mindful creativity from a rich diversity of traditions and perspectives. Trained in creative movement play, tumbling, trapeze and acrobatics, as well as African dance and improvisation, Jen helps children and adults discover their native inner bodily wisdom and youthful flexibility through interactive and imaginative exercises and games. More information on her can be found at omfly.org.
Email: Jen T
Frank Natter, Jr. is a guitarist, composer, and teacher. Frank Jr. received his B.A. in Music Composition from Central Connecticut State University. He is the author of The Total Acoustic Guitarist(Alfred Publishing Co.), Guitar Atlas: Russia (Alfred Publishing Co.), The Blues Guitar Experience (Alfred Publishing Co.), as well as an instructional DVD titled Chords and Strums for Acoustic Guitar (Alfred Publishing Co.). Frank performs with various music groups and arranges music for Purple Rock Puppet Theater, teaches adult group guitar classes for Middletown Adult Education, and performs for Old Lyme’s Fourth Row Theater summer youth drama program. He also coaches the Face Arts Music Summer Ensemble at Face Arts Music in Deep River, CT. In addition to his teaching career, Frank Jr. has performed in folk, rock, and contemporary ensembles across the United States and currently enjoys composing and recording music with various musicians.
Martial Arts Teacher, Elementary Teacher
In addition to serving alongside Ms. Ashley as an Elementary Teacher in the Willow Room, Ms. Lena is an accomplished martial artist with approximately twenty-five years of experience. She began training Kenpo Karate at the age of six, and was promoted to Black Belt at the age of seventeen. She has since earned her Second Degree Black Belt and is certified by the New England Martial Arts Teacher’s Association.
In recent years, she has expanded her training to include more functional self-defense tactics. She has received her Blue Belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu as well as her Level One Instructor Certification in Jeet Kune Do under Professor Roy Harris of Harris International. She was featured in Knack Self-Defense for Women in 2011 and co-owned the Modern Self-Defense Center in Meriden, Connecticut from 2011 – 2014, serving as the Director of Children’s Programs. Email: Lena
Sign Language Teacher
Sign language is shared with our students by J Carlson. J loves children and has been teaching sign language at schools and daycares for many years. J has three grown children and lives in Guilford with her husband.