Administrative Staff

Marci Martindale

Head of School
Accreditations:  AMS, AMI, NMI, CMTE, MACTE, National Network of Montessori Advocacy

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.
Email: Marci
Phone: (860) 388-3536

Nicole Atwood

Administrative Assistant

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.
Email: Nicole
Phone: (860) 388-3536

Tamara Sevigny

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.
Email: Tamara

Teaching Team: Toddler Community

Caila Martindale

Toddler Teacher
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.  During her free time, she plays with her Chihuahua, Chewy, loves art, the beach, and dabbles in photography.
Email: Caila

Tiffany Goss

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.
Email: Tiffany

Samantha Bernstein

Toddler Assistant Teacher

Samantha has worked with children as a camp counselor and swim instructor.  She has experience as an infants and toddler teacher and enjoys being part of a Montessori classroom. Her daughter also attends Children’s Tree. During her free time, Samantha enjoys fishing and kayaking with her husband and daughter.
Email: Samantha

Yoonju Um

Toddler Teacher
Accreditations:  AMS, MACTE

As a South-Korean native, YoonJu got her Bachelor’s degree in Public Administration and the 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 she was raising her two boys, she was highly attracted to child education, which drove her to become a certified Music Together teacher. As a CTMS mom, she was very impressed by the Montessori method and teachers, which lead her to work in our toddler program. In 2016, she went back to school and became a certified teacher in 2017 for infant and toddler students, holding Montessori Teaching certification for birth to 3 year olds through Northeast Montessori Institute. During her free time, she enjoys playing piano, reading books, singing, baking, and handcrafting with her boys. Ms. Yoonju is home caring for her family during the pandemic.
Email: Yoonju

Teaching Team: The Children’s House 3-6 year olds

Violet Kanfer

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.
Email: Violet

Patricia Allen

Primary Teacher
Accreditations:  AMI

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.
Email: Tricia

Eithne Moran Ramsay

Primary Teacher
Accreditations: Bachelors of Arts degree, Higher diploma in Primary Teaching 

Eithne came to us with a desire to work in a school with a philosophy that resonated with her experiences and interests. Prior to Joining CTMS Eithne worked as a teacher for many years in her home country Ireland with ages 4-12. Eithne also ran summer camps for young children focusing on sports, baking, and crafts. She has always enjoyed working with children and watching them learn and grow. After her daughter was born she realized how much Montessori inspired her, and she wanted it to be part of her life. She believes Montessori is not just a philosophy but a way of life.
Eithne lives in New London with her husband and their daughter. During her free time she enjoys holidaying in Ireland, biking, hiking, golf, sewing, cooking, and spending time with her family and friends.

Email: Eithne

Shaina Bryda

Primary Teacher’s Assistant

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, Shaina holds a high respect for it and enjoys being a part of the Primary Classroom. 

Email: Shaina

Pam Gozzi

Primary Teacher
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.
Email: Pam

Teaching Team: Elementary School: 1st-6th Grade

Lena Pacheco

Elementary Teacher, Martial Arts Teacher
Accreditations:  AMS

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.
Email: Lena

Samantha Sweet

Elementary Assistant Teacher

Samantha returned to Connecticut in 2019 to raise her daughter near her family. For over 12 years she has committed herself to environmental conservation, environmental education and the outdoor industry, living in various places throughout the country. Born and raised along the lower CT River Valley, she is happy to be back where her roots run deep. In her free time she likes to take spontaneous trips, see live music, and enjoys outdoor adventures with her family and Coonhound. Currently she is completing her bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and holds an A.S. in Environmental Science. She believes in the Montessori teaching philosophy, is happy to be a part of CTMS, and looks forward to years to come!
Email: Sam

Teaching Team: Enrichment

Jen-TaylorJen Taylor

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
Email: Jen T

Bethany Kanfer

French Teacher, Primary 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.
Email: Bethany

Lena Pacheco

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