Staff

Community

Administration


Alica Johnson-Grafe  is the founder and Head of School. Alica has been a Montessori teacher since 1996 and administrator since the school’s inception in 1997 as Orchard Street Montessori Friends School. Alica is a graduate of the Northeast Montessori Institute (pre-primary 3-6) and the University of New Hampshire (M.Ed. Elementary Education and B.S. Family Studies/Early Childhood). Alica attended the Center for Montessori Education /NY program for School Management and Administration, completing her administrator’s credential in 2010. Alica is active in the Maine Montessori Association (MMA) and currently serves on the MMA Board of Directors as the Board’s President.  Alica lives in Kittery Point, ME with her husband, Richie, and sons, Dylan (25), a graduate of University of Maine/Orono and Ben (23), a graduate of American University. Dylan and Ben are both Brixham graduates of the elementary program.

Kim Vachon is the office administrative assistant. Kim completed her Montessori Assistant training in 2013 and helps on occasion in the 3-6 classrooms. She also does Brixham’s school portraits. Kim is a certified yoga instructor at Yoga East. Kim enjoys travel, photography, hiking, and is an active parent volunteer at her children’s schools. Kim lives in York, ME with her partner, Louis, and three children, Jack (22), Louie (12), and Marcus (8). Louie and Marcus are both Brixham graduates of the 3-6 program.

 


Heidi Salisbury-Finley divides her time at Brixham between teaching with Ann and Nell in a 3-6 classroom and working on the admissions team.  A part of Brixham as both a parent and a teacher for 14 years, Heidi is excited to begin her 3rd year with admissions.  “I love to be the first person to introduce children and families to our community, and to watch as they grow and change during their time here!”

Heidi completed her undergrad studies at Wheelock College in Boston (BA, Human Development). Her work with Peer Play Therapy allowed her to participate in graduate work at Harvard School of Education and Lesley University. Heidi completed her Montessori training at the Maine Montessori Institute (Pre-primary, 3-6).  Prior to joining Brixham, Heidi taught at the Family Development Center at Boston Medical Center, a therapeutic preschool for children and families in crisis with abuse and neglect issues. Heidi also worked at New England Medical Center as a Child Life Specialist. While her husband returned to school,  Heidi was lead teacher (3-6) at Ithaca Montessori School in Ithaca, New York.

Heidi enjoys nature, writing, horses and watching children discover the wonder of our world.  Heidi lives in Kittery, ME with her husband, Gary and their children: Grace (15), Caroline (13) and Fin (9).  Grace and Caroline are both Brixham graduates and Fin attends the upper elementary program at Brixham.


Sophie Bednarek is the special education consultant at Brixham. She works one morning a week supporting teachers and students with learning challenges in the classroom. Sophie is a graduate of the University of New Hampshire (B.A. Political Science, M.A. Education). She was Orton-Gillingham trained at the Carroll School in Lincoln, MA. Sophie has taught special education in both private and public settings, as well as at a public Montessori School. Sophie lives in Portsmouth with her husband, Brian, and sons, Thomas (4) and William (2). Sophie’s son Thomas attends the 3-6 program at Brixham.

 

Toddler Class


Jessa Sullivan is a teacher in the toddler program. Jessa completed her Montessori Assistant training in 2013 and is currently enrolled in Northeast Montessori Institutes Infant/Toddler Program. Jessa has taught in the toddler program at Brixham as an assistant for three years and has been a substitute teacher in many of the classrooms at Brixham. Jessa lives in York, ME with her husband, Conor, and four children: Melia (13), Rowan (10), Kai (8), and Gunnar (8). Melia is a Brixham graduate of the elementary program, and Rowan, Kai and Gunnar are Brixham alumni.

 

Alison Bell is both a teacher in the toddler classroom and the school’s business office administrator. Alison is a graduate of the Center for Montessori Teacher Education (Infant and Toddler, birth-3 years), has attended Lesley College, and studied Non-profit School Administration at Granite State College. Alison enjoys yoga, camping with her family, and beach walks with her dog, Rudy. Although a Portsmouth native, Alison now lives in Eliot, ME.

 

Sarah O’Callaghan  is an assistant teacher in the toddler classroom and supports the late aftercare program. Sarah is a graduate of U Mass Amherst (B.A. Education and M.A. in Early Childhood Special Education) and Northeast Montessori Institute (pre-primary 3-6).  Sarah was a Special Education preschool teacher in Amherst MA, an assistant teacher at The Children’s House in Rye, NH and a Special Education Consultant at the Strafford Learning Center for Milton, Rochester and Nottingham school districts (working with children 3-5 years old).  Sarah enjoys spending time with her 5 children and 2 grandchildren, walking, reading, art and laughter.

 3-6 Classes (Preschool/Kindergarten)


Meg Kerr is a lead teacher partnering with Angi in one of the three 3-6 classrooms and an afternoon teacher for the full day 3-6 program. Meg is a graduate of Cornell University (B.A. English), the University of NH (M.A. English: Writing), and Northeast Montessori Institute (pre-primary 3-6). Meg enjoys being in the outdoors, especially on or near water, cooking, reading, writing and art. Meg lives in Dover, NH with her husband, Carl, and their children, Finn (14) and Claire (11). Finn is a Brixham graduate and Claire attends the upper elementary program at Brixham.

 

 


Ann Merritt is the lead teacher of our second 3-6 class, as well as the afternoon extended day (Kindergarten) program. Ann is a graduate of St. Nicholas Montessori College (pre-primary 3-6), the University of Virginia (M.A. History), and North Park College (B.A. History). Ann has a special talent for baking, and also loves to knit, read, garden, hike, and simply spend time with family. Ann lives in South Berwick, ME with her husband Zach, and daughters, Magill (23) and Grace (19).  Grace is a Brixham graduate of the elementary program.

 


Nell Boley is an assistant teacher in Ann’s 3-6 classroom and also assists in the extended day (kindergarten) program.  Nell graduated from McDaniel College with a B.A. in exercise science and physical education and physiology. She then finished the Northeast Montessori Institute program, with a  3-6 certification. Nell has worked with children in a variety of settings to include The Boys and Girls Club, The Montessori School of Westminster, as a Nanny, and the last four years at Brixham Montessori Friends School. She is from Kittery Point, Maine and is now living in Kingston, NH.  When Nell is not teaching, she enjoys taking adventures, being outdoors, spending time with her family and friends, as well as her dog, Thor.

 


Leigh Waldman is the lead teacher of our third 3-6 classrooms. Leigh is a graduate of the University of New Hampshire (B.A. English), Northeastern University (M.B.A. Business), and Bennington College (M.A.T. Early Childhood), and the Maine Montessori Institute (pre-primary 3-6). Leigh enjoys singing and sharing her passion for music and learning Spanish with young children. Leigh lives in York, ME with her husband, Robert, while her son, Aaron (25), pursues his own love of music in Boston and beyond.

 

 

 

Angi Weiser-Smith is a lead teacher partnering with Meg in one of the 3-6 classrooms. She is originally from Austria and has lived in the US for the past 8 years.  After finishing school in Austria to become a Kindergarten teacher, Angi came to Maine as an au pair and met her now husband, Jason. Angi joined Brixham in 2009 as a 3-6 teacher assistant in Ann’s classroom before having her son, Jonas, in 2012. She completed her 3-6 Montessori teacher training through the Northeast Montessori Institute in 2011 and joined Brixham again in 2014. Angi loves spending time with her family and being active in the outdoors. She also enjoys being a part of the Cultural Care au pair community and serves as a local support for host families and au pairs in Seacoast ME and NH. Angi lives in Kittery with her husband, Jason, and her son, Jonas (4), who attends one of the 3-6 classrooms at Brixham.

Whitney Genatossio is an assistant teacher in Leigh’s 3-6 classroom. Whitney is a graduate of the University of New Hampshire (B.S. Environmental Conservation). She holds a certificate from the Early Childhood Overview course through Northeast Montessori Institute (NMI) and is currently enrolled in the 3-6 teacher education program at NMI. Whitney spends her free time enjoying the outdoors with her family and lives in York, ME, with her husband Travis, her son, Jackson (3) who attends one of the 3-6 classrooms at Brixham and daughter, Aggie (2) who attends the toddler program, and their dog Sierra.

 


Barbara Mansfield is a lead support teacher in Leigh and Whitney’s 3-6 classroom.  She has been involved with Montessori education for over 25 years.  A graduate of the University of Colorado in religious studies, she completed her 3-6 (pre-primary) Northeast Montessori Institute training and taught for several years near Concord, NH.  In 1995 she started Parkside Children’s House (a small 3-6 program) in Hopkinton, NH.  Her grown children Matthew and Thomas, both Montessori grads, live in NYC and Boston.  She and her husband, Bill, move to Kittery a year ago and love it!  A bit of golf, bike riding, reading, walking and most recently tooling around on her scooter round out the days!

 


Jenifer Weaver is our newest member of our teaching staff joining us in late September 2016. Jenifer is a graduate of Northeast Montessori Institute (pre-primary 3-6) and the SUNY at Purchase and Empire State College (B.A. Dance). Jenifer has danced and toured with a number of dance companies to include the Merce Cunningham Dance Company. In1996, Jenifer received a Fulbright Scholarship to perform, teach and study dance in Australia returning to New York in 1997 where she continued to dance, tour, and teach in New York, eventually moving to the Seacoast in 2001. Jenifer rediscovered Montessori as a parent and taught at Childlight Montessori in South Berwick, ME from 2009-2013. Jenifer lives in North Berwick, ME with her daughter, Ruby (13), partner, Dave, and a small barn yard of animals.

Lower Elementary Class


Heather Ewing is a lead teacher in the lower elementary classrooms and a trained 6-12 teacher supporting Stephanie during her maternity leave in the upper elementary classroom.  Heather is a graduate of Providence College (B.A. English) and the Washington Montessori Institute at Loyola University (M.Ed. in Elementary Montessori Education).  Prior to moving to New Hampshire, Heather taught in Montessori schools in Pennsylvania, Maine, and Massachusetts.  Heather lives in Dover, NH with her husband, Dave, and their daughter, Asa (2) who attends the toddler program.  She enjoys reading, gardening, swimming, and taking long walks with her family.

 


Michael Stone is a lead teacher in the lower elementary (Gr. 1-3) classroom and the new school garden coordinator. Michael is a graduate of the University of New Hampshire (M.Ed. Elementary Education and B.A. Education/Spanish) and the Center for Montessori Teacher Education/NY (Elementary 6-9). He loves to garden, cook and play the ukulele. Michael lives in Kittery Point, ME with his spouse, Peter, and their spirited little dog, Dasher.

 

 


Mary Testa is a lead teacher in the lower elementary (Gr. 1-3) classroom and is a graduate of the University of Delaware (B.A. Educational Studies) and earned her Montessori teaching certificate (pre-primary 3-6) through the Montessori Teacher Education Institute of New England. Mary recently completed her Elementary 6-9 training at the Montessori Teacher Training Collaborative. Mary loves to Lindy Hop, garden, hike, read, and beach comb. Mary lives in Eliot, ME with her husband, Buzz, and their son, Hyatt (17). Hyatt is a Brixham graduate of the elementary program.

Upper Elementary


Stephanie Finley Smith is the lead teacher of the upper elementary (Gr.4-5) classroom. Stephanie is a graduate of the University of New Hampshire (M.Ed. Elementary Education) and Central Washington University (B.A. Communication Studies and Art History). Stephanie completed her Montessori 6-12  teacher training at The Seacoast Center for Education in Stratham, NH and is state certified in elementary education in Maine and New Hampshire. Stephanie moved to New Hampshire in 2008 from her home state of Washington. Since moving to the east coast, she enjoys hiking, surfing, making sea glass jewelry and burl wood working. Stephanie lives in Lee, NH with her husband, Matt and newborn son, Larkin.

 


Brianna Martin teaches with Stephanie in the upper elementary classroom. Brianna began her school “career” as a Montessori preschooler. She graduated from the University of NH(B.S. Spanish), completed her Montessori 3-6 certification from the Northeast Montessori Institute, and her Masters in Early Childhood Education with a focus on Montessori through Endicott College. Brianna enjoys gardening, reading, walking, spending time outdoors and being with friends and family. She lives with her husband, Drew and her son, Alden (2) and her infant son, Reed, in Portsmouth, NH. Alden is in the toddler program at Brixham.

Specialists


Sarah Boys is the art studio specialist for Brixham. Sarah attended Johnson State College and holds certificates from both the Montessori Assistant’s Overview and the Advanced Assistant’s workshop through the Northeast Montessori Institute. Sarah enjoys art, live music, trail walks, being creative on a daily basis, and spending time in Down East Maine. Sarah lives in South Berwick, ME with her husband, John, and their son, Porter (7), and daughter, Althea (2). Porter is a graduate of the 3-6 program and Althea attends the toddler program at Brixham.

 

Andrea Ardito
Andrea Ardito is the theatre specialist in the elementary program. She started teaching at Brixham at its original location on Orchard Street in Portsmouth over 17 years ago. Andrea holds her B.A. in Theatre from Franklin Pierce College in Rindge, NH. Andrea has taught children’s theatre all over the Seacoast and has served as an artist in residence as well. Andrea enjoys yoga, running, gardening and dragging her children to yard sales. She lives in Portsmouth, NH with her husband, Brad, and their children, Olivia (18), Isabel (14), Henry (11) and their many varied & eclectic assortment of animals. Olivia, Isabel and Henry are all Brixham graduates of the 3-6 program.

Augusto Salazar is the strings specialist in the elementary program. Augusto studied music at the Conservatory of La Paz in Bolivia before coming to the United States to study chamber music with the Portland String Quartet at the University of Southern Maine. He continued his studies at the Longy School of Music in Cambridge, MA and Boston University, and has played in various chamber groups and orchestras throughout Northern New England. Augusto has also toured major cities in Latin America, Greece and Spain with professional ensembles and been involved in the creation of various community orchestras, youth ensembles and chamber music groups in Northern New England, including the Odeon Youth String Orchestra in Camden, ME, the Portsmouth Symphony Community Orchestra, the River Tree Arts adult ensemble in Kennebunkport, ME and the Bow Street Youth Orchestra which he founded over 20 years ago and continues to conduct. Augusto lives in Kittery, ME.

Alex Krauth is the choral director in the elementary programs at Brixham Montessori Friends School and Seacoast Waldorf School. Alex received a BA in Music for Elementary Teachers from Keene State College and is a member of the National Association for Music Education and American Choral Directors’ Association. She has taught music to students of all ages in a variety of settings, including autism programs, adult education classes, and the tutoring program at Keene State. She also offers private lessons in piano, voice, ukulele, music theory, and aural skills from her home studio. Alex has performed with various local choruses and ensembles, such as Voices from the Heart, Amare Cantare, and the Southern New Hampshire Ukulele Group. In addition to her love of all things music-related, Alex enjoys surfing, kayaking, reading, writing, and studying world languages and cultures. Alex lives in Eliot, Maine with her family.

Marlane Bottino is one of the founding elementary teachers of the lower elementary (Gr. 1-3) classroom, and is currently the cultural studies specialist for the classroom. Marlane is a graduate of the Center for Montessori Teacher Education/NY (Elementary, 6-9) and the University of Connecticut (M.A. History/Education and B.A. History). Prior to moving to Maine more than fifteen years ago, Marlane was a 6-9 head Teacher at Oak Grove Montessori School in Connecticut. Marlane enjoys gardening, nature, painting landscapes, and writing poetry and stories for children. She lives in Kittery Point, ME with her husband, Bob, and her son, Danny (23), a graduate of Tufts University and currently enrolled in graduate school at Yale. Danny is a Brixham graduate of the elementary program.