Elina Burdin – Owner

From My Family To Yours – A Letter From The Owner

Since the age of three, playing with my dolls and pretending to be a teacher, I knew that I wanted to have a career in childcare. I spent every summer of my childhood with my grandma at her camp job and grew up in the childcare environment. As a teenager, I myself worked in a summer camp and a day care center. At the age of 20, I moved to America from my home country of Latvia. I moved here with my family, a single suitcase and no money in my pocket. I was quickly forced into a part time job to support my family, putting a higher education on hold. I applied to New York University and thankfully got accepted, however, people around me stressed that a career in childcare or education was unrealistic and would not give me a good life. I was pushed away from the industry I was passionate about and into a different one. I worked, managed a company for nearly 10 years, got married and had two children. Because I didn’t truly have a passion for my job, I made my focus raising my kids. In my heart, I didn’t love my job and I knew I couldn’t continue in the same manner as I had so I decided to leave my job and finally pursue childcare and my true calling.

I had vaguely heard of the Montessori Method but it wasn’t truly on my radar and as a busy parent I didn’t have time to figure out its benefits. However, when I began to get complaints of my son’s behavior in class, I knew something had to change and public education just wasn’t working. I rediscovered Montessori education and quickly realized it was perfect for my son. Montessori advocates for each child to learn at an individual pace and follow their interests while still learning everything necessary to advance. Each child then begins the day with a desire to learn and learning becomes something that each child looks forward to rather than dreads. My son began Montessori at the age of 7 and has remained in the Montessori environment till this day.

Upon doing my research for my son, I became a strong believer of, and a passionate advocate for, the Montessori Method. My dissatisfaction with the public education system, paired with my love for childcare, made me decide to dedicate the rest of my life and career to it. I have made my life’s goal to make a difference in the lives of children with the Montessori Method and through it to better our community and help each child grow to love education.

Welcome to our Family!

Adele – Head Montessori Teacher and Assistant Director

Adele Szczecina is a highly trained Montessori teacher specializing in kids from age three to nine. She also has a BA degree in Education and is a qualified physical education teacher.  She fell in love with the Montessori philosophy over 18 years ago when she co-taught a group of twenty four, first, second and third graders in a traditional Montessori classroom. She worked to create lesson plans, organize parent teacher conferences, plays, family events, luncheons, and kick started a parent volunteer program. She also spearheaded the organization of both in and out of state class trips. Additionally, she created a cooking and physical education program to further enrich the Montessori classroom. Adele also ran the after school program at the Arc of Somerset. Furthermore, Adele spent several years working with eight students with different learning disabilities. She organized various sensory learning activities as well as fun outdoor activities and various excursions. Adele has a strong work ethic, loves teaching and is an integral part of our STEM Montessori Academy family.

Geeta Phatak – Lead Montessori Teacher

Geeta has always loved working with children. Prior to, and even after she became a Montessori teacher, she volunteered for many years in the PTA and PTSA. She chaired and co-chaired many committees and served as a Vice President on the PTSA school board.  She was co- leader of her daughter’s Girl Scout Troop and an active participant in her son’s Boy Scout Troop.  She has volunteered at the Plainsboro Preserve, where she took children on nature walks and conducted crafts at holiday events.

She grew up in India and has completed her undergraduate and graduate degree in Environmental Studies. Her kids grew up studying in the West Windsor Plainsboro School district and she has been a stay-at-home mom until her younger one started Elementary school. While helping a friend’s daughter who attended a Montessori school nearby, she got intrigued by the appearance and working of the classroom. Soon she attended an open house just for curiosity and totally fell in love with the style and method of teaching.

Geeta completed her Early Childhood credential from the AMS (American Montessori Society) while working at Pennington Montessori School. Then she went on to work at Crestwood Montessori and Keyboard Kids (where she ran her own Montessori classroom) among others. Geeta has over 13 years of teaching experience and during these years she has attended several workshops, seminars and webinars as a part of professional development and personal enrichment. She has interests in music, dance and nature activities – bird watching has been her hobby since college.

Geeta has a very loving, outgoing nature that has grown with her experience with children. She has come to embrace the Montessori philosophy and truly feels that it is essential to build a love of learning in the early years of a child’s life by laying the foundation, the basis of which lies in something that she passionately believes in – “A lifetime of learning starts with a single moment of wonder!”

Angela – Head Toddler Teacher

Angela Gering has worked in child care for almost 30 years spanning from an after school program, to Montessori, to traditional daycare. She has worked with children from infants-6th grade. Angela graduated from Rider University with a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Social Work. Working with children has always been her passion. After graduating Rider, she worked as a Paraprofessional in the Hopewell Valley Regional School District for a few months, then accepted a position at Pennington Montessori school. She fell in love with teaching the toddlers. She received her AMS Montessori Infant/Toddler certification from PCTE.  After working in Montessori for over 15 years, she left to work for a traditional local daycare. She worked with infants and young toddlers. After one year, she became the Head Teacher of the building and then Director. She loved the experience of learning new things about working with children and working with teachers, but in the end, she missed working with children and teaching using Montessori. Angela loves teaching toddlers. She enjoys that the children are with her for two years. To watch children come into her classroom not speaking, and leaving having conversations is amazing. To be part of the growth of children’s learning is very special. Angela hopes that she instills a lifetime of the love of learning with her students. Teaching Montessori, she feels, is the most natural and fun way of learning. Teaching using Montessori’s Philosophy of following the child makes teaching exciting and always changing and never boring! Angela is happy being part of STEM Montessori Family!

Lynne – Toddler Teacher

Lynne comes to us with a wealth of knowledge and experience as a toddler teacher. She has a degree in early childhood education and has worked with all ages. She is CPR and First Aid certified.

Lynne is passionate about creating positive learning experience for children. She devotes her free time to changing the environment to create new challenges for children. She is energized by S.T.E.A.M program she is able to offer to very young children. Lynne considers herself a mentor and finds passion in being able to help set the strong foundation for the leaders of tomorrow.

Christine – Stepping Stones Teacher

Christine comes to us with a deep love for children since the young age. She has always enjoyed babysitting and helping out with her younger family members. When she became a mother herself, she stayed at home with her children and enjoyed providing them with the best educational experiences possible. After her third child started school, she began watching other children in her own home. Shortly after that she began working in a childcare center. She has been in this profession for 15 years now and loves it. She is convinced that being with children is a treasure. If you love and care for them, they return twice the amount of love you give to them. She firmly believes that you must care for each child as you would care for your own. After all, that’s what she would expect for her own children. She believes that as a parent you should feel your child is well cared for.

She obtained her CDA credential in 2016 in Infants/Toddlers. She is CPR and First Aid certified. She started looking into the Montessori Method after her 4th child was about 2 years old. She loves Montessori Method because it’s clear that it works and it makes sense because we are helping to raise strong independent children into amazing strong adults. She is excited to be part of our STEM Montessori Family and to continue learning.

Karen – Infant Teacher

Karen comes to us with a wealth of experience in an early childhood education. She has a degree in Liberal Arts and Communications and a CDA certification in early childhood education. She has also completed a Montessori Philosophy course at PCTE. She is our infant teacher who supports the infants’ strengths and helps to develop the skills they need to master. She recognizes how important and formative these ages are for children and believes that a strong education at this age can set a child up for future success in whatever path they choose. Patience, kindness and love are qualities Karen exudes naturally. Karen is currently working on her Montessori certification.

Isabela – Montessori Teacher

Isabela have always been fascinated by Montessori style of learning with a multi-sensory approach as a very effective way of gaining knowledge and skills that the young learners can apply successfully later in life.

She was born in Poland and she obtained her education there. She has earned a Master’s Degree in Biology with the specialization in teaching at the secondary level.  She also finished the post-graduate studies in Integral Early Childhood Education. Mrs Isabela has gained her experience as a Science and English teacher in public elementary schools in her home country. She has also spent significant amount of time with kids in afterschool settings and also worked as a nanny, taking care of her own sons and other children. She has enjoyed every minute of the time dedicated to kids. She has learned that each child is a unique individual with special talents and strengths and our role as teachers is to help children reach their potential. Hence, here we create the environment in which our children easily can find interests and joyful experience out of learning. Since Mrs Isabela personally is a huge enthusiast of continuous learning in life, she is still deepening her knowledge in health science, which is also her passion. She is a strong believer that all kids deserve a safe and inspiring educational environment to learn and grow in.

Archana – Montessori Teacher

Archana has a passion for teaching, and has the endearing love and affection for kids. Archana has a PhD in education with language and medium of instruction as her area of specialization. She was a University teaching assistant and took part in many field researches relating to elementary education. She believes the formative years of learning is the base for the child’s development in later years of his/her life. She soon realized early childcare is what she wants to pursue. Archana’s daughter is a preschooler and a student of our school, she knows the importance of educating little minds and nurturing their creativity. She comes up with fun and creative projects for our preschoolers and makes learning fun for them. She also has a bachelor degree in Psychology and English Literature, has formally learnt classical Carnatic Music and practices yoga. Studying and specializing in Child Psychology has helped her understand young minds and the way she can reciprocate to them. She truly believes in the Montessori way of teaching and learning, makes great use of the knowledge she has gained in educating young and enthusiastic minds. She is working on her CDA and Montessori certifications.

Vanessa – Assistant Teacher Primary/ Music Teacher/Piano Teacher

Vanessa studied at RVCC, majoring in Early Childhood Education and Music, and has completed her CDA Certification. She enjoys her work assisting the lead teachers and spending time with the children in the primary classes. During the academic year at Montessori, Miss Vanessa also teaches piano and leads music classes. As a musician, she plays drums and ukulele, as well as piano, and is a classically trained vocalist. Vanessa truly understands and embraces the importance of music, and finds it very rewarding being a music educator. “There should be music in the child’s environment, just as there does exist in the child’s environment, spoken speech” Maria Montessori

Hayley – Toddler Assistant Teacher

Hayley is a trained preschool teacher. She loves working with children and says it fills her heart with joy to see them learn and grow. Student teaching first grade and preschool aged students confirmed Hayley’s desire to be a teacher and work with preschool students. Hayley worked with Special Needs students every Summer through a program called Extended School Year in her local public school district. The experience and knowledge she obtained through working with these exceptional children was priceless and still utilizes them daily. Hayley enjoys creating lessons centered on grace and courtesy to allow the whole child to grow and flourish. She says, “I try to make every lesson engage the whole child, making them an integral part of their education”

Linda – Toddler Assistant Teacher

Linda has a heart for shaping little minds. She has had experience in traditional daycare for over seven years, starting with infant care to 6th grade students. Her passion for teaching came from when she was a little girl, playing with dolls and being a pretend teacher. Linda has been fascinated by the Montessori Philosophy, watching young children being able to learn and complete everyday tasks independently. Linda has also been amazed with how unique each child is and loves helping guide them to reach their full potential. Linda’s goal is to become Montessori certified along with getting her CDA.