New People and Positions for the 2017-18 School Year

Nicole Barba

Nicole Barba

Toddler Teacher

Nicole first became interested in Montessori education while studying developmental psychology and neuropsychology in college. She recognized Montessori's method as a practical application for all the theory and science she had learned. Nicole started teaching as an educational assistant for Norwalk Community College, but soon found her way to the practice of Montessori education. In spring 2011, she became a substitute teacher for The Montessori School in Wilton, CT. The following fall, Nicole started as a teacher's assistant for the school's full day bilingual toddler program. By her third year, she started taking courses to become a Toddler teacher. She also helped in an early morning program for Primary and Elementary children, as well as coaching Elementary soccer and running club teams. In Fall 2015, Nicole opened up the second Toddler classroom at the school as the lead teacher. Nicole recently finished a Master's program in Education, with a Montessori concentration.

Montessori education has become a passion to Nicole's family, too; her sister followed her to the world of Montessori practice, finding common ground with her own collegiate studies and also becoming a substitute at the same school where Nicole first taught.

Nicole has a passion for the outdoors, and loves to go hiking and snowboarding as well as playing soccer. She also loves to cook, bake, and craft, and especially enjoys sewing and scrapbooking.

Ashley Espiritu

Ashley Espiritu

Media Designer and Publication Assistant
Coming soon!
John Feeley

John Feeley

Lower Elementary Teacher
John Feeley is a native of this city. He earned his B.A. (1976) and Master’s degree (1978) in Speech Pathology from the Catholic University of America. While working for the DC Public Schools, he took advantage of their Montessori retooling program and received his certification from the Washington Montessori Institute (1996: Elementary). He went on to earn his doctorate in Education, concentrating on literacy and curriculum, from the George Washington University in 1999. He has maintained his certification as a Speech Language Pathologist. He is a permanent deacon in the Archdiocese of Washington and an Advisory Neighborhood commissioner in the Michigan Park neighborhood of Washington. He has enjoyed teaching at Loyola University of Maryland as part of the Montessori Summer Training Institute. Dr. Feeley has worked at the Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. Institute, the DC Public Schools and Prince George's County Public Montessori programs. In fall of 2016, he acted as the Interim Upper Elementary Teacher at Aidan.

Dr. Feeley’s late wife, Helen Young, was a writer and editor in the Mayor’s office and a managing editor for the Northeast Star. He and his wife had no children. He has been fortunate to work with children from many area schools and summer camp programs over the years, including Green Acres, the George Washington University Aftercare program at Beauvoir, Robert Goddard Chess Club and Camp Maria Retreat Center. He has been a Cub Scout den and Pack leader, as well as charter representative for Pack 98 for many years. He has twenty nieces and nephews and five great-nieces and nephews and many godchildren. He is the co-author of Brookland (2012) from Arcadia Publishing and enjoys investigating neighborhood history.
Zelalem Geberu

Zelalem Geberu

Senior Accountant

Zelalem grew up in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. She has an associate degree in Banking and Finance and B.S. in Accounting. She worked as an Accountant for Bank of Abyssinia in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for four years. She also served as a Head Teller for Bank of America in Takoma Park before she joined Aidan, where she served as Staff Accountant until 2017, when she was promoted to Senior Accountant.

She lives in Clarksburg, MD with her husband Samuel and her beautiful daughter Beza who attends Aidan. She likes swimming, jogging, and reading.

Jacqueline Gibson-Barrow

Jacqueline Gibson-Barrow

Receptionist

Jacqueline Gibson-Barrow grew up in Barbados, where she studied accounting, and moved to the United States in 1985. She received her childcare certification from Montgomery College. Before joining Aidan, she worked as a nanny for eight years. She also works at the Arcola Health and Rehab Center (Nursing Home) part time. Jackie is a member of the Barbados National Association and is always ready to volunteer with the Aidan Parent Association.

She enjoys all kinds of craft and meeting people. Jackie has been married to her wonderful husband, Earl, for 25 years. They have an older son, Emerson, and a daughter, Lisa-Anne, (Aidan Class of 2009) Holton-Arms class of 2015. Lisa-Anne is currently attending San Diego State University on a Track and Field scholarship.

Andrew Hurwitz

Andrew Hurwitz

Learning Support Specialist

Andy joined Aidan in this new position for the 2017-18 School Year. He works with teachers and parents to identify children who have learning challenges that can be helped with resources. Andrew observes in classrooms, meets with teachers and parents, and helps parents connect with resources for their children. Andrew also continues the school Tutor's work of providing direct support to children by way of tutoring, but his scope is more far reaching.

Prior to coming to Aidan, Andy served in a similar capacity at schools in Atlanta and Seattle. This year is his fifth working as a special education teacher and learning specialist. He has worked in many different kinds of special education teaching formats - including resource, inclusion, co-teacher, and autism/behavior self-contained - including one Montessori-inspired resource room as a student teacher. He also served as an Americorps member for two years in Washington state.

Andy has enjoyed time volunteering with therapy dogs at animal shelters. He's also having fun enjoying the greater DC area, taking classes through REI, traveling (he wants to go to Iceland and Chile soon!), paddle boarding, people watching, petting dogs, and contemplating getting a dalmatian (complete with frequent pro/con lists).

Zinat Khraishah

Zinat Khraishah

Primary Assistant to Ms. Wilson & ASP Assistant

Zinat started her career at Aidan in 2004 by spending nine years as a Lower Elementary Classroom Assistant. She expanded her role at the school in 2009, when she joined the After School Program (ASP) staff. She also spent one year as a Toddler Assistant and is now a Primary Assistant - a role for which she recently earned AMI certification. Her career in education began in her hometown of Ramallah, where she co-founded a private preschool and worked there as a teacher and administrator. After moving to the US, she worked for several years as an Educational Aid at Hearst Elementary and as a Primary Assistant at Franklin Montessori School. She has also completed Montessori workshops on a variety of topics including music and parent education.

Zinat is a native of Palestine and a native Arabic speaker. She enjoys working in her community garden, reading, cooking and traveling. Her daughter, Janine, is an honors graduate of Brown University and recently completed an MBA at Harvard University. Her son, Omar, is an honors graduate of the Schreyer Honors College at Penn State University.

Alex Kranzlin

Alex Kranzlin

Buildings and Grounds Coordinator

Alex joined Aidan in this new position for the 2017-18 school year. Alex is on site three hours a day, five days a week and as needed above and beyond that. In addition to handling the school's day-to-day needs and working on improvement projects, Alex is also capable of building Montessori shelves and some materials. Alex also coordinates our outside vendors for projects in his area. From landscaping to installation art, we can all raise our expectations for the Aidan environment with his help this year.

Alex most recently worked at The Montessori School in Wilton, CT, where he held a similar position for two years. There, he also coached soccer, running club, and a summer sports camp. Prior to that, Alex worked for a private general contractor from 2004-2014.

Alex has a long history with Montessori schools. His grandmother started a Montessori school in Virginia, and his parents served on boards of Montessori schools for most of his childhood. He attended a Montessori school himself for Primary through Middle School and went on to high school at the prestigious Kent School, a preparatory school in New England. Alex loves motorcycles, cars, and the great outdoors.

Denise Merkel

Denise Merkel

Director of Education

Denise enthusiastically returned to Aidan for the 2017-18 School Year as its Director of Education. During her tenure at Aidan, Denise has served as Director of the After School Program for 15 years, a Toddler Guide for 23 years, and the Coordinator of APF for the last 13 years. Denise has worked in the field of education for over four decades. In addition to her work at Aidan, she has taught third and seventh grade, been a reading resource and substitute teacher as well as a private tutor, and even served as Administrative Head of Christian Family Montessori School in DC. She has been a frequent guest lecturer at the Washington Montessori Institute at Loyola University, and has been invited to speak to parents at several local Montessori schools.

Denise grew up in suburban Washington, DC. She is the single parent of three grown children, each of whom attended Montessori schools. She enjoys gardening, baking, reading, de-cluttering, following her favorite sports teams, and listening to music.

Joy Messick

Joy Messick

Director of the After School Program

In January, 2018, Joy returned to Aidan's After School Program as its director. Prior to that, she served Aidan as a Lower Elementary Assistant, Lead Montessori Substitute Teacher, and Co-Director of After School Programs. Before coming to Aidan, Joy worked at Northwoods Montessori in Georgia as director of their extended day program. Before Joy discovered Montessori, she worked in New York and Atlanta as a photographer.

In her free time, Joy knits and reads a great deal. She loves playing tennis and basketball, too. She spends her summers on Delaware beaches where she loves to go on long bike rides through state park land and go paddle boarding. She and her wife are expecting a baby girl in December and are looking forward to becoming parents.

Emily Navarro

Emily Navarro

Upper Elementary Literacy Specialist

Before joining the Aidan faculty, Emily most recently worked in student engagement at 826 Boston, a youth writing center. Prior to that, she served as a middle and high school English teacher for five years. In addition her other formal education, Emily spent a summer at Middlebury College's Bread Loaf School of English.

Outside Aidan, Emily most enjoys spending time with her family and exploring new places--especially while hiking or biking. She is looking forward to exploring the DC area.

Jimi Purse

Jimi Purse

Chief of Operations

Jimi joins Aidan in this new position for the 2017-18 School Year. He will be responsible for operations, project management and the Upper School (Lower and Upper Elementary). Jimi will be often seen in the elementary classrooms, providing support to teachers. He will also "lead from the middle" in the many collaborative projects that we have planned for the coming year. He will review operations, both large and small and help implement any necessary changes. Jimi has been working in Montessori education for ten years, most recently as a Head of School at Montessori Family School in Berkeley, California.

Camille Russell

Camille Russell

Lower Elementary Assistant to Dr. Feeley

Shortly after earning her undergraduate degree, Cammy discovered Montessori education and became certified as a 6-12 Elementary Teacher. For nine years, Cammy taught Lower Elementary in Delaware and then at the Montessori School of Northern Virginia. In 2013, Cammy and her 2 daughters joined the Aidan community. She has served at Aidan as an Elementary Assistant, Lead Teacher, and long-term substitute.

Cammy is a Montessori parent who is delighted to have two daughters thriving at Aidan. She also enjoyed leading a Montessori-style weekly playgroup at her home when her daughters were younger. In her free time, she enjoys reading, yoga, handcrafts, and spending time in nature with her family.

Margaret Skor

Margaret Skor

Art Teacher

Margaret joined Aidan as Art Teacher in 2017, in a convergence of her professional background in both art and childcare. She began her art career as a photographer and documentary filmmaker. Much of her work involved kids, schools, and nonprofits that work with children. She transitioned to working with children full-time as a nanny and found that she loved working one-on-one with young children and helping them to cultivate their self-expression and curiosity. She has also worked as a creator of group events, parties, and art workshops for children for 15 years.

Despite her newness to teaching here, Margaret has been a part of the Aidan community as a caregiver for two Aidan students for six years. She enjoyed getting involved in their Aidan classrooms and getting to know Aidan's community and the Montessori method. She also loves continuing to learn by taking advantage of all the museums and cultural events DC has to offer. You can find her taking photographs, reading, booking, crafting new projects, or just walking in the city in her free time.

Jordyn Walker

Jordyn Walker

Toddler Assistant to Ms. Barba

Jordyn joined Aidan as a Toddler Assistant in Fall 2017 after doing extraordinary work with our Summer Camp as Head of Athletics and Morning Care. Prior to working at Aidan, she interned at Somerset County's Judy Center, which works with children and families aged 0-5 to make sure children are socially, emotionally, and academically ready for kindergarten. She also interned at Beaver Run Elementary as a social worker and helped developed 504 plans and had a caseload of students from kindergarten through grade 2. Jordyn's electives for social work and her minor in psychology focused on classes that involved child development and child welfare. She has also worked at camps for the last 7 summers in leadership positions. Jordyn spent her high school volunteer hours working with middle school students and helped toput on and prepare students for a benefit concert at the Filmore in Silver Spring.

Jordyn played soccer as a child until her junior year of high school, when she switched her focus to volunteering with kids. She gained over 400 community service hours at Roberto Clemente Middle School, where she found her passion for working with children in the community and making a difference. Jordyn was also a member of the sorority Phi Mu and spent a lot of her college experience giving back to the community, including being a captain for the sorority's Relay for Life team.