Community & Staff
Kelly Libby, Head of School
After moving from Vermont in 2018, Kelly joined Children’s House as the Head of School. Previously, she was employed for nearly 18 years at a private school that served children from six weeks old through eighth grade located on several campuses in central Vermont. She and her daughter live in Orange City.
Tashira McFaline, Toddler Head Teacher
Tashria and her family moved from Puerto Rico after the destruction caused by Hurricane Maria in 2018, and she joined the Children’s House community shortly after that.
Stephanie Diaz, Toddler Assistant Teacher
Photo and Bio coming soon!
Caitlyn McGinnis, Primary Head Teacher
Caitlyn joined Children’s House in 2019. She is a Volusia County native and has recently made DeLand her home with her husband and their two lovely children after her husband retired from the military. Caitlyn has been inspiring and guiding young children for almost 10 years and graduated with her Primary Montessori Credential in 2016. She is also currently working towards completing her Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education. Montessori has been a very strong influence in Caitlyn’s life not only in a teaching sense but also alongside raising her two children and in her everyday life. Outside of teaching and spending time with her family, Caitlyn enjoys reading, visiting Disney World, baking goodies, the Arts, and the comforts of home. Caitlyn is very excited for her journey here at Children’s House to begin, and for the years to come.
Cory Austin, Primary Assistant Teacher
A DeLand native, Cory graduated from Stetson University with a degree in Elementary Education. From 2000-2014, she worked as a teacher at Seminole Spring Elementary in Lake County. Cory came to Children’s House looking for an alternative to a traditional school setting for her daughters, Lily and Iyla. She enrolled the girls here and became a member of the parent community and then in 2015, Cory joined the staff community as well.
Amy Stam, Primary Head Teacher
Amy is a teacher in one of our two primary classrooms. She earned a B.S. degree in Anthropology with a minor in Health Science. In 2007, Amy began at Children’s House working in both the outdoor environment and the primary classroom as an Assistant Teacher, and is now a Head Teacher. She earned her A.M.I certification from the Houston Montessori Institute. She resides in DeLand with her daughter, who attended Children’s House from Primary through Eighth Grade. Amy loves having the opportunity to work with the children here at school each day. Outside school, she enjoys camping, hiking, gardening and finding new materials to enhance her classroom.
Morgan Beattie, Primary Assistant Teacher
Bio coming soon…
Sharon Pitts, Primary Garden Teacher
Before joining Children’s House is 2000, Sharon studied Photography and Computer Science at Rochester Institute of Technology. She completed the Children and Families Introductory Child Care Training Course as well as numerous DCF training enhancement courses. At Children’s House, Sharon has worked in all of the classroom environments and is now a Garden Teacher in the Primary Garden. Sharon loves the experiences students are offered, including the outdoor gardening and animal care. She also finds the grace and courtesy that is modeled by the loving staff to be an important part of Children’s House. When she’s not at school, Sharon enjoys spending time with her family, sewing, gardening and crocheting.
Jessica Flood, Primary Garden Teacher, Drama Teacher, Assistant Music Teacher
Jessica graduated from Sarah Lawrence College with a Bachelor’s in Liberal Arts, with a focus on theater and vocal performance. She came to the Children’s House community after spending the later part of her pregnancy, with twins, reading about different educational programs. She found the pedagogy of Montessori to be what she wanted for her children. They began here at Children’s House in the Toddler classroom and then Jessica started working her shortly after that in 2016. Jessica enjoys reading and performing music in the local community. While she’s no longer actively involved in theater, she’s enjoying watching her sons begin to enjoy getting involved. She also loves gardening both here at school, as well as at home.
Princess Koletsky, Lower Elementary Head Teacher
Princess completed A.M.I. certification as an elementary teacher at the Montessori Institute of North Texas in 2010. She joined Children’s House in 2005 as an assistant in our Upper Elementary classroom for four years while pursuing her Montessori training. She holds a B.S. degree in Marketing and Management and has extensive experience in financial arenas. She and her husband, Barry, have one son, Zachary and make their home in Glenwood.
Nikki McKechnie, Lower Elementary Assistant Teacher
Nikki has worked at Children’s House Montessori since 2010, starting in the Primary environment, then moving to the Lower Elementary environment in 2016. She earned Bachelor of Design from University of Florida. Outside of work, Nikki enjoys being in nature, swimming, art, and spending time with her family. She lives with her three children, who all attended Children’s House Montessori School.
Nettie Zuniga, Lower Elementary Head Teacher
When joining Children’s House in 2019, Nettie felt very excited to return to her Montessori roots. She obtained her Montessori Primary (3-6) certificate in 2004. After eight collective years of working in Montessori schools, she pursued work in local public schools as a first grade teacher for four years after completing her Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education. In 2017, she graduated from Stetson University with a Master’s in Educational Leadership. Nettie is committed to creating inclusive and equitable learning environments for children and is greatly influenced by Dr. Montessori’s ideas of peace as outlined in her writings in Education and Peace. Outside of school, she enjoys spending time with her family, being outdoors, cooking, reading, and selecting new books for the classroom library.
Kalie Williamson, Lower Elementary Assistant Teacher
Kalie started at Children’s House in 2018. She grew up attending a Montessori school, and was excited by the idea of working with the students here.
Esther Jirka, Upper Elementary Head Teacher
Esther began her time at Children’s House in 2015 as and Education Specialist. After working in various age groups, Esther became the Head Teacher in the Upper Elementary classroom in August of 2018. She earned a B.S. in Exceptional Student Education from the University of Central Florida in 2001. For the last 14 years, Esther has worked in elementary schools teaching multi-age level students with varying ability levels. Her experience is in developing individualized instruction to meet a variety of specific student needs. Esther and her husband live in Orange City and have two children that attend Children’s House.
Keegan Scofield, Upper Elementary Assistant Teacher
Keegan was a Children’s House student before joining the staff in 2015.
Tara Cervantes, Adolescent Program (Middle School) Head Teacher
Tara is the teacher in the Middle School Program. She completed the A.M.I. Montessori Training for Adolescent Studies in Ohio. Tara has been a part of our educational community since 2015, when she started teaching the afterschool robotics classes. She then began substituting in all our environments as preparation for training. She graduated from the University of Florida in 1995 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science, and continued her Graduate Studies at Florida Atlantic University, where she received a Master’s Degree in Public Administration in 1997, as well as a second Master’s Degree in Internet Marketing from Full Sail University in 2011. Tara and her two children live in Deleon.
Blessing Ball, Orton-Gillingham Literacy Specialist
In 2015, Blessing joined Children’s House as an Assistant Teacher in the Lower Elementary classroom. She then moved outside to be the Garden Teacher in the Lower Elementary garden. She has recently completed training in the Orton-Gillingham reading approach. She now works one on one with the students that need extra support in literacy. She enjoys participating in many community events and is passionate about helping children learn to read.
Karen Perez, Spanish and Computer Teacher
After her first daughter attended a Montessori School in New Jersey, Karen found Children’s House upon moving to Florida and her second daughter was a student here. During that time, a staff member approached Karen about the possibility of coming in and sharing her native language of Spanish with the children in an informal and fun way. As the years progressed, Karen’s program became more formal and, in addition to teaching Spanish, Karen also began to work with the children in third year on typing skills, and then with fourth and higher on computer skills. She has also worked with the Middle School students in Life Skills. Karen loves to travel and really loves working with the children here at Children’s House.
Deborah DeGaetano, Music Teacher
Deborah joined Children’s House in 1990. At that time, there was no music room. Deborah had a small box of instruments that she would use with the classes. She loves the people, heartful environment, the natural materials, and the committed teaching staff here at Children’s House. Deborah has studied music in various ways, which include Orff Schulwerk Levels 1-3, her Bachelor of Music in Flute Performance from Stetson University, and the training in teaching the Montessori Bells. She has performed around town and in Central Florida for over thirty years, and regularly performs at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina with her husband, Bob, who is a classical guitarist. In addition to music, Deborah enjoys gardening, classic movies, travelling, jazz concerts and spending time with her family, particularly her granddaughter, Ella. She is also very active in the Faith Evangelical Lutheran Church community as their director of music.
Sunny Tomlinson, Yoga Teacher
Photo and Bio coming soon!
Diane Farley, Art Teacher
Photo and Bio coming soon!
Rebekah Fallahi, Primary Nap Room Teacher
Photo and Bio coming soon!