Nicole Fuller
Head Teacher, Upper Elementary
B.Sc., University of Toronto
Montessori Elementary I and II, Toronto Montessori Institute

After graduating from University of Toronto with a B.Sc. in English and Physical Anthropology, Nicole began work at the Toronto Zoo, doing school-aged tour groups, and working in their education department. She enjoyed bringing Ontario science curriculum to children in grades K-12 for about five years. She left this job to have her first child.

While home with her daughter she became aware of Montessori education, and after much research, she discovered this “Montessori thing” was exactly how she had been raising her then 18 month old daughter. She was accepted at the Toronto Montessori Institute in Richmond Hill, Ontario for Elementary I &II studies. Nicole recalls “After that first day in class, I left with such an invigorated spirit, because I knew that I had found my home. The Montessori philosophy is completely in line with how I see the world, and it impacts every aspect of my life. Doing my training was a spiritual awakening for me. That was eleven years ago now, and I have never doubted for an instant that I am meant to be a part of a Montessori community, guiding children to develop and explore their authentic selves.”

Now, as much as she loves her work, her passions also extended to other things that this life has to offer. She loves hiking and being outdoors, yoga, painting, writing, playing video games, Dungeons and Dragons, and reading. If she’s not working, or spending time with her husband and two daughters, you can bet that she’s doing one of those other things.

Maria Montessori said" The real preparation for education is the study of one's self. The training of the teacher is something far more than the learning of ideas. It includes the training of character; it is a preparation of the spirit." In Nicole’s ongoing training of character, she has recently incorporated Mindfulness practice into her life. She states “I include that in my life every day, even if it’s just a few minutes of gratitude for the experiences that I have partaken of that day. It has helped me to be grounded, more aware of who I am and what is in the moment, and has been a big part of my continuing spiritual development that Maria Montessori stressed is one of the most important aspects of being a good teacher in a classroom.”
Terri Chechile
Assistant Teacher, Upper Elementary

Terri came to us originally as a parent. She had been looking for schooling options for her children and that’s how she found us. She loved the child centered aspect that she had never experienced before and soon she was sending her children here as well as doing a little subbing. In 2013 she was hired as the assistant in the upper elementary classroom. Terri loves the family atmosphere here and says it is wonderful to enjoy coming to work every day.
Sherrell Sims-Gamble
Head Teacher, Lower Elementary

B.A., Connecticut College
American Montessori Society Montessori Elementary I and II, CMTE
Masters, University of New Hampshire

Sherrell wanted to become a teacher since she was in middle school. After attending private and independent schools for most of her own education, she wanted to return to that world as a teacher in order to be a role model for other kids, especially, she says for children of color. She wanted to join the ranks of the excellent teachers she had had in the past. She studied classical languages, spanish, and education in college and began teaching in 1997. Since then, she’s taught from toddler through sixth grade as a classroom teacher and as a spanish teacher, in both public and private schools, Montessori and conventional, urban and suburban.

When in college, she was faced with a difficult choice: complete the teaching internship or spend the semester in Athens. She went to Athens! After graduation, she was interviewed by some schools, including a Montessori School. She recalls being surprised and impressed that, when observing one of the Lower Elementary classes, she couldn’t find the teacher. The students were going about their business, the classroom buzzed like a busy office, and the teacher was sitting on the floor in a corner with one student. She was in love. Sherrell accepted a position at the school as their spanish teacher and as an upper elementary associate teacher. After five years there, she went on to earn her Master of Education. Since then, she’s been the classroom teacher in first, second, third, and fifth grades, most recently teaching third grade at Zanetti Montessori School, a public school Springfield. After nine years there, she is thrilled to join the PVMS community as both a teacher and a parent. Already, she says, it feels like home and family.

Sherrell came to us because of her son. “Watching him grow, we began thinking about the educational options available to him and thought that Montessori would be the best for him. In researching the school as a parent, I learned of the opening in Lower Elementary. So, we’ve both come to PVMS this year [2016] to begin what we hope will be a long and strong relationship.” We are so pleased to have them both with us.

Kim Setterstrom
Assistant Teacher, Lower Elementary

Before Kim started her journey into Montessori she was a full-time care provider for three children, one of which was hearing impaired. She was an integral part of his educational success, meeting with his speech teachers, audiologists and classroom teachers to assure his needs were being addressed. She became interested in early education as a result of seeing her efforts making a difference. In regard to her profession, Kim says “The choice was easy, I love children and if I can be part of a child’s educational foundation, I couldn’t ask for more.”

In 2015 Kim joined the PVMS staff after 5 years in Montessori classrooms. Here at Pioneer Valley Montessori School, she feels she is able to encourage, engage, and promote positive learning experiences for all of her students.
Pioneer Valley Montessori School, 1524 Parker Street, Springfield, MA 01129 • 413-782-3108

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