Faculty | Primary

Meet the Primary teachers
Program Coordinator

Amy Gerstacker

Amy Gerstacker joined Princeton Montessori School in 2006 and is a conference teacher and also serves as the educational coordinator for the Primary program.

Amy loves working in the primary program because she enjoys closely observing and guiding children as they explore and discover in the classroom. She also brings her interest and knowledge of American Sign Language into fingerplays and songs during circle time.

Outside of the classroom, Amy enjoys spending time with her family and running. She has two boys, both of whom had the opportunity to develop their foundation in Montessori environments.

Amy received a BA in Psychology from Rutgers University, NJ and a Master of Arts in Teaching through The College of New Jersey, and holds an American Montessori Early Childhood credential through the Princeton Center for Teacher Education (PCTE), NJ. She is an instructor and a field consultant for PCTE.

Conference Teacher

Jennifer Aguilar

Jennifer Aguilar joined Princeton Montessori School in 2019 as a Classroom Assistant and intern in the Primary program. She is currently a conference teacher.

Jennifer enjoys watching students gain confidence, independence, and achieve both academic and social successes as they learn to explore their Montessori classrooms. She brings creativity, strong organizational skills, and a patient and nurturing disposition to the community.

Outside of the classroom, Jennifer likes spending time with her husband and two Montessori-educated adolescent daughters. They enjoy baking, bicycling, and traveling the world together; Jennifer’s independent interests include reading, walking, and DIY projects.

Jennifer received a Bachelors Degree in Business Administration from Bucknell University. She has years of business experience in both the pharmaceutical and not for profit industries and has served as an Assistant Teacher in a Montessori School in PA. She completed her American Montessori Early Childhood training at the Princeton Center for Teacher Education (PCTE).

Conference Teacher

Ursula Connors

Ursula Connors joined Princeton Montessori School in 2001 and is a conference teacher in the Primary Program.

Ursula enjoys getting to know each child’s individual personality and sense of humor. She shares her creativity and artistic talents with the children in the development of materials and is known by her colleagues as a calm, nurturing teacher. She enjoys collaborating with her peers in the Primary program.

When not at school, Ursula enjoys cooking, gardening, and yoga. She also spends time working with her husband at the restaurant they own in their hometown of Lambertville.

Ursula received a BFA in Illustration from the Parsons School of Design, NY, and studied at the American University in Paris. She holds an American Montessori Early Childhood credential through the Princeton Center for Teacher Education (PCTE), NJ. She serves as an instructor for all levels in fitness education for PCTE. Ursula has experience at Princeton Montessori School in all programs as an educational support and has led Sports Club for Elementary students as well as Faculty Fitness programs.

Ursula is a certified Yoga teacher through Yoga Alliance.

Conference Teacher

Teresa Hartmann

Teresa Hartmann joined Princeton Montessori School in 2008 and is a conference teacher.

Teresa enjoys supporting the Primary children in their role of learning and their pursuit of self-discovery. Because she is dyslexic and became a proficient reader at a later age, she is in tune with the internal process of learning to read. From her extensive background in psychological studies and research, she brings a unique perspective and deep appreciation of child development to the Primary program.

When not at school, Teresa spends much of her time volunteering at a local ballet studio and cheering for her two daughters at either gymnastics meets or ballet performances.

Teresa received a BA in Psychology and Communications from Rutgers University, NJ; an MA in Psychology from the New School for Social Research, NY; and holds an American Montessori Society Early Childhood credential through the Princeton Center for Teacher Education (PCTE), NJ. She is an instructor for PCTE.

Conference Teacher

Julie Kalpin

Julie Kalpin joined Princeton Montessori School in 2020 as a conference teacher in the Primary Program.

Julie finds joy in the wonders of childhood and the way in which the Montessori philosophy emphasizes and encourages growth during this particular stage of development. She loves to witness the spark ignite in a child when he or she has internalized a new concept after working hard to make those connections. That moment could be when a child comes to learn that empathy and compromise are pillars of social relationships, making the connection that phonetic sounds are used to compose words or the joy that radiates from within when a child first reads.

When not in the classroom, Julie enjoys long walks with her husband and her dog, Rocky. She enjoys reading, traveling, and being active. She is currently developing her ‘green thumb’ through the cultivation of her first home garden.

Julie holds a Master of Arts in Teaching from The College if New Jersey and a BA in Anthropology from Montclair State University. She earned her AMS Early Childhood credential through Princeton Center for Teaching Education (PCTE). Prior to joining the Princeton Montessori School, she led a Primary program for seven years at a Montessori school in Pennsylvania.

Conference Teacher

Anjum Khan

Anjum Khan joined Princeton Montessori School in 2012 and is a conference teacher.

Anjum feels privileged to share her deep love of learning, and the natural world with her students. She is delighted by the children’s enthusiasm and awed by their curiosity. After two decades in the finance industry and being a stay-at-home mom, she is here because she is passionate about Montessori education and eager to share her own experiences with her students and their parents.

Anjum has three sons, and despite her busy family life, she makes time for her passions: reading, cooking and gardening. She also enjoys hiking and playing squash with her family and traveling to experience different cultures and cuisines.

Anjum received her MBA from the University of Michigan, received her Chartered Accountants certification from the Instt of Chartered Accountants of India and her Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Bombay, India. She holds an American Montessori Society Early Childhood credential through the Princeton Center for Teacher Education (PCTE), NJ.

Intern

Alyssa Portnoi

Alyssa Portnoi joined Princeton Montessori School in 2019 and is an intern in the Primary Program. She also works in our Primary Summer Program.

Alyssa loves working with Primary age because the children are so eager to learn. She believes that inspiring students to be lifelong learners is crucial. She feels that positive experiences early on in an educational setting will help to nurture rather than extinguish students’ natural curiosity, thus fostering their interest in learning.

When not in the classroom, Alyssa enjoys yoga and reading. She also enjoys puzzles and crafting. She has many items around the house that she has made and enjoys bringing that creativity into the classroom.

Alyssa received a BA in Early Childhood Education and Psychology from the College of New Jersey. She holds certifications in Early Childhood Education, and CORE content knowledge, CEAS.

Conference Teacher

Shazah Sabuhi

Shazah Sabuhi joined Princeton Montessori School in 2012 and is a conference teacher in the Primary program.

Shazah loves to connect with children by observing how each individual child flourishes, whether through reading, creative writing, cultural studies, or science. She is an avid linguist who speaks multiple languages; she teaches French Club for elementary students. Shazah also has a passion for singing and story-telling, which she partakes in regularly with students.

Outside of the classroom, Shazah enjoys spending time with her family — especially her young son who also attends Princeton Montessori School. She loves music, enjoys reading and traveling, and has written and edited for various publications over the last 20 years.

Shazah received a BA in Psychology, with a concentration in Community Psychology, from Syracuse University. Prior to joining Princeton Montessori School, Shazah worked with an organization that conducted federal policy research to advocate for students with learning differences. She holds an American Montessori Society Early Childhood credential through Princeton Center for Teacher Education (PCTE).

Conference Teacher

Xiaoxi Zhang

Xiaoxi Zhang joined Princeton Montessori School in 2014 and is a conference teacher.

Xiaoxi loves working with primary aged children because of their excitement, earnestness, and their capacity to explore and learn about their surroundings. She brings her calmness, optimism, and bilingual talents to the community.

Xiaoxi is the mother of two young children, and when not teaching, she likes to spend time with her family and friends. She enjoys reading in the library, hiking, and traveling.

Xiaoxi received a BA in Language Arts from Northwestern University, Xi’an, China, and a Masters of Science in Education from State University of New York (SUNY), majoring in Educational Administration and Policy Studies. She holds an American Montessori Society Early Childhood credential through the Princeton Center for Teacher Education (PCTE), NJ.

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What Parents Are Saying

Princeton Montessori is the very epitome of the principles of Maria Montessori. The School offers a nurturing, creative, academic, and well-rounded development for each child. As a parent, we cannot offer our daughter a more valuable first gift.

The faculty are, bar none, the absolute best. The teachers are very knowledge both about the Montessori philosophy and the best ways to work with children. I ask for their advice and insight for any issues we’re having at home, quite often. They’re also incredibly warm and nurturing with the children in a way I have not seen at any other school.

I’m struck by how much better the Montessori toddlers are at playing and working peacefully with their peers than toddlers in other nursery school programs. I credit the gifted PMonts teachers, and the Princeton Montessori educational approach, for how confident, happy, and collaborative toddlers in the PMonts program seem.

Landon is so proud of being a third year Primary. He has attended this incredible school since he was one year old. He had absolutely wonderful Toddler teachers and flourished under their care. Now, he is a third year Primary and we know he will be more than ready for Lower Elementary. Thank you to all the Teachers & Staff!

The school runs with one philosophy and so every faculty member and admin personnel share the same vision for the child. This consistency is unique in our area to Princeton Montessori. Combined with the integration of the teacher training program, we can proudly say that the spirit of Dr. Montessori’s principles permeates every aspect of our school. That’s what I value the most about our school!

Education is both a gift and a right. I feel the teachers at PMonts help our children to appreciate the value of their education. Understanding the value involves looking beyond school and appreciating how education is a tool that will allow them to explore challenging goals, to grow as individuals and most importantly, chase their dreams.

I will never cease to be amazed at the capabilities of the young child. In the Montessori environment, the very youngest students show incredible independence and competence. At Princeton Montessori School the teachers truly help the children to “help me do it myself”.

When I think about my personal philosophy on education I can check all the boxes with regards to the education my daughter is receiving at Princeton Montessori. I feel the teachers motivate the students by focusing on appreciating the value of education and the diversities of peoples around the world while stressing and leveraging the power of the uniqueness in each individual student. Ultimately, the role of an educator is to shape a new generation that will create a safer and better world for the future.

Princeton Montessori School is a school that exceeds any expectations imaginable. The school follows each and every child on an individual basis and nourishes each child’s academic, social, and emotional needs. It is a school where teachers appreciate all unique qualities each child brings.

Princeton Montessori School turned out to be the best investment ever. We made some sacrifices in our lifestyle in order to be able to afford sending both children all the way through 8th grade, but now we are proud to note that we have two capable, confident, well-mannered young adults who are a pleasure to be around and who continue to love to work hard in their studies.

Jackie BunnAlumni Parent ’08, ’11