Meet Our Team

Our nurturing and experienced staff is passionate about young children and highly trained. Our head teachers are certified through the American Montessori Society (AMS). Head teachers have one assistant, many of whom also have a Bachelor’s degree, childcare experience or have completed their Montessori training. Our teachers enjoy what they do and are devoted to creating a respectful and caring learning environment for all Bala House preschool and kindergarten students.

  • The average tenure of our lead classroom teachers: 18 years
  • Teachers who have 20 years or more of service: 25%
  • 10 years or more of service: 42%
  • 5 year or more of service: 77%

Faculty

Amy Mitchell, Educational Director and Teacher: () Amy has a BA in Government and Sociology from Skidmore College and received her AMS certification from the Montessori Institute for Teacher Education in Delaware. Amy taught at Kennett Square Montessori from 2008 – 2013, then five years at Clementine Montessori School, Philadelphia, from 2013 – 2018. She was Head of School at Montessori Children’s House in Horsham from 2018-2019. Amy joined Bala House in 2019.

Mary Beth Makatche, Teacher: () Mary Beth is an AMS certified Montessori teacher with 19 years of teaching experience. She obtained a B.S. in Early Childhood Education / Creative Arts from East Stroudsburg University and an M.Ed. plus Montessori certification from Chestnut Hill College. Mary Beth joined Bala House in 2014 after working as a head start Montessori teacher in the Philadelphia School District. She also has many years of experience in singing and visual arts. Mary Beth is the mother of two Bala House graduates.

Jessie Sauer Carrington, Teacher: ()  Jessie is an AMS Montessori certified teacher who joined Bala House in 2014.  She received her training at Chestnut Hill College.  Jessie also has her PA teaching certificate from Gettysburg College and an M.A. in early childhood education from Chestnut Hill College.  Jessie started as an intern at Bala House during her Montessori training and has been here ever since.

Danielle Klaiman, Teacher: ()  Danielle is a graduate of Chestnut Hill’s Montessori Certification Program who joined Bala House in 2012.  Danielle worked as an Assistant Teacher at Bala House for eight years prior to taking over her own classroom in 2020.

Denise Williams, Extended Care Director: () Denise has been at Bala House since 1980. She has training in Play Therapy from Hahnemann Hospital and an Early Childhood Education degree from Harcum College. Denise is the mother of two Bala House graduates.

Nancy Andrews, Carolyn Blackwell, Chryselle Bolger, Gayle Malaika Davis, Soraya Force, Lisa Hickman, and Tynesia McDowell, Assistants: Nancy comes to Bala House with five years experience as a Montessori parent and six additional years of assistant work and art teaching in the Montessori environment. She joined Bala House in 2018. Carolyn joined Bala House in 2007 with nine years of childcare experience. Chryselle, a doctoral student at Penn, came in 2010 and is the mother of two Bala House graduates. In 2014, Malaika began working at Bala House. She is a PA certified N-3rd-grade teacher with a B.S. in Child Development and Child Care from the University of Pittsburgh who appreciates the self-directed, peaceful Montessori Education program.  Lisa is the mother of a former Bala House student and has been working at Bala House for 22 years.  She is currently finishing up her Child Development Credentials (CDA) and working on her degree in early childhood education. Tynesia is a graduate of Penn State University College of Human Development and joined our team in 2013.

Specialists

Linda Betlejeski, Music Instructor: Linda joined the Bala House staff in 1990. She holds a B.S. in Music Education and an M.M. in Music Education Research from Temple University. Since 1981, she has taught at various area schools.

Dana Calafati, Tumble Tots owner and Movement Instructor: Dana attended the Exercise & Sports Science program at Ursinus College. She has 16 years of gymnastics experience and 14 years of direct gymnastics teaching experience with both nursery and school-age children. Dana joined Bala House in 1999.

Lisa Dissinger, Ph.D., Consulting Psychologist: Lisa is a licensed psychologist in private practice with a specialty in early childhood development and parenting coaching. Her consulting practice includes psychological assessments of children, consultation to parents, and parent education. Lisa is the mother of one Bala House graduate.

Ashley Coenen, Art Instructor: Ashley joined the Bala House staff in 2017 after previously working as a long term substitute art teacher with us. A fine artist, she holds a BFA in 2D Fine Arts from Moore College of Art and Design and a MAT in Art Education from the University of the Arts. Ashley has been teaching art since 2007 and has taught for the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program, Fleisher Art Memorial, and AIM Academy. She also teaches at Nether Providence Elementary School.

Ana Levit, Kindergarten Spanish Teacher: Ana has taught Spanish to our kindergarteners since 2001. A native speaker of Spanish, she holds a B.S. in Early Childhood Education and has had Montessori training at Chestnut Hill College. She is the mother of four Bala House graduates.

Administration

Diane Force, School Director: () Diane joined Bala House in June1998. She holds an M.C.A.T. (Masters of Creative Arts Therapy) in Dance Therapy from Hahnemann University and has over 21 years of experience in Administration, both in the legal profession and at Bala House as the School Director for the past 16 years. Diane is a co-founding
member and President of the PA Montessori Alliance, has led a local Montessori Heads Group of 25+ schools for the past 10 years and was a Board member of the Montessori Teacher’s Teacher’s Association of PA for 9 years. Diane is the mother of two Bala House graduates.

Lina Byland, Administrative Assistant: () Lina holds a BA in Art from the University of California, Los Angeles. She joined Bala House as our Administrative Assistant in 2014. An avid water sports enthusiast, Lina was a two-time member of the US National Dragon Boat Team, Senior Women A and competed in Ravenna, Italy with her dragon boat club crew, Philadelphia Flying Phoenix. She is the mother of two Bala House graduates.

Yael Johnson, Financial Administrator: () Yael is a Bala House graduate who has loved math ever since learning to count in Janet & Claire’s class using the math chains designed by Maria Montessori. She has studied advanced accounting and finance at Albright College, holds a degree in Business Management from the University of Phoenix, and has over 15 years of experience in financial administration and business management. She officially joined the Bala House administration team in 2013.

Emily Surovick, Admissions and Annual Campaign Director: ( or ) Emily holds BS in French from Georgetown University and has served as Admissions Director in a variety of schools. As a parent of two Bala House graduates, Emily brings her love of Montessori and the unique Bala House community to her position. Emily served as the Development Chair for the Bala House Board for three years prior to joining the Bala House staff in 2015.

Bala House Montessori - 27 Conshohocken State Road, Bala Cynwyd, PA 19004 - p. (610) 664-6767 - f. (610) 664-6792