Leslie Klein Pilder, Executive Director Leslie is an experienced early childhood educator who has been at Nonotuck for five years. She briefly worked in Boston as the director of a Mandarin immersion child care center and before that in a school in Manhattan. At New York University’s Teaching for Success program (a research project designed to improve the quality of teaching and learning in NYC Head Start centers), Leslie worked to educate and inspire teachers and administrators of young children. As a lecturer at Empire College (State University of NY), Leslie taught undergraduate and graduate students studying early childhood and created a well-received seminar on Adolescent Rites of Passage, the topic of her second Master’s degree. Leslie started her education career as a Montessori teacher. Recently Leslie has begun working with incarcerated fathers in the county jail, helping them connect with their children through reading and she volunteers at the Florence ReCenter Swap Shop. A lover of theatre, Leslie’s undergraduate work was in Performance Studies. Leslie has adult children and stepchildren and grandchildren on each coast (ask her, and she’ll show you photos!) She is happy to be in Northampton, a place she loved at first sight.
Nicole, Teacher, Polliwog Room Nicole has lived in the Pioneer Valley her whole life. She attended Bay Path College focusing on elementary education. Nicole spent the last 7 years running her own home daycare and has over 15 years experience working with children. For Nicole, there is no better feeling than watching tiny personalities develop! In her free time she is usually running around with her own children out shopping or eating. Nicole loves event planning and throwing parties of all kinds.She is thrilled to be a part of the Nonotuck community!
Shannon, Teacher, Polliwog Room Shannon has lived in New Hampshire her whole life, but is moving to Massachusetts with her husband. She has worked in early childhood education and care for over six years and has experience with children ranging in age from six weeks to twelve years. Shannon loves working with toddlers because they are full of curiosity and always exploring; plus most toddlers love to hear her sing! In her spare time, Shannon enjoys road trips and going to concerts.
Francine, Teacher, Toad Room Francine has been with Nonotuck for several years and has over twenty years of experience in early childhood education. All of her teaching experience has been in parent cooperatives. While she has taught older children, Francine thinks that toddlers are just more fun and it shows in the humor she brings to the classroom. Born and raised in the Pioneer Valley, Francine lives within 10 miles of the house in which she grew up. She lives with her husband and daughter. When she’s not busy at work or taking care of her family, Francine often has her nose in a book and can be seen after school taking long walks in the neighborhood.
Sarah, Teacher, Toad Room Sarah grew up in the Pioneer Valley and graduated from Hampshire College with a degree in Early Childhood Development. She has enjoyed working in the field for many years, including working as a developmental specialist, a behavioral consultant for Head Start, and owning her own home childcare for 9 years. Most recently she was a toddler teacher at a local preschool. Sarah has worked most consistently with the toddler age group, particularly enjoying the way in which language develops, and watching them become little social beings! When she is not in the classroom Sarah is trying to keep up with her just about 13 year-old daughter and her almost 22 year old daughter. When they are together they spend time playing tennis or biking on the bike trail. Given that they are a family of introverts, they also enjoy a good balance of alone time reading or drawing. Sarah is excited to join the Nonotuck community!
Erica, Teacher, Frog Room Erica grew up in a small town in central Massachusetts and has recently relocated to the area. She is joining Nonotuck straight from a childcare center where she worked in a toddler classroom, which is her preferred age group. Erica has always known that she has wanted to work with young children, and she feels as if it’s her true calling. With a number of college courses completed in the early childhood field, she would love to continue her education and obtain a degree in the near future. In addition to working at a childcare center, Erica has past experience as a nanny and also working the child focused programs at a health club. Her favorite part of working with toddlers is observing how their individual language develops over time. In addition to art projects of course. In her spare time Erica enjoys hiking, kayaking, music, and crafting. She is looking forward to an amazing experience at Nonotuck!
Kaleigh, Teacher, Frog Room Kaleigh recently graduated from the University of Massachusetts with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication and a minor in Education. During her undergraduate experience she worked in the preschool and toddler classroom at the University’s Center for Early Education and Care. Kaleigh has been involved with figure skating with the Skating Club of Amherst since she was 4 years old. Currently, she is a private coach in addition to working with the youngest skaters in the club’s Learn-to-Skate program. In her spare time she enjoys sewing, baking, reading and playing with her pet hedgehogs Archie and Finn. Kaleigh is excited to be a teacher in the Frog classroom!
Hannah, Teacher, Art and Afternoon Hannah received a BA in Fine Arts from Earlham College and began working in early childhood education in 1988, after the birth of her first child. Over the years she has held several different positions all working with young children, as well as working with special needs elementary students. Upon completion of her American Montessori Society credential in 2002, Hannah worked as a toddler and preschool teacher in a Montessori school. Having moved to the Pioneer Valley and working in schools in the area, Hannah came to Nonotuck in 2007, where she is the co-teacher of our younger preschool class.
Melissa, Teacher, Periwinkle Room Melissa is originally from a small town in northeastern Massachusetts. She attended college in New Hampshire, earning a B.S. in Family Studies, with a concentration in Early Childhood Education and a minor in psychology. Melissa has worked in a variety of early childhood settings, her main love being the teaching of preschoolers. After a cross-country road trip, Melissa decided to settle in the Pioneer Valley in late 2001, and she has been here ever since! Melissa has spent the last twelve years teaching preschool in Springfield, Ma, working closely with children living in high risk communities. Melissa would not trade those years for anything: she learned so much from the children and families she worked with. A desire for a professional change brought Melissa to Nonotuck Community School. Upon first encountering the school, Melissa knew that she had found an amazing place to learn, grow, and teach.
Jacki, Teacher, Periwinkle Room
Jacki is from a small town in Vermont. She received her BFA in Illustration from Massachusetts College of Art and Design in 2013 and is actively pursuing a degree in early childhood education. She moved to Northampton with her fiancé and their dog, Willo, in 2015 looking for a change from big city life. She came to Nonotuck as a regular substitute teacher and is looking forward to continuing her professional career in such a wonderful community. Jacki’s very excited to share her love of art with the children and feels that her experiences working in the classroom have enriched her own art, as well as inspired her to further her dream of writing and illustrating a children’s book.
Chrissie, Teacher, Chameleon Room Originally from New York, Chrissie is a practicing artist and photographer, with several years of experience in arts management and theatre and performing arts production. Chrissie has worked with organizations such as the New York Foundation for the Arts, the New York Photo Festival, and independent productions associated with FringeNYC. She studied art education at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA), and received her BA in Studio Art and Art History from Stony Brook University. In addition to her studies in education and child growth and development, Chrissie has also worked with both toddlers and preschoolers in a Montessori setting. In her free time, Chrissie can often be found parading around town with one of her vintage polaroid cameras, or confined to her kitchen in a baking extravaganza. She enjoys snowboarding, yoga, plein air painting, hiking, and other spontaneous nature excursions.
Karen, Teacher, Chameleon Room Karen has been teaching preschoolers for over 20 years. She has an Associate’s Degree in early childhood education and is Director II qualified. Karen enjoys bringing different art mediums into the classroom and watching as children come up with new ways of using familiar objects in art projects. She considers herself lucky to be able to spend every day doing what she loves. Karen has a love of the outdoors and spends her free time hiking, biking, kayaking and spending time on the water. Karen lives with her three rescued Dachshunds and provides a home for a foster dog, a cat and a Hedgehog! Committed to giving back to her community, Karen is a Brownie Co-leader, volunteers with New Beginnings Dog Rescue, with The American Cancer Society as a Ride Coordinator, Relay for Life team captain and is on the Spirit Committee of their planning board.
Theora, Floater Theora has been working with young children off and on since the early 1970s. She has a BA in Social Work and an MEd in Early Childhood Education & Special Needs, and is EEC licensed. Theora has been a classroom teacher, special needs coordinator, home visitor and infant specialist in early intervention. She believes in the potential of each and every child and adult. As Nonotuck’s Floater, Theora supports all classrooms by providing teachers with breaks for planning, conferences, and lunch and she often substitutes when teachers are absent.Theora’s varied interests have led her to practice as a massage therapist, yoga teacher, and antique and art gallery owner. When not spending time with children, she can be found doing mindful moving in many forms, Reiki, gardening, and listening to jazz and volunteering within the jazz community.
Sandy, Administrative Assistant Sandy has been with Nonotuck for more than a decade working in the office and helping out in the classrooms as needed (which she thinks of as ‘play’, not work!) As a licensed early childhood educator, Sandy is especially suited for her flexible role. Sandy lives with three of her sisters, a nephew, two finches, one catfish, and six ‘fur babies’ (also known as ‘cats’).