Colette Cross

Head of School

Mrs. Cross joined Westmont’s faculty in 1984 as an Early Childhood teacher and became Head of School in 2008. A native of Ireland, she attended Sion Hill College in Dublin, Ireland, where she received AMI Primary, Elementary, and Special Education certification in Montessori Education. She has a BA in Humanities from Thomas Edison College and a certification in Montessori School Management from the Center for Montessori Education. 

Before arriving at Westmont, Mrs. Cross implemented a Montessori Elementary program at the V.S.M. Academy in Monmouth County, NJ. She also taught in the elementary program at the Hilltop Country Day School in Sparta, NJ. She took a leave of absence from teaching when her children were born and returned to Westmont in 1998, serving as an Early Childhood teacher. In 1999 Mrs. Cross became the Kindergarten teacher. Throughout her professional career, she worked on curriculum development, was a consultant, served as an evaluator for Middle States Accreditation, and was a member of Westmont’s Education and 3-6 Committees.

Mrs. Cross is very much involved in Montessori advocacy and serves as the secretary for the New Jersey Montessori Association Corporation, an organization dedicated to the advancement and support of Montessori Education in New Jersey.  She is also a Field Consultant for interns completing their Montessori Certification at Princeton Center Teacher Education.

Mrs. Cross can be reached at


Auris Vanderbilt

Director of Admissions

Auris Vanderbilt joined the Westmont Montessori School in 2007.  Mrs. Vanderbilt holds a degree in Economics and Political Science from Rutgers University. She worked in various capacities in the Mortgage Banking field for 15 years before taking a leave of absence to raise her three children. All three children are Montessori alumni, two of whom are Westmont alumni. Her belief in Montessori education and dedication to its advancement brought her to a career at Westmont as its Director of Admissions.

Two of her children are Westmont Kindergarten graduates.

Mrs. Vanderbilt can be reached at or


Melanie Thiesse, M.Ed.

Curriculum Coordinator and Kindergarten Co-Teacher

Mrs. Thiesse started her Montessori career in 1993, teaching in toddler, primary, elementary, and middle school classrooms before joining Westmont as the Curriculum Coordinator in 2011. This year, in addition to her curriculum work, she returns to the classroom to lead the morning Kindergarten class! She received her Master of Arts in Montessori Education from St. Catherine University and her Bachelor of Arts degree in Integrative Studies, focusing on Child and Adolescent Development, from Arizona State University. She also holds Montessori Elementary I & II certifications from the American Montessori Society (AMS).

Mrs. Thiesse volunteers her time by serving as the Vice President of the Bridgewater-Raritan Regional Board of Education, as a board member of the New Jersey Montessori Association Corporation, sitting on multiple state committees for education, and chairing accreditation teams for both the (AMS) and the Middle States Association of Schools. She is also a consultant for the Princeton Center for Teacher Education and the Montessori Public Policy Initiative. In addition, she has presented at national and state conferences on education and will present again at this year’s national AMS conference in Denver, CO.

Her youngest son is a Westmont Kindergarten graduate, class of 2012.

Mrs. Thiesse can be reached at


Tara Baggio

Kindergarten Co-Teacher

Mrs. Baggio was a Westmont parent for seven years before becoming a member of the teaching staff in 2012. This year she is thrilled to be co-teaching in one of our Kindergarten classroom. She holds a BA degree from Skidmore College and an AMS Montessori Early Childhood certification.

Mrs. Baggio's three children are all Westmont Kindergarten graduates.

Mrs. Baggio can be reached at 


Amanda Fink, M.Ed.

Early Childhood Teacher

Amanda Fink, M.Ed., Teacher 

Mrs. Fink joined Westmont in 2010, having previously taught in North Carolina for seven years in a public Montessori school. She graduated with honors from Northeastern University with a B.A. in Elementary Education and Psychology and received her Masters in Education from St. Catherine University. She also holds an Early Childhood Montessori Certificate.

Her daughter is a Westmont Kindergarten graduate, class of 2014, and her son is a current EC student.

Mrs. Fink can be reached at


Susan Dixon

Early Childhood Assistant

Ms. Dixon has been an assistant at Westmont since 2010.  She holds a Montessori Early Childhood certification, a Bachelors degree in psychology, and a Masters degree in anthropology.  She has worked in the educational field for over 20 years.  


Pat Sandrue

Early Childhood Teacher

Mrs. Sandrue has been a member of the Westmont family since 1980, when she was a parent of two daughters who attended the school. She began teaching in the Early Childhood class in 1996. She holds a B.A. in Elementary Education from Kean University and received her Early Childhood certification from the National Center for Montessori Education.

Mrs. Sandrue's daughters are both Westmont Kindergarten graduates.

Mrs. Sandrue can be reached at


Debbie Sherrer

Early Childhood Assistant

Mrs. Sherrer has been an assistant teacher at Westmont since 2007. Prior to her time with us, she worked in another Montessori school for four years and the Mount Olive school district for six years. She has a passion for working with children and takes advantage of many educational and Montessori philosophy professional development opportunities each year.


Angelica Lara

Early Childhood Assistant

Mrs. Lara joined The Westmont Montessori School in 2016 as a substitute teacher and 2017 as  Mrs. Sandrue's afternoon assistant teacher. Originally from Mexico, Angelica received her psychology degree in both clinical and occupational therapy at one of Mexico's top universities. Angelica is proud to have the opportunity to be part of Westmont's family and contribute to the development of children according to the Montessori philosophy.


Sue Sullivan, M.Ed.

Early Childhood Co-Teacher

Ms. Sullivan has been a member of the Westmont teaching team since 2007. She holds a Masters in Early Childhood Education and Development from Kean University, a Bachelors degree in Elementary Education, and has been a Montessori Early Childhood certified teacher since 1997.

Her youngest son is a Westmont Kindergarten graduate. 

Ms. Sullivan can be reached at


Suzy Lombardi

Early Childhood Co-Teacher

Miss Lombardi returns to Westmont this year as a co-teacher in an Early Childhood classroom. She has taught children from infants through elementary age, and received her Montessori Early Childhood certification through West Side Montessori School in New York City. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Theatre Arts, has nearly ten years experience in the legal field, and co-established the Blair Academy Childcare Learning Center in 2010.

Miss Lombardi can be reached at


Danielle Casillo

Toddler Teacher

Danielle Casillo was raised in and currently resides in Chester, and is a mom to two Montessori children. Ms. Casillo discovered Montessori in 1999 and never looked back!  She has a B.A. in Art History from Providence College, and an Infant/Toddler certificate from Princeton Center for Teacher Education, where she is also currently a field consultant.  She has presented at two national Montessori conferences, and is looking forward to continuing her education with an early childhood Master’s in Montessori sometime in the future.

Ms. Casillo’s son attended the Toddler program at Westmont in 2011.  We welcome Danielle to the Westmont family.

Ms. Casillo can be reached at 


Dominique Tufariello

Toddler Assistant

"Mrs. T" joined Westmont in 2006. During her time, she has assisted in all levels, including Toddler, Early Childhood, and Kindergarten. Mrs. T. also facilitated the pilot of our MONTESSORI & Me program during the 2013-2014 school year and holds a preschool Child Development Associate certification. She returns as our Toddler Assistant.


Maureen DelGuercio

Little Steps Teacher

"Mrs. D" has been at Westmont since 2010. She is a graduate of Fairleigh Dickinson University with a degree in Nursing. After being exposed to the teaching aspect of Nursing, Maureen has transitioned her career toward early childhood education.  She enjoys working with young children in a Montessori environment at such a special and critical time in their development.

Mrs. D can be reached at


Megan Simini

Little Steps Assistant

Meg comes from a Montessori family and previously worked in a Montessori Toddler class room, as well as the before and after care program. After many years working in architecture/engineering and having a second child, Meg took a short break to be home. She graduated from CDM Institute.

Megan's daughter, Addison, is a 2017 Kindergarten graduate. 


Monica Rulon

Music & Movement Teacher

Mrs. Monica Rulon is a parent of four Westmont alumni and a trained “Music Together” teacher. She has loved teaching and singing with the Early Childhood and Kindergarten children at Westmont since 1997. Mrs. Monica is instrumental in planning and implementing the Kindergarten spring play and has taught the Kindergarten class to play the recorder/precorder for many years.

Mrs. Monica’s children are all Westmont Kindergarten graduates.

Mrs. Monica can be reached at


Luisa Arostegui

Spanish Teacher

Mrs. Arostegui came to us with a background in Clinical Psychology and as a teacher for the hearing impaired. She was a principal for a school for the hearing impaired in her home of Guatemala City. Her husband’s job brought her and her daughter and son to the United States in 2010. 

Her son is a Westmont Kindergarten graduate, class of 2016.

Mrs. Arostegui can be reached at


Vicki Smith McCormick


Mrs. Vicki, with Westmont since 2008, graduated from Parsons School of Design in NYC and worked as a freelance illustrator, and has shown her pastel paintings in juried exhibits and local galleries. She has taught in a variety of classes for pre-school and elementary school children for a number of years. She works with all Early Childhood and Kindergarten children and also facilitates Westmont’s STARS Art programs.

Mrs. Vicki can be reached at


Paula Hoferer

Extended Day AM Lead

Mrs. Hoferer has been working at Westmont since 2005. Before Westmont she was a teaching assistant in Morris Plains schools.  Paula has held various roles in her tenure at Westmont, assisting in our Toddler, Early Childhood, and Kindergarten programs, giving her the knowledge and appreciation for all age groups. Mrs. Hoferer is currently working to attain her Child Development Associate certificate.

Mrs. Hoferer can be reached at


Donna Kiczek

Extended Day PM Lead

Mrs. Donna joined Westmont in 1998 with prior experience working with preschool aged children. Donna is patient, understanding, and enjoys being with the children. During transitional times, it is Mrs. Donna who makes sure children are signed in and out and get to where they are supposed to be. She completed the course, Developing Capable Young People, in addition to a course in Montessori Philosophy.

Mrs. Donna can be reached at


Ellie Remetz

Extended Day Assistant

Joining us in 2016 after a few year hiatus, Ms. Remetz is assisting our Extended Day staff. From Succasunna, Ellie received her Associate's Degree in Business Administration from the County College of Morris and has worked as an Office Manager.  She hopes to pursue a Montessori teacher education program in the future.


Julie Bujtas, M.Ed.


Mrs. Bujtas began working at Westmont in 2015 after her daughter graduated from our Kindergarten program. She holds a Master of Science degree in Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment from Walden University, a B.A. in English Literature from Binghamton University, NJS certification in Elementary Education, and NYS certification for grades 7-12 English. Before coming to Westmont, Mrs. Bujtas taught for twelve years in the public school setting. She currently also volunteers as a Brownie leader for the Long Valley Girl Scouts.

Her daughter is a Westmont Kindergarten graduate, class of 2015.


Linda Fairchild


With a degree in Elementary Education, Mrs. Fairchild moved to Mendham from Virginia 20 years ago.  She was a Personnel Manager for two major law firms in Washington DC then left to manage a temporary employment agency. She is a former Westmont Board of Trustee member and her son Sammy is a Westmont Kindergarten graduate.


Caryn Haase

Lunch/Rest Aide

Joining Westmont in 2016, Ms. Caryn has over 20 years of experience working with children as a nanny and was the Vice President of the Association of Professional Nannies. She holds a BA from the University of Phoenix.


Vicki Schroeder

Administrative Assistant / Technology and Operations Manager

Mrs. Schroeder joined the Westmont administrative staff in 2007.

Before Westmont, she worked as a local realtor and in administration and management.  She was a member of the Chester PTO and was a board member of The Growing Stage Theatre in Netcong, spending countless hours volunteering for these children’s organizations.

Vicki can be reached at


Teri McGrath

Administrative Assistant/ Assistant to the Head of School

Mrs. McGrath joined the Westmont administrative staff in 2008 and brings years of administrative experience with her, previously working for a realtor and then a local solar energy company.  She and her husband Alan have lived in Long Valley for over 20 years, where they raised their two daughters. 

She volunteers on the Parish Advisory Council and on the Board as Financial Secretary for the Long Valley Columbiettes. She also ran two Religious Educational programs for 200 teenagers.

Mrs. McGrath can be reached at


Chris Meyer


Chris came to Westmont in 2012. She and her husband are long-time residents of Morris County and have two grown children and two grandchildren.  Chris has an extensive administrative background and, prior to Westmont, worked most recently for a financial company in Parsippany as an administrative assistant.  Chris’ love of children brought her to Westmont’s Montessori environment.

Chris can be reached at



"Westmont fosters community and a sense of being a citizen of the world." - Meghan Dicristina, parent