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Daycroft’s Faculty

K-8 Campus

Julie McClelland

Head Teacher, Kindergarten

Julie McClelland graduated with her Bachelor’s degree from Eastern Michigan University and is certified in elementary, early childhood, and special education. In 2013, she completed her Montessori training at the Midwest Montessori Teacher Training Center in Evanston, Illinois. Julie has taught 3-6 year olds in a public Montessori school as well as early childhood special education for Ypsilanti Community Schools.

Deborah S. Handler

Assistant Teacher, Kindergarten

Debby graduated from Indiana University with a B.S. in Physical Education in 1978. She is a member of the professional fraternity Phi Epsilon Kappa. After graduating, she decided to leave education and pursue a career in woman’s wholesale apparel. She was a sales representative and travelled for 12 years. She then married and had a daughter, Sean, who attended Daycroft pre-school thru 5th grade. While Sean was attending Daycroft, she began substituting in the public school system and Daycroft. She then became an assistant in pre-school and then kindergarten at Daycroft where she has been for 15 years. She is certified in the Montessori paraprofessional program. Debby enjoys the individual instruction Montessori provides children. Observing the children and listening to their needs are very important.

Jeanine Wright

Co-Head Teacher, Grades 1-2A

Jeanine received her B.S. degree from Michigan State University, majoring in child development and elementary education. She also obtained a Continuing Education Certificate, and completed her Elementary Montessori certification at the Adrian Dominican Montessori Teacher Education Institute. Jeanine has over 20 years of teaching experience. She lives in the Brighton area with her husband and two daughters. She enjoys downhill skiing, reading, and visiting her family in Northern Michigan.

Sehar Saadullah

Co-Head Teacher, Grades 1-2A

Sehar graduated from McMaster University, with an Honours Bachelor of Arts, in Sociology and Health Studies. She is also certified by the Toronto Montessori Institute in Ontario, Canada and qualified to teach Lower and Upper Elementary. As a dedicated educator, Sehar brings excitement and passion to the classroom. Outside of school, Sehar enjoys reading, yoga, and spending time with her two beautiful boys.

Loris Hiemstra

Co-Head Teacher, Grades 1-2B

Loris has a BA in Elementary Education from the University of Michigan and a Masters Degree in Reading Education from EMU. She has had experience in a Montessori based program for 4-6 year olds and taught in a 3rd and 4th grade combined classroom in Saline Schools. She also home schooled her 3 children for 4 years. Loris recently earned her Montessori certification. She will be Montessori certified in 2013. She enjoys creative projects such as piano lessons, remodeling and redecorating her home, sewing, baking bread, and cooking.

Saki Rahman

Co-Head Teacher, Grades 1-2B

Saki has been teaching at Daycroft for over 20 years. Previously, she taught lower and upper elementary classrooms in Dallas, Texas, and preschool, kindergarten, and elementary classrooms at Daycroft. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in education, a Bachelor’s degree in sociology, and a Master’s degree in sociology from the University of Delhi, India. Saki received elementary Montessori certification from the American Montessori Society through the Dallas Montessori Teacher Training Program. Over the years, she has participated in several educational workshops, Montessori-related and otherwise.

Rob Campbell

Co-Head Teacher, Grades 3-4

Rob has been a Montessori educator in both private and public schools for the past eighteen years. He is certified by the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) for children ages 6 through 12. He has a Master’s degree in education as well as his Michigan Elementary Teaching Certificate for grades K-8. He is certified in the Owning Up curriculum, which focuses on helping children who are struggling with bullying, self esteem, and peer pressure. He is also a certified mentor with The Tracking Project, a program that helps children connect with and learn about the natural world around them. In addition, he is working toward certification in mindfulness training with children, and he is excited to bring this work into the classroom. Rob also runs the Daycroft Gaming Club. His daughter is in her fifth year at Daycroft, and she loves the school as much as he does. In his free time, Rob enjoys spending time with his family, reading, being outdoors, and a good round of disc golf.

Michele McGrath

Co-Head Teacher, Grades 3-4

Michele, over 20+ years, has managed many classrooms, public, private, and parochial. She has taught 3rd and 4th grades, middle school, high school, self-contained gifted and talented, and special education, along with her current assignment at Daycroft. Michele earned her B.A. in elementary education from Augustana College in Illinois, her Gifted and Talented certificate from Marycrest College in Iowa, and her Learning Disabilities endorsement from Madonna University in Livonia, Michigan. She is also Montessori-trained. Hobbies take in all that her seven children are involved in – from high school and college sports, to Boy Scouts, and traveling with her husband to see their granddaughter. Michele enjoys reading, cooking, and crafts. She seeks quiet time on Pinterest.

Nicole Buchanan

Co-Head Teacher, Grades 5-6

Niki graduated from Eastern Michigan University with a B.S. degree in elementary education. She has taught at Daycroft for more than a decade. Niki completed her Montessori E1 Training and Masters of Education at Chaminade University of Honolulu. She has also completed her training in Project Wild, Project Wild Aquatic Science, and Project LearningTree. She very much enjoys teaching Grades 5-6 at Daycroft with her co-teacher Amy Morrell.

Amy Morrell

Co-Head Teacher, Grades 5-6

Amy completed her Montessori training and holds a Michigan professional teaching certificate. She has been at Daycroft for over a dozen years, and has taught in both the Grades 3-4 classroom and the Grades 5-6 classroom. Amy is an advisor for the Michigan Association of Student Councils and a member of the Michigan Science Teachers Association. She runs the Aftercare Enrichment program and is in charge of Summer camp. She is married with four children, three dogs, and two cats.

Megan Nicholson

Middle School Teacher, Grades 7-8

Megan holds a B.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies Teacher Preparation Program from the University of Texas at Dallas and a Masters of Arts in Montessori Education from Dallas Baptist University. Megan hopes to further pursue graduate studies in Ecological Education. Megan has her Elementary I credential from the Shelton Training Center, which is directed by AMS president Joyce Pickering. She will complete her Secondary Montessori credential this summer at the Houston Montessori Center and is looking forward to it being a thought-evoking and inspiring experience. She will also be working on her Montessori Applied to Children at Risk (MACAR) certificate from the Shelton Training Center. Megan holds a Texas teaching certificate in early childhood through eighth grade, generalist and is in the process of obtaining her Michigan teaching certificate.

Preprimary School Campus

Loree Clifford

Head Teacher, Young 5 / Kindergarten, Sequoias

Loree has a B.S. degree in elementary education from Eastern Michigan University. She received her Montessori certification from the Michigan Montessori Teacher Education Center in Rochester Hills. She has taught at Daycroft since 2008. She loves being in the kindergarten classroom with her co-teacher Joann Erbes. Loree has two children.

Beth Brow

Head Teacher, Elms

Beth completed her student internship at Light of the World Montessori in Pinckney, Michigan while attending the Adrian Dominican Montessori Teacher Education Institute in Adrian. She is a certified Montessori teacher, and has taught at Daycroft since 2009 with her preschool co-teacher Terri Fisher. Beth enjoys spending time with her children. She also enjoys the outdoors.

Claire Pruss

Assistant Teacher, Elms

Claire earned a B.S. from Eastern Michigan University and an Early Childhood Teaching Credential from the Adrian Dominican Montessori Teacher Education Institute. Claire has had many years of experience in Montessori classrooms both as an assistant and a head teacher. Claire grew up in Ann Arbor in a university family. Learning and teaching have always been a part of her life! She now lives near Saline with her husband. Her family includes two grown children, a daughter-in-law and two beautiful grandchildren.

Terri Fisher

Co-Head Teacher, Willows

Terri completed her Montessori training in 2009. She is the Co-Head Teacher, along with Beth Brow, in Daycroft’s Preschool 1 classroom. Along with her Montessori certification, Terri has a B.A. degree in theater, and is a trained Doula (labor coach), certified by Doulas of North America (DONA). Terri has had two children graduate from Daycroft.

Arthi Krishnamoorthy

Co-Head Teacher, Willows

Arthi completed her training for the early childhood program at the Michigan Montessori Teacher Education Center in Rochester Hills. She is originally from India. She has a Bachelor’s degree in accounting, but became interested in Montessori education after watching her son succeed and grow in that environment, and decided to switch careers. She has taught at Daycroft for over a decade.

Purabi Dhar

Co-Head Teacher, Maples

Purabi has taught at Daycroft since 2005. She has a Master’s degree in geography, and a B.A. and a B.Ed. – all earned while she lived in India. Purabi holds a Montessori primary credential from the Michigan Montessori Teacher Education Center in Rochester Hills. Her extra-curricular interests include singing, Indian dancing, traveling, and cooking new recipes.

Dave Willoughby

Co-Head Teacher, Aspens

Dave Willoughby co-teaches preschool at Daycroft with Payal Shah. He has a Bachelor’s degree in aquatic biology from Eastern Michigan University. He also has 18 hours of graduate work in early childhood education, and has completed the Montessori training for the age level 3-6. Dave has been teaching at Daycroft for over 30 years. He is a member of the Michigan Montessori Society. He lives in Chelsea and enjoys fishing, hunting, canoeing, sports (especially golf and hockey), and gardening.

Payal Shah

Head Co- Teacher, Aspens, Aftercare Supervisor

Born in India, Payal studied accounting and computer science, and after a brief career as a programmer and successful businesswoman, she married and moved to America in 2000. Payal’s interest in Montessori learning started the next year, as she began to educate her young daughter using the Montessori philosophy. Her daughter enrolled at Daycroft in preschool and is now in 5th grade. Inspired and encouraged by Daycroft’s administration, Payal went back to school to get certified in Montessori Early Childhood Education from the Adrian Dominican Montessori Teacher Education Institute. She then completed her internship at Daycroft, and has been working at Daycroft since 2008. Payal relaxes by reading, cooking, and spending time with her family.


Blaise Badynee

Spanish Teacher

Blaise Badynee has a Bachelor’s in Education degree from Central Michigan University, where she majored in Spanish and double-minored in English as a Second Language and Leadership. She also has a Master’s of Arts degree in Linguistics from Oakland University. She has taught every grade Kindergarten through 12th grade. Blaise also loves to teach dance as well, especially tap. She has traveled to Chile, Argentina, and Spain, and would love to go to as many Spanish-speaking countries as possible in the future!

Hannah Cousino

Learning Specialist, Montessori Fundays Teacher

Bonnie Dingman

Physical Education Teacher

Bonnie has been teaching for over 20 years. She has been with Daycroft since 2005. She was born and raised in Nebraska, where she attended college. Bonnie’s hobbies include coaching her daughter’s basketball team and attending her children’s cross-country meets and soccer games. She also enjoys gardening, reading, and running.

Ashley Grebe

Music Teacher

Ashley Grebe has played music, taught music, and directed orchestras in the U.S. and abroad for many years. She is a certified K-12 music educator in both Illinois and Michigan. Ashley graduated from DePaul University in her native Chicago in 2009 with a Bachelor of Music in music education. In 2011 she moved to Israel where she became fluent in Hebrew and pursued her master’s degree in string instrument education and pedagogy at Tel Aviv University. She recently resettled to Ann Arbor with her husband who studies orchestral conducting at U of M. In addition to teaching at Daycroft, Ashley serves as the Artistic Director for the Saline Fiddler's Philharmonic. In her spare time she also enjoys teaching private violin lessons to budding musicians, painting, drawing, cooking, watching movies, and, of course, playing her violin.

Suzanne Higgins

Art Teacher

Suzanne, with Daycroft since 2002, guides children in exploring and developing their creative spirits. While earning her degree in studio art at Meredith College, Suzanne fulfilled her desire for travel and adventure by studying French as her minor. Suzanne then studied art therapy, earning a Master’s degree from George Washington University. After working as an art therapist for many years, she had the chance to teach art in her mother’s Montessori school in North Carolina – and saw that being in a Montessori environment, as an art teacher, was a dream come true. Suzanne feels fortunate to have found a similar opportunity at Daycroft. She also enjoys time in the garden and nature.

Marcia Wallin

Technology/Media Teacher and IT Director

Marcia has a B.A. in International Politics/French from Vassar College, certification in Systems Analysis and Database design from Columbia University and is pursuing a Masters in Educational Technology from Michigan State University. Marcia has 15 years of teaching experience. She has a K-8 Michigan Teacher Certification and was a computer coordinator and teacher for schools in New York and London. In the last few years, she has worked as a computer support specialist at the University of Michigan for the School of Education and more recently, the Department of Atmospheric, Oceanic and Space Science Research. When “off-line” Marcia, is outdoors with her family and friends.

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