Our teachers

Each educator at CNS has outstanding experience, advanced training or degrees, and a commitment to ongoing professional development. Above all, every one of them loves to guide children through the process and joys of real discovery.


Kelly Collopy | Arboretum

Kelly has been teaching for over 10 years and is an experienced teacher-trainer in the Reggio inspired approach. Kelly has a masters in education from the University of Boulder, which she received while working at the world famous Boulder Journey School. After Boulder, she and Kate began the Reggio-inspired program at the Advent School where she began her work with Lesley University and trained teachers from across the globe. Most recently, she brought the Reggio-inspired approach as the early childhood coordinator to expand the preschool at Berwick Academy. She has followed our work at CNS as a colleague and brings great interest in early literacy, portfolio assessment and differentiated curriculum. When she is not at CNS, she enjoys time with her husband and young daughter.

Nancy Cullison | Riverway Mon-Tue/Afternoon and Greenhouse

Nancy has been teaching for over 25 years. A graduate of the University of Massachusetts, she has worked at many early childhood centers, including the Harvard Radcliffe Center, and managing her own. She worked closely with the Child Development Department while at Harvard in both practice and training of new educators. She has extensive training in the Reggio Emilia approach, including being chosen to travel to Reggio Emilia on a study tour. She brings a particular interest in nature and environmental education to the classroom. In addition to teaching and learning, she enjoys photography, crafts and time with her family.

Lise White | Greenway and Explorers

Lise has been teaching and directing at schools in the Boston area for over 9 years. She has a master's degree in child development from Wheelock College and a bachelor's degree in English from the University of Colorado in Boulder. Most recently, she was a teacher-researcher at Harvard's Peabody Terrace Children's Center, where she and her colleagues transformed the program into a Reggio-inspired school. Lise's recent research focuses on how young children develop relationships with materials, and she is currently writing an article describing a year-long clay investigation. Like Kelly Sullivan, we have known her as a colleague and collaborator for many years. Our research-based school with the part-time schedule will allow her time to write. When she is not teaching, she enjoys reading, writing, practicing yoga, and spending time with her husband and three children.

Emma Jenkins | Riverway Mon-Tue/Afternoon/Thu-Fri and Greenhouse

Emma has been teaching for over five years. She has worked in the Brookline Public Schools, Boston Public Schools, and as an art educator at the Museum of Fine Arts. She holds both undergraduate and graduate degrees from Northeastern University, as well as extensive training in early literacy and math. She brings her great interest in painting and the outdoors to her classroom, and runs her own art classes for children. In addition to those interests, Emma enjoys traveling, hiking, skiing, yoga and reading.

Donna McCluskey | Esplanade

Donna brings over ten years teaching experience to CNS. She has taught in many settings including Montessori, Head Start early childhood centers, and tutoring. She is a co-founder of the Kismet Rock Foundation and has a strong commitment to outdoor education. Donna has extensive professional development in the Reggio Emilia approach as well as in design and documentation, early math and engineering curriculum, and nature education. She has spent extensive study in early literacy through storytelling and block building. Her current research is focused on long-term study groups and action research in engineering, inspired by two professional conferences at the Boulder Journey School. In addition to teaching, she enjoys renovating homes, rock climbing, and hiking in the mountains of New Hampshire with her family.

Erika Movalli | Esplanade, Olmsted, Investigators and Explorers

Erika has taught young children for more than ten years. A graduate of Lesley University, she has an M.A. in Early Childhood Education as well as extensive professional development – including advanced training in assessment and documentation, and in programs such as Handwriting without Tears and Lively Letters. While at the Madison Avenue Preschool, her parent communication was published in the book 803 Daily Notes, and her emergent curriculum was the subject of a documentary entitled Creating with Recycled and Found Materials. Last year, Erika joined an elite group of educators at the Y Conference on Wonder Play. She has focused on multiple approaches to literacy, stemming from her work in the Ortin-Gillingham method. In her free time, she enjoys yoga, baking and reading. Inspired by her trip to Boulder Journey School, her current research includes using music to encourage self-regulation, socialization and cognitive skills.

Stephanie O'Hara | Riverway Thu-Fri

Stephanie has been teaching for over 15 years. A graduate of Emerson College, she has a master's degree in communication disorders. As a speech and language pathologist, she has experience working with children and adults in rehabilitation facilities, hospitals, outpatient clinics and early intervention programs. She brings a particular interest and expertise in language and literacy development. She has also worked to integrate technology in her practice of Reggio inspired documentation. Besides teaching and learning, she enjoys reading, traveling and sailing with her family.

Nicole Pelletier | Arboretum and Olmsted

Nicole has over ten years experience. She has taught at the Early Learning Center in Dartmouth – a Reggio Emilia inspired-preschool – and at the Martin Luther King School in Cambridge. She has also worked in special education and at Outward Bound. She has a Masters in Education from Wheelock College, where she specialized in documentation. Recently she was chosen as a Harvard Project Zero MLV Renegade teacher. She brings extensive training and interest in portfolio assessment and documenting student process. In addition to teaching, she enjoys the outdoors, gardening, rock collecting and teaching yoga.

Claire Semler | Greenway

Claire Semler has been teaching for over 30 years. She has worked in a wide variety of settings including nursery schools, family childcare and public school programs. Before coming to CNS, she was at the Reggio-Emilia inspired Children's Garden in Weston. A graduate of Wheelock College, she has a concentration in parent education and family support. She brings a particular interest in nature, art, children's literature, observation and documentation. She has extensive experience in individualized instruction and making the learning process visible. Outside the classroom, she enjoys watercolor painting, photography, scrapbooking, and reading.


Kate Hulbert | Assistant Director

Kate Hulbert is joining the CNS community this year – along with her 3-year-old daughter. Kate has been inspired by Reggio Emilia since her work with young children at Gallaudet University in Washington, DC in 2001. This led Kate to the Intern/Mentor program at Boulder Journey School where she taught 1-, 2- and 3-year-olds while earning her Masters in Educational Psychology at the University of Colorado at Denver. Returning east, Kate taught for four years at The Advent School, and traveled to Reggio Emilia, Italy. Most recently, she managed a Family Childcare center in her home, and served as an adjunct professor at Lesley University. Outside of school, Kate enjoys time with her husband and exploring the world with her daughter.

Kelly Pellagrini | Co-founder and Executive Director

Kelly Pellagrini brings more than 10 years experience in early childhood education. In addition to a B.A. from Bates College, Kelly holds Masters degrees from Smith College and Lesley University, in Curriculum and Teaching and Bilingual Early Childhood Education, respectively. She has worked as a teacher, administrator and curriculum coordinator at the Saint Francis School in Moravia, Costa Rica, public schools in Amherst and Boston, Massachusetts, and at the Smith College Lab School. She has served on Mayor Menino's Advisory Committee for 0-5 School Readiness, and has been active in creating early childhood programs throughout the area. She recently received an Unsung Heroine Award for her extensive civic involvement.

Kristin Valdmanis | Co-founder and Senior Advisor

Kristin Valdmanis has more than 10 years experience in early childhood education. She holds a B.A.from Dartmouth College, a Master's degree from Columbia University in Curriculum and Teaching, and an additional Master's degree from Harvard University in Language and Literacy Development. She has worked as a teacher and administrator in the public schools of Greenwich, Connecticut and Newton, Massachusetts; at Milton Academy; and at the Manhattan-based Collegiate School, Mandell School, Hollingworth School for Gifted Children.

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