First row, L-R: Molly McSherry, Jessica Kuhn, Jill Heim, Brooke Staton

Second row, L-R: Jennifer Azzaritti, Jordan Smith, Melanie Olsen, Ines Gehlhaar

Third row, L-R: Brigitte Davis, Melanie Ruston, Samantha Cavalluzzi, Elena Napolitano,

Fourth row, L-R: Elyse Crown

Administrative Team

Molly McSherry, Head of School

Molly has 32 years of experience as an educator in both teaching and administration, locally and internationally. She holds a B.A. in English and Education from The Catholic University of America and a M.A. in Early Childhood Education from the Institute of Education at University College London. Molly is a member of the District of Columbia Reggio Emilia Alliance (DCREA), the North American Reggio Emilia Alliance (NAREA) and the National Association of the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). This is Molly’s third year with St. John’s.

Jessica Kuhn, Educational Program Administrator

Jessica graduated from the University of South Carolina with a bachelor of arts degree in public relations, and a master’s degree in elementary education. Jessica has 15 years of combined experience as a teacher and administrator in various educational settings. This is Jessica’s sixth year at St. John’s.

Jennifer Azzariti, Pedagogical Director

For the past 30 years Jennifer has worked both locally and nationally with schools inspired by the Reggio Emilia philosophy, focusing particularly on the culture of the atelier. She has collaborated with St. John’s for 20 years and is the proud mom of two St. John’s alumni. When not at St. John’s, she is working with Lourie Center Head Start, and other schools in DC and beyond. Jennifer is the Founding Chair of the DC Reggio Emilia Alliance.


Jackson Njoroge, Business Manager

Jackson is a native of Kenya and he has attended various schools there. He is a Certified Public Accountant of Kenya.  Jackson has worked as an accountant for a wide range of clients including non-profits, consulting firms, law offices, restaurants and churches. Jackson is also the CEO and Founder of Jackson Consulting a bookkeeping and accounting firm. This is Jackson’s first year at St. John’s.



Elyse Crown, Virtual Teacher

For the past six years, Elyse has taught in Reggio inspired schools in: Richmond, VA; New Haven, CT; Fairfax, VA; New Orleans, LA; and Seattle, WA. In addition to her work with children, she has served as a Pedagogical Specialist conducting presentations and trainings about the Reggio Emilia philosophy. Elyse holds an M.S. in Human Development and Family Studies and a B.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies: Early Childhood Development and Dance from the University of Alabama. After receiving her degrees, she served as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in Cosenza, Italy. This is Elyse’s first year at St. John’s.

Samantha Cavalluzzi, Teacher

Sam has been teaching in early childhood classroom settings since 2011. She graduated from Michigan State University earning her Bachelor’s of Science in Family and Community Services concentrating in Child Development. She began her teaching career in Michigan and relocated to Virginia in 2014. For the past 9 years she has taught in programs using an emergent inquiry curriculum and is passionate about developing a deeper understanding of the Reggio Emilia Approach to early childhood education. This is her first year at St. John’s.


Brigitte Davis, Teacher

Brigitte has a Baccalaureate and a college business degree from her native country of France. After earning her degree in France, she moved to Washington, DC in 1998 and started her Reggio Emilia education under the guidance and mentoring of Kathy Price, the founding Head of St. John’s. She worked in various roles as substitute and Kids’ Workshop teacher and after teaching for several years at St. John’s, Brigitte took time away to raise her family. Upon returning to Early Childhood Education Brigitte earner her Child Development Associate Credential and taught French as a lead teacher for six years at the French Maternal School. In the fall of 2019 Brigitte started work toward a Bachelor of Science Degree in Early Childhood Education at the University of Phoenix. For the past 2 years she has subbed at St. John’s and most recently, in the winter of 2020 she led the first St. John’s alumni afterschool program. Brigitte will join the Rainey Room team this year.



Ines Gehlhaar, Teacher

Ines has taught in Reggio-inspired preschools in California and Germany, which is where she grew up. She graduated from the University of Applied Sciences in Hamburg, Germany with a B.A. in Social Pedagogy with a focus on Early Childhood Education and Administration. Before joining St. John’s for her first year, Ines has worked as a preschool director and taught in part-time and full-time programs.


Jill Heim, Teacher

Jill has been working in the field of early childhood education for over 30 years.  She holds a degree in Child Psychology from the University of Minnesota and a master’s degree in Early Childhood Education from the University of Maryland.  Through her career, Jill has taught in full-time programs, worked as a center director, conducted teacher training workshops and conference presentations, and volunteered as a NAEYC Accreditation Specialist.  This is Jill’s 20th year at St. John’s.


Elena Napolitano, Teacher


Elena is a Maryland native who holds a Masters in Educational Transformation from Georgetown University.  In 2016, she graduated from St. Mary’s College of Maryland receiving Bachelors in English and Psychology with a focus on early childhood development. She spent four years teaching prekindergarten and lower school programming in the Baltimore area working with institutions such as the Living Classrooms Foundation and the Bryn Mawr School. This is her first year at St. John’s.



Melanie Olsen, Teacher

Melanie’s teaching career began upon moving to the DC area in 2014. She began teaching at public charter schools and attending evening classes at Trinity Washington University, toward the completion of her Masters of Arts in Teaching. She holds a dual baccalaureate degree in environmental studies and comparative humanities from Bucknell University. Since becoming an educator at St John’s, in 2015, she continues to embrace the Reggio Emilia philosophy.

Melanie Ruston, Teacher

Melanie graduated from the Maryland Institute College of Art with a Bachelor of Fine Arts, followed by a Master of Arts in Teaching. Her previous teaching experiences have including leading classes with children of all ages at the Walters Art Museum, the American Visionary Art Museum, and the Baltimore Museum of Art. Before coming to DC, she spent a year teaching art to grades K-5 in Baltimore County Public Schools. Since getting her degree she has maintained her art practice and continues to paint and illustrate. This is Melanie’s fifth year at St. John’s.

 Jordan Smith, Teacher

Jordan graduated from the College of Wooster with a bachelor in Classical Studies. He has over 12 years of experience in youth development and education. He previously served several schools as Site Coordinator for Playworks, Washington, DC . This is his first year with St. Johns.


Brooke Staton, Teacher

Brooke has a Master of Arts in Education and Human Development from the University of Colorado. Before transitioning into early childhood education, she taught elementary school for 15 years. She spent 11 of those 15 years living and working overseas in Colombia, Indonesia and Austria. She holds a Master of Arts in Curriculum and Instruction and a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish Literature from the University of Colorado. Brooke is also fluent in Spanish. This is her third year at St. John’s.

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