Molly McSherry, Head of School
Molly has 34 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 fifth year with St. John’s.
Elena Napolitano, Educational Program Assistant
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 and two years teaching at St. John’s in the Brown and Rainey Rooms. This is her third year at St. John’s, and the first in this administrative role.
Jennifer Azzariti, Pedagogical Director
For the past 30 years Jennifer (BA, MEd Smith College) 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 almost 25 years and is the proud mom of two St. John’s alumni. This year she will remain in regular contact with St. John’s during a sabbatical at the Northern Clay Center, deepening her ceramic practice and processes, and making connections between teaching and learning.
Joci Khalifa, Pedagogical Coach
Joci has been an educator for more than 30 years, including 16 years at St. John’s. She has a BA in Psychology and a Masters degree in Early Childhood Special Education. Early in her career she trained special educators as a Peace Corps volunteer in Honduras, and joined the St. John’s community as a teacher in 2000. This year she joins the community again as the Pedagogical Coach, and looks forward to supporting teachers and the rich, meaningful work of the school.
Mike Stoll, Finance Manager
Over the past 20 years, Mike has worked as the senior finance and operations director in four independent schools. Prior to that he worked at Fannie Mae for over a decade as an analyst in various departments. He is a CPA. This is Mike’s first year with St. John’s.
Elyse Crown, Teacher
For the past nine years, Elyse has taught in Reggio inspired schools in: Richmond, VA; New Haven, CT; Fairfax, VA; New Orleans, LA; Seattle, WA; and Washington, D.C.. 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 year, she will be serving as co-chair of the DC Reggio Emilia Alliance. This is Elyse’s fourth year at St. John’s.
Melanie Olsen, Teacher
Melanie moved to the Washington, DC area in 2014 to begin a career in early childhood education and has been teaching in DC ever since. Preceding this, she earned a dual baccalaureate degree (Environmental Studies and Comparative Humanities) from Bucknell University. Her teaching experience began at a DC public charter school, teaching by day and studying by night to earn her Master’s of Arts in Teaching (with an emphasis in early childhood) from Trinity Washington University. Melanie’s personal pedagogical philosophy and the appeal of the Reggio Emilia approach were satisfied, in 2015, when she excitedly accepted a teaching position at St. John’s. Now a veteran, she continues to co-construct knowledge and engage in joyful and curious learning with the children and families of the St. John’s community.
Karen Brooks-Bauer, Teacher
Karen has over 20 years of experience as an educator. Over the years, she has worked with students from preschool through high school as an environmental educator, high ropes confidence course instructor, classroom teacher and as an Early Childhood STEAM Integration Specialist. She first discovered the “Reggio Way” at a Reggio-inspired nature-based preschool in Connecticut, where she followed the children’s lead in exploring their natural environment. In this setting, she learned to develop provocations inspired by the children’s explorations, often including natural materials the children had collected themselves. She holds a B.S. in Life Sciences: Marine Biology and a M.A. in Curriculum and Instruction focusing on Science Education, both from the University of Maryland, College Park. This is her 2nd year at St. John’s.
Emma Marchetti, Teacher
Originally from Montana, Emma received her B.A in Environmental Studies in 2017 from Bates College in Maine where she researched the importance of inspiring and educating children about our natural world. In 2018, she moved to DC to pursue her passion for education. Since then, she has taught in DC Public Schools as an after school enrichment teacher with Kid Power, a Kindergarten student-teacher at John Lewis Elementary School (formerly West Education Campus), and most recently as a Pre-K 3 and 4 teacher at Truesdell Elementary School. She received her M.S. in Elementary Education from Johns Hopkins University School of Education through the Urban Teachers Preparation Program. She holds a Standard Teaching License in Early Childhood Education as well as a Special Education Teaching License from OSSE District of Columbia. Emma is drawn to the creativity and mutual respect of the Reggio Emilia approach and has been learning about the philosophy on her own time for the past couple of years. This will be Emma’s first year with St. John’s.
Samantha Cavalluzzi, Teacher
Sam has been working as an educator for over ten years. She began her teaching career in Michigan where she was first introduced to the Reggio Emilia philosophy and approach to early childhood education. Moving to Virginia in 2014, she taught in a preschool program in Arlington before joining the St. John’s community. She holds a B.S. in Family and Community Services with a concentration in child development from Michigan State University. This is her third year at St. John’s.
Ines Gehlhaar, Teacher
Ines has been working in the field of early childhood education for more than 7 years. She has previously taught in Reggio-inspired preschools in California and Germany, her home country. Prior to moving to the United States four years ago, Ines 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. This is Ines’s third year at St. John’s.
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. Throughout 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. Jill has been teaching at St. John’s since 2001.
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 earned her Child Development Associate Credential and taught French as a lead teacher for six years at the French Maternal School. Since 2019, Brigitte has been working toward a Bachelor of Science Degree in Early Childhood Education at the University of Phoenix. She is excited to return to St. Johns as a member of the Kid’s Workshop team.