Molly McSherry, Head of School
Molly has 33 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 fourth year with St. John’s.
Audrey Pittman, Educational Program Assistant
Audrey graduated from the University of Michigan’s Ford School of Public Policy with a B.A. in Public Policy and a focus in education policy. Audrey joins St. John’s after three years as a Senior Associate with Penn Hill Group, where she supported a portfolio of education-policy focused clients with project management services. In addition to her work in public policy, Audrey served as the Assistant to the Administrative and Clinical Heads of a pediatric therapy firm in Michigan. This is Audrey’s first 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. Jennifer has a BA and M.Ed. from Smith College.
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.
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 outdoor and environmental educator, a classroom teacher and as a STEAM Integration Specialist. Her teaching experience varies from facilitating high ropes courses for elementary and middle school students to encouraging Pre-K students as they design and create in Maker Spaces. 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 first 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 second 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 Bachelors of Science in Family and Community Services with a concentration in Child Development. She began her teaching career in Michigan and relocated to Virginia in 2014. For the past 10 years she has taught in programs using an emergent inquiry curriculum and is passionate about continuing to deepen her understanding of the Reggio Emilia Approach within early childhood education. This is her second 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 three 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 second year at St. John’s.
Elyse Crown, Teacher
For the past eight 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 is Elyse’s third year at St. John’s.
Melanie Olsen, Teacher
Melanie began her teaching career upon moving to the DC area in 2014. This same year she completed her studies at Bucknell University, achieving a dual baccalaureate degree in Environmental Studies and in Comparative Humanities. She has been teaching in DC ever since.
Her introductory experience to teaching was at a DC public charter school. She taught by day and by night attended graduate classes at Trinity Washington University, from which she holds a Masters of Arts in Teaching. Melanie was pleased to eventually have her pedagogical values and appeal for the Reggio Emilia philosophy align with her educational environment, when in 2015 she became an educator at St. John’s Preschool. Six years, going on seven years later, Melanie continues learning, and teaching through the inspiration of the Reggio Emilia philosophy.
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. Jill has been teaching at St. John’s since 2001.
Jordan Smith, Teacher
Jordan is excited to be a part of the amazing St. John’s team again this year. A Boston native, Jordan moved to the DC area in 2009 after graduating from the College of Wooster in Ohio. He has taught at Capital City Public Charter School, and worked with the Special Olympics as a Fitness Specialist. This fall will be Jordan’s second year at St. John’s.