Home Faculty and Staff

Faculty and Staff

by mrstillwater

Joe Alex
Director, Chess Instructor

Joe graduated from Colby College in 1975, earned his MBA from Husson College in 1985 and CAS in Educational Administration at the University of Maine in 1989. He was a member of the Maine Air National Guard until his retirement in 2001. Since founding the Stillwater Montessori School in 1983, Joe has served as Director and has supported and enhanced the operations, curriculum development and afterschool programming of both the primary and elementary programs at the school. In 1996 he began a school Chess Club and has led several chess teams and individual students to regional and state awards and hosts the annual Martin Luther King Day Chess Tournament. Joe is actively involved in Maine Montessori Association, American Montessori Society, CISV and officiates high school soccer and swimming. He tends a thriving garden each summer and enjoys traveling, watching and play sports, especially basketball and racquetball. He lives with Joanne in Old Town with their two cats and visits regularly with his three children and two grandchildren.

Team member
Joanne Alex
Education Director, Primary Head Teacher

After graduating from Colby College in 1976, Joanne received her Montessori Degree in 1979 and became certified as a Montessori Teacher in 1982 before opening the Stillwater Montessori School in 1983. Since then her classroom has grown and developed into a model of excellence for early childhood educators; a bright, vibrant classroom full of beautiful materials and extensive units of study that engage students and support a wide range of learning. In 2001 Joanne received her Masters of Education from the University of Maine. In addition to her position as Head Teacher and Education Director, she has been an active and dedicated advocate for early childhood education nationwide, and has held positions or done presentations for the American Montessori Society, Maine Montessori Association, Project Learning Tree, Project Wild, National Geographic Society, Maine Geographic Alliance, Maine Audubon, CISV, Maine Elementary Science Partnership Advisory Board, and Eastern Maine Community College Advisory Board. She transfers her love of children and the environment to upcoming teachers as an adjunct professor of early childhood and environmental education at the University of Maine and visiting faculty at the College of the Atlantic. Joanne’s work in the field of education has been recognized nationwide and she has been the recipient of numerous awards for excellence in education, including 1998 Maine State Teacher of the Year, 2012 Maine Environmental Educator Association Eberhart Thiele Environmental Educator of the Year, 1995 Maine Audubon Society’s Teacher of the Year, and 2002 and 2004 finalist for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science Education. She is also a published author; her book “I Wonder What’s Out There? A Vision of the Universe for the Primary Classes” is a guide for teaching cosmic education to young children. Outside of the classroom Joanne enjoys walking, hiking, traveling, biking, wildflowers, reading, art and enhancing classroom materials and creating cultural kits for her classroom. She lives in Old Town with Joe and her two cats, and loves visiting her three children and two grandchildren.

Lauren Frangos
Elementary Head Teacher

Lauren earned a BA in English from the University of New Hampshire in 1978. She began her Montessori educational career in 1988 at the Montessori Children’s House of Durham, North Carolina. She has held many positions, from Assistant Primary Teacher, Lead Primary Teacher and then Elementary Teacher at all levels. Of course along the way, both of her sons attended Montessori schools. Lauren earned her Montessori Elementary Credential from the Seacoast Montessori Center in Stratham, NH. in 2004. She subsequently taught at several Montessori schools including two years (2008-10) in China. Over the years, Lauren has designed many Montessori materials–some of which are used nation-wide. She loves a good book, canoeing and walking with her dog, Cody. She currently lives in Old Town, Maine with her son, his wife and granddaughter Hailey whom attends the Primary program at Stillwater Montessori School. Lauren is a life-long learner herself and encourages children to have fun and learn lots!

Riley Thurston
Elementary Assistant Teacher

Riley grew up in Bangor but now spends most of her free time in the Katahdin Area enjoying and hiking the North Maine Woods. She began nannying for a Stillwater Montessori School family in October of 2015, but has been working with children of all ages since the age of 14. Riley lives in Bangor and is delighted for the opportunity to be working at Stillwater Montessori School, and is extremely excited to see how the year goes!

Cynthia McAleer
Primary Assistant Teacher

Cindy McAleer joins the Stillwater Montessori School with a wealth of experience. She grew up involved in a family restaurant business in New York. Her Bachelor of Arts degree is from Marymount College with a concentration in political science and a minor in art. In 1987, Cindy and her husband moved to Maine. They have three grown children, all of whom are Stillwater Montessori alumni. During her time in Maine, Cindy worked in Development at the University of Maine. She and her husband, Michael, have been very active in the development and management of ice hockey programs in the State. Over the past eight years, Cindy has relished her work in special education at the Asa C. Adams Elementary School, but she is very excited to be returning to her roots here at Stillwater Montessori where she will have more opportunity to pass on her life-long interests in art, reading and animals. A staunch Yankees fan, Cindy is devoted to her two Siberian Huskies, Pepper and Ziva.

Alyson Buhyoff
Primary Assistant Teacher

Alyson is from Oregon, Ohio, and received her B.S. in Early Childhood Education from The Ohio State University. After teaching for five years, she received her Montessori certificate from the Center for Guided Montessori Studies. She pours her passion for learning into her teaching and believes education should always be fun. She feels that her job is to nurture children’s personalities so they can become independent, happy individuals in and beyond the classroom. Alyson recently moved to Hampden, Maine with her husband, son and dog from Washington D.C, and is enjoying every minute of life in Maine.

Specials Instructors
Cid Dyjak
Creative Movement

Cid has a MA in Physical Education from the University of Maine and teaches physical education at several area schools. He also coaches Orono High School Varsity Girls Soccer and Cross Country Skiing. Cid has been teaching Creative Movement at Stillwater Montessori School since 1984. He lives in Orono with his wife and daughter.

Valerie Wallace

Valerie holds a BFA from Rhode Island School of Design with a major in Illustration. She is a working artist specializing in painting, photography and papier machet. She has taught art in various capacities since 2006, including teaching lessons out of her studio, filling substitute positions for Orono High School, University College of Bangor, teaching at Suzanne Smith Elementary in Levant and volunteering at Asa Adams Elementary School. She has been the Artistic Director of OPL Pixie Promenade since 2008. She has artwork on display at the Orono Public Library and has donated work for Abnaki Girl Scout fundraisers. She has taught art at Stillwater Montessori School since 2011. Her passion for art is contagious and students love creating their own art under her tutelage and guidance. In addition to art, Valerie has been involved in her community through little league softball and Canoe City Swim Club. She lives in Orono with her husband and four children.

Shellie Batuski

Shellie graduated from the University of Maryland with a major in French and minor in Spanish. She spent several years abroad in Spain, France, Mexico and Israel, increasing her knowledge of foreign languages before earning a degree from University of Maryland Law School and was a practicing attorney for many years. A few years ago she retired from law and now teaches Spanish, French, Hebrew to children and adults through classes and private tutoring. She also teaches Hebrew at the University of Maine. Shellie has been teaching Spanish at Stillwater Montessori School since 2010. She lives in Orono with her husband; her two daughters are alums of the Stillwater Montessori School’s Primary and Elementary Programs.

Sierra Zang

Sierra earned her Bachelor of Music Education degree in spring of 2014 from the University of Maine. She is a private music instructor in the Orono area, instructing over 50 students on a variety of instruments including piano, voice, and several band instruments. Sierra is currently working towards her Masters in Music Education from the University of Maine where she is teaching Fundamentals in Music to undergraduate students and serving as assistant accompanist for the Black Bear Men’s Chorus. Recently Sierra married Justin Zang and this past summer they moved into their first home right in Orono. She is excited to share her love of music with the students at the Stillwater Montessori School this year through both group music class as well as one-on-one private instruction!

Rachael Proulx
Violinist Rachael Proulx

2014.12SMSWinter1 11 of 37 1120x500 c 1