Early School Staff

Early School Staff

Early School Staff Directory 

Staff email addresses are all first initial, last name @charlotteprep.org.

Sharon Vanella - Head of Early School

Miami University (Oxford, Ohio) -   B.S. Elementary Education, B. A. Spanish
Center for Montessori Teacher Education (White Plains, NY) -  Montessori Early Childhood Credential 
Central Piedmont Community College (Charlotte, NC) - Early Childhood Administrator Credential


Sharon began her career in education over 24 years ago. She taught in Belen, NM and Dayton, OH before moving to Charlotte to teach at the Charlotte Montessori School, which at the time was a satellite location of Charlotte Prep.  Sharon worked as both as a teacher and administrator there for 8 years before returning to the classroom in 2006 to teach in the Early School here. In 2016, Sharon returned to administration as the Head of Early School.  Sharon believes in the Montessori philosophy as a way of life beyond just a classroom curriculum, and that as guides of young children, we should, “Follow the child.” Sharon is the mom to two daughters: Adah and Julia.  She enjoys family time, especially outdoors, and learning cooking techniques from her husband Chris, a chef at the CRVA.
 

Jennifer Milwee - Early School Administrative Assistant

University of Central Florida- B.S Event Management and Hospitality

Jennifer graduated from the University of Central Florida with a B.S. In Event Management and Hospitality. She began her career in education over 15 years ago. She started as an after school counselor at the local elementary school where she worked for 4 years. After starting college, she worked in the activities and child care departments at various country clubs and resorts. She also worked as a mentor / trainer for the 1-2 year old classrooms at a child care. Jennifer served as the Director of Kids Quest, a national child care program.

In 2016, Jennifer got married and moved to Charlotte to start her family. Prior to arriving at Charlotte Prep, Jennifer worked as a Program Director at the Boys and Girls Club, and as the Activities Director at The Peninsula Yacht Club. She is currently exploring attaining her teaching certification and her NC Administrator credentials. When not working she enjoys spending time with her son Sora, and her daughter Kairi, and has a love for all things sports and Disney. She believes each child should learn at their own pace and enjoy what they are learning. She is eager to get to know you and your children. 

Jasmine Bethel - Montessori Lead Teacher - Pre-primary

Saint Augustine’s College (Raleigh, NC) – B.S. Elementary Education with a minor in English

Jasmine started working with children at an early age and quickly realized teaching was her life’s purpose. She started teaching in Roanoke City Public Schools in her hometown Roanoke, Virginia and moved to teach in Charlotte Public Schools in 2015. Jasmine welcomed her son Khai in 2017. Later that year, Jasmine began teaching at Charlotte Prep in November 2017 as an Extended Day teacher. She is now a Lead Pre-Primary Teacher in Early School after falling in love with the Montessori classroom. She believes all children are different and the Montessori classroom has a unique educational approach that nurtures every child’s desire to learn. She is happy that her son is in a Montessori classroom setting and feels it has been a great learning experience thus far. Jasmine enjoys spending time with her family and creating beautiful copper jewelry in her spare time.

Rebecca Boakye - Early School Assistant Teacher

Central Piedmont Community College (Charlotte, NC)- Early Childhood Education

Rebecca began her teaching career in 2012 at Pineville Nazarene CDC where she taught the two-year-old classroom until 2016 when she started a new career at Gateway Academy where she also taught a class of two year old's. Rebecca is excited about this new career start and she believes that the teacher is there in the classroom as a facilitator to support the children physically, academically, and emotionally as they work on the things that interest them. Rebecca has twin boys who were born on Christmas eve 2018. She likes to be with her family on her leisure time.

 
 

Amber Craig - Montessori Lead Teacher

Amber Craig is a Pre-Primary Lead Teacher in the Montessori Early School. She started teaching preschool in 2006 and has been teaching at Charlotte Prep since February 2014.

Amber earned a Master of Education in Teacher Leadership and a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Entrepreneurship from Strayer University in Concord, N.C. She earned an associate's degree in Child & Family Studies with a minor in Child Development from CCAC of Pittsburgh, Pa. She has an Infant/Toddler Montessori Certification and has been in the education field for 14 years.

Amber believes that "children should be respected as individuals and their uniqueness should be embraced as we guide them using their preferred learning style to help them reach their full potential." Amber is originally from Pittsburgh, PA but relocated to Charlotte, NC in 2006 with her three sons: Darnell, Lee, and Anthony. Amber enjoys spending time with her children, watching movies, writing poetry, playing softball, and watching sports in her spare time.

Stephanie Dowless - Montessori Lead Teacher

Appalachian State University (Boone, N.C.), B.S.Special EducationCenter for Montessori Teacher Education (Clemson, S.C.) Montessori Early Childhood Credential

Stephanie began her career 20 years ago at The Charlotte Montessori School. She began her She believes that the Montessori philosophy is a way of life and it’s important to “Follow the Child”. Stephanie joined Charlotte Prep for years ago. Stephanie has one son, Grayson. She enjoys spending time with friends and family, reading, and traveling.

Anabel Kay - Montessori Lead Teacher

Nassau Community College (Nassau, NY) – A.L.A.
Center for Montessori Teacher Education (White Plains, NY) - Montessori Early Childhood Credential


Anabel stepped into a Montessori classroom at age 15 as an observer for a child development class. Her observation led to the realization that she wanted to be a Montessori Educator. In 1983 she was employed as a Teacher Assistant, and in 1984 she received her certification. Anabel has over 34 years of teaching experience and feels blessed to be one of those people that knew exactly what she was going to do when she “grew up” and can’t be happier. In August of 2010, Anabel came to work at CPS and is going into her 10th year at Prep. Anabel is a true Montessorian at heart and believes that every child should have the opportunity to learn using this method.

Anabel is the mother of a grown son (Kristian), a mother -in-law to his wife (Suzi) and a grandmother to be (baby boy). She loves spending time with family, the outdoors, and traveling.  Anabel has been to Holland, Hawaii, and Morocco, where her son presently lives.

Deborah Moore - Early School Assistant Teacher

University of North Carolina at Charlotte (Charlotte, NC)– GradCert Elementary Education (k-6)
Queens University of Charlotte(Charlotte, NC) – B.A. Corporate CommunicationStudies and Psychology
Central Piedmont Community College(Charlotte, NC)– Intro to Early Childhood Education (NCECC)


Debi started her career in education over 10 years ago. She started in Matthews, NC working with children ages 1-3. She later continued her studies in Communications and Psychology, which led her to complete graduate school receiving her Elementary Education Certificate at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Debi began her journey at Charlotte Prep in 2016, where she grew to love and appreciate the environment that values creativity and the individual growth of each child. She is the mom of one daughter, Sofia. She enjoys spending time with her husband, daughter, and two stepsons. She loves relaxing and is always trying to put a smile on someone's face.

Michelle Pysher - Montessori Lead Teacher

Duquesne University (Pittsburgh, PA) - B.A. Sociology
Princeton Center for Teacher Education (Princeton, NJ) - Montessori Early Childhood Credential


Michelle began her career in Montessori as a student. She attended Princeton Montessori School from the age of 3 until 5th grade. Then, went back during college to obtain her certification, working with some of the same teachers that she knew from childhood. Michelle graduated from PCTE and immediately started her teaching career at Greene Towne Montessori School (Center City Philadelphia) in the Fall of 2005. She taught there until moving to Fort Mill, SC in the summer of 2016. Michelle joined the Charlotte Prep Early School team that year as a Lead Teacher in a Primary classroom. She believes that all children can be self- motivated, independent learners in the right environment. She enjoys partnering with the families in her classroom to enrich the lives of her students in the classroom and outside of school.

Michelle is a mom of two daughters Avery and Olivia. She enjoys traveling with her family, home improvement projects and spending time with her two dogs, Tucker and Joe.

Anitha Sekar - Early School Assistant Teacher

Government College of Technology (Coimbatore, India) -   B.E Computer Science Engineering
Center for Montessori Teacher Education (Charlotte, NC) -Montessori Early Childhood Credential


Anitha began her career in education 4 years ago. She worked as an intern for a year in one of the primary classes at the Charlotte Preparatory School when she was getting her Montessori Early Childhood degree. She worked as an Extended-Day Teacher, for half a year, in the pre-primary classroom at Charlotte Prep, which helped her understand where the kids were coming from, before becoming an assistant in one of the primary classrooms here. She has been an assistant for 2 years now.

Anitha believes that the Montessori philosophy is not just a philosophy but a way of life. She wishes she was taught this way, when she was a child, which is what pulled her towards this way of education and led her to change her career path.

Anitha loves to read, listen to music, cook, and watch movies. She likes travelling to beaches and hiking to waterfalls with her husband.

Pam Stamper - Montessori Lead Teacher

East Carolina University (Greenville, NC) - BS Recreational Therapy
Montessori Teacher Education at Charlotte (Charlotte, NC) - Montessori Early Childhood Credential


Pam began her career in education as an assistant in the toddler Montessori program at Charlotte Montessori 15 years ago. She has been a lead Primary teacher at Charlotte Preparatory for 13 years.

When not teaching, Pam enjoys being a boy mom by attending sporting events with her two sons, Jonah and Guy. She enjoys spending time with family: taking trips, fishing, playing sports, or taking their dog Tucker on a walk. Pam and her family also love watching movies to cool down. Their favorite family trip has been to Guatemala to celebrate her Abuelita’s 90th birthday.

Sharon Turner - Early School Assistant Teacher

Sharon began her teaching career in 2010 in Fayetteville NC, where she obtained her Associate Degree in Early Childhood from Fayetteville Community College. She started teaching in Cumberland County Schools in Fayetteville. She then started studying at Ashford University and initiated coursework towards her Bachelor of Arts in Child Development, earning 12 credits. She joined Charlotte Prep in November of 2013 and fell in love with Montessori teaching methods. In 2016, she attended the AMS Center for Montessori Teacher Education (Charlotte, NC) and earned Montessori Early Childhood Credentials. Montessori not only offers a wide variety of self-starting methods, but also allows children to work at their pace and feel a personal sense of accomplishment, independence, and satisfaction through learning. One important lesson she has attained through teaching is that she has not met two children that are the same. They all think, learn, grow, and feel in their own ways. Montessori accommodates that mentality, achieving the best learning outcome and premium growth and development.

Sharon enjoys traveling with my husband and spending time with my family and fishing off the pier. She has 3 daughters and a stepson, and 7 grandchildren.

Andrea Westover - Early School Assistant Teacher

Fort Hays State University (Hays, Kansas) - General Studies with a minor in Child Development

Andrea started teaching 7 years ago where she started out as a floater working with various age groups. She first stepped into a Montessori classroom 3 years ago and quickly knew that is where she belonged. She enjoys teaching in a Montessori classroom because it provides a child centered environment. A Montessori classroom emphasizes the individual needs of each child and allows them to work at their own pace. She believes that this inspires creative thinking and an increased desire to learn.

Andrea enjoys spending time with her husband, stepson, and stepdaughter. She also enjoys traveling, being outdoors, and photography.

April Baldwin - Early School Extended Day Teacher (Sunflower Room)

April Baldwin - Early School Extended Day Teacher (Sunflower Room)

April Baldwin - Early School Extended Day Teacher (Sunflower Room)

April Baldwin - Early School Extended Day Teacher (Sunflower Room)

Sam Deaton - Extended Day Teacher (Rose Classroom)

Sam Deaton - Extended Day Teacher (Rose Classroom)

Sam Dedrick - Extended Day Teacher (Azalea Classroom)

Sam Dedrick - Extended Day Teacher (Azalea Classroom)

Mandy Ivey - Assistant/Interim Lead Teacher (Sunflower Room)

Mandy Ivey - Assistant/Interim Lead Teacher (Sunflower Room)

Laura Torres - Extended Day Teacher (Dandelion Room)

Laura Torres - Extended Day Teacher (Dandelion Room)

Yolanda Young - Assistant Teacher (Sunflower Room)

Yolanda Young - Assistant Teacher (Sunflower Room)

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