Head of School
Co-founder Alison Evans is an AMS-certified Montessori primary teacher through the Montessori Institute – New England (MI-NE). She received her B.A. in mathematics from Middlebury College and an M.Ed. with a Montessori Concentration from Gordon College. Alison has been a teacher trainer for MI-NE, creating and delivering a course on classroom management. She holds a Massachusetts teaching license in elementary mathematics as well as Director certification by the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care (EEC). Alison is the co-author of three books through her partnership with Master Class Materials (MCM): Spring Tea: A Celebration of Grace and Courtesy for Children 3 – 6, A Biography of Maria Montessori for and by Children, and We Love Slugs!
Alison has two children, both of whom attended Montessori schools when they were young. They are now successful college students; Alison’s son is studying English Literature and Saxophone Performance and her daughter is studying Mathematics and Computer Science. In addition to Alison’s dedication to Montessori education, she is an enthusiastic, amateur photographer (check out our Instagram feed above) and loves to get outside to observe plants and wildlife no matter the season!
Nell Franchek received her B.A. in Early Childhood Education from U.Mass Amherst with a concentration in diversity, social justice, and cultural awareness. Nell received her Montessori Early Childhood certification from Northeast Montessori Institute, and is Lead Teacher certified by the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care (EEC). Nell attended Montessori schools herself from ages four to nine before transitioning to traditional public school. The foundational skills she developed from her Montessori experiences— community, empathy, curiosity, passion, problem solving and communication— have shaped her as a learner and citizen. She hopes to foster an environment where children develop these characteristics organically and at their own pace.
Before joining the Birch Tree Montessori family, Nell worked as a kindergarten teacher at a local public Montessori Charter School. Nell has also worked as an art teacher in many capacities, teaching both adults at a craft center in Amherst and children ages six to fourteen at a local summer arts camp. Nell’s passion lies in honoring each individual child and cultivating an environment where each child feels seen and reflected in the materials. In her free time, Nell loves spending time with her partner James and cat Zelda, crocheting and creating mixed media art!
Melanie Bohanan completed her Montessori teaching credential through the Northeast Montessori Institute (NMI). Melanie is Lead Teacher certified by the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) and is taking classes at Northern Essex Community College to complete her degree in Early Childhood Education. Melanie has also completed the Montessori Assistant training at Northeast Montessori Institute.
Melanie is married and has three middle- and high-school aged children who keep her busy and engaged in a variety of activities from theater to sports. Melanie grew up in rural Puerto Rico and speaks fluent Spanish. She enjoys introducing young students to her native language and culture through songs, activities, and daily conversation.
Evelyn Bernard holds a B. A. in English from Simmons College and recently completed a Masters degree in Education from Merrimack College. She is Lead Teacher certified by the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) and is currently working towards her Montessori Teacher Certification through Northeast Montessori Institute.
She taught in Boston preschools for four years through the AmeriCorps program which is where she grew to love working with preschoolers. She has also taught drama at a local summer arts camp for several years, and is excited to be able to bring drama, dance, and music into the classroom. Evelyn attended Hill View Montessori as a child and has wanted to become a Montessori teacher ever since.
Evelyn loves spending time with her eight siblings and her labradoodle, Totoro. She also enjoys reading, writing, and hiking in her free time.
Emily Ney is excited to join the Birch Tree team for her fifth year at their summer program! She is a rising sophomore at New York University studying Math and Computer Science. She began her Montessori education at two years old, and has greatly valued the opportunity to learn more about teaching during her time at Birch Tree.
As Emily’s mother is the founder of Birch Tree, she has a unique perspective on Montessori from all sides, both in the classroom and also in administration. She has grown up surrounded by its philosophy, so it is ingrained into her daily life.
When not in the classroom, Emily enjoys getting outside to spend time at the beach or to walk with her dogs, Walter and Dizzy. She also loves reading, writing, and spending time with her friends and family.
Dave Mastroianni is a rising sophomore at New York University studying Secondary English Education with a minor in Educational Theatre. While he calls Long Island, NY home, Dave will be assistant teaching at Birch Tree this summer!
He taught ages 2-8 as a lead instructor at Kids First Swim School in Commack, NY for two years. He's always known he’s wanted to become a teacher and his training at NYU is making his love for being in the classroom stronger. NYU’s Teaching & Learning program follows the Montessori method and has allowed Dave to observe urban schools and communities that prioritize equity and inclusion in the classroom. Dave is excited to spend time at Birch Tree to contribute to the welcoming environment that Montessori learning has to offer.
Dave is also an Eagle Scout and has a love for the great outdoors, hiking, and camping. Dave enjoys spending time with his friends and also loves to read, cook, and see Broadway shows in his free time. Fun fact about Dave: he and Emily live together in New York City!