2023-2024 SCHOOL YEAR



Casa 1 – Caroline Welsh

Caroline was born and raised in Savannah, where she graduated from St. Vincent’s Academy and then from Armstrong State University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Early Childhood Education. While she was in college, she tutored and babysat for a family, and she then earned a Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education with a Reading Endorsement from Armstrong State University as well. Caroline is certified in the Orton Gillingham Reading Approach at the Associate Level, and she is embarking upon her Early Childhood Montessori training with the Montessori Teacher Education Institute of Atlanta.

Caroline enjoys going to the beach, shopping, and organizing. She has a dog named Winnie (Beagle) and loves to spend time with her friends and family. Caroline spends most of her days tutoring and learning new ways to keep her students excited about reading, and she herself is excited to join the team at CEMCS!

Casa 2 – Melissa Friel

Melissa is a Montessori mom and teacher, and she will be teaching Primary (Pre-K and Kindergarten) this year. Melissa began her teaching journey in 2008 and has taught in public school, private school and in schools abroad. She has a Fine Arts degree from SCAD as well as a Master of Arts in Teaching from Armstrong State University. Melissa has completed a certificate program in Montessori Primary Education with the North American Montessori Center and is currently enrolled in a MACTE-accredited Primary Teacher Education program with the Montessori Teacher Education Institute of Atlanta. She is certified by the State of Georgia to teach Early Childhood Education, Middle Grades Mathematics and Gifted Education. Melissa is very much looking forward to teaching at CEMCS for her 6th year.

Both of Melissa’s children attend CEMCS – her son, Archer, is in the 5th Grade and her daughter, Matilda, is in the 1st Grade. Melissa will serve as the CEMCS Drama Club Advisor again this year. When she isn’t working, she spends her time being a dance mom, cooking, gardening, watercolor painting, and appreciating live theater.

Casa 3 – Jaelyn Jefferson

Jaelyn was raised in Decatur, GA, and then graduated from Georgia Southern University with a Bachelor of Science in Child Development and Family Sciences. While in college, she worked at an after-school program and as a substitute teacher, and that is where she found her passion for education. Jaelyn is intrigued by the ways in which the Montessori Philosophy and Method address the needs of the whole child, and she will be completing her formal training in Montessori Early Childhood Education with the Montessori Teacher Education Institute of Atlanta.

Jaelyn loves spending her free time with her friends and family. She also enjoys watching TV shows, listening to music and traveling.

Art – Bethany Norwood

This is Bethany’s sixth year teaching at CEMCS. She graduated summa cum laude from Armstrong State University with a Bachelor of Science in Art Education. Following graduation, she also earned a certification in Early Childhood Education. Bethany firmly believes that studying Art, and the artistic process itself, can teach children important life skills such as problem solving, decision making, empathy, collaboration, and of course, self-expression. She also believes that every child is an artist and is determined to find some aspect of Art – whether it’s a certain medium, style, technique, or subject matter – that excites every student who enters her classroom. As Pablo Picasso said, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.”

Bethany and her husband have two young sons. Her hobbies include reading, biking and of course making art! She will be on maternity leave during the first semester this year, but she is very much looking forward to creating fun memories and amazing artwork with her students upon her return!

School Counselor – Tyler Brown

Tyler, a former daycare center owner, has taken his love of working with children and brought it here to CEMCS. He has lived in several places, having grown up in Atlanta and then living in Columbus before moving to Savannah. This is Tyler’s second year working in Montessori, and he is loving watching as students learn to be more compassionate, thoughtful and inquisitive through their exploration of their own works. He possesses a Master’s Degree in School Counseling and is excited to be able to put it to good use by being a resource for all members of the CEMCS Family!

Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) Coordinator – Leslie Sheppard

Leslie was born and raised in Savannah, where she received her education in the public school system of Chatham County. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Social Science from Ashford University and her Master of Social Work from Walden University. This is Leslie’s 8th year at CEMCS as the MTSS Coordinator, and prior to this position, she worked for over ten years in helping autistic children transition into the inclusion setting. Leslie loves the quote, “We believe all children can achieve.”

Leslie enjoys spending time with her family. She has two boys, and she and her husband, James, love doing activities and traveling together as a family whenever they can.