Board of Trustees
Montessori Discovery School is a not-for-profit school governed by a self sustaining Board of Trustees and managed by a Head of School. Board members are often current or past MDS parents.
The Board plans for the future, maintains the financial stability of the school and establishes broad policies. The Head of School manages the school on a day-to-day basis. Board terms are for 3 years and members lead or serve on a board committee. The Board of Trustees meets monthly throughout the year.
First row left to right
Elizabeth Regan, Stacey Curtis, Dottie Goettler, Peggy Dougherty Second row, left to right
Lauren Donovan, Jim Stone, Patrice Champagne, Leo Garofalo, Michele Devine Absent: Richard Berdan
Richard Berdan (Facilities Committee - Chair) is an architect, designer & builder with projects ranging from modest straw-bale artist studios to the region's largest destination resorts, Mohegan Sun and MGM Foxwoods. He is particularly interested in sustainable and permaculture design strategies, creating emotional, mindful spaces and the pursuit of innovative and alternative methods of form making and design exploration. Richard studied architecture at the Cooper Union in New York City. He currently resides in Stonington Borough with his wife Annamaria and daughters, Sasha (a current MDS elementary student) and Sabina (a soon-to-be MDS student). Together they enjoy the great outdoors, travel & the arts.
Quote: "While contemplating the notion of 'school' & 'education' for our kids, my wife and I imagined a peaceful, nurturing, inspiring and diverse environment that would promote a life long, self-propelled passion and curiosity for learning while cultivating respect, community and self-confidence. We actually feel we found that, and more, at MDS". Further, my own growing involvement within the school community helps provide a positive role model for my daughter & her peers, a deeper connection to the fabric of my child's growth and an unique appreciation for this special place."
Patrice Champagne (Committee on Trustees) has served as Montessori Discovery School's head of school since 1986. She first visited the school in 1983 while looking for a program for her then 3-year-old son, Robert. Patrice has Bachelor and Master of Arts degrees in American History from Connecticut College and a Senior Certificate in Conflict Resolution from the University of New Haven. She attended the first Montessori Administrator training course at the Center for Montessori Education in 1987-88. Effective communication is of particular interest to her. Patrice and the MDS staff have developed a communication model, ongoing communication training and staff retreats which help make MDS the very special place it is. Patrice enjoys reading, knitting, 18th-century architecture, storytelling and spending time with her grandson Henry.
Stacey Curtis (Vice President, Fundraising Committee, Finance Committee) is self-employed as the CFO for Loss Solutions Group. Before moving back to Connecticut in 2005, she spent 8 years in California going to school and working as an accountant. Stacey joined the auction committee during her son's first year in the primary program and chaired the committee the following year. After 2 years of working on various MDS fundraising projects, Stacey joined the board as Fundraising Chair. Stacey lives in Canterbury with her husband Rich, her son Adam, who is in the elementary program, and her younger son Noah, a future MDS student.
Michele Devine (Finance Committee) is the Executive Director of the Southeastern Regional Action Council (SERAC), a non-profit that serves the 20 communities in the region to reduce the impact of substance abuse and other addictive behaviors. Her past career in mental health gave her the determination to create a strong infrastructure for prevention in the region. Michele now is very active in statewide programs and advocacy for laws related to substance use and other at risk behaviors in youth. Michele has a Masters degree in Student Personnel in Higher Education and Mental Health Counseling. She has coordinated a variety of adolescent and parenting programs for communities in the region. Her true success is her family! She is married and the mother of two boys, Jack and Brennan Devine.
Quote: "MDS encourages children to learn from their everyday life and from their environment all around them. Not only am I so happy about the education my son is receiving, our whole family can be involved in the school community by volunteering our time."
Lauren Donovan (Committee on Trustees) is the mother of MDS primary student Delaney Donovan and is a Registered Nurse in the Birthing Center at Backus Hospital. Lauren obtained her Bachelor's Degree in Nursing from Quinnipiac University and plans to pursue a Master's Degree in the future. She is also a certified Yoga Instructor and Reiki Practitioner. Lauren has a special interest in nutrition and the effects of food on health and healing. She also enjoys cooking, singing, practicing yoga, and spending time with Delaney and her husband Dean. Lauren and her family reside in Colchester.
Quote: "We were drawn to Montessori Discovery School for Delaney because of the sense of caring, value, and respect that the children develop toward themselves and their classroom community. It truly is a wonderful, nurturing environment, where children can grow and thrive through the guidance of very talented individuals."
Peggy Dougherty (Treasurer, Finance Committee) is the director of Accounting Services at Marien + Company CPAs. She graduated from Fairfield University and worked previously as a social worker. She joined Marien + Company 14 years ago and has been a familiar face at the annual Montessori Auctions. Peggy lives in Norwich with her husband Patrick. She has 3 daughters, her oldest is pursuing her Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Maryland, her middle daughter works at Outback Steak House and her youngest, Brynn, is in her third year at Eastern CT State University and worked at Montessori with Miss Rachael and Miss Karen in the after school program.
Leo Garofalo (Committee on Trustees) has his daughter Natalia in the elementary program. He is raising her to be bilingual. They have lived in Mexico, Peru, and Spain. Leo teaches history at Connecticut College with degrees from Brown University and the UW-Madison and books on Andean cities, Afro-Latin Americans, and Peruvian history. He served on boards for the Alianza Hispana and the Latin Network of Visual Arts and co-directs a Mellon Foundation fellowship program at Connecticut College. He loves gardening at his Waterford home, canoeing, and kayaking.
Quote: "MDS encourages life-long learning; I'm so thankful for this resource as I raise my daughter. MDS celebrates a child's unique path to learning, and the teachers create a stimulating and nurturing environment similar to the one I myself enjoyed as a child as a homeschooler."
Dottie Goettler (President, Strategic Planning Committee) has been a mechanical engineer at Electric Boat for fourteen years, where she is responsible for the design and construction support of various mechanical and electro-mechanical systems. Her daughter Dana is in the MDS elementary program. Over these years, she has watched her thrive in the school's environment. Dottie joined the Board of Trustees to be more involved with what has become such an important part of her family's life.
Elizabeth C. Regan (Secretary) is a freelance writer with a non-fiction book and many magazine and Internet articles to her credit. Before the birth of her first child, she worked as a public relations specialist for a non-profit organization serving more than 10,000 girls and adult volunteers in central Massachusetts. Her interest in writing, which came into being the very day she realized that the letters of the alphabet could be combined to form words, has been a guiding force in her personal and professional endeavors ever since. She lives in Salem. Elizabeth and her husband, Chris, have a daughter in the elementary program at MDS and a son hurrying to catch up.
Jim Stone (Facilities Committee) is a retired senior Naval Officer whose career has taken him and the family worldwide. He is currently a Principle Program Representative at Electric Boat Corporation where he is managing the design and build of a future training ship. He holds a Political Science degree and Master's degree in Management. Jim and Mary have four children, two of which are serving their country as members of the armed forces, and Rebekah and Justin both of whom are students at MDS. Together they reside in Gales Ferry and enjoy outdoor activities.
Quote: "The children have so internalized the Montessori approach that it shows throughout the week. A keen interest in learning, self discipline and fun are evident in their everyday undertakings."