2005 MSS Graduate
Maximilian Eyle continued his education after graduating from MSS at Roberts Middle School and then at Corcoran High School in their International Baccalaureate program. During his time there, Max continued with his love of theater and competed on the varsity golf team.
He participated in Clear Channel Communications’ Image Campaign for the City Schools: “I was tired of people badmouthing the district … I think I can make a difference. I’d say that a large amount of the kids there really want to succeed and take full advantage of the opportunities available to them.”
Max attended Hobart and William Smith Colleges (HWS), where he majored in history and American studies. He studied in Spain during his junior year through the school’s program in Seville. Over his four years at HWS, he developed several radio shows for stations in New York State and Spain. This included The Iberian Injection, which explored cultural differences and collective experiences of students studying abroad. He interned with the Finger Lakes Radio Group, which broadcasts on six local commercial radio stations. In 2013, he interned with National Public Radio (NPR) station WAER-FM, 88.3 in Syracuse.
Max enjoys playing harmonica and piano and has been dancing tango since he was twelve years old. He has returned to MSS to do demonstrations over the year for the students, and he started a tango group at HWS. A long-time lover of food, Max enjoys brewing beer and cooking. He indulged this interest by working in the bakery and cheese shop at Wegmans during high school and college. Having graduated HWS in 2015, he has continued to pursue his dreams in Spain, where he is currently teaching English in Menorca for the Spanish Ministry of Education.
2004 MSS Graduate
Luke Gianforte graduated from MSS and continued his education in the Cazenovia Public Schools’ middle and high schools. During his high school years, he participated in Project Lead the Way, applying engineering, science, math, and technology to solve open-ended problems in a real-world context.
Luke graduated from Cornell University in 2014 with a major in Animal Science and a minor in Agricultural Business. While there, he participated in the Dairy Fellows Program, learning about dairying’s diversity in New York State, nationally, and internationally. Luke traveled to California, Italy, and Germany to tour a wide variety of farms. Now Luke has returned to the Gianforte Farms to apply his skills of business management and familiarity with new field and processing technology.
Shortly after graduation, in 2015, Luke purchased 350 acres of farmland and increased the acreage of land rented by Gianforte Farms, doubling the size of his family’s working farmland. Luke was appointed to the USDA’s Farm Service Agency Committee in 2015. He has given a number of presentations to various farm-related businesses. He presented Farm Economics and Profitability and Cultivation Techniques to New York Certified Organic (NYCO), a group of organic farmers led by Cornell. He has also presented Organic Farming Practices to the State Fair horticulture judges and Generational Transfer of Farms and Farm Properties to the NOFA-NY state conference.
Luke and his family farm a total of 600 acres with ten grain crops. They employ cover-cropping, crop-rotation, wildlife ponds, tree plantations, nutrient management, precision-farming, conservation tillage, grass waterways, and raptor and pollinator habitat measures—and recently installed a windmill. Luke shared with us that, “It doesn’t matter what you are growing, conservation practices add value to the land. It’s the land that supports us.”
Gianforte Farms was recently awarded Farm of the Year by the Madison County Soil and Water Conservation District Board. The award is given to farms that enhance the local environment with conservation and best management practices on the ground. Congratulations to Luke and the entire Gianforte family!
2003 MSS Graduate
Carly graduated from Syracuse University in 2013 with a dual degree in Public Relations and Marketing Management. While at SU, Carly held several internships and was active in a variety of student organizations.
In recognition of her community involvement and academic achievement, Carly was selected as one of 35 Remembrance Scholars, an annual scholarship to honor and remember the 35 students who were killed in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 in 1988. After graduation, Carly moved to Detroit to take a public relations position at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. She spent three years providing communications counsel to leaders of fifteen clients across business segments, including corporate social responsibility, public affairs and information technology. Carly was also active in Blue Cross’ Young Professionals Network, launching their first reverse mentoring program that took form as a LinkedIn training program. Carly brought LinkedIn into Blue Cross to train 20 young professionals to be trainers for the company. These young professionals trained hundreds of Blue Cross employees within the first year of the program, improving the employer brand and connecting generations within the workforce.
Carly is a member of Toastmasters International, a public speaking and leadership organization. This spring she competed for the first time, taking first place at the local level and second in the division. Carly recently took on a new job on the media relations team at DTE Energy, an energy and energy technology provider for residential and commercial electric and natural gas.
Outside of work, Carly and her fiancé, Derek Weed, have been busy fixing up their new home, planning their upcoming wedding in July, and spending time with friends and family.
Carly’s proud mom is our own Patricia Choice Getz, MSS Director of Support Services.
2011 MSS Graduate
Tyler Gabriel (’11) attended MSS since his primary (preschool) years, and continued his tradition of hard work and academic excellence when he graduated MSS and moved on to middle and high school at Jamesville-Dewitt. Tyler has been on the High Honor Roll his entire high school career. His is a member of JD’s National Honor Society, which recognizes students who have an exceptional record in academics and service to their school and community.
Tyler is a founding member and officer of the JD Investment Club, in which students participate in a virtual stock market to test research strategies and market trends. He, too, has been very involved in MUN since his freshman year, winning awards with the organization, and is Co-President with his brother this year. MUN members learn about diplomacy, international relations, and the United Nations. It involves and teaches research, public speaking, writing, critical thinking skills, teamwork, and leadership. He was also elected by his peers to be chair at New York State conferences. Tyler is a starter on the JD soccer team, which was 4th runner up in New York State in 2013. He is planning to pursue science and engineering in college. Tyler has worked with an MSS parent’s company, Hehl Construction, as a construction assistant during his summers.
Tyler is a son of former MSS Marketing Communications Director Rene Gabriel, who is rightfully very proud!
2008 MSS Graduate
Long-time staff at MSS can remember when Shannon Quinn (’08) began at MSS as a four-year-old at our original location at Temple Beth El. Eight years later Shannon graduated from sixth grade at our Waldorf Parkway campus.
Shannon went on to attend the Baldwinsville public schools, and ultimately graduated high school at Manlius Pebble Hill. Now a junior at the University of Vermont, Shannon is an environmental studies major with a concentration in conservation and stewardship. Shannon’s long-term goal is to work in the field of wildlife conservation and management of Federal land and protected areas. With her strong interest in protecting the environment, she was the perfect candidate for the Wild Rockies Field Institute (WRFI) last summer, where she explored the complex cultural, political, and natural histories of some of the most interesting and beautiful landscapes in Montana. The college-accredited course at Montana Afoot and Afloat with the WRFI gave her the opportunity to backpack and kayak in Montana, learning about the human-land relationship.
Shannon and her colleagues spoke with tribal leaders, public figures, and spokespeople from the coal and renewable wind energy fields. This coming summer she will be training to become a whitewater rafting guide. Shannon enjoys backpacking, making art, swimming, dancing, and traveling. One of her life goals is to climb Mt. Denali, the highest peak in North America.
2008 MSS Graduate
After Mady Alfieris (‘08 ) graduated from 6th grade at MSS, she attended Jamesville Dewitt Middle and Upper schools. While there, Mady was a strong leader and excelled in her academic studies.
Mady was involved in student government and served as Student Body President in her senior year. She played on both the varsity volleyball and lacrosse teams. She actively volunteered in several organizations and was able to balance all of this while working part-time.
Mady is now a Junior at The George Washington University in Washington DC. She is working on completing a double major and will graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Mathematics and a Bachelor of Science in Economics. This past semester Mady studied abroad in Vienna, Austria.
Mady is a member of the Alpha Phi chapter at GW and served on the Executive Board for her sorority as the Vice President of Risk Management. As a member of Alpha Phi, Mady helps organize events and raises money for the Alpha Phi Foundation, which supports women’s cardiac care. During her sophomore year in college, Mady worked as a Sports Statistician for The Sports Quotient. She also served as Vice President of the Mathematics and Statistics Association and is a member of Women in Business. Mady also worked as a Teaching Assistant in the GW Math Department and is a calculus tutor. She interned in Credit Risk Management at Morgan Stanley in New York City last summer and is excited to return there this June. Outside of school and work, Mady is an avid sports enthusiast and a yoga instructor.
Mady’s older brother, Michael Alfieris (‘06) also graduated from MSS and went on to the Jamesville Dewitt schools. He served as Student Body President his senior year, played on the varsity volleyball team, worked at Wegmans and achieved honors in academics. Michael went on to the University of Delaware and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science with a Concentration in Physiology. He is now attending graduate school at the Medical.
2006 MSS Graduate
After graduating from MSS in 2006, John French-Lawyer continued his education at Manlius Pebble Hill School. At MPH, John played on the varsity tennis team. In his junior and senior years, he went with Operation Southern Comfort to help rebuild homes in New Orleans that had been affected by Hurricane Katrina.
He was a member of the National Honor Society, an AP Scholar and received the Philip E. Lewis Honors in Computer Science Award, the Sage College Scholarship Award and the Achievement in Computer Science Award.
John went on to attend the Saunders College of Business at Rochester Institute of Technology. He chose RIT for its robust co-op program, which gives students hands-on experience working in paid positions in their field of study. John was the recipient of a four-year RIT Presidential Scholarship, and was on the Dean’s List for all but one semester of his time there. John participated in the Delta Sigma Pi Business Fraternity, where he took on several leadership positions, including senior vice president. In that role he was responsible for the growth and social health of the chapter. The fraternity offered John leadership and management experience, as well as exposure to local business leaders. He received the group’s Most Outstanding Brotherhood Award multiple times and graduated magna cum laude with a degree in management information systems.
During his junior year, John completed a six-month IT co-op at Precision Castparts Corporations (PCC) in Groton, Connecticut. After a good learning experience, he decided to continue working with PCC after his graduation, entering its IT Development program. The program is designed to give young IT leaders wide range of experiences in two years. He began the program working in Spanish Fork, Utah, helping to deploy a new Enterprise Resource Planning system, and is currently working at the corporate office in Portland, Oregon, to deploy an enterprise infrastructure solution. He will complete the program in July 2018, at which point he will be placed in a growth position at one of the company’s almost 200 domestic sites.
Throughout his life, John has enjoyed the outdoors, and since graduation, he has begun exploring the national parks system. In the 16 months since his graduation, John has visited 18 national parks and monuments, including many of our country’s greatest natural phenomena. While some of these locations stood out for their vastness, others were more remote, and each adventure was an investment of time in enjoying what the outdoors has to offer.
2003 MSS Graduate
After graduating from MSS in 2003, Anna Weinberger attended Manlius Pebble Hill School. She graduated from the University of Scranton with an undergrad degree in business administration and a minor in accounting. She then went on to Syracuse University, graduating in 2015 with a master’s in library and information science.
While attending graduate school, Anna enjoyed singing with the Spirit of Syracuse Chorus and interning at Southwest Airlines as the Corporate Archiving Intern. She especially enjoyed getting to travel all over the country on standby while at Southwest! She also worked at the Family Resource Center at the Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital. While at Upstate, Anna decided she wanted to continue working with children and to get her degree in library science, so that she could work full-time as a children’s librarian.
In May of 2016 Anna found her dream job, as the children’s services librarian at the Kingwood Branch Library in Kingwood, Texas (northeast of Houston). She loved working with her little patrons, especially doing robotics courses with the elementary children, and leading story time for rambunctious preschoolers.
Disaster struck the Houston area with Hurricane Harvey in late August, and Anna had to evacuate her apartment due to the rising water. She waded through rain and chest-high floodwater with her cat Chip on her head in his cat carrier, and made it safely to her sister’s house in Porter, Texas, after riding in two boats, on the back of a dump truck and in a car.
By the end of the hurricane, though her housing com-plex ended up with 7.5 feet of water, Anna’s apartment was deemed livable and her belongings were all safe! Anna’s library — the Kingwood Branch-received 3.5 feet of water, and with the high humidity, that destroyed her Children’s Department. Furniture, electronics, craft supplies and all the books were ruined. Anna is now working at the Library Administration Building, and beginning the work of restocking her library and the three other Harris County libraries that were flooded.
If you would like to contribute toward the effort to buy new books for Anna’s library, donations are being collected by the Friends of the Library, Kingwood on their website kingwoodfolk.org. Any money donated will fund new books for the Kingwood Branch Library.
Anna’s family has been connected with MSS for almost 20 years. Anna is the daughter of our primary music teacher and elementary art teacher Denise Weinberger. Her sister Julie W. Martin teaches in Maple Cottage, and her sister Jennie is a former Pine Cottage teacher.
2002 MSS Graduate
Morgane was one of our school’s very first students at our original location at Temple Beth El! Her family made the move with us to our current campus on Waldorf Parkway in 2000. After her graduation, Morgane attended Fayetteville-Manlius Schools, where she graduated in 2008.
Morgane worked as an operations supervisor for a large monitoring station in Syracuse for many years and later moved to the Southwest, where she was a crew supervisor for a nature conservation corps.
When Morgane recently checked in with us, she let us know that she now works as a Hotshot Firefighter. She is part of an elite firefighting group called the Mormon Lake Hotshots, based in Flagstaff, Arizona.
There are many different kinds of wildland firefighting crews, and Morgane works in one of the most highly trained crews in the country, called an Interagency Hotshot crew. These crews battle the most serious fires nationwide and exceed the requirements of type 1 firefighters in terms of their extensive training and high physical fitness standards. They undertake difficult, dangerous, and stressful assignments. They respond to large, high-priority fires and are trained and equipped to work in remote areas for extended periods of time with little logistical support.
Morgane’s crew is highly trained and utilized to fight the biggest, hottest, most dangerous and physically grueling parts of big fires. Because they deploy to the nastiest fires, the crew travels all over the country and are typically on the road for about six months at a time (with breaks usually every 14 days).
While assigned a fire, they work 14-to 18-hour days, sleep on the ground and often eat dehydrated food. They utilize all-terrain vehicles, helicopters, and hike to fires in remote areas. On many fires they fought last summer, they hiked up to 15 miles per day carrying full gear (50-70 pounds).
Hotshots are considered professional hikers, and many of the men on Morgane’s crew are some of the strongest hikers in the country. Morgane is the only woman on her crew of 20, and she says that “I spend a good portion of the winter training to be able to keep up with my coworkers.” Chainsaws and hand tools are the most commonly used tools to construct handlines, removing all fuel material to stop a fire. Morgane tells us, “Working as a hotshot is definitely a kind of lifestyle. I’m essentially on from April to October and work and travel almost nonstop for six months. After October, I start my off-season with many of my coworkers, and I travel, relax, ski and climb, until fire season starts again in April.”
Morgane’s parents live in Fayetteville, and she is the oldest of her two sisters, Mia and Clair, and brother Sam, all of whom attended MSS.
Jonathan Koss began at MSS at our first location in Temple Beth El and then moved on to Manlius Pebble Hill for middle and high school. At MPH he was captain of the tennis team and a National AP Scholar there. He also received a “5,” the highest score possible, on eight AP exams, including calculus, physics, economics, and chemistry.
From 2012 to 2016 Jonathan attended Case Western Reserve University where he received concurrent B.S. degrees in electrical engineering and management – finance. He worked as a research assistant at the Case Biomanufacturing and Microfabrication Laboratory on an Android application to measure blood clotting of sickle-cell patients. The app is to be used with a phone attachment that has microscopic imaging capabilities.
Jon was also an investment banking intern focusing on derivatives at KeyBanc Capital Markets in Cleveland, in the summer of 2015, and a finalist in the Tibetan Innovation Challenge in 2015, where Jonathan met the Dalai Lama of Tibet. This past summer Jon was a cognitive automation intern at KPMG in Manhattan. Jon continued his education as a Tesla Scholar at Columbia University where he was a research assistant in the Laboratory for Intelligent Imaging and Neural Computing. One of his projects was programming an autonomous robot to perform complex tasks with guidance from a human controller via EEG. He graduated in 2018 with an M.S. in electrical engineering. Jonathan will begin at the Yale School of Engineering & Applied Science this coming fall, doing research at Yale Medical School in pursuit of a Ph.D. in engineering.
Jonathan has co-authored many articles including: “Relating Deep Neural Network Representations to EEG-fMRI Spatiotemporal Dynamics in a Perceptual Decision-making Task” presented at the Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition Workshops 2018; “Task Level Hierarchical System for BCI-Enabled Shared Autonomy” at the 2017 IEEE-RAS International Conference on Humanoid Robotics; and “Point-of-Care System for Monitoring Cellular Adhesion in Sickle Cell Disease” at the 2017 Biomedical Engineering Society Conference. As this goes to press, he is preparing to present results of a study at a conference in Singapore.
Jonathan has stayed in close touch with his MSS friends John Alex French-Lawyer (2006) and Max Eyle (2005) and enjoys coming back to visit MSS whenever he can! He and Alex watched the eclipse in Portland, Oregon, last summer, and in December, Jon and Max traveled together on their Birthright Israel trips.
2010 MSS Graduate
After her graduation from MSS, Maria Vazquez went on to excel in middle and high school at the Jamesville-DeWitt Schools. She is currently attending Loyola University in Baltimore and is really enjoying her experience there as a junior with a major in information systems and minor in data science.
Maria is on the board of the Crochet for a Cause Club, where students crochet bed mats for homeless people from recycled plastic bags. The club’s mission is “to aid the homeless by crocheting portable bed rolls from plastic bag yarn (plarn), to decrease waste, improve the environment, and to provide useful fellowship opportunities for our members.”
Maria has traveled extensively in Europe in recent years, primarily to Spain to visit family. She and her younger sister Julia Vazquez (2011) both learned to speak the Spanish language fluently while living in the country.
Maria participated in Loyola’s study abroad program this past summer, and she let us know that “the program was amazing; I couldn’t speak more highly of my experience. . . it was well-planned, educational and immersive.” Maria found that the Czech Republic was culturally quite different when contrasted with other European countries, due to its recent communist past. She and her fellow Loyola University students were able to speak directly with Czech people about their experiences during World War II, in both Prague and rural areas. They went to the Jachymov uranium mines to see POW camps and were surprised to learn that the recent history of the country is not taught to its young people. Maria’s family remains very connected with MSS, as her mother, Sharon Vazquez, is our Sixth Level Program director.
2012 MSS Graduate
Jared Dunn began his time at MSS in Maple Cottage in 2004. From an early age, he loved singing and performing, but he really developed a love for theater with Mrs. Getz in the Willow Theater Workshops. After he graduated in 2012, theater became a cornerstone of his post-MSS experience.
Since graduating, he has worked on over twenty school, community and regional theater productions. He was especially struck by the people and connections he made working in the Syracuse theater community, and his experiences led him to found At Rise Productions, a community theater company that targets high school students as artists and audience members. This past May, he directed At Rise’s first production, You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown. For this, he was nominated for a Syracuse Area Live Theater (SALT) award for Best Director of a Musical in the community theater category. The cast, pit crew and creative team of You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown were all students 18 years old or younger, although they received plenty of help and support from parents and mentors, including MSS alumnus Luke Tarnow-Bulatowicz (2010). The cast included Jared’s two brothers Ryan Dunn (2014) and Justin Dunn (2018), who played Charlie Brown and Woodstock, respectively. The cast also featured former MSS student Blake Lucas in the role of Linus.
This summer, Blake unexpectedly passed away, leaving the community reeling from the loss of a loved one. Blake and Jared’s friendship started when they were in Cedar Classroom together, and although they had been out of touch for a few years, their old bond came back naturally when they worked together on You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown. After Blake’s passing, Jared helped put together a cabaret fund raiser for Blake’s family in his memory, featuring nine original songs that Jared co-wrote with his friend Nancy O’Connor, the music director of You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown. The entire cast was there to sing the songs, and friends and family came to offer their love and support. Luke returned to Syracuse to help with the tech aspects of the show. It was incredibly difficult, but it was beautiful to see everyone gathered there to honor Blake with music. After graduating from MSS, Jared first attended Wellwood Middle School in the Fayetteville-Manlius School District for two years. The contrast between MSS and Wellwood sparked Jared’s interest in learning about different kinds of education, and in ninth grade, he decided to homeschool. After his year of homeschooling, Jared spent his sophomore year at FM High School before moving with his family for ten months to Almuñécar, Spain, where he attended the local Spanish public high school. For his senior year, Jared returned to FM High School from which he graduated in 2018.
Jared is now spending a gap year in Spain, something he had been planning to do since he was very young, before attending Brown University in the fall of 2019. He is currently volunteering with Aiurri Montessori, a Montessori school in Vitoria-Gasteiz, which is a city in northern Spain in the Basque Country. He volunteers four days a week, helping out in the three- to six-year-old classrooms in the mornings and teaching English to the six to nine-year-olds in the afternoons. He plans to stay in Vitoria-Gasteiz until the end of January, and do some more traveling around Spain and Europe, volunteering with more schools.
2012 MSS Graduate
Elissa Kempisty graduated after her primary and elementary years at MSS in 2012 and continued her education at Christian Brothers Academy (CBA). She was a member of the track team – long jump and triple jump-and was a sectional champion in both categories from 9th to 12th grades. She was a member of the National Honor Society and received the Brother B. James Quinn Religion Award at graduation.
Elissa founded an environmental awareness campaign called SayNo2PlasticH2O to spread awareness about the negative impact of bottled water. She also raised money for The Water Project, which builds wells and provides access to clean water in African communities. Elissa graduated from CBA in May of 2018 and is currently attending Babson College, studying business and sustainability with a concentration in marketing. She is a member of the Sustainability and Environmental Club at Babson and is a co-founder of the Babson Figure Skating Club and Collegiate Figure Skating Team. In her spare time Elissa enjoys hiking, running, skiing and cooking, and she has an interest in painting, photography and other exploration of the arts.
Elissa’s dream growing up was to be a champion figure skater and synchronized skater, and ultimately part of Team USA. She followed that dream her entire school career at MSS and CBA and continues now at Babson College. During high school she was a member of Mirror Images Synchronized Skating Team, and she also trained in Skaneateles, Baldwinsville, Ithaca and Cortland. During the 2017-2018 season, she trained with her current junior-level team, the Lexettes, and she makes the trip to Boston many times a week to work with them. In the 2018-2019 season, Elissa and the Lexettes were in the top five at both internationals in Sweden and France. They are part of Team USA, representing the U.S. worldwide, and are the 2018 U.S. National Silver Medalists. She will be training with the senior team National Champions, the Haydenettes, this spring and summer in anticipation of becoming a member of that championship team this fall. All the teams give back to the community through volunteer work and exhibition skating.
Elissa says this about her passion for skating: “‘Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.’ This quote by Henry David Thoreau has followed me throughout my life, as has my dream to skate for Team USA. To all of the students at Montessori, if you have a dream, chase it! You never know where that dream will take you, and don’t let anyone tell you it’s impossible because those are the dreams that are worth it.”
Shelby Weinstein attended MSS from her primary years into elementary, until she moved to Jamesville-DeWitt Middle School in the fifth grade. Shelby graduated from high school there in 2012, and then attended the University of Rochester, where she majored in public health and psychology, graduating in 2016. While living there, she met her partner, Ian Davison, a software engineer, and volunteered at Planned Parenthood, working with a health educator.
The couple decided to make a move to New York City, where Shelby worked for Amplicare, a health care technology company, as a customer success manager. The company sells software to small local pharmacies with the goal of making medications affordable for their elderly customers and keeping the pharmacies competitive with larger pharmaceutical chains.
Shelby decided to return to school and is now at Boston University in the first year of her master’s of public health degree with a concentration in maternal and child health. Shelby is passionate about reproductive health education, and her long-term professional goal is to work in sexual and reproductive health education.
Loving yoga, she also decided to take the comprehensive six-month training to become a certified yoga instructor, and she enjoys teaching yoga three times a week at MIT. In her spare time, she creates exquisite embroidery and runs an embroidery Instagram @sew_whatt_. The couple also enjoys hiking and recently visited Mt. Rainier National Park in Washington State.
2007 MSS Graduate
Kea Glazier graduated from MSS in 2007, then went on to Jamesville DeWitt High School (JDHS), where she graduated in 2013. She continued with her love of performing arts, which began at MSS, and participated in musicals, dance and theatre. She competed on the track and gymnastics teams and was a member of the National Honor Society. She kept up her study of the French language and in high school was the president of the French club. Kea was an avid equestrian through high school and college, spending summers competing at local shows.
During high school and college, Kea had an active role working alongside her mother, former MSS teacher Theresa Grosso, helping her run her juice bar, Koinonia, in DeWitt where she discovered her interest in business. In college at Syracuse University (SU), Kea studied business and found Koinonia the perfect opportunity to apply the skills she learned to real-world scenarios.
Kea graduated from SU in 2017 with a B.S. in business management. While there, she was a member of Delta Phi Epsilon sorority and the Western Equestrian Team. After graduating from Syracuse University, she spent a year in the coastal city of Wilmington, N.C., before moving to Washington, D.C., where she now works for a nonprofit on a corporate engagement team helping to connect corporate partners with philanthropic opportunities in the local community. Kea is concurrently pursuing her masters in homeland security and counterterrorism at Penn State University.
In her spare time, Kea enjoys traveling, hiking with her dog and a good book. Kea keeps a journal of personal poems and short stories, a passion she discovered during her time at MSS. She is deeply appreciative of the inspiring guidance of Carol Lawyer, who was influential in cultivating her interest in creative writing.
2012 MSS Graduate
After completing preschool and elementary at MSS, Annabella Owens graduated in 2012 and continued her education at East Syracuse Minoa (ESM) school. She graduated from ESM in 2018 and moved on to Colorado College (CC) in Colorado Springs.
Annabella is majoring in cultural and linguistic anthropology, and minoring in French, with the long-term goal of law school. In the summer of 2019, she traveled to Dakar, Senegal, to study abroad, speaking Wolof and French with her host family. They traveled together to the Museum of Black Civilizations and the Gorée Islands World Heritage Site in Senegal. Annabella participated in field work for her research, investigating the repatriation of cultural goods from western countries to Senegal. Annabella also did a multi-week internship in Colorado Springs working for the Refugee and Asylee Program there, a nonprofit refugee resettlement program.
Nuriyah Owens and her children wanted us to know that they applaud and celebrate our 25th anniversary with us. They joined our school community in 2001, one of the first new families on our Waldorf Parkway campus!
2009 MSS Graduate
Jeffrey Owens attended MSS, graduating in 2009. He moved next to the ESM school, graduating in 2015, and proceeded to Colorado College, majoring in STEM psychology and minoring in French.
During his time there, Jeffrey studied abroad in Grenoble, in the French Alps. He graduated from CC in 2019 and was delighted to have Oprah Winfrey as the commencement speaker at his graduation. Jeff currently works for an innovation institute in Colorado Springs doing project-based work for the institute’s various clients. He is now looking at graduate school choices, with an eye toward research & business innovation.
Nuriyah Owens and her children wanted us to know that they applaud and celebrate our 25th anniversary with us. They joined our school community in 2001, one of the first new families on our Waldorf Parkway campus!
2011 MSS Graduate
Robert Dotterer graduated from MSS in 2011 and went to the Jamesville-DeWitt High School public schools for middle and high school, graduating from JDHS in 2017. He is currently a junior at Hamilton College, majoring in math and economics.
Robert’s consistent sports focus and passion has been tennis, and he began competing while in the Evergreen (six-to-nine-year-old) classroom at MSS. He enjoys competition and played in many tournaments during his elementary years.
Robert played varsity tennis for six years for JDHS, and in four of his six years on the team he qualified for the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Tournaments, playing at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York City. For two of the tournaments, he played doubles with MSS graduate Peter Hatton (2015). In addition, Rob had the distinction of being the first player in JDHS history to earn 100 wins during his high school career.
Robert now plays tennis for Hamilton College and was one of ten men on the Hamilton College men’s tennis team who earned 2019 Intercollegiate Tennis Association scholar-athlete status. To be eligible for this honor, the athlete must be a varsity letter winner and maintain a grade point average of 3.50 or better for the academic year. In the 2018-19 season, Robert was named to the Spring All-Academic team by the NESCAC, the New England Small College Athletic Conference.
Robert feels that both his MSS and Hamilton College educations have taught him how to think and learn, and have provided him a foundation for success, whatever future path he chooses to take.
1998 MSS Graduate
Dustin Getz was our school’s first graduate in 1998, twenty-two years ago! He is the son of Patricia Choice Getz, our music and theatre teacher, Director of Support Services and a co-founder of the school. Dustin tells us, “I feel so privileged and lucky to have received the gift of a Montessori education. It instilled in me a love of learning, deep creativity and ability to reason from first principles. Montessori thinking is at the foundation of everything that I am.”
After graduating from MSS, Dustin went on to Christian Brothers Academy (CBA), where he played percussion in the concert band, drums in the jazz band and was a percussionist in the Syracuse Youth Symphony. He played football for CBA and was an Eagle Scout. In those years he organized a community service project with his scout troop for Maple Cottage at MSS. When he graduated from CBA, Dustin received the annual mathematics music awards. What Dustin recalls as most meaningful from his high school years is teaching himself computer programming. As the web came of age, Dustin spent hundreds of hours online, programming and teaching himself how to code his own video games.
Dustin studied computer engineering at Villanova University in Pennsylvania. Crediting Montessori’s “love of learning,” Dustin challenged himself to take the hardest engineering courses and was in the honors program at Villanova. Upon graduation, Dustin the Dean’s Award for Academic Excellence and Computer Engineering Medallion, with the distinction of graduating first in his class. He continued to play drums and vibraphone for the Villanova Jazz Band and bass drum for their marching band.
Upon graduation, Dustin worked as a software engineer for Lockheed Martin. In his mid-20s, he took a three-month sabbatical to intensively study programming in New York City, prioritizing aspects of programming underutilized in his job. He feels that his “love of learning paid off huge and I quickly gathered the skills and confidence I needed to become a self-employed, independent programmer, doing freelance work for tech start-ups.”
During those years, Dustin also developed his own product, Hyperfiddle, and when he turned 30, he founded his own company to market it. His company is a research lab focused on making software information systems simpler for laypeople. Now in its fourth year, his company has its first product available, a spreadsheet-like tool that lets anyone be a programmer. If any friends of Montessori would like to invest in this exciting growth start-up, you can contact Dustin at email@example.com.
In his spare time, Dustin continues to play vibraphone and runs in fund-raising marathons. He let us know that he is “so grateful to Mary, Susan and my mother, Pat, for their life’s’ work of creating the MSS and spreading the gift of curiosity and learning to our children.”
2005 MSS Graduate
After graduating from MSS in 2005, Piper Gianforte went on to attend Cazenovia Middle and High Schools. While there, she excelled in track and field, going to the state championship in both the 4 x 100 relay and the pole vault. She still holds the record in the latter today. Piper was consistently on yhe honor roll throughout high school, was on the National Honor Society and served as the student body president at Cazenovia her senior year. Throughout high school Piper continued to follow her passion of photography and sold her images in greeting cards.
In 2015, Piper began college in the natural resources program at Cornell University and later transferred to Roger Williams University in Rhode Island. She created her own major of interdisciplinary studies in visual communications. She was president of the Photography Club and worked for the school’s phonathon. In her junior year Piper took her first film class, which sparked a new level of curiosity and expanded her passion for image-making. She also studied abroad at the University of Cape Town in South Africa for a semester, which she still considers the best five months of her life!
Piper graduated magna cum laude in 2015 and headed to New York City, where she landed an internship with an advertising and production company, which sparked her career in the media industry. For the past few years Piper has worked predominantly in New York City as a freelance producer and coordinator on various television shows and video content. Notable credits include Project Runway All Stars, Ramy on Hulu, four different HBO specials and most recently John Mulaney & the Sack Lunch Bunch on Netflix. Her favorite project to date was working as the coordinating producer with former Vice-President Al Gore’s not-for-profit on the global broadcast of 24 Hours of Reality, which showcases how individuals, communities, businesses and governments worldwide are working to solve the climate crisis.
Piper’s older brother Luke Gianforte (2004) runs the family’s organic grain farm in Cazenovia, NY. Being freelance, Piper takes advantage of her flexible schedule and helps on the farm during busy summer weeks. Piper’s mother, Judy Gianforte, was a teacher at MSS in the lower elementary classroom and was also the fitness instructor. Judy developed and taught the Land Lab program, the Nona’s Corner library and a students and seniors program at The Nottingham. Judy is semi-retired from her job as executive director of Cazenovia Preservation Foundation and mills grain products from the farm.
Piper currently lives in Jersey City, NJ, with her boyfriend of over five years, Mike Hanna. They love to collect sea glass along the shore, eat their way through Manhattan and go to the many events the city has to offer. Piper is an advocate for mental health, loves to consistently break the dumb-farmer stereotype and travel as much as possible. She has a love for nature and animals that was instilled while growing up on their family farm, and she has raised both a baby sparrow and pigeon in their apartment! Their current pet is her cat, Stella.
2011 MSS Graduate
After graduating from MSS in 2011, Milan Gupta continued his education at Christian Brothers Academy (CBA). While there, he was consistently on the high honor roll, maintained a 100 percent average in math and science, and had perfect scores in two of his three SATs. In his senior year Milan took five Advanced Placement courses and won a National AP Scholar award by earning an average score of at least 4 on all AP exams taken.
During high school he participated in a community service project at Romero Center Ministries in New Jersey, learning about the special challenges that face the poverty-stricken city. He played varsity basketball and was the captain of the varsity tennis team. He also participated in the Science Olympiad, Math League and Mastermind. He was the class valedictorian at CBA in 2015.
Milan selected the University of Michigan for his undergraduate work, where he is a junior studying data science with a minor in entrepreneurship. He is a member of the Michigan Research and Discovery Scholars, as well as the student-run consulting club that does pro bono work for local businesses. He stated that “I’m passionate about using big data to develop creative and innovative solutions to real-world problems.” In his freshman year, Milan was awarded the William J. Branstrom Freshman Prize for first-term freshmen who rank in the upper five percent of their class within their school or college. He is a James B. Angell Scholar, an honor awarded to those students who earn all A’s for two or more consecutive terms. He was also awarded the Outstanding Consultant honor, for his work at the MECC Consulting Group, consulting with Rocket Fiber, a start-up fiber internet service provider.
In the summer of, 2018 Milan studied abroad in Turin, Italy, participating in an entrepreneurship accelerator program, in which participants had to quickly come up with and develop mock start up ideas. They developed Sanjana, a non profit organization designed to give rural communities in India access to health information. He also traveled to Milan, Lake Como and Geneva, Switzerland.
Milan spent last summer interning for Apple at its headquarters in Cupertino, California. He was selected as a finalist in iContest, a competition among Apple interns in which they propose new Apple product or feature ideas. As a finalist, Milan presented a product to Apple executives. While living in California, he enjoyed a trip to Yosemite National Park, and learning to surf!
2003 MSS Graduate
After graduating from MSS, Laura Flagg (2003) continued her education at Manlius Pebble Hill along with several other MSS graduates! She graduated from MPH in 2010 and continued her studies at Occidental College in Los Angeles, where she received dual degrees in sociology and urban and environmental policy.
During her time at Occidental, she studied abroad in Amsterdam and later in Hong Kong as a fellow in the Luce Scholars Program. She also interned at the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy.
Laura returned to Syracuse to take the job of program assistant at the Syracuse University Center for Sustainable Community Solutions. While there she worked on sustainable materials management (SMM) programs throughout United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) Region 2. Her work included the development and implementation of the New York SMM Product Stewardship Program and the Food Recovery Campaign, as well as the US EPA’s New Jersey/New York Trash Free Waters Program. Laura decided to return to school in 2016 at Tufts University and graduated in 2018 with a masters in urban and environmental policy and planning. Her focus in graduate school was equitable and just food systems, and local food economies. While at Tufts, she was able to put what she learned into practice as the food economy coordinator at the city of Revere.
She now works as the marketing and business development manager at Bon Me, an independent restaurant and food truck group in Boston. She and her husband also operate Mad Spice Company, an e-commerce and wholesale spice business. They specialize in vanilla sourced directly from Malagasy farmers, whom Matthew has been working with since he was a Peace Corps volunteer in Madagascar in 2011.
During her free time Laura, loves exploring new restaurants and pop-ups in Boston, hiking along the North Shore, and traveling with friends — in a pre – and post-COVID world!
2003 MSS Graduate
Kate Duffy (2003) attended Manlius Pebble Hill School (MPH) for middle and high school after graduating from MSS. During her time at MPH, she was an avid ski racer and participated on the varsity lacrosse and soccer teams. In her senior year of high school, Kate was awarded an Academic All-American title in Lacrosse. The award honors student-athletes who have performed well academically while regularly competing for their school.
Kate went on to study biochemistry at Stonehill College near Boston. She was a member of the Student Alumni Association and assisted in planning reunion weekends, alumni mentorship programs and university fund-raising. As part of her Biochemistry curriculum, she did research in physical organic chemistry and was a co-author of a paper published in the Chemical Science journal.
After graduating from Stonehill College in 2013, Kate moved to Boston where she worked as a process chemist at Twin Rivers Technologies. She really enjoyed Boston but had always wanted to live near the mountains, so three years later she followed her brother to Denver, Colorado. She worked as a research and development chemist at a cosmetics manufacturer, developing skin and hair care products. She has since moved to the operations team and works as the manufacturing manager.
Kate volunteers as a mentor with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Colorado and has been a big sister to her little sister Lala for the past three years. Kate loves the outdoors, skiing, hiking, running and anything that gets her out in the mountains. She is an avid traveler and goes back east often to spend time with her family and friends.
2013 MSS Graduate
After graduating from MSS, Quin Kenny (2013) attended Christian Brothers Academy, where she participated in Model United Nations and the Photography Club, was a member of the National Honor Society and played lacrosse. Quin is now attending Hobart and William Smith Colleges (HWS), majoring in French language and literature, and minoring in classical studies.
She is an active member of the HWS Congress and on the Deans’ Committee and is on the HWS Housing Committee. Quin enjoys being a peer mentor and an orientation leader for new HWS students. She is proud to have won the departmental award for the best second-year French student and was inducted into the national classical studies honor society, Eta Sigma Phi (her major and minor, respectively). Quin works as a part-time legal intern and at Speak! Language Center, where she is developing a comprehensive French curriculum for children and adults. Quin’s sorority (Theta Phi Alpha) elected her to be on their executive board as well. This summer Quin is beginning to study for her LSATs, as she is planning to go to law school after graduation.
2003 MSS Graduate
After graduating from MSS, Anna Kanter (2003) attended The Manlius Pebble Hill and graduated from there in 2009. She continued her education at Tufts University in Boston where she studied political science and public health and where she met her partner, Alden Sampson. Anna studied abroad in India, which further sparked her interest in public health and medicine. She became an EMT in Boston and worked the night shift, where she responded to 911 calls throughout the city and took care of patients experiencing everything from heart attacks to gunshot wounds to mental health crises.
Anna studied abroad in India, which further sparked her interest in public health and medicine. She became an EMT in Boston and worked the night shift, where she responded to 911 calls throughout the city and took care of patients experiencing everything from heart attacks to gunshot wounds to mental health crises.
Next Anna returned to Syracuse to complete her premed requirements at Syracuse University. She worked at Pastabilities restaurant in Armory Square with her friend and MSS alum Ryland Heagerty.
Currently between her second and third years of medical school at SUNY Upstate, Anna helps run a student-led clinic for clients at the Rescue Mission focusing on diabetes and foot issues. She is the former president of the Street Medicine Interest Group and worked with HouseCalls for the Homeless, a street medicine program in Syracuse that provides medical care for those experiencing homelessness.
Anna is interested in pediatrics but keeps an open mind as she tries out different medical specialties. She is now completing a one-year Master of Public Health at SUNY Upstate, as she wants to incorporate a public health approach in her practice of medicine. She’ll continue her third year of medical school this spring. Anna let us know that “it’s important to me to not only take care of the patient in front of me but also my whole community.”
Anna and her partner, Alden Sampson married in a small ceremony at the Rose Garden in Thornden Park in 2020, and in June of this year they welcomed their first child, Keene Sampson. She tells us, “He is sweet and smiley and loves to snuggle.” Their family enjoys hiking and canoeing, and baby Keene has already gone on his first paddle!
Anna’s mother, Deborah Kanter, is our medical consultant, a contact tracer and one of our very important COVID consultants.
2014 MSS Graduate
Kara Dunn (2014), graduated from Fayetteville-Manlius High School and spent her freshman year at Le Moyne College in its nursing program. She then decided to take a gap year and spent the fall in Washington state participating in Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF), visiting friends and traveling in California.
This spring she will be participating in a program through the YMCA in the Rocky Mountain National Park in Estes Park, Colorado, where she will work, do community service and take some trips to other national parks. In the fall she will transfer to the beautiful Appalachian State University in North Carolina. Kara’s hobbies are hiking, soccer, writing and spending time with her friends and family.
2016 MSS Graduate
Sam Dunn (2016) is a senior this year at Fayetteville-Manlius High School. He really enjoys soccer, and his team went to the state finals this year! He is now playing basketball and is a team captain for the Hornets. Sam will be one of the masters of ceremonies (MCs) for Fayetteville-Manlius Dance Marathon, the school’s biggest charity fundraiser of the year.
He recently had his head shaved along with the other MCs to raise additional money for the charity Camp Good Days, an organization that benefits children and families affected by cancer. He is hoping to attend college in either Southern California or North Carolina and will make his decision this spring. Sam’s hobbies are sports, going out to eat and spending time with his friends and family.
2020 MSS Graduate
An 8th grader at Wellwood Middle School, Maggie Dunn (2020) keeps very busy playing field hockey, lacrosse and, this year, volleyball for the first time. She loves animals, hanging out with friends and Dunkin’ Donuts. Maggie is quite industrious, making money pet sitting and baby sitting in her neighborhood.
The past four summers she has participated in the Manlius Junior Firefighter Academy, where she learns valuable skills related to being a firefighter. Maggie hopes to be a firefighter someday.
1999 MSS Graduate
Benjamin Weisenthal (1999) is a member of our first class at MSS, and the second graduate of our school. He attended the Jamesville-DeWitt schools, then spent a gap year in Chile through the Rotary Youth Exchange program, during which he became fluent in Spanish. Ben earned a bachelor of science degree in neuroscience from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Next, he earned his medical degree from the University of Rochester. While in medical school, Ben worked as a trainer at a local CrossFit gym and published a book on CrossFit injuries. His internship and residency were at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
Ben earned a Bachelor of Science degree in neuroscience from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Next, he earned his medical degree from the University of Rochester. While in medical school, Ben worked as a trainer at a local CrossFit gym and published a book on CrossFit injuries. His internship and residency were at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
Ben relates that he was drawn to medicine at a young age when he saw how surgery could positively impact patients’ lives, including his own. At the age of ten, he underwent spine surgery that transformed his life. In high school, he joined his father, an ophthalmologist, on medical mission trips where he watched patients enter the hospital with no sight and leave with full sight. These inspiring personal experiences launched his surgical career.
During his residency at Vanderbilt, Ben grew fascinated with the various forms of spinal pathology and surgical treatments that could be used to correct such conditions. After residency, he completed a combined Orthopedic and Neurosurgical Adult and Pediatric Fellowship at the Norton Leatherman Spine Center in Louisville, Kentucky.
Now settled in Knoxville, Tennessee, Dr. Ben Weisenthal works at the Knoxville Orthopedic Clinic. He and his wife, Kaycee Weeter Weisenthal were married in May of 2021, this past summer. Kaycee is an attorney and the owner and designer of Grove Paper Company. Ben works out at his home CrossFit gym and enjoys trail running and skiing and going on long walks with his wife and their dogs.