Faculty & Staff

AJLA prides itself on a highly trained and nurturing staff. 

Our PreK3 and PreK4 classes maintain an exceptional
1:6 teacher-to-student ratio.
All elementary grades have no more than 18 students with 2 teachers.

AJLA teachers lead children to ask questions and discover connections; to think and work independently, collaboratively and creatively; and to learn by doing.

Leadership

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Patty Lewis

Founder of AJLA
Patty is the Founder of AJLA and also serves as Head of School. With over ten years of classroom teaching experience, she holds a Master’s degree in Elementary Education and is licensed by the State of Connecticut as a Head Teacher for Child Day Care Centers for Birth to 5. Prior to founding Adam J. Lewis Academy, Patty taught in the Greens Farms Academy Lower School and later worked for seven years in its Office of Admission, giving educational assessments to four-year-olds applying for kindergarten.
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Julie Mombello

Co-Founder and Director
Julie is the Co-Founder and oversees all operations of AJLA. She holds a Master’s degree in Elementary Education and a Professional Educator’s Certificate for Pre K-6, and she is licensed by the State of Connecticut as a Head Teacher for Child Day Care Centers for Birth to 5 and School-Age Children. Prior to her work at AJLA, Julie worked at Greens Farms Academy as both a first grade teacher and Lower School Assistant Director of Admission. She also taught at Christ and Holy Trinity Preschool.
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John Munro

Assistant Head of School
John joins AJLA following nine years as Head of School at Fairfield Country Day School. At FCDS, John helped forge a partnership between the school’s sixth graders and the preschool children at AJLA. Earlier in his 30-year career in independent school education, John served on the Board of Directors of Buffalo Prep, a program with a mission of preparing underserved middle school students for admission to the area’s finest secondary schools. John grew up in New Canaan and attended Hamilton College where he was a classmate of Adam Lewis. John also holds a Master’s degree in Liberal Studies from Wesleyan University.

Neal Edelson

Director of Philanthropy and Strategic Development
Neal joined AJLA following 4 years as a Senior Development Officer and 20+ years as a volunteer summer cabin counselor with The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp (THITW), Prior to working at THITW, Neal was Regional VP for Benefitmall, a national group health insurance general agency, where he was responsible for the sales, marketing and operations of the 60 employee tristate region. Neal began his career as an attorney with the music industry's trade association, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), where he worked to protect the copyrighted musical recordings of it's member record companies. After working at RIAA, Neal joined BMG Music and in addition to providing legal and business affairs counsel to several divisions, including the children's music and video divisions, Neal managed the class action lawsuits brought in 26 jurisdictions, involving the recording artists known as Milli Vanilli. Neal received his undergraduate degree from Queens College and his JD from New York Law School.
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Debralee Woodfine

Business Operations Manager
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Brooke Clark

Director of Family Programs

PreK Green

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Aline Lopes

Aline graduated from Fordham University with a Bachelors of Arts in Sociology. She then earned a Masters of Arts in Teaching with a concentration in Early Childhood Education from Manhattanville College. Aline has 5 years of experience as a head preschool teacher. She has taught students ages 3 to 5 in both Greenwich and Brookfield CT. She also has experience working with children with special needs. Additionally, Aline has helped implement and design early childhood programs for various organizations in her surrounding community. When she is not teaching, she enjoys spending time with her family, taking dance lessons, and playing the flute.
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Talli Connel

Talli graduated from Davidson College with a BA in Economics and after working in the world of finance for 6 years, earned her Master’s degree in Early Childhood Education from NYU’s Steinhardt School of Education. She taught in a Pre-K classroom at York Avenue Preschool in New York City before having her own family. Talli currently lives in Fairfield with her husband and three children.
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Widlaine Lamb

Widlaine has been an educator for the past 15 years. She studied Early Childhood Education at Norwalk Community College and than went on to study Human Services & Psychology at the University of Bridgeport. Widlaine taught as a Head Preschool teacher for 10 years in private preschools and then went on to teach her own children as a stay-at-home mom! She is married with 3 boys, two of whom are AJL alumni!

PreK White

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Kate McTague

Kate joins AJLA with over 10 years of experience in a Montessori Classroom. A graduate of College of the Holy Cross, she studied political science and began her teaching career as a 6th grade teacher at an inner-city school on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. In addition to her work at AJLA, she serves as an Academic Coach for several high school students through GFA Horizon’s in Bridgeport.
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Laura Huertas

Laura graduated from University of Connecticut with a BA in Human Development Family Studies with a concentration in Early Childhood Development. She also holds her Associates degree in Early Childhood Education from Norwalk Community College. Prior to joining AJLA, she worked at Greenwich Country Day School where she spent three years in the Daycare department and two years as a preschool Co-Teacher. When Laura is not at school, she enjoys doing Zumba, going hiking and spending time with her family.
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Sandy Dauk

Sandy spent the last 23 years teaching PreK at Rippowam Cisqua, Sacred Heart Greenwich and King School in Stamford, CT. She received her undergraduate in Sociology from St. Lawrence University and her graduate degree in early childhood & special education from Manhattanville College. She loves spending the day with children and being witness to all the social-emotional, cognitive and physical growth during this magical year! When not at school, she enjoys spending her time fishing or at the beach with her husband and three children.

PreK 4

Doreen

Doreen Davis

Doreen joined AJLA in 2015 and before that was a head teacher in the early childhood classroom for seven years. She is a certified teacher in the State of Connecticut, and she is licensed by the State as a Head Teacher for Children Birth to 5 and School-Age Children. Doreen holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a Master’s degree in Elementary Education.
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Emma Salandra

Emma graduated from College of the Holy Cross with a double major in English and Theater, and went on to receive her Masters in Childhood General and Special Education from Fordham University. She has spent the last five years teaching in New York City, but is so excited to be back home in CT to join the AJLA community. She lives in Bridgeport with her family, where they spend the weekends going to the beach, hiking, and reading books together at home!
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Melissa Stoll

Melissa graduated from the University of Delaware with a BA in Early Childhood Education and a minor in Disability Studies. Additionally, she earned a dual Master’s degree in Literacy and Childhood Special Education from Manhattanville College. Prior to joining AJLA, Melissa has taught in early childhood classrooms for the past 5 years in New York where she was born and raised. She recently moved to Connecticut and is excited to learn more about the area! When Melissa is not at school, she enjoys hiking, snowboarding, and going to the beach with her family.

Kindergarten

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Carla Patrona

Carla joined AJLA having worked in private education for 13 years. During those years, she taught in all of the lower elementary grades, ranging from Pre-Kindergarten to Second grade. Her most recent experiences included creating and implementing a revised early learning program for Pre-Kindergarten and teaching Kindergarten, and she is most passionate about these first school experiences. Carla holds a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and Psychology from Northeastern University where her teacher training also focused on urban education. Carla is excited to serve the community of Bridgeport and is committed to providing a year of excellence and growth to her Kindergarten students.
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Madeleine Ker

Madeleine joins AJLA after teaching Kindergarten for three years at New Canaan Country School. She graduated from Elon University with a Bachelor of Science in Sport & Event Management and a minor in Business Administration. Madeleine is passionate about early childhood development and is pursuing her Masters in Educational Studies from Manhattanville College. While not working with children, she enjoys going to the beach, taking walks with her dog, Charley, and spending time with family and friends.

1st Grade

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Abby Ginsberg

Abby has had the opportunity to teach first grade (her favorite grade!) for over 5 years in both private and public school settings. She holds a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Vermont in Early Childhood Education and a minor in Special Education. Additionally, she has a Master’s degree from Bank Street College of Education in Curriculum and Instruction. Her favorite part about being in first grade is using hands on experience to explore new ideas and find answers to challenging questions. When Abby’s not at school, she enjoys going on hikes with her dog Emmy, playing board games with her family, and although she’s not the best cook, she loves to go out and try new foods!
Olivia

Olivia Reny

Olivia joins the AJLA community after teaching first and second grades at Greens Farms Academy for the past 3 years. Additionally, she taught PreK and second grade at Horizons at GFA, providing intensive academic support to students during summer break. She graduated from Trinity College with a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and an interdisciplinary minor in Women and Gender Studies. Olivia also holds a Master’s degree in Elementary Education from University of Bridgeport. When she is not at school, Olivia enjoys running, going to the beach, and visiting her family in Maine!

2nd Grade

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Amy Klopp

Amy joins the AJLA community after teaching 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades for 6 years at The Churchill School and Center in Manhattan. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Education and Psychology from Connecticut College. Additionally, she holds a Master's Degree in Special Education from Manhattanville College. When she is not at school, Amy enjoys running marathons, playing in soccer leagues, and hiking with friends and family!
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Brianna Pavesi

Brianna joins AJLA after teaching second grade and kindergarten at the Greenwich Country Day School for the past two years. She graduated from the University of Delaware with a B.S. in Elementary Education with a concentration in Special Education. In addition, she is currently working towards her M. Ed. in Teacher Leadership, also from the University of Delaware. Roll hens! When Brianna is not at school, she is coaching her swim team, going on adventures with her dog, or shopping at the nearest farmers market and local stores.

3rd Grade

Molly Lyons

Molly comes to AJLA from Washington, DC where she taught third grade for nine years in both public and private school settings. Molly holds a Master of Education in Elementary Education from George Washington University and is certified to teach in the state of Virginia. Over the years, Molly has developed a strong interest in working with her students around executive functions and growth mindset, and she strives to help her students better understand themselves as learners. Outside of the classroom, you can find Molly running, practicing yoga, trying new restaurants and spending time with friends and family.
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Will Shaw

Will is originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, and graduated from Wabash College with a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and a minor in Art History. He began his teaching career at New Canaan Country School, where he taught 4th & 5th grades for the past 3 years. When Will is not at school, he enjoys long bike rides, fishing, and going on camping trips!

Specials

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Jennifer Bargas

Jen was new to AJLA in the 2017-2018 school year. She has eleven years of teaching experience in a variety of classroom settings, five of which were spent in Pre-K and kindergarten. Jen holds a Master's degree in Elementary Special Education from Bank Street College.

Jennifer Ellwood

Learning Specialist
Jennifer joins the AJLA community as a Learning Specialist after working in public schools in Colorado and Connecticut in a variety of roles including Kindergarten teacher, Kinder and First Grade Specialist, Student Residency Mentor Teacher, and Behavioral Therapist for children diagnosed with Autism or Emotional Disability. She holds a Master's degree from the University of Denver in Curriculum and Instruction, with a focus in Special Education and Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Learners, as well as a Bachelor's degree in Psychology from the University of Colorado Boulder. She is a lifelong learner and is passionate about both the science of reading and teaching math through cognitively guided instruction. Jennifer is married with two daughters, 1 dog, and 8 chickens! She is dedicated to equity and social justice and volunteers in many capacities in Fairfield to make change in the school district, both on individual school and district wide levels. She works with the mission in mind that all students should be served in a way that allows them to reach their greatest potential in character, confidence, and ability.
Leslie

Leslie Waddell

Suzuki Music
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Angela Rountos

Art
Linda Murphy

Linda Murphy

Science
Linda tells friends and family she has found her “dream job” teaching science to the students at AJLA! She spent fifteen years as a classroom teacher in NYC and CT - 3rd grade at the Buckley School; Kindergarten, 2nd & 3rd grade at the Brearley School; 1st & 2nd grade at Greenwich Academy and 4-year-olds at St. Paul’s Christian School. For two years, she held a Waldorf inspired Mommy and Me program for babies - five year olds. For six years, she was an elementary substitute teacher at GFA, FCDS and the Unquowa School, while concurrently teaching Science in Nature to PreK-8th grade students at the CT Audubon. She holds a BA in elementary education from Ohio Wesleyan University. Linda is delighted to share her love of nature and enthusiasm for life-long learning with all of the students at AJLA. When she’s not teaching, she tends the AJLA gardens/animals and is a beekeeper. Known as the "Singing Scientist, Linda loves exploring all natural habitats, hiking, skiing, traveling with her husband and visiting their two daughters.
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Kiersten Chou

Science + faculty support
Kiersten previously taught middle and high school science in two Connecticut public schools as well as The School at Columbia in New York City. She has an undergraduate degree from Barnard College, a master’s degree in education from SHU, and a master’s degree in Climate & Society from Columbia University. She is passionate about sustainability and raising science-literate young citizens! She enjoys building and creating with her son Esben, being outdoors as much as possible, and aspires to be a good home gardener- always experimenting and learning!
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Jennifer Weinstein

Counselor
Jen is so excited to join the AJL community as a school counselor. She has over 25 years of experience working with preschool and school-age children and their families, both in school and outpatient settings, who are experiencing difficulty with emotional regulation, anxiety, mood disorders, and other social and behavioral issues. Jen is looking forward to working closely with students, teachers and families to foster positive change. She earned her Master’s Degree in Educational Psychology and a Professional Diploma in School Psychology from Fordham University and is a Licensed Professional Counselor in the state of Connecticut. Jen lives in Fairfield with her husband, kids and their dog named Cinnamon.
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Brad McGuire

Director of Physical Education and Late Day
Brad joined AJLA in 2021 as the Director of Athletics and Late Day Program. Prior to AJLA, Brad spent 14 years on the campus of The Foote School in New Haven, CT as their Athletic Director and Chair of the Physical Education Department. At Foote, Brad helped build a PE and Athletics program that was centered around developing a life-long love of living an active lifestyle and character development. Additionally, Brad was one of the founding teachers of the Horizons at Sacred Heart University, working with Bridgeport Youth. His work at Horizons was recognized nationally as he was named the 2013 Horizons National Lyn McNaught Excellence Award Recipient. At home, Brad and his wife Becky enjoy raising three amazing children Grady, Carson, Kenna and the family dog Hallie.

Chefs

Enel Mirtil