Norma Bolinger - Montessori Director (
Ms. Bolinger is originally from Vancouver, Canada and has extensively traveled and worked throughout the world – St. Maarten, Australia, Bahamas and the U.S.  She received her AMI Primary Directress Certification from Vancouver, Canada; studied Community Recreation from Quebec, Canada; earned an AA in Early Childhood Education from Ohio; and gained her Staff Credential and Director Credentials from the state of Florida.  Previously, Ms. Bolinger has worked with Head Start programs and has served as Directress of Toddler and Primary programs, as well as School Director.  She rejoined the VIMSIA staff as Montessori Director in 2011.

PRIMARY:   3 to 6 year olds

Mandy Boyle, Primary Directress/Primary Coordinator (
Ms. Boyle was born in Ireland and travelled extensively while growing up.  She received both Primary and Elementary AMI Montessori Certification in Dublin, Ireland.  In 1994, after teaching in various schools, Ms. Boyle moved to St. Thomas to work at V.I. Montessori School.  Initially she came for one year; that one year now exceeds 20!  Since her arrival she has seen the school expand in students, land and buildings and is very happy to be part of this growing close knit community.

Simone Summer, Primary Directress/Primary Coordinator (

Simone was born and raised in St Thomas. As a child, she attended VIMSIA and was a student of Ms. Keating, who is now retired.  Simone has been teaching Montessori for approximately 20 years: in the US here at VIMSIA between 2001-2011 and for the last 5 years in New Zealand.  Her love of travel and learning about different cultures has grown from her upbringing in our largely diverse and multicultural island and now brings her back. Although Simone will continue to enjoy her adventures to foreign lands, her heart and home will always be here, surrounded by the crystal blue sea and love for diverse island life.

Hannah Upp, Primary Directress (
Ms. Upp ("Señora Arriba") is originally from Oregon, but has spent the past 10 years on the East Coast.  She earned her undergraduate degree in Comparative Literature and Spanish from Bryn Mawr College.  Ms. Upp received her AMI Assistants Training at the Washington Montessori Institute and her Primary AMI Certification through the Montessori Institute of the Northwest.  She has studied and taught in Buenos Aires, Argentina, New York, Philadelphia, and Washington DC.  Ms. Upp joined VIMSIA in 2014.

LOWER ELEMENTARY:   6 to 9 year olds

Jessica Di Francesco, Lower Elementary Directress 
Ms. Di Francesco received her diploma from Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) for elementary (ages 6-12) from the Montessori Training Center of New England. She received her Master of Education from the University of Hartford and holds a B.S. in Advertising and Marketing. Jessica was a toddler assistant at the Cobb Montessori School, CT, then a lower elementary class assistant at the Montessori Magnet School, CT, and a lower elementary teacher at the Annie Fisher Montessori Magnet School since 2015. Jessica’s talents and interests include: martial arts instruction, drama, and singing, and she is a board member for the Connecticut Regional Burning Man event. 

Neysa Hess, Lower Elementary Directress (
Ms. Ms. Hess is originally from Indiana.  Before arriving last March, she family and her lived in Sedona, Arizona. She has a Bachelor's Degree in Liberal Arts with minors in History, Anthropology, and International Studies.  She completed her Montessori training with Hershey Montessori Institute in Ohio in 2013. She is very passionate about Montessori and will gladly discuss Montessori with anyone! Ms. Hess has 2 children in the Montessori program here at VIMSIA.   Gabriel is in the Upper Elementary  program and Katarina in Lower Elementary with Ms. Huber. Ms. Hess is an avid reader and has been spending her free time playing in our Caribbean waves. 

UPPER ELEMENTARY: 9 to 12 year olds

Kate Ludick, Upper Elementary Directress (
Ms. Ludick holds two diplomas from Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) for elementary (ages 6-12) and adolescent (ages 12-18). She has certification from the Green School Educator Course at the Green School in Bali, Indonesia, and a State of Ohio teaching license for all grades K-12. Kate holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature from Cleveland State University. Special training includes “All Kinds of Minds” (Mel Levine) approach to learning differences, Montessori Model United Nations teacher training, and Orton-Gillingham method for teaching reading, writing, and spelling from the Institute of Multi-Sensory Education. She has taught, directed and developed programs for over eight years at Montessori and progressive/alternative schools emphasizing best practice and holistic learning in the USA, Canada, Spain and Indonesia. Kate is a yoga instructor (Cleveland Clinic School of Yoga), enjoys the outdoors, sports, reading, writing and travel. 

Caroline Morrison, Upper Elementary Directress (
Ms. Morrison, originally from North Carolina, is a long time St. Thomas resident.  She has a B.A. in education, an AMI Elementary Teaching certification, and a Master's in Montessori Education. Ms. Morrison has held various positions at VIMSIA prior to her current role and has been a Montessori and PGIA parent since the late 1990’s.  Both of her children - Travis and Kelsey - attended VIMSIA.

montessori assistants

Nicole Donastorg, Spanish Infusion Teacher's Assistant
Señora Donastorg was born and raised in Miami, Florida.  She is currently working on her degree in Early Childhood Education.  Starting with VIMSIA in 2011, Señora Donastorg has worked in the Bougainvillea and La Casa programs, as well as her current role in Lower Elementary.  She has two children, Audrianna and Destiny, both attending VIMSIA.

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Nikiha Mercer, Spanish Infusion Teacher's Assistant

Señora Mercer was born and raised in St. Thomas.  Her Spanish language skills come from her "abuela" who is from Puetro Rico.  Señora Mercer's heritage is a mix of Hispanic and Tiano Indian.  She is currently working on her B.A. degree in Allied Health Care Business Management majoring in Phlebotomy. Starting with VIMSIA in late 2016, she has been working in the primary class. Ms. Mercer has two beautiful daughters ages 1 and 3 years of age. She is excited about her opportunity to work with VIMSIA. 

Kelsey Van Morrison, Spanish Infusion Teacher's Assistant

Ms. Van Morrison was born and raised in St. Thomas. She started her education with VIMSIA as a two year-old and proceeded to graduate in one of VIMSIA's first IB classes. She recently graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with BAs in Sociology/Anthropology, Politics and Government, as well as Women and Gender Studies. During her undergraduate years she was fortunate enough to further her passion for global cultures by studying in Bueno Aires Argentina, Cuba, and Chicago where she worked with underrepresented social and political activists. Ms. Van Morrison is very excited to be working with a program that gave her so many incredible opportunities as a child. She plans to pursue a JD PHD in Sociology.

Radames Ortiz, Spanish Infusion Teacher's Assistant

Radames J Ortiz joined us in 2017 /2018 as a Spanish Speaking Teacher's Assistant.  He was born and raised in Puerto Rico. After high school he received a baseball scholarship to go to college and holds a sports marketing and administration bachelor's degree from Northern State University in Aberdeen, SD.  Radames has worked at a homeless shelter in Minneapolis MN for the past five years. He is happy to be back home in the Caribbean where he can enjoy the beaches and the island beauty.  Of course, watching, playing and coaching baseball are still at the top of his hit parade.

Jezellia Sujanani, Spanish Infusion Teacher's Assistant

Ms. Jezellia is a native of St. Thomas who also lived in the Dominican Republic and Jamaica as a child. She is fluent in both English and Spanish and has a background in Communications, Accounting and Health Sciences fields. Her love of the Spanish language and the Montessori style of teaching has led her to join the Spanish Infusion team. She is excited to have the opportunity to share her knowledge with the students of VIMSIA.  


Alayna Belshe, Spanish Infusion Teacher's Assistant

Ms. Belshe was born and raised on St. Thomas. She is joining our Spanish infusion team as an assistant in Ms. Morrison's classroom. She got her start speaking Spanish in Señor Araujo's classroom here at VIMSIA and is excited to be back on campus. Currently she is working on her Bachelor's in Communication at UVI.


Maggie Guzman, Spanish Infusion Teacher's Assistant

Maggie is originally from Maine. She received her Bachelor's in Political Science and English from the University of Southern Maine in Portland. After college, Maggie spent several years traveling and teaching environmental education, farming and wilderness programs. She worked in Seattle, Utah, Upstate New York, Montana and various parts of Maine before finding a home here in the Virgin Islands. She also works part time taking care of the trails on Hassel Island.

Spanish & Physical Education for Elementary


Adalio Araujo, Spanish and Physical Education (
Señor Araujo is a native of São Tomé, Africa, and holds a M.A. in Linguistics obtained in Besancon, France.  Since 1989, Señor has been offering a quality Spanish program to students starting at the elementary level.  In addition, Señor teaches Physical Education and coaches our elementary soccer teams.  He is a FIFA-certified soccer coach and has refereed JV/Varsity soccer for more than ten years.  Our soccer program is unparalleled on the island, and since the inception of inter-school elementary soccer several years ago, our elementary teams have dominated!

Andy Gever, Spanish Teacher & Spanish Infusion Coordinator (
Originally from California, Señor Gever has travelled extensively. He holds a B.A. in African and Latin American Studies, with minors in Geography and Anthropology.  He also has studied foreign languages such as French, Spanish and Italian.  He has lived in Europe and Latin America, the great majority of these years in Spain, where he worked as an English teacher and translator.  Señor Gever teaches Spanish in both the Montessori program and the International Academy and he coordinates our Spanish Infusion Program - which covers Casa through the DP.  He joined VIMSIA in 2012.

Michele Weichman, Spanish Teacher Montessori and PGIA
Michele Weichman was born in New Jersey.  She holds a B.A. in Spanish from Rutgers University and is currently working on her Master's Degree in Education Administration.  She has taught in the States and in St. Thomas.  Señora Weichman teaches Spanish in both Montessori and PGIA and is the student council advisor.  Señora Weichman joined VIMSIA in 2013 and her daughter, Carly, is currently in the PGIA.