Billie Andersson, Head of School

Billie Venturatos Andersson received her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Tulane University’s Newcomb College and her Masters degrees in Special Education and Counseling and Guidance from the University of New Orleans. She completed her doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction from UNO’s School of Education in 1981. Having sent all three of her children to Montessori Schools in their early childhood, Dr. Andersson witnessed first-hand the Montessori methods’ inherent flexibility, which adapted to each child’s needs, regardless of learning style or social maturity. Dr. Andersson has spent more than twenty-five years teaching in New Orleans’ public and independent schools – as a counselor, reading and learning specialist, curriculum director, and educational diagnostician. She continues to teach graduate studies in education. As academic administrator and founder of Cathedral Montessori, Dr. Andersson has worked to assemble a faculty, committed to Montessori’s philosophy and mission and trained and certified in its method.

Barbara Stott McCoy, Director

Born in the Mississippi Delta, Barbara spent her childhood growing up in Peru, Colombia, South Africa, Switzerland, and England. She returned to the States for university and graduated with a BFA in Painting from Sophie Newcomb College of Tulane University. She obtained an additional degree in Biology and Illustration and went on to be accepted as the first resident in the Medical Illustration Department at the Medical College of Wisconsin. Barbara then changed her career and followed her desire to teach.

Barbara spent the last 19 years as a teacher in a rural public school in the South, as a Montessori art teacher in Maryland, and as a Lead teacher at the inclusive National Child Research Center in Washington D.C. Barbara wrote and illustrated curriculum guides for PBS, Department of the Navy, and National Zoo, served as program specialist with the District of Columbia’s Public Schools, and was project coordinator for the Hawaiian Bird Exhibit at the National Zoo. In 2009, she received the Susan Piggott Inaugural Fellowship Award. Then in 2011, Barbara pursued a Master of Arts in Art Education at the Corcoran College of Art and Design and George Washington University in Washington D.C. Her journey then led her back to New Orleans. After her first year as a master teacher at Green Trees Early Childhood Village at Isidore Newman School, Barbara then took on the position of Instructional Coach of Teaching and Learning at Green Trees, coaching teachers and providing Student Support in the classrooms which she fulfilled for five years. Barbara has gratefully accepted the position of Director this school year and is eager to share her knowledge and skills with the Cathedral Montessori School community.

Passionate, inspired by children, she loves her profession as a guide and educator. She believes teaching is the ultimate creative process: ongoing, open-ended, not aimed at one right answer. Her passions include a lifelong love of learning and traveling, her painting, spirituality, cooking, animals, and T’ai Chi Ch’aun, but most importantly, spending time with her three children, Alexander, a chef and restaurant owner in D.C and Baltimore, Nathaniel, an artist and woodworker, and Olivia, a dancer, actress, and trainer who started WeHelp to support the mental health of those in the restaurant industry, her dear friends, family, and her Dobie, Luna.

Evagelia Vatakis, Assistant to the Director

Born and raised in New Orleans from Greek immigrant parents from the beautiful Aegean island​ of ​Chios,​ ​Greece​, Evagelia​ is fluent in ​the​ Greek language.​ ​As a teacher, she has worked in ESL for over 20 years and supported students and adults with special needs.​ ​As an administrator at Magnolia Community Services, a non-profit organization for all-inclusive developmental disabilities clients, Evagelia served as a Community Access Coordinator and managed organizational accounting, employee development, and community coordination. After years of administration, Evagelia felt called to return to the education community, and specifically, to the Montessori philosophy. In 2019, Evagelia returned to the classroom as an assistant at Crescent City Montessori and later received her certification for Leadership and Overview of Early Montessori Education Fundamentals. A member of the Holy Trinity Cathedral Church, she holds many volunteer positions, yearly: ​the ​Greek Festival, Greek Feast, Sunday school Elementary teacher, Director of the Junior Hellenic dancers, Vice President for the St. Markella of Chios of New Orleans Organization, and multiple PTA ​officer ​positions. ​Evagelia is a married mother​ of four, who loves spending time with her family and friends, enjoys cooking, dancing, reading, and traveling, she is a life long learner, and dedicated to the community and its children.

Belle Berry, Primary Teacher

Belle Berry received her BA in Sociology at the College of Charleston in South Carolina. While living in Charleston, she spent her time volunteering for the environmental nonprofit Earth force. Belle and her husband moved to Denver in 2006, and began work for another nonprofit, Colorado Citizen’s Campaign, where she went door to door raising awareness for local environmental concerns.

Belle fell in love with the Montessori philosophy while working at Montessori Academy of Colorado. She received her Montessori primary certification at Montessori Education Center of the Rockies in Boulder, and continued to teach in a primary classroom for eight years. Belle also has received education at Nutrition Therapy Institute in Denver in holistic education and has a passion for healthy living and lifestyle. She also taught in a toddler program for the last two years of her teaching at Children’s Garden Montessori School in Denver.

Belle joined Cathedral Montessori School in July of 2018, where her son, Charlie, also attends.

Despina Dumoulins, Primary Teacher

Despina Dumoulins earned her BA in Sociology from the University of New Orleans and then went on to get a Master’s degree in Rehabilitation Counseling from LSU School of Allied Health. Her focus at that time was helping people with mental, emotional and physical disabilities. She also did a 6 month internship at the largest psychiatric hospital in Athens, Greece.

In 2009, she was asked to join the faculty of Cathedral Montessori School. She became certified in Montessori education (Primary)through the Montessori World Educational Institute in 2010 just as Cathedral Montessori School was opening its doors for the first time. Despina’s philosophy is that learning should always be fun and full of life lessons about peace, compassion, love, and respect for our majestic planet and all its living things.

In her free time, Despina can often be found with her family and trying to take a nap!

Maia Cortes, Primary Teacher

Maia holds a B.A. in Sociology from University of New Orleans, with an interest in social psychology and gender studies. She enjoyed her first year of teaching at Crescent City Montessori during the 2019-2020 academic year, and also loved working at their summer camp in 2019. During her time at CCM, she gained invaluable experience and appreciation for Montessori methodology.

Maia was born and raised in New Orleans, and has a great love for the city. She is passionate about teaching children to become lifelong learners! She’s inspired by the absolute wonder that surrounds each child, and is excited to join the Cathedral family. When she’s not teaching or studying, she spends her time crafting, roller skating, and spending time with her whopping four cats.

Having completed the physical, in-class training at Oaks Montessori in Hammond, Louisiana, Maia is currently studying Montessori philosophy to complete her training. She is excited to receive her certificate in from Montessori World Educational Institute in 2021. Maia is full of enthusiasm and is brimming with new ideas for the classroom.

Jessica McNally, Elementary Teacher

Jessica graduated summa cum laude from the University of Pittsburgh where she received her B.A. in English Literature and writing. While living in Pittsburgh, she worked for many years in the nonprofit world serving such roles as volunteer coordinator, running a small grants program for community gardens, and teaching a gardening class for a mixed-media after-school program.

Upon moving to New Orleans she continued her work with nonprofits and further developed her passion for education. She taught and created curriculum for multiple after school and extracurricular programs across the city, ranging from pre-k through middle school. In 2017, she shifted into teaching full-time and was hired to teach first grade at Bricolage Academy.

Jessica joined the CMS staff as a garden educator and was then hired as a full time teacher in CMS’ first Elementary classroom. She completed her Montessori Elementary certification in 2019 at Barrie School’s Institute for Advanced Montessori Studies in Washington, D.C.

Jessica manages a community garden in her neighborhood and enjoys incorporating her gardening experience into the Elementary biology lessons. She looks forward to continuing shaping and growing the Elementary Montessori curriculum. 

Stevie Knox, Elementary Teacher

Stevie graduated from the Louisiana School for Math, Science, and the Arts (Natchitoches, LA) in 2000. She received a B.A. with Honors in English/Linguistics and a minor in Spanish from the University of North Texas in 2004.

From 2008-2012, Stevie moved abroad to teach English as a Second Language to children and adults in Granada, Spain. After Spain, Stevie spent time in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica, and in Pau, France, where her ESL career shifted to distance and online learning, leading to a supervisory/mentor role for other teachers at a pioneering online ESL school.

Stevie returned to New Orleans in 2012 and taught ESL and foreign language at several high schools. In 2018, Stevie discovered Montessori first-hand by working with a CMS family. This teaching method re-ignited her passion and desire to serve in the classroom. Stevie completed her Lower Elementary training in June 2020. Her Upper Elementary training was postponed due to COVID-19, and will be completed in summer 2021. Stevie loves being a part of CMS’s upward expansion and is grateful to be a part of this collaborative and supportive community.

Caroline Christman, Assistant Teacher

Caroline Christman was born and raised in New Orleans.  She lived in Winston-Salem, NC for many years and received a B.A. in History from Salem College.  Caroline fell in love with the classroom while working as a substitute teacher at her children’s school.  She has spent many years working as a substitute as well as working as an assistant to special-needs children.

Caroline returned to New Orleans in 2012, where she worked as the Membership Coordinator at the Preservation Resource Center.  While she loved working for an organization that works tirelessly to educate on the importance of our historic architecture here in New Orleans, Caroline realized that she truly missed working with children and resigned her position in spring of 2018 so that she could get back into a classroom.  She has worked locally at both the Academy of The Sacred Heart and St. Paul’s Episcopal School before joining Cathedral Montessori in November of 2020 as an assistant in the Cypress classroom.

Caroline is married with two grown children and two dogs.  She loves all types of animals and her hobbies include baking, gardening, birdwatching, traveling, and spending time with family and friends.

Sarah Dashevsky, Assistant Teacher

A Boston native, Sarah Dashevsky studied Communications and Adventure Recreation before relocating to New Orleans. Her life-long desire to make a difference, combined with a genuine love for children, led Sarah to pursue a career in education. She has taught early childhood education for eight years and says her favorite part of teaching is watching a child develop a love for learning and grasp a new concept.

Outside the classroom, you can often find Sarah exploring parks around the city with her faithful sidekick, a dog named Buddy. She loves trying new coffee shops, spending time with her friends, and traveling to new place. A passion to help better the world, has led. Sarah to volunteer with several organizations around the city and to serve as a coach for a local Destination Imagination team.

Sarah’s appreciation of the Montessori style of education began at an early age. She is a proud graduate of River Valley Charter School (the first chartered public Montessori school in Massachusetts) having attended from PreK 3 through 8th grade. Since joining CMS, Sarah has had the opportunity to serve as the camp director for Summer on the Bayou, as the technical director, and as a teacher in the Oak Class.

Sawyer Hill, Assistant Teacher

Sawyer received her BA in Theology and Social Welfare & Justice from Marquette University in Milwaukee. She first began working with children at the Montessori School she attended as a child in Itasca, IL. It was there she was introduced to the Montessori Method by her dear mentor, Joyce. Sawyer watched in wonder at the children’s reverence for the Earth and their deep compassion for their peers and themselves. Under the tutelage of Joyce, she began to learn how to guide children in a manner that respects their autonomy and de-centers the guide. Since then she has held a range of jobs working with children and young people. She has worked at multiple summer camps teaching outdoor skills and canoeing in the Midwest, worked as a one-to one support aide to a child in Scotland, as a healthy relationships educator in El Paso, TX, and as a youth climbing climbing coach here in New Orleans. Though she loved these positions, she was always itching to return to the peace that a Montessori classroom can cultivate. Thankfully, she found Cathedral and is grateful to be re-immersed in Montessori while working with so many wonderful colleagues and families!

Sawyer loves to be outside and in her free time, you will find her re-finishing furniture, gardening, or camping with her dog, Bruno. She is thrilled for another year here at Cathedral of learning, growing and spiritually preparing alongside Maia and all of the Juniperians!

Kalliope Vasillas-Grass, Greek Teacher, Assistant Teacher

Kalli joined the faculty at Cathedral Montessori in 2019 as a teacher of Greek. Born in Preveza, Greece, she immigrated to New York with her (Japanese) mother and (Greek) Father, then moved to New Orleans as a young girl. She is an active member of the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church where she has served as an officer in the PTA, volunteered as an Assistant Elementary Church School teacher, and continues to volunteer as a substitute teacher. Kalli is the volleyball coach for the Greek Orthodox Youth group and enjoyed playing volleyball with this group as a child.

Kalli’s love of coaching volleyball has her very much involved at the Coconut Beach Volleyball Complex, where she has trained, coached and played for over 26 yrs. Knowledge of the game and her passion for teaching gave her an opportunity to accept a Middle School coaching position at an independent school. This passion shifted from the court to the classroom when the school offered her an assistant teaching position in first grade, which she eagerly accepted and enjoyed for three years. Also during this time, Kalli accepted the position of Assistant Director of their summer camp for two consecutive years.

Upon hearing about Cathedral Montessori School and learning of the Montessori principles, she enrolled both of her children at CMS, each at the age of 3, and witnessed for herself the positive effects of learning the Montessori way. Kalli is working as an Assistant Teacher, in addition to teaching Greek. To better serve the children at CMS, Kalli successfully completed an Early Childhood Assistant’s Workshop from the Institute for Advanced Montessori Studies.

Susie Mazier, Assistant

Susie Mazier earned a BS degree in Finance from the University of New Orleans. She worked as an Internal Auditor and in the Trust Department of a major bank. Later, she gained experience in payroll and real estate. It wasn’t until she became a mom that she realized how much she loved teaching. She taught both her son and daughter how to read by 3 years old. When they reached kindergarten, they were reading at a 3rd grade level. Because of this, she decided to place them in Montessori schools so they could learn at their own pace and levels. Both of her children attended Audubon Charter School where she worked as an Assistant Montessori Teacher for grades 1-3. There, she gained many years of in-classroom Montessori training and experience which she brings with her to CMS. Her daughter is a sophomore and her son is a senior at Benjamin Franklin High School. Her son is also a National Merit Scholarship Finalist who will be attending NYU with a full ride scholarship this Fall. Susie strongly believes that her children’s educational success is due to the positive effects instilled by the Montessori philosophy and method of teaching.

Natalie Poland, Assistant

Josh Tolbert, Physical Education Specialist

Mahala Miller, Art Specialist