Pat Castle

Executive Director

Maryland Credential Level Six

Pat and her husband will celebrate 30 years of marriage this year and have resided in Mt. Airy for 20 years. She is the mother of two grown boys. Pat has an Associate’s Degree in Early Childhood Development and Education from Northern Virginia Community College, a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Maryland Baltimore County in American Studies and Early Childhood Education, and a Masters Degree from Towson University in Early Childhood Education. She has worked as an early childhood program director for 20 years and has taught many classes at the college and university level, as well as guided numerous workshops and seminars.

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Sharon Hansen

Business Manager | Assistant Director

Sharon and her husband have lived in the Mt. Airy area and been members of St, James' church for many years. Their family consists of two grown children, their husbands, five grandchildren and their dachshund, Max! She began working at St. James' Nursery School in 1985 when her youngest graduated from the Pre-K 4's. She has a BA from Hood College. Sharon enjoys bicycling, baking, card making, reading, and camping.
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Kathryn Janiga

Preschool 2's Teacher

Maryland Credential Level Four

Kathryn holds a BS in Nursing from University of Maryland. She has been married 36 years with two grown children. She received her 90 Early Childhood Education certification from Carroll Community College. Kathryn began teaching pre-school in 2005 after practicing nursing for 25 years. While nursing she specialized in pediatrics. She loves music, gardening and arts and crafts. Kathryn also is an avid scrap-booker. She is very excited to begin her eighth year at St. James.
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Sam Gass

Preschool 3's Teacher

Maryland Credential Level Six

Sam is a former middle school science teacher in Carroll and Frederick Counties. She has a degree in biology and a master's degree in education with a concentration in curriculum & instruction. Mt. Airy is home to Sam, her husband and two teenagers, however they are frequently out of town visiting far-away places. When Sam is not at St. James or watching her kids play sports, you'll find her on one of the local tennis courts.
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Michelle Rippeon

Pre-K 4’s Teacher

Maryland Credential Level Six

Michelle holds a Bachelor’s degree in Child Development from Virginia Tech and a Master’s degree in Elementary Education from George Mason University. She taught elementary for six years before starting a family. Michelle has four children of her own, two of which attended St. James. Michelle is new to our staff this year and has worked as an early childhood education in Maryland since 2014. She enjoys spending time with her family and friends, cheering for her children at sporting events, exercising and crafting.
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America Wheat

Pre-K 4’s Teacher

Maryland Credential Level Three

America has lived in Mt. Airy with her husband and four children, ages 10-15, since 2001. She obtained her Bachelor's degree from Marymount University and has completed much of the coursework for her Master's Degree in Early Childhood Education from Towson University. America recently became a qualified Orto-Gillingham “Plus” tutor after taking a 60-hour course on the Orton Gillingham approach (a multisensory structured literacy approach to reading and writing, with an added focus on phonological awareness). America has worked as an early childhood educator in Maryland since 2015. She is current in CPR and First Aid training as well as her ADA certification. She enjoys spending time watching her children play sports. America is excited to be starting her second year at St. James.
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Tara Heil

Preschool 3's Teacher

Maryland Credential Level Three

Tara has a Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Virginia Tech and Maryland Certification in Early Childhood Education. Her undergraduate degree is in Materials Science and Engineering. She taught third grade for seven years in the Annapolis area. She lives in Mount Airy with her husband and two daughters. Her youngest daughter will be in St. James’ Preschool 3’s program this year. Tara enjoys her family and friends, as well as reading, being active outdoors, and practicing yoga. She loves young children’s curiosity and is excited to help nurture their development.
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Jordan Smith

Preschool 3's Teacher

Maryland Credential Level Pending

Jordan has been a resident of Mount Airy for over 15 years. She has earned several teaching certificates from both Towson University and Carroll Community College. She began her teaching career back in 2014 working as a Pre-K Teacher and has loved every minute of it. She is current with CPR and First Aid Training as well as an ADA Certification. While she loves working with kids all ages, she likes Preschool age the best! She loves teaching and believes that school is the one place where we share ideas purely for the sake of bettering ourselves! When she’s not at work, you can most likely find her at the gym! Jordan is excited to begin her first year at St. James.
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Chris Calka

Pre-K 4’s Teaching Assistant and Support Aide

Maryland Credential Level Four Plus

Chris Calka and her husband have lived in Mt. Airy since 1988. After Amanda and Michelle graduated from St. James, Chris joined our staff in 1998. Chris received her 90-hour Early Childhood Certification and is current in First Aid and CPR. She stays busy with family activities, her horses, and working in the yard. This is Chris' 22nd year working at St. James.
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Nancy Summers

Preschool 3’s Teaching Assistant

Maryland Credential Level Four Plus

Nancy has been married for 38 years. She enjoys spending time with her family, especially her adorable grandson. She took classes for an associate’s degree in Early Childhood Education at Montgomery College. During the 70's she also worked for Montgomery County Day Care. When she had her own children, she had a family day care business in her home. Later she volunteered at the New Market Elementary School and with both Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. She started working at St. James in 1999. She enjoys visiting with family and friends, reading, walking, hiking, exercising and organizing.
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Patti Hill

Pre-K 4’s Teaching Assistant

Maryland Credential Level Four

Patti has been a resident of Mt. Airy for the past 8 years. Retiring after 30 years from Montgomery County Public Schools in support staff positions, she is excited now to be working with preschoolers. Patti loves spending time outside in her flower and vegetable gardens, attending events in downtown Mt. Airy and in Frederick. She loves exploring the countryside with her best friend, Dave, on the back of his motorcycle. She is currently pursuing her Associate’s Degree in early childhood education and development to become the most successful preschool educator possible. Her greatest joy is seeing the world through children’s eyes.
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Nikki Davis

Preschool 2’s Teaching Assistant

Maryland Credential Level Four

Nikki Davis grew up in North Carolina. She moved to Maryland eight years ago and settled in Frederick County to raise her son. She has an AA degree in General Studies, her 90-hour Early Childhood Education Certificate, and 45 Hour Preschool Certification. Nikki has obtained numerous other certifications all for Early Childhood. Nikki is new to the staff this year but has been working in Early Childhood Education since 2015. Her son Alex is 8 and going into 3rd Grade and he wants to be involved in every activity that he can convince mom to drive him too. She currently spends her evenings and weekends going to and from Baseball, Karate and Golf Activities. When she has time, Nikki loves to spend time curled up with a book, or cooking up something new and exciting in the kitchen.
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Lynne Colantoni

Preschool 3’s Teaching Assistant

Maryland Credential Level Pending

Lynne is originally from Massachusetts and has called Carroll County her home for the past 14 years. She holds an undergraduate degree in psychology and a Master in Business with a concentration in accounting. Lynne worked in accounting and finance for several years before starting a family and staying home with her children. Since then she has become interested in early childhood education, particularly the preschool years. She has experience working in preschools as a substitute and is excited to joint the team at St. James. Lynne has also both volunteered and worked in Carroll County Public schools and has served on the PTO board at her children’s school.
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Amanda Norman

Preschool 3’s Teaching Assistant

Maryland Credential Level Pending

Amanda is a MD native, growing up in Frederick County. She graduated from Hood College in 1999 with BA degrees in Special Education and Psychology. She also attended McDaniel College and obtained a master’s degree in Reading Instruction in 2009. Amanda taught in Carroll County as a special education teacher for almost 20 years, teaching grades PK-12 over her career. She and her husband have lived in Sykesville for 10 years and have two sons (one in PK and one in 3rd grade). In her spare time, Amanda enjoys watching her oldest son play baseball, spending time with her extended family, and catching up with friends.
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Shirley Thomas

Substitute

Maryland Credential Level Six

Shirley holds a BS degree in Education from the University of Maryland and a current certification in First Aid and CPR. Shirley taught five years in the Montgomery County Public School system and 30 years for St. James’ Nursery School. She and her husband have been married over 50 years and have been residents of Mt. Airy for 42 of those years. Shirley has two adult children, Ron and Jennifer, and five grandchildren! She is a big Washington Redskin and University of Maryland Terrapin fan and loves to sing and read.

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Daniella Linck

Substitute

Maryland Credential Level Two

Daniella grew up in Montgomery County and holds an Associate’s degree from Montgomery College with many electives in Early Childhood Education. She holds a 90-Hour Preschool Certification, 45-Hour Infant and Toddler Certification, and ADA: Including All Children Certification. This is her third year working at St. James and she has worked as an early childhood educator in Maryland since 2008. Since 2012, she has lived in Mount Airy with her husband and two young daughters. Her oldest daughter will begin second grade and her youngest daughter will be joining our Pre-K 4’s program this Fall. Daniella enjoys spending time with family and friends, the outdoors, crafts and traveling.
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