Our Staff


We are delighted to present our staff. They are dedicated to Montessori and to providing a nurturing and loving environment for children. Although they are all Montessori trained for their specific role in our school, they each bring their own special life and educational experiences to our program. In addition to the required Montessori training, each staff member receives First Aid and CPR Certification every year.

Patricia Sue Cherry – Sue is the owner of the school and also a head teacher in the Primary classroom. She started in education by working as a teacher’s assistant for the Livingston Educational Services Agency in 1977. There she worked with mentally, physically and emotional challenged children for four years. She discovered Montessori when her oldest of 3 sons Josh was 4 years old. First she was a Montessori parent, the next year an assistant and then in 1982, she took her Montessori Teacher’s Training from Michigan Montessori Teacher Education Center and became an AMS Montessori certified teacher. She has also taken additional Montessori training in Math, Geography, and Language Development.

In 2003, after years of teaching at other Montessori schools, she founded the Maple Tree Montessori Academy in her home town of Brighton. Sue started Maple Tree Montessori Academy with a vision and dedication to provide the parents and children of Livingston County with a high quality Montessori Program that is true to the principles and philosophy of Dr. Maria Montessori. Nurturing, developing empathy and following each child’s individual growth. With this vision in mind Sue has supervised and mentored several Montessori student teachers both from Michigan Montessori Teacher Education Center and the Adrian Montessori Teacher Education Institute. She has sponsored several children annually with scholarships. Sue has hosted annual Diversity and other parenting workshops at little to no charge to the public and also sponsored prevention and response training for parents and caregivers, addressing the sexual abuse of children.

Sue’s dedication to the Brighton community does not stop there. She serves as an executive officer on the board of directors for Child Connect for Family Success in Livingston County. Serving her second term as an executive board member for Child Connect (a child care resource and referral agency) , Sue has volunteered many hours helping to raise funds for the agency, providing advocacy on behalf of the early childhood workforce in Livingston County.

In the spring of 2012 Sue was awarded the "Power of One Award" which was specifically designed with her in mind. This award acknowledged Sue’s single-handed dedication and commitment to the welfare of Livingston County’s children. She has donated a tuition each year, since 2005 to The Family Resource Center Child Abuse Prevention/LACASA and single handedly provided over $18,000.00 to promote the welfare of our children and community. In the spring of 2013, Sue was inducted into the Brighton Area Women’s History Roll of Honor for her work in education and for her community service. Patricia Sue Cherry believes that "Every Child should be a hope and a promise to mankind" and the work she continues to engage in with children and families in Livingston County brings reality to her belief.

Julie Harrison – We are pleased to welcome back Julie Harrison to again teach our Montessori Music program. Julie is an excellent Montessori Primary teacher with many years of experience. She took her Montessori Primary training from MMTEC in. In addition to serving on the board of the Michigan Montessori Society, Julie trains Montessori teachers at the Michigan Montessori Teacher Education Center. Julie has also taken Montessori Music training, Diversity training and is a certified Project Read instructor. She will also be teaching Project Read after school and is our lead teacher at the Primary level. We are delighted she has decided to return to our school!

Hema Paul – We are very excited to have Hema as our Lower Elementary teacher in the Elementary Program. Hema is a highly qualified and experienced teacher who has displayed her passion for educating children in the Montessori way for many years, and on many continents! Hema holds several distinguished qualifications including a BS, B.Ed, M.Ed, and a Post Graduate Diploma in Pre- Primary Education, as well as Primary and Elementary Montessori credentials. Hema provides a caring, nurturing and supportive environment in her classroom and is dedicated to providing your children with a strong academic foundation. We are delighted that after positions in India, Australia and more recently as a Director and Elementary teacher at Montessori Schools in Washtenaw County, that Hema is now a part of the Maple Tree staff.

Kyle Radcliffe – Kyle is our Upper Elementary classroom teacher. He has taken the Montessori 9 -12 year old training with the North American Montessori Training Center and we are happy that he is a part of our staff. Kyle is an experienced educator, administrator, social worker and an accomplished writer. Kyle first became passionate about Montessori when his daughter was a preschool student, becoming so involved as a parent that he sponsored and set up a Montessori program in Minneapolis which was funded by the Target Corporation (then operating as Dayton Hudson). Kyle holds an Associate's, Bachelor's and Master's degree to go along with ten years of teaching experience along with his time as a Social Worker, Group Home Director and Professional Writer. We are pleased to have Kyle and his caring and nurturing style at Maple Tree!

Kim Koehn – Kim is in charge of all of our office management concerns including, student files, payments, billing and registration. She brings with her great organizational skills and many years of business management experience. We are grateful to have her keeping us all organized and efficient.

Jacob McGraw – Jacob is a former Montessori student, has earned a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and is currently working on a Master’s Degree in Public Administration with an emphasis in Non Profit Administration at the University of Michigan-Flint. He has taken Outward Bound training and is a certified Wilderness Facilitator. Jacob has worked extensively with troubled adolescents and teens at SUWS wilderness camps in Idaho and North Carolina. He has also tutored college bound students in a formal program In Marquette. Jacob has assisted in both our Primary classrooms and our Elementary program. He is both a substitute teacher and Ms. Sue’s Administrative Assistant.

Iris Fryc – Iris is a daycare assistant and a much loved and animated story reader. The children are always eager to listen to her read. Iris has taken the Montessori Assistant Training. She is also an experienced mom and has worked in the corporate world, schools and often volunteers her time to the benefit of others in many ways. We are grateful to have her cheerful and always helpful presence.

Sandi Cherry – Sandi comes to us with many years of experience with children of all ages. Sandi has Montessori Assistant training from MMTEC and she is our lead caregiver in the daycare room. We are all grateful for her experience and her patience, especially in practical life skills, sewing and gardening.

Cecilia Mellem – Cecilia’s native language is Spanish, a gift that she shares beautifully and with great love and enthusiasm. She engages the children, stimulates their interest and leads them to a better understanding and command of the Spanish language. Cecilia has just completed Montessori Teacher Training at MMTEC. She did a student teaching year at MTMA last year. She works diligently to incorporate the Montessori Philosophy into her Spanish groups and lessons.

Joel Parkkila – We are happy to have Joel return this year. In addition to 2 years of college, Joel has just completed Montessori Teacher Training at Adrian Dominican Montessori Teacher Education Institute. He did his student teaching year at MTMA and is now a fully certified Montessori Primary Teacher. Joel is a talented musician and artist; he is very creative and is wonderful with the children. He is training with Ms. Julie to teach Montessori Music, including rhythm, tone, note reading and composition through the use of Montessori materials such as the bells and tone bars. Joel is also offering Guitar and Drum Lessons at Maple Tree Montessori.

Jennifer Franczak – We are happy to have Jennifer’s caring and calm presence at our school. Jenny has recently completed Montessori Teacher Training at ADMTEI and a yearlong student teaching internship with Maple Tree Montessori. She is now a fully certified Montessori Primary Teacher. In addition, Jenny has several years of experience in our Primary classroom. She is fun, kind and enjoys working with the children, both in the classroom and out on recess.

Andrea Meng – Andrea is Ms. Hema’s assistant again this year. She has also assisted in the Primary Classroom, daycare room and supervises recess. Andrea is creative and gentle with the students and has taken a Montessori Assistant's course. She has completed a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts this past year and she brings wonderful creative abilities to our school. We are glad to have Andrea on our staff.

Sherri Marttila – Sherri is our Violin Instructor. She has extensive music and teaching experience and came to us very highly recommended. Sherri has been teaching students to play string instruments for 18 years. In addition to our program, she teaches at the Flint Institute of Music and also does individual lessons. Sherri studied Violin Performance at the University of Michigan and has performed with several Symphony Orchestras including Warren, Rochester and the Flint Symphony Orchestra. We are happy to have her experience and dedication to benefit our Violin students.

Aric Liljegren – Aric offers us a world of creativity through Drama. Drama class is an after school option, but Aric’s experience is quite extensive. He has most recently been working on Drama Summer Camp programs at the Marquis Theatre in Northville. Aric is enthusiastic and creative, we are happy to have him bring the excitement of the theatre to our school.

We are a very complimentary and cohesive staff and we are totally united in purpose...to provide your child with the very best Montessori environment. We encourage all parents to come and observe our program in action and to witness the loving and caring atmosphere that we have established at our school.

In addition to our wonderful staff, Maple Tree Montessori participates in a shared time program with the Brighton Area Schools. They provide certified extra’s teachers to our school including instruction in Art, Music, French, Computer Education and Physical Education. These teachers are all fully qualified and work with our staff to provide these areas of instruction to our Elementary students, fully integrated with our Montessori environment and philosophy.



Maple Tree Montessori Academy - Brighton, Mi