Alicia Rheel, Head of School
I am originally from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania but relocated to Wilmington, NC with my husband in 2011. Since moving here, we have expanded our family to include our two sons, AJ and Ryan. In our spare time, we like to be in the water as much as we can; whether that is at the beach, in a pool, or kayaking/boating. We also enjoy watching/playing sports and being with our family.
I earned my Bachelor's degree in Special Education (k-12) from West Chester University. I hold certifications in Special Education: General Curriculum (k-12) and Middle School Math. I have also received my Master's degree in School Administration through East Carolina University. I am completing Montessori Leadership courses this fall.
I have been with Island Montessori since 2014 as the EC Coordinator. I have worked as an administrative intern with Mr. Corrigan before moving into the role as Head of School. I value the principles of the Montessori curriculum and our school's mission. I look forward to supporting and leading the growth of our school with Montessori as the heart of our curriculum. As an Exceptional Children's teacher by trade, I pride myself on the understanding that each child is unique and learns at their own pace. Montessori education focuses on the child being the center of learning and knowing that "the child is both the hope and promise for mankind."
Carrie O’Brien Dworshak, Children's School Director
I was born and raised in Maryland alongside my three brothers. Our parents are Washingtonians and both came from big Irish families. Thus, family is everything to me!
A graduate from St. Mary’s College of Maryland with a music degree in voice, I have sang in church choirs, weddings, funerals, rock bands and took part in the mass celebrated by Pope Benedict XVI in Washington DC in 2008. Music is what keeps my heart beating, as well as running. The combination of the two are priceless.
Soon after graduation I came to discover the wonderful world of Montessori by chance and immediately enrolled in the primary training at Washington Montessori Institute. I was hooked from day one! Graduating in 1983 I accepted a job in Bowie, Maryland working two years then joining The Manor Montessori School in Potomac, Maryland and have been there for 30 years. I became the Educational Director of three Manor campuses in 2001 and Director of the Bethesda Campus in 2005.
My three children, daughter Avery and sons Timothy and Cal and I spend our summers in South Bethany, Delaware where our family has a beach home. The beach has always been my favorite place to be. It has been a dream of mine to work and live by the beach.
I am thrilled to join the Island Montessori Family and look forward to building a strong foundation for future education and create a happy and successful environment for all. The greatest accomplishment an educator can experience is to watch a little one grow into a confident, intelligent, kind and independent human being full of life and joy and the love of learning.
Brittany Ivey, Office Manager
Being raised in a public school setting throughout grade school, I was beyond excited to start at Island Montessori Charter School so that I could experience a whole different world than what I was used to. I graduated from UNCW with a Bachelor's Degree in Business, and as a college graduate fresh out of school, I worked as a marketing coordinator for a local company for almost two years. I was in the process of going back to school to get my teaching license when the opportunity to work at IMCS came about. I jumped at the chance to not only put my degree in use, but to also be surrounded by students all day. I can honestly say, I couldn't be happier with my decision! I enjoy every minute that I am at the school, and couldn't ask for a better team to work alongside. When I am not working, I enjoy relaxing at the beach, traveling, riding bikes, and tapping into my creative side with freelance graphic design and hands-on crafts.
Lara Hamlet, Instructional Coordinator
Born and raised in Virginia, I earned a Bachelor's Degree from Virginia Tech and a Masters Degree from Hollins University, while nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Craving salty air and relaxation, I relocated to the area in search of new educational and life experiences.
I have taught for 7 years in a variety of educational settings, but am most excited to be a part of the Montessori adventures with IMS. I am AMS certified in both the Lower and Upper Elementary curriculum. Equipped with Montessori methods, I see the experience of education as a true gift with the fundamental purpose of creating memorable knowledge. A strong education, one that students can take from the classroom and into their world, is readily captured and acquired through the breadth and depth of irreplaceable learning opportunities given in the progression of lessons and the materials. This knowledge transcends into core subject matter, life skills and citizenship. Outside of IMS, you will most likely find me traveling. I enjoy experiencing new cultures and being able to bring those experiences into the classroom. As avid travelers, my husband and I have explored 20 countries in search of Earth's most beautiful offerings. Maria Montessori's teachings focus on instilling a worldview within children, and I love the opportunity our school provides in combining my passions for learning and experiencing culture.
Judie Strauss, Exceptional Children Coordinator
Bio coming soon!
Heily Aktuglu-McGowan, Guidance Counselor
I am super excited to have the privilege to work as the school counselor at Island Montessori! I LOVE what I do, and it is a great honor to help students on their academic journey. I am a NC Licensed School Counselor. My counseling approach utilizes techniques structured around Positive Psychology & Solution Focused/Strength-Based frameworks. I also like to incorporate Nature Therapy and Humor when working with children. My goal is to bring your child’s BEST SELF to light! Let’s have a Fantastic Year!!
Kelly Henrikson, Testing Coordinator
I was born in Portland, OR and raised in Charlotte, NC. I have a Bachelors in Teaching Theatre Arts from Appalachian State University and taught middle and high school Theatre for Charlotte Meck schools. I have always been intrigued by the Montessori method and chose to seek my lower elementary AMS certification while living in Los Angeles, CA. While there, I taught Montessori at the primary, lower and upper elementary levels. I received my upper elementary AMS certification when coming to IMS in 2013 and taught in the upper elementary classroom for 2 years. I am happy to fill the role as IMCS's Testing Coordinator and support our staff with state required testing and school wide MAP assessments. I am excited to also be the school Math Interventionist. I enjoy working with and learning alongside our students! In my free time I love spending time with my husband and two sons. We enjoy going to the beach, playing sports, and traveling together.
Jennifer Shaeffer, Front Office & Aftercare Teacher
I have recently moved to Wilmington from Connecticut and am so excited to be working at the Island Montessori School! I taught preschool special education in Connecticut for 28 years and enjoyed every day of my career! I have a bachelor’s degree in Special Education and a master’s degree in Early Childhood Special Education. I love working with young children and watching them grow to their full potential. I am blessed with four grown children and two beautiful grandchildren. I am so excited to be living at the beach, which has been a lifelong dream. I love to read and hope to share my love of literature with the little ones at Island Montessori.
Michelle Leonard, Children's School Front Office
I am thrilled to be a part of the Island Montessori family! I have always enjoyed working with children and watching them learn and grow and the Montessori method has always been something I have been interested in. I was raised in Lexington, NC and spent most every weekend and summer coming to Carolina Beach to spend time with my great-grandmother. I moved to Greensboro, NC to attend college and stayed there for most of my adult life until my children and I moved to Carolina Beach in 2010. While attending UNC Greensboro I earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and a Master’s Degree in Elementary Education. I taught 2nd, 3rd, and 5th grades for ten years in at-risk schools as well as an arts-based charter school before choosing to stay home with my twins, Matthew and Elizabeth. For the last ten or so years, I have been raising my children and have been heavily involved in their school as a classroom volunteer, media center volunteer, Vice President of Fundraising and PTA President for their school. When I’m not at Island Montessori, you will most likely find me in my car driving my children to their many after school activities or you may find me taking care of our three cats, one dog, one guinea pig and two birds.
Brian Corrigan, Director of Finances and Human Resources
Mr. Corrigan has a Master's Degree from the University of Maine in Educational Leadership and a Bachelor's Degree from the University of Toledo in Science Education. A native of Cleveland, Ohio, he holds a United States Coast Guard Captain’s license.
He came to Wilmington in 2008 to be the Director of Cape Fear Center for Inquiry. Previously he spent 12 years in Maine as a Middle School Principal, Dean of Students/Athletic Director, and a High School Science Teacher. His first year as a Science Teacher was in Akron, Ohio and he also coached track and basketball for 5 years.
Mr. Corrigan is a very student centered educator that believes that hands-on, real-world experiences are the best way to teach children. Letting students tinker, figure things out on their own, and formulate their own ideas while accepting others ideas is the core foundation of his educational beliefs.