Missy Pentecost is thrilled to be starting her 14th year at MMO Programs. Missy has worn many hats at MMO, having taught Music, been the Infant Program Head Teacher, the Summer Camp Coordinator, and the Infant/Toddler Programs Coordinator. Missy is currently working towards an M. Ed. in Learning, Cognition, and Development from Rutgers University. She is a member of CITE, the Coalition of Infant Toddler Educators, and of NJ-AIMH, the New Jersey Association for Infant Mental Health.
Prior to her career and raising her own children, Missy’s life was very different. A former actor, she received her BFA from Montclair State University and was a founding member of the Present Theater Company and producer of the New York International Fringe Festival. She spent several years in retail management as well, managing over 250 stores.
She now lives in Bloomfield with her husband of 29 years, Del Pentecost. Both of her children are MMO Alumni. Fifteen year-old Tallulah is now a sophomore at Bloomfield High School and her son Emerson is a freshman in the Honors Program at The College of New Jersey.
Jan Burgess, Infant/Toddler Coordinator
Jan Burgess is pleased to be returning in her second year as Infant/Toddler Programs Coordinator, which for Jan is a “perfect mix” of working with children, staff and families of our three youngest classes (Caterpillars, Ladybugs and Grasshoppers). Jan has filled several roles in her 6 previous years at MMO, spending most of these years as Lead Teacher with our youngest infants (Caterpillars).
Originally from Lawrence, Kansas (go, Jayhawks!), Jan holds a BA in Elementary Education from Southwestern College (Winfield, KS) and has done graduate work in Early Childhood Education at Montclair State University. Jan also spent a year engaged in experiential learning through domestic and international travel, service, performance and leadership development with the global organization “Up With People.” She has held various teaching and education-related positions throughout her career, including serving as a student support counselor for K-2 students and working as a preschool teacher and program coordinator at The Children’s Center at Goldman Sachs. She is a member of NAEYC (National Association for the Education of Young Children) and NJAIMH (New Jersey Association for Infant Mental Health).
Jan and her husband of 28 years, Peter Wilkinson, came to New Jersey from rural Illinois ten years ago and have four children: Maddie, 24; Kaitlin, 22; Evan (also working at MMO), 20; and Emma, 19. Jan enjoys reading and time with her book club, traveling, and taking in as many jazz, cabaret and Broadway shows as possible!
Alex Latona, Lead Teacher of Aftercare Enrichment
Alex Latona is excited to begin her first year as Lead Teacher of the Aftercare Enrichment program! Alex began at MMO as an Assistant Teacher in the Caterpillars’ class in 2013. Alex holds a Bachelor of English and Psychology from Caldwell University and in 2017 earned her CDA. She is looking forward to working with students and their families, as well as continuing to learn about early childhood. When not working, Alex spends her time planning her wedding for this upcoming July!
Melissa Rigtrup, Lead Teacher of the Caterpillars Program
Melissa Rigtrup is excited to begin at MMO this fall as a Lead Teacher in our Caterpillar infant program. Melissa holds her BA in English and has done graduate work at Montclair State University. She holds a standard New Jersey State Teaching Certificate (K-5) and has taught preschool as well as grades K-6 for the past ten years.
Melissa Rigtrup, raised in Montclair, currently resides in Bloomfield with her husband and their 5-year-old son, Wesley. Her outside interests include reading exercise, cooking, and spending as much time with her family as possible.
Margaret is entering her second year with MMO Programs! She began working as an Assistant Teacher in the Caterpillars Program in 2015. Margaret has been an early childhood educator since 2005, including working as a Head Pre-Kindergarten teacher. Margaret holds a Bachelor of Science from Bloomfield College and in 2017 earned her CDA. She looks forward to working once again with MMO’s youngest students. When not working, Margaret spends her time with her daughter and husband.
Joelle Mondo, Lead Teacher of the Ladybugs Program
Joelle Mondo is excited to begin her second year as a Lead Teacher of the Ladybugs class! No stranger to MMO, Joelle, started working as a teacher’s assistant in 2011 and has worked with all ages from infancy through pre-K. Joelle graduated from Felician University in May 2016 with a Bachelor of Science degree in biology and continued her education to receive her CDA (a college-credit certificate program in early childhood development). When not working or studying. Joelle enjoys spending time with family, reading and shopping.
Claude Barthelemy began as an assistant teacher in the Ladybug program in 2016. Claude’s interest in education grew after high school when she served as a volunteer with children in her home nation of Haiti. She began taking college classes and earned her Diploma in Preschool Education, after which she worked for several years with 2nd-6th graders there and earned her CDA in 2012.
During her childhood, Claude enjoyed boating and playing on the beautiful beaches of Haiti, and as a teenager she particularly loved jet skiing! Claude now spends some of her spare time sketching still life and fashion illustrations, reading (especially mysteries), and hanging out with family and friends.
Christina Serra, Lead Teacher of Bumblebees Program
Christina came to MMO Programs in 2004 as a teaching assistant working with students from infancy through Pre-K. In 2011 Christina took the role of summer camp Art Specialist for the school-year vacation camps. Christina was appointed Lead Teacher of the Bumblebees (Young 3’s) class in 2012. She has earned her Child Development Specialist Apprenticeship Certification and obtained her Child Development Associate Credential this year. When not at MMO, Christina enjoys being with family and friends, reading, and being down the shore.
Megan Newton, Lead Teacher of Dragonflies Program
& Aftercare Enrichment
Megan is excited to begin her second year at MMO Programs as the Lead Teacher of the Dragonflies’ Three’s program! Megan graduated from Caldwell College in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in Elementary and Early Childhood Education and earned her Masters in Elementary Education and Teaching of Students with Disabilities from Felician University in 2017. She is NJ State Certified in both Early Childhood Education (P-3) and Elementary Education (K-5.) Megan worked in a private preschool program for four years where she implemented both the aftercare program and summer camp program. She also spent several years working as a paraprofessional in the ABA Program in the Nutley Public School District, educating students who have disabilities.
Megan was born in Belleville, NJ and lived in Woodridge until she was five. She moved to Nutley, where she currently lives. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, spending time with her family and friends, and cooking and baking- a passion she intends to bring to her students!
Gary Jacob, Lead teacher of the Butterfly Program
Gary Jacob is excited to begin this year at MMO Programs as the Lead Teacher of the Butterflies PreK program! Gary is a graduate of Montclair State University where he received a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education. Gary is a New Jersey State certified teacher in Grades K-6 and has experience teaching Kindergarten through Third grades as well as K-8 Technology. His passion has always been working with preschool-age children, which started right here at MMO in 2002! For the first three years in his career in education, Gary worked at MMO as an assistant in the MMO PreK program and as a summer camp counselor. Mr. Gary is known and beloved by many current MMO students who have had Mr. Gary for Drama, when he joined MMO again in 2015 as an instructor in our Enrichment Program.
Tara Nesta, Lead Teacher of Fireflies Program
Tara Nesta has been teaching Pre-K at MMO since 2009 and is excited to continue teaching the Fireflies Pre-K class this year. She has her Bachehlor degree from Montclair State University in Early Childhood Education. Prior to working at MMO, Tara taught first grade in Essex Fells and kindergarten at Montclair Kimberly Academy. Tara lives in Nutley with her husband and her two children Dylan and Cassie. Tara enjoys reading and spending time on the beach.
Danielle Hoover has been a staff member at MMO for 20 years! Danielle began working as a teaching assistant in the MMO Pre-K program. Nine years ago, Danielle took on the role of Lead teacher for the young 3’s class (now Bumblebees) and for two years taught the toddler class (now Grasshoppers). This is Danielle’s fourth year as MMO Aftercare/Enrichment Coordinator. She has earned her CDS (Child Development Specialist) and will be continuing her studies this year. She loves working with children and enjoys opportunities in aftercare to interact with MMO students of all ages.
Meredith Orlan, Media Coordinator
Meredith Orlan is an MMO Preschool Programs alumna! Meredith was born and raised in Montclair and received a B.A in Sociology from Penn State. She has been working at MMO programs for seven school years and many more years as a summer camp counselor. She has worked for six years as a production assistant and page designer for The Jersey Journal. She currently assists in the Grasshopper program, and maintains MMO’s social media presence, our webpage and creates the monthly newsletter.