The Mother Teresa Academy Family

Ms. Debbie Maddalone

Executive Director

Ms. Debbie is a “Jackie of all trades”! She has worked in a hands on blue collared position as well as taking care of children. She brings all her experience over the years, now being with MTA for 14 years. She has established a friendly and familiar rapport with our children, parents, staff, administration and anyone who might walk through our door or telephone our office.

​Ms. Debbie has created a culture of learning, fun and family while delivering the core values of a Catholic School.

When Ms. Debbie is not greeting guests, she keeps very busy with all the numerous tasks necessary to keep the school organized and running smoothly. She truly enjoys her position and the versatility it gives her to get to know everyone involved with MTA.

Ms. Debbie attended private Catholic school all of her educational years, is the Mother of 4 children, Grandma for two beautiful girls Charlotte and Francesca. She is the 3rd oldest of 13 siblings.

Joyce Maddalone – In Loving Memory

Marketing Director and Founder of Mother Teresa Academy

Mrs. Maddalone followed her vision and listened to God’s voice when He told her to go and open a school where children would learn to apply Catholic Christian values to their everyday lives. It was then that Mother Teresa Academy was founded in 2006 with she as its’ Director.

Joyce was the matriarch of the Maddalone family, sadly she lost her eight year long fight with cancer in June of 2020. She has joined her husband, Hank of fifty-six years who passed away in April of 2019 after a brief battle with cancer. They left behind eight sons, six daughters, forty-three grandchildren and eight great-grandchild.

For over 40 years Joyce had an active role in the community, for 50 years, she had been a registered nurse with a Bachelor’s in Human Services. Joyce was the Nursing Director and Founder of Action Nursing Service and Maddalone Medical Supplies. Joyce previously combined her love of children and nursing as the nurse at St. Paul the Apostle and St. John the Evangelist Schools in Schenectady, N.Y. where she donated her time for many years. Even though her children were grown; Joyce was a Girl Scout leader for 20 years as well as having been a Boy Scout Leader for 10 years. Joyce was a member of the Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church in Glenville, N.Y., where she was one of the Eucharistic Ministers, Greeters and Lectors. Joyce was a member of the weekly Prison Ministry at Mount McGregor Prison, a Rite of Christian Initiation team member, a member of the Parish Nurses, member of the Elizabeth Mother Ministry, a member of the Welcoming Committee and had participated in four medical missions to Peru and the Dominican Republic. Joyce had been a member of the Glenville Rotary for more than twenty years and was a past President. Joyce was also a member of the Southern Saratoga Chamber Of Commerce..

Have you taken a breath yet? It is hard to believe how much living Joyce gets out of her life. One of her favorite expressions is, “when you need something done, ask a busy person.” Joyce was recently featured in Success Magazine, was awarded the Girl Scout’s “Women of Distinction Award” and was recognized by the Times Union as one of the twenty five people who make a difference in the Capital District.

When we look for role models for our children, Joyce’s name can easily be at the top of the list. Joyce was a leading example of when we put our faith in God and follow the path that He has set before us; blessings happen. Joyce always found a way to be a central part of the community. Her entire life was devoted to her children and the children of others. She was a believer in the dreams of children, a motivator to encourage them, and she had chosen to dedicate her life to the children.

Ms. Holli Riviezzo

Assistant Director

Ms. Holli Riviezzo is entering her seventh year at MTA. Her first three years were in the classroom teaching Pre-K and for four years she has been the Assistant Director position. Holli received her Early Childhood Education degree from Sage College of Albany and she has twenty plus years of Early Childhood Education experience.

Ms. Holli currently resides in Niskayuna with her three children. Isabella 19, Noah 18, and Daniel 14. She is excited to be joining the MTA administration and looks forward to working with the amazing staff, children and parents this year. Outside of teaching Ms. Holli enjoys spending time with her family and dogs. She also enjoys reading, taking walks and watching her children participate in extra curricular activities like sports and music. ​

Ms. Heather Ottati

Curriculum Coordinator, Music, Art, Religion & Spanish

Ms. Heather is very excited her fifth year at MTA! This year she will be returning as the curriculum coordinator and specials teacher. She had been involved in early childhood education her whole life. Ms. Heather is a New York State Certified Early Childhood, Childhood, Special Education and Literacy Teacher. She did her undergrad work at SUNY college at Oneonta and her Master’s work at Sage College. Ms. Heather has spent some time subbing in area districts until she fell in love with Pre-K age children. She looks forward to getting to know her students and their families.

Ms. Heather grew up in Ballston Spa, NY. She has two wonderful parents and a younger brother. When not teaching, Ms. Heather enjoys traveling with her fiancé Patrick, reading, spending time with her family, and shopping.

Miss. Karen

Nursery Teacher

Hello to all the MTA families! My name is Karen Muzio (Miss Karen) and I excited for my second year in Nursery 2 classroom. I am very excited to be part of the MTA family and look forward to a great year! I come to you with around 25 years experience with the preschool age. I also coach preschool gymnastics at cartwheels gym in Clifton Park. I live in Latham with my husband Dave and we have two beautiful, hardworking adult daughters! We love to spend time at our Camp on weekends and golf when we can!! I look forward to meeting you all at some point!

Mother Teresa Academy Nursery School

Mrs. Maureen Healy

Nursery Teacher

Ms. Mo has been working as supervisor of Kids Club at Vent Fitness for the last 9 years. All of her kids love to call her ” Ms. Mo “. She is very excited about returning to the MTA family for her sixth year. She has a very high energy level and is always smiling. She has a degree in Business and has always had a passion to work with children. She has been involved and dedicated to teaching children life lessons for over 20 years.

​She resides in Clifton Park with her husband and has (3) boys, 2 grand-daughters and a grand-son. She enjoys spending time with family, watching sports and staying up to date with the daily occurrences that her husband and (2) sons (who are actively involved in Emergency Medical Services) share with her.

Miss. Melissa Ponce

Nursery Teacher

My name is Mrs. Melissa Ponce and I will be your child’s nursery one teacher this year. My students call me Ms. Melissa. I grew up with 13 siblings and currently have 46 nieces and nephews. I married my high school sweetheart Ben and we have 3 children; Gianluca, Giana and Antonio. I was working as a co teacher at Mother Teresa Academy up until I had my youngest son. I then opened up an in-home preschool program and taught my students for the past 3 years. I am excited to be back at MTA for a new school year. I will do my best to ensure the safety, comfort, health and happiness of all the children in my care. I will present them with opportunities to learn at their own pace.

Mother Teresa Academy Nursery School

Liliana Orzio

Teacher Assistant

Hello my name is Liliana, I am originally from Mexico and I have lived in the capital region for 17 years., I currently live in Clifton Park with my husband and son. I recently joined MTA after many years as a stay-at-home parent. Though my education background is as a Certified Public Accountant, my passion was always working with children as a volunteer, after a long break decided to pursue my passion and leave the numbers behind, I am currently working as a teacher assistant with Miss. Mo. I enjoy every aspect of teaching and helping children learn and understand basic concepts, I feel this is a two-way interaction where they can teach us as much as we teach them. I enjoy the opportunity to watch them grow and flourish, they allow you to be yourself and get in touch with your inner child. I am very happy to be part of the MTA family.

Mother Teresa Academy Nursery School

Mrs. Priscila Paixao

Teacher Assistant

Hello! My name is Mrs. Priscila and I’m from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. In Brazil, I received a Business degree and an MBA in Oil & gas management. I currently live in Halfmoon, NY. I have a 9 year old daughter named Julia. Since Julia was in kindergarten, I have volunteered at her school and it is where I found the love of working with children. This year I participated in ASEP, After School Enrichment Programs and taught children from Kindergarten, 1st and 2nd grade. It is a place where I was able to share my culture, food, famous Brazilian artists and also Portuguese language. It was a wonderful experience. I really loved participating in this project. I am still working as a volunteer in the Library in my daughter’s school, once a week.

In my free time I like to travel with my family and our dog and see new places. We enjoy movies, bowling and skating. We also like to host and spend time with our friends at home and give children the opportunity to play. I am so excited to be joining the MTA family for my fourth year and learn more about kid’s education.

Rachel Ryu

Teacher Assistant

Hello. My my name is Rachel and I am a teacher assistant in Ms. Ali’s class. I was a teacher until 2012 for over 10 years. I am certified to be a teacher in middle, high school and elementary school because I have two bachelor’s degree in secondary music education as well as in elementary education. I had to quit my job because of my husband’s work to come here. I have two lovely sons and they are 18 and 14. I became interested in early childhood education after raising them. I know how important early childhood education is. I am always studying about the field. Most of all, I love children. I am patient and friendly. I am very proud of my good relationship with students and others. Many of my previous students are keeping in touch with me even though they are in their 20’s or 30’s now. I hope I can do that here. I am so excited to be joining MTA for the second year and I look forward to meeting the children this year

Mother Teresa Academy Nursery School

Vanessa Gomez

Teacher Assistant

Hi! I’ am Vanessa. I have been happily married for 12 years. My husband and I have two children. A boy named Omar who is 9 years old and of a girl named Ana Elvira who is 7 years old. My family has been living in Clifton Park since 2015. We are originally from Mexico City but my husband’s job transferred him here. One of the things that I love the most is spending time with my family. Three years ago, I was a volunteer in my daughter’s pre-k school. I also enjoy participating with my son’s teacher in the many different activities as much as I can. During my free time, I like to spend time with my children playing board games and participating in my kids’ activities. My son plays indoor soccer and loves music. He is also learning to play the violin. My daughter likes to paint and do gymnastics. Both of them play basketball and swim. I started at MTA on January 2019. I am VERY HAPPY for the opportunity because it is going to give me the chance to participate and help our community in the development and care of the children.

Ms. Alison Kam

Pre-K Teacher

Ms. Ali is very excited to start her third year as Pre-K teacher at MTA! This will be her fourth year teaching Pre-K in New York. Originally from Connecticut, Ali has spent over 20 years in Early Childhood Education. During these years she has taught Preschool, Pre-K and Kindergarten. She also has been an Assistant Director and Head Teacher. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Hotel Restaurant Management from Drexel University in Philadelphia before deciding that teaching was her calling and then continued her education in the Graduate program at University of Saint Joseph in West Hartford, Connecticut where she earned her Elementary Education Certification. She then realized early on that her passion for teaching was in Early Childhood, specifically Pre-k and Kindergarten.

She believes that every child is unique and will learn and grow in their own way. As a teacher she strives to provide each child with the love and support they need to be successful in Pre-K and beyond.

Ali was born in Rochester, NY but was raised in Avon, CT. She lived in Philadelphia for 5 years while in college and came back to Connecticut where she lived until last fall. She lives with her two children, Carmyn (10) and Jackson (4), and they keep her on the go! As a family they are loving New York and have spent a lot of time exploring their new home state!

Mrs. Marissa Rogowski

Pre-K Teacher

I was born in Northampton England. I moved to New York in 1996 to work as a Nanny. I have over 20 years experience in childcare. I recently worked at Shen as a sub with Special Ed. I was a stay at home mom with my three children Ethan 16, Matt 15, and Bell 10. I reside in Halfmoon and enjoys spending time with my family. I love to travel, cook, interior design, and hang out with cats. This will be my sixth year teaching at MTA!

Ms. Kristin Felano

Teacher Assistant

Hello my name is Kristin. I am Ms. Debbie’s daughter and I am a teacher assistant in Ms. Marissa’s Pre-K. I started working at Mother Teresa Academy when I was just 16 when it first opened. I then went off to college and got my bachelors degree from SUNY Albany. I worked for many other companies using my degree. After having my daughter (Charlotte), I decided to come back to Mother Teresa Academy and have fun. I am so happy to be back and excited to work with Ms. Marissa in our Pre-K class this year.

When I am not planning things for my classroom, I enjoy being with my family. My family is my husband Tim, my 3 year old daughter Charlotte, 3 month old baby Francesca and our dog Zoey. We are an outdoorsy family and enjoy things like swimming in our pool, being on our boat, or just hanging out in our backyard. I love concerts, shopping, decorating and planning parties. I am excited to work with your kids and see them learn and grow in our new school and classroom.

Mother Teresa Academy Nursery School Urmila Singh

Mrs. Urmila Singh

Teacher Substitute

Mrs. Singh has Master’s degree in Social Work from India. She has been part of MTA family since 2007. First she worked as an administrative assistant and then as an assistant teacher. She took 2 years break from MTA to have her younger son. Both her sons are MTA graduates. Older son, Ojas attended MTA up to 3rd grade and younger son, Anuj up to Kindergarten. She loves to work with kids and is very excited to “re-join” MTA this year.

She lives in Halfmoon with her husband and 2 sons. Her older son Ojas is in high school and younger son is in third grade. In her spare time, Mrs. Singh likes to organize things in her home, read and spend time with her family.

Mrs. Amy Parker

Nursery Assistant

Hello, my name and Amy and I have been working at MTA since September of 2020. I am a nursery assistant teacher and love working with Miss Karen. I currently live in Clifton Park with my husband and three children. I love spending time with my family! I have previously worked in a private school setting and enjoyed watching the children grow. Before, entering the school setting I was a nanny for many years too.

Ms. Sara Ward

Kindergarten Teacher

My name is Ms. Sara and I am very excited to join MTA for my second year teaching! I have an Early Childhood Education degree as well as a Masters Degree in Literacy and reading. I have been living and teaching in the Clifton Park area since 2007. I have taught second grade, preschool and have been a substitute for children ages 3-12. I love working with all ages but have been drawn to teaching the younger children. They have such a quest for knowledge! Watching and helping young children learn to read and write is so rewarding! When I am not at school, I enjoy spending time with my two children, Katherine (9) and Ryan (8). We all enjoy being outside, reading, watching movies, and doing family activities.

Mrs. Laurie Wilson

Aftercare Coordinator and Teacher Assistant

Mrs. Wilson is so excited to be taking on the role of assistant teacher in kindergarten. She has fallen in love with the children and is excited to help them learn and grow this year. She has her masters degree in elementary education. In addition to having classroom experience she also ran a home daycare for several years.

Mrs. Wilson enjoys reading, and spending time outdoors with her family and two dogs. She is excited to be returning to MTA for her third year!

Miss Tara Burke

Kindergarten Teacher

Miss Tara graduated Shenendehowa HS in 2010 and graduated from Marist College with a BS in Business Marketing in 2014. Throughout her high school and college years, Tara dedicated her time to working with children through volunteering as a Junior Plainsmen Cheerleading Coach and being a Teacher’s Assistant at Albany Medical Center’s preschool program and The Astor Head Start program, which serves low-income families in Poughkeepsie, NY.

In her spare time, Tara loves running her business, Freely Clothing, which gives a portion of its profits to young people who want to give back to their communities.

She’s very excited to start her fourth school year at MTA!

Mother Teresa Academy Nursery School Lisa Savyon

Miss. Lisa

Miss Lisa’s Activities

Miss Lisa Savyon is excited to be working with your children this year. During the course of the year, Miss Lisa will be doing various activities with your children, including: singing, interactive books, creative movement, learning about our bodies, learning about the seasons, with a little bit of magic sprinkled in.

Miss Lisa has been working in Early Childhood education for over 20 years. She has worked with children from age 2 all the way through high school. She has vast experience working with children with special needs, and is very sensitive to each child’s individuality.

Here’s looking forward to a great year!

Ms. Hannah Pell

Pre-K Assistant

I’m Miss Hannah and I have been working at MTA since January 2020. I started out in aftercare, but am now a Pre-K Assistant in Miss Marissa’s classroom. Along with my duties here at MTA, I am a student at the University at Albany studying biology and psychology. When I have some free time, I like to paint, make earrings, and go on walks. I am originally from Medford, New York all the way out on Long Island where I live with my parents, grandpa, younger brother, two dogs, two cats, and six chickens! I have loved every second working here and cannot wait for another school year here at MTA.

Ms. Michele Sobieski

Nursery Teacher

Hi! My name is Ms. Michele and I am back at MTA after a year off. I missed teaching so much that I had to come back. I am so excited to be back teaching all of these wonderful children. this will be my fifth year teaching at Mother Teresa Academy. I love nursey and all the fun we have exploring and learning. I am a mother of two active boys, John and Tyler. Both boys play travel basketball and baseball. We are an active family that loves the outdoors, sports and exploring. My hobbies include running, weight lifting, cross training, camping, bike riding and spending as much time as I can with my family. I can’t wait to spend time this year leaning about you and your children!