The Mother Teresa Academy Family

Ms. Debbie Maddalone

Executive Director

Hi, I’m Ms. Debbie, school director going into my 15th year here at MTA. I am so excited for another school year to begin. When my Mom (Joyce Maddalone) asked me to come help her for a few hours here at MTA when she was the director, I did not think that it would lead me to where I am. But now, I wouldn’t trade this job for anything.
When I’m not working here at the school, I like to spend time with my family, I have a fiancé named Dave, my daughter Ms. Kristin and 3 sons, Justin, Jonathan and Ryan. I also am a Grandma to my 2 girls, Charlotte and Francesca, and love my 2 dogs Mila (who you might see running around at MTA) and Bentley. I am also the 3rd oldest of 13 siblings and am an aunt to 53 nieces and nephews.
I love all the kids and families that have come through here and enjoy watching them grow. I am also grateful for all the loving staff who love coming to work as much as I do, because without them we would not have MTA. I always look forward to seeing everyone in gather Chapel every morning where we start our day with singing, a prayer and of course all the hugs and smiles from all the little love bugs. These children teach me so much and make me want to be a better person. A little nursery boy once said to me “Ms. Debbie, can you please live here on Earth forever?” This is why I love my job and all the joy it brings me. I love spending time with both my MTA family and my own. Thank you for trusting me with your children every day.
“If you want to change the world, go home and love your family.” -Mother Teresa 

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 ninth year at MTA. Her first three years were in the classroom teaching Pre-K and for six 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 21, Noah 20 and Daniel 16. She is excited to continue in her 6th year as assistant director and looks forward to working with the amazing staff, children and parents this year. She also enjoys reading, taking walks and spending time with her family.

Ms. Heather Staulters

Curriculum Coordinator and  Religion Teacher

Ms. Heather is very excited her sixth 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, reading, spending time with her family, and shopping.

Ms. Michele Sobieski

Nursery 1

Hi! My name is Ms. Michele I am so excited to be teaching all of these wonderful children. This will be my seventh 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, baseball and football. 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 learning about you and your children!

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.

Mrs. Michelle

Nursery 2

Hello, my name is Michelle and I am overjoyed to welcome your children to our nursery school program!  This is my first year at MTA, but I have 3 years experience teaching nursery and look forward to many more years here.  I live in Clifton Park with my husband, 3 children, and my large Goldendoodle name Eli.  We enjoy camping, swimming, and spending most of our free time with family and close friends.  My youngest is in her second year at MTA and is starting kindergarten this year.  We both look forward to starting school and meeting you all!

Miss. Karen

Pre-K 1

Hello to all the MTA families! My name is Karen Muzio (Miss Karen) and I excited for my fourth year at MTA.  This will be my second year teaching Pre-K here but I have previously taught nursery at MTA. I am very excited to be part of the MTA family and look forward to a great year! I come to you with over 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 grown beautiful, hardworking adult daughters! Recently, I have started working on Saturday’s at Galway Rock Winery. We love to spend time at our Camp on weekends and golf when we can!!

Mrs. Amy Parker

Pre-K Assistant

Hello, my name and Amy and I have been working at MTA since September of 2020. I am a Pre-K 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. Mary

Teacher Assistant

Hello my name is Ms. Mary also known as Noni to my two beautiful granddaughters, Charlotte, 4 and Francesca, 20 months. I am also a mother to 3 wonderful children, Timothy, Marissa, and Michael. I am excited to start my first full school year at MTA. I love to cook, garden, hike, and spend time with my family. I will be sharing in many positions at MTA including assisting in the classrooms and lunchroom. I look forward to meeting all the amazing MTA children and families. Say Hello next time you see me!

Mrs. Marissa Rogowski

Pre-K 1

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. Hannah Pell

Nursery 3

I’m Miss Hannah and I have been working at MTA since January 2020. I started out in aftercare, but am now a Nursery teacher. 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. Kristin Felano

Administrator Building 2, Uniform Coordinator

Hello MTA Families and Welcome! 😊 My name is Ms. Kristin and I am the Uniform Coordinator as well as Kindergarten administration in building 2. Also if you think I look familiar it is because I am Ms. Debbie’s daughter 😉.  I have been a part of MTA for 15+ years and have had many positions along the way. I have loved working here and being a part of such a fun and loving community. When I’m not working, I enjoy spending time with my family; My husband Tim and 2 daughters Charlotte (5) who is in Pre-K here at MTA and Francesca (2) who will soon be joining us next year in nursery. I also have 2 big dogs, Zoey and Dozer. Next time you see me make sure to say Hello, I look forward to sharing MTA with your children and family.

Miss Tara Burke

Pre-K 3

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 sixth school year at MTA!

Vanessa Gomez

Art, Music and Spanish

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. I am excited to be at my fourth year at MTA.

Ms. Sara Ryan

Kindergarten 2

My name is Ms. Sara and I am very excited to join MTA for my fourth 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 (12) and Ryan (10). We all enjoy being outside, reading, watching movies, and doing family activities.

Mrs. Laurie Wilson

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 fifth year!

Mrs. Brittany Desso

Kindergarten 1

Hello! My name is Brittany Desso.  I am excited to begin my first year at Mother Teresa Academy teaching Kindergarten!  I have over seven years experience as an early childhood educator.  I enjoy watching children learn new skills and grow in their confidence throughout the year.  I was most recently a PreK teacher for Head start, and prior to that I taught toddlers.

I have a Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education as well as a Masters degree in Literacy.  My husband Nick and I have lived in Clifton Park for the past 5 years.  In my free time I enjoy visiting with family, traveling, reading and taking my dog Brandon for walks. I am excited to be in my second year teaching at MTA!

Mrs. Sara Marchesiani

Teacher Assistant

I am excited to be a teacher assistant in Ms. Hannah’s Nursery class. I have a bachelor’s degree from SUNY Plattsburg. For many years, I worked in corporate positions in Boston, MA and Albany, NY. After, having my kids I was fortunate enough to become a work from home mom. My husband and I live in Clifton Park with our three children and sweet senior dog named Aida. I have volunteered for many years at my children’s school and been an active PTA member.

In my free time, I enjoy watching movies, listening to music, cooking, baking, and entertaining family and friends. I am excited to join the MTA family and to be working with Mrs. Brittany. I look forward to working with your children and to see them learn and grow in the classroom! This is my second year at MTA!

Ms. Katelyn

Nursery Teacher Assistant

Hi! I’m Miss. Katelyn! I am so excited to be the assistant teacher in Miss. Michelle’s nursery
classroom! This is my first year at MTA, but I have experience working with children and
absolutely love it! In 2021, I received my bachelor’s degree from Siena College. I am currently a
student at Sage College working towards my master’s degree in community and counseling
psychology. I plan to become a licensed mental health counselor specializing in working with
children. In my free time I enjoy shopping, baking, and going camping with my friends. I also
love spending time with my family and new maltipoo puppy, Luna!

Mrs. Carissa

Kindergarten 3

My name is Mrs. Carissa. This is my first year at MTA! I have been a 1st grade and 2nd grade teacher before taking last year off to spend with my baby. I love to spend time with my family. I have a husband, a son who is almost one year old, and a sheepadoodle named Cooper! I cannot wait to have a great year in kindergarten this year!

Miss Jonna

Teacher Assistant

Hello, my name is Miss Jonna! I am coming to Mother Teresa Academy from the North Colonie School District. I worked at Shaker High School as a TA in the special education department for thirteen years. I currently live in Clifton Park with my fiancé Christopher. We will be getting married October 7th of this year. I also have two fur babies. A little dog named Ralphie who is 1, and a cat named Jazmine who is 15. Some hobbies that I enjoy are camping, fishing, and hiking. I am looking forward to the start of the new school year and happy to be a part of MTA! This is my first year at MTA!