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 and  Religion Teacher

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 husband Patrick, reading, spending time with her family, and shopping.

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!

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. Caitlyn Lewis

Nursery Teacher

Hi there, my name is Mrs. Caitlyn Lewis. My students call me Ms. Caitlyn. I am excited to begin my first year at Mother Teresa Academy teaching nursery. This will be my eighth year teaching. I started teaching out in Arizona at a Christian boarding school for the Navajo’s, teaching grades 1-3. I then moved back to New York to be close to family again, that’s when I began teaching pre-K. I have my bachelors degree in Early Childhood Education (birth – 2 grade).
When I’m not teaching I enjoy camping, day trips, spending time with my husband, family and friends. My husband Daniel and I love serving at our church in Troy. Church is our second home and where we met. We also enjoy having family and friends come over for game nights. Currently the most popular game is monopoly deal. I look forward to bringing the excitement of learning and games into the classroom for my students to enjoy. It’s always a delight to see my students grow in their abilities and confidence as they acquire new skills and information throughout the year. So let’s get ready for a great school year together!

Mrs. Claudia

Nursery Teacher Assistant and Spanish & Art Teacher

Hello, my name is Claudia Fragoso and I’m so excited to being my first year teaching spanish and art. I have been an assistant in nursery in the past but I am back again! I am originally from Mexico City, Mexico. I have been living here for hour years. I live with my husband and my dog. In my free time I really like to go out with my husband, read books, and play with my dog.

Miss. Karen

Pre-K Teacher

Hello to all the MTA families! My name is Karen Muzio (Miss Karen) and I excited for my third year at MTA.  This will be my first 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 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!

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.

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.

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. 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. 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.

Miss Tara Burke

Pre-K 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

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. Sara Ryan

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!

Mrs. Brittany Desso

Kindergarten Teacher

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.

Mrs. Sara Marchesiani

Kindergarten Teacher Assistant

More information coming soon!