Debra Smorto Owner/Director/ Elementary/Middle Teacher

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Debra, better known as Miss Deb, is not only the school's founder and current director, but she also teaches all of the Elementary and Middle School students here at Fields of Green. "Working hard keeps me young!" says the energetic grandmother of 2 children, ages 17 and 13. Her own two children, ages 39 and 37 were Montessori students many years ago and that's how Miss Deb received her introduction into the Montessori philosophy.

Miss Deb began as a parent, then as a substitute, and also cleaned the school to pay for her kids' tuition back in the 80's. Working also as a Naturalist at High Point State Park, she realized that combining the natural world with Montessori teaching was the perfect marriage and vowed to join the two if she would create her own school. By 1997 her dreams came true when she took over a failing local Montessori school with only ten families left. Calling it "Fledglings Montessori School," she felt that children were like baby birds, hungry and getting ready to leave the nest. She designed the traditional Montessori curriculum around environmental education, thus creating a "green umbrella" that was held over the unique new school.

Numbers quickly grew and after about seven years in two different locations, the school moved to its current location in Vernon, which is more like the dream Miss Deb had for the school. It is housed in a historic farmhouse on 3 1/2 acres and surrounded by green fields and 95 acres of Open Space land. Here Miss Deb created an organic garden, a large play yard and was able to bring on many animal friends for the students to care for.

For 16 years, Miss Deb's faithful 24/7 companion, Seamus, was the school dog and was regularly promoted to finally becoming the school's guidance counselor. She performed her job with loyalty and dignity until her passing on Valentine's Day in 2012. Three months later, on Good Friday, little Pheona, aka Phee, took Seamus's place and has now taken over the legacy that Seamus left with the school. She is a calm and loving dog and is doing her job well (except when she tries to chase the chickens). Just this spring in 2016, Miss Deb saw a photo of a puppy on Pet Finder that looked exactly like Seamus as a pup, so she had to adopt her! Little Ailish now comes to school as well and is learning the ropes like her two sisters. Griffin, who is a Pit Bull/Mastiff mix, comes to school too, but he graces Miss Deb's couch in the office all day since he is too big to mix with the children. As of the spring of 2018, two new puppies were added to Miss Deb's menagerie - Saoirse and Cieran, German Shepherd sisters. They were raised amongst the joy and play of the kids in the playground and someday may become classroom dogs as well.

Debra currently holds a B.S. in Environmental Studies, her Montessori certification and an M.Ed. in Integrative Montessori Education. She volunteered for over 25 years in the state of New York as a Wildlife Rehabilitator. She also held the position of Chairperson for her local Environmental Agency within her home town.