Our Team


Iris Ponte, Ph.D.

Dr. Iris Chin Ponte is Director and Classroom Teacher at the Henry Frost Children’s Program Inc. in Belmont, MA. Dr. Ponte was trained personally by Director Debbie LeeKeenan of the world renowned Eliot-Pearson Children’s Laboratory School at Tufts University. Dr. Ponte has studied multiple early education approaches including, the Reggio Emilia Approach, the Montessori Method, as well as the Eliot-Pearson Developmental Approach.

As a former Fulbright Scholar, Dr. Ponte has expertise in cross-cultural issues in education. She has taught and conducted extensive school research in the United States, the United Kingdom, Taiwan, China, Japan, and Newfoundland. Dr. Ponte has also previously worked for Sesame Street Research at the Children’s Television Workshop in New York among many other media and research institutions. She has published in the areas of children and technology, behavior management, children’s play, and heritage trips for adoptees in China. In addition to being a Fulbright Scholar, Dr. Ponte has received various scholarship and fellowship recognitions from the Children’s Defense Fund, the Watson IBM Fellowship, CBS, and the American Educational Research Association.

Read Dr. Ponte's Director's Statement.

Claire Kamenski

Born and farm-raised in Milwaukee Wisconsin, Claire graduated from the University of Milwaukee-Wisconsin with a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology while also competing on the Women’s NCAA Division 1 soccer team. After graduating she went on to earn her Master's of Teaching degree from Northeastern University.

Claire then moved to Oxford, England to teach at the primary and elementary levels as well as work as the lower school Literacy Coordinator. Claire’s passions for nature, music, movement, and living a healthy lifestyle led her to learning as much as she could about the Reggio Emilia approach. While Literacy Coordinator, Claire designed models of emergent and progressive curriculum to be implemented across the lower school grades to encourage school wide child-directed learning and understanding. After moving back to the USA and having her daughter, Ella, born on 11/11/11, Claire taught in a number of places looking to find an educational environment that both inspired her and shared her philosophy of teaching. After what seemed an impossible search, Claire found Henry Frost and fell in love. She is extremely excited to start on a collaborative and enriching journey with the Henry Frost children and community.

Joan Collins

Joan Collins has served as a home aid for over 20 years. With extensive experience in supporting families, she managed multiple households with daily tasks and childcare. Joan also served as a primary substitute for Harvard Affiliate Preschool, Botanic Gardens. In this role she gained experience in infant, toddler, and preschool classrooms. DEEC certified and having recently participated in the Northeast Montessori Institute Assistant’s Overview Course, Joan is thrilled to lead our Extended Day Program.


Heather DiGiovanni

Heather holds a Master of Applied Child Development from the Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Development at Tufts University. Heather currently works as the Preschool Director at the Mass Audubon’s Habitat Education Center and Wildlife Sanctuary. There she develops curriculum to encourage free play in nature. In the summer, Heather serves as the Director of the Pathfinders Program for children entering Kindergarten and first grade.

During the school year, Heather teaches two regular preschool programs in addition to occasional guided walks and in-classroom programs. Heather also was an assistant teacher at the Eliot-Pearson Children’s School in the mixed-age Extended Day classroom. Through Tufts University and the Ponte and Chau Consulting, Inc., Heather serves as a research assistant with the Natural Playground Research Project where she is responsible for overseeing data collection, analysis, and dissemination.



Alastair Moock

Alastair Moock has spent nearly 20 years working with children as an educator and performer. As a roster artist for Young Audiences of Massachusetts, he performs diverse assembly and workshop programs, from exploring the role of music in social change movements to teaching language arts skills through song. Since the release of his first family album in 2009, Alastair has also quickly become one of Boston’s most popular performers for young children. His latest album, These Are My Friends, won a gold honor from the National Parents Publishing Awards and a silver honor from the Parents’ Choice Awards. Time Out New York calls him “A musical descendant of Woody Guthrie [who] refreshes the classic brand of acoustic folk with a zany sense of humor.”

Before launching his family music career, Alastair was already a critically acclaimed singer-songwriter on the Boston folk scene. Since 1995, he has toured throughout the US and Europe and won top honors at many of the country’s most prestigious songwriting contests. In 2000 he started a roots music series called Pastures of Plenty which continues to bring together some of the region’s best songwriters and musicians for shows that The Boston Globe calls “the hippest hootenannies in town.” He was nominated in 2007 for a Boston Music Award for Outstanding Singer-Songwriter of the Year.

More information about Alastair can be found on his website: www.moockmusic.com.

Katie Moustakas

Katie began her formal work in education while studying at Boston College where she triple majored in Early Childhood Education, Elementary Education and Human Development. She earned her Bachelors Degree in Education and immediately found her herself teaching in a small nursery school in the suburbs of Massachusetts.  While teaching she continued on at BC earning a Master’s Degree in Special Education.

Katie finished graduate school and moved with her husband to California for him to pursue his graduate studies.  While in California, Katie worked as a lead teacher in a preschool classroom.  She worked with co-teachers to develop well-rounded, child-centered curriculum. In 2002, Katie began teaching kindergarten in an urban elementary school in Northern California. She worked hard to reconcile helping her students meet district and state standards and benchmarks, all the while keeping the work developmentally appropriate. She embraced all the challenges of a large, extremely diverse population and started each day with a smile on her face.  Her love of nature inspired her to partner with her grade level team to design a planting and life cycle unit that not only addressed grade level benchmarks across the curriculum, but included the building gardens beds on the asphalt outside her classroom so her students could have a hands on experience planting, growing and harvesting in their urban environment. 

Katie started a family and returned to Massachusetts with her husband and now two sons and a house full of pets! Katie first discovered Henry Frost Children’s Program when her youngest child was in need of a new preschool. With her children now in elementary and middle school, Katie is thrilled to return to Henry Frost as a substitute teacher and looks forward to continuing to help children learn and grow as members of an amazing community.


Debbie LeeKeenan

Ms. LeeKeenan has been the Director of the Eliot-Pearson Children’s School, a lab school for Tufts University Department of Child Development, for the past 15 years and a member of the Tufts early childhood faculty for 18 years.  She has been in the field of education for over 35 years. Her interests are in early childhood education, curriculum development, teacher training, applications of  Reggio Emilia in the United States, and antibias teaching and learning. She has extensive experience as a teacher of teachers; she has supervised and provided professional development for her staff of 20 teachers for the last 13 years, ranging from undergraduate field placement students, graduate teaching assistants and student teachers to mentor lead teachers. She also has developed professional development school partnerships with urban public schools and created models for inservice-preservice teacher education. She has co-authored several articles and chapters for various publications including Young Children, the first edition of The Hundred Languages of Children (edited by Edwards, Forman, Gandini), and Proactive Parenting: Guiding Your Child from Two to Six, written by Faculty of Tufts University, Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Development. She has presented workshops at numerous conferences, both locally and nationally and has been a consultant for various school systems and educational organizations.


George Scarlett

W. George Scarlett is a graduate of Yale University (B.A.) and Clark University (Ph.D., Developmental Psychology). He has worked with such giants of the field as Jerome Bruner and Howard Gardner and has authored numerous articles on children’s play and co-authored books on parenting, managing behavior problems, and religious-spiritual development in childhood. His past research at Harvard Project Zero, the Language and Cognitive Developmental Center and the Cambridge-Somerville Mental Health Center includes development of play assessment techniques for work with typical, at-risk, and atypical children. For over two decades he has taught courses on children’s play. Currently, he is deputy chair of the Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Development at Tufts University. He is also the co-editor of The Encyclopedia of Spiritual Development in Childhood and Adolescence for Sage, published in 2005. 

Lisa Kuh

Lisa Porter Kuh, Ph.D. has over twenty-five years of classroom experience and has been a teacher educator at the undergraduate and graduate level. Currently, she is the Director of Early Education, for Somerville Public Schools. Her research examines how teachers transfer professional development experiences into practice and the importance of collaborative structures to bolster teacher learning.

She is also the Co-Principal Investigator on the Natural Playground Project, a research endeavor which looks at the impact of outdoor environmental design on children’s play. Dr. Kuh is also a national Critical Friends Group coach, facilitation training for teacher leaders. After graduating from Chestnut Hill College in Philadelphia with a degree in Early Childhood and Montessori Education she earned an Ed.M. from the Harvard Graduate School of Education in Human Development and has Ph.D. from the University of Washington in Teacher Education.

Maryann O’Brien

Upon graduating college, Maryann O’Brien began her dream of teaching kindergarten in Roxbury, MA as a long-term substitute teacher. A few years later, she completed her Ed.M. at Boston University studying early childhood special education legislation. Maryann moved to NYC where she became an Early Childhood teacher in one of the first federally funded First Chance Programs for young children with special education needs, in Harlem. Most of her 42 years in education have focused on children with learning differences and their families. Maryann was the Associate Director at the Eliot-Pearson Children’s School at Tufts University for 14 years where she coordinated the special rights program. Prior to that she was an Early Intervention Director, Education Specialist at the MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, grant reviewer for the federal Department of Education, and Preschool teacher and Program Director in NYC.