top of page

Directors & Mentors

Founder and Registrar Headshot


Founder & Registrar

Sandra has been a dance educator for over 55 years. She began her training, at the age of seven, in Melrose at the E. Virginia Sawyer School of Ballet where she later became an assistant teacher. Mrs. McNaught attended Melrose public schools and was president of Melrose High School's Dance Club. Upon graduation, she attended the Boston Conservatory as a dance major. Mrs. McNaught has studied and taught at several ballet schools in the Boston area and is a gold pin member of the Dance Teacher’s Club of Boston associated with the American Society of Dance.


In 1971, she founded  Northeast School of Ballet (formally Sandra Marie’s School of Ballet) and along with her daughter and co-director, Denise Cecere, has been committed to maintaining high standards in dance education. Both McNaught and Cecere co-founded Northeast Youth Ballet, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing educational opportunities for young children and playing an active role in the cultural life of the communities they serve. 

Mrs. McNaught feels privileged to share her love of dance with NSB’s next generation of dancers.

Artistic Director instructing a ballet student at the barre


Artistic Director

Denise brings her life's experience to Northeast Youth Ballet. Born in Melrose, Massachusetts, Cecere began her dance training under the direction of her mother, Sandra McNaught, at the Northeast School of Ballet. Later she became a scholarship student at the Boston Repertory Ballet, under the direction of Samuel Kurkjian, Boston Ballet, under the direction of E. Virginia Williams and Violette Verdy, and the School of American Ballet, under the direction of George Balanchine. She performed with Boston Ballet, Ballet Theater of Boston, and North Star Ballet in Fairbanks, Alaska. Her principal roles include The Nutcracker, Coppelia, Sleeping Beauty, Don Quixote, Flower Festival, many neo-classical, and contemporary works. Her guest appearances have taken her internationally. In 1991 Cecere was a participant in Japan’s 1st International Choreographer’s Competition. 


In 1996 Cecere founded Northeast Youth Ballet. As Artistic Director, she is committed to the cultural development of future generations. It is her mission to educate, inspire, and create opportunities for young aspiring dancers. Cecere has endeavored to provide programs and performances designed specifically for children. NYB has a repertoire of classical, neoclassical, contemporary and modern works. Cecere has choreographed over 35 ballets for the young company and has invited award-winning choreographers to share their work with the school and company. Her collaboration with Boston Musica Viva, under the direction of Richard Pittman, has produced many full-length ballets including “A Boston Cinderella”, “Three Little Pigs”, “Ma Goose”, "The Wrong Child", "Druddigon" and “Paul Revere’s Ride” by contemporary composers. For the past 25 years, Cecere has continued to display the young company’s diversity both at home and abroad.


Cecere is currently director of the Northeast School of Ballet, the official training school of the Northeast Youth Ballet, where she has been teaching ballet technique for over 30 years. Her students have gone on to perform, teach, and choreograph for world-class dance organizations.

Assistant Director instructing two ballet partnering students with a lift


Assistant Director of The Conservatory at NSB

Joseph Jefferies is Assistant Director to NSB’s Conservatory Program.  He has served as director of Portland Ballet Summer Dance Program and has taught master classes and workshops at ballet schools across the country. Mr Jefferies is an award-winning choreographer creating over 30 works for companies including Ballet Memphis, Miami City Ballet, Peoria Ballet, Ballet Trockadero, Harid Conservatory, Ballet Yuma, Walnut Hill School for the Arts and Northeast Youth Ballet. He has won the RDA Emerging Choreographer scholarship twice and had his work selected and performed for New York City’s Ballet Builders Showcase and for the RDA National Convention in Montreal, Canada.


As a professional dancer Joseph was a member of Ballet Memphis dancing the lead roles in Swan Lake, Giselle, Coppelia and Cinderella. As a member of Les Ballet Trockadero de Monte Carlo he toured the world performing in over 25 different countries. Mr Jefferies currently is on faculty at Northeast School of Ballet and Guest Faculty at Chautauqua Dance Institute.

academic mentor working with two students during study period


Academic Mentor

Meghan’s passion for teaching developed during her college years at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts, where she began volunteering with young students in a local school and held a part-time job as an SAT tutor. She completed her M.Ed. in Language and Literacy at the Harvard Graduate School of Education in 2004 and began teaching middle school Reading and English Language Arts. Meghan is also an independent educational consultant and founder of Jenkins College Coaching, where she guides families through the college application process with the goal of choosing schools that match students’ academic, professional, and social goals.


As an experienced teacher and tutor, Meghan’s ability to build strong relationships with her students and families is truly beneficial to the young dancers at the conservatory. She believes all students can and will learn when they are prepared with the appropriate tools and confidence to take control of their academic success. With clear communication and open conversations, she finds it inspiring to see students advocate for themselves as learners and meet their goals. She enjoys mentoring the conservatory students and finds this work extremely rewarding.

administrator's headshot


Educational & Business Administrator

Caroline Jewell is a graduate of the Boston Conservatory at Berklee, where she obtained a BFA in Contemporary Dance Performance in 2021. Caroline began dancing at the age of three and grew up training at Piedmont School of Music and Dance under the directorship of Daniel and Rebecca Wiley. Her childhood studies were rooted in classical ballet and she also studied modern, contemporary and jazz. In the summers of 2015 and 2016, Caroline studied at the Juilliard School at their Summer Dance Intensive. She worked with choreographers Spencer Dickhaus and Bret Easterling. It was at Juilliard where Caroline discovered her love for Conservatory style learning, and she developed goals to pursue a BFA in Contemporary Dance.


From 2017 to 2021, Caroline studied at the Boston Conservatory at Berklee. While at Boston Conservatory, she worked with many talented professors including, Brian McGinnis, Marissa Parmenter, Kurt Douglas, Ruka White, Russell Clarke, Denise Pons, Daniel Pelzig, Adriana Suarez, and Gino DiMarco. While at the Conservatory, she also worked with choreographers such as Joseph Toonga, Loni Landon, Chien-Ying Wang, Daniel Pelzig, Gino DiMarco, Brian Brooks, and Gabrielle Lamb.


She received her BFA in Contemporary Dance in 2021, and after taught modern and ballet at several schools in the Greater Boston Area including, Northeast School of Ballet, The Hanover Theatre and Conservatory, and The Dance Laboratory. Now, Caroline works as NSB's Educational & Business Administrator remotely from her home in Nashville. While in Tennessee, she is continuing to grow her love for dance education and administration in her role with NSB, as well as continuing her love for dance performance as a freelance teacher and dancer.

Faculty at The Conservatory at NSB:

Denise Cerere (Director)

Joseph Jefferies (Assistant to the Director, Resident Choreographer)

Jeremy Ruth Howes (Ballet, Contemporary, Resident Choreographer)

Meghan Jenkins (Academic Mentor)

Caroline Jewell (Educational & Business Administrator)

Molly Tomeny (Ballet & Rehearsal Director)

Erika Lambe (Ballet & Rehearsal Director)

Rhonda Lee (Ballet)

Caitlin O'Connor Pesce (Ballet & Rehearsal Director)

Leah Misano (Modern)

Brian McGinnis (Guest Teacher Modern)

Nathan Duszny (Jazz)

Sierra Surette (Tap)

Andrea Fanikos (Hip Hop)

Jodi Fitzgerald (Cross-training, Pilates)

Jessica Curley (Pilates)

See full bios here

bottom of page