I received my Bachelors of Arts in History with an emphasis on Latin American relations with the United States, and a Minor in Language Studies from the University of California Santa Cruz. At age fifteen I had the experience of living with a family in Mexico for three weeks. From this flowed my desire to pursue a mastery of the Spanish language. In high school, with the support of an amazing instructor, I acquired strong foundational Spanish skills that I continued to develop at University level. While studying Spanish at UCSC, my love for language and culture led me to also learn Portuguese. My language studies have included independent travel in Costa Rica, Panama, Mexico, Colombia, Puerto Rico, and Brazil. In 2007 I joined the MFS community as an Assistant After School Teacher. Four years ago, I took on the additional responsibility of teaching Spanish groups. I feel blessed to be a and integral part of such a supportive, and caring community for children. Montessori Family School embodies the values of community working together to create a healthy, secure, engaging family that cultivates growth and discovery. At MFS I have found both the opportunity to teach a subject that I love, and a school in which I can share that love with the same values and principle that first led me to it. When I’m not at MFS or exploring Latin America, I enjoy getting out into California’s wilderness, backpacking, fishing, hiking, skiing, snowboarding or just exploring open spaces.
Luiz Ramirez Early Childhood Campus After School Classroom
My name is Luis Alberto Ramirez, and I am a committed educator for young children. I am fluently bilingual in Spanish, and proud to be part of a bi-cultural society.I have worked as a preschool teacher for three years where I have developed communications skills with children and families. For two years, I was working for the Innovative Preschool Inc., which is a private school that included typical developing children and children with Autism. During my stay I was exposed to a variety of strategies to enhance the learning for children with Autism. This unique school worked along with the Chico Unified School District, and with the Butte County Office of Education. I established a close relationship with many of the faculty and staff, which I will cherish for the rest of my life. During my stay in Chico California, I have interned at a variety of different preschools, which include the; Early Childhood Head Start Centers, Butte College Child Care Center, Associate Student Child Development Lab at the California State University of Chico. I recently graduated from California State University of Chico with a Child Development degree. I also have an Associate of Science degree in Early Childhood Education, and an Associates of Arts degree in Social and Behavior Science. I have enjoyed every minute in my journey as a preschool teacher, because I have a gift to reach others and to help them accomplish their goals. I believe to reach world peace we must encourage young children to love and care for the world. I am convinced that the Montessori Family School will be the foundation for many of these children’s life in order to succeed in their education. I spend most of my time cooking and cleaning. I enjoy spending time with my family, and friends, and I love to walk my two dogs.
Micah McClain Elementary/Middle School Music
Music has been my life from the very beginning. Born to hippies outside of Cincinnati, I built my first drum set at age five from a collection of Tupperware bowls and pan lids. At 12, I joined the school jazz band, played my first gig at 14, and started teaching fellow students two years later. I attended Indiana University on a Jazz Studies scholarship, and while in school, took my first teaching job at a local music store. In 1996 I left Indiana to travel the world by sailing ship, performing jazz and cabaret music in much of Asia and the South Pacific, Alaska, the Caribbean, and South America. I made landfall a year later in Chicago where I began my study of North Indian classical music and became immersed in the rich funk, soul and jazz traditions that still survive there. Following my sixth extra-long Chicago-style winter, the warm air and creative spirit of California blew in, and in 2004, I packed up and left for the West Coast. Teaching children has always come naturally to me and I have had many young drum set students over the years, but I never expected to fall so head over heals for the kids at Montessori Family School. In 2007, I was asked to take over the music program and to get training in the Orff Shulwerk music approach. Four summers and an apprenticeship later, I can say without hesitation that Orff Shulwerk has influenced my understanding of what it means to make and teach music more than all of my other training combined. In my mind it is the Montessori approach, coded for music education. I make my home in Alameda where I continue to teach privately. I work with around 30 drum set students each week, and teach a dozen classes (preschool through middle) at three different schools including Montessori Family School. I also perform regularly throughout the Bay area with several different projects. I continue to learn about music and myself through the children at MFS, and I am so proud of what we have accomplished together over the years.
Nori Grimes KT and Elementary PE
In 1995, I received my International Montessori Degree while teaching at Laguna Beach Montessori School and continued there until 1998. From 1998-2000, I was the head teacher for 3-5 year olds at Forest Lane Montessori School in Dallas, TX. In 2000, I moved to the Bay Area and served as a head teacher at Keystone Montessori School in El Cerrito until 2009. In addition to being a Montessori head teacher for nearly 15 years, I have been actively involved in coaching soccer. My teams have included the JV teams from Santa Margarita High School and Laguna Beach High School, and I currently coach the El Cerrito Soccer Club. In my youth, I played high school soccer, ran cross country, and was an avid swimmer, surfer, and mountain biker. Being an athlete has made me a mentally stronger person and helped me to learn to think fast, move with a purpose, and be mindful of the people around me.
Rebecca Deutsch Middle School Classroom
I grew up in Santa Cruz, California where I attended a Montessori school for Upper Elementary and Middle School. Being immersed in a Montessori program had a profound affect on both my intellectual curiosity as well as my sense of self at that critical juncture. I am convinced that Montessori education is essential to equip young people with the tools and transferable skills they need to become both responsive community members as well as motivated, change-making citizens. I am overjoyed to join the team at Montessori Family School this year in the Middle School classroom. I graduated with a BA in Theatre at Oberlin College, where I focused my study developing and crafting original plays alongside companies of young adults. After moving to the Bay Area, I worked in various theaters, pursing theater education. This past year, I taught theatre and creative writing at The Berkeley School, a K-8 independent school in Berkeley. My personal pursuits include writing poems and plays, ocean swimming, playing the piano, and making wildly fermented foods.
Rebecca Grodofsky Redwood Classroom
After growing up in Connecticut, I earned a BA from Oberlin College and an MFA in painting from San Francisco Art Institute. I have worked with children for many years, and was drawn to the Montessori pedagogy for its deep respect for young ones. A Montessori classroom provides boundaries within which children feel free to explore. When students feel safe and supported, they thrive. I love working with three to six-year-olds for their open hearts, curious minds, and their near constant state of presence. Primary motivations of mine are to support their artistic impulses and their social-emotional development. I joined the MFS community in 2013 and am continuously inspired by the community of teachers and families here. When not working, I enjoy hiking, making art, reading and sharing meals with loved ones.
Regina Hartmann Aspen Classroom
After completing a BA degree in Educational Philosophy and earning my Montessori Credential in Ithaca, N.Y., I have taught in schools in Dallas, Tx. and Denver, Co. I joined the Montessori Family School in 1990 with deep delight to have found a good school for my children and myself. After teaching for many years and raising my son and daughter, I pursued a Masters Degree in Education including a new credential in Educational Therapy. Dr. Montessori’s pedagogical insights, as well as neuro-psychological brilliance, shine ever more brightly for me as I pursue my studies and strive to expand my awareness. The Montessori materials are the “constants” and the children the amazing “variables” I have the honor of observing, learning from and lovingly supporting. When not in the classroom, I’m enriched by working as an educational therapist; this offers me the one-with-one time necessary to support children with “trickier” processing issues. I now enjoy combining my various skills in all settings. After 33+ years of working with 3-6 year olds my sense of marvel, joy and good fortune at working in a Montessori environment deepens week-by-week. I enjoy working at MFS because the teachers are truly respected and supported. I love hiking, cherish time with my family, singing along with anything, great conversations with friends, and taking my time to listen and re-listen to audio guides in Art museums.
Ruth Flowers Redwood Classroom
I first came to Montessori Family School in 2004. I love that the school makes way for children to use their curiosity, interests, and success to advance their own learning. Since earning my American Montessori Society Early Childhood Teacher Certificate in 2009, observations of the children and support from MFS staff continue to deepen my understanding and love of Montessori philosophy. I hold a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with minors in Sociology, Women’s Studies and Dance from the University of Memphis. My free time is a balance of health, relaxation, creativity, and movement. I enjoy making discoveries in the garden and nature, running around playing soccer, and nurturing my connection with friends and family.
Shawna McCarroll Early Childhood Campus Site Administrator
I am thrilled to be working with the Montessori Family School! I discovered my love of working with children years ago, while living in Portland Oregon. While earning my bachelor’s degree in Arts and Letters I also worked as a nanny. It was so enjoyable that I began looking into becoming a teacher. Several of my friends were Montessori teachers, and through them I was able to learn about the Montessori approach and sit in on their classrooms. Montessori resonated with my personality and struck me immediately as the ideal environment for learning. I now believe that the Montessori model of education is a key part of creating a better future for everyone by helping our children realize their full potential and understand how we are connected with each other and our environment. In my free time I like gardening, arts and crafts, writing songs, cooking, photography, and volunteering with community organizations. I am also Co-Chair of the Land Use Working Group of the Berkeley Climate Action Coalition, where we are focused on growing the number of community gardens in Berkeley.
Trina Rymland Kindergarten Transition Classroom
I have been a huge fan of Montessori Family School for well over a decade now! It all started when I was in college at California State University, San Bernardino in Southern California. One of my co-workers had two of the most inquisitive, polite, intelligent children I had ever met. I asked her what her secret, and she told me her children attended a Montessori school. I was just finishing a degree in Communications, but I was very intrigued by this Montessori thing that she spoke of. I moved to the Bay Area in 1992, and met my future husband. Coincidentally, he lived with his sister and nephew at the time we met, and his nephew also attended a Montessori school. I decided to pursue this Montessori idea that had peaked my interest several years earlier. I started substitute teaching at my nephew’s school and decided to take the training at the Montessori Teacher Education Center, San Francisco Bay Area. The Montessori Philosophy made so much sense to me because it had such a logical and humane approach to teaching children. Jane Wechsler, our Founding Head of School was one of my instructors, and I began working at MFS the following school year. When it came time for my son to begin pre-school, there was never any doubt in my mind that he would attend any school other than MFS. He started at this school when he was three years old, and will be a graduate of our Middle School, Class of 2012! The same is true for my daughter, who will graduate Middle School, Class of 2015! I am in the unique position of being able to look at MFS from the perspective of both a parent and teacher. As a parent, I believe MFS to have some of the most dedicated and caring teachers you would ever want to mentor your children. There is an intangible, over-whelming feeling that your child will be loved and taught with his/her best interest always in mind. These are the same reason I enjoy working here, and consider it an honor to be part of this incredibly dedicated team of educators and administrators. When I am not teaching, I enjoy traveling with my family and singing with a band made-up of several other MFS moms! I so enjoy the community this school has offered; it truly is a “family” school for me.
Vanessa Callaghan Lower Elementary Classroom
I was six years old when I started my Montessori journey at a small school in the Metro-Detroit area. It wasn’t until 2002, 16 years later, that I finally returned to a Montessori classroom. I felt immediately at home. Children were bustling about, scrubbing tables with aprons on, and choosing works from a shelf full of familiar, inviting materials. All the while, gentle teachers were giving firm and heartfelt guidance. Drawn to the thoughtful preparation of the environment, the peaceful values of the philosophy, and the science and spirit of the approach, I immersed myself in Montessori. I spent my next five years teaching at Nia House Learning Center, a lovely Montessori program in West Berkeley. During this time, I completed the 3-6 Early Childhood training at the Montessori Teacher Education Center of the San Francisco Bay Area. After several of my student cohorts graduated, I became curious about what comes next in Montessori.I joined Montessori Family School’s LE teaching team in 2007. During my first year, I completed my 6-9 Lower Elementary training at the Montessori Teacher Education Center of the San Francisco Bay Area. During the next 7 years, I was a co-teacher and head teacher in LE. I enjoy tailoring every year, month, and day to the child. Being a part of the MFS community of students, faculty, staff, and families, has been exceptionally enriching. I earned a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from UC Berkeley and a Master’s Degree in Education from St. Catherine University. In my free time, I enjoy spending time with my husband Jason and my two step-children, Max (16) and Hannah (20), hiking with my dog Boots, creating art, food, and community, writing, and dancing to the music.
Vivien Salamon Kindergarten Transition Program
I am excited to join the Montessori Family School. After attending an Open House last year, I walked away feeling that MFS would be a great place to teach. The MFS philosophy of teaching for peace is a good fit with my own personality and beliefs. Now that I’ve joined the team, I am excited to contribute to the school’s positive atmosphere. I graduated from college in 2010 with a Bachelor’s degree in art teaching from the College of Nyíregyháza, which is a college in my native Hungary. I moved to the Bay Area shortly thereafter and have been working in early education ever since. In those five years I have worked with children ranging from ages 2 to 12. This wide range has helped me appreciate how the social and emotional needs of children change over time; and how I can best support those needs as a teacher. I had always been interested in teaching in such a way that allows children the liberty to choose and act freely within a supportive environment so when I first stepped into a Montessori classroom I instantly felt at home. I am currently working on my 3-6 Early Childhood training at the Montessori Teacher Education Center of the San Francisco Bay Area in San Leandro and I cannot wait to put my newly acquired knowledge to work in the Kindergarten Transition classroom. I like to spend my free time doing Bikram yoga, going on nature walks and traveling with my husband. I love everything related to art, from painting and drawing to dancing and singing.
Yvette Cashmere Director of Admissions and Communications
I graduated from UCLA with a BA in Political Science. I served as a board member for the Bruin Democrats and also interned for a California State Senator during my time a UCLA, which gave me my first insight into the world of politics, public policy and education. I started my administrative experience in the independent school world in 2004. I dabbled in some other nonprofit work but soon realized that my passion was in education. I begin working at MFS in the fall of 2009 and have loved every minute if it. I enjoy MFS for so many different reasons but primarily I like interacting with the students. MFS is such a magical place and I can really see that in the content and happy nature of the children here. Montessori education works for so many different types of learners; I love stepping into a classroom and watching a child “get” something thanks to the Montessori environment and hands-on materials. When I am not at MFS I enjoy hanging out with my 1 year old son, 3 (yes 3!) dogs and husband. We all spend a lot of time in our garden, at the beach and hiking.