MFS’s exceptionally well-qualified and experienced teachers, trained in the Montessori Method, work to support the development of each student’s potential. In addition to doing an outstanding job in the classroom, many MFS teachers are also involved in the Montessori Teacher Training Program and work as faculty members for the American Montessori Society, the organization that certifies training programs and awards credentials to Montessori teachers who meet the highest applied standards. Additionally, MFS hires resource teachers who specialize in specific subjects such as art, movement, music, Spanish, drama, and physical education.
Faculty and Administration
Ali Lino Lower Elementary II Classroom
I grew up in Point Reyes, California and I received my Bachelor’s of Art degree in Studio Art at UC Santa Cruz. I focused on printmaking, and I took classes and internships that allowed me to bring my art skills to schools in the Santa Cruz area. After I graduated, I spent two years working with youth in the outdoors. I started at MFS as a classroom aide during the 2009-2010 school year. The 2011-2012 school year was my first year working as a teacher in the Lower Elementary Two classroom. I am overjoyed to be working as teacher now. I believe in Montessori Education, because of it’s foundation in Maria Montessori’s deep respect for the significance of childhood on the development of the whole person. The idea of preparing a child for life is very important to me. When I am not at MFS, I enjoy kayaking, river rafting, sailing, knitting, printmaking, painting, swimming, hiking, and reading.
Alice Stern Elementary/Middle School Art
I began my college studies in the Visual Art Program of the Fine Arts Department at Boston University. After two years there, I went to Venice, Italy to study the art and culture of the Veneto Region. In Venice, I learned about creating and restoring mosaics. I transferred to Kirkland College where I received a BA in Ceramics and Sculpture. After Kirkland, I worked for a weaver in Vermont, taught art at Sarah Lawrence in an Upward Bound Program, ran an art program at a YMCA camp and taught fifty underserved high school students in a small public alternative high school called Yonkers Prep. I had fallen in love with teaching and went to Rhode Island School of Design to work towards a Masters Degree in Teaching with an emphasis in Painting. I met my husband in Providence and together we came to Berkeley for more education. I have been teaching art at Montessori Family School since 1995 and have enjoyed all of the aspects of my job. MFS is a community of eager learners and creative thinkers; a collection of people that challenges my skills, intellect, and imagination. They are the reason I am still excited to come to work. I am a working artist who enjoys using a printing press, camera and sewing machine to create collages, quilts and photographs. I love to travel, go to the beach, create meals from the farmer’s market bounty and walk our dog Stella in Tilden Park. I also study Italian and love to see art in galleries, museums and studios.
Alissa Stolz Middle School Classroom
I earned a B.A. in German Studies from the Union Institute, San Diego, California. As part of my undergraduate studies I was selected to attend the University of Heidelberg, Germany for a year. This experience led to living in Germany for several years conducting cultural research, traveling throughout Europe, and teaching German language and culture to Americans. Some years later I earned a Masters of Education in Montessori Integrative Learning from Endicott College. Both my American Montessori Society Secondary I and II (Middle School and High School) Montessori Certification are from the Houston Montessori Center. In 2009 I came to Montessori Family School to launch the Middle School. I view early adolescence as an important growth period in a young person’s evolution. One of the more powerful skills a Montessori middle school classroom can provide is the ability to demonstrate to students how to take a meta-cognitive stance on what they are doing as they move through these years of identity formation and discovery. Dr. Montessori was a visionary and the current brain research underscores what she had already observed and published: there is a second brain explosion that occurs in early adolescence and it is a crucial time for helping to define the brain of the adult to be. The work is enriching and challenging and so very worthwhile.
Amber Doyle Buckeye Classroom
I have been a part of the MFS community since August 2011. After attending University in Mexico, I moved to the Bay Area in 1999. I am a recent graduate of the Montessori Teacher Education Program from Saint Mary’s of Moraga. During these last few years I have discovered a variety of exciting educational approaches to support each child’s emotional, social, intellectual, and physical growth. I am deeply committed to the Montessori philosophy and have found it to be in perfect alignment with my goals as a teacher and a parent. I am the proud mother of two young children; Kamala (age 8) and Bella Rose (age 4). I have been implementing Montessori ideas into my home and it has been such a delight to watch my children develop confidence, respect for others and a true love of learning. I have found MFS to be a quality Montessori program that stimulates individual growth, cultivates independence and embraces cultural diversity. It is my goal to provide our children with a positive, inspiring vision of the world as each of their unique personalities develop. When I am not working I enjoy spending time in nature and traveling the world with my amazing family.
Bharati Bhatt Lower Elementary I Classroom
I have more than thirty years of Montessori experience and I am trained in both Montessori Primary Education from The Montessori Academy of Kansas City, Kansas and Montessori Elementary Education from the Montessori Teacher Education Center of the San Francisco Bay Area. I currently teach children, ages six to nine, at Montessori Family School. My first exposure to Montessori was as a preschool student in India. That warm experience stayed with me and inspired me to seek a Montessori school for my children and also fueled my desire to become a Montessori teacher myself. I have been with Montessori Family School since 1985 and during that time, I launched a Primary Program and a Lower Elementary Program at MFS. I love Montessori Family School, as it’s a unique and special school. The collaboration of parents, teachers, and administration creates a wonderful learning environment for children and an exciting place for teachers to work. I enjoy teaching Indian dance and drumming techniques. In my free time, I love creating new materials for my classroom, reading, dancing, music, traveling, and spending time with my family.
Caroline Hamel Executive Assistant
I attended a Montessori School Preschool where I remember discovering the infinite possibilities of Legos and loving my wildly gifted teachers. My first experience working with children came as a 10-year-old, assisting my dance instructor in Sonoma County. Learning how to communicate my love for movement, modern dance, and ballet to 3-year-old boys and girls was the first of many steps on a continuing path in youth education. I received my BA in Linguistics at UC Berkeley, taking a particular interest in sociolinguistics and language acquisition. After graduating, an exciting job prospect led me to New York, where I worked for two years at a not-for-profit organization teaching health and mental resilience in an urban public high school. The challenges I encountered in the NYC education system only reinforced my desire to work with a more independent school of thought, one that understood social and emotional growth as something intrinsic to academic capability, not incidental to it. After moving back to the Bay Area I was thrilled to be offered a job in the office at the Montessori Family School Berkeley Campus in July of 2011. It inspires me seeing children mentoring each other, learning to make good choices within supportive boundaries, moving freely but with purpose around their classroom, and expressing creativity through their academic work. I hope to begin a Montessori Early Childhood Education teaching credential course soon, and would love to eventually work in a MFS classroom. In my free time I continue to take dance classes. I love cities but also love going to Point Reyes National Seashore to read and walk, cooking and eating food with friends, and I have a long-term goal to build a big wooden desk from scratch.
Danielle Anderson-Craig Early Childhood Campus After School Classroom and Spanish
I graduated from the University of Southern California with a double major in Philosophy and American Studies & Ethnicity. Shortly after graduation I took a position teaching at a private preschool. It was during my time at this preschool, at the age of 20, when I realized I wanted to be an educator for many years to come, and in many different ways. I grew up in Southern California in a vibrant neighborhood where I was lucky enough to be surrounded by native Spanish speakers from various parts of Latin America, at school and throughout my community. I learned Spanish at an early age, which has helped me forge friendships and build relationships with countless incredible people I may otherwise not have been able to communicate with, both locally and abroad. I spent quite a bit of time working with teenagers as a Youth Services Coordinator for the Boys and Girls Clubs of America and years working with elementary age children as a Literacy and Language Arts Instructor. As much as I loved both age groups, early childhood education is absolutely my home and my heart. I’ve had the pleasure of being a part of a Montessori school for seven years now and currently am the After School Director and Spanish Teacher. Learning a language involves a rich cultural education and an inherent broadening of horizons. Being able to share this gift with our children gives me ineffable joy. What I love about Montessori Family School in particular is that we work together and work hard to create a close knit familial feeling in all we do.
Diana Hernandez Early Childhood Campus After School Classroom
I am an east bay area native and my parents were born in El Salvador. Naturally I learned how to speak, read, and write Spanish at an early age. I am currently pursuing my B.A. degree in Psychology. In my senior year in high school I realized that my love for children ran deep in my soul. After taking a Psychology course that same year, I had decided that I would be working with children to help them in some way. I began working with children at the age of 17 at a private pre-school as an assistant and moved around in different private school settings. During this time I studied medical assisting and became a medical assistant for an OBGYN office where I was able to monitor babies heart beats and other amazing things. Although medical assisting was an awesome learning experience for me, I yearned to work with children again. In my journey I was led to a Montessori school in 2004 and that is when my love and respect for Montessori began. The freedom of choice that Montessori offers to children deserves respect and serves as a gateway to helping children develop inner drive and self-discipline. Montessori inspires me in every day life and I am grateful to have come across such a beautiful way of teaching. In my spare time some of my hobbies are spending time with my cat and two dogs, camping, Karaoke, and staging homes.
Ina Ingenito Practical Life Classroom
I grew up in the Bay Area, attending Berkeley public schools. I attended UC San Diego, obtaining a Bachelors of Art degree in Communications/Visual Arts. Prior to MFS, I worked for 10 years in the marketing department at a computer/book publishing company. My husband Christian and I have 2 boys, Nicholas age 14 and Cooper age 13. They have been at MFS since they were 3 years old. I chose MFS for my children as it was the opposite way of learning that I had been exposed to. My experience was rote learning as opposed to learning how to learn. MFS excels at teaching this plus children get to have concrete experiences with abstract ideas. I was so enamored with all of the materials in the classroom that I started subbing at the Berkeley campus in 2001. The following year I did my Early Childhood Montessori training at the Montessori Institute of Advanced Studies. I worked in the Aspen Classroom for 6 years and I have been the Practical Life teacher at the Berkeley Campus for the last 4 years. I am on the Board of Directors serving my second term and also serve on several school committees. When I am not at school, I love to cook, bake and travel.
Jason Humphrey Upper Elementary Classroom
I was raised in Oakland, California and began working at MFS in the winter of 2002. I am certified to teach in the 9-12 classroom and I have been teaching in the Upper Elementary classroom since 2003. I am also currently in the process of completing my Elementary I-II degree. I received a B.A. from UC Santa Cruz in Film Theory. Additionally, I completed a Single Subject Teaching degree in English at San Francisco State University. I previously taught high school English and Film Literature classes at Westmoor High in Daly City before joining MFS as an afterschool teacher and aide. MFS and the Montessori philosophy are a perfect fit for me and I quickly realized that my endless love for and respect of children aligned with the hallmarks of Montessori Family School: nurturing each child in a safe environment in order to further their education, development, independence, and happiness. I have been able to bring my other passions (music, film, cooking, sports) into the classroom and throughout MFS. While I love to play the guitar and write songs for my band, cook, see films and play all sports, my main focus is my wife and newborn son, Akhil Amin Humphrey.
Julie Stevens Director of Early Childhood
I am native to California and the East Bay. I am one of nine children that are all still living fairly close to each other. My family is a big part of my life and my support system. I have been involved in the Montessori community for over 16 years. While attending Notre Dame de Numur University in Belmont I worked at a Montessori Preschool and fell in love with the philosophy. I am especially drawn to the peace education component of the curriculum. I did my Montessori Teacher Training in San Francisco with Ursula Thursh. During the time I was studying Montessori I worked as a Nanny for twin boys. I learned so much from watching them grow and develop and it helped solidify my desire to work with young children. After receiving my Master’s in Early Childhood Education I began working at a Montessori School in Danville. I started out as the head teacher and went on to become the director/head teacher. It was a beautiful balance of working with children and families at the same time. I made great connections with people and was able to promote a love and understanding of the Montessori Philosophy. I am thrilled to now be joining a new community that has welcomed me with open arms. I am also the proud mother of a six-year-old girl and stepmother of a 19-year-old girl. When not spending time at MFS I enjoy being out and about with my family. Some of our favorite activities are going to the beach, camping going to museums, and swimming. We also spend a great deal of time with my extended family.
Kathy Bibeau Business Manager
I received my Bachelor’s of Arts in Sociology and Communications Studies from the University of California at Santa Barbara. Afterwards I spent four years as a teaching assistant in the Sociology Department at both the University of California at Santa Barbara and at Santa Cruz. I am currently pursuing a certificate degree in Non-Profit Management from Cal State East Bay. When I left the academic world in my mid twenties I spent a few years traveling the United States and in 1988 I settled in the Bay Area, where I raised a family and home schooled my son. Since moving to the Bay Area I have worked in the Business Management arena for many years, doing everything from managing the office of a construction company and a real estate management firm, to owning my own bookkeeping business. I joined the Montessori Family School in 2006. I enjoy the community that is present within the Montessori Family School and I love the environment that I work in. When I am not working I enjoy dancing, music of all kind, playing with my dog and traveling with my husband to explore new areas both in the US and abroad.
Katie Ellis Aspen Classroom
I have wanted to work with young children ever since I was a girl myself. In kindergarten I wanted to be a kindergarten teacher and as I got older I wanted to teach math. Little did I know I would end up doing both in a Montessori classroom. I completed my early childhood Montessori training a few years ago and I am still attending professional development workshops regularly, as well as taking college courses in order to finish my BA in psychology. When I started working at Montessori Family School six years ago, I knew nothing of Montessori or how to run a classroom. The more experience and training I gained, the more I loved the Montessori method and the Montessori Family School. I plan to continue both teaching and learning for the foreseeable future.
Laura Deal Redwood Classroom & Early Childhood Music
I have been at Montessori Family School since 1989. I began my career at MFS as a toddler/preschool afterschool teacher. I have also worked at MFS as a preschool aide, an elementary afterschool teacher, elementary assistant and as an elementary co-teacher. For the past several years I have been a preschool teacher and music teacher at the Berkeley campus. I am grateful to be a part of a community where everyone is committed to supporting children in their social, emotional and academic growth. I keep in touch with many of our alumni and they are some of the most amazing people I know. I love the individualized curriculum and multi-age classrooms which allow children to work at their own level, provides mentors and role models for the younger students and opportunities to be caring leaders to the older students. I enjoy having students for three years, which lets me truly get to know them and how they learn. I appreciate the Montessori world view of learning the value of all living things and different cultures, and I see how it has inspired many of our alumni to work for positive change around the world. It has inspired me to work for change as well. Ten years ago a class meeting with my 6-9 class inspired me to become active in campaigning for candidates and causes I believe in. Hearing my students talk about their hopes and fears made me realize that helping them become amazing world citizens wasn’t enough if the world I was sending them into was in crisis. Working for change both in the classroom helping our children prepare for their world, and in the outside world preparing the world for our children, keeps me inspired and hopeful for our future.
Logann Gavey Lower Elementary I Classroom
I attended Montessori Family School as a student from 3rd through 6th grade and am delighted to rejoin the community as a teacher. A third generation educator, I completed my B.A. in Liberal Studies at Ferrum College in Virginia where I minored in Educational Theater. I earned my Montessori 3-6 Teaching Credential from the Montessori Teacher Education Center of the SF Bay Area and have been a Head Teacher for the past 7 years at a wonderful Montessori School in Alameda. I am currently in the process of completing my lower elementary training, also at the Montessori Teacher Education Center of the SF Bay Area. I will be starting at MFS as an assistant in Lower 1 in the fall of 2013. In my years of teaching I have had the pleasure of seeing how a Montessori education provides a dynamic learning environment that allows for children with a diversity of learning styles to flourish and develop a life-long love of learning. I have vivid memories of magical learning moments at MFS, and have witnessed such moments in my own classroom. Having benefited greatly from an environment conducive to these moments, it is an honor to join the faculty where I will strive to facilitate transformative learning experiences for this generation of MFS students. I spend my free time reading; hiking with my black lab, Elphaba; singing and learning to play the guitar. I love to travel and have enjoyed many glorious trips to National Parks in the United States and Canada. I enjoy a good board game and have a special place in my heart for a good pun.
Lorraine Gallagher Upper Elementary Classroom
I have been involved with MFS since 1986, when I enrolled my daughter in the Lower Elementary class as a first-year student. I volunteered as a ‘Reading Group’ parent for a few years and became more involved with the school, serving spaghetti at fundraisers and scrubbing walls during work parties. When a position as an assistant teacher opened up in the Lower Elementary II classroom I took the 6-9 training at MTEC in San Leandro. I worked in the Lower Elementary classroom for many years. When the Elementary Program moved from the Berkeley Campus to our Kensington Campus I took the 9-12 Montessori training and joined the Upper Elementary class. My daughter graduated from MFS after her 6th year and went on to Head Royce. I continue to work at MFS because I believe that Montessori provides the best opportunity for individual students to reach their potential and to thrive, both as students and as members of the broader society. I feel that the respect for students’ unique strengths that is built into Montessori education with materials designed for a wide range of learning styles, the opportunities for independence and responsibility, and the emphasis on peace education, communication skills, conflict resolution, and service learning provide the best possible foundation for children. What I love about MFS in particular, aside from the deep satisfaction of doing good work, is the opportunity to work with like-minded, hardworking teachers in an environment that fosters creative problem-solving and cooperation. I am the seventh of eight children, and grew up on Long Island. When I’m not teaching I love spending time with my family, including my grandson, an MFS student, and my large New York tribe. I love to read, dance, Jazz, cooking, gardening, art and museums. I also enjoy visiting other countries whenever I have the opportunity.
Luke Keegan Elementary/Middle School After School Classroom and Spanish
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.
Mary Rychly Redwood Classroom
I have been working in the Redwood room for the past 11 years. I have been a life long Montessori teacher, beginning my career at the age of 22. I graduated from the University of Santa Clara having majored in psychology, and attended Notre Dame College for my Montessori credential and my Masters in Education. I have taught at various Bay Area schools over the course of my long career as a teacher, except for the few years I took off to have children. When not teaching I work part time at UC Berkeley in the Radiology Department. In my spare time I enjoy gardening, traveling, swimming, hiking and having fun with friends.
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.
Nic Kaelin Middle School Classroom
I am a graduate of New York University’s Steinhardt School of Education with a B.A. in Social Studies Education. I started teaching at Montessori Family School during the 2010-2011 school year as a Middle School teacher. I believe that children are best served in an environment that is purposeful and peaceful; two major tenants of a Montessori education. Additionally, I love being part of a community that actively supports the needs of our students. I spend most of my time outside of MFS going on long walks with my partner Katie and my son Amil. I also enjoy playing basketball at the YMCA in downtown Oakland.
Rebecca Grodofsky Elementary/Middle School Afterschool Assistant and PE
I am honored and excited to join Montessori Family School. I grew up in South Windsor, Connecticut. I studied at Oberlin College, earning a major in Studio Art and a minor in Dance. I moved to the Bay Area to attend San Francisco Art Institute, where I earned an MFA in painting. Throughout the years I have worked with children as a teacher, summer camp counselor, nanny, and after school administrative assistant. I became interested in Montessori schools by visiting MFS. I connected to this pedagogy and culture that honor the human mind and spirit. During the summer I began taking classes at Montessori Teacher Education Center of the Bay Area. I seek to facilitate a physical education curriculum that nurtures all bodies and abilities. I am motivated by mindfulness, grace and fun. Physical education classrooms support a mind-body connection, social and emotional growth, cooperative learning and the creative spirit. I look forward to getting to know all students in the after school program as well. When not at work, I enjoy yoga, music, art, hiking, biking, and sharing meals with friends.
Regina Hartmann Aspen Classroom
After completing a BA degree in Educational Philosophy from Ithaca College, I completed my Montessori Preprimary Credential while working in the Montessori School of Ithaca, N.Y. I joined the Montessori Family School in 1990. After teaching for 26 years and raising my son and daughter, I pursued a Masters Degree in Educational Therapy. This concurrently led me to being trained as a Vision Therapist. I now enjoy combining my various skills in all settings. After 30+ years of working with 3-6 year olds my sense of marvel, joy and good fortune at working in education continue. The materials are the “constants” and the children the amazing “variables” I have the honor of observing, learning from and lovingly supporting. I enjoy working at MFS because the teachers are truly respected and supported. Thanks to the neuro-psychological brilliance of the Montessori Method I appreciate Dr. Montessori’s pedagogical insights increasingly day-by-day and semester-by-semester. When not at work I’m enriched while working as an Ed. Therapist, giving me the one on one time necessary to help children with “trickier” processing issues. I enjoy expanding my awareness of cognitive processing via working with a leading Developmental Optometrist. I love time with my kids, walking my dog, playing guitar, singing along with anything, great conversations with friends, and taking my time to listen and re-listen to audio guides at museums.
Ruth Flowers Buckeye Classroom
I first came to Montessori Family School in 2004 and joined the Buckeye classroom in 2007. 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, sending letters and packages to friends and family, and making anything from scratch.
Sean Oliver Kindergarten Transition Classroom
I became part of the Montessori Family School in 1997. After two years of volunteer work and substitute teaching, I became a full time MFS employee in the fall of 1999. I brought my years of experience as a Lowell High School Coach to the MFS PE and Afterschool Programs. During my years as a member of the MFS Board of Directors the purchase of our current El Cerrito Campus was put in place. As the El Cerrito Site was being designed it was decided that a Kindergarten Transition classroom should be added to our Elementary Program.
With this Kindergarten Transition class in mind I decided to take my Montessori Training, with a focus on Early Childhood, at the Montessori Teacher Education Center in Sunnyvale, CA. After completing the training in the Summer of 2005, I was then able to spend the next two years working in the Kindergarten Transition and pre-school classes at the MFS Berkeley Campus in the morning while continuing to teach PE and Afterschool at the Elementary/Middle School Campus. With the opening of the El Cerrito Campus in 2008, I turned my focus toward the development of the new Kindergarten Transition classroom. MFS provided my children the foundation, both academically and ethically, from which they have been able to flourish as people as well as academics.
When Jules, my wife of 24 years, was sick MFS showed that family was more than just part of a name. For myself Montessori Family School has been an opportunity to meet and work with many wonderfully amazing people. Away from MFS I spend my time coaching women’s fast pitch softball at College Prep High School. I became involved in softball in 2000 when my eldest daughter Zoe (MFS graduate and current University of Chicago student/catcher) began playing. My years of baseball coaching experience helped smooth the transition to this new game. As Sadie (also an MFS graduate and soon to be Oberlin College student/pitcher) became involved in softball I found myself coaching year-round travel ball.
Shawna McCarroll Early Childhood Campus Administrative Assistant
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.
Soma Morgan Upper Elementary Classroom
I attended Montessori Family School as a student from 1981 until 1984, and was a member of the first graduating class. I received a Bachelors of Arts in History from UC Santa Cruz in 1994. After graduating, I worked in the Summer Program at MFS. I realized how much I enjoyed working with kids and I knew that I wanted to be a teacher. I went back to school to get a Montessori training certificate at Saint Mary’s College. Part of my training involved observing ten Montessori schools in the Bay Area. I tried to be as objective as possible, but I was clearly most impressed by my alum school. So I started my practicum at MFS in the spring of 1999 and became a teacher in the Upper Elementary that fall. I’ve been here ever since. I love the Montessori Philosophy and Montessori Family School because it allows for children to be seen as individuals, move at their own natural pace, and feeds their curious minds in a way that is exciting and fun for them. Montessori kids love to learn and want to know more. I also love how it allows children to grow as people in a positive and respectful way. When I am not teaching, I work part time (mostly summers) at the Oakland Coliseum, so I get to see a lot of baseball games. I also spend a lot of time with my son, who is currently a student at MFS. MFS has been a big part of my life and I am happy that it is for my son too.
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 II Classroom
I was six years old when I started as a student at a small Montessori 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 careful guidance to disagreeing friends. 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. As a sub, intern assistant and assistant head teacher, I spent my next five years at this lovely little gem called Nia House. During this time, I left UC Berkeley to complete the 3-6 Early Childhood training at the Montessori Teacher Education Center of the San Francisco Bay Area in San Leandro. After 3 of my student classes graduated, I became curious about what comes next in Montessori. It was at this time that a position opened up in Montessori Family School’s LE2 classroom. In 2007, I joined the LE2 teaching team. 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 3 years, I was a co-teacher in LE2 while I chipped away at my degree at UC Berkeley. As of fall, 2011, I have had the pleasure of being the head teacher of Lower Elementary Two. 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. While I am not working, I am tackling stimulating subjects at Cal (I expect to complete my B.A. in Psychology in the fall of 2013), spending time with my husband Jason and my two step-children, Max and Hannah, hiking with my dog Boots, creating art, food, and community, and dancing to the music.
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 3 (yes 3!) dogs and my husband. We all spend a lot of time in our garden, at the beach and hiking.