The Lewis & Clark Montessori School draws talented & dynamic individuals from diverse backgrounds. The staff bring a wealth of experience in classrooms & life to our students and community. Every day, they show their dedication to Montessori children and education in general through their tireless work on behalf of our students.

Our staff has a combined total experience of over 100 years in Montessori education and are led by AMI Montessori-trained administrators. Our teachers are all AMI Montessori-trained and Oregon licensed or Charter School Registered. In addition, most of our guides and administrators have Master’s degrees.

Click on the images below for contact information and to learn more about our guides, assistants, administrators, and support staff.

Leadership Team

Photo of Courtney McWilliams Courtney McWilliams Executive Director
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Before Courtney came to our school, she worked for over 20 years in corporate executive and leadership roles for various Fortune 500 companies. Her interest in Montessori began when her son went to a toddler program at Mead Montessori. Courtney has a BS in Organizational Development from Austin Peay University, M.Ed from Loyola, and is AMI trained at the Elementary level from Montessori NW. She moved here from Knoxville with her son, Ben. They love to travel, ride bikes, and anything to do with trains!

Photo of Jen Wyld Jen Wyld Academic Director
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Jennifer Wyld began her Montessori journey as a classroom assistant in a primary classroom in Austin, Texas.  In over twenty years, she has held a variety of roles in Montessori schools and completed AMI Montessori training as an Elementary guide (ages 6-12) and for Assistants to Infancy (ages 0-3). She is also AMS and NAMTA trained as an adolescent guide (ages 12-15).  Jennifer holds a BA in Latin and an MA in Geography with an emphasis on environmental education, as well as an MEd in Montessori elementary education. Jennifer started the Montessori middle school program at Ridgeline Montessori Public Charter School in Eugene, Oregon, where she worked for 7 years. Outside of the classroom, Jennifer has offered parent education sessions, professional development for educators, presented at local, national, and international conferences, as well as taught undergraduate and graduate level courses. After leaving Ridgeline, she returned to graduate school at Oregon State University, pursuing a PhD in Free Choice Learning. Her dissertation research focused on how participation in an after-school game design program impacted adolescent identity around STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math). Much of her work in academia has focused on issues of equity in educational opportunities, alternative educational experiences, and the emerging Maker education movement. She lives in Vancouver, WA with her partner and has two adult daughters (one who is a Montessori elementary guide!) who both attended Montessori schools from preschool through middle school. She enjoys long walks, watching movies, and knitting during meetings.

Photo of Peter Jensen Peter Jensen Operations Director
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Peter Jensen has been at Lewis & Clark Montessori for several years; first as an Upper Elementary Guide, then as Development Manager and Cross Country coach. He has a Masters in Education from Loyola College and is AMI trained in Elementary from Washington Montessori Institute. An avid runner, a highlight for him was competing in the Boston Marathon in 2012.

Photo of Liana Oram Liana Oram Associate Director
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Administrative Team

Photo of JoAnna Tabet JoAnna Tabet Front Office
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Joanna grew up in a small town in Colorado.  She moved to Portland to study early childhood education.  After working in various administrative positions and raising three boys, she has worked directly with children for over six years through her church.  Her friendship with Ana brought Joanna to LCMCS at the beginning of the 2021 school year.  When she is not working, Joanna loves to travel, go for hikes and to the beach, and spend time with her family exploring and experiencing new things.

Photo of Julie Chura Julie Chura Records & Student Support Coordinator
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Julie has been a part of LCMCS since the early years of the school,  as a volunteer, substitute and now as our records manager.  She wears many hats helping to keep our community organized, supporting the office, classrooms and students. Julie has associate’s in art and science from Mt. Hood Community college and was part of the ceramice department at MHCC for many years.   In her free time you can find Julie in the ceramic/ art  studio, in her garden/food forest,  or hiking. Of late Julie has been studying seed farming, permaculture, ethnobotany and participating in local citizen science projects.

Photo of Ana Karina Huizar Ana Karina Huizar Enrollment Coordinator & Translation
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Ana has been with LCMCS for almost it’s entire existence. As part of the Administrative team, she serves as the Enrollment Coordinator and is the first point of entry for many of our students. She joined the school in 2008 working as a Spanish instructor in the after-school program. Ana was soon invited to work full time as an educational assistant in the mornings and a teacher of the Spanish language in the afternoons. This continued for several years as Ana offered support to teachers and students at the elementary level. She has received professional development through Montessori Educational assistant training and in second language instruction for students. Eventually Ana was moved into an administrative position due to her organizational skills and her ability to interface with an increasingly diverse population.

Ana has much to offer from her background and training. She grew up in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico. She lived in the same house with her mother, her siblings, her maternal grandparents, 3 uncles and 5 aunts. After she married, she moved to the California due to an employment opportunity for her husband at the time. They moved to Portland 2 years later and she and her sons have lived in the Portland, Oregon, area for the past 14 years. When asked about her family, Ana said the following: “I have 2 amazing kids that are the love of my life, their names are Diego (Senior) and Santiago (8th grader). We love to travel and do all kinds of activities together. We are very close to my mom Ana Maria and my sister Sofia and all of her side of the family.”

Besides working at LCMCS, some of Ana’s favorite activities are the following: Hiking, traveling with her boys, painting, cooking and going to the movies.

Photo of Tammy Puri Tammy Puri Finance Manager
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Tammy joined the LCMCS team in June of 2016 as Finance Manager after five years of volunteering and serving on the LCMCS PTO as Treasurer for two of those years as a parent to a LCMCS alum. Her attention to detail rounds out the administrative team. She earned a BA in Physical Anthropology at Beloit College in Wisconsin that has aided in her understanding of the whole picture; how the smallest part is integral to the whole. In her free time, she enjoys being outside as much as she can.

Student Support Team

Photo of Kristine Coates Kristine Coates Reading Coordinator
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Kristine grew up in Ohio and Pennsylvania. She studied Psychology and Russian Studies at college and found Montessori by a happy accident when seeking an unrelated job after graduation.

Both AMI Primary and Elementary trained, Kristine has over 20 years of Montessori teaching experience. She has spent time guiding elementary and primary classes in private and public Montessori schools, mentoring in an adolescent boys group home, leading a home based Children’s House, developing a parent/toddler program, and homeschooling her three children. She joined LCMCS in 2016 when she moved with her family to the Pacific Northwest.

In her current role as a reading interventionist, Kristine utilizes her Montessori experience and parenting knowledge along with her Orton Gillingham training to help our growing readers find their way to literacy.

When not working, Kristine likes spending time outside with her family. She enjoys biking and hiking the hills of Oregon, reading, and listening to live music.

Photo of Suzanne Haddix Suzanne Haddix ELL/Reading Support
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Contact:

Photo of Jean Monda Jean Monda SAT Coordinator
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Jean has a MS in Speech Communication, ASHA certification CCC-SLP, and holds an Oregon Board SLP license. She worked as a Speech/Language Pathologist 14 years with Portland Public Schools, 20 years with GBSD, and officially retired in 2014. She is beginning her 7th yr with our school. In her spare time she enjoys reading, sewing, gardening, time with family camping, and going to the beach.

Primary

Photo of Crystal Harris Crystal Harris Guide – Osprey
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Crystal joined the LCMCS community after gaining over 15 years of experience working in a variety of roles at West Hills Montessori School and Childpeace Montessori School. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in liberal studies with a minor in applied linguistics from Portland State University and an AMI teaching credential from Montessori Northwest. Crystal developed a deep love of nature growing up Corbett surrounded by the beauty of the Columbia River Gorge. Crystal lives with her husband Richard, her son Wylie, and English Angora rabbit, Snickers, in Portland. They enjoy playing music, crafting, and exploring the outdoors together. Crystal was drawn to Montessori education by its emphasis on building confidence and love of learning in young children and she is honored to play a role in helping students flourish in an educational setting.

Photo of Sheryl Doolittle Sheryl Doolittle Guide – Sea Otter
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Sheryl Doolittle grew up in the wilds of New Jersey, and moved to the urban desert of Phoenix, Arizona in high school. Recently, moving from the Ponderosa pine forest of Flagstaff, Arizona to the green lushness of the Pacific Northwest, she joined LCMCS in the Sea Otter Primary class. She had closed her Montessori preschool, Bambini Montessori School, after 13 years of serving hundreds of Flagstaff families. Her Montessori journey began as a parent, a volunteer, substitute teacher, and classroom assistant. Sheryl has taught children from toddler-aged to high-schoolers. She attained her A.M.I. 3-6 Primary diploma in 1984, and later on earned a 6-9 Elementary training and certification through A.M.S. She has a dual major B.S. in Elementary Ed./Special Ed. and a Master’s in Montessori Education.

Sheryl, with her daughter, Laurel Clohessy, and grandsons, Liam and Kahlil, create three generations of Montessori in the family. After more than thirty-five years, she still speaks with passion about the beauty and wisdom of Maria Montessori’s gift to children and families. Sheryl loves the ocean, moss, and manatees. She has completed the first draft of her first children’s book, and has a novel bubbling in the background.

Photo of Arlene Schroeder Arlene Schroeder Guide – Willow
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Arlene grew up in South Jersey a few miles from Philly. She earned her degree in English Literature from Lewis & Clark College. Arlene studied, lived and worked in England for several years and met a community of adolescents who introduced her to Montessori.

After travelling in Europe and working a variety of jobs, Arlene returned to Portland and completed her Primary Montessori training at MNW and earned a MA in Interdisciplinary Studies. She has over 20 years teaching experience and guided a primary classroom in Vancouver, WA for 18 years before joining LCMCS full time in 2019.

Arlene enjoys traveling and learning about other cultures. She has been to many countries, some memorable experiences include: riding in a hot air balloon in Turkey, hiking a glacier in Iceland and sleeping in a cave in Tunisia. She enjoys sharing stories of her travels with the children.

When she is not working, Arlene likes being with her family. She enjoys crochet, attending fiber festivals, reading, cooking, long walks and trips to the coast.

Photo of Matt Lee Matt Lee Assistant – Willow
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Photo of Wesley Holloway Wesley Holloway Assistant – Osprey
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Photo of Audrey Thies Audrey Thies Assistant – Sea Otter
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Younger Elementary

Photo of Dmitria Sokolow Dmitria Sokolow Guide – Celilo Falls
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Dmitria has many years teaching experience with all ages, in Spanish, ESL, and Montessori. She received her BA in Environmental Studies, her MA in Teaching, and is AMI trained at the Elementary level. Her perspective is rooted in being a twin, playing violin, five seasons as a Wilderness Ranger in the Sierra Nevadas, her work on a Farm in the Guatemalan highlands, and cross country travels. Her son, Bodie, joins the school as well, with many veteran staff knowing him since birth.

Photo of Gina Johnson Gina Johnson Assistant – Celilo Falls
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Gina got involved at Happy Valley Montessori in 2015, which ignited her passion for Montessori and children. She has since attended workshops at Montessori Northwest and plans to continue her certification through their programs.

She is fluent in Spanish and is passionate about intentional community, holistic medicine creating a world of peace. She loves aromatherapy, yoga, singing, painting, hiking, being in nature, reading, learning and spending time with people she loves.

Photo of Tami O’Kinsella Tami O’Kinsella Guide – Columbia
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Tami has never outgrown her delight in the presence of children.  She feels she has been gifted with the many years she has had the opportunity to work with children and those who love themin both private and public Montessori schools.  Initially serving as an after-school coordinator and instructional assistant at Princeton Montessori school, she was inspired to do bothprimary (1990-91) and elementary (2008-2010) AMI teacher training. She has served as lead guide for schools across the country and joined LCMCS as an Upper Elementary teacher in 2013. Tami also had the opportunity to work in an administrative role at LCMCS and to help Pullman Community Montessori Charter School open its doors to children recently in Washington. She holds a BA in English/Drama and Master of Education degree in Curriculum and Instruction. She considers the pleasure of raising her son and parenting him as he went from preschool through Middle School in Montessori schools a big part of her learning curve. She loves her home in Gresham, Oregon, and enjoys reading fiction, poetry, and plays, singing Irish ballads, the Montessori Math materials, and all the outdoor beauty and activities afforded in the Pacific Northwest—skiing, biking, camping, hiking, kayaking, birdwatching, and gardening, to name a few.

Photo of Jennifer Klinger Jennifer Klinger Guide – Pacific
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Jennifer Klinger (Jenny), is the lower elementary guide for Pacific. Jenny has been teaching for over ten years in various Montessori environments. She started as an assistant in 2001 at a small, rural, private school in Maine and had the good fortune to teach in France for a year as well at a bilingual Montessori school in Paris. Upon returning to the United States, Jenny learned about public Montessori for the first time and fell in love. She spent three years co-teaching at Baltimore Montessori Public Charter School. In 2017, Jenny earned her master’s degree in Montessori Education from Loyola University. She has spent the past three years working at Stonebrook Montessori, an urban school in Cleveland, Ohio.

Jenny grew up in the rolling hills of Pennsylvania, surrounded by woods and rivers. While she has appreciated the experience in an urban setting (Cleveland, OH), she is very much looking forward to returning to a more rural environment. Jenny loves gardening, hiking, and kayaking. She also enjoys working with her hands – anything from whittling to knitting.

Photo of Aurora Graven Aurora Graven Assistant – Pacific
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A native Oregonian, Aurora grew up in Troutdale and while growing up she enjoyed being active and playing various sports.  Aurora knew she wanted to make a difference when she graduated from Portland State University with a degree in public health.  Starting from the ground up with young students made sense to her as a high impact way to connect children to supports and tools that will aid them in their growth, learning and development.  Passionate about youth empowerment and helping others meet their needs, Aurora joined the LCMCS team in 2021. In her free time, Aurora enjoys singing, playing board games, taking walks and reading. A Harry Potter fan, Aurora sorts herself into Gryffindor.

Photo of Kimberly Lewis Kimberly Lewis Guide – Prairie Dog Home
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Kimberly Lewis grew up in a small town in Maryland and began her Montessori career on the east coast.  Before studying Montessori education and earning her masters degree, Kimberley focused her undergraduate studies in sociology and philosophy.

Certified in infant and early childhood education through the American Montessori Society (AMS) and elementary education through the Association Montessori International (AMI),  Kimberly has been a lead teacher in Montessori classrooms for the past 30 years and is in her 3rd year with LCMCS.

Kimberly is passionate about horses and rides regularly.  When she is not horsing around, she enjoys exploring, day trips and collecting rocks at the beach.

Photo of Diego Sanchez Diego Sanchez Assistant – Columbia
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Older Elementary

Photo of Sherry Budge Sherry Budge Assistant – Redwood
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Photo of Cameron Coates Cameron Coates Guide – Oregon Trail
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With nearly 25 years in Montessori education, Cameron joined LCMCS 7 years ago.  Before LCMCS, Cameron taught in Ottawa, New Jersey and Connecticut.

Cameron grew up in Ontario and spent a lot of time on the tennis courts.  He graduated from the University of Toronto with a degree in biology and genetics.  After college, Cameron learned to fly and pursued a career as a pilot.

He first encountered Montessori while living in Vancouver, BC and fell in love with the PNW.   Knowing he did not want to teach the way he had been taught and wanting a way to be himself while guiding children, Cameron dove deep into Montessori education. While earning his AMI elementary degree in Milwaukie, Cameron met his future wife, Kristine, with whom he has three children.

When not working, Cameron can often be found building gardens, experimenting with plants and pursuing other biological interests.

Photo of Johanna Thomas Johanna Thomas Assistant – Oregon Trail
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Johanna was born in Milwaukie Oregon but moved around often as a child. Her father is German and she grew up in a bilingual household. Johanna has lived in Taiwan, China and Germany. Her childhood growing up overseas made her passionate about learning languages and other cultures. Most of all she just loves to connect with people and hear their stories. She came back to Oregon for highschool and found a love for art and theater. She attended Portland State University where she got a Bachelor of Arts in Art Practices. She was working as an art teacher at a local art studio when she realized her love for teaching. Her grandmother, her mother and her close cousin are all teachers. She tried out her own thing but couldn’t help but feel called to work with children as well. She is new to Montessori but loving it and is soaking it all up. She loves all the wonderful aspects that come out of this type of learning. She currently lives in Milwaukie with her husband Sean and springer spaniel puppy Winston. In her free time she enjoys, making art, spending time outside, and traveling with her friends.

Photo of Heather Cupples Heather Cupples Assistant – Wy’East
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Heather was born and raised on the flat side of Colorado. She swore off working with kids after a few babysitting jobs, only to find that walking into a classroom setting felt like coming home. It took her 15 years and many career changes to make that a reality. After moving to Oregon in an RV held together with duct tape, she completed her BS in Elementary Education and Multidisciplinary Studies with an ESOL endorsement in 2020. Heather is a state-licensed teacher and will be pursuing a masters degree in trauma in the educational community over the next couple of years while continuing independent study of Dr. Montessori’s work. On her weekends Heather can be found researching oceanic biomes, chasing cows out of her oversized garden, or thinking of ways to make her students laugh.

Photo of Laurie Feola Laurie Feola Guide – Mahonia
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Hello! I am excited to join the community of learners at Lewis and Clark Montessori Charter School. I am originally from Michigan where I grew up spending my days on the beach, eating sandy plums and collecting driftwood. Since those days, I’ve moved around a lot, going to the University of Minnesota where I received my M.Ed. and driving a U-Haul to California for my first teaching position.

In addition to teaching in California, I taught middle school English in Suffolk England, and I was a fourth-grade teacher at an arts school in North Carolina. For many years, I was obsessed with swing dancing and spent much of my spare time on a dance floor or in an airplane hangar.

I received my AMI elementary diploma from Montessori Northwest in 2018. I have taught upper (older) elementary at Spokane Public Montessori for the past five years. While there, I enjoyed hiking in nature with children, singing “Mrs. Murphy’s Chowder,” and reading The Girl Who Could Fly.

I love spending time outdoors hiking or reading a good book. I enjoy historical fiction, but my new favorite book is Braiding Sweetgrass. I can’t wait to become a regular at Powell’s and any other independent bookstores nearby.

Photo of Sarah Nevin Sarah Nevin Assistant – Mahonia
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Photo of Amy Eshelby Amy Eshelby Guide – Wy’East
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Amy Eshelby is the older elementary guide for the Wy’East community. Amy’s background in Montessori began in 1998, as an assistant in a younger elementary community at Montessori School of Beaverton, here in Portland. She received her AMI Elementary Diploma from Washington Montessori Institute (Maryland) in 2001 as well as an M.Ed. from Loyola University in Baltimore. Since then Amy has taught both 6-9 and 9-12 communities at MSB and Childpeace Montessori School.

This past year she has been part of the Elementary Faculty at Montessori Northwest, supporting adults in their teacher training! Amy grew up in central OR, very rural and rugged (no electricity or running water) and am most happy when in Nature. She has a 16-year-old son, Owen, who was in Montessori from 2 ½ to 14. He is a junior at Jefferson High School. Amy’s hobbies include crafting, reading, cooking, hiking, camping, and kayaking (floating, really). Here are a few of Amy’s favorite things: laughing babies, animals, petrichor, campfires, making ‘mixed tapes/playlists’ for road trips, singing with my friends, and Shirin yoku.

Photo of Heather Hiatt Heather Hiatt Guide – Redwood
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Heather Hiatt has been a part of the LCMCS as a substitute teacher or guide since 2011. She was introduced to Montessori Elementary when she was asked to work in a younger elementary classroom as a substitute teacher. This ended up being a long-term assignment and she fell in love with this method of teaching. She is especially excited about the way Montessori math is taught. After teaching part-time with Dmitria in Wy’East, Heather decided to get her Montessori AMI certificate through Montessori Northwest in Portland. She came back and co-taught in the first MAC class at LCMCS with only 14 kids in the program. It has grown so much in that amount of time. Realizing that Middle school age kids were not her thing, she went back to being an elementary substitute teacher while raising her three children along with her husband. Heather has a BS in Elementary Education from Brigham Young University and a Master’s equivalent from Concordia University, she completed the ESL Endorsement Master’s courses at Portland State University. Coming back to Montessori as a full-time guide has been an unexpected change in her life and one that brings her great joy.

Montessori Adolescent Corps

Photo of Justice Evans Justice Evans Guide – MAC
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Justice has been with LCMCS since 2008. He has a BS in Liberal Studies, an MA in Teaching, is an Oregon licensed teacher and has completed the AMI Adolescent Orientation. Justice is passionate about building community and relationships. He enjoys reading, woodworking, baseball and playing music. Justice and his wife (who is also a teacher) and their son love to spend time in the outdoors and at the Oregon Coast.

Photo of Susan Hardenbergh Susan Hardenbergh Guide – MAC
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Susan started as a parent volunteer and substitute at LCMCS, and both of her children are LCMCS graduates. Her years of experience working in the classroom and special education recommended her to us for other roles, and she started assisting in the kindergarten and elementary classes before becoming a MAC guide. Susan has an MAT and BS in Anthropology and is an Oregon Licensed Teacher. She has special interests in science, math, and foreign languages.

Photo of Caitlin Spanjer Caitlin Spanjer Guide – MAC
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Photo of Dayna Weiler Dayna Weiler Guide – MAC
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Dayna moved to Oregon from Alaska with her husband, Fred, to continue to grow the Montessori Adolescent Corps. She was instrumental in developing the public MAC program in Juneau, and was lead teacher for ten years. She has a BA in History, a BS in Biology, an MA in Teaching, and a state teaching license. Dayna was the Vice President of the Southeast Alaska Friends of Montessori Board for five years. She and Fred have four children, two of whom were adopted from China. Contact:

Labs

Photo of Jack Gaskill Jack Gaskill Health & Wellness
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Jack has been a lifelong athlete and outdoorsman, and brings his experience and knowledge in both to his work at Lewis & Clark Montessori. Currently working on his teaching degree, Jack also has a degree in Wilderness Leadership & Experiential Education. When he’s not at work, he is often found in the woods or on any one of our local rivers.

Photo of Lora Modlin Lora Modlin Art Science
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Lora moved her family from Kansas City, Missouri in the fall of 2012 to be the guide in Wy’East. In 2015 she moved into Mahonia to open our fourth older elementary classroom. She completed her BA in K-12 art education, holds a certificate of AMI elementary Montessori training from The Montessori Institute of Milwaukee (WI), and has an M.Ed. in Montessori Education from Loyola, Baltimore. She has continued her education by receiving training in Compassionate Communication, Neuro-Semantic Language Learning Theory (NsLLT), Visual Thinking Strategies, Mathematical Mindset, Amy Lang’s Birds + Bees + Kids, and Our Whole Lives as well as various classes to support neuro-diversity, anti-bias, trauma-informed teaching, and conflict resolution. Lora is passionate about being a life-long learner, the sciences, arts, and giving her students the space to explore their cosmic task.

Photo of Chris O’Brien Chris O’Brien Greenhouse
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An Oregonian from infancy,  Chris returned home after studying and working in Arizona as a field biologist for 15 years.   He has farmed in Eagle Creek since 2008, growing fresh vegetables for a Community Supported Agriculture program and vegetable seed for garden seed companies.  He is passionate about growing fresh food for his family and enjoys sharing these skills within the LCMCS community. His two daughters attend LCMCS in Primary and Older Elementary.

Auxilary Staff & Nutrition Services

Photo of Bekah Rattaro Bekah Rattaro Nutrition Services
Photo of Jessica Armitage Jessica Armitage Nutrition Services
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Jessica received her Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine from Texas A&M University and practiced small animal veterinary medicine for 11 years in the Coastal Carolinas. When her daughters were 6 months and 3 years old she and her husband took the family on a European vacation and then moved to the mountains of Ecuador where they lived and traveled around the tiny, biodiverse country for 6 months before moving to Oregon. Her love of cooking and nutrition led her to volunteer in the school kitchen when her oldest joined the primary classroom in 2015 and she officially joined the kitchen staff in 2018. When not working in the kitchen you may find her leading her kindergartener scouts, giving breastfeeding support as a La Leche League leader, camping, cooking, or experimenting with different craft media.

Photo of Laura Merrell Laura Merrell Trails
Photo of Pia Watzig Pia Watzig Nutrition Services
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Pia was born in Peru, grew up in Southern California where she learned to love the water. During college she enjoyed studying Economics in Switzerland, travelling the country and Northern Italy. She has travelled to many countries,  including an excursion riding snowmobiles on an Icelandic Glacier. An active swimmer and water polo player, she graduated from the University of California at Santa Barbara with a Major in English Literature and Creative Writing. After graduation, she moved to Chicago to attend the Culinary and Hospitality Institute of Chicago, where she studied Pastry and Kitchen Management. Before joining LCMCS, Pia worked with children’s homes, schools, restaurants and candy makers.

Pia enjoys knitting, gardening, reading, baking and spending time outdoors near water with her family. She has lived in Oregon for 17 years and currently has three school aged kids attending LCMCS.