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.

Administrative Team

Photo of Peter Jensen Peter Jensen Administrative 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 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 Tami O’Kinsella Tami O’Kinsella Montessori Coach
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Tami has worked in six Montessori schools in five states over much of the last three decades. She holds an AMI Primary and Elementary Montessori teaching credential and has worked with children in Toddler, Primary, Younger, and Older Elementary classrooms. In addition, Tami has a BA in English, an M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction, and Washington and Oregon State Teaching Licenses at the Early Childhood through Middle School grade range.  She has also studied and worked in Special Education, and made an extensive exploration in Non-violent Communication. Tami is keenly interested in affirming the brilliance of all children and creating safe spaces for human thriving.

Photo of Ana Karina Quintana Huizar Ana Karina Quintana Huizar Enrollment Coordinator
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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 Christi Johnson Christi Johnson Compliance Coordinator
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Christi has been apart of our school community from the very beginning.  As a parent volunteer and then as an employee. She brings experience in administration and managing.  Christi has two teenage girls who have both attended LCMCS. In her free time you can find Christi outdoors.  Hiking, camping, kayaking and gardening are a few of her favorites.

Photo of Tammy Puri Tammy Puri Finance Manager
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Tammy joined Lewis & Clark Montessori in June of 2016 as Finance Manager after cutting her teeth managing the books for a real estate development company and serving as Treasurer for the Lewis & Clark Montessori PTO. She earned a BA in 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.

Children’s House & Montessori Foundations

Photo of Beverly Bassett Beverly Bassett Skills Specialist – Willow
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After she received a BA in Human Studies from Marylhurst University and her Primary Montessori training from Montessori Northwest, Beverly taught in primary classrooms for several years in the Portland area. She has worked in school administration and initially came to us as our Office Manager in 2010. Beverly spends her free hours reading, hiking, and bird watching with her family. She and her husband have two grown sons and four grandchildren, two of whom attends LCMCS.

Photo of Kristine Coates Kristine Coates Guide – Osprey
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Photo of Arlene Schroeder Arlene Schroeder Guide – Willow
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Photo of Anna Varnelius Anna Varnelius Guide – Sea Otter
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Younger Elementary

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 Kimberly Lewis Kimberly Lewis Guide – Prairie Dog Home
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Photo of Kim Oda Kim Oda Guide – Columbia
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Kim is AMI Elementary Certified, has an M.Ed in Elementary Ed, and a BA in English and Japanese language and literature. Before joining us, she taught in Japan for 5.5 years, and taught at an AMI school in Hawaii. She does this work to grow peace and constructive action. She loves to surf, commune with nature and food, and explore.

Photo of Dmitria Sokolow Dmitria Sokolow Guide – Celilo
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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.

Older Elementary

Photo of Cameron Coates Cameron Coates Guide – Oregon Trail
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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 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 Jack Gaskill Jack Gaskill Guide – Sacajawea
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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.

Montessori Adolescent Corps

Photo of Justice Evans Justice Evans Guide – MAC
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Justice has been with Lewis & Clark Montessori since the early days. He has a BS in Liberal Studies, an MA in Teaching and is an Oregon licensed teacher. In addition to his work as a teacher, Justice is passionate about community engagement, neighborhood involvement and the liberation of all peoples. Justice, 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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Most of us first knew Susan as a parent, with a son and a daughter who both attend LCMCS. But 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 then Younger El classes. Susan has an MAT and BS in Anthropology and is an Oregon Licensed Teacher. Her Spanish and Fiber Arts skills make her an additional resource for others.

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:

Classroom Extensions

Photo of Kate Anderly Kate Anderly Food Pantry Coordinator
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Kate became a kitchen staff member in 2017 after lots of volunteer hours as a parent and now is looking forward to a new role in the MAC program running the food pantry.  She has two students at school and loves being a part of the LCMCS community.

Photo of Kami Hettwer Kami Hettwer Music Teacher
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Kami spent 17 years teaching music in Salem schools before arriving at LCMCS. She earned her Bachelor of Music degree from Willamette University and specializes in elementary, choral, and instrumental music. She is a member of the Oregon Music Educators Association, American Orff-Schulwerk Association, and is the Executive Director of the Salem Youth Symphony.

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.

Assistants

Photo of Sherry Budge Sherry Budge Assistant
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Photo of Yvanna Caamal Yvanna Caamal Assistant
(503) 427-0803

Yvanna is from the region that surrounds LCMCS. She was born and raised in Estacada,
Oregon, and, lucky for us, she stayed! She has earned an Associate’s degree in Dental
Management and she is currently working on a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education.
Yvanna has one child, Aracely. Yvanna loves to travel with her husband and her
daughter.

Yvanna parents are from Yucatan, which is a state on the Southern side of Mexico. Not
only does this give her a rich heritage to share with our students but also, Yvanna is bilingual!
This gives students in Wy’East (and throughout our school community) another person with
which they can have opportunities to practice their Spanish.

In relation to her position, Yvanna says she decided to become part of the community
because she loves teaching and being a source of motivation for students. Yvanna feels that
teachers do more than teach and that their impact extends far beyond the classroom.
Teachers are more than educators, according to Yvanna. They are mentors, a confidant and a
friend.

Photo of Laurel Clohessy Laurel Clohessy Assistant
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Photo of Suzanne Haddix Suzanne Haddix Assistant
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Contact:

Photo of Gina Johnson Gina Johnson Assistant
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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 Elizabeth Jones Elizabeth Jones Assistant
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Elizabeth has a BA in Graphic Design from her birth country, Perú. After emigrating to the USA, she discovered her passion for children through teaching private Spanish and Math classes. She has experience working with Primary and Lower Elementary Montessori students as an Assistant Teacher, in addition to having been the Lead Spanish teacher. Elizabeth loves to travel and enjoys dancing to Latin music.

Photo of Brandee Stafford Brandee Stafford Assistant
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Student Success

Photo of Julie Chura Julie Chura Student Success Admin Manager
(503) 427-0803
Photo of Jean Monda Jean Monda Student Special Services
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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 4th yr with our school. In her spare time she enjoys reading, sewing, gardening, time with family camping, and going to the beach.

Photo of Cathy Shaddix Cathy Shaddix Dean of Student Success
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Cathy is the mother of two Lewis & Clark Montessori students. Cathy earned an AAS in Early Childhood Education at MHCC and a BS in Human Development with minors in Elementary and Early Childhood Education from Warner Pacific. She has been an Oregon licensed teacher for over 20 years. Some work highlights include time as an instructor for Mad Science of Portland and Vancouver, a teacher in a toddler program, and teaching multiple subjects to middle school students at a school with 32 home languages.

Photo of Brekka Trueman Taft Brekka Trueman Taft Reading Specialist
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Brekka grew up in a small town in northern Italy, among corn fields and free flowing wells. She lived in Germany, Tanzania, and several East coast States  before making Oregon her home.  She loves art, story telling, time with her four children and building friendships.

Brekka has a passion for learning about the human brain. She is thrilled to live in a time of abundant research and many effective therapies which emerge from it.  Her desire is to apply this knowledge in a manner that lifts burdens and brings people together, specifically in matters of mental health and neuro diversity.

She is delighted to work at Lewis and Clark where her children have attended for a collective 27 years and counting.

Auxilary Staff

Photo of Tonja Anderson Tonja Anderson Nutrition Services
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Tonja has been part of our school family since 2009. First as a parent, then a volunteer, and finally employee. She and her family (her daughter is an LCMCS graduate, her son still attends) love to travel, go to the theater, and watch movies. Along with cooking, she loves to knit, craft, and read a good book with a hot cup of coffee.

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 Sarah Nevin Sarah Nevin Trails Coordinator
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