Board of Directors


The MMS Board is comprised of volunteer leaders from varied backgrounds who are passionate about Montessori education, dedicated to the mission of MMS and who advocate on behalf of the school, its programs and faculty.


2020-21 MMS Board of Directors


Clifton Clark, Board President

Clifton Clark
Board President

Clifton Clark attended MMS as an elementary student, going on to graduate from Capital High School, the University of Virginia (B.A., economics), West Virginia University College of Law (J.D.), West Virginia University College of Business and Economics (M.B.A), and.   He is currently a wealth advisor at BB&T, having previously served as wealth lending strategy manager, wealth lending officer and corporate portfolio manager in his 14 years at BB&T.  In addition to his service at MMS, Clifton is actively involved in the Charleston community and serves as treasurer of Taste of All, a committee of FestivALL Charleston, and as vice president of the East End Community Association.  He also previously spent a five year stint on the management team of Generation Charleston, the Charleston Area Alliance’s young professional group.  Clifton currently lives in Charleston’s East End neighborhood with his wife, Katherine “Katie” Clark, and their two young children, both of whom attend MMS.



Jennifer Preston, Board Vice President

Jennifer Preston

Jennifer is a project manager for Job Squad Inc., a non-profit organization that provides employment support to individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities. A graduate of Virginia Tech with degrees in urban planning and political science, she has spent most of her career focusing on facility planning and programming.  Jennifer worked on the Detroit Public Schools Capital Improvement Program, which built seven new schools and provided eight major school renovations, totaling over $500 million. Jennifer and her husband, Aaron, live in South Hills with their three children, two of whom are MMS students.  She enjoys yoga, reading, writing and traveling.





Samantha Hicks, Board Secretary

Samantha Hicks
MMS Board Secretary

Samantha is the mother of two MMS students, and works as an administrative assistant for Eagle Research Corporation. She holds a B.A. in theater, with a minor in speech and communications. “Our family stumbled into this community three years ago and we are continually surprised and delighted by it. I believe in this method, this staff, and this community, and look forward to an opportunity to help further the vision and move our school and community toward its EPIC future!”







Joseph Jenkins, Board Co-Treasurer

Joseph Jenkins
MMS Board Co-Treasurer

Joseph is from Shady Spring in southern West Virginia.  He graduated from Concord University in Athens, West Virginia before attending the University of Oregon to obtain his law degree.  He is general counsel for an oil and gas business. A member of the Charleston City Council, Joseph has volunteered with several organizations including Friends of the Clay Center (past-president), Charleston Main Streets, Foam at the Dome (currently on the steering committee) and the Charleston Police Department, currently as a Neighborhood Assistance Officer.  He lives in Fort Hill. Joe and his wife, Susana Duarte, are the parents of two MMS students.






April Taylor, Board Co-Treasurer

April Taylor MMS Board Co-Treasurer

April, whose son is currently a Middle School student, has been an involved parent at MMS since 2013. She fosters animals for east coast animal rescue organizations to help the Kanawha-Charleston Animal Shelter remain a euthanasia-free location. Over the years she has enjoyed contributing to MMS events and classrooms. Formally educated in accounting, April has 10 years of service to the State of West Virginia as the financial controller for a state agency.








Jennifer Carriger, Director

Jennifer Carriger, Director


Jennifer, now in her eleventh year at MMS, brings extensive experience as a teacher in public and independent school settings, educational leadership and non-profit management to her position as our school director. In addition to her administrative responsibilities, Jennifer leads our Student Support Team as our learning consultant.

Jennifer received a B.A. in international studies, a B.S. in secondary education and a M.S. in special education from West Virginia University and has pursued additional graduate studies in education at Marshall University and the University of Virginia.  She holds permanent WV certification endorsement for students ages 5-12 in social studies, learning disabilities, mental impairment and behavior disorders. Her Montessori training is through the Virginia Center for Montessori Studies, and she recently completed NAMTA Montessori Whole School Management (Level I) training.

Jennifer received her AMS Montessori Administrator credential at the Center for Montessori Education in New York (a two-year program) and is the only educator in WV to hold this level of certification. Jennifer co-founded the Appalachian Reading Center in 2004 and is certified in the Wilson Reading System with additional training in Handwriting Without Tears.   Jennifer is also a past president of the West Virginia Learning Disabilities Association.  She taught in the public school system for nine years at the elementary, middle and high school levels in Madison County, Va., and Boone County, W.Va.  In 2014, Jennifer was honored as West Virginia Teacher of the Year by the WVLDA.  She and her husband, David, are the parents of two Mountaineer Montessori students.  Jennifer enjoys hiking, camping, reading and home renovation projects.



Salma Badawi

Salma is the mother of two children, including an MMS Lower Elementary student. She is originally from Syria, having lived in Charleston for five years. She holds a master’s degree in leadership studies from Northeastern University with a concentration in human resources management, and a BA in French studies and literature.






Joshua Cusick-Lewis

Joshua Cusick-Lewis

Josh is the father of two children, the oldest of whom is a Primary student. He has been an active participant in MMS Parent University and Positive Discipline sessions last year.  Originally from Huntington, Josh has lived in the Charleston area with his wife, Corey, for 10 years. He is a graduate of Marshall University with a BS degree in biological sciences and minors in math and chemistry. He graduated from West Virginia University School of Medicine with medical degree and master’s degree in public health. He currently is an assistant professor of Family Medicine at Charleston Area Medical Center’s Family Medicine Center which is affiliated with WVU – Charleston Division.  He teaches medical students, pharmacy students, and family medicine residents. He also has numerous clinical and academic duties. In addition, he serves on the board of the West Virginia Youth Symphony.






Mary Claire Davis

Mary Claire Davis

Mary Claire Davis is the mother of three MMS students. She earned a B.A. in English and creative writing from Roanoke College; an M.A. in English from West Virginia University; and a J.D. from the WVU College of Law. She has taught at the high school and college levels, and she is currently a career law clerk for a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.








Emily Hanna

Emily is the mother of two MMS students. She holds a BA in government from Campbell University and is currently pursuing an MPAP at American University. She worked at the WV Legislature before joining Charleston Mayor Amy Goodwin’s administration as the City of Charleston’s first CARE Director in January 2020. She has a passion for performing arts and teaches ballet for the River City Youth Ballet Ensemble. Emily resides in the Edgewood area with her daughters.



Brad Holliday

Brad Holliday

Brad is the regional sales director at Compass Group for the state of West Virginia with more than 12 years of sales, marketing and relationship building experience. A graduate of West Virginia State University with an emphasis in business and education, Brad is very involved in the sports community, coaching and consulting for many local teams in the South Charleston area. Brad and his wife, Anna, are the parents of an Upper Elementary student. He says his family has “fallen in love” with our school. “My intention as a board member is to contribute to the school’s continued growth, and promote MMS and the difference it’s made for our family.”




Hollie Hubbert

Hollie Hubbert

Hollie was born in Cincinnati and worked in Japan and Seattle before making West Virginia home.   She is the General Manager – Asia Pacific, for the West Virginia Department Commerce where she manages the state’s Japan office, business development strategies and projects from the Asia-Pacific region.  Hollie earned a B.S. in business administration and B.A. in psychology from the The Ohio State University and an M.B.A. from the University of Charleston. This is Hollie’s third year on the MMS Board. She and husband, David Bailey, are the parents of a Lower Elementary student. Hollie is a very active volunteer, helping with  the Book and Bake Sale, the Spring Gala, teacher dinners, the End of Year Picnic, the FestivAll craft table and parade and more. For the last two years she has been the MMS Meet-Up Coordinator and last year re-started the MMS Ski Club. Hollie looks forward to continuing to serve Mountaineer Montessori School.



Blaire Malkin

Blaire Malkin

Blaire has lived in West Virginia for over a decade and has been a part of the Mountaineer Montessori family for six years.  She and her husband, Rob Bastress, have two children, Arlo who is in Lower Elementary, and Della who is in kindergarten at Weberwood.  Blaire is a special education attorney at Mountain State Justice where she helps families obtain the educational services along with seeking systemic change in the education system for students with disabilities.  Prior to working at Mountain State Justice, she spent eight years as an Assistant United States Attorney and prosecuted a wide range of crimes including complex mail and wire fraud schemes, environmental crimes, mine safety violations, and violent crimes. In her free time she enjoy running, doing yoga, reading, and having dance parties with her family. She holds a BA from Tufts University and JD from Harvard Law School.




Erica Smith-Woods

Erica is a graduate of Marshall University, where she earned a BA in journalism & mass communications and a MS in adult & technical education. She has spent most of her career in retail and telecommunications management. Her daughter, Amaya, currently attends the MMS Primary program. “I knew I wanted a different education path for my daughter that included independence and promotion of her creativity. MMS has provided everything I envisioned for my daughter and more.”


JoEllen Zacks

JoEllen Zacks

JoEllen has been mad for Mountaineer Montessori since enrolling her daughter, Elizabeth, as a primary student in 2007.  JoEllen was formerly the senior vice president for the Charleston Area Alliance.  Before moving with her husband, Ben, to his hometown of  Charleston in 2005, she was senior director of strategic communication for the American Bar Association in Chicago.  In addition to MMS, she serves on the board of the West Virginia Independent Colleges and Universities and YWCA of Charleston Nominating Committee.  She is past president of the West Virginia Symphony League, and has served on the boards of West Virginia Advocates, Infant Welfare Society of ChicagoGirl Scouts of Chicago Achievement Rewards for College Scientists Foundation and Adler Planetarium and Astronomy Museum Women’s Board (founding member).  She earned a B.A. in journalism from the University of Wisconsin and J.D. from the John Marshall Law School in Chicago.