MMS Elementary Faculty

MMS Elementary Faculty

David S. Pushkin, Lead Junior Elementary Guide

David Pushkin Lead Elementary Guide

David Pushkin
Lead Elementary Guide

David has been an educator for more than 20 years and trained with the Center for Montessori Teaching Education in New York to earn his AMS 6-9 year old teaching credential.  He studied at the Rhode Island School of Design, San Francisco Art Institute (BFA), Columbia University in New York City (MFA) and Anglia Ruskin University (doctoral level).  For more than 20 years, David taught college students as a professor of fine art at Columbia University in New York City, American University in Washington, D.C. and Hofstra in Hempstead, N.Y.   David is currently producing a documentary film about the construction of Hawks Nest Tunnel  in the 1930s, which resulted in the largest industrial accident in U.S. history.  David is a native of Charleston, graduate of George Washington High School, and is happy to be returning to his roots.



Suzanne Sanders, Lead Advanced Elementary Guide

Suzanne Sanders Lead Elementary Guide

Suzanne Sanders
Lead Elementary Guide

Suzanne earned a B.S. from Penn State University, with a focus in sports medicine, and spent 10 years working in health related business fields. After experiencing the Montessori philosophy as a parent, she pursued a career as a Montessori teacher, completing Elementary I credential (junior elementary) from The Montessori Education Center of the Rockies in Boulder, Colo., and her Elementary II credential (advanced elementary) from the Center for Montessori Teacher Education in New Rochelle, N.Y.  Suzanne worked as a Montessori guide for 10 years in Pennsylvania, Costa Rica and Colorado before joining MMS in 2011. Her love of travel took her to the mountains of Costa Rica, where she and her husband built a home and experienced the Tican culture.  Suzanne shares her love of nature with her students throughout the year, including leading a three-day educational session at The Mountain Institute at Spruce Knob each fall (read more about it here.)  Nature also inspires her to continue her studies and work with organic gardening and beekeeping.  She has a teenage son, two cats and a dog who keep her very busy.  Suzanne also enjoys soccer, trail running, and cooking healthy, organic foods. She relocated from Lancaster, Pa. and enjoys the abundance of outdoor activities and natural beauty found in West Virginia.



Amanda Cox,  Elementary Guide

Amanda Cox Elementary Guide

Amanda Cox
Elementary Guide

Amanda earned an undergraduate degree in history/art history from Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., and WVU, and her AMS credential in early childhood from the Virginia Center for Montessori Teacher Education in Chesapeake. She has worked at MMS for more than 15 years at the primary and elementary levels.  Amanda holds certifications from Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health as a yoga instructor and a teacher/trainer for Yoga Ed, K-8. She has trained at the King Arthur Baking Education Center and operates a home-based baking business, Just Desserts. Amanda is the mother of two MMS alumni, one of whom works in theater in New York City, the other a college student on the west coast.  In her free time, she enjoys running, reading, baking and gardening. As a volunteer, she served on the board of directors of Read Aloud West Virginia, West Virginia Public Radio  and MMS.  Amanda has participated in many community theater productions, both onstage and behind the scenes.


Nancy Johnston, Advanced Assistant, Art and Physical Education Specialist

Nancy Johnston Elementary Specialist

Nancy Johnston
Elementary Specialist

A Charleston native, Nancy is a graduate of George Washington High School and attended Marshall University and West Virginia State University, taking classes in education and art.  She completed the AMS Basics Course at the Midwest Montessori Teacher Training Center in Evanston, Ill.  She is beginning her 19th year at MMS, having assisted in both junior elementary and advanced elementary classes.  She has taught art to the elementary children for the last nine years and spearheads our community service program at Celebration Station, Charleston’s East End city playground.  She wants to be an artist when she grows up!  The mother of three children, Nancy is an outdoor enthusiast.  She loves walking, biking, hiking, swimming, kayaking and her latest obsession, boot camp.




Rachel Scarpelli, Elementary Assistant

Rachel Scarpelli Elementary Assistant

Rachel Scarpelli
Elementary Assistant

Rachel, who is in her first year at MMS, graduated from Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, Tenn., with a degree in mass communications and in pursuing a second degree in elementary education from West Virginia State University. Rachel brings experience in child care, fundraising, volunteer management and performing arts (she was a Disney World performer!) to MMS.  Rachel has also been very active in local theater since she was a child.




Karen Kelly

Karen Kelly Plus Program Director

Karen Kelly
Plus Program Director

A native of Charleston, Karen earned a B.S. in biology from Bethany College and studied veterinary medicine in St. Petersburg, Fla.  Prior to joining MMS 16 years ago, she  worked for 15 years as a veterinary technician and as the children’s book manager for Renaissance Book Company in Huntington.  She retains an avid interest in children’s literature, especially through her work with Junior Great Books and our library. She also directs our after-school program and is the caretaker for all Mountaineer Montessori animals.  She is the parent of a college-aged son who spent 10 years at MMS.  Karen enjoys knitting, reading, caring for animals, storytelling and cooking.




Gloria Lopez

Gloria Lopez Plus Program Assistant

Gloria Lopez
Plus Program Assistant

Gloria, who is in her first year at MMS, will be helping out in the Plus Program as well as assisting in the classrooms as needed. Gloria discovered her passion for Montessori education when she enrolled her son in our school. She comes to us with a rich and diverse background in business, specializing in training and team building. She attended school at West Virginia State University and the Benjamin Franklin Technical Career Center.