MMS Elementary Faculty
Alasha Al-Quadwah, Upper Elementary II Lead Guide
Alasha brings a passion for the arts and deep commitment to Montessori education to her role as the Lead Guide for Upper Elementary II, and says her educational philosophy can be summed up in one of Maria Montessori’s most famous quotes: “Within the child lies the fate of the future.”
Now in her fourth year at MMS, Alasha holds bachelor’s degrees from Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, and West Virginia State University and is trained in the Wilson Reading System and Positive Discipline in the Classroom. She trained in Montessori 9-12 Education at the AMS-affiliated Montessori Education Teacher Training Collaborative in Waltham, Massachusetts. She is the only WV educator and the only MMS teacher to be awarded a teacher training scholarship from the American Montessori Society. Alasha heads our Montessori Model United Nations Program and Campessori seven-week summer camp. She is a composer, music instructor and performer, and contributed to the success of one of West Virginia’s most notable bands, Qiet. Outside of MMS, Alasha is a private music teacher and performs with Minor Swing, a gypsy jazz ensemble. ,
Alasha has five years of Montessori education experience, serving in a variety of arts, administration and classroom roles. She is the mother of an MMS student.
Emily Christian, Upper Elementary I Lead Guide
Emily joins the Mountaineer Montessori community as an experienced international teacher, having diverse experiences in classrooms on three continents. She is excited to be working towards her AMS certification in 9-12 education with the Montessori Elementary Teacher Training Collaborative in Waltham, Mass. She earned a BA in history at the University of Notre Dame, and an MA in teaching from Brown University. She has taught fifth and sixth grades in international schools and private schools for more than ten years. Emily’s family moved to Charleston, and her two children enrolled at MMS, in 2019. She especially enjoys artistic endeavors. She is a prolific quilter and sews many of her own clothes. She also enjoys taking long walks with her puppy, game nights with her family, and working with them on the Lego city they have been building together this year.
Tara Fought, Lower Elementary I Lead Guide
Tara is beginning her sixth year at MMS. She brings 15 years of experience as the lead teacher of lower elementary at the Montessori School of North Miami in Florida. She is a graduate of Florida International University, completed Positive Discipline in the Classroom training, and holds an AMS Lower Elementary credential from the Summit Montessori Teacher Training Institute in Davie, Florida. Tara loves to be out and about, but also loves being in her new home with her family enjoying activities like cooking together, having game night, playing with their three dogs and two cats, or catching lightning bugs in the backyard. Tara is very excited and thankful for the opportunity of living in a beautiful state that is so connected to nature, and especially for being a part of the Mountaineer Montessori community. She leads her class with enthusiasm and respect, and provides a classroom environment where each child will feel safe and have the confidence to learn and grow as students and as people.
Becca Moore, Lower Elementary II Lead Guide
When Becca Moore enrolled her son at MMS, little did she know that it would lead to big changes and a new career. Excited by what she learned through her son’s experience, Becca eventually left her position in the Kanawha County Schools and started training to become a Montessori teacher, joining our faculty in 2014. “I fell in love with everything he was doing and everything about Mountaineer Montessori,” she says. This is Becca’s sixth year at our school, where she leads one of our two Lower Elementary classrooms. She is a graduate of Marshall University and holds an AMI Elementary (6-12) Credential from the the Milwaukee Institute for Montessori Studies. She is a NASA certified robotics instructor and has completed Positive Discipline in the Classroom training.
Learn more about Becca.
Sonji Byers-Baldwin, Lower Elementary I Assistant
“I absolutely love working with children… Throughout my years as a teaching assistant, I have learned so much. I believe that if you build up a child’s confidence there is no limit to what can be accomplished.” Sonji joins MMS this year with a strong background in early childhood education, having served as a classroom and after care assistant at St. Agnes School for 13 years. Sonji helped build the school’s summer program, which grew from 25 to 50 students during her time there. She earned a certification in early childhood education from Ben Franklin Vocational Center and holds numerous licenses and certifications in working with children. She trained with the Virginia Center for Montessori Studies this year.
Sarah Galaska, Lower Elementary II Assistant
Sarah brings rich and varied experience in Montessori and traditional classrooms to her position as the assistant for Lower Elementary II. She also serves as the Elementary art teacher and creative expression specialist for the Middle School. Most recently, she was a classroom assistant, Spanish teacher and art instructor at a Montessori school, where she also was responsible for numerous special events and projects such as Read Aloud, yearbook and book fair. Sarah is the mother of two MMS students. She holds bachelor’s degrees in Spanish and history from Hollins University in Roanoke, Va., and pursued graduate studies towards a master’s in education from the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Va. She is skilled in many areas that intersect with the Montessori curriculum, including art; sewing, knitting and crochet; guitar and ukulele; Spanish; and culinary and medicinal herb use and composting. She trained with the Virginia Center for Montessori Studies and has completed Positive Discipline in the Classroom training.
Erica Hoffman, Upper Elementary II Assistant
Erica joins MMS this year after 19 years of administrative and community outreach experience in education and non-profit organizations. Most recently, she was an administrative assistant for Abundant Life Ministries, where she managed operational duties and work with community partners. Prior to that, she was a secretary at the WV Department of Education. Erica brings a wonderful range of skills to MMS, including web design and desktop publishing, videography, and event and volunteer management. Erica serves as the classroom assistant in Upper Elementary II and coordinates MMS fundraising and volunteers. Erica holds both a bachelor’s degree, with concentrated study in health and nutrition, psychology and education, and a master’s in health science and sports studies from WVSU. She trained with the Virginia Center for Montessori Studies and completed Positive Discipline in the Classroom training.
Shannon Reeves, Upper Elementary I Assistant
Shannon joins MMS with 16 years of experience in the credit union industry, where she wore many hats from working directly with families on personal finance, to marketing, product and website development, and employee training.
Her most recent endeavor was launching a financial literacy program that spanned from elementary students to colleges and universities, reaching 400 students. She has a lifelong desire to serve her community, improve the world around her, and bring her creative energy to the classroom. Her heart lies with child development and education, and feels it’s her calling to be a part of Montessori education after she witnessed her own daughter excel in the program at age 4. Shannon is grateful and excited to be working with the Upper Elementary team to inspire the best in every child. Shannon earned a BA in marketing, cum laude, from Marshall University. She is married with a large blended family, including five children ages 9 to 18. She enjoys making adventures where ever she can and will choose every life situation as a learning one!