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 third 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 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. 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, violin teacher with the Partnership of African American Churches, and a vocal and violin faculty member of the Albans Arts Center.
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.
Tara Fought, Lower Elementary I Lead Guide
Tara is beginning her fifth 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. Becca directs our popular MMS Campessori, an eight week summer program that focuses on the arts and sciences.
Learn more about Becca.
Jason Winesburg, Upper Elementary I Lead Guide
Jason returns to MMS this fall for his seventh year as an upper elementary lead guide and coach of our cross-country team and state championship-winning chess team. Jason previously taught elementary students at Evergreen Montessori in Memphis and Malta Montessori in Malta, New York, for five years. He holds an AMI Montessori credential for ages 6-12 from the Washington Montessori Institute (WMI) and has completed Positive Discipline in the Classroom training. A former Montessori student himself, Jason is dedicated to fostering independence and self-ownership in his students. He earned a M.Ed. from Loyola University in Baltimore and a B.A. in English from Hood College in Frederick, Md. Jason loves literature and the classics, philosophy and ethics. He likes to keep up with the newest technology and is a compulsory tinkerer. Jason keeps in shape with weight-lifting and jogging, and in his free time he enjoys acting, comedy, computer games and outdoor sports.
Read Jason’s story.
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.
Kristie Simmons, Upper Elementary I Assistant
Now in her sixth year at MMS, Kristie can be found almost everywhere at our school, bringing her warmth, caring and enthusiasm for Montessori education to many departments, serving primarily as the classroom assistant for Upper Elementary I, as well as one of our PE instructors. A graduate of WVU-Parkerburg and WVU Institute of Technology, Kristie is a registered nurse. She and her husband, Donald, are the parents of two MMS students. She trained with the Virginia Center for Montessori Studies and completed Positive Discipline in the Classroom training.