MMS Faculty Specialists
MMS Faculty Specialists
Jennifer Carriger, Reading and Learning Specialist
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. This is her fifth year with Mountaineer Montessori as our reading specialist and learning consultant. 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. She and her husband are the parents of two Mountaineer Montessori students. Jennifer enjoys hiking, camping, reading and home renovation projects.
Maria Leon Kershner, Foreign Language Specialist
Maria, native Spanish-speaker from Costa Rica, holds the American equivalent of a masters degree in preschool education from her university studies in Costa Rica. She has worked with young children in education for 21 years. She completed the AMS Basics Course at the Midwest Montessori Teacher Training Center in Evanston, Ill. This is Maria’s fifth year at MMS. She assists and teaches Spanish in the Primary classes in the morning, and providing Spanish lessons to elementary students in the afternoon. Maria’s two children are current students at MMS. Her favorite pastimes are reading, traveling and working in her garden.
Nancy Johnston, Art and Physical Education 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.
Barrie Kaufman, Art Instructor
Barrie, a nationally recognized artist, has been teaching art at MMS for 24 years. She earned a B.A. in art, Phi Beta Kappa, from Marietta College; a M.A. in art from Marshall University and a M.A. in art therapy from Wright State University. Barrie has exhibited in ROC China, Quebec, Sweden and West Virginia. A retrospective of her work was the featured “Curator’s Choice” exhibit, held to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Huntington Art Museum. She has won The Taipei City Mayor’s Award, the West Virginia Fellowship for Painting and Crafts and fellowships from the Mid-Atlantic Art Foundation, the Kentucky Foundation for Women and The Painted Bride in Philadelphia. Barrie enjoys painting, printmaking, drawing, creativity and the history of art. She loves sharing her passion for art with young people and feels fortunate to be able to do so at Mountaineer Montessori, where she works with extended-day and elementary students. Barrie and her husband, Judge Tod Kaufman, are the parents of three MMS alumni. Combined the Kaufman family has been a part of the MMS community for 48 years!
Darlene Spangler, Elementary Specialist
Darlene has played many important roles in her 18 years at MMS, including teacher, administrator and leader. She holds a B.A. in English from Duke University and is currently an elementary specialist working with advanced students in novel studies. Previously, Darlene spent 14 years as an assistant teacher in the advanced elementary class (concurrently teaching English in our middle school program for five years). She also served as our school’s assistant administrator for 13 years and interim co-director for three years. Originally from the eastern shore of Maryland, Darlene settled in her husband’s hometown of Charleston, where they raised two (now adult) children. In her free time, she enjoys playing tennis, reading, and traveling.
Bernard Di Gregorio, Strings Instructor
Bernard, a native of Boston, studied at the New England Conservatory of Music and holds a diploma in viola performance from the Longy School of Music of Bard College in Cambridge, Mass. He is the princial violist and the Blanchette H. Rockefeller Chair for the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra, and has also held the position of principal viola with the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra since 1991. A strong advocate of music education, Bernard teaches strings in several schools in the Charleston area. In the summer months, he is a member of the New Hampshire Music Festival Orchestra and has also been a member of the Alabama Symphony Orchestra. Bernard is also a composer, and works with the West Virginia Youth Symphony as a sectional instructor and chamber music coach. Bernard leads our strings program and is the proud father of two former Mountaineer Montessori students.
Karen Morris, Music Instructor
Since graduating from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, cum laude, Karen has played professionally for churches and has accompanied many musical groups, including WomanSong Chorale and Mountain Laurel Ensemble. Currently, she is the organist at St. Matthews Episcopal Church. She received her Kindermusik certification in 1999 and by 2005, her program received the MAESTRO distinction from Kindermusik International for being in the top 5 percent of Kindermusik programs worldwide. She is introducing Orff instruments to the MMS music curriculum this year.
Artists-in Residence and Guest Instructors
The MMS educational experience is enhanced throughout the year by artists-in-residence and guest instructors. In recent years, we’ve been honored to welcome these additional faculty members and programs to MMS:
Ron has been a special part of MMS for more than 20 years as our music teacher and Montessori parent. He now continues to share his special gifts with us as an artist-in-residence. While at MMS, Ron inspired a love of music and engaged hundreds of students in many memorable projects. Ron is well known throughout the region and around the world as the musical director of Mountain Stage, which airs on National Public Radio, as the founder of the Woody Hawley Concert Series and as legendary folk music writer and recording artist.
Sky Kershner, LPC, LCSW
Sky is a frequent MMS guest faculty member, helping students develop positive communication skills, resolve conflicts and help create a more peaceful world. The executive director of the Kanawha Pastoral Counseling Center in Charleston, Sky is a Diplomate in the American Association of Pastoral Counseling, a supervisor in the American Association of Marital and Family Therapy, and is adjunct clinical faculty at WVU School of Medicine, Department of Behavioral Medicine. He is married to MMS faculty member Maria Kershner, and is the proud father of two MMS students.
Mira Stanley and Chuck E. Costa
Professional songwriters and performers, Mira and Chuck (Connecticut’s official state troubador) return to MMS each year for a special songwriting workshop . “At Mountaineer Montessori,” the MMS school song, is one of the many memorable projects resulting from their collaboration with students in recent years. Mira is an MMS alumna and is the daughter of Ron Sowell.
Colleen, a Charleston-based writer and artist, is a frequent guest instructor at MMS. She collaborated with our primary students in the plot development for her most recent book, “Missing: Mrs. Cornblossom,” which is set in the historic Arlington Court rowhouse complex in Charleston’s East End neighborhood.
In honor of the 100th birthday of Woody Guthrie, Mick brought his tribute show to MMS, sharing the stories of the Great Depression and leading students in the singing of many iconic American folksongs, including “This Land is Your Land.”
Anna and Elizabeth
Anna and Elizabeth transfixed and engaged students in celebration of our local heritage through a hands-on workshop and performance that weaved together traditional Appalachian music with storytelling, original artwork, shadow puppetry and scrolling illustrations called “crankies.”