MMS Middle School Faculty
Bridgett Steveson, Middle School Lead Guide
Bridgett brings experience from premier environmental educational programs in the United States and Africa to MMS this fall as our new middle school lead guide. While pursuing her degree in anthropology at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington, Bridgett had the opportunity to study in Kenya. She returned to Africa after graduation to serve as one of only three students world wide selected for a prestigious position with the South African National Parks, People and Parks Department. She acted as a global vision international intern for two years in Agulhas National Park- L’Agulhas, South Africa, located at the southernmost tip of Africa. While there, she planned and coordinated environmental education programs and acted as park liaison for community events and park outreach programs.
Bridgett returned to the United States to continue her career in environmental education. Most recently, she served as the education director at Nature’s Classroom Institute and Montessori School (NCI) at its Texas and Wisconsin campuses. Nature’s Classroom Montessori, which also has sites in New York and Ohio, is considered the premier environmental education program in the United States.
During her tenure at NCI, Bridgett was given the opportunity to work with Texas schools on the implementation of garden and composting programs and developing outdoor classrooms. She also was a guest lecturer on integrating nature into the classroom at Baylor University and co-presenter at the AMS conference in Dallas. The daughter of a Boeing executive, Bridgett spent her childhood in Washington State and Ohio.
Bridgett’s Montessori middle school teacher training is through the AMI Orientation to Adolescent Studies at Hershey Montessori in Ohio. The founders of the Hershey Adolescent Education program worked closely with MMS in formation of our middle school curriculum, site and faculty development.
Dina Hornbaker, Middle School Assistant
Dina, a Charleston native, is a graduate of West Virginia University with a B.A. in multidisciplinary studies in Spanish, geography and communications. Bringing passion for agriculture, music and community service and fluency in Spanish to MMS, Dina is an assistant in our middle school and after school programs. She completed AMS Montessori Assistant training through the Virginia Center for Montessori Studies and Positive Discipline in the Classroom course. During her college career, Dina volunteered with various organizations including the Sierra Club Coalition and the Organic Research Farm to Fair Trade 2.0. She spent five months working and volunteering on a tropical permaculture farm in Nicaragua while doing an independent study in introduction to restorative agriculture and community development. After graduating, Dina became invested in permaculture and received her design certification in Portugal in 2013, while working and living in her tent for four months. Her exposure to other cultures enriched her musical background leading her to write and release her first CD. Influenced and inspired by nature and agriculture, Dina enjoys hiking, traveling, camping, farming and playing music. She is thrilled to be part of the Mountaineer Montessori staff this year!
Suzanne Sanders, MMS Co-Director, Middle School Advisor
Suzanne has been a leader in the MMS community since 2011, serving as upper elementary lead guide for three years and founding the state’s only Montessori middle school program in 2014. With extensive experience as a Montessori educator and administrator in public, charter and independent school settings in three states and Costa Rica, she was named co-director in February 2015. 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 (lower elementary) from The Montessori Education Center of the Rockies in Boulder, Colo., Elementary II credential (upper elementary) from the Center for Montessori Teacher Education in New Rochelle, N.Y., and the AMI Orientation to Adolescent Studies through the North American Montessori Teachers Association at the Hershey Montessori campus in Huntsburg, Ohio. Suzanne recently completed AMI Montessori Whole School Management (Level I) training.
Prior to joining MMS, Suzanne was the upper elementary lead guide at the New School in Lancaster, Pa., the school director and early early elementary guide at the Manuel Antonio Montessori Academy in Costa Rica, and the lead early elementary guide at the Compass Montessori Charter School in Wheat Ridge, Colo., where she worked with the elementary team to meld state standards and the Montessori curriculum.
Suzanne’s 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 three-day educational sessions at The Mountain Institute at Spruce Knob (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, and the abundance of outdoor activities and natural beauty found in West Virginia.