MMS Middle School Faculty
Bridgett Steveson, Middle School Lead Guide
Now in her third year as MMMS Lead Guide, Bridgett brings experience from premier environmental educational programs in the United States and Africa to West Virginia’s only Montessori adolescent program. Her passion for nature based learning began during her pursuit of a degree in anthropology at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington, where she had the opportunity to study poaching in Kenya. After graduation, she returned to Africa 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. She also completed the Advanced Mathematics for the Adolescent training program presented by the North American Montessori Teachers Association (NAMTA).
Emily Capece, Middle School Specialist
Emily brings an impressive and extensive background in arts education and performance as well as Montessori and traditional classrooms to her position as a Middle School Specialist. She directs Middle School language arts classes, leading writing and grammar lessons and literature circle, and coordinates all creative expression activities, including music and art. Emily is the artistic director of Womansong, owner/instructor at Music Together Charleston and a vocal and interdisciplinary instructor at the WV Governor’s School for the Arts, in addition to directing and/or performing with numerous musical and theater in groups in the United States and abroad. Emily has taught in Montessori classrooms at the upper elementary level and directed vocal and general music at schools in New York, New Jersey, Virginia and Japan.
Emily holds a BME and BA in vocal performance from Otterbein College in Westerville, Ohio; a master’s in vocal music and choral conducting with distinction from from Westminster Choir College, Rider University, Princeton, N.J.; and a Montessori elementary credential from the Center for Guided Montessori Studies. She is the parent of two MMS students.
Julie Margolis, Administrator/Middle School Specialist
Julie has been an MMS leader for more than 20 years, serving our school as a teacher, specialist and administrator. She earned a B.S. in education from the University of Vermont, and a M.S. from Penn State University. Her Montessori training is through the Virginia Center for Montessori Studies. This is Julie’s seventh year in school administration. She provides invaluable guidance on school management issues and oversees our financial aid program, which was created during her tenure as MMS Co-Director. Julie returns to the classroom as a specialist this year, teaching advanced mathematics and physical education at the Middle School. A native of Vermont, she is a former public school teacher and a former computer programmer. Julie and her late husband, Jay, raised their four children in Charleston, two of whom are MMS alumni. Her personal interests include hiking, skiing, reading, and traveling to visit her family.
Emily Beal, Science Specialist
Emily brings added dimension to our Middle School science program, leading hands on sessions and specialized classes in astronomy and physics, among other areas. She earned a B.S. in astronomy at the University of Illinois and a dual PhD in geoscience and astrobiology from The Pennsylvania State University. Emily is a former MMS student, and credits her Montessori background for giving her the academic preparation and confidence to pursue her educational goals. “I learned a very important thing from MMS — the ability to teach yourself and answer your own questions. Without the education I received from MMS, I do not think I would have had the courage or the confidence to pursue many of the things that I have.” Emily and her husband are the parents of two children, including a Primary student.
Maria León Kershner, Foreign Language Instructor
Maria, a native Spanish-speaker from Costa Rica, holds the American equivalent of a master’s degree in preschool education from her university studies in Costa Rica. She has worked with young children in education for 23 years. She completed the AMS Basics Course at the Midwest Montessori Teacher Training Center in Evanston, Ill., and Positive Discipline in the Classroom training. Maria teaches Spanish to all classes in the morning, and works with our primary students in the Plus Program in the afternoons. At the Middle School level, Spanish classes are coordinated with distance learning programs that qualify for high school credit in the Kanawha County School system. Maria has two children, both of whom have grown to be MMS alumni. Her favorite pastimes are reading, traveling and working in her garden. Maria shares her enthusiasm and love of children while skillfully integrating Spanish lessons into the Montessori curriculum. This is her eighth year at MMS.
Colleen Anderson, Creative Writing Specialist
Colleen, a Charleston-based writer and artist, is a creative writing specialist at MMS, leading workshops for students from primary through middle school. Her creative studio, Mother Wit Writing and Design, has earned numerous honors, including West Virginia Communicators’ Best of Show award and several First Place awards from the National Federation of Press Women. Her stories and poems have been published by the PEN Syndicated Fiction Project, Redbook, Embers, Kestrel, Arts & Letters, Passager, Carolina Quarterly, The Sun, and many other periodicals. Colleen’s musical compositions have been featured on Public Radio International’s “Mountain Stage” and “The Folk Sampler. 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 row house complex in Charleston’s East End neighborhood. Colleen earned a B.A. in English from West Virginia University and a Masters of Humanities from Marshall University.
Stan Bumgardner, History Specialist
Stan, a middle school history specialist, is the editor of Goldenseal, a magazine produced by the WV Division of Culture and History to preserve and highlight the traditional folk life of West Virginia. A professional historian for more than 25 years, Stan has worked at Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, for the West Virginia History Film Project, at West Virginia Archives and History and as acting director of the West Virginia State Museum. He was the creative director for the West Virginia State Museum renovation project, developed exhibits for the South Charleston Museum Foundation and the National Coal Heritage Area and created a traveling exhibit for the documentary “The Great Textbook War.” He earned a B.A. in history from Marshall University and an M.A. in public history from West Virginia University.
As a freelance writer, Bumgardner wrote The Children’s Home Society of West Virginia: Children–Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow (The Children’s Home Society of West Virginia, 1996) and Charleston (Arcadia Publishing, 2006).