MMS Plus Program Faculty

Karen Kelly, Plus Program Director

Karen Kelly
Plus Program Director

A native of Charleston, Karen earned a B.S. in biology from Bethany College, studied veterinary medicine in St. Petersburg, Fla., and completed both AMS Montessori Assistant (Virginia Center for Montessori Education) and Positive Discipline in the Classroom training programs. A life-long student of nature, she is completing certification as a Master Naturalist. Prior to joining MMS 18 years ago, she  worked for 15 years as a veterinary technician in the former Sunrise Museum and as the children’s book manager for Renaissance Book Company in Huntington.  She retains an avid interest in children’s literature, which she shares regularly with our students. In addition to serving as an elementary science specialist in the mornings, Karen directs our after school program, which offers a rich curriculum of creative, entertaining and educational activities in a consistent Montessori environment.  She is also the caretaker for all Mountaineer Montessori animals.  Her son, an historian at the Craik-Patton House, is an MMS alumnus.  Karen enjoys knitting, reading, caring for animals, storytelling and cooking.

Learn more about Karen



Susie Newhouse, Plus Program Guide/Montessori Mentor

Susie Newhouse
Montessori Mentor
Plus Program Guide

Susie is an AMS certified primary guide, having trained at the National Center for Montessori Education in Atlanta. Since earning her certification, Susie has worked as a primary lead guide, director and mentor both in Charleston and in Montana, totaling more than 15 years as a certified Montessori guide out of her 25 years in Montessori education.  A certified Positive Discipline Parent Educator, Susie leads parenting workshops and is a resource to our school on positive discipline. Her early role at Mountaineer Montessori as a movement and swimming specialist, and later as a classroom assistant in both primary and lower elementary, opened her heart and mind to the Montessori philosophy. “I’m excited by all that MMS has to offer and I’m blessed to be part of it!”  Susie is the mother of an MMS alumnus and grandmother of MMS alumni.  Susie is now serves as a Montessori mentor to our primary classrooms as well in our Plus Program, ensuring a rich, consistent Montessori experience to students throughout the day.






Maria León Kershner, Foreign Language Specialist and Plus Program Assistant

Maria Leon Kershner
Spanish Teacher/Plus Assistant

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.  Maria teaches Spanish to all levels in the morning, and works with our Primary students in the Plus Program in the afternoons.  She has also previously worked five years as a primary assistant.  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 into the classroom.









Janell West, Plus Assistant

Janell West Plus Assistant

Janell earned a bachelor’s in zoology from Brigham Young University and is the mother of eight children, three of whom have attended MMS. Her hobbies include sewing, ultimate frisbee, vegetable and flower gardening, politics, dogs, and cats. She and her husband have been very supportive parents and involved volunteers at MMS, enjoying moving furniture, pea gravel, and mulch at MMS!






Evan Young, After School Enrichment

Evan Young Physical Expression and After School Enrichment Specialist