MMS Plus Program Faculty

Karen Kelly, Plus Program Director

Karen Kelly
Plus Program Director
Elementary Specialist

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, now in graduate school, is an MMS alumnus.  Karen enjoys knitting, reading, caring for animals, storytelling and cooking.



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 lessons into the Montessori curriculum.  This is her eighth year at MMS.




Tysean Lynch, Plus Program Assistant

Tysean Lynch
Plus Assistant

Tysean has been a valuable member of our Plus team for three years, working with students after 3:00 p.m. and assisting with our MMS Campessori summer program.  Tysean has a long background of work with youth, working at a children’s shelter for six years and six years with the Kanawha County Schools at George Washington High School and Horace Mann Middle School.  He enjoys the MMS environment, and loves to see the problem solving skills even the youngest children have and the freedom that allows students to explore ideas and concepts.  Tysean is married to Primary III Lead Guide Samantha Van Den Berghe-Lynch.







Dawn Racer-Parson, Permanent Substitute Teacher, Plus Program Assistant

Dawn Racer- Parsons
Permanent Subtitute
Plus Assistant

Dawn is a familiar face at MMS, working as a permanent substitute assistant teacher and as a Plus Program assistant.  A graduate of West Virginia State University, Dawn has extensive experience in early childhood settings. She was initially drawn to Montessori education after meeting a three-year-old MMS student, who demonstrated surprising independence, control and courtesy. Dawn is now a part of the MMS team, filling in as a sub and working with the growing number of students in our Plus Program. She hopes to become a certified Montessori teacher.