MMS Primary Faculty
Isabelle Bournigault, Primary I Lead Guide
Isabelle brings a rich background in languages and early childhood education to MMS, joining our staff in early 2018. A native of France, Isabelle has served as a primary guide at Montessori schools in Toronto, Canada and in Paris and the Bordeaux region of France; a kindergarten teacher at a trilingual (English/French/Russian) school in Russia; and a French instructor at the Alliance Francaise in Montclair, New Jersey. Isabelle also has extensive experience in e-learning and was an instructional designer for three years in Paris. She has a master’s degree in linguistics and PhD preparation at the University of Paris Dieterot, a master’s in diadectics of French as a second language from the Sorbonne in Paris, and an AMI Primary Certification from the Foundation for Montessori Education in Toronto.
Kathryn Rhoads, Primary I Lead Guide
Kathryn has been dedicated to Montessori education for more than 20 years, and serves as our Lead Guide in Primary I. Kathryn earned her B.A. in liberal arts, and subsequently her AMS Primary Certification from the Midwest Montessori Teacher Training Center in Evanston, Ill. She also completed Positive Discipline in the Classroom training. In addition to her work at MMS, Kathryn is a reading tutor at the Appalachian Reading Center with specialized training and proficiency in the Wilson Reading System and Handwriting Without Tears. Kathryn encountered the writings of Maria Montessori during her years managing Barnes & Noble bookstores. Once her curiosity was launched, she pursued opportunities to work in Montessori schools and immersed herself in the philosophy and methodology. A native Midwesterner, Kathryn’s personal interests include hiking, gardening, music, art and creative writing.
Samantha Van Den Berghe-Lynch, Primary Lead III Guide
Samantha is a graduate of Baldwin-Wallace University in Berea, Ohio, with a degree in psychology and a minor in child and family. Prior to joining MMS, Samantha was an assistant at the Family Life Childcare Center of Berea, and has experience doing research and as an intern at schools and community centers. Samantha holds an AMS Early Childhood credential from the Virginia Center for Montessori Studies in Richmond, Va.; she has also completed Positive Discipline in the Classroom training. Samantha is in her sixth year at MMS and brings vibrancy, caring and careful insight to her students. Her son is an upper elementary student at MMS.
Michelle Scarbrough, Primary Assistant
Michelle, who is in her fifth year at MMS, graduated from West Virginia State University with a B.S. in communications. Michelle has a background in child care as well as unique experience in television and film. As a Charleston native, she has performed in local theater productions with Children’s Theater, Kanawha Players and The Contemporary Youth Arts Company. Michelle is currently pursuing her master’s degree in mass communications and has completed the AMS Montessori Assistant training through the Virginia Center for Montessori Studies as well as Positive Discipline in the Classroom training. Michelle and her husband, Kevin, are the parents of an MMS student.
Susie Newhouse, Plus Guide/Montessori Mentor/Positive Discipline Instructor
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 12 years as a certified Montessori guide out of her 24 years in Montessori education. She has recently returned to MMS and her Charleston roots after many years in Montana. 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 two current students. 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. She is also a certified Positive Discipline Parent Educator, and leads workshops on parenting for our school community.
Dawn Racer-Parson, Permanent Substitute Teacher, Plus Program Assistant
Dawn is a familiar face at MMS, working as a permanent substitute teacher and as a Plus Program assistant for the past two years. 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.