Susie Newhouse, an AMS-certified primary guide, trained at the National Center for Montessori Education in Atlanta, Georgia. Since earning her early childhood credential, Susie has worked as a primary lead guide, director, and mentor both in Charleston, West Virginia and in Montana, totaling more than thirteen years as a certified Montessori guide out of her twenty two years in Montessori education. She first opened her heart and mind to the Montessori philosophy during her early role at Mountaineer Montessori as a movement and swimming specialist, and later as a classroom assistant in both primary and junior elementary. Following her stint in Montana, Susie returned to her work as a lead guide with our primary children at MMS. A Charleston native, Susie enjoys spending her free time with her family, gardening, and the great outdoors.
Kathryn Rhoads received a BA in Liberal Arts, and subsequently earned her AMS Primary Certification from the Midwest Montessori Teacher Training Center in Evanston, IL. She has eighteen years’ experience as a certified lead guide at MMS, expertly directing our Early Childhood friends. Kathryn is also a reading tutor at the Appalachian Reading Center with training and proficiency in the Wilson Reading System andHandwriting 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.
Fran West earned a BA from WVU and is interning this year. Fran trained at the Midwest Montessori Teacher Training Center in Evanston, IL. Upon completion of her internship, she will have attained her AMS Early Childhood credential. Fran has been part of Montessori education for ten years through the lives of her two sons. She was a substitute in Montessori classrooms in Nashville, Tennessee and Athens, Georgia before moving to Charleston. Fran is in her fourth year at Mountaineer Montessori working as a primary assistant and elementary physical education instructor. She was a First Responder and skill head at Camp Rockmont for Boys and is a certified Nia Technique White Belt instructor. Her oldest son is a Mountaineer Montessori graduate, and her youngest is a student in our Advanced Elementary class. Fran makes time to salsa dance, paint and walk her lab.
Maria León Kershner, a native Spanish-speaker from Costa Rica, holds the American equivalent of a Masters degree in Pre-school Education from her university studies in Costa Rica. She has worked with young children in education for 22 years. She completed the AMS Basics Course at the Midwest Montessori Teacher Training Center in Evanston, IL. This is Maria’s sixth year at Mountaineer Montessori School, assisting in the Primary class and teaching Spanish with the 3 – 6 year-olds in the morning, and teaching Spanish to elementary students in the afternoon. Maria’s two children are current students at MMS. Her favorite pastimes are reading, traveling and working in her garden.
Sharon Spencer, our lead guide in Junior Elementary (6 – 9 year olds), is AMS certified at both the Primary and Junior Elementary levels. She earned her primary certification through Carlow College in Pittsburgh, PA. and her junior elementary certification at the Montessori Teacher Training Institute in Clemson, SC. Sharon initially discovered her love of the Montessori methodology in her first year of work at MMS, assisting in the 6 – 9 year class. Following that initiation, Sharon pursued her American Montessori Society certification and worked six years as a lead guide in primary before earning her lower elementary (6 – 9 years) credential. She has been a lead guide in junior elementary for the past 17 years. Sharon has also been involved in teacher training for the Midwest Montessori Teacher Training Center in Evanston, Illinois, and has been a field consultant for NCME teachers-in-training in Atlanta, Georgia and at the Virginia Center for Montessori Education. In addition to graduate studies on child development through Carlow College and the University of Pittsburgh, Sharon has earned a continuing on certificate through AMS, New York. Sharon has one grown son and loves ballroom dancing, long bike rides and visits from former students.
Suzanne Sanders is the lead guide for our Advanced Elementary students and holds AMS certification at two levels. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Penn State University with a focus in Sports Medicine, and spent ten years working in health related business fields. After experiencing the Montessori philosophy as a parent while her son was enrolled, she became interested in pursuing a career as a Montessori teacher. Suzanne completed her Elementary I credential (junior elementary) from The Montessori Education Center of the Rockies in Boulder, CO, and her Elementary II credential (advanced elementary) from the Center for Montessori Teacher Education in New Rochelle, NY. She worked as a Montessori guide for ten years in Pennsylvania, Costa Rica, and Colorado. She is in her second year at MMS. Among Suzanne’s many interests, a love of travel took her to the mountains of Costa Rica where she and her husband built a home and experienced the Tican culture. Her deep love of nature 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. She has relocated from Lancaster, PA and been enjoying West Virginia with its abundance of outdoor activities and natural beauty.
Amanda Cox is a guide in our elementary classes. She earned an undergraduate degree in history/art history from Cornell University and WVU, and her AMS credential in early childhood from the Virginia Center for Montessori Teacher Education. She has worked at MMS for over 15 years at the primary and elementary levels. Amanda holds certifications from Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health as a yoga instructor and a teacher/ trainer for Yoga Ed, K-8. She has trained at the King Arthur Baking Education Center and operates a home-based baking business, Just Desserts. Amanda is the mother of two MMS alumni, one who works in theater in NYC, the other a college student on the west coast. In her free time, she enjoys running, reading, baking and gardening. As a volunteer, she served on the board of directors of Read Aloud West Virginia, West Virginia Public Radio, and Mountaineer Montessori School. Amanda has participated in many community theater productions, both onstage and behind the scenes.
Karen Kelly, a native of Charleston, earned a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Bethany College and studied veterinary medicine in St. Petersburg, Florida. She worked for fifteen years as a veterinary technician and also as the children’s book manager for Renaissance Book Company in Huntington. She retains an avid interest in children’s literature, especially through her work with Junior Great Books and our library. Karen is in her 15th year in the classroom with responsibilities at the Primary and Junior Elementary levels. She directs our after-school program and is caretaker for all Mountaineer Montessori animals . She is the parent of a college-aged son who spent ten years as a student at Mountaineer Montessori School. Karen enjoys knitting, reading, caring for animals, storytelling, and cooking.
Reading and Learning
Jennifer Carriger received a B.A. in International Studies, a B.S. in Secondary Education and a Master’s degree in Special Education from West Virginia University. She begins her fourth year with Mountaineer Montessori as our reading specialist and learning consultant. Jennifer co-founded the Appalachian Reading Center in 2004 and is certified in the Wilson Reading System with additional training in Handwriting Without Tears. Jennifer is also a past President of the West Virginia Learning Disabilities Association. She taught in the public school system for nine years at the elementary, middle and high school levels. She and her husband are the parents of two Mountaineer Montessori students. Jennifer enjoys hiking, camping, reading and home renovation projects.
Maria León Kershner, a native Spanish-speaker from Costa Rica, holds the American equivalent of a Masters degree in Pre-school Education from her university studies in Costa Rica. She has worked with young children in education for 21 years. She completed the AMS Basics Course at the Midwest Montessori Teacher Training Center in Evanston, IL. This is Maria’s fifth year at Mountaineer Montessori School, assisting in the Primary class and teaching Spanish with the 3 – 6 year-olds in the morning, and teaching Spanish to elementary students in the afternoon. Maria’s two children are current students at MMS. Her favorite pastimes are reading, traveling and working in her garden.
Nancy Johnston is a native of Charleston. A graduate of George Washington High School, she has attended Marshall University and West Virginia State University, taking classes in education and art. She completed the AMS Basics Course at the Midwest Montessori Teacher Training Center in Evanston, IL. She is beginning her 18th year at Mountaineer Montessori School, having assisted in both junior elementary and advanced elementary classes. She has taught art to the elementary children for the last eight years and spearheads our community service program at Celebration Station, Charleston’s East End city playground. She wants to be an artist when she grows up!
Barrie Kaufman, a Charleston native, has been teaching art at Mountaineer Montessori for twenty-three years. She has masters’ degrees in art and art therapy and is a practicing artist with exhibits in ROC China, Quebec, Sweden and West Virginia. She has won The Taipei City Mayor’s Award, the West Virginia Fellowship for Painting and Crafts, and fellowships from the Mid-Atlantic Art Foundation, the Kentucky Foundation for Women, and The Painted Bride in Philadelphia. Barrie, is the mother of three Mountaineer Montessori graduates, and enjoys painting, printmaking, drawing, creativity and the history of art. She loves sharing her passion for art with young people and feels fortunate to be able to do so at Mountaineer Montessori where she works with extended-day and elementary students.
Bernard Di Gregorio, a native of Boston, MA, studied at the New England Conservatory of Music and holds a diploma in viola performance from the Longy School of Music in Cambridge, MA. He has held the position of Principal Viola with the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra since 1991. Residing in Charleston, he also holds the position of Artist-in-Residence with the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra. A strong advocate of music being part of the educational system, Bernard teaches strings in several schools in the Charleston area. In the summer months, he is a member of the New Hampshire Music Festival Orchestra and has also been a member of the Alabama Symphony Orchestra. Bernard is also a composer, and works with the West Virginia Youth Symphony as a sectional instructor and chamber music coach. Bernard leads our strings program and is the proud father of two former Mountaineer Montessori students.
Ron Sowell, best known for his role as the musical director of Mountain Stage, is also a dynamic singer-songwriter, guitarist and performer. He has traveled all over the world playing with well-known performers like Lyle Lovett, Kathy Mattea and Sarah McLachlan. Ron works leads our Junior Elementary music program and conducts singing and songwriting classes and performances with our 5th and 6th year students.
Ken Tackett is a native of Charleston and graduate of the University of North Florida with a Bachelor of Music in Jazz Studies. As a professional jazz drummer, Ken has performed all across the United States and Europe with different artists including the Noel Friedline Group, Bunky Green, Neena Freelon, Tom Grant and Bob Thompson. In addition to performing he also teaches percussion at Capital High School and Jazz drumset at West Virginia Wesleyan College. Ken works teaches recorder to our 4th year students and collaborates with Ron Sowell in our singing and songwriting classes with our 5th & 6th year students.
Nancy Johnston, in addition to teaching art and assisting in the Advanced Elementary classroom, is our lead physical education teacher with the elementary students. The mother of three children, Nancy is an outdoor enthusiast. She loves walking, biking, hiking, swimming, kayaking and her latest obsession, boot camp.
Amanda Cox works with Nancy in our physcial education classes for our extended-day and elementary students in addition to her morning responsibilities in the Elementary classrooms.
Darlene Spangler received her bachelor’s degree in English from Duke University and is in her 17th year at Mountaineer Montessori School. She and Julie Margolis are in their third year as interim co-directors of the school. Prior to this assignment, Darlene spent 14 years as an assistant teacher in the advanced elementary (9-12) class, five of those years also teaching English in the middle school program. She also worked part-time as the assistant administrator at Mountaineer Montessori for 13 years. Darlene hails from the Eastern Shore of Maryland and settled in her husband’s hometown of Charleston thirty years ago. She is the mother of two grown children and, in her free time, enjoys playing tennis, reading, and traveling.
Julie Margolis earned a BS in Education from the University of Vermont, and a MS from Penn State University. Along with Darlene Spangler, Julie is in her third year as interim co-director of the school. Previously, Julie spent 14 years on the MMS faculty teaching in the areas of advanced mathematics and physical education. She is a former public school teacher and a former computer programmer. A native Vermonter, Julie and her husband 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.