Faculty & Staff
Head of School
My Montessori journey began more than 20 years ago. I was born in South Africa, moved to Pakistan, and discovered Montessori through a friend. I have studied and taught all three levels; toddler through sixth grade. I came to the United States as a young adult, and finally became a citizen in 2012.
I thrive on new challenges and have gained broad experience across the globe as well as in schools of different sizes and at different stages of development. Being a Head of School is a relatively new role for me as I am about to dive into my fourth year. This role has kept me on my toes since the size of the school has increased more than 75% since I was first brought on board 3 years ago.
When I am not at school, I find great joy in nature, road cycling, listening to books and podcasts, live music, and eating. I love how one can bridge cultural uniqueness/differences through food. I love to travel every chance I get and have enjoyed discovering the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest.
I am curious and always learning. Navigating my life in the America that I call home has brought on a wonderful array of adventures and experiences. I’m humbled for the opportunity to serve this wonderful community.
Primary Guide – Garden Room
Master's of Education, Loyola University, Maryland
AMI Primary Diploma, MINW, Portland, OR
BA in French, University of Colorado, Boulder
My journey to teaching started at a young age. I was always the older cousin who got the babies to sleep when my aunties were tired. Or the babysitter who was met with cheers from the kids and extra pay in the evening for going above and beyond. After high school I lived in France for a year as a Jeune Fille Au Pair. During my undergrad I worked at the day care on campus and was a nanny for a few families in the area. Through one amazing professor I was directed towards the idea of teaching at International schools and embassies. After graduating I took a job in Vermont for a year as a special education assistant.
I then decided to make my way back home to the Pacific Northwest to start the process of International work and entering a master's of teaching program. But, as happens, life had different plans! I met my husband, fell in love, and decided to stay in Oregon. I worked at the French American International School in Portland for 2 years assistant teaching in their full immersion preschool and kindergarten classes. My experiences there had me yearning for balance for my students. I began researching other teaching methods that I could bring into the classroom, and through this process I discovered Montessori education. I implemented a few simple techniques and found the children seemed calmer. I looked to see what programs were available in Portland, and Montessori Institute Northwest was currently taking students for the next course for one more week! I applied right then and my journey into the Montessori work began!
I taught for two years at Skinner Montessori in Vancouver, WA when our lives once again threw us a curve ball! My husband was offered a job here locally in Yamhill County. We fell in love with McMinnville and it's friendly community, and moved here in 2006.
I taught French for one year at McMinnville International School before we started our family.
The past 12 years here in McMinnville have been filled with raising our 3 children, and pursuing some of my entrepreneurial passions while being home with my children as much as possible.
My daughter started at McMinnville Montessori the fall of 2018, and when the opportunity came up to join their amazing team as an employee, I was thrilled!
I cherish this work and am honored to be here as a guide to help your children grow to their fullest potential!
In my spare time I enjoy travel, spending time in nature, crafting, baking, and performing with our local community theater!
Primary Assistant – Garden Room
I have a deep love for children. I have worked and been involved in many different roles from nannying, assisting in centers, summer camp counseling, and have owned and operated a successful in-home childcare and best of all; raising my own 3 wonderful children.
McMinnville Montessori has been my first Montessori experience, and it has been incredible. The care, passion and love for each child as an individual here, is a constant inspiration for me.
Primary Guide – Forest Room
I received my AMI Primary Diploma in 2007 from Montessori Institute Northwest in Portland. I received my Bachelor's Degree in Human Studies from Marylhurst University in 2010. I grew up in the Oregon City/Milwaukie area In fact, all of my family still lives there. I currently live in Newberg with my kitty, Lady Olive as of August 2018. It has been fun learning about a new area and seeing all the great things to see and do in the Newberg and McMinnville area. Some of the my favorite things to do are: thrift store shopping, spending time with my cat, tending my houseplants, baking, reading, old movies and getting my craft on. My favorite flower is a peony and my favorite colors are a toss between grass green and bright blue.
Primary Assistant – Forest Room
I am a McMinnville native who recently graduated from Linfield College with my Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education. I have a strong passion for educating young children, as well as helping them to develop their emotional and social skills. In my free time, I take ballet with my niece Trinity and love to take my dog Sparkles on long walks.
Lead – After Care
I was looking for something different after working in the food and beverage industry for 15 years and it brought me to working at High Desert Montessori in Reno. When I moved to Oregon, I found MMS and applied for a job here.
I love that I get to see and hear new things the children learn. And, I get to learn from them.
I enjoy hiking, cooking, swimming, mushroom hunting. I love collecting rocks and crystals.
Assistant – After Care
I was born and raised in McMinnville. I’ve always loved children. Through doing construction with my father, I met a few different families that asked me to do childcare for them on a regular basis. I’ve watched most of those children, and others, for the last seven years. Some of the children that I watched have gone to the Montessori school and that’s how I was first introduced to this school. I was very inspired by how the children interacted with each other, the obvious dedication of the staff and the Montessori philosophy.
In my free time, I love to paint and have art-shows; spend time outdoors in nature, hiking, camping, and going to the beach. I also love spending time with my pets (a cat, a bunny, three chickens and three rats), playing my ukulele and acoustic-guitar, singing, dancing, travelling, baking and caring for my houseplants, which includes my father’s 35-year-old plant that my mother tried to throw away—which is now thriving and very loved!
Guide – Elementary House
AMI elementary diploma, MNW
Bachelors of Science, Biology, PSU
I found Montessori in a roundabout way. While reminiscing about working in environmental education with an old co-worker, they mentioned that Montessori was the best thing they'd ever experienced as far as being a teacher goes. I went home and did a quick internet search for this term I'd never heard of. Within half an hour, I knew I'd found what I wanted to do with my life.
As for MMS, as I planned for my move back to the Pacific NW, I began looking for a small school in a nice community that was doing authentic Montessori. I found MMS.
I love so many things about my job that it's hard to pick just one. I love when I give a lesson and a child's eyes light up when they get and they just go wild on that work for days after. I love the creative ways there children are always coming up with to demonstrate what they've learned. I love how caring and compassionate the children are towards one another in the moments when it really matters. That's one of the things that I especially love to see.
In my free time, I enjoy reading books, mostly to see if the children will like them, but occasionally for myself. I spend a lot of time in the kitchen with my husband making tasty food, and can almost always be found with some variety of craft material in my hands.
Assistant – Elementary House
I'm Austin Massey, you may have already met my wife, Katie Massey. She's the Elementary guide here at McMinnville Montessori.
I've had a long work history doing many different things over the years. Being homeschooled, I started working when I was 7, which might sound strange but my mom cleaned houses and I went with her. So I learned early that jobs were just things everyone had. (And what 7 year old doesn't want $5 a week). I like learning new things, and fixing things that break.
When Katie got a teaching job in Santa Fe, New Mexico, I started volunteering my time for camping trips and outings. During that time I also worked part time at the Montessori Farm school in Espanola, NM.
In Katie's second year at Journey Montessori School, I started running a Dungeons & Dragons aftercare program. It's a great experience that involves communal storytelling, social skills, math, reading, and writing.
Now I'm doing something that I've wanted to do ever since Katie came home from her first week of training talking nonstop about Montessori philosophy. I'm working as an assistant in an elementary classroom, with my best friend, (wife), Katie. I'm so very excited to here, and to be part of this community.
Assistant – Elementary House & After Care
I’ve always enjoyed spending time with children and felt I had a connection with them which is why I started working with them at an early age. While in high school I worked with children as a preschool assistant at a work/study program in California. I have since received an Associate Teaching Certificate in Early Childhood Education.
Starting a new adventure working with older children in the Elementary House is something that excites me. In my spare time I enjoy baking, cooking, all kinds of crafts, and most recently I've started canning.
Class Mascot – Elementary House
Hi, my name is Ezri. I am a cute 2 year old pup, and I love to play. I hang out in the Elementary House, where I watch lessons, sleep on the floor, and give cuddles to anyone who is feeling sad. I enjoy sitting in the comfy chair while children read to me, and playing when we have recess in the field. I love watching sunlight bounce off of sequin shirts, and following Penny the Hamster when she goes on her roll in her ball.