Our dedicated and experienced staff are committed to the success of our students and the growth of Montessori.
The Montessori Northwest staff are committed to excellence in AMI teacher training and professional development within our Pacific Northwest Montessori community and beyond. We hold ourselves to a high professional standard, striving to model those same guiding principles of Montessori that we one day hope to see in the world.
Jennifer is a leader in the administration of Montessori teacher training centers in the United States. Her Montessori career began at Montessori Northwest in 2001, helping to develop MNW’s current organizational structure. She currently serves on the Montessori Leaders Collaborative, the MACTE board, and the AMI Summit Stewarding Council. She directed the 2013 International Montessori Congress steering committee and has presented at conferences around the world. In 2010 she was selected for the Oregon Montessori Association Outstanding Dedication Award. Jennifer holds a B.A. in Environmental Studies from Lewis and Clark College, an AMI Primary diploma from the Montessori Institute Northwest, and an M.Ed. from Loyola University Maryland. She believes that compassionate and respectful education contributes to peace, and that peace is possible. Email Jennifer
A self-proclaimed “perpetual student,” Glenn has a degree in Biology with a minor in piano performance, has earned his teacher’s certification, and has a Cordon Bleu degree as a Pastry Chef. Glenn has spent his working career overseeing complicated systems, managing accounts, and facilitating events and activities. A Montessori child himself, he has spent many years working as “Chef Glenn” in local Montessori schools; teaching baking and other culinary skills to teachers and children. He is proud to have been the Administrator who helped organized the 2013 International Montessori Congress. Outside of MNW he serves on the Board of Oregon Safe Schools & Communities Coalition doing LGBTQ anti-bullying work, volunteers as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) supporting children within the Foster Care system, and plays the role of "Music Man Glenn" at Camp KC--a summer camp for kids infected/affected by AIDS/HIV. Email Glenn
A transplant from the south shore of Lake Superior, Andrea has fallen in love with the charms of the Pacific Northwest. After obtaining her B.F.A in Graphic Communication from Northern Michigan University in 2003, she lived in the woods and tried her hand at several careers. Ultimately her work with at-risk youth led her to Montessori. Following her graduation from MNW in 2007, she put her knowledge into practice in the classroom, where her love of the Montessori Method and belief in its benefit to children deepened daily. Andrea's passions include friends, bargains, horseback riding, baking pies, climbing, mud, and her dog Malutka. Email Andrea
Robyn hails from Sacramento, California where she attended the Sacramento Waldorf School. She has lived in Portland since 2004 and has been working in the accounting field since 2000. In 2011 she graduated from PSU with honors and a BFA in liberal studies. She enjoys being a part of Montessori Northwest as it enables her to support private education, which is something she feels passionate about. In her off hours she is a yoga teacher, a volunteer, and a part time student pursuing a second degree. Email Robyn
Community Education Director
Born & raised in central Indiana, Braden received a B.A. from Wabash College in Theater and Creative Writing. After working in radio and not-for-profits in Indianapolis, Braden moved to Portland with his partner Anna to pursue the Montessori dream. Braden holds AMI diplomas at both the Primary and Elementary level, having taken both trainings locally at MNW. He has worked as an assistant at the elementary level and as an interim lead-guide at the primary level. When not working, Braden likes to cook, do yoga and play board games. Email Braden
Nick was born and raised in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota. Sixteen and a half years of Catholic school led to a BS in Geography from the University of St. Thomas. Shortly thereafter, a friend gave him a copy of The Secret of Childhood by Maria Montessori and everything changed. He received his AMI Primary Diploma from the Montessori Center of Minnesota and spent 9 years as a primary guide, followed by six years as a Head of School, all but his first year as a guide were at the same school. This summer his family decided to start a new adventure by relocating to Portland, which lead him to joining the team at MNW. Nick is currently Secretary of the Board of Trustees for the Montessori Administrators Association and in his free time likes to run in the woods, eat ginger snaps, and stay up late and watch movies. Email Nick
Assistants to Infancy (0-3) Staff
Assistants to Infancy Director of Training
Nancy has worked with young children since 1977, and holds AMI diplomas at the Assistant to Infancy, Primary, and Special Education levels. She has presented parent workshops and staff development in California, Oregon, Texas, Australia, and Europe and has been a guest speaker in the Early Childhood Education Program at Cabrillo College in Aptos, California. She and her sister, Patricia Wallner, are co-founders of Parent and Child Together, an education-based service offering parent coaching, private consultations, workshops and staff development. Living in Soquel, California with her children Angela and Patrick, Nancy enjoys ballroom dancing, sailing, and gardening in her free time. Email Nancy
Assistants to Infancy Course Assistant and Course Administrator
Gloria is a fourth-generation native Oregonian who has been involved in Montessori education since 1993. She holds a B.A. in Human Studies from Marylhurst University, and an M.Ed from Loyola University. She has AMI diplomas at all three levels, and has taught in A to I and Elementary environments. Gloria dabbles in various activities such as baking, swimming, gardening, bird watching, and auto-mechanics. Email Gloria
Primary (3-6) Staff
Primary Director of Training
Ginni is a trainer, lecturer, consultant and examiner of the Association Montessori Internationale. She is passionate about advancing the international Montessori movement and bringing the benefits of Montessori education to children worldwide. She holds a B.A. in History from Seton Hill University, a M.A. in Asian Studies from the University of Hawaii, and the AMI Primary Diploma through the Montessori Education Center / Oregon. After twelve years as a classroom teacher, Ginni joined the staff of Montessori Northwest as a Course Assistant in 1994. She achieved the status of AMI Director of Training in 2002. Ginni has presented at regional, national and international workshops and conferences and has had articles published in AMI Communications, the NAMTA Journal and Forza Vitale. She lives in southeast Portland with her husband, Jon, where they raised five children. Ginni is a third-degree black belt in the Indonesian martial art of Poekoelan Tjimindie Tulen, enjoys exploring the charms of Portland, and loves spending time with her family, including her three grandchildren. Email Ginni
Sarah Werner Andrews
Primary Director of Training
Sarah is an AMI Trainer, consultant, examiner, and presenter at local, national, and international conferences. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Performance, an M.Ed. from Loyola University, AMI Primary and Elementary diplomas and is an Oregon Registry Master Trainer. Sarah began her work in Montessori education in 1987, with many years teaching experience at both the primary and elementary levels, as well as experience in administration. She has served on the Board of Directors for the Oregon Montessori Association and Montessori Northwest, and is a recipient of the Susie Huston Memorial Award for Outstanding Teaching. She and her husband, Dave, have lived in Portland since 1991, and have two teenage sons, Julian and Evan, who are great reminders to listen, keep learning, and not take life too seriously. Sarah enjoys botany, music, croissants, a great book, historical documentaries, and the AMAZING story of the Bretz Floods. Email Sarah
PRIMARY DIRECTOR OF TRAINING
Polli is an AMI Primary trainer and consultant, having worked, most recently, at the Montessori Teacher Training Center of Northern California. She is a highly-regarded author and experienced Montessorian of over 40 years. Her writings on the classroom, parent education, and Montessori have been published in numerous journals. She has been a primary Montessori teacher for 29 years, and was owner and administrator of the San Jose Montessori School for 36 years. Polli will be leading our new Primary course in San Francisco, California.
Primary Course Assistant
Corinne claims to be an Oregon native despite her Philadelphia birthplace and several years spent in California. She holds a B.A. in English from the University of Oregon, an AMI Primary Diploma from MNW’s 1999 course, and a M.Ed. in Montessori Education from Loyola University. Corinne has worked in Montessori Primary classrooms as well as some fantastic independent bookstores. She worked as Primary Course Assistant from 2002-2007 and happily resumed this work in 2012. In 2006, she received the Oregon Montessori Association’s Outstanding Dedication Award. Corinne feels extremely lucky to call Montessori her profession and loves sharing Montessori with her 5 year-old daughter, Stella. Email Corinne
Primary Trainer in Training
Michelle grew up in a suburb east of Cleveland, Ohio and attended Kent State University for two years. She subsequently moved to the desert and graduated from the University of Arizona with a BA in Sociology. After moving to Portland in 1994, she happily discovered Montessori and fell in love with the method of treating children with respect and dignity. Michelle graduated from MNW in 1997 with a primary diploma, and also has a MEd from Loyola. She has been a guide in a primary classroom for the past 17 years. She is absolutely thrilled to be pursuing the Training of Trainers Programme at MNW, and looks forward to deepening her knowledge of Montessori philosophy. Michelle loves practicing yoga, riding her bike, reading great books and learning new things. Email Michelle
Elementary (6-12) Staff
Elementary Director of Training
Originally from Connecticut, Elise came to Portland in 1980 to attend Reed College, graduating with a B.A. in Psychology. She earned her AMI Elementary diploma in 1987 and her Primary diploma in 2010, and has a Masters in Education from Loyola University Maryland. With twenty-one years of classroom experience, Elise has taught at both lower and upper elementary levels, and is an Oregon Registry Master Trainer. She is mother to Virginia and Sara, both Montessori educated, and wife to David Ayer, a Montessori primary/adolescent teacher and administrator. Elise and David were program developers and teachers for the Montessori Adolescent Project NW in Portland, and spent three years as resident faculty at the Hershey Montessori Farm School in Ohio. Elise worked for several summers at the NAMTA Orientation to Adolescence, has presented at AMI-EAA and NAMTA events, and served for six years on the board of the Oregon Montessori Association. In addition to her Montessori work, Elise has worked with families as a certified natural childbirth educator and doula. Email Elise
Elementary Course Assistant
John was born and raised just north of Portland in Longview, Washington. He graduated from Reed College in 2010 as a Philosophy major. His previous work experience includes sound and video editing, website creation and management, and tutoring homeschooled children. John graduated from MNW’s first Elementary Course in 2013. He’s a storyteller and hobbyist who recently started bread baking, pizza making, and mushroom hunting. Email John
Elementary Course Assistant
Merrett grew up in a small town in Minnesota. She first came to the west coast to attend Whitman College, and graduated in 2013 with a degree in Philosophy, and wrote a thesis exploring Montessori’s philosophy of education and aesthetics. She attended MNW’s Montessori 101 course in 2011, and is a graduate of MNW’s second Elementary course. Before MNW, Merrett worked as a Junior Kumon instructor at a Kumon Math and Reading Center, designed sound and constructed light plots and sets for theatrical productions, and assistant taught at a daycare center. She enjoys rock climbing, art museums, reading, vegan cooking, and tea drinking. Email Merrett
Alder Montessori Staff
Maria a. Garcia
Maria received her AMI Primary Montessori Diploma in 1978 from recognized trainers Margaret Stephenson and Elizabeth Hall at the Washington Montessori Institute. Maria holds a Bachelor’s degree in History and Psychology from the University of Puerto Rico. In 2009 she graduated from the AMI Assistants to Infancy Training at Montessori Northwest and completed a M.Ed. from Loyola University. Maria is an Oregon Registry Community Trainer. She developed her early professional career in Puerto Rico, where she worked as a teacher, consultant, and presenter on Montessori pedagogy to parents and teachers. She has worked with children with special needs, developed bilingual programs, and assisted in developing emerging Montessori education programs in the private and public school sectors. Maria relocated to Portland in 2005 to assist in the establishment of a Master’s level Buddhist Philosophy Program at Maitripa College, where she still serves as a Board member. Maria is married and has two children, Vanessa and George and two precious toddler granddaughters, from each of her children, which have become one of the greatest joys of her life. Email Maria
Our Board of Directors
Montessori Northwest's Board of Directors is a keystone of our ongoing expansion and success. Selected for their expertise, professionalism, and dedication to the growth of Montessori, these individuals volunteer their time and energy to plan and secure MNW's long-term goals. We are grateful to them for their service to us and to the Montessori community.
MELISSA HARBERT, president
Melissa has been involved in Montessori education directly and indirectly for 34 years. She is a graduate of the first MINW Primary training course and has experience in the Primary classroom, administration, and in the development of Montessori schools. She has worked in adult education and has long-standing ties with the Portland Montessori community. Melissa is currently the Head of School at the Lewis and Clark Montessori Charter School in Gresham, OR.
Kristen Grau, Treasurer
Kristen is an Oregon native with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration – Accounting from Portland State University. She is a Certified Public Accountant working as a Senior Accountant at Delap LLP and is a member of the Oregon Society of CPAs. She enjoys working in learning environments and believes that teachers are invaluable to our society’s success.
Amy Eshelby, secretary
Amy discovered the beauty and wonder of Montessori in 1998. After her AMI Elementary training at WMI and Loyola in 2001, she taught lower elementary at Montessori School of Beaverton and Childpeace Montessori. Amy served on the Oregon Montessori Association Board for 3 years and is currently on the MNW Board, having joined in June of 2013. Amy has lectured for parent nights in schools around the Portland area as well as presented at the 2009 AMI Elementary Alumni Association conference in Maine. She is mother of a bright and energetic son (currently in the Upper El at Childpeace) and lover of animals, art, and nature.
jennifer davidson, executive director
Jennifer is a leader in the administration of Montessori teacher training centers in the United States. Her Montessori career began at Montessori Northwest in 2001, helping to develop MNW’s current organizational structure. She currently serves on the Montessori Leaders Collaborative, the MACTE board, and the AMI Summit Stewarding Council. She directed the 2013 International Montessori Congress steering committee and has presented at conferences around the world. In 2010 she was selected for the Oregon Montessori Association Outstanding Dedication Award. Jennifer holds a B.A. in Environmental Studies from Lewis and Clark College, an AMI Primary diploma from the Montessori Institute Northwest, and an M.Ed. from Loyola University Maryland. She believes that compassionate and respectful education contributes to peace, and that peace is possible.
Carol is a Montessori parent with experience working in sales, marketing, and management for the Xerox Corporation. Most recently she has worked as the Assistant to the Development Director for West Hills Christian School. She has a degree in Business Administration from Lewis & Clark College and has volunteered with several organizations including Northwest Children’s Outreach.
Jackie's Montessori career began as a parent, and quickly evolved into researcher and administrator, and university professor. An ethnographer by training, since 2001 she has drawn from her direct experience as head of an independent Montessori school and principal of a large, urban public Montessori school to produce an internationally recognized body of scholarship on Montessori education. Jackie's 26 years in education have included roles as a middle and high school English teacher, an elementary school principal, a professional developer for schools, districts, and museums, and a professor of educational leadership at the University of Maryland and a Lecturer in Loyola Maryland’s Montessori Studies program. She received a B.A. in History from Smith College and an M.Ed. and Ed.D. from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
As a child, Emily attended Montessori programs in the Portland area through middle school. She credits her education with fostering a love of learning that continues to serve her today. After completing a BA in English Literature from Occidental College, Emily spent several months traveling abroad. Amazingly, this experience lead her to reconnect with her Montessori roots. About a year later, she enrolled in MNW's primary course, and enthusiastically delved back into the world of Montessori. Since receiving her AMI diploma and M.Ed. from Loyola University, Emily has assisted in primary and elementary classrooms and currently works at Montessori School of Beaverton. She hopes to use her background as a Montessori child turned teacher to advocate for high quality education for all children.
Deb is a Montessori parent who was first introduced to Montessori education in 1983 and has been an enthusiastic supporter and advocate ever since. Raised in Los Angeles, Deb moved to the Northwest to attend the University of Oregon where she did her undergraduate work in Psychology with a special senior year focus in Program Evaluation and Development. She has held numerous board positions throughout the years including Childpeace Montessori, Oregon Junior Racquetball Association and Oregon Riders Unlimited, a therapeutic riding program. Deb spent the past 25 years in management within the legal technology industry, most recently with LexisNexis. She is currently taking a personal sabbatical to travel, spend more time with her family and in community service work.
Kimberly attended Montessori as a young child growing up in Eugene, Oregon and is now a Montessori parent. She is an attorney with the Rose Law Firm, where she focuses in assisting business owners as they transition the ownership and control of their company in areas such as corporate governance, estate planning & administration, and other general business and taxation matters. Kimberly also works as an Adjunct Instructor at the University of Oregon School of Law. Prior to her legal career, she worked in non-profit management and fundraising. She holds a B.S. in Environmental Science from Brown University, a J.D. from Gonzaga University School of Law, and an LL.M. in Taxation from the University of Washington School of Law.
Bio coming soon.