Our Team

Our dedicated and experienced staff are committed to the success of our students and the growth of Montessori.

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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.

Click on photos to learn more about our staff

SARAH WERNER ANDREWS
Program Director
Director of Training
Primary
Portland, OR

MICHELLE BECKA
Summer Director of Training
Primary
Portland, OR

EMILY DAGGETT
Communications and Outreach
Portland, OR

ROBYN ELLIS
Finance Manager
Portland, OR

AMY ESHELBY
Elementary Faculty
Portland, OR

ROCHELLE HOLMBERG
Primary Faculty
Portland, OR

ELISE HUNEKE-STONE
Director of Training
Elementary
Portland, OR
Spokane, WA

NANCY LECHNER
Director of Training
Assistants to Infancy
Portland, OR

MARY RAUDONIS LOEW
Director of Training
Primary
Seattle, WA

JENNIFER WYLD
Elementary Faculty
Portland, OR

POLLI SOHOLT
Director of Training
Primary
Milpitas, CA

JING ZHANG
Primary Faculty
Milpitas, CA

SHRIEE SRINIVAS
Primary Faculty
Milpitas, CA

ANGELIKA STEINBERG
Administrative Director
Portland, OR

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Our Board of Directors

Montessori Northwest's Board of Directors is a keystone of our 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.

 

Merri Baehr Whipps - President

Merri is a former Montessori Northwest alum, having been drawn to Montessori education after graduating from Reed College and working with severely emotionally disturbed children. Merri has practiced 7 years as a primary guide, and currently is program director for toddlers through primary at Childpeace Montessori School. Merri has also taken the AMI Orientation to Adolescent Studies and helped to begin Metro Montessori Middle School. She joined the MNW board in 2018 with a passion for supporting Montessori teacher-training and the vibrant work of MNW within the local community.

Lee Daggett - Treasurer

Lee recently retired from a 40+ year career in Accounting, Finance and Information Technology. He has a 30+ year familiarity with Montessori Education via our adult child who started in Montessori preschool at age 3 and is now a trained Montessori educator. Lee hopes that every child could have the opportunity to experience the wonder of a child-centered education. Montessori Northwest is focused on training the future Montessori teachers who will be able to help bring this opportunity to children across the country and the world. He hopes that his financial and technology background can help Montessori Northwest continue to train educators who also believe that a Montessori-based education will help produce thoughtful, capable citizens for the future

JACKIE COSSENTINO

Jackie is the co-founder and Director of Research at the National Center for Montessori in the Public Sector. 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.

Kathryn Picanco

Kathryn is a life-long educator with a history of educational leadership. She holds a Master's in Elementary Education as well as a Doctorate of Education in Curriculum and Instruction. She has experience teaching elementary children, administrating schools and is now Associate Professor of Education at Whitworth University in Spokane, WA. Her own child attends a public Montessori school. Kathryn brings her passion for and experience in education to the Montessori Northwest board.

Courtney McWilliams

It was after enrolling her son into an A to I program at 18 months, that Courtney began to truly understand the importance of a Montessori education. This commitment ultimately led to leaving a 20 + year career in the corporate sector to pursue a new path in Montessori. Courtney chose Montessori Northwest for her Montessori training, driving past many other training centers on her road trip West! Having completed her AMI Elementary training, she currently serves as Director of Operations at Lewis & Clark Montessori Charter School, where her son is now an thriving elementary student. Having been the recipient of all of the years of expertise and excellence at Montessori Northwest, it is Courtney's desire to share her own 20+ years of expertise in the business world helping Montessori Northwest grow and thrive.

Ieda Torres Holyoak

Ieda is from Puerto Rico and currently lives in Portland, OR in the company of her wonderful husband and two young sons. She completed a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a major in Finance at the University of Puerto Rico. In 2005, Ieda moved to Phoenix, AZ to take the academic Primary Montessori course and in 2007, she attended the summer Elementary course in St. Paul, MN. Currently, Ieda is in Training of Trainers for Primary, with an Auxiliary Trainer status. Ieda is passionate about Montessori philosophy and an advocate to fully support the child’s development in their early years. She enjoys spending time with her family, loves being a mom to her two boys and traveling to her hometown, Puerto Rico.

Daniel Bissonnette

Daniel Bissonnette began his career in education as a Math teacher at a public middle school in Oakland, CA. During this time, he begin to see that the conventional model of education wasn't meeting the needs of the students, families or even teachers. Daniel was introduced to Montessori education through his wife and immediately saw it's potential to meet each of these needs. He subsequently pursued his AMI 3-6, 6-12 and 12-18 trainings and taught at each of those levels. Currently, Daniel is the Assistant Head of School at Urban Montessori Charter School in Oakland, CA, where he served on the board for 2 years prior. In 2015 Daniel and his wife founded Arc Montessori, an organization aimed at supporting adults who work with children to fully implement developmental education at school and at home. Daniel is passionate about bringing more high fidelity Montessori education to the public sector and hopes that in joining the MNW board, he can support the growth of Montessori training for the diverse population of educators in Oakland, CA.

Ana VanderPol

Ana VanderPol brings a diversity of formal education with more than 14 years as a Montessori primary guide, and other related experiences, to her position on the board. Ana has two primary education diplomas, the American Montessori Society (AMS 2005) and the Association Montessori International (AMI 2014), and a Human Services Bachelor of Arts (June 2000, Western Washington University). Her education gives her a unique understanding and tools for teaching, administration, and board participation. Her work experience includes an Early Childhood internship with Head Start and several nanny positions. Ana’s passion for sharing Montessori with others and enthusiasm for helping individuals become Montessori teachers inspire the work she does in her community. Ana enjoys volunteering with the Sunshine Division Food and Clothing pantry. As an alumni of Montessori Northwest, Ana moved to Portland in 2015 and currently works as a guide at The Portland Montessori School. Outside of the classroom, Ana can be found strumming her ukulele, devouring a variety of both fiction and non-fiction books, and trying out a new recipe in her home kitchen.