Our faculty and staff are proud to be a part of the growth and development of students at Cedar River Montessori. Our administration team oversees finances and executes school operations to support our staff, students, and families. Administration connects our school community with our larger surrounding communities through communications, admissions, and advancement.
In addition to college course work, certified Montessori teachers undergo extensive training to prepare them for the task of guiding the student. For each level (age 3-6, grades 1-3, grades 4-6, etc.) teachers complete intensive training followed by a year-long internship in the classroom. This differs from a traditional teaching program in that the focus is on a smaller age-group, enabling the teacher to acquire a deep understanding of the development, academic, and social needs of their students. Our teachers have all completed Montessori certification for the age group which they teach, and several have additional certifications. We also have a Washington State Certified teacher, several teachers have additional education and training, and a balanced experienced-to-fresh perspective ratio. Our teachers’ classrooms are often visited by teachers-in-training. Several staff have presented locally and nationally at assorted conferences and workshops.
Our assistants bring a wealth of experience and training to their interactions with our students. Working with the teacher in the classroom, they are responsible for helping the classroom run smoothly and ensuring the continuation of the Montessori philosophy from the classroom to the playground and beyond. Our assistants speak several languages, have training in education and other areas, and a wide range of interests that they share with students.
Erin Karnofski – Head of School
Erin joined Cedar River Montessori in 2016 after spending twelve years in administration at Montessori schools in the Cincinnati area and the Minneapolis area. She holds a BA (Biology) from Gustavus Adolphus College, an MA (Biological Anthropology) from University of Michigan, and a Master’s in Education (Montessori) from Xavier University. She is continuously impressed by the growth and maturation of children as they develop into confident, well-spoken, and opinionated young adults. In her time outside of school, she enjoys doing art projects with her daughter and tide pooling with her son near their home in West Seattle.
Melinda Woodard – Director of Advancement and Admissions
Melinda holds a Bachelor of Science in Marine and Freshwater Biology with a minor in music from the University of New Hampshire, and a Master of Science in Environmental Science with a focus in Aquatic Ecology from Western Washington University. Before joining Cedar River Montessori as the first Director of Advancement and Admissions in 2014, Melinda wrote freshwater laboratory and field procedures for the State of California. Melinda is passionate about our community, and enjoys introducing prospective parents to our school and the difference that a Montessori education can make to the life of a child. She loves creating opportunities for people to connect to the natural world! As Director of Advancement, Melinda has coordinated our school’s partnership with King Conservation District to implement our pasture conservation and ecological restoration plan, and she also represents Cedar River Montessori on the Cedar River Council. In her free time, Melinda enjoys music, yoga, getting outside, and hanging out with her family and cats.
Rachel Clements – Business Office
Rachel joined the Cedar River Montessori business office in 2009 after 20 years as a stay-at-home mom. During her time at home, she stayed current with the financial world as church treasurer and by doing the books for a few small businesses. After spending countless hours volunteering in the classroom where her three boys attended school, she was very excited to be hired by Cedar River and be a part of an educational community, where she can watch kids grow and learn in a way that teaches grace and courtesy. When Rachel is not working, she loves spending time with her husband and adult children (which now also includes 2 daughters-in-law), playing games, doing puzzles, watching sports, chatting in the hot tub and going on easy hikes. She holds an AA Degree in Accounting.
Windy Walker – Office Coordinator
Windy joined the CRMS staff in 2015 and has worked in our summer program as well as in early childhood. She holds an AA in paralegal studies, and she has taken coursework in ornamental horticulture as well as the MEIPN Montessori Assistant Training. Her background as a legal secretary/paralegal was in representing plaintiffs in civil rights litigation, which helped refine her skills in organization and mindful communication. When not in the classroom, Windy enjoys gardening and crafting, with specialization in spinning, felting, and dying fibers.
Bill Chemnick – Montessori Teacher
Bill earned his Master of Science in Teaching from Fordham University’s Graduate School of Education while teaching seventh and eighth grade English and Social Studies in the Bronx with Teach for America. As a teacher, Bill created a peer mediation and negotiation program, coached a junior mock trial team, and prepared students for an international Model United Nations Competition in New York City. Following Teach for America, Bill graduated from the George Washington University Law School. As an attorney, he has valued working directly with crime victims, refugees escaping torture in their home countries, and clients with catastrophic physical, emotional and mental trauma. He is excited to draw upon his legal background while challenging students to think critically about important issues, to advocate for the causes they believe in, and to effectively resolve conflicts in their communities. Bill joined Cedar River Montessori in 2017, and he is working toward his Montessori Secondary I and II credential through the Cincinnati Montessori Secondary Teacher Education Program (CMStep).
Sophie Vreeburg – Student Teacher
Sophie holds a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Victoria, and she is pursuing her State of Washington teaching certificate. She has a passion for teaching and travel and over the past few years has been to 17 different countries where she has done everything from scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef to teaching English in Moscow, Russia. She is extremely excited to be a part of the Cedar River Montessori team!
Kris Ramos – Montessori Teacher
Kris holds a BA in history/adolescent education from the State University of New York at Geneseo; Master in Montessori Education from Loyola University in Maryland; and Association Montessori Internationale Diploma Elementary (6-12). He came to Montessori as a substitute teacher and found the philosophy matched his personal values of community and following a student’s passions. He spent two years as an assistant teacher at the Early Childhood level, where the lead teacher with whom he worked encouraged him to pursue further Montessori training at the elementary level. In addition to his work in Montessori, Kris has inspired children ages 3-14 as a wilderness instructor with Earthworks. Outside of his work in Montessori, Kris enjoys playing and coaching soccer, teaching swim lessons, hiking, archery, and participating in minor and major league soccer supporters’ clubs as a lead drummer. This is Kris’s second year at Cedar River Montessori.
Bri Grant – Montessori Teacher
Bri holds a Bachelor of Science in Natural Resources Planning and Interpretation from Humboldt State University. She earned her Montessori training from Montessori Northwest, and she holds an Association Montessori Internationale diploma (6-12) as well as a Master of Education (Loyola University, Maryland). Bri started her work with children as an outdoor educator and naturalist. For her college internship, she spent her first season as a summer camp naturalist living in a tent without electricity in the woods of Alaska. She loved the camp environment and spirit with the strong sense of community and shared purpose. She left that experience committed to working to connect children to wild spaces in order to inspire the next generation of conservationists and scientists. After graduating, she went on to work for environmental education programs in New Hampshire, upstate New York, Alaska and Catalina Island. Bri has been a Montessori teacher for two years, and this is her first year at Cedar River Montessori.
Sarah Clowder – Assistant Teacher
Sarah has a BA in Creative Writing from Eastern Kentucky University. She has five years experience working with kids in Parks and Recreation (it’s just like the show!) in an after-school and full day summer program, both as a group leader and assistant director. Sarah’s background is in writing, and she loves to bring that into the classroom. At home, she likes to spoil her two big cats – Anders and Cosmo – and work on her sci-fi novel about giant robots and space.
Patti Schlegelmilch – Montessori Teacher
Patti has been part of the elementary teaching team at Cedar River Montessori since 1998. She began her career in Montessori education after receiving her Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Natural Sciences from the University of Washington and her Master’s in Teaching and Washington State Teaching certificate from Seattle University. After a short time teaching, Patti was eager to know more about the Montessori method, so she pursued her Montessori 6-9 certificate. Outside of the classroom, Patti enjoys knitting and sewing, as well as cross-country skiing and hiking with her family.
Danielle Sproul – Assistant Teacher
Danielle was born and raised in Houston, Texas. After receiving a Bachelor’s degree in Marriage and Family Studies with an emphasis in clinical studies from Brigham Young University Idaho, she moved to the greater Seattle area with her husband. She has experience working with children in a wide variety of ages as well as settings. Before graduating from college, she worked in a charter school setting as a teacher’s aide, and she has also worked as a Registered Behavior Technician, where she used ABA therapy to support behavior intervention with children with Autism. She is very excited for a new adventure and learning about the Montessori style of teaching. In her free time, she enjoys being outdoors as much as possible, taking naps and finding new adventures to go on with her husband.
Jackie Sechler – Montessori Teacher
Jackie has always been deeply involved in a non-traditional way of education ever since she was a student at School of the Woods Montessori in Houston, TX, from 6th-12th grade. Upon graduating, she was immediately drawn towards eventually becoming a Montessori teacher. Jackie holds a bachelor’s degree in history with a focus on Russian and English literature from The Evergreen State College. She holds AMS Elementary I certification from Montessori Education Institute of the Pacific Northwest (MEIPN), and she has taught in lower elementary Montessori classrooms since 2015. In her spare time, Jackie enjoys baking, reading, doing yoga, and playing with her cat, Luna (named after Luna Lovegood from the Harry Potter series). This is Jackie’s second year at Cedar River Montessori.
Noelle Ames – Assistant Teacher
Noelle has loved working with children of all ages since she was a teenager, when she first started work as a counselor at Girl Scout Camps, which continued through college. After completing her Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science at Sweet Briar College, she moved to Seattle to pursue environmental restoration work. After missing the joy of being around children, she moved on to environmental education, where she got to combine her love of being outdoors with teaching children about the natural world. Noelle completed a graduate certificate in Education for Environment and Community at IslandWood on Bainbridge Island, where she also taught elementary students in the School Overnight Program. She then went on to finish her Master’s of Education at the University of Washington. In her spare time, Noelle enjoys reading, cross-stitching, playing ukulele, and hiking.
Jerry Wing – Montessori Teacher
Jerry has been working with children at Cedar River since 1984, and he is now teaching the children of his former students! His lifelong career with children started as a Head Start teacher while he was studying psychology and children development at Seattle University. He continued on at Western Washington College as a work-study student in a Montessori-style childcare facility. This led Jerry to Northwest Montessori School of Seattle and subsequent Montessori training with Madeleine Justus of the Spring Valley School. Jerry earned his AMS Early Childhood Credential from MEIPN. Jerry enjoys singing and photography, and his musical talents include playing the guitar, tin whistle, and mountain dulcimer.
Lori Westerlund – Assistant Teacher
Lori worked as a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor for 20 years before making a career change to become a preschool teacher. Her daughters, now in their late teens, loved the Montessori education they received at Cedar River Montessori’s summer program years ago. Their love of learning inspired Lori so much that she sought Montessori certification to learn more. Lori is passionate about learning and understanding different cultures and perspectives as well as languages. Lori is an adventuresome international traveler, and she loves hiking and being in nature. Lori holds a Master’s in Education (UW) and Montessori teacher’s certification for ages 2.5-6 years (MACTE). This is Lori’s second year at Cedar River Montessori.
Ms. Carla – Montessori Teacher
Ms. Carla has been teaching at Cedar River Montessori since 2011. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Dance from California State University, Fullerton. After finishing her degree, she was introduced to the Montessori method by a family member as she was preparing for a career in teaching. Ms. Carla worked as an assistant at both the primary and elementary levels. Inspired and curious she then became motivated to pursue her Montessori certification. She received her AMS Early Childhood Credential at the Montessori Education Center of the Rockies in 2011, and, because Washington has become her home, she pursued and received the Washington State Early Childhood Education Certification in 2016. Ms. Carla possesses a deep admiration and appreciation for the Montessori Method, believing that it is very fulfilling to help children develop, acquire knowledge, and build character. In her time spent outside of school, Ms. Carla enjoys culture and the arts throughout the Seattle area, and makes it a priority to take advantage of the outdoor adventures Washington has to offer.
Cindy James – Assistant Teacher
Cindy has been an early childhood assistant at Cedar River Montessori community since 2009, when she first came onto campus and immediately loved it here. Cindy holds a certificate in K-12 Para-education from Green River College (2006), and she has completed MEIPN Montessori Assistant Training. Before becoming a parent and Montessorian, Cindy worked for 25 years in retail management. Cindy is a proud alumni parent whose children grew up at Cedar River Montessori, and she loves how her children are creative, independent thinkers because of their education here. Outside of school, Cindy enjoys getting out to explore and experience our diverse Pacific Northwest culture with her family, and spending time with her dachshunds.
Shernaaz Palkhivala – Montessori Teacher
Shernaaz graduated from the University of Mumbai, India with a major in French. She was first a parent at Cedar River Montessori, then joined the staff as an assistant to Mr. Jerry in 2006. With Mr. Jerry’s encouragement, Shernaaz earned her AMS Early Childhood Credential from MEIPN in 2013. She then interned and co-taught with Mr. Jerry for a year before co-teaching for one year before becoming a lead teacher. Before working at Cedar River Montessori, Shernaaz was a tour guide with French, German and Spanish speaking tourists and toured with them all over North India. She is the proud parent of two Cedar River Montessori graduates!
Lucy Towne – Assistant Teacher
Lucy has been with Cedar River since 2016. She was born and raised in Pennsylvania and has lived in Seattle for 30 years. She is the mother of two grown children, and she brings to Cedar River her love of gardening and nature. Lucy recently completed the MEIPN Montessori Assistant Training for the 3-6 year old classroom. In her spare time, she loves all crafts, especially crochet and nature crafts. Lucy diligently works to pass on the art of crocheting to our upper elementary students.
Diana Dauble – Program Specialist, Ecology and Gardening
Diana spent her childhood in the semi-arid desert of Eastern Washington, with a fisheries ecologist father and elementary school teacher mom. Most of her time was spent outdoors collecting bugs and playing by the Columbia River. In 1991 she came over the mountains to attend Western Washington University and graduated with a BA in Anthropology/Archaeology. She went back to college for further certificates in Landscape Design, Horticulture and Sustainable Land Management. Diana joined Cedar River Montessori in 2016, and she enjoys the enthusiasm and inquisitive nature the students share for the outdoor world. Other interests include reading, writing poetry, cooking and fly fishing. Diana lives on a “small farm” with Peter, five kids, a dozen chickens, turtles, cats, salamanders and a fantastic specimen garden!
Chellas Eagleton – Program Specialist, Animal Husbandry
Chellas joined Cedar River Montessori in 2017, and she works in many functions. In the morning, she assists in Upper Elementary, and in the late afternoon, Chellas works in our aftercare program. Perhaps her biggest role is her work with our pasture animals, overseeing the well-being of the animals and assisting our classrooms with their daily animal care responsibilities. Chellas is a Texas native with a degree in Psychology from the University of North Texas and a degree in Zoo and Aquarium Science from The Animal Behavior Institute. Before relocating to Washington, Chellas worked as a zookeeper with large carnivore and hoof stock species focusing on both animal husbandry and behaviorism. Additionally, she worked for five years as an as academic research librarian while living in Texas. After moving to Washington in early 2016, Chellas began working as a naturalist for Northwest Trek Wildlife Park. In this setting, she found an affinity for educating young students about native wildlife of the Pacific Northwest. Chellas is a huge literature fan and especially enjoys comic books and the works of William Shakespeare. Hiking with her rescue dogs and traveling with family are other areas of interest she pursues in her spare time. Chellas is excited to share her experience in hoof stock training and animal enrichment with the Cedar River Montessori students and school community.
Sephy Elizai – Program Specialist, Spanish
Joining us from The Spanish Language School is Sephy Elizai. Sephy was born and raised in South Texas along the Mexico/US border, attending school in Mexico through 7th grade. He learned English at age 11 and continued in the US educational system, ultimately attending Seattle University where he graduated with a BA in Business Administration. Sephy’s postgraduate studies were conducted through a satellite program in Applied Linguistics at the University of Liverpool, England. Sephy currently teaches Spanish at two other schools in the Seattle area, and he is excited to create an environment where students feel part of the learning process, engaging their imaginations and interests and weaving Spanish language learning and cultural appreciation into everyday experiences.
Angie Frederickson – Learning Specialist / Before Care Teacher
Angie has been at Cedar River Montessori since 2010. She has worked in Early Childhood and Lower Elementary classrooms as an assistant teacher and in our summer program as a swim instructor. Angie currently works as a learning specialist with students in early childhood and elementary. She holds a BA in English from Western Washington University, and she has taken coursework for a post-baccalaureate teaching certificate from UW Tacoma with endorsement in English from K-8. Angie also holds a community educator certificate in Orton-Gillingham reading instruction from the Institute for Multi-Sensory Education. Angie enjoys camping, watching movies, and playing games with her family, reading and travel. She is especially proud of hiking to the top of Mt. Whitney, the highest summit in the contiguous United States, which has an elevation of 14,505 feet!
Kelly Humphrey – Program Specialist, Elementary and Middle School Art
Narrowing down one single color for the oft-asked question of what your favorite is, has always been a challenge to Kelly. A soft yellow green reminds her of new leaves as they unfold in the beautiful NW springs that she loves. Tangerine orange is cheerful and tart and makes her think of hot summer days and eating fresh nectarines. Hot magenta pink is 80’s net gloves and Duran Duran music and seventh grade… Kelly believes fully in the richness of color and life in the world around us, in our history, and in what we create. The question of what her favorite part of school is/was has never been a challenge though. She has always loved making, studying, teaching, seeing art. From grade school in central Arkansas, to completing a Bachelors of Fine Arts degree at Brigham Young University in studio arts and a teaching certification for arts education, to her move to Seattle where she’s been creating and selling art, to teaching art in schools, the community, and with her own three children, Kelly always loves the opportunities to develop and share this passion. Kelly joined CRMS as an art teacher and creative leader in 2018. She believes that giving kids an outlet for creative tactile artistic adventures is important for growth and understanding the world around us, and she loves being an art teacher. She is also very fond of really dark chocolate, cats, musicals, and alpacas… which she believes to be the funniest of animals.
Scott Petitt – Program Specialist, Physical Education
In addition to his role this year as physical education instructor for all levels (join the students for one of his “planetary-runs”), Scott assists with early childhood lunches and supervises after care. Scott has worked at CRMS since 2012, with a year sabbatical in 2017-2018. He has attended the MEIPN Montessori Assistant Training and has worked in many capacities throughout the school, not to mention being a parent at CRMS since 2011! Scott enjoys cooking with his smoker, roasting coffee, and crafting clever word plays. On the weekends you can find him on ski patrol at Snoqualmie Pass.
Lloyd Hafar – Maintenance
Lloyd has been helping the Cedar River Montessori facilities run smoothly since 2016. Lloyd has studied widely in Oregon and Washington, holds multiple certificates in mechanical and electrical engineering, and has built hundreds of new homes. Lloyd brings his enthusiastic, patient, and cheerful work ethic to our students and campus projects, and he enjoys coaching seasonal sports and exploring electronic engineering in his free time. Lloyd believes that children are not only the future, they are the now!
Joyce Jones – Floating Assistant
Joyce has been part of the Cedar River Montessori community as a parent and valued volunteer since 2006, as a substitute since 2009, and as a part-time employee since 2015. Joyce is a proud parent of a Cedar River Montessori graduate, and in her spare time cheers on her children’s swim teams!
Victoria Sergeyeva – Floating Assistant
Victoria holds a Master’s degree in Forestry Engineering from St. Petersburg Forestry Academy, and she has been with Cedar River Montessori as a floating classroom assistant since 2015. A native of St. Petersburg, Russia, Victoria brings her love for order, exploration, peace, and harmony to the children of Cedar River Montessori. In her spare time, Victoria enjoys reading, music, theater, and spending time with her three daughters.
Bushra Ghumman – After Care Assistant
Prior to coming to Cedar River Montessori, Bushra has worked with school age children, supervising after care activities, providing a safe environment for children, and helping with homework as a tutor and after care specialist with the Somali Youth Club House. Bushra is currently enrolled in the nursing program at Renton Technical College, and she hopes to work in social services after her education is complete. She loves to garden as a hobby. Bushra works in our after care program, and this is her first year with Cedar River Montessori.