Faculty & Staff

AMI Montessori Teachers

Nancy Breeden

Nancy Breeden

Primary Teacher

Nancy has been with Staunton Montessori School since 1997. She has a BS in psychology from Longwood College, a BS in Early Childhood Education from James Madison University, and her primary AMI diploma. She recently pursued her love of writing by completing two Writing for Children’s Magazines courses with the Institute for Children’s Literature. 

“I truly believe that Montessori provides the most natural and hands-on way for children to learn.”

Susan Rehfield

Susan Rehfield

Primary Teacher

Susan has a BA in art from George Mason University (1990) and an AMI primary diploma from The Washington Montessori Institute (1995). She especially enjoys art, music, literature and geography. Through working with children, she loves that every day is full of new discoveries and joyful learning.

Lia Craft

Lia Craft

Elementary 6-9 Teacher (grades 1-3)

Lia began her undergraduate studies at Radford University and completed her BA in psychology at Georgia State University. She was an assistant in a Montessori upper elementary classroom at Arbor Montessori in Atlanta for 10 years before moving back to Virginia. After a year as Nancy’s assistant, she completed the AMI elementary training at WMI and received a Master’s Degree in Education.

Alison Oelke McCaul

Alison Oelke McCaul

Elementary 6-9 Teacher (grades 1-3)

Alison is a graduate of Mary Baldwin College with a BA in Sociology & Social Work. She has worked with children in Day Cares, Summer Camps, Puppetry Workshops, and Boys & Girls Clubs in Virginia and Maryland. She loves animals, art, puppetry, games, and watching the children learn and grow.

Chrissie Hall

Chrissie Hall

Elementary 9-12 Teacher (grades 4-6)

Chrissie is a graduate of Mary Baldwin College, with a degree in psychology. Additionally, she earned her Master’s Degree in Education from Loyola College of Baltimore. Since beginning the elementary program at SMS in 2002, Chrissie continues to focus on fostering the independence, responsibility and curiosity of all students.

Jacob Graham

Jacob Graham

Adolescent Co-Lead

Jacob is originally from Roanoke, VA. He earned his Ph.D. in philosophy from Duquesne University in 2012. He taught philosophy before joining the team at SMS. He loves learning, writing, reading, hiking, jazz, making music, sports, and being with family and friends.

Sean Psujek

Sean Psujek

Adolescent Co-Lead

Sean grew up around bench and field science with one parent a medtech, the other an environmental biologist. His father gave him some “lab” space in a shed in high school to keep him from burning down the house. Not in any particular order, Sean has lived in Thailand and South Korea teaching ESL, worked as a lab manager for a molecular biology lab, wrenched in bike shops, maintained hawkmoth colonies at two universities, attended a traditional wooden boatbuilding school in Maine, and, somewhere in there, he earned his Ph.D. in Biology through a NSF training grant in neuromechanical systems.

Soizic Ziegler

Soizic Ziegler

Adolescent Intern

Soizic graduated from the University of Richmond with a degree in Environmental Studies, and has been living in the Blue Ridge and Virginia Piedmont for most of the time since then. Before transitioning to education, she worked in edible landscaping and ecological restoration and ran her own small design and installation business. She also served as the farm manager of an educational permaculture farm in Richmond, VA. There, she had the opportunity to introduce many children and teens to new ways of interacting with their food and the world around them. Seeing others grow as they connect to life and nature has always been her favorite part of working. She is a deeply curious person, and has a passion for finding and igniting that curiosity in others, whatever their interests may be. She fiercely believes that curious questions and an open mind can lead everyone to giving their best to the world by keeping them connected to life, to community, and to themselves- and that we need everyone to be able to give their best! Her personal approach to education comes from a background in nature connection and wilderness skills mentoring through the 8 Shields Institute’s Art of Mentoring, and her nearly decade- long involvement in the Florida Earthskills Gathering. She is stepping into education to more fully align her work with the joy of learning, and so is completing her Montessori Secondary Certification through the Center for Guided Montessori Studies. She speaks French and Spanish, and in her free time you are likely to find her playing and exploring outside, practicing archery, gardening, cooking, reading, or crafting.

Specialists

Alix Brewer

Alix Brewer

Post Secondary Advisor

Alix facilitates our college and post-secondary advising program, in addition to assisting with the implementation of our Upper Cycle Adolescent Program and school accreditation. She graduated from Pitzer College in Claremont, CA and taught adult literacy in Baltimore, MD for two years before going on to earn an MSW, specializing in working with children and adolescents in school settings. Alix spent several years working as a clinical school social worker before moving to Virginia in 2005. She joined us in 2019 following 13 years working in education research at the Curry School of Education and Human Development at the University of Virginia. She completed a certification in college advising from Teachers College, Columbia University and is excited to share what she has learned about how best to prepare students for successful post-secondary experiences. She enjoys spending time with her family, exploring cities, good books, strong coffee and creative expression of all sorts.

Assistants

Kelly Harris

Kelly Harris

Primary Assistant

Kelly is a graduate of Bridgewater College with a BA in liberal studies. While at Bridgewater she also received her PK-6 teaching license. She has worked at Staunton Montessori School since 2008 and has developed a deep love and appreciation of the Montessori method.

Carolyn Brown

Carolyn Brown

Primary Assistant

Carolyn attended Ferrum Jr. College and transferred to VCU where she majored in psychology and minored in sociology. She has some training in sign language and worked as a Licensed Real Estate Appraiser for several years.

Jenny Hinch

Jenny Hinch

Lower Elementary Assistant

Jenny has been working in Montessori Schools since 1998.  She is excited about being at Staunton Montessori, continuing to work with children (her passion) She has lived in the area all her life. She has 2 boys of her own.

Connor Phillips

Connor Phillips

Assistant in Elementary Grades (1-3)

Connor started working with children in 2013 at Wintergreen Ski Resort in their children’s ski program. While there, he continued to further his education experience at the Boys & Girls Club of America before coming to Staunton Montessori in 2018. Starting in Aftercare, he now joins us as the Elementary Assistant where he hopes to further his work in education.

Brigid Bronik

Brigid Bronik

Assistant in Elementary Grades (4-6)

Brigid earned her BA in Spanish and Women’s Studies (1995) from Guilford College in Greensboro, NC, before going on to earn a Master’s in Library Science from North Carolina Central University . She has worked in public and university libraries, and she was the Library Media Coordinator at Easley Elementary School in Durham, NC, for six years before her family relocated to the Shenandoah Valley. She joined the staff at Staunton Montessori School in 2016.

Aftercare Program

Rodi Sutherland

Rodi Sutherland

Aftercare Director

Rodi graduated from Wilson Memorial High School and attended Blue Ridge Community College. She has worked in child care since 1996 with ages ranging from Infant to Adolescent. Her personal philosophy on children is to “follow the child.” She is also a credentialed Child Development Associate (CDA) and a member of the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).

Cindy Curtis

Cindy Curtis

Essential Care & Aftercare Assistant

Cindy has been working for Montessori Schools for the past 29 years. She has a passion for working with children. She has an Applied Associates of Science Degree. She joined the staff at Staunton Montessori in 2020.

Administrative Team

Debra Schmid

Debra Schmid

Head of School

Debra (Dance) Schmid earned a BS from UVA’s McIntire School of Commerce and Pre-Primary certification from the Virginia Center for Montessori Teacher Education. Her love of learning has guided her through a variety of educational roles. From teaching children and adults in Richmond for a decade to working on education administration teams for another decade in the Staunton area, she is delighted to come full circle by leading the Staunton Montessori family.

Austin Shifflett

Austin Shifflett

Administrative Team

Austin completed his Master’s in English at James Madison University. He has worked as an educator in k-12 public schools, summer camps, and ESL. A native of the Shenandoah Valley area, Austin enjoys the outdoors and is an avid reader. He is also a musician and occasionally acts in local theatre productions. He is excited to be at Staunton Montessori and looks forward to continuing his professional development.

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