Primary Lead Guides
Megan Schopf, Oak Room Lead Guide | e-mail Megan
Megan has a BA in History from the University of Colorado and received her AMS Montessori certification in 2009 from the Adrian Dominican Montessori Training Institute. She interned at The Montessori School and began her Montessori teaching career at Brookview School in Benton Harbor, Michigan. She joined The Montessori School in 2017. Prior to becoming a Montessori teacher, she designed and facilitated learning experiences that supported the development of the person and of the family across Southwest Michigan. She also served as artist-in-residence for a healthcare consulting organization in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She is a life long learner who enjoys long walks in the woods, sharing meals with those she loves, and reading as much and as often as she can.
Lauren Grinnell-Ackerman, All-Year Montessori Lead Guide | e-mail Lauren
Lauren received her primary AMI diploma in the spring of 2016 at Montessori Northwest Training Center in Portland, OR. She has been with The Montessori School since fall 2013 as an assistant teacher in the primary classrooms at the Kalamazoo campus. She received her Bachelor of Science in Child and Family Development from WMU, and her Master’s in Montessori Education at Loyola University Maryland in the summer of 2016. She enjoys spending time in nature with her partner, Ryan, camping, and traveling the country to experience the natural world of the national parks. She also enjoys staying at home and spending time exploring Michigan’s coast! When she isn’t traveling she enjoys reading, cooking, and creating artwork.
Megan Johnston, All-Year Montessori Lead Guide | e-mail Megan
Primary Support Staff
Sierra O’Connell-Koon, After-School Coordinator | e-mail Sierra
Sierra received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography and a Minor in Graphic Design through Kendall College of Art and Design in Grand Rapids. She is very passionate about the outdoors, growing up hiking, camping, swimming and countless hours of volunteer work with the West Michigan Chapter of the Sierra Club. Sierra and her husband have a very large garden and can be spotted at the Richland Farmers Market quite often. Canning, pickling, wine-making, camping, foraging, and kayaking are some of her favorite hobbies.
Sierra has two amazing bonus children; Austin and Ainsley age 10 and 8, and gave birth to her son Brantley in November of 2017. Sierra started out subbing for the Montessori School of Richland in 2015 and fell into a career that not only surprised her but continually keeps a smile on her face. She loves being able to work with the kids and seeing them grow throughout their time here at The Montessori School.
Interested in a tour or meeting some of our primary staff? Contact us today!
Anne Wester, Willow Room Lead Guide | e-mail Anne
A Kalamazoo native, Anne graduated from Western Michigan University with a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education. She earned her masters in education from St. Catherine University (née- College of St. Catherine-Center for Contemporary Montessori Programs), and has an Elementary I and II certificate from the American Montessori Society. Anne taught at Northglade Montessori Magnet School from 1999-2010. She joined The Montessori School in 2016. Anne and her husband, Steve, have a daughter, Jane, who is a TMS alumna. The three of them enjoy an active lifestyle — camping, paddling, skiing, and biking. In fact, Anne just completed her 8th bike ride across the state of Iowa!
Jocelyn Clark, Maple Room Lead Guide | e-mail Jocelyn
Jocelyn has a Bachelor of Liberal Arts with a concentration in Sociology from Kalamazoo College. She started at the Montessori School in 1991 in a childcare position as a way to earn money while working on a Master’s degree in Criminology at Western Michigan University. She loved her work here so much she changed directions educationally and earned a Michigan Teaching Certificate after re-entering Kalamazoo College. She attended the Washington Montessori Institute to earn her AMI Montessori Certification and Loyola University in Baltimore for her Master’s in Education.
Hal Hobson, Music Specialist | e-mail Hal
Originally from Lansing, Hal graduated from WMU in 2000 with a BFA in Musical Theatre Performance and joined our staff as the music specialist in 2001. He has completed levels one through three certifications in Orff-Schulwerk, and has been a session presenter at local and regional Orff conferences.
Hal is very involved in Kalamazoo’s vibrant music scene, including directing community choirs, playing piano and recorder in ensembles, and teaching piano and voice. He composes original transition music for All Ears Theatre, a local radio drama troupe, and participates in theatre productions as an actor, director, and music director at the Kalamazoo Civic Theatre, Farmer’s Alley Theatre, and other local stages. When not teaching or in rehearsal, Hal enjoys kayaking, gardening, and visiting Lake Michigan.
Originally from Watervliet, MI, Avery graduated from Western Michigan University with a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology and a minor in Biology. She has been at The Montessori School since 2015, working as an Assistant in the Juniper room, and as the Childcare Coordinator for the Primary classrooms. Her education and varied work history have instilled a passion for learning as much as she can about new subjects. Avery enjoys many hobbies in her spare time, including knitting, gardening, and cooking. She plans to use these personal passions as well as her academic passions to engage children in the classroom and the childcare environment.
Jessica Hagen, Elementary & Licensing Coordinator | e-mail Jessica
Jessica has an A.A.S. in Early Childhood Education from Kellogg Community College and a B.S. in Child and Family Development from Western Michigan University. She is a certified Environmental Educator focused on place-based, experiential learning. Since joining TMS in 2016, she has shared her love of wetlands with students through local watershed study, focusing on Axtell Creek which flows near our schoolyard. She has also led the students in planting several native wildflower gardens and established food gardens at our elementary campus. She has formed community partnerships with the Kalamazoo Wild Ones, Kalamazoo River Watershed Council, Common Ground, and Inland Seas. Jessica enjoys spending time outdoors hiking, biking, gardening, stargazing, and camping.
To schedule a tour and meet some of our elementary staff, contact us today!
Ann Pilzner, Head of School | e-mail Ann
Ann has a B.S. in Elementary Education from Oakland University and an M.A. in School Principalship from Central Michigan University. She taught at a traditional school in Detroit for two years before falling in love with the Montessori concept while searching for a preschool for her first child. She went on to become a teacher at a Montessori school and later an administrator, opening a public Montessori school in 2013. She has been at TMS since 2016.
Susan Atkinson, Business Manager | e-mail Susan
Susan joined The Montessori School in 1988 when the building on Howard Street was first purchased. In her role, she manages the school’s finances, human resources, and properties. She has a Master’s degree in business administration from Western Michigan University and has more than 30 years’ experience in business management and school operations. Susan has been involved in a number of local non-profits and charities, including as a director on the education board for the League of Women Voters and previously the Portage City Council Parks Board. When she’s not busy with school work or volunteering, Susan loves outdoor adventures with family and friends, gardening, music, sailing, and cycling.
Mary Cox, Marketing & Admissions Coordinator | e-mail Mary
Mary is a graduate from Ball State University, where she earned her Bachelor’s in Telecommunications, Media Sales and Promotions, along with a minor in Spanish. She has worked in sponsorship, PR, graphic design and magazine publishing before joining The Montessori school in 2019. Mary is a Kalamazoo native. In her free time, she likes to travel, as friends from college have ended up all over the world, and has a huge passion for music, enjoying a live show whenever possible.
Sandy Mack, Assistant to the Business Manager| e-mail Sandy
Erin Denay, Receptionist | e-mail Erin
To schedule a tour and meet some of our staff, contact us today!