Ranjita Kaur | Primary Coordinator | e-mail Ranjita
Ranjita has a BA in Business from Anna Ardarsh College in India. She received a certification in Teaching Methodology in Montessori and Kindergarten Education in 2002. In 2019, she earned her Child Development Associate (CDA) credentials. She has been passionate about childcare and education, beginning her career as a Primary School Lead teacher and Montessori teacher in Bangalore, India. Prior to working at The Montessori School in Kalamazoo, Ranjita worked as a lead teacher at Gilden Woods Early Care and Preschool for a year and worked as an assistant teacher at KRESA. She started her journey at The Montessori School in late 2019 as an assistant teacher. She currently lives in Portage, Michigan with her husband and two children. In her free time, she enjoys listening to music and cooking.
Primary Lead Guides
Jacqueline Bingaman | Oak Room Lead Guide | e-mail Jacqueline
Jacqueline received her Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from Western Michigan University in 2009. She started her Montessori journey in 2006 at The Montessori School as a primary assistant. Jacqueline received her AMS Montessori Lower Elementary certification in 2011 from Seacoast Center for Education in New Hampshire. She lived in North Carolina for 8 years and taught in Montessori and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) public, charter, and private schools. Jacqueline completed primary Montessori training in 2019 from Adrian Dominican Montessori Teacher Education Institute. In her free time, Jacqueline enjoys gardening, walking her dogs, and renovating her Victorian home.
Megan Johnston | All-Year Montessori Lead Guide | e-mail Megan
Lauren Mogdis | All-Year Montessori Lead Guide | e-mail Lauren
Lauren Mogdis is a WMU graduate with a bachelor’s in Social Work and minors in Holistic Health and Interdisciplinary Health Services. She began at TMS in August 2019. Prior to joining TMS, Lauren was a lead preschool teacher at another center in the Kalamazoo area for six years. Lauren has been attending Montessori Training at Seton Montessori over the summer and will continue her studies throughout the school year.
Primary Support Staff
Lauren Grinnell-Ackerman | Oak Room Assistant | 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, most recently as a Lead Guide 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.
Emily Suzor | Oak Room Assistant
Emily has been with The Montessori School as an assistant since 2017. She is currently studying Early Childhood Education at Western Michigan University. In her free time, Emily enjoys spending time outdoors, hiking, and exploring the great lakes with her partner, Wyatt. She also enjoys reading and painting as a hobbies, and hopes to study photography in the future.
Marsha Shirely | Oak Room Assistant
Marsha has recently moved to Kalamazoo from the Detroit area. She is originally from Indiana but has lived in Michigan for seven years. As she loves camping, she has enjoyed Michigan even more than expected. She’s really enjoyed traveling around the state and touring the upper peninsula. She also loves reading and gardening. Marsha has worked in a number of industries including train engine manufacturing, and, most recently, as a custodian for a local public school district. Marsha is excited about working with us in a new role this year as a classroom assistant for Oak!
Amy Hirt | AYM Classroom Assistant | e-mail Amy
Amy has worked at the Montessori School since 2015 is a primary assistant. This year, she is completing the American Montessori Institute training in Adrian, MI. She has always enjoyed working with children, and in the years she has been working here, the Montessori way of teaching really called to her! In her spare time she enjoys running, cooking, traveling!
Grace Boote | AYM Classroom Assistant | e-mail Grace
Grace is a student at Western Michigan University, where she studies Theatre and Criminal Justice. This is her first year with Montessori, as a teaching assistant in the Primary School. Outside of academic’s and work, Grace has self published works of poetry, and also enjoys baking, reading, and spending time with her pet bunny Binx.
Tania Fleitas | Classroom Assistant | e-mail Tania
Tania is a bilingual Spanish/English teacher. She taught at public and private schools, and language institutes in Paraguay and Argentina for several years. Tania worked as an outdoor educator and guide on hikes in the mountains in Cordoba, Argentina. She studied cultural entrepreneurship at the Universidad Nacional de Córdoba, and she directed and produced shows featuring poetry and other art forms. She emigrated to the U.S. in 2017, and a year later, she produced the first ever play in Spanish in South West Michigan. Before joining The Montessori School, Tania was a part of the Battle Creek Latin American Heritage Initiative. She continues her work as a community interpreter. She lives with her three children, husband, two cats, and two chickens.
Teresa Klan | e-mail Teresa
Teresa is a life-long learner. She graduated from Western Michigan University with a Bachelor of Science; from Bronson School of Nursing with a RN degree; and from University of Michigan with a Masters in Public Health Education and Health Behavior. Her prior early childhood services included home visiting with a maternal/infant program and a Parents as Teachers program. She is excited to support Lead Guides, children and parents with the Montessori approach. Teresa has many interests, and besides exploring with children, she enjoys adventures in nature, travel, square and round dancing, and family time with her husband, two grown sons, and extended family.
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 Outdoor Educator passionate about place-based, experiential learning. Jessica is also currently enrolled in a Montessori training program and will receive her Lower Elementary AMS certification in May 2022. 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, and Inland Seas. Jessica enjoys spending time outdoors hiking, biking, gardening, stargazing, and camping.
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.
Sierra O’Connell-Koon | Art Specialist | e-mail Sierra
Sierra O’Connell Koon is the Art Specialist here at the Montessori School, this will be her 7th school year with the Montessori. Sierra is from Grand Rapids, Michigan and attended Kendall College of Art and Design, she graduated with her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography with a focus in Art History and a Minor in Graphic Design. She has two bonus children; Austin and Ainsley and her son Brantley who also will be attending the Montessori this year in the Primary program.
Sierra’s family is very into photography, camping, fishing, gardening, kayaking, exploring, canning, foraging and spending time with their Animals: 2 dogs, 3 cats, 2 ducks and 20 chickens. In the summer you can find them at the lake enjoying the water and kayaking while ending the day with a family picnic. Growing up, nature was always the most important part of life and that doesn’t differ now. With a family background in conservation and countless hours of volunteer work with the Sierra Club being at the Montessori and advocating for the environment is a perfect fit. Nothing speaks louder than spending the day outdoors and helping children make the connection to the world they live in on a deeper level.
Elementary Support Staff
Karen Bildner | Willow Room Assistant
Karen completed her B.S. in Special Education at WMU. She began her teaching career in Niles Community Schools in 2000 and proceeded to teach at Northeastern Elementary in Kalamazoo from 2001-2007. Karen began tutoring with SLD Read and was trained extensively in Orton-Gilingham methods during her time there from 2007-2018. While tutoring, she also completed her Master’s Degree in Elementary Education with a Reading and Literacy Emphasis. Karen has fallen in love with the Montessori method of education with its focus on the whole child as its emphasis on peace. Karen is blessed with her husband Josiah and two children Caleb and Johannah. She enjoys spending time with her family, sewing, cooking, photography, and drawing.
Wyatt Gettys | Child Care Lead
Wyatt has been with The Montessori School as an assistant since 2018, working in both the elementary and primary programs. He is currently studying Physical and Health Education at Western Michigan University. In his spare time, Wyatt enjoys cooking, watching baseball, and spending time outdoors.
Kayla Kennedy | e-mail Kayla
Kayla is a Senior at WMU working towards a BFA in Art Education. Kayla discovered her passion for teaching, working with children, and promoting creativity through her summer jobs at the Humane Society and Nature Center in her hometown Grand Rapids. Kayla keeps herself busy with her other jobs as Art Instructor at a local art party company, as well as a direct support professional in a residential home for children with Autism. In her free time, Kayla enjoys crafting and doing chalkboard signs for local businesses.
Sherria VanSparrentak | Head of School | e-mail Sherria
Kristy Brooks | Business Manager | email Kristy
Erin Decker | Office Manager: Admissions & Enrollment | e-mail Erin
Erin is originally from Bay City, and moved to Kalamazoo for college. She graduated from Western Michigan University, earning a Bachelor’s studying Organizational Communication, Nonprofit Leadership, and Environmental & Sustainability Studies. Prior to joining The Montessori school in 2019, Erin worked as the Executive Director of the local youth development nonprofit Open Roads Bike Program. In addition to her role as the Office Manager here at The Montessori School, she is a Photographer and runs her own portrait photography business. Erin and her husband, Ryan, enjoy hiking and traveling together. They are welcoming their first child in September of 2021!
Xanthe Van Houten | Administrative Assistant | e-mail Xanthe
Xanthe is originally from Nova Scotia, Canada and moved to Michigan in her early teens. Before working at Montessori, she worked at a non- profit Autism Center providing Behavioral Interventions and Skill Building Programming to children with a diagnosis of ASD. She has experience working as a Promoter/ Ticket Salesman at a music venue, and a Data Entry/ Analyst at a Traffic Safety Company. Xanthe is passionate about individualized teaching and encouraging enthusiasm for learning. She chose to pursue an Administrative role to utilize her skillset and be a support to families and teachers. On her off time, Xanthe enjoys creative endeavors such as drawing and painting, practicing archery, baking, studying philosophy and behaviorism, and going on long hikes with her fiance.
Matt Williams | Facilities Steward
Matt began working for The Montessori School in October of 1996! He is still here after so many years, working hard to keep our facilities and grounds a beautiful place to learn and grow!