Our staff are trained to carefully observe children, identifying their interests and abilities and developing personalized learning plans tailored to each child’s needs. They guide the learning, introducing new lessons and levels of difficulty as appropriate. They offer the encouragement, time, and tools needed to allow children’s natural curiosities to drive learning, and provide choices that help them learn, grow, and succeed.

Head of School

Courtney Walsh

Courtney grew up in Northeast and Northwest Washington state.  She participated in a variety of athletics and studied theatre and music through the end of college, beginning her work with children early on as a piano accompanist for children’s musical theatre, and then as a regular babysitter and nanny from when she was a teen through the end of grad school. She moved to Portland to attend Portland State University for her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, intending to pursue a career in mental health.  She unexpectedly learned about the Montessori philosophy in one of her early childhood development classes and was inspired to see the method in action.  After working as a Primary Assistant at West Hills Montessori in Portland for three years, she attended Montessori Northwest where she earned her AMI Primary Montessori Diploma and a Masters of Education from Loyola University Maryland.  Courtney has been working with Montessori children and families in Portland since 2005, and she was a founding member of Montessori Children’s House as a Primary Guide in Tanager Meadow (and part-time Administrative Assistant) when the doors first opened in 2010. Courtney started the Chickadee Grove Primary Community in 2011. When there was a need for a new Head of School in 2021, it was a natural progression for Courtney to move from the classroom into the office, bringing with her more than a decade of classroom leadership experience and her historical knowledge of MCH’s evolution over the years.

Courtney and her husband Mike are both avid outdoors-people, enjoying hiking and backpacking, skiing and snowboarding, and bicycling; they live in Milwaukie.  They are both active members of the Mt. Hood Ski Patrol and spend most weekends (and many weeknights!) volunteering with MHSP; Courtney is a Toboggan Trainer, Hill Captain, and also Secretary on the MHSP Executive Council.  Courtney enjoys spending time gardening, exploring the great outdoors, cooking and baking delicious vegan food, snuggling her precious cats, listening to podcasts and audiobooks whilst doing chores, and reading.

Primary Guide, Tanager Meadow

Merrett

Merrett grew up in Minnesota in a small town about a half-hour east of the Twin Cities, and attended a Montessori school for Primary.  She has always loved working with children, starting in high school as a Junior Kumon instructor at a Kumon Math and Reading Center.  She moved to the west coast to attend Whitman College in Walla Walla, WA.  While in Walla Walla, she worked at Harper Joy Theater as a theater technician, building sets, rigging lights, and creating sound designs for the college’s productions, and continued to work with children at the Kid’s Place, Walla Walla’s Reggio Emilia daycare center.  In her studies for her Philosophy major, Merrett encountered the writings of Maria Montessori in a Philosophy of Education class, and it provided the focus and drive for the rest of her undergraduate studies.  Her senior Philosophy thesis was focused on Maria Montessori’s philosophy of education, and how it addresses questions of art and beauty during both the Primary and Elementary years.  

After getting her BA in Philosophy, Merrett knew her next step would be to get her Montessori training, so she moved to Portland to take the AMI Elementary training course at Montessori Northwest.  Upon graduating with her AMI Elementary degree in 2014, Merrett was hired to work as an Elementary Course Assistant at Montessori Northwest.  Merrett spent two years at Montessori Northwest, helping two academic-year Elementary courses through their own Montessori trainings, as well as participating in launching Montessori Northwest’s Elementary summer training program at Whitworth University in Spokane, WA.  After she left MNW in 2016, Merrett worked as an Elementary assistant for a few months before starting at MCH as a Courtney’s Primary assistant in the Chickadee Grove classroom in February 2017.  It was not long before Merrett knew that she had found a home at MCH!  She assisted in the Chickadee Grove classroom from 2017 through 2019, and led Chickadee Grove’s summer program in 2018 and 2019.  In 2019, Merrett was ready to take her Primary training and get her M.Ed., and returned to Montessori Northwest.  She graduated from Montessori Northwest in June 2020 with her AMI Primary degree, and from Loyola University in Baltimore, Maryland, with her Master’s in Montessori Education in September 2020.  She returned to MCH in Fall 2020 as the Tanager Meadow Guide.

Outside of school, Merrett loves spending time with her cat Marbles, and rock-climbing.  She enjoys going to see movies, viewing exhibitions at the Portland Art Museum, and attending plays and musicals.  Merrett is also a lifelong vegan who loves a piping hot cup of green tea, and enjoys visiting local gardens, thrift shopping, cooking, and visiting her family in Minnesota and friends in Seattle whenever she can. 

Primary Assistant, Tanager Meadow

Ryan

Ryan graduated in 2009 with a BA in Elementary Education with a focus on kindergarten and 1st grade. He has taught 1st, 4th, and 5th grade all at the public level. Ryan also taught English in Haiti, while living at an Orphanage in Mirebalais Haiti. He stumbled across the Montessori teaching method and fell in love with working with children using this teaching method/lifestyle. Ryan has been a Toddler Guide in the past and loves getting to assist in the classroom setting. Ryan transitioned rom working with the Toddler age group to the Primary age group at MCH in 2020 .

Ryan grew up the oldest of three boys in a small town in Oregon. His father immigrated from England at a young age and, because of this, a lot of Ryan’s family traditions are based in English tradition, including the fact that he has multiple middle names. Ryan’s family is very close and they enjoy holidays together as well as vacationing together.

Through the years of working with children in the Montessori setting Ryan has made the decision to get his Montessori training. He is excited to further his education and understanding of the Montessori teaching method.

Toddler Assistant / Toddler PM Care Lead

Alyssia

Alyssia Stephan was born and raised in New York; she spent most of her time growing up either at the beach or running around Manhattan. 
One of Alyssia’s first jobs was assisting people with various abilities, this resulted in her finding her passion to help people, and went on to study Art Therapy. While obtaining her Bachelors of Science degree she worked with all different populations; 4th graders, formerly incarcerated, the elderly, and children on the autism spectrum. Wanting to get out of the fast-paced lifestyle of New York and the east coast she went to continue her education in Santa Fe, NM. 

During her time in Santa Fe she learned about herself and other ways of life. The consciousness-centered approach of her grad school taught her about meditation and self-awareness.During this time she worked with individual clients, providing education on self-care, addictions, and goal-setting. She also co-facilitated an art therapy group for new mothers where she created art directives that integrated self-care skills for parents to strengthen the family structure.  

Wanting to work more directly with children again she found herself at Montessori Children’s House and has been here since January of 2018. She uses the skills learned through her background of therapeutic intervention in her work with the toddlers, and she is looking forward to incorporating more art activities this school year.

Toddler Guide, Hummingbird Garden

Mikaela

Mikaela was born and raised in Colorado, where she grew up skiing, playing soccer, crafting, and exploring the outdoors. Mikaela has always loved kids, even when she was a kid, and she started babysitting and nannying as soon as her own grown-ups would allow her to. She took a brief hiatus from childcare to attend Reed College, where she worked in the Admission Office and read books for four years instead. After she graduated in 2017 with a degree in anthropology, this love of working with children brought her back to nannying, and she started working for a family that she still works with today. She also spent several years running summer camps with Portland Parks and Rec, reading and evaluating college applications for Reed, and babysitting for families all over the city. 

Through these families she was introduced to Montessori pedagogy, which aligns with Mikaela’s own values and beliefs about children. She is passionate about respecting children as whole, developing individuals, and she especially values that Montessori is child-led. After years of working with children who attended Montessori preschools in their homes, she was excited about the opportunity to join Montessori Children’s House as an Assistant in the Heron Cove Toddler Community during the 2021-22 school year. Beginning in Summer 2022, she was ecstatic to re-open the second Toddler Community at MCH, Hummingbird Garden. A trained Assistance to Infancy (0-3) Montessori Guide, certified through the North American Montessori Center, Mikaela is passionate about her own continuing education and professional development. She, alongside the children, hopes to never stop learning. 

Outside of the classroom Mikaela is an artist, throwing ceramics, painting, and working with different craft mediums. She loves plants, animals, and insects. She enjoys watching women’s soccer, cooking, and playing with her puppy, Bamuel Buckets.

Toddler Assistant, Hummingbird Garden

Elijah

Moving from Ashland Oregon in 2022, Elijah is originally from a small town in northern California, where he first found his love for working in childcare volunteering in the kids’ wing at his church. Soon after, he found himself working in the education and childcare field in a variety of ways: lifeguarding, camp counseling, etc. He even helped build an arts curriculum for his high school while still attending. He now holds an AA and is working, in his own time, towards a BFA with a focus in education.

Elijah has always been an advocate for alternative education as a past student of both homeschooling and the charter school system, and is now incredibly excited to learn about the immense value in Montessori curriculum. Before joining staff at Montessori Children’s House, Elijah worked for many years in the field of specialty coffee, a passion he currently practices in his spare time. While away from work Elijah also loves Painting, forging local mushrooms, and eating quality food with his wife. 

Inclusion Lead & Primary PM Care Lead

Catherine

Catherine is a California native who fell in love with the PNW when she moved north to study psychology and child development at the University of Washington. It was there that she was introduced to Montessori philosophy and got her start in early education. Since that time her continued passion for child development has taken her across the ocean and back, working with many diverse families. Most recently, Catherine has spent three years working closely with the neuro-divergent community as a behavior interventionist, developing skills to help support learners with a wide variety of needs and sensory profiles. No matter the setting, getting to witness the wonder of growing and gaining independence is what makes Catherine look forward to coming to work every day.  

When not at school, you’re likely to find Catherine trying out a new local coffee shop, car camping along the Columbia with her partner, embroiled 7 hours deep into a DnD session with friends, or singing and playing guitar for her long-suffering audience of one, her cat, Fig. 

Toddler Assistant, Hummingbird Garden

Quinn

Quinn graduated from the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs in 2020 with a BA in Professional and Technical Writing. They have been working with children in individual households as well as in groups for over 10 years. Most recently, they worked at a daycare that served infants through kindergartners, and they love the ever-changing nature of childcare. Quinn believes that children should be respected and listened to in the same way as adults, and hopes for a future where children are once again raised by “the village” of their communities. 

As a former “military kid,” Quinn grew up living in and visiting countries all over the world. They attended boarding school in Rhode Island for high school, and moved to Portland after spending 4 years in Boulder and Colorado Springs, Colorado. After a serious illness in 2020, Quinn discovered meditation, mindfulness, and other forms of spirituality. These methods of finding peace have informed their practices both with children and at home ever since. 

Quinn lives near the OHSU campus with their nesting partner, Ray, and their red heeler, Nova. Their favorite activities are taking Nova for hikes, making tiny sculptures out of clay, drawing, painting, and spending time at the river with friends. They love finding animals outside, photography, and watching Netflix, too. They have a huge sweet tooth and love salted milk chocolate more than just about anything. 

Toddler Assistant, Heron Cove

Aina

Aina was born and raised in Japan and attended an international school where she learned English. She was first introduced to Montessori when her younger brother attended a Montessori school. As a child, she remembers being very jealous of her brother who got to explore various things at school, including cutting a banana by himself, baking, sewing, and many more. 

After graduating high school, she moved to Portland and graduated with a bachelors of art for Child, Youth, and Family studies major from PSU. Throughout her life, she has been surrounded by children and has a lot of experience working with them including teaching English to children learning English as their second language in Japan. She also has a sister 12 years younger than her who she adores. 

When she is not at MCH, she likes to play all kinds of sports including lacrosse, volleyball, and snowboarding, practicing her ukulele, eating chocolates, and spending time with her friends and family.

Primary Assistant, Chickadee Grove

Christine

Christine graduated with a B.A. in Liberal Studies with an emphasis in Elementary Education and minor is Sustainable Agriculture in 2016. During her first year in college she worked at a preschool Head Start Program, and that started her journey with wanting to continue working alongside young children. She began working with preschool age children in 2017 and has never looked back. She was first introduced to Montessori when she became an assistant teacher in 2020 for a small Montessori in-home in SE Portland and fell in love with the Montessori pedagogy. This prompted her to take her Primary training with Montessori Northwest in the summer of 2021. She then took a short hiatus from teaching during the 2022-2023 school year during her pregnancy, and is very excited to be assisting in the Chickadee Grove classroom.

Christine is originally from California and moved to Portland in the summer of 2019 with her husband and two cats. Outside of school Christine enjoys gardening, snuggling up with a book and a cup of tea, the fiber arts, cooking, playing board games, and spending lots of family time with her husband and twin boys. She also enjoys playing tennis, biking, and taking leisurely strolls around her neighborhood.

Primary Assistant Teacher (PM Care)

Sage

Sage grew up on a small island in Southeast Alaska, spending most of her time taking dance classes and going on hikes. Sage moved to Oregon to study Mathematics and Studio Arts at Linfield College but her love for education began much earlier when she began babysitting at twelve. Throughout college, Sage tutored math at a local middle school and worked at her college’s preschool. After moving away from the PNW and trying her hand in the professional business world, Sage quickly realized that she would be better off pursuing her true calling of teaching and caring for children. When she discovered the Montessori teaching philosophy, she knew this different way of teaching would better benefit students and she wanted to be a part of it.

In returning to Oregon, Sage not only rekindled her passion for teaching, but also for the beauty of the great outdoors. When she’s not at school, you can find Sage hiking, trying new coffee shops and restaurants, practicing yoga, or relaxing at home with her cat Binx. 

Administrative Assistant

Verónica

Verónica grew up as a Montessori child throughout different parts of Europe before moving to the States in her tween years. She drifted away from the world of Montessori as a teenager but found her love and appreciation for the method once more while attending college and working at a Montessori school in different capacities. She completed her AMI primary (3-6 years old) training from Montessori Northwest while concurrently completing her Masters in Education at Loyola University. After leading a primary classroom for a number of years, Verónica’s interests fixated on the younger children in her class, the 2.5 year olds. With the desire to attain more knowledge on their development and how to best assist them, she decided to partake in the creation in a toddler community and so also took her AMI A to I (0-3 years old) training at the Montessori Institute of San Diego. Having assisted and lead classrooms at both the toddler and primary level, she now finds her interests lie in mentoring of fellow Montessori guides and assistants as well as administration from a Montessori lens. 

Verónica is an outdoor enthusiast, an avid earring collector, and a wanderlust travel junkie who is passionate about environmental and social justice issues. In her free time she takes delight in hiking, swimming, baking, playing board games, is working on picking up knitting, and of course enjoys spending time with her cherished family, friends, and pets. 

Primary Guide, Chickadee Grove

Becky

Becky was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. She began playing guitar when she was 15 years old. This love for music led her on a path to attend Columbia College Chicago, where she received a BA in Fine and Performing Arts with a concentration in music production. After visiting Nashville, Tennessee with her older brother, she had an epiphany in a boot shop where she realized she wanted music to stay a hobby. She thanks her mother for introducing her to Montessori by finding the job ad that started it all. She applied for a temporary assistant role, having never worked with children, and with no knowledge of Montessori. From there, she became an assistant in a primary classroom for four years before moving to Portland in June 2018 to attend Montessori Northwest. She received her AMI Primary diploma in June 2019 and began working at Montessori Children’s House as a Summer Term PM Care Assistant. Since then, she has received her Master’s in Education from Loyola University Maryland in 2020 and has been working as a Clubroom Guide at Childpeace Montessori for the past four years.

In her spare time, she enjoys making vinyl crafts with her Cricut maker, exploring Portland with her partner Tyson, and visiting her brother and nephew in California. She still considers herself a newbie to Portland, so any suggestions are appreciated.

Primary Assistant Teacher (PM Care)

Jackie

Jackie was born in and spent their childhood in Washington County, Oregon. As the eldest of
seventeen grandchildren, they have had a lot of experience with kids, helping to take care of
and tutor their younger siblings and cousins over the years. In 2019, Jackie started attending
Portland State University, from which they received a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with a minor in
Spanish through the PSU Honors College in 2022. During their time at PSU, they took multiple
classes on human development and education, leading them to find interest in alternative forms
of education. During their senior year at Portland State, they wrote a thesis on how and why
Montessori schooling impacts the way children develop communication skills. After completing
their degree, Jackie worked as a lead teacher in a small toddler classroom in a Corvallis
childcare center, and has now found themselves as part of the Montessori Children’s House community. They hope to become accredited in Montessori teaching at the primary level in the future.


When not in the classroom, Jackie likes to pursue their multiple hobbies. They love arts and
crafts, especially cross-stitch and drawing with graphite or pastels. They also love to read,
particularly enjoying books of essays or poems regarding gratitude, joy, and plants. Jackie also
loves to bake, listen to music, learn new things, and hang out with their friends, family, and cat
named Kevin.

Primary Assistant, Tanager Meadow

Juniper

My name is Juniper; I use they and she pronouns. I grew up on the east coast climbing trees, swimming in the warm Atlantic, and reading long past my bedtime. I moved to Oregon in 2016 to study poetry in a fine arts program and I stayed to study herbalism on a nearby farm. I’ve worked at traditional & alternative schools, summer camps, a land based herbalism program, as a university instructor, and as a caregiver for neurodiverse people & people with disabilities. I treasure this work because I get to witness and nurture sparks of curiosity as learners explore the world around them and get to know the vitality of their own voice. 

Currently I am back in school for my Masters in Social Work, aiming to create accessibility at the intersection of land-based education and somatic psychotherapy. I am also studying somatics through a trauma informed yoga training program here in Portland. 

Montessori excites me because I am passionate about experiential, embodied learning. I want to participate in creating safe spaces for self-determination while simultaneously developing deeply supportive collaboration. 

In addition to dreaming up a more compassionate world, I spend my time reading, writing, practicing yoga & meditation, doodling, cycling, growing food & medicine, connecting with my ancestors, making herbal remedies, taking deep breaths, tending hundreds of houseplants with my partner, and playing with my perfect kittens.

I am honored to learn alongside the vibrant humans here at MCH!

Toddler Assistant / Snack Lead

Morgan

Morgan (they/them) grew up in Portland, OR where they enjoyed everything the Pacific Northwest had to offer. They’ve always been drawn to the arts and could consistently be found painting, dancing, or playing pretend as a child.
Recently Morgan graduated from the University of Oregon with a Bachelors of Arts in both psychology and theatre arts. They have always known that they want to work with children, which has lead them to working as a theatre arts educator and camp counselor with a nonprofit children’s theatre in Eugene, OR. After moving back to Portland, Morgan got involved with Oregon Children’s Theatre where they teach in the evenings.

In their free time Morgan enjoys reading, sewing, gardening, and playing with their cats.

Toddler Guide, Heron Cove

Tyne

Tyne was born in Montana. Her father joined the military when she was in 2nd grade and she spent much of her childhood traveling to different states and countries. Her junior year in High School she moved to Maryland where she fell in love! She became engaged her senior year of high school and after graduating, she and her fiance, Joel, moved to New Mexico to attend college. In 2005 she graduated from the University of New Mexico with a BA in History and a minor in English. After finishing college, Tyne started working at a Montessori school in Albuquerque where she began her career working with Toddlers. In 2006 her older son Porter was born and just 2 years later her younger son Mason was born. In 2010 her family moved to Hawaii for her husband’s job and Tyne soon started working with Toddlers at a Montessori school in Kailua. In 2014 she had the opportunity to obtain her  Montessori  training at the Assistants to Infancy level for ages 0-3 here in Portland at the Montessori Northwest training center. Soon after graduating from the program in 2015, Tyne and her family relocated to Portland to be closer to Tyne’s family who live outside of Tacoma, WA. Tyne spent 3 years working at Sunstone Montessori School as an Assistant Guide in the Toddler program and 4 years working at Childpeace Montessori in the Toddler Community. Tyne has many hobbies including knitting, jewelry making, rehabbing plants, and thrifting. She loves to spend her off time with her family, cats, and exploring areas of Oregon. 

Toddler Assistant / PM Care

Kat Foster

Katharine (Kat) grew up in the Bay Area where she spent most of her time participating in school clubs and activities (such as yearbook and photography classes) with her friends. When she wasn’t doing that, she was raising money for school trips to Japan and Australia, where she found her great love of traveling. She has now traveled to over 25+ countries and made great friends and memories along the way. Kat moved to Oregon to discover the natural beauty and find new opportunities within her community. She worked in fine dining service for eight years before she finally trusted her gut and applied for a job at which she always thought she would excel: working with young children. She received an opportunity to work at a private preschool where her time was spent closely working with children; here she developed a love and passion for teaching. In 2023, she enrolled into NAMC and finished with her Montessori Teaching (Early Childhood Education) Diploma. MCH will be her first Montessori classroom experience and she is eager to learn, be curious, and grow into an amazing teacher with MCH.

When she is not in the classroom, she is spending time at home with her pets and friends, going to the movies, reading novels, or trying new recipes.