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.
Primary Guide, Tanager Meadow
Merrett grew up in Minnesota in a small town about half an 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 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 is thrilled to return to MCH to be the Tanager Meadow guide!
Outside of school, Merrett loves spending time with her partner, Jack, and their cat. They enjoy 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 graduated 10 years ago 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. He stumbled across the Montessori teaching method and fell in love with working with children using this teaching method/life style. Ryan has been a toddler guide in the past and loves getting to assist in the classroom setting. Toddler’s are incredible group to get to work with.
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. As a teenager Ryan developed his faith and that faith has driven him to serve and love others in his life. For the past twenty years Ryan has helped to build houses for the homeless in Mexico. He has also lived and worked in an orphanage in Haiti. Ryan currently works with a youth group and mentors at risk teens. He has been a part of an organization called Night Strike that works with and feeds the homeless communities in Portland. Ryan believes that Maria Montessori’s methods of teaching peace and equality align heavily into his own beliefs and the way he wants to interact with the world.
Primary Assistant, Chickadee Grove
Eliza comes to MCH after 17+ years serving in various Client Management and Support Sales roles in Oregon’s business sectors including Chemical Distribution, Hospitality, Healthcare, International Food Trade, Medical Equipment Manufacturing, and the Personal Banking sectors. Happily, the Art of Education has opened up its glorious doors to her! She began her Montessori journey in November of 2016, as a substitute teacher at MCH in the toddler and primary classrooms. She went on to become the Kitchen Manager and All School Support Liaison in the years that followed.
Throughout her life and career, Eliza has played a role in the lives of children. Growing up homeschooled, she gained unique knowledge from her experiences, both in her own growth, as well as observing and working in human development, spanning the years of early childhood, elementary and adolescent years, as well as mature adults, while teaching in a University setting. She has served as a youth and camp leader at various churches and religious clubs in the Portland Metro area, as well as acting as a substitute at Helen Gordon Development Center on the Portland State University campus.
In 2003 and 2004, Eliza was a member of a non-governmental organization through Portland State University, which sought to engage in Cultural Exchange and English Language learning around the world. She traveled to Nalchik the capital city of Kabardina-Balkaria, located in the southern Caucuses region of the now Russian Federation. There she had taught conversational English at Kabardina-Balkaria State University, participating in cultural exchange and sharing hopes and dreams with the students studying there. Unforgettable moments took place while working with children at a Refugee Retreat Center in the heart of Nalchik. Children and their families had escaped there from the ravages of the Chechen war in the late 20th century. Sharing her love of juggling and calligraphy with the children proved to both beautiful and poignant moments in her journey to child education. These experiences helped shape her love for children in Oregon, and all over the globe. It enlightened her path toward teaching and bringing joyful energy, hope and love to humanity. Teaching brought her deep fulfillment and a deep desire to impact all human beings toward opportunity, growth and ultimately, Love.
Eliza studied Theology and Business, with an emphasis in the Art of Calligraphy. She has just completed an AMI Certified Montessori Training course in the Summer of 2020, which solidified her desire to continue walking upon the path of Early Childhood Education. She comes to Chickadee Grove as Classroom Assistant with four years of Montessori experience to share her love of life, discovering the world, and guiding young souls into the wonders of Nature, Language, Art and Movement.
She is deeply grateful, honored and thrilled to be at Montessori Children’s House!
Toddler Assistant, Heron Cove
Andrea Roberts works as an assistant within the Toddler Community in Owl Mountain with Veronica. She has worked at MCH for over 10 years since it opened in 2010. She has taught in Montessori schools all around Portland for 20 years.
Andrea is the creator of the “Portland Montessori House”. They provide housing for adults that travel from all over the world who come to take Montessori training here in Portland at Montessori Northwest. Andrea manages two houses, one in the historic Piedmont neighborhood and another in Alameda.
She attended Grambling State University and majored in early childhood Education, with a minor in Art. Her hobbies include baking and cooking for friends and co-workers. She also enjoys crafting in her home studio.
Toddler Assistant, Heron Cove
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 the 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. With her background of therapeutic intervention she uses these skills to work with the toddlers and she is looking forward to incorporating more art activities this school year.
Head of School
At one point or another, and often at the same time, Nick has been a Montessori child, student, assistant, guide, administrator, trustee, parent, peddler, mentor, presenter, and advocate. He has a BA in Geography from the University of St. Thomas, an AMI Primary Diploma from the Montessori Center of Minnesota, and certificates in Whole School Management and Whole School Leadership from NAMTA and WSLI respectively.
Nick was born and raised in Minneapolis, where he enjoyed hanging out at the lakes in the summer and building quinzees in the winter. He discovered Montessori in his late twenties when a friend gave him a copy of The Secret of Childhood. Nick started his Montessori career shortly thereafter, eventually landing at Children’s Workshop Montessori, where he was a primary guide for 9 years and then Head of School for another 6 years.
In 2014, Nick moved to Portland to be closer to family. He began working at Montessori Northwest, where he served as Communications Director and participated in the creation and operation of Alder Montessori, an early learning environment serving children with the greatest barriers to academic success. He joined MCH during the summer of 2017.
In his free time, he enjoys running for long distances in the woods, eating mashed potatoes as a main course, playing golf with his teenage son, and precariously stacking dirty dishes next to the sink, much to his wife’s chagrin.
Primary Guide, Chickadee Grove
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, working with children early on as a piano accompanist for children’s musical theatre. 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 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 when the doors first opened in 2010.
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 members of the Mt. Hood Ski Patrol and spend many weekends (and weeknights!) volunteering with MHSP. Courtney enjoys spending time gardening, exploring the great outdoors, cooking and baking delicious vegan food, snuggling her cats, and reading.
Toddler Guide, Heron Cove
Kate been teaching toddlers at MCH since it’s second year of operation. Prior to receiving her toddler teaching certification, she worked as a Montessori primary guide for 3-6 year olds here in Portland, receiving her primary teaching certification in 2006. Before that, Kate worked for a non-profit children’s organization in New York executing educational outreach programs across the state for K-4th graders. She studied neuroscience as an undergraduate, and completed her masters in education concurrently with her Montessori teacher training, putting together the science and the practice of how to best support the young mind in reaching its highest potential. Kate is amazed everyday how well the Montessori approach is perfectly in line with what we now know to be true from a neuroscientific standpoint.
Kate’s first language was Castilian Spanish, as her mother and grandparents and several generations before them were born and raised in Argentina. She loves learning about other cultures and experiencing them firsthand as much as possible through social experiences and travel. She grew up in the pre-recycling era, amid the toxic sludge-polluted shorelines of New York and New Jersey in a very racially- and economically-diverse community. It is likely that her upbringing is what led her to be passionate about environmental advocacy and social justice issues. Kate is a happily married mother to a two year old and step-mother to a 16 year old, who came into her life when she was five. She is an outdoor enthusiast, an avid lover of live music, a wanderlust travel junkie, and a yogi. Kate enjoys taking photos, cooking, crafting, reading and spending time with her family and friends.