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 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 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/lifestyle. Ryan has been a Toddler Guide in the past and loves getting to assist in the classroom setting. Toddlers are an 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 houseless 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 houseless 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.
Summer Guide, Heron Cove
Andrea Roberts works as an assistant within the Toddler Community; she is the Lead Guide for the Summer Term. 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 who travel from all over the world to 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 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.
Head of School
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 when the doors first opened in 2010. 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 currently serves as 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 Assistant, Chickadee Grove
Ella grew up in Southeast Portland, and entered a Montessori school at age three, staying there until they were twelve, before attending public middle & high school. They feel lucky to have been profoundly shaped by Montessori philosophy as a child and are thrilled to return to the Montessori classroom as an Assistant. They volunteered in kindergarten and first-grade classrooms while in high school and have been a regular babysitter for many lovely families since they were a teenager. They are deeply inspired by the way children approach and understand the world. They have also worked as a seller of rare books and a gelato-scooper.
Ella is also a part-time student at Portland State University, working on a Bachelor’s degree in Liberal Studies, with a focus on Women, Gender & Sexuality studies. They are invested in learning anti-oppressive ways of relating to others and appreciate Montessori’s divergence from traditionally rigid educational structures. They enjoy spending time with their friends, family and rabbit, taking meandering walks through the wetlands near their house, playing guitar, reading & writing poems, and experimenting with art.
Primary Guide, Chickadee Grove
Gina was first introduced to Montessori as a child by her mother, a trained Montessori Guide. This became the fundamental building block of her everyday life, as well as a love of the outdoors growing up in the mountains of Colorado. During high school she remained connected to children as a nanny during the summer and led a group of 5th graders during their annual camping trip. After high school she continued working as a nanny, gaining more knowledge and interest in child development through different parenting techniques and books. Her interest then developed more towards physical health, as well as the drive to cultivate change in order to make this world a better place. She then obtained her Massage Therapy license, bachelor’s degree in Health with a concentration in Ayurveda, and certification as a yoga instructor. After working in the health field for a number of years in Iowa, Oregon, and Minnesota, Gina felt a pull to return to working with children and happily found a position as an Assistant at a Montessori Children’s House just outside the Twin Cities of Minnesota. The Montessori environment fit like a glove and four months later she started her graduate degree in Montessori Education. She finds the Montessori pedagogy joyful, self-enriching, and giving of hope to the future of humanity.
When she isn’t in the Children’s House she enjoys gardening and hiking with her dog Elaine.
Erica Garcia joined Montessori Children’s House in the fall of 2011 as an assistant in the primary community. Erica quickly realized her love for the Montessori method and has assisted in multiple environments within MCH over the years.
Erica holds her undergraduate degree in human services and is excited to continue her professional growth within the Montessori community.
Erica enjoys spending time with her husband Paul and their two boys Lazarus and Elias.
Assistant, Heron Cove
Raised in a small town in northern California in a family of teachers, Stefan arrived in Portland in 2012 to attend Reed College, where he earned a B.A. in Anthropology. Stefan has more than eleven years of experience working with a wide range of students, from toddler to college-aged, as a nanny, tutor, garden school assistant, high school debate coach, and youth basketball referee.
Stefan joined the MCH Toddler Community as an Assistant in 2021. Outside of the classroom, he enjoys rummaging through archives, reading, global cinema, singing, gardening, and spending time with friends on porches and riverbanks.
Primary PM Care Lead Teacher
Emily moved to Oregon in 2015 when she and a pal decided to go on a road trip from Pennsylvania. These two ladies packed up a tiny car with camping gear, headed west, and traveled! They were on the road for a month, till Portland became a place to call home. That adventurous spirit continues to this day.
Emily has been a child care professional for 14 (+) years. One of her fondest memories is a rainbow she colored as a child that says “when I grow up I want to be a teacher like my Mom.” Her mother is a teacher to this day, teaching high school students to become child care professionals.
In 2014 Emily graduated from Shippensburg University with a BS in Human Communication Studies. Recently she graduated from Montessori Primary Guide Training at Montessori Northwest. She is demonstrating her love of learning by working on a Masters in Education in Montessori Early Learning Primary.
Outside of MCH Emily enjoys spending time with her partner Ryan. Together they help raise and train an Alaskan Malamute puppy named Tillamook, named after the forest and the cheese. Together they love to go on hikes, swimming, backpacking, and to explore the outdoors. When spending time indoors, Emily loves cuddling Nemu the cat, gardening, cooking, or baking a variety of vegetarian and gluten-free dishes, or finding a new craft to create!