Faculty and Staff
The faculty and staff of Montessori County school are a passionate group of educators who are devoted to creating and sustaining an environment of respect and joyful learning for children and families.
Meghan Kane Skotheim, Head of School
Meghan has been a member of the Montessori Country School community since 1993 when her oldest son joined the toddler class. She has served as a room representative, French teacher, substitute teacher, and head teacher. Meghan received her undergraduate degree in Art History from the University of Colorado, her Montessori training from the Rocky Mountain Training, and her Master’s in Education with an emphasis on early childhood from Seattle University. Her years of teaching and parenting have strengthened her belief that the first twelve years of life are profound. She considers it an honor to spend time in the presence of young children, following their lead.
When she is not in the classroom, Meghan spends most of her time with her children, Benjamin, Maxwell, and Rebecca, and her husband Kris. She loves to spend time at her cabin on the Olympic peninsula, reading novels, and enjoys gatherings with her extended family.
Karla Piecuch, Associate Head of School
Karla first became acquainted with the work of Maria Montessori while studying Philosophy and Comparative Religion at the University of California at Santa Cruz, where she graduated with Honors. Karla came to MCS in 1987 to work as a classroom assistant; she loved how the philosophy of Montessori translated into the actual classroom experience and received her Montessori certification shortly thereafter. After serving as a classroom teacher, she became the Associate Director in 1991. Before coming to MCS, Karla worked as the Executive Director of the American Cetacean Society in San Pedro, CA.
Karla’s time outside of school is spent hiking, climbing, indulging her passion for books and music, trekking in the Himalaya, and doing volunteer work for street dogs in India and Nepal.
Hilary Benson, Program Director
Hilary joined the Montessori Country School community in 2005 as a classroom teacher. She holds a BA from Bates College and is a Montessori credentialed Primary teacher. Hilary received her M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Washington following a residential year at Islandwood’s graduate education program. She currently serves as Program Director for the school. In this capacity, she manages the school’s communications and marketing, organizes school events, and provides additional support in the classroom. Hilary has been on the MCS Board of Trustees since 2010. Hilary is a native Washingtonian and attended Bainbridge High School. She currently lives on Bainbridge with her husband and two sons, both students at MCS.
Annie Hodges, Development Director
Annie was first acquainted with Montessori pedagogy while volunteering in a Montessori preschool. That experience taught her the importance of child-centered education with an emphasis on educating the whole child. Annie received her undergraduate degree in English and Educational Studies with a certificate in Secondary Education from Saint Louis University and her Master’s in English Composition and Rhetoric from University of Missouri St. Louis. Prior to coming to Montessori Country School as its Development Director, Annie worked as a high school English instructor, adjunct college professor, and district technology trainer.
Annie has a passion for bettering her community through service. She has tutored underprivileged youth at Raising the Bar, organized fundraisers and coordinated volunteers for Service for Sight, served as Fundraising Chair and a board member for Payback Inc., and currently serves as Chair of Mom’s Morning Retreat on Bainbridge Island. When not working, Annie spends most of her time with her daughter, Olivia, an MCS student, and her husband Ben. She enjoys hiking, skiing, running, gardening, and reading.
Elaine Salot, Office Manager
Elaine and her husband moved to Bainbridge Island in 2000. She holds a BS in Computer Science from the University of California, Irvine. Elaine worked as a Technical Writer in several high tech companies until her daughter was born. Her daughter started at Montessori Country School as a toddler and finished as a 5th grader. Being a parent volunteer in the classroom and school office allowed Elaine to discover how much she enjoys being at school and watching her daughter and other students blossom into confident and compassionate people. Elaine joined the elementary staff in 2011, and she has enjoyed getting to know all the students, siblings, parents, and grandparents when they come through the office. Elaine loves to sew, read, bake, and spend time with her family and friends.
Teaching Faculty and Staff
Shirley Becker, Primary Teacher
As a military child, Shirley grew up in Europe, Asia, and across the United States. Shirley earned her undergraduate degree in Family and Consumer Sciences, Family and Child Science, from New Mexico State University where she graduated with honors. She learned about Montessori when an acquaintance invited her to visit her Montessori preschool. It was love at first sight. The next year, Shirley was an assistant in the school and the following summer she went to The Institute for Advanced Montessori Studies in Silver Springs, Maryland to begin her training and earn her AMS teaching certification. Before coming to Montessori Country School as a Primary Teacher in 2013, Shirley ran her own Montessori preschool for several years in New Mexico.
Shirley has four children and spent her early adult years raising her family, volunteering in her children’s classrooms, and serving in her church. She now has eleven grandchildren who bring joy to her world. She enjoys spending her time outside of school with her family, friends and animals. She likes antiquing, home design, gardening, and spends as much time as possible at the beach.
Jaclyn Chao, Upper Elementary Teacher
Jaclyn was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. After earning her BA in History from University of California at Berkeley, she embarked on a fellowship teaching in Oakland public schools. For six years, Jaclyn taught high school and elementary students with special needs.
First as a parent, then as an educator, Jaclyn discovered and fell in love with Montessori education. This newfound professional curiosity led to work as an Education Specialist at a Montessori school. During interim summers, Jaclyn pursued AMI Elementary training with Montessori Northwest.
In 2016, Jaclyn, her husband and two daughters moved to Bainbridge, returning to her husband’s native home. She was thrilled to join MCS in 2016 as both a parent and an Upper Elementary teacher. They have thrived in the natural beauty and warm community of the island. Jaclyn enjoys spending time with family and friends, running, hiking, camping, climbing, reading, cooking, and learning how to tend a yard.
Cheryl Dauber, Primary Teacher
Cheryl earned her BA in Developmental Psychology from Humboldt State University in Arcata, California. She was introduced to Montessori education in 1997 when she began her work as an Assistant at Montessori Country School. She earned her AMS Primary Teaching Certification through the Montessori Education Institute of the Pacific Northwest. Cheryl took a sabbatical from MCS when her daughter was born; she taught part time for a local preschool. During this time she earned a Master’s in Teaching and K-8 Teaching Certificate. Cheryl went on to teach third grade at a Montessori inspired elementary program in Kitsap County. Her passion for teaching is motivated by the excitement children have about learning. She believes it is an honor to witness the moment at which a child makes a new discovery and finds a new level of independence.
Cheryl grew up in Santa Cruz and Paso Robles, California. Outside of teaching, Cheryl enjoys knitting, reading, hiking and camping, traveling, and swimming in Puget Sound with her family. Her daughter is a 2007 graduate of Montessori Country School.
Heather Ferguson, Primary Assistant
In the summer of 2017, Heather moved to the Puget Sound area from Portland, Oregon where she was born and raised. She enjoyed her undergrad days as an Art major at Western Oregon University. In 2016, she earned her AMI Primary diploma from Montessori Northwest and her Master’s in Education in Montessori Education from Loyola University Maryland.
Heather has 10 years of experience working in early childhood education, five of which were spent in a Montessori classroom as a Primary assistant. Her experiences and education have cultivated respect for the child's work of self-construction and a deepened understanding of why a holistic approach to education is so profound. She is so happy to be joining the community at Montessori Country School.
In her personal time Heather enjoys reading, writing, playing guitar, singing, listening to music, bicycling, snowboarding, camping, yoga, fine art, and exploring the majestic Puget Sound.
Amy Glen, Primary Assistant
Amy is a native Oregonian but considers the entire West Coast home, having lived everywhere from the sunny beaches and wine country's rolling hills of California to the cool, salty beaches where evergreens abound in the Northwest. She joined the Montessori Country School community in 2017.
Amy has worked with children in one capacity or another for most of her life, but found a new and deeper understanding of child development when she completed both Montessori Northwest's Primary Guide and Assistants to Infancy trainings (AMI) in 2011.
Amy enjoys spending time with family and friends, cooking up new concoctions in the kitchen, and exploring the great outdoors. She is excited to start this new adventure at Montessori Country School and looks forward to the upcoming year!
Angie Godfrey, Music Specialist
Angie joined the MCS community as a parent in 2013 and shortly thereafter became the music teacher. She is a graduate of the University of Victoria with a BA in Music Education. Angie teaches Pre-Primary, Primary, and Elementary students. Her classes are largely based on the Orff Shulwerk Approach. She creates a child-centered way of learning music by using everyday activities for music creation. She uses singing, dancing, and rhythmic instruments to introduce students to the fundamentals of music.
Prior to her arrival at MCS, Angie taught Orff Music in the Bay Area of California. She also has experience teaching middle school band, orchestra, choir and musical theatre. She is very active with the Bainbridge Chorale including the Olympic Girls Choir. Angie lives on the island with her husband and two daughters.
Beth Goodwin, Primary Assistant
Beth joined the Montessori Country School community in 2010 as a parent and became a staff member in 2015, in an office and classroom support role. In 2017 she became an assistant at the Primary level. A graduate of Carnegie Mellon, she also has a Practitioner Diploma of Homeopathy from the international extension of The School of Homeopathy in Devon England. She appreciates how the Montessori philosophy honors the child’s individuality and the relationship between the child, teacher, and parent is one of collaboration.
Out of the classroom, Beth maintains a homeopathy practice, Goodwin Homeopathics, and teaches yoga. At home, she stays busy keeping up with her son, an elementary student at Montessori Country School.
Elizabeth Houghtaling, Infant & Toddler Teacher
Elizabeth, a Colorado native, spent much of her childhood nurturing a love for the outdoors. A graduate from the University of Northern Colorado with a BA focused on Ethnic and Gender Studies, she went on to begin her career working in early childhood education in Ethiopia as a volunteer teacher. After her return to the United States, she was introduced to the Montessori philosophy as an assistant in a Montessori classroom. She immediately fell in love with the Montessori method and quickly realized her life’s calling. She returned to school at the Montessori Centre International where she completed her International Certification for the Primary level. She went on to teach at a public charter school in Denver and later, internationally, at a school in Albania.
Elizabeth most recently completed her second Montessori certification for Infants and Toddlers at the Montessori Education Center of the Rockies in Boulder, Colorado. Elizabeth is deeply passionate about working with families with infants and children of toddler age. In 2016, Elizabeth was asked to be a part of the American Montessori Society’s inaugural cohort for the Emerging Leadership Program.
Elizabeth loves living on Bainbridge Island and being part of the Montessori Country School as both a teacher and a parent. She is excited to raise her children in the same place where her husband grew up. When she is not in the classroom, she spends her time taking walks, reading, traveling, and struggling to learn how to both knit and play ukulele.
Hollind Kevo, Lower Elementary Class Assistant
A Seattle native, Hollind graduated from Gonzaga University with a BA in Elementary Education and an endorsement in Special Education. She has focused her 25 year career on teaching and educational support. This includes serving as an Assistant Director at a K-5 school in the early 90s, where her responsibilities included hiring and training teachers, managing school admissions, and curriculum design. Hollind has developed a deep respect for Montessori education during her time as an assistant in the Lower Elementary classroom. She especially appreciates how the Montessori classroom is thoughtful and beautiful, yet simple in its design. She values the way in which the classroom fosters curiosity and success among the students. Hollind lives on Bainbridge Island with her husband and daughter (a former MCS student), where she enjoys reading, gardening, cooking with friends, and traveling with her family.
Shawn Kreider, Lower Elementary Teacher
Shawn has always had passion for helping children and families learn and grow. He received a BA in psychology from Michigan State University and worked as a counselor at a children‛s psychiatric hospital and as a social worker before returning to school for his teacher certification. He received his 6-9 AMS Montessori training from Michigan Montessori Teacher Education Center and finished his Master‛s degree in Curriculum and Teaching from Michigan State University. He recently completed his AMI 6-12 Montessori Training at Montessori Institute of San Diego.
Shawn has taught in a second and third grade multiage classroom, a traditional first grade classroom, and a sixth through twelfth grade Montessori classroom before venturing to the Pacific Northwest to teach at MCS in the Lower Elementary classroom. Having begun his college education as a music major, he continues this passion in his classroom by singing and writing songs with students to perform. Shawn takes in the beauty of the area through biking, hiking, skiing, all of which he enjoys with his three sons. On those rainy days you‛ll find him cooking, reading, and playing guitar, hopefully, with a fire in the fireplace.
Lillie Peery, Spanish Specialist
Lillie began teaching at Montessori Country School in 2015. After 18 months learning Spanish as a volunteer in Paraguay, she earned her bachelor’s degree in Spanish Teaching from Brigham Young University. After graduating, Lillie taught high school Spanish in Utah. After moving to California and starting a family, she taught adult Spanish night classes and tutored in order to be with her babies during the day. Now that her five children are in school, four of whom are currently at MCS, Lillie is thrilled to be teaching Spanish again. She loves working with children and getting them excited about learning new cultures and a second language.
Ali Pepper, Primary Teacher
Raised on Bainbridge Island, Ali joined the magical MCS community in 2012 when she moved back to Bainbridge. Starting as an assistant to the office and lunch program, she quickly realized she had a calling to work with children. Ali has been a Primary teacher since 2013.
Ali holds a BFA with a focus in photography from Kutztown University of Pennsylvania. She earned her AMS Early Childhood certificate from the Montessori Education Institute of the Pacific Northwest in 2014.
Outside of school, Ali enjoys being outdoors, knitting, yoga, cooking, and spending as much time as she can with her husband Patrick and their two daughters.
Emma Taylor, Upper Elementary Teacher
Emma was an Oregon native until 2013 when she moved to Seattle in search of a job and found Montessori Country School. She received her BA at the University of Oregon, majoring in Sociology and minoring in Special Education. Emma was a Montessori child herself, starting in the primary classroom through the 5th grade. She completed her AMI Montessori training in Portland, Oregon in 2012. The following year she became an Upper Elementary Teacher at Montessori Country School.
Emma enjoys cooking and experimenting in the kitchen. She stays active with her husband, John, and dog, Layla. She loves road tripping, spending time with friends and family, and anything outdoors.
Lydia Walsh, Infant & Toddler Teacher
Lydia grew up in Seattle and moved to Bainbridge Island after graduating from the University of Washington in 2013, where she majored in Geography and minored in Italian. Lydia began working at Montessori Country School in 2013 and was immediately drawn to the Montessori philosophy of independence and respect for the child. She completed her AMS Infant and Toddler training in 2017 and truly loves the sweet and precious time of toddlerhood. She appreciates how, working with toddlers, every day is another opportunity to watch them grow into their personalities.
In her free time, Lydia enjoys cooking, running, doing yoga, and spending time with her husband, Evan.