Meet the team

During the first six years of life children’s brains and bodies are developing more than any other time of life. It is important that your child has a teacher with extensive experience and knowledge of the development that is taking place. This knowledge and experience enables the teacher to guide the child into activities that will assist development in reaching its fullest potential.



MEGAN ESKANDER (Founder and Director)
Megan has dedicated her life and work to understanding the child’s holistic development and intends on working with families and communities to promote an awareness of the amazing potential within every child! With six years teaching First Grade in California public schools, two years of public and private preschool, and three years tutoring adults with learning disabilities under her belt, she began to explore Montessori education. After earning an AMI Montessori Primary Diploma, and a Master’s Degree in Education (M.Ed.), she founded The Montessori House of St. Johns in her home in 2009. She is a mother of two fantastic children.

KATIE SELBY (Administrative Coordinator)
In 2009, when researching preschools, Katie was thrilled to find Megan (another Kansan!) and The Montessori House for her daughter. Katie began volunteering and when her second daughter enrolled at The Montessori House and the program grew, she was hired to help with tuition, enrollment and administrative duties. Little did she know how much her daughter’s preschool community would be so full of adventures and lasting friendships!  Katie is married to Paul, they have two girls, Annie and Mary.

JESSAMYN JOHNS (Program Coordinator and Preschool Art Mentor)
Jessamyn Johns has been teaching art to children in St Johns for 5 years. Her love of craft and experience working in many mediums brings a variety of projects to the classroom. She graduated from Cornish College of the Arts with a BFA in Printmaking and Photography.



KATE MULLICAN (Toddler Guide)
At age 14, Kate found a summer job at a Montessori camp working with 2 and 3 year old children. It made such an impact on her that she has spent her entire career in education. She believes the Montessori setting is the environment which best supports the tremendous growth from infant to toddler to child.  She and her husband put down roots in St. Johns in 2005, and they love being part of this smaller, active community and all the outdoor goodness surrounding Portland as they delight in the development of their two daughters.

OBDULIA HERNÁNDEZ CANSECO (Spanish-Speaking Toddler Assistant)

GIULIA GRIGSBY (Toddler Assistant)
Giulia grew up in La Grande, OR, and moved out to Portland to attend college. After taking a child development course, she found herself in awe of just how incredible and beautiful those years of early development are. Having attended a Montessori school herself as a child, and finding renewed intrigue in its approach, upon graduating she was fortunate to find a place in the Montessori House’s toddler community in 2017. Four years later, she’s still just as in awe and excited to be a part of this community. On weekends Giulia enjoys puzzling over crosswords, reading, playing her guitar to any birds outside who will listen, and fits in a backpacking jaunt when she can.



Ashley grew up immersed in Montessori education while attending and later working for her mother’s Montessori school in Michigan. She discovered her love of teaching while guiding rock climbing and camping trips for an outdoor education center in North Carolina. After studying environmental science as an undergraduate, she went on to earn her AMI Montessori Primary Diploma and Masters in Education (M. Ed.) here in Portland in 2007. She has been a classroom guide for 3-6 year olds ever since and brings her enthusiasm for learning, exploration, the natural world and nurturing the growth of every child to the classroom each day. On weekends you can find Ashley exploring the great outdoors of the Pacific Northwest, climbing any dry rocks that can be found and riding her bike around town.

Born and raised in South Africa, Lara spent 5 years living and working in the UK before love brought her to the US in 2003.  It was on a visit to her native country that she first heard about the Montessori Method. As a friend described Maria Montessori’s work, something resonated in her and she felt compelled to discover more. Over the next few weeks her life took on a new direction. She visited her local Montessori College, fell in love with it and immediately enrolled to study the Primary Course. In the 10 years since, she has worked as a preschool teacher and nanny both here and abroad. In 2012 she completed the NAMC Montessori Infant/Toddler training. She enjoys providing loving, nurturing care and guidance to the littlest ones at The Montessori House. She is a proud wife and mother of 3 beautiful children.



Katie Swisher grew up attending and assisting in her mother’s Montessori school in northern California. She credits her early educational experiences for her fierce curiosity in a variety of subjects from fine art to natural history, and after obtaining her BA in Music Performance/Education she pursued teacher training at Montessori Northwest in Portland, earning her AMI Primary Diploma and Master’s Degree in Education (M.Ed.) in 2004. During the following three years, she worked in classrooms on Kauai and gained an appreciation for how the Montessori method can bring families of diverse cultures together in community. Upon returning to Portland, Katie joined an established Montessori school in 2007 to initiate the development of a new classroom, where she continued as a Guide through June 2020. She is passionate about nurturing the development of children as social human beings and fostering learning by providing a beautiful, comfortable environment for exploration. Katie lives with her husband and young daughter in North Portland where they enjoy taking care of their large garden.

BARB MICHALK McDERMOTT (Primary Assistant)
Barb had her own in-home daycare for 6 years before Megan offered her a position at TMH in 2012. Working in childhood education is her passion. Growing up on a walnut ranch in Central California provided her with lots of room and adventure. Barb and her family worked hard to keep the farm running, and balancing that with school and friends wasn’t always easy. When Barb was a child, she loved cooking, baking and gardening with her Dad, Mom and grandmother. She doesn’t drive tractors any longer but she brings the other aspects of her childhood to her work. Barb lives with her husband, their two girls (9 and 11), a fantastic dog, fish and chickens. With our Montessori kids she loves to garden, craft, read and prepare snack for our school.