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, Marlee and Cairo.

MONTESSORI PRIMARY GUIDES:

Ashley Christensen (Primary Guide).
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.

Jodi Zeisel (Primary Guide).
Jodi was born in Peoria, Illinois, where she grew up barefoot in the woods, always out exploring, helping her mom in the garden, the farms, or having picnics. Her first degree is in Photography, althought she switched to working with children, and received her AMI certificate in 1996 at the Montessori Institute Northwest. She has since traveled and taught up and down the West coast for nearly 20 years, with 5 years off as a Nanny in Davis, CA. She started her teaching career up on San Juan Island, then Seattle, then Rumsey, CA, then a short stint in Myanmar, then finally back to Portland, where she found her Montessori home with us. Some of her interests include yoga, cooking, crafting, animals (she has a cat, ZuZu), travel, photography, and gardening. She plans on including some of these activities in the Eagles classroom, where she started as a Guide in July 2017.

 

MONTESSORI TODDLER GUIDES:

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.

Lara Bohn (Toddler Guide).
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.

ASSISTANTS:

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.

Melody King (Primary Assistant for the summer).

Obdulia Hernández Canseco (Spanish-speaking Toddler Assistant).

 

 

 

 

Sara Claflin (Toddler Assistant and Preschool Drama Mentor).
Sara started working with children at her local YMCA in her hometown of Gig Harbor, WA when she was in high school. Sara taught ballet and worked in the daycare, eventually teaching other classes as well as summer camp. While studying Drama at New York University Sara supported herself by working with preschool children through Jumpstart, a program designed to help with reading and language comprehension before kindergarten. After graduation, she decided to make the move back to the west coast. She knew she wanted to continue working in early childhood education and had heard great things about the Montessori approach through friends and colleagues.
As a child, Sara spent most of her time playing with her younger sister and putting on performances with her cousins. Pretend play was (and still is) one of her favorite things to do -she loves diving into imaginative play with children. She also enjoys supporting this type of play with books by reading with as much expression and curiosity as she can muster.

SPANISH PROGRAM:

Cristina Serrano (Spanish Teacher – Spanish Program Coordinator).
Cristina was born and raised in Spain. She realized how important it is to have a second language when she moved to London a couple of years before she graduated from Law school at Universidad de Alcalá (Madrid). She traveled to almost 30 countries before she moved to the US in 2013, when she started teaching/tutoring her Mother tongue to both children and adults. Cristina has two bilingual sons, Lucas (5) and Thomas (3), who love traveling, painting, and being outdoors as much as she does. She also enjoys photography, surfing, blogging, and hanging out with friends in the St Johns community. She started at TMH as the Primary Assistant in 2015 and has been sharing her language with our kids ever since.

ADMINISTRATION:

Katie Selby (Administrative Coordinator).
After graduating from the University of Kansas with a BS in Psychology, Katie worked for a private nonprofit social service agency advocating for children in foster care. She was excited to find Megan (another Kansan!) and the Montessori House for her then four-year old daughter. She began volunteering and when second daughter enrolled at The Montessori House and the program grew, Katie was hired to help with tuition, enrollment and administrative duties. In her childhood, Katie enjoyed rollerskating, reading and playing outside. Her favorite activities to share with children are reading, sharing stories and nature. Katie is married to Paul, they have two girls, Annie and Mary (11 and 8) and a puppy named Hank!

COMMUNITY CONNECTIONS:

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.

 

Al Shireff Eskander (Support and Clay Arts Mentor).