Assistant Teacher - Willows
Amanda is a native Oregonian and grew up in Lake Oswego, Oregon. She was fortunate to work in the school district she attended as a child and focused on the area of Special Education for the Lake Oswego School district for 17 years, even working with some of her former teachers. Amanda, her husband and two children decided to change scenery and move to Utah in November 2020. As lovers of the outdoors, they are all thriving here. Going on family hikes, skiing, enjoying local farmers markets and exploring new places are their favorite things to do together. Amanda also enjoys photography, making jewelry and crafting. Amanda is inspired by the Montessori philosophy and is excited to be part of the Montessori team.
Early Childhood Teachers
Assistant Teacher - Willows
Teacher - Aspens
Ruby Chouldjian was born in Tehran, although her ancestry is Armenian. She traveled to many places, including Russia, Armenia, India, Kuwait, Bahrain, Austria, Italy and Germany before coming to the U.S. in 1987. Her husband Mike is a mechanic (Range Rover Specialist) and they have two sons, their older son Michael (and his wife Armineh) and their younger son Albert. Ruby obtained her Montessori Certification through the Montessori World Education Institute (MWEI), Utah Montessori Teachers Education Program (UMTEP), Early Childhood Language, Arts, Music, and Children with Special Needs Course from the Center for Guided Montessori Studies (CGMS). Ruby started teaching in 1997 at Willow Creek Montessori and joined the Montessori Community School in 2000. Her favorite aspect of Montessori philosophy is the independence and visual hands-on that it provides. Ruby enjoys reading in her spare time and spending time with her grandchildren Amelia and Eva.
Teacher - Willows
Karey Smith was born in Lehi and is the oldest of five girls. She was an "Army Brat" and traveled all over until her family settled in New Jersey. She lived in England for a while and then returned to the U.S. to complete her Montessori Infant and Toddler training in Princeton, New Jersey. She then moved to Utah for her Early Childhood Education Montessori training. She has been working in Montessori since the age of 16! She loves to read, listen to music, watch movies, cross-stitch and spend time with her family. Little known fact about Karey: her sisters are all named with K's – Krissy, Krisha, Kendra, and Kimberly. Her mom's name is Karen. Her dad's name: Bob!!
Dual Language Teacher - Sequoias
Cinthya Barajas was born in Baja, Mexico. She worked as an ESL teacher at a private school for 6 years in which she taught students from 1st though 6th grade. While teaching, she attended the University of Baja where she obtained her degree for teaching English in elementary schools. She moved to Salt Lake City in February 2001 and continued her education at Salt Lake Community College for an introduction to Utah Schools. She joined the MCS staff in 2007 and received her Early Childhood Montessori credential through the North American Montessori Center (NAMC). She really enjoys being part of children’s educational development which is extremely rewarding. She truly believes that learning should be fun and a memorable experience, and therefore activities, songs, and manipulative materials should be used to reinforce and develop the children’s learning capabilities.
Teacher - Willows
Annie Hays has been teaching at MCS since 2015. She has worked in the Toddler and Early Childhood programs, inspired by the way the Montessori philosophy shows respect for young children. She previously worked with children ages 0-5 at the YWCA, a women’s domestic violence shelter. Annie holds a Bachelor’s degree in Human Development from the University of Utah, as well as a Early Childhood Teaching Credential from the Center of Guided Montessori Studies. She lives in Salt Lake with her husband and puppy, and enjoys spending time exploring the city with her loved ones.
Teacher - Sequoias
Catherine Mathews was born and spent most of her life in Utah. She was introduced to Montessori philosophy when her children were young and fell in love with this beautiful education for life. Cathie has been involved in Montessori environments since 2002. She received her Early Childhood Certification through Institute of Guided Studies and joined the MCS staff in 2017. Cathie has taught in Early Childhood and Early Elementary Montessori environments and has enjoyed both. She feels passionate about assisting children in becoming independent learners with an inner drive for discovery in all aspects of their lives. Cathie’s greatest love is her family. She and her husband, Brian, are the parents of 2 girls and 3 boys. She feels the best gig in her life is that of being a grandparent!
Christina was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. She received her Bachelor of Arts from CSU Long Beach in 2011. Christina and her husband moved from Southern California to Salt Lake City in 2016. They share a love for natural spaces and outdoor activities, which is what brought them to Utah. Her love for children and desire to contribute to their education is what led Christina to Montessori Community School in 2018. Christina attended the Institute for Montessori Innovation at Westminster College and received her Early Childhood Credential in June of 2019. Her favorite aspect of the Montessori environment is being a part of a welcoming environment that fosters the child’s love for learning. She has a passion for sewing, design, and ceramics. In her free time, Christina enjoys hiking or biking with her husband and beloved dog. She also enjoys gardening, skiing, cooking, traveling, camping, and climbing. Little known facts about Christina are that she spent 10 years working in the Apparel Industry and in 2015 enjoyed a year long traveling honeymoon.
Teacher - Aspens
Kayla is looking forward to another fun year at Montessori Community School and she is excited to work with the students, families, and staff. She grew up in Nevada and moved to Salt Lake City to attend the University of Utah. Kayla got her degree in Speech and Hearing Sciences in 2017. She attended the Center for Guided Montessori Studies and received her certification for Early Childhood in February 2020. In her free time she likes to read, hike, and spend time with family. She is looking forward to watching the students grow, develop, and learn new things.
Assistant & Extended Day Teacher - Aspens
Assistant & Extended Day Teacher - Willows
Kara loves learning new things. Her older sister Annie Hays has taught her a lot about the Montessori method. Kara loves the respect that it gives to each child from the moment they are born. Kara was so happy there was a position open in the extended day program so she could have the opportunity to be in this magical world. Kara also loves to spend time outdoors and make new friends.
Katie was born and raised in Santa Rosa, California nestled in the rolling golden hills of the wine country. She holds a B.S. in Psychology from BYU and a B.S. in Communications Disorders from USU. Katie has been an active member of the Montessori community in Salt Lake City since 2010 and has worked as both an early childhood assistant and lead teacher. She has also worked with children in Title 1 and special education preschool programs. From 2014-2016, Katie attended the Institute of Guided Studies and will complete her Early Childhood Montessori credential very soon. Katie is thrilled to join the MCS staff this year as an early childhood teacher. Katie’s husband and 2 children are the greatest gifts of her life. She enjoys spending quality time with them whether on a hike in the mountains, playing on the beach in California, or snuggling on the couch reading books. Fun fact: Katie is an accomplished singer songwriter and performer, whose guitar accompanies her in the classroom daily.
Assistant & Extended Day Teacher - Magnolias
Kendalyn is currently working as a teachers assistant in the Magnolias classroom and will be there to help both the teachers and students have a happy and successful school year. She loves children and have always been interested in becoming a Montessori teacher herself. She loves learning and hopes to pass that love on to the children in the classroom. She graduated high school in 2018.
Assistant & Extended Day Teacher - Sequoias
Kylee is one of the assistant teachers in the Early Childhood Program and is so excited to be a member of the MCS community! Originally from Oregon, Kylee has been living in Utah for the last four years and is happy to live in this beautiful state! Kylee finished her undergrad in Outdoor Recreation at Utah Valley University and is looking to pursue a masters degree in Experiential Education. She loves to read and spend time outside with her husband. She can be found hiking, backpacking, mountain biking, skiing and exploring Utah.