Isabelle is new to Montessori and will be working as an assistant teacher in the toddlers classroom. Outside of work, she enjoys reading, writing, and spending time outside!
Elyse is joining the Montessori Community School staff after 7 years of being a Montessori parent. She is fortunate to know many of the students at MCS and to have followed their development as artists over the past 5 years. Her art background includes both a technical skillset (art studio) as well as contextual skillset (art history). As an art teacher, her goal is to foster in each student an enduring respect for creative expression and to help them develop their own visual language for communicating their ideas, feelings and experiences. Elyse earned dual BAs in Art and Biology from Williams College, MA. She earned her PhD in evolution and behavior from Oregon State University, followed by an NSF Postdoctoral Fellowship in neuroscience. She is the eternal student and has continued her education with drawing and painting courses at the University of Utah, Oregon State University, and Westminster College. Elyse is concurrently an adjunct professor of human anatomy and physiology at Westminster College and adjunct professor of human biology at Salt Lake Community College. She is mother to Veronica: a job that she lucked into with absolutely no qualifications.
Sydnee was born and raised in Salt Lake City, and loves it here. She likes to travel and see new places, but thinks that coming back home is always great, too. Syndee loves being outside hiking, camping, and hammocking, as well indoor things like visiting art museums, doing crafts, and cooking. Sydnee started out at the University of Utah as a sociology major, until she began working at an elementary school as a reading tutor. She had so much fun and loved watching the students get excited about learning new things. Her next year in school she changed her major to elementary education, and is now currently studying, working and volunteering in classrooms as much as she can. Sydnee learned about the Montessori program in one of her classes at the University of Utah and is excited to be working at a Montessori school!
Toddler Support/Extended Day TeacherDani is one of our toddler extended day teachers who just joined us this year. She loves traveling, singing, and dogs! Dani is currently attending the University of Utah to double major in Communications and Spanish. Dani is very excited to be working at the Montessori Community School, and we are so lucky to have her!
Elementary Extended Day TeacherNicole was born on a chilly February morning in Mesa, Arizona, where she lived with her parents and Grandma. Her grandmother always taught her the importance of taking care of things, why it matters to have people or things depend on you; and not only what you can teach it - but what it can teach you. When she was three years old her family decided to move to Utah for a new start and a new job for her mother. Nicole has grown up in Utah ever since and loves it. She believes that you really can’t beat these Utah mountains and sunsets! Growing up, Nicole has always loved plants, children, and animals. Nicole knew she had a couple of dreams and choices to make to figure out where she wanted to be and what she wanted to be doing in life.
Nicole has been a vegetarian since age 12 and as of last year is now fully vegan. She never plans on going back! Because she was so passionate about animals, Nicole graduated high school a year early from Valley High to get a head start on her vet schooling. She did one year of pre-vet at SLCC while also teaching and taking childhood development classes, and started to realize that she was enjoying the childhood classes and being around children more than the vet studies. Around this time she got a job at Cactus & Tropicals in Draper. Shortly after starting there she found that her true passion was not as much in animals as it was plants. Her plant obsession took over and soon her house was full! She knew she had to follow where her heart and passion were and decided to switch her major. She applied and got accepted to Utah State University where she is currently working towards her degree in Horticulture.
Ana Bunce is a Utah native who spent some time in Arizona before returning to the Wasatch Mountains she adores. Hiking, skiing, climbing, biking, camping and river rafting are her favorite adventures. Ana has two kids, aged 9 and 6, and as a family, they enjoy recreating together as well as music and the arts. Ana loves architecture and cities - design is a huge passion. Playing and teaching the violin has been apart of her life for over 30 years. She has played professionally in string quartets and ensembles and was a first violinist with the West Valley Symphony in Phoenix for seven years. She believes that music soothes her soul.
Upper Elementary Spanish
Maria was born and raised in San Salvador, El Salvador. She and her husband moved to Utah in 2001. They have three beautiful children, Valeria, Jose, and Gabriel. Maria has spent many years working with young children. Maria has taught Spanish at McKee Language School but currently tutors children from preschool to elementary school ages in Spanish privately. Maria has a bachelors degree in Preschool Education and a degree in Communications and Journalism. Maria's favorite hobbies are reading, watching movies, and traveling. She has been falling in love with her city's historic heritage. She has already started on her bucket list of places to visit: UNESCO Heritage World Cities in Mexico such as Guanajuato, Guadalajara, etc.
Movement & Dance
At a young age Haley began dancing with Virginia Tanner. Throughout her childhood and teen years she trained with Clytie Adams School of Ballet in Kaysville. Her love of dance really blossomed as a young teen dancing contemporary under the direction of Sarah Adams Robinette. She was an officer in her dance company at Davis High School and continued taking dance classes while earning a bachelors degree in Economics at the University of Utah. After marrying the love of her life, having children, and moving to central Washington, she realized there were no dance classes for her young daughter who loved to dance! So, naturally, she created and began to teach Pink Tutu’s , a creative movement class for toddlers. Later she took classes from Frankie Bonnell-Jones at Chelan Dance Centre and soon after was teaching creative movement. She introduced and taught the only Mommy and Me class in the Chelan Valley and enjoyed having her three year old daughter a part of that fun experience! Haley and her husband John have three children and she is very terrified of snakes.
Outdoor Classroom & Great Outdoors ("GO")
Donda Hartsfield was born in Amarillo where she grew up learning to love the high plains of Texas. She studied the arts at USU and practiced massage therapy for 6 years. When Donda’s son started going to the Montessori Community School when he was three and a half, she was immediately taken with the Montessori method and over time decided to go through the Utah Montessori Teacher Education Program (UMTEP) to get her certification in Early Childhood Montessori method. Donda started out teaching yoga and creative movement in Montessori. In 2005, Donda began teaching at the Montessori Community School as she also started the Great Outdoors Expedition program for elementary. In 2009, Donda initiated the Outdoor Classroom for Early Childhood where she delights in seeing children thriving in their natural environment. Donda has completed both the Project Wild as well as the Project Learning Tree courses for teachers, which continue to inspire her natural studies. One of Donda’s favorite things is eating yummy food while she dances to music that she loves. Little known fact: Donda starred in Neil Simon’s comedy play Star Spangled Girl in her early twenties.
Behavioral and Special Needs Consultant
Carley Hines is a teacher, mother, and future Montessorian. This is her daughter’s second year at Montessori Community School and she could not be more thankful to be a part of the MCS community. Having been on the parent side, she is now very excited to be joining the staff as a Montessori Intern and Special Needs resource for the teachers and families at MCS.
Carley was born and raised in Utah. She loves music, travel and lots of playtime with her family. Her and her husband own a business that they’ve grown over the past 8 years through many different jobs and schooling. Carley earned her BA from Westminster College in Marketing and went on to work in that field for a few years, holding different positions in management. During her undergraduate she was part of the service learning scholar program where she was a literacy tutor at title 1 schools and always loved it. That experience is what made her decide to go back to school in 2011 to pursue a Master’s degree. Carley received a Master’s of Arts in Teaching in both general and special education. She then taught at Washington Elementary in Salt Lake City until having her daughter. This past year she has been back at Westminster supervising teacher candidates in the Mild/Moderate special education program. To her, it has been an encouraging experience to be on multiple sides of education - as a student, teacher, parent and supervisor in both general and special education. Carley feels strongly that education should be accessible to all children; and feels grateful to be able to offer support in any way that she can to MCS families.