Faculty

Administration

Patricia Colby, PhD

Patricia Colby, PhD
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Position: Head of School
Joined: 2016

Prior to joining the faculty at Mountaintop, Patricia served as Head of School at Montessori Center School of Santa Barbara, CA. She taught in Montessori elementary classrooms in Livermore, CA and served as an Adjunct Faculty member in Elementary Montessori Education at St. Mary's College of California. She earned a PhD in Psychology from the University of Calififornia, Davis.

Janice Chapman

Janice Chapman
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Position: Director of Lower School, Assistant Head of School
Joined: 1993

Janice has worked in many of our programs serving a wide range of ages during her long tenure at Mountaintop and has developed a broad base of expertise as a classroom guide and an administrator. She served as a Children's House guide from 1998 to 2010 when she moved to the elementary level. Janice has also served as the director of our summer programs for several years.

Corey Borgman

Corey Borgman
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Position: Director of Upper School; Middle School Guide
Joined: 2004

Corey taught in DC and New York independent and Montessori schools prior to coming to Mountaintop. She completed the Permaculture Design Course with the Blue Ridge Permaculture Network in 2007. Corey provides middle school instruction in specific subjects, serves as the students' advisor, and oversees the work of the many faculty members who teach at the middle school level.

Becky Harris

Becky Harris
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Position: Director of Business Operations
Joined: 2000

Becky was a Mountaintop parent and seasonal employee in our summer program prior to joining our administration full time. She came to Mountaintop with experience in banking and small business ownership.

Austin Robey

Austin Robey
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Position: Director of Advancement
Joined: 2013

Austin is an experienced administrator who came to Mountaintop with five years of experience in university student activities and civic engagement. He is also a musician who has provided accompaniment for student performances at Mountaintop.

Shelby Snedeker

Shelby Snedeker
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Position: Director of Camps and Afterschool Programs
Joined: 2018

Shelby worked for Girl Scouts Spirit of Nebraska as an Outreach Specialist where she established after-school programs, creating and leading curriculum. She also directed My Summer Place (MSP), a camp created to offer quality programming to low-income families. Shelby earned her Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing, and a Bachelor of Arts in English from Creighton University.

Thérèse Benzinger

Thérèse Benzinger
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Position: Registrar
Joined: 1996

Therese was a Mountaintop parent for four years prior to bringing her front office experience to Mountaintop full time in 2000. She received a degree in Business Administration from Averett Univeristy.

Christy Perkins

Christy Perkins
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Position: Business Office Assistant
Joined: 2003

Prior to working in the business office, Christy worked in our after-school program and toddler community. She completed a degree in Business Administration from Averett University.

Tom Tiller

Tom Tiller
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Position: Front Office Coordinator
Joined: 2018

Tom has served Mountaintop as a class rep, chair of the Parent Association, trustee, and chair of the Board of Trustees. Professionally, he has worked as a copy editor, a writing instructor, and a preschool teacher.

Chris Cornett

Chris Cornett
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Position: Facilities Coordinator
Joined: 2018

Chris has over 25 years of experience in the maintenance and construction field. He has previously worked as the maintenance director of a local nursing and rehabilitation facility.

Toddler

Susan Kennedy

Susan Kennedy
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Position: Toddler 1 Guide; Toddler Coordinator
Joined: 1996

Susan has worked with infants, toddlers, and their parents since 1993. Her association with Mountaintop includes many years as a parent and service on our board of trustees prior to joining the faculty in 2009. Susan also helps local families solve parenting challenges in her work as a parent coach certified through the Parent Coaching Institute.

Kristen Mays

Kristen Mays
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Position: Toddler 1 Assistant
Joined: 2013

Kristen has several years of experience with young children in preschool and recreational settings.

Kallie Scheible

Kallie Scheible
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Position: Before School Care, Toddler 1 Assistant
Joined: 2015

A proud Mountaintop graduate, Kallie has worked in childcare for years, both privately and as a frequent substitute in our Montessori classrooms.

Alissa McKown

Alissa McKown
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Position: Toddler 2 Guide
Joined: 2006

Alissa attended a Montessori Children's House as a child. She came to Mountaintop with experience in childcare and experiential environmental education. In addition to her work in her Toddler classroom, Alissa teaches Mountaintop's Parent Infant Class on Friday mornings.

Elaina Smith

Elaina Smith
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Position: Before School Care, Toddler 2 Assistant
Joined: 2016

Elaina joined the Mountaintop staff as part of the aftercare team before transitioning into the toddler program. Before her time at Mountiantop, Elaina worked as a pediatric dental assistant and orthodontic technician.

Children's House

Stephanie Gist

Stephanie Gist
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Position: CH1 Turtle Class Guide
Joined: 2009

Stephanie completed the classroom portion of her Montessori training in the summer of 2014. She has also worked as an assistant in our toddler program and as an afterschool enrichment instructor at Mountaintop. Prior to joining our staff, Stephanie cared for infants and preschoolers and shared her dance experience through the teaching of movement.

Maria Cantor

Maria Cantor
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Position: CH1 Turtle Class Assistant
Joined: 2016

Maria began her Montessori journey as a parent. Interested in what she saw, she worked as a classroom substitute on our campus. Previously, she has worked for University Credit Union and in the technology sector.

Sue Alston

Sue Alston
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Position: CH2 Dolphin Class Guide
Joined: 2001

Sue came to Mountaintop with three years of experience in other Montessori schools. In addition to being a Children's House guide, Sue has also worked at the toddler level.

Shawn Carey

Shawn Carey
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Position: CH2 Dolphin Class Guide; After-School Coordinator; CH After-School Guide
Joined: 2001

Shawn came to Mountaintop with several years of experience in preschool special education in the city of Charlottesville. She began here as a member of our afterschool program staff and went on to pursue Montessori training. Shawn has been a leader on our faculty especially in the area of afterschool programming where she has help us achieve a high level of consistency with the Montessori classrooms.

Micaela Raine

Micaela Raine
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Position: CH3 Hummingbird Class Guide
Joined: 1995

Micaela began her Mountaintop career in our afterschool program in 1995 and went on to obtain Montessori training. She then served as a Children's House Guide at MCS until 2001, when the first of her two children was born. Micaela worked in our summer program in 2005 and returned here full time in 2006. She also teaches health and wellness to our middle school students.

Mary Reitsma

Mary Reitsma
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Position: CH 3 Hummingbird Class Assistant; Substitute Coordinator
Joined: 2002

For several years, Mary has often been found lending her experience as a classroom substitute with students of all ages at Mountaintop. She also works behind the scenes coordinating substitutes for school days and organizing care for our students during evening and weekend events for parents.

Polly Beckington

Polly Beckington
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Position: CH4 Cardinal Guide
Joined: 2010

Polly's work as a nanny and her experience training and teaching at a Montessori school in Florida inspired her to pursue training for the 3-6 year old level at the Washington Montessori Institute.

Amber Boyd

Amber Boyd

Position: CH4 Cardinal Assistant
Joined: 2017

Amber has worked in primary education for many years, both in public school and daycare settings. Most recently, she was an Instructional Assistant in the Charlottesville City school system.

Elementary

Debby Norton

Debby Norton
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Position: Lower Elementary 1 Guide
Joined: 2007

Debby has been working in Montessori schools since 1990. In 1995 she returned to WMI to assist with Montessori teacher training and album reading. She joined the elementary faculty in 2014, after working for several years in the Children's House level at Mountaintop. In addition to her many years of experience in Montessori toddler and Children’s House classrooms, Debby provided Montessori-inspired childcare in her home for six years. Debby completed level 1 of the Orff-Schulwerk training at VCU in 2010 and completed level 2 in 2011. She is also certified as a Hoopnotica instructor.

Beth Tayloe Hobson

Beth Tayloe Hobson
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Position: Lower Elementary 1 Assistant
Joined: 2011

In previous years, Beth has worked at Mountaintop in the Children's House, ecology, SEED and Smash programs. She is an active cook and has worked previously as a Gourmet Chef.

George Logan

George Logan
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Position: Lower Elementary 2 Guide
Joined: 2006

Prior to joining the Montessori movement, George directed and taught educational programs at a state museum of archaeology and history in southern Maryland. At Mountaintop, he has served as a Reading Specialist and Lower Elementary Guide.

Lindsay Seagull

Lindsay Seagull
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Position: Lower Elementary 2 Assistant
Joined: 2018

Lindsay brings with her several years of experience working with children at ACAC Adventure Central. She has a Master of Arts in Food and Culture from New York University.

Becca McNair

Becca McNair
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Position: Upper Elementary Guide
Joined: 2014

In her time at Mountaintop, Becca has taught at both the Lower Elementary and Upper Elementary levels. Prior to obtaining her Montessori training, Becca served with AmeriCorps in Colorado, led outdoor adventure tours for international groups and taught English in South Korea.

Brittney Morgan

Brittney Morgan
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Position: Upper Elementary Guide
Joined: 2016

Brittney brings to the classroom her experience as a Montessori child! Before working at Mountaintop, Brittney taught English at an elementary school in Thailand. She completed her Outdoor Leadership Certificate in Patagonia, Chile, then led an afterschool program in Asheville, NC.

Karla Gonzalez

Karla Gonzalez
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Position: Upper Elementary Assistant
Joined: 2017

Karla attended a Montessori school as a child in Tlaxcala, Mexico. After studying Ballet at Benemerita Universidad Autonoma de Puebla, she was a dance instructor and Au pair. She joins the Mountaintop staff after working in our SEED camp.

Trisha Willingham

Trisha Willingham
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Position: Elementary Resource Guide
Joined: 2001

Trisha served as an elementary Montessori guide in Vancouver for seven years and has several years of experience as a Montessori school administrator. In addition to her Montessori classroom experience, Trisha holds a certification in Orton-Gillingham Language instruction. She was our Director of Education in the 2001-2002 school year and served on our board of trustees for two years.

Nica Waters

Nica Waters
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Position: Elementary Resource Guide
Joined: 2014

Nica's background as an educator is long and varied, working with children from elementary through high school, in subjects ranging from the humanities to health. She is a self-taught cook and believes strongly that fitness begins in the kitchen! Nica also has her own Youtube series about fitness and healthy eating.

Middle School

Corey Borgman

Corey Borgman
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Position: Director of Upper School; Middle School Guide
Joined: 2004

Corey taught in DC and New York independent and Montessori schools prior to coming to Mountaintop. She completed the Permaculture Design Course with the Blue Ridge Permaculture Network in 2007. Corey provides middle school instruction in specific subjects, serves as the students' advisor, and oversees the work of the many faculty members who teach at the middle school level.

Britt Gendell

Britt Gendell
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Position: Middle School Guide
Joined: 2010

Britt joined our middle school faculty in 2012 after working with us as a seasonal employee in our SEED summer program. She has also taught elementary and middle school PE during her time at Mountaintop. Prior to joining our staff, she worked as a teacher and coach in area high schools.

Co-curricular subjects

Tara Morrison

Tara Morrison
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Position: Garden to Table
Joined: 2015

Tara comes to Mountaintop with 16 years of experience as a caterer in Mississippi, Alabama, South Carolina and New York. She has worked with schools to install and maintain school gardens, and been an active advocate in the local food movement across the South Eastern United States. Tara guides the Garden to Table program for lower elementary, upper elementary and middle school.

Michelle Bonham

Michelle Bonham
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Position: Elementary and Middle School Spanish
Joined: 2017

Michelle's adventures in teaching Spanish have taken her to Chile, India, Italy, Montana, New York, and finally, to Mountaintop. She is a former Peace Corps volunteer in Guatemala, where she worked as an environmental educator. Michelle recently completed training in the OWL (Organic World Language) instruction method, which emphasizes movement, immersion, and community.

Pat McCafferty

Pat McCafferty
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Position: Ecology
Joined: 2011

In 2011, Pat began working as a lead counselor in our ecology and garden-to-table summer program, SEED, where his experience with environmental education in a variety of settings was a boon to the growing program. As an Echols Scholar at UVa, Pat designed his own major to focus on the ways that environmental stewardship work fosters human growth and development.

Heather Donaldson Cormons

Heather Donaldson Cormons
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Position: Elementary Science and Innovation
Joined: 2000

Heather attended a Montessori school as a child. She worked at Mountaintop from 2000 until she moved from the Charlottesville area in 2003. She returned to guide our elementary summer program in 2005. Heather has also pursued specialized training in reading instruction and worked as a resource teacher and consultant. She returned to Charlottesville in 2006 and rejoined our faculty in 2007.

Ali Sullivan

Ali Sullivan
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Position: Children's House Spanish
Joined: 2013

Ali came to Mountaintop as a parent in 2009 and has taught Spanish in our after-school enrichment program since 2010. She joined our staff officially in 2013, and also teaches at the International School of Charlottesville and privately.

Emily Hunt

Emily Hunt
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Position: Art; Elementary After-School Guide
Joined: 1995

Emily is formally trained in painting and sculpture including an intensive summer studio art program at Virginia Commonwealth University and studying under the renowned portrait artist, Nickodemus Hufford. Emily has worked with the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts to maintain an educational partnership between our school and the museum. She is also a long-time public servant who has served in local government in Nelson County and on a task force of Central Virginia art supporters studying resources for art education in the state.

Alma Scheible

Alma Scheible
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Position: Children's House PE; Elementary After-School Guide
Joined: 1986

Alma worked at a Montessori school in Texas prior to joining the Mountaintop faculty. She assisted long-time Lower Elementary 1 guide, Estra Roell, in the classroom for many years including the years when our Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary was established. Alma has guided art, PE, ecology and garden-to-table sessions for students of all ages.

Laura Leva

Laura Leva
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Position: Music, Dance & Drama Guide
Joined: 2005

Laura began working at Mountaintop as an assistant and attended Montessori training at Northeast Montessori Institute in the summer of 2006. Laura began assisting with performing arts instruction at Mountaintop in 2010. She also coordinates our after-school enrichment program during the school year.

Before/After School Programs

Katherine Vance

Katherine Vance
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Position: Toddler Aftercare
Joined: 2018

Katherine comes to Mountaintop with previous experience directing a licensed childcare program. This experience, as well as the experience of being a mother to four children, has taught her to love and learn from the innocent and unique perspective each child brings to the world.

Rabia Magee

Rabia Magee
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Position: Toddler Aftercare
Joined: 2017

Rabia rejoins the Mountaintop staff, having worked for several years as an assistant in the Toddler classroom. She was first drawn to Montessori as a parent, and transitioned from active parent to classroom assistant during her daughter's time as a student at Mountaintop.

Julian Cameron

Julian Cameron
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Position: Children's House Aftercare
Joined: 2018

Julian began at Mountaintop as a parent and a substitute. Before his time at Mountaintop, he taught English as a second language in Bogota, Columbia.

Niki Mustain

Niki Mustain
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Position: Children's House & Elementary Aftercare
Joined: 2017

A graduate of Longwood University, Niki comes to Mountaintop with experience working with young children as a nanny and in private daycare settings.

Pete Sacco

Pete Sacco
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Position: Art Assistant, Elementary Aftercare
Joined: 2011

Pete serves as the art assistant and as one of our elementary afterschool guides. He worked at Mountaintop 2011-2013, then returned after completing his degree.