Meet the Faculty

Meet the Faculty

District Staff

Emily Rodriguez, MS

District Principal

Emily Rodriguez has been involved in Montessori since the age of 2.5. Her grandmother; Adeline, opened one of the first Montessori schools in Wisconsin back in the 1960s, and her father was head of school for over 23 years at a Montessori school.

Emily received a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from UW-Milwaukee, Montessori credentials in Elementary I and II from an American Montessori Society approved training program and a Masters Degree in Administrative Leadership from Concordia University. She is a certified Applied Behavior Analyst, an Orton-Gillingham trained reading intervention, a Crisis Intervention and Prevention certified trainer, trained in transgender education, responsive trauma, school safety protocols, and by Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin in Diabetes management as an effort to aid and serve students with Diabetes. Emily has taught ages 6-9 and enjoys helping her students unlock their full potential.

Due to Emily’s passion, love of her family, and desire to honor her grandmother’s legacy, she decided to open Adeline Montessori School. She believes that high-quality education should be accessible to all children and families regardless of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic status and disability. Though Emily knows there is a long road ahead to bring social justice into education, she is dedicated to her mission.

Contact Emily:

Ashley Steurer

District Program Director

Ashley Steurer is a graduate of Xavier University, where she found the Montessori Method for the first time. When Ashley stumbled upon the Montessori Method, she fell in love with the idea of educating the whole child, not just teaching to read and write but to prepare them to make a difference as adults and to learn to live in peace with all people.

While at Xavier, she received her Bachelor of Science in Montessori Education and obtained her MACTE-AMS Primary (Preschool/ Kindergarten) certification, as well as her State of Ohio teaching license (P-3, Reading P-3). She received her MACTE-AMS Elementary I (Grades 1-3) and MACTE-AMS Elementary II (Grades 4-6) Montessori Certification from Mid-America Montessori Teacher Training Institute in Nebraska. Ashley also has her Orton-Gillingham Licensure to aid children with dyslexia in learning to read. She is a co-director and teacher trainer at Oaks Montessori Teacher Education. Ashley is currently pursuing her Master’s in Educational Leadership, with administrative licensure.

Outside of school, Ashley enjoys reading, cross-stitching, paddleboarding, and hiking.

Contact Ashley:

Manda Ludwig

District Operations Manager

Manda joined the Adeline family in 2021 as a parent and volunteer. After seeing the positive impact Adeline had on her 2 children and the inclusive environment they’ve created for all students, she decided to transition to the Adeline Administration Team.

Manda graduated from the University of Central Florida with a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology. She has worked for 15 years in the Human Resources and Accounting department at a Waukesha company and has decided to use these skills to support Adeline in their vision for the future.

Manda grew up in Waukesha and now lives in Oconomowoc with her husband, 2 children (who attend Adeline), and 2 cats. Outside of school, she loves spending time with her family playing board games, reading, kayaking or finding fun things to do around town.

Contact Manda:

Cassie Madusha

District Special Education Coordinator

Cassie Madusha has been in the education field for 20 years in different sectors including child care, head start, public education, and private residential education. Her experience ranges with children in age from Birth to 21 and with diverse student populations. In the past 10 years, her focus has become students with disabilities, families, and advocacy.

Cassie acquired her Masters Degree in Educational Leadership in 2010 from Cardinal Stritch University and a Masters Degree in Special Education from the University of Wisconsin Whitewater in 2021. For Cassie, education is about helping a child discover who they are, their strengths and challenges, and finding their place in the world. Working together with teachers, families, and staff every child has the ability to grow, learn, and become a contributing member of our world.

At home, Cassie has her husband, Andy and twin 10 year old boys. As a family we enjoy training our black lab Titan as a hunter and therapy dog, being outside doing activities like UTV’ing, snowmobiling, fishing, hunting, biking, and camping. Cassie can often be found with her head buried in a book or training for her next triathlon.

Jenny Bishop, BSN, RN

District Nurse

Jenny is thrilled to be a member of the Adeline Montessori staff. Her children began attending Adeline Montessori in the winter of 2022. Within a short period of time, she saw many positive changes with her children and was so impressed by the amazing staff that she wanted to be a part of the team.

As a graduate of Winona State University’s BS of Nursing program, the bulk of Jenny’s nursing career was in health care leadership and management. After being a stay-at-home mom for several years, Jenny is looking forward to dusting off her skills to help support the wonderful staff and families at Adeline.

Jenny lives in Oconomowoc with her husband, two kids, and two high-maintenance cats. Outside of work, she enjoys spending time with family, playing the occasional round of pinball, watching favorite TV shows with her husband, and attending live theater.

Contact Jenny:

Adeline Montessori School (Oconomowoc Campus)

Brook Branscombe

Special Education, Paraprofessional

Brook is one of our special education paraprofessionals. She recently graduated from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and is eager to dive into her role at Adeline. Brook has always loved working with kids and has spent the past two and a half years working with kiddos on the autism spectrum. The Montessori philosophies are new to her, but she’s currently enrolled in the Oaks Montessori overview and is excited to learn more.

Outside of school Brook enjoys being in nature whenever she can through hobbies like hiking, biking, hunting, fishing, riding ATVs, skiing, and attempting to garden. She also enjoys spending time cooking and learning new recipes.

Sean Dalpra

Primary 1

Sean Dalpra grew up in Waukesha and attended the University of Wisconsin – LaCrosse, where he received a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education with a Minor in Early Childhood Education and Recreation Management. After being a substitute teacher in LaCrosse Sean and his wife, Abby, moved to Arizona. Sean was in Arizona for the past 10 years, with 8 of those being a General Education Kindergarten teacher in the Fowler School District. After a short break from teaching, he has since found his way back! He is excited to be at Adeline in the Primary 1 classroom working with such an amazing group of educators! This is Sean’s first experience with Montessori and he is excited to learn and grow in the community.

When Sean is not at work he loves to spend time with his family and friends. He has a three year old daughter, who will be attending Adeline this fall. He is also one of those “goofy” people who enjoys running and tries to complete at least one 5K a month.

Lexi Darga

Toddler 2


Mindi Eineichner

Upper Elementary 1

Life is good, every day, for Mindi Eineichner, who is in her seventh year teaching Upper Elementary after realizing her long-time dream of being a Montessori teacher. Mindi is also a trainer of adult learners with Oaks Montessori Teacher Education. Mindi was born and grew up in northern Wisconsin. She attended the Milwaukee School of Engineering and the University of Alabama at Birmingham to gain both a B.S. and an M.S in Biomedical Engineering, respectively. Before finding her passion in a Montessori classroom, Mindi worked for 17 years at a medical device company helping educate physicians, nurses, and co-workers on implantable device technology, including pacemakers and defibrillators.

Mindi lives in Waukesha with her wife, daughter, two dogs, and four cats. Mindi’s hobbies are cooking/baking, gardening, walking her dogs, being surrounded by trees, bonfires, puzzles, and traveling.

Lauren Ferch

Upper Elementary 1

Lauren Ferch holds a lifetime teaching license for the state of Wisconsin in grades 1-9. She grew up in Waukesha and received her Bachelor of Arts degree in education from Carroll College in 2004. Shortly after graduation, Lauren was introduced to the Montessori philosophy and has spent the years post-graduation working in academic administration and teaching at a Montessori school.

She is committed to teaching children where they are academically, socially, and emotionally to help them become who they want to be and feels the child-centered approach to Montessori education has the potential to be successful for all learners.

Outside of the classroom, Lauren enjoys spending time with her three children – all of whom are Montessori students at Adeline. The family rabbit, Eddie, joins her in the classroom.

Haley Fritsche

Special Education, Birth – 3rd Grade

From a young age, Haley desired to be a teacher. During her years at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, she was introduced to the Montessori Method. She never pictured herself having the opportunity to do work in a Montessori school while still following her dreams of working as a special education teacher. At AMS, she will be living the best of both worlds–teaching special education for children birth through 3rd grade in a Montessori setting.

Haley has had experience educating children in many settings including work as Day Camp Director, a reading interventionist, and a case manager for three- and four-year-olds. She continues to seek out opportunities that allow her to help students not only learn their 123s and ABCs but become compassionate individuals through play, exploration, and reflection.

Haley is from Northern Wisconsin so in her free time she likes to head north to spend time with her family. She also enjoys reading, relaxing in the sun, and snuggling up with her dog, Polly.

Shannon Fox

Lower Elementary 2

Shannon is a graduate of Alverno College, with a Bachelor’s Degree in English and Philosophy. She worked in human resources and office administration for many years, while raising her young children and spending countless hours volunteering at their schools. During this time, she discovered Montessori education and it was a game changer. It was then that Shannon decided to return to school and earn her Elementary Montessori licensure to be able to share her love of learning with others. In addition, she has since also completed an Orton-Gillingham training program to improve her literacy instruction in the classroom. Shannon is committed to helping students develop their whole-self potential, and focuses on creating a prepared classroom environment that is welcoming, academically stimulating and easily accessible to all students.

Outside of the classroom, Shannon loves to spend time with her family and friends, care for her many pets and plants, read, travel, hike, and savor the many flavors of world cuisine.

Mckenna Fromm

Toddler 2

Mckenna Fromm has been working with children for over 5 years. She worked with children with autism for 2 years and in the early childhood education for 3 years. Mckenna is certified in CPR, Child Abuse and Neglect, Shaken Baby Syndrome, SIDS and Introductions to Childcare Professions. She is new to Montessori but is loving every moment of it. She is also accompanied every day by her daughter Emersyn who attends Adeline Montessori.

Outside of teaching Mckenna likes to spend time with her daughter, husband and dog. She also loves to travel, hike, shop, and kayak.

Kylie Garity


Kylie Garity is excited to join Adeline Montessori. She graduated from Michigan State University with a B.S. in Comparative Cultures and Politics and Education for 5th-12th grade. She is also certified in Alternative Education through Concordia University and taught at-risk youth for 10 years in both Milwaukee and Janesville.

Kylie grew up in East Lansing, Michigan and Waukesha, Wisconsin. She lives with her husband, her 2 daughters, and 4 pets. She enjoys spending her time with her family, playing video games, crocheting, and baking.

Nora Harders

Primary 2

Nora was welcomed into the Adeline community in February of 2023, and is an assistant in Toddler 1. She became passionate about teaching at a young age, watching her immigrant grandmother passionately work as a Milwaukee teacher for over 25 years. She began working with kids through high school as a private nanny, and continued until she graduated from Alverno college in 2021 with a Bachelors in Early Childhood and Elementary Education. Post college, Nora has worked in early childhood centers continuing to grow as an educator until finding the Adeline family. She has since then fallen in love with the Montessori philosophy, and is currently enrolled in the Oaks School of Montessori teacher training, to further her abilities and knowledge base in order to become the best teacher she can be.

Outside of school, Nora can be found at home riding her horse Cash, and trailering him around most weekends to compete in local rodeos. She also enjoys gardening, kayaking, cooking, and hiking national parks with her husband Marques, and dog Denali. (She has hit 11 national parks so far, and counting!)

Samantha Heinitz

Primary 2


Sophie Howard


Sophie Howard is excited to join Adeline Montessori this upcoming 2023 Fall semester. She graduated from UW-Whitewater with a B.S. in Secondary English Education, and two minors- one in Anthropology, and another in Creative Writing. She has had experience in helping and supporting diverse individuals from her time as a Behavior Technician, as well as a Residential Care Specialist in a variety of mental health fields.

In her free time, Sophie loves spending time with her cats as well as her siblings. Some of her hobbies include reading, hiking, and painting.

Liz Kennow

Lower Elementary 1

Liz attended and graduated from the University of Wisconsin Whitewater with a Bachelor’s Degree in both Early Childhood Education and Special Education. She completed her student teaching at Adeline Montessori and has been working here full time since January 2022. During this time, Liz completed her Lower Elementary Montessori Training in May of 2023. Liz was introduced to Montessori when she attended Racine Montessori school from Primary until the end of Lower Elementary. She has dreamed of becoming a teacher since before she can remember. Liz was re-introduced to the Montessori philosophy briefly in college, and it hasn’t left her mind since! She welcomes all children into an environment where they can express their thoughts, feelings, and ideas freely and safely. She believes that the Montessori environment is the perfect place for children to learn and grow. Liz is eager to learn and grow alongside her students during the upcoming school year!

In Liz’s free time, she enjoys listening to podcasts, eating sweets, and rewatching her favorite TV shows. She loves spending time with Zach, her husband, and Donut, her puppy.

Deborah Kuzenski

Administrative Assistant

Debbie joined the Adeline Montessori staff in the fall of 2023. After years of working in a public school setting as a 4K paraprofessional, she is excited and looking forward to this new opportunity working in a Montessori setting. Her youngest daughter will attend Adeline Montessori.

Debbie lives in Ashippun with her husband, and 3 beautiful and amazing daughters, a sassy 16-year-old cat named Sadie, and Newfie named Rufus. Debbie and her family love spending time outside, camping, at a beach, or movie nights in the backyard while enjoying a bonfire. In the colder months you’ll catch the family at their oldest daughter’s volleyball tournaments.
Debbie loved the connections she made with her 4K students and their families, and she looks forward to building relationships with all the students and their families at Adeline Montessori School.

Kari Langill

Primary 1

Kari grew up in Waukesha and attended a Montessori school for her primary years. She received her bachelor’s degree from Carroll College in 2010. In 2014 while at her Montessori school’s reunion party, she spoke to a primary guide, and after that conversation, she was inspired to go back to school to get Montessori training. Kari earned her primary Montessori diploma from the AMI Montessori Institute of Milwaukee in 2015. She loved her year of training at the institute and is very passionate about the Montessori way of education. She worked in a private Montessori school in Milwaukee before deciding to get her state teaching license.

In her free time, Kari enjoys traveling, games, and swimming.

Elizabeth Milam

Lower Elementary 1, Student Teacher

Bio to come.

Angelica Ortiz

Art, Paraprofessional

Angelica has always had a strong passion for teaching. After graduating high school, Angelica immediately jumped into childcare working for an after-school program for children of all ages. It was there that she then pursued and completed her Early Childhood Education. After taking some years off to start her family, Angelica then happened to enroll her own child into Adeline. It was then that she discovered her new love for the Montessori method. Shortly after enrolling her daughter, she knew she wanted to be more involved with the Montessori community and applied to join the Adeline Team.

While working for Adeline over the past four years, Angelica has had the pleasure of working closely with assisting in Lower Elementary, Upper Elementary, Primary, and also the after-school program. During that time she found herself becoming extremely passionate with the Montessori Art foundation. After a successful year of volunteer work with Primary Art, she decided to further her education to receive her certification in Montessori Art.

Angelica has completed her Paraprofessional training through Oaks Montessori and holds a certification in Montessori Art.

Angelica is so excited to welcome all of your children into her classroom. She looks forward to creating a fun, safe environment where she hopes each child feels free to express themselves through the endless possibilities that Montessori Art has to offer.

Outside of school, Angelica loves family time with her daughter and fiancé, hiking, local festivals, and farmers markets.

Shawna Parker

Toddler 2

Shawna has always had a strong passion for working with children; it is where she finds her greatest joy. She have decided to follow this dream after employment in other areas that were not fulfilling. Shawna is excited for the opportunity here at Adeline Montessori and looks forward to bringing support to the classroom. 

Shawna lives in Whitewater with my her two children, Savannah 15, and Camden 13, Fiancée Tony and their two rowdy Beagles Izzy and LuLu. Outside of the classroom, she enjoys hiking, art, music, and anything with her family.

Kelly Rhfeldt

Toddler 1

Kelly has always had a strong passion for children and knew she always wanted to be a teacher. She graduated from Concordia University in 2001 with a Bachelor’s degree in early childhood education and a minor in adaptive education.She taught kindergarten in the Watertown school district for three years and took a long sabbatical to raise her two children. In 2017 she went back into teaching 3k and 4k. Kelly has many years of experience and believes that children learn best through play and hands on experiences in a safe environment where they can explore freely. She is excited to embark on this new journey of teaching at Adeline in the toddler room. She is new to the Montessori approach and is looking forward to learning alongside with the children, parents, and staff.

In her free time, Kelly likes everything outdoors, hiking, walking, beaches in the summer, spending time with her children, family, friends, cooking, baking, and traveling. Lastly, Kelly enjoys exploring wineries in the state of Wisconsin!!

Mike Richter

Physical Education, Paraprofessional
After-Care coordinator

A student of life, with a passion for learning and teaching every single day, Mike Richter has spent 15 joyful years as an educator in a Montessori environment. During the years of his teaching experience, Mike has been a physical education specialist & afterschool coordinator, director of enrichment, summer program coordinator, and art teacher.  Mike earned an Associate of Arts degree and Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from The University of Wisconsin – Whitewater.  Mike also holds a paraprofessional training certificate, is trained in Transgender Education, responsive trauma, and by Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin in Diabetes management. Mike’s philosophy in the classroom is a three-pronged approach – help the child realize their potential, help the child stay safe, and most importantly – have fun!

Mike is an avid aquarist and maintains many fish tanks at his home.  A jack of all trades, he enjoys woodworking, crafting, painting, making and playing music, jigsaw puzzles, fishing, playing competitive slow-pitch softball, golfing, laughing with friends, and watching every Wisconsin-based sports team.  Mike is excited for his next chapter of teaching, and working with the team at Adeline Montessori School.   

Jamie Ronco


Jamie Ronco is the infant assistant teacher at AMS and has joyfully worked in early childhood education for 7 years. Very young, Jamie was passionate about working in early childhood. She was a long term private nanny for 6 years and the past year has worked in a school environment. Since starting at Adeline this summer, Jamie has become enthusiastic and dedicated about the Montessori philosophy. Jamie is First Aid, CPR, Emergency Epinephrine Auto Administrator, Shaken Baby Syndrome, and SIDS certified. She is eager to start her Infant/Toddler Montessori Certification training and continue her education from there. Jamie truly enjoys having the honor of working with each individual and building partnerships with the children’s families as well.

When she’s not in the classroom, you can find Jamie spending quality time with her boyfriend, parents, sister, and friends. She also enjoys music, crafts, games, dog parks, animals, and silly reality tv shows. Jamie rescued a white boxer dog, Baby Marie, as a puppy in Illinois. She realized what a special, gentle soul she was and enrolled her in Emotional Support training so Baby Marie can visit hospitals, schools, and libraries to help adults and children feel comfort, love and happiness. Just like her Mom, Baby Marie loves children and can nudge, kiss, and lean on command to show them comfort. Jamie found Baby Marie loved the neighborhood cats so she adopted an orange tabby cat, Toulouse, and they are inseparable!

Becca Schiek

Lower Elementary 1


Angela Taylor

Toddler 1
Infant & Toddler Level Coordinator

Angela Taylor is the Infant and Toddler Level Lead at AMS. She has joyfully worked alongside children for the past 15 years, the last 7 being in a Montessori environment. She received her Associates in Early Childhood Education from Waukesha County Technical College, and she has completed her Paraprofessional Montessori training. Angela is currently enrolled in Oaks Montessori, where she is enthusiastically completing her training and practicum and will soon be receiving her certification as an AMS Infant and Toddler Guide.

She looks forward to each new partnership with families, as together, caregivers and families support and encourage children. She truly enjoys what she does and appreciates each unique personality that she meets in the Infant and Toddler community. The toddler years go by quickly, and she finds it a true pleasure to have the opportunity to support each child during this incredible time of growth.

In addition to serving in the classroom, she volunteers her time in the spring and fall to referee youth soccer through the Town of Mukwonago and can’t get enough of her two dogs and two cats. When Angela is not in the classroom, she enjoys all the outdoors has to offer. She appreciates hunting and foraging, camping, running, kayaking, and visiting with friends. When not outside, you can find her baking, getting crafty, or enjoying a good show curled up with her fur babies.

Samantha Thom

Special Education, Paraprofessional

Samantha Thom has been working with individuals with special needs for 6 years. Samantha has attended the University of Wisconsin Whitewater and plans to eventually continue her studies in Special Education. She is CPR and First Aid certified as well as a DPI Licensed Paraprofessional. She is very excited to join Adeline for the ’23-’24 school year.

Outside of School Samantha enjoys spending time with her cat, crafting, nature walks, and being with friends and family.

Katie Turley


Katie Turley has worked in the childcare Industry for over 15 years. She’s completed Fundamentals of Infant and Toddler Care, Sleep Baby Sleep, Skills and Strategies for the Child Care Teacher, and Introductions to the Childcare Profession. Katie also has the experience of raising her 4 children who keep her on her toes! Katie is now in inrolled in the montessori oaks tranning and is eager to start her new journey.

Outside of school, Katie enjoys fishing.camping and many more out door activites with her 4 children. She’s very excited about the new school year!

Martha Wegenke

Toddler 1

Marti (Martha) Wegenke has been working in daycare for over 22 years. She has cared primarily with infants and toddlers at two different daycare centers and worked at the YMCA kidscorner while attending Alverno College. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Education studies and she is certified in baby care, CPR, Shaken baby syndrome, SIDS, Child Abuse and Neglect, and continuing education units. She is new to Montessori and looks forward to learning about the Montessori approach with staff, children, and their parents.

Outside of teaching Marti enjoys spending time outside walking/jogging, reading, and going to movies.
She also enjoys baking a “mean” chocolate chip cookie and traveling. She lives with her 23-year-old son, Andrew, who attending WCTC, studying graphic design.

Emilie Williams


Emilie Williams is in her second year at Adeline Montessori. She holds a BA in Music from Westminster Choir College, a master’s in Music Education from the City University of New York, studied Choral Conducting at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and trained as a Music Together teacher at the Center for Music and Young Children in Princeton, NJ. Emilie has over a decade of experience teaching elementary general music, band, chorus, recorders, and guitar (mostly in New York City) and loves seeing kids learn and grow through making music.

Outside of school she enjoys knitting and hiking and sings with the Milwaukee Symphony Chorus and Milwaukee Chamber Choir. Originally from Vermont, Emilie lives in Nashotah with her husband and their two sons.

Megan Zern

Special Education, 4th-9th Grade

Megan always had a true passion for working with children and has made it her life’s work. Her pathway into education started with receiving her Inclusion Credential through UW Platteville, then graduating with high honors from Moraine Park Technical College with an Associate of Applied Science Degree and Preschool Credential, followed by receiving her Bachelor of Science in Early Education from UW Whitewater. While in her bachelor’s program, she started working as a lead teacher in a multi-age classroom in a Montessori/ Waldorf Inspired program in East Troy, WI with her now 4-year-old son Lynyrd. Megan continued her education receiving Post- Baccalaureate Certificate in Graduate Autism Specialist from UW Whitewater. Megan always had a love for Special Education and while expanding her knowledge of the Montessori method found Adeline Montessori. Megan is now pursuing her Montessori Training starting in Fall of 2023 at Oaks Montessori and getting her Cross Categorical License through the CESA 1 program.

Outside of school, Megan enjoys the outdoors with Matt (the love of her life) and their son Lynyrd who will be attending AMS this Fall in 4K. Along with their dogs Bristol (White Boxer), Oatie (German Shepherd), and a few other small family pets, they love the country life in Mukwonago, WI! Their family enjoys Asphalt Snowmobile Racing in the Spring and Summer in Wisconsin, Illinois, and Michigan and have many other hobbies related to the outdoors.

West Side Montessori Academy (Milwaukee Campus)

Claire Buccholz

Speech-Language Pathologist

This is Claire’s fifth year as a Speech-Language Pathologist and she can’t wait to see what all this year will bring. Claire loves working on communication and helping students find ways to express themselves. Claire graduated with a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Speech Pathology from Marquette University and has since lived in Milwaukee with her two cats, Gouda and Remi. In her free time Claire enjoys cooking, fitness, reading, and exploring Milwaukee.

Maria Castro

Children’s House 1 Guide


Brianna Cross


Bri attended and graduated from Marquette University with a bachelor’s degree in Educational and Communication studies. She developed a love for children at a very young age, as she followed the footsteps of her mother, who has been an educator for 35 years. Bri has worked in special education for a little over 6 years, but has 10 plus years of experience. She enjoys being able to make a positive impact in children’s lives.

This will be her 2nd year working in a Montessori education environment and has adjusted well. Bri also believes that every kid can reach their full potential regardless of their super powers.

In Bri’s free time she likes to produce music, travel & do numerous sports activities. She also enjoys spending quality time with family and friends.

Donna Cave

Enrichment and Wrap Around Care Coordinator
Morning Receptionist

Donna was inspired to be an educator because she is the youngest of six and was inspired by her older siblings who took on the roles of teachers. Her passion for education escalated during high school when she was part of the Wellness Program, engaging with students of different abilities in wellness games and activities. Through the program she learned, “Just because some of the students’ abilities were limited, did not mean they should be treated as such. They had a voice and it was my responsibility to ensure that their voice was loud and clear.”
She is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Community Engagement and Education and certificate in Youth Work. She has been within the educational system since 2013 and has worked with a diverse group of students, as a K5 Instructional assistant and a therapy technician working with students with autism and learning differences. She was a Montessori Assistant at Penfield Montessori Academy for the past three years, and is excited to now take on the role of Enrichment and Wrap Around Care Coordinator. She strives to add a little bit of brightness to the student’s imagination.
In her free time, she loves to read, enjoy the sunshine, and spend time with her family.

Lillian Gonzalez

Art, Paraprofessional

Lilli graduated from the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and also holds certification as a Special Education Aide. This is her third year in a Montessori school environment and her first year in Art Education. She has always loved creating, especially through drawing, photography and collage. When Lilli is not working or creating, she enjoys live music, playing with her two cats, and eating her weight in Indian food.

Lilli is excited to welcome students into her classroom and hopes it can be a space where they feel enriched by art and free to let their creativity fly. She feels passionately that every student deserves the chance to express themselves artistically and find a medium that lets them inspire through their own work.

Shalice Jelks



McKenzie Krutchen

Lower Elementary 1 Guide

McKenzie is looking forward to her third year of teaching in a Montessori classroom! Typically going by Ms. Mack, she earned her bachelor’s degree in education through UW- La Crosse and moved to Milwaukee where she continued her passion in non-traditional education. She recently completed her master’s degree in Lower Elementary Montessori education through UW- River Falls. Ms. Mack feels that education should be rooted in support of the whole-child through a warm environment where children experience inclusivity, engaging instruction and a safe place to be themselves. Ms. Mack aims to create a space in which children foster a love for learning that is empowering and joyful. She believes in the strength of community and cannot wait to collaborate with you and your child(ren)! In her freetime she enjoys running, biking, reading and trying new art projects.

Rachel Lapow

Upper Elementary 1 Guide

Ms. Rachel is very excited to begin her first full year as a Montessori guide in the Upper Elementary 1 classroom! She has been working with children for over 4 years, starting in early childhood and eventually elementary. Rachel graduated from UW-Milwaukee with her Bachelor’s Degree in English and Photography. She is currently one year into getting her Montessori Teacher Certification. She has always been deeply passionate about learning and loves getting to share that experience with others! Rachel believes everyone has a right to equitable, quality education and prioritizes following through on that belief. She strives for the classroom to be a home away from home, where the children feel safe and comfortable enough to find their own passion for learning! In her time outside of school, Rachel loves to bike, go hiking, take care of her many plants, make art, sew, and read.

Emily Mehlhorn

Upper Elementary 1 Guide
WSMA Program Director

This is Emily’s seventh year of teaching in a Montessori classroom and she cannot wait to start the year and help West Side Montessori Academy thrive! Emily received her Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education and Fine Arts from Carroll University. She attended Mid-America Montessori Teacher Training Institute where she obtained her Montessori teaching credential for Lower Elementary (grades 1st-3rd) and Upper Elementary (grades 4th-6th). She is currently enrolled at the University of Milwaukee Wisconsin to obtain her Master’s in Administrative Leadership. Emily believes that education is the foundation of our future. It is the responsibility of the teachers and families within our community to ensure each child is provided an individualized, accessible, and inclusive education to help them grow into a future leader and advocate for others. In her free time she loves to hike and camp with her fiance and dog, spend time with her family and friends, as well as make ceramics and oil paint.

Dani Merar

Lower Elementary 1 Guide
Family Liaison

This is Dani’s seventh year teaching in a Montessori classroom and she is so excited to begin this new journey with such an amazing community! Dani graduated from Butler University with a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education, Special Education and Reading Intervention. She completed her Montesssori training and master’s degree through University of Wisconsin River Falls. Dani believes strongly in an inclusive and equitable education for all filled with joy, communication and collaboration. In her free time, Dani likes to read, puzzle, spend time with friends and family and play tennis.

Alyssa Peterson

Upper Elementary Special Education

In May of 2020, Alyssa graduated Carroll University with a degree in Psychology. She started teaching in Janesville the following September. In August of 2021, Alyssa earned her license to teach K-12 Special Education and Elementary Education from The American Board for the Certification of Teacher Excellence. Alyssa then worked at Penfield Montessori Academy for two years as a Special Education Teacher for Lower and Upper Elementary. She is now very excited for the opportunity to work at West Side Montessori Academy! In her free time, she enjoys reading, camping, crafting, hanging out with her family, and spending time with her dog, Lula! Alyssa is looking forward to helping provide an inclusive and equitable montessori education for all students.

Sonia Raymonds

Children’s House 1 Guide

Sonia Raymonds received her Montessori accreditation through the Association Montessori International (AMI) at the Montessori Institute of Milwaukee. While completing her Montessori training, she worked as a paraprofessional at Maryland Avenue Montessori. In addition to her accreditation, Sonia completed her Bachelor’s in Early education from the University of Milwaukee. She also got her Masters in Education through Loyola University of Baltimore. She has had seven years experience as a lead primary guide at Penfield Montessori Academy. Sonia and her husband have two beautiful daughters who both attend(ed) Montessori schools. Her youngest is in third grade, here at West Side Montessori, and her oldest is a sophomore in high school. As a parent of a child with special needs, Sonia fully understands the patience, love, and extra attention that is needed to help students in their everyday life and is passionate about creating a loving inclusive environment. When Sonia is not teaching, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, traveling, cooking, and practically any outdoor activity. She is so excited for another school year, and is looking forward to working with you and your child(ren).

Kristina Staut

Children’s House & Lower Elementary Special Education

Last school year, Kristina Staut was a Special Education Teacher for students from Lower, Upper, and Secondary classrooms at Adeline Montessori School in Oconomowoc, WI. Kristina received her bachelor’s degree in Psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and her Master’s degree in Cross Categorical Teaching at Carroll University. She is licensed to teach General Education (K-9) and Special Education (K-12).

Kristina enjoys discovering how each student learns best and uses that knowledge to create individualized learning plans that meet the student’s needs and highlights their strengths. As a Neurodiverse person herself, and a parent to a Neurodiverse four year old, she recognizes how important representation is and strives to be a role model to her students. One of her favorite quotes is “I would not change you for the world, but I will change the world for you.” It is a sentiment that reminds her of the reason she wanted to become a teacher and reflects the kind of world she would like to leave behind.

In her free time, she enjoys hanging out with her three cats, playing piano, watching movies and playing videogames with her spouse, reading anything that has to do with Psychology, and learning languages (ASL, German, Spanish, etc.)

Krystal Stollenwerk

Food Services Director


Casandra Wipperman

Occupational Therapist

Casandra Wipperman, known at school as Ms. Cassie, received a Bachelor’s Degree in Rehabilitation Science and a Masters Degree in Occupational Therapy from Concordia University Wisconsin – Mequon. She started her career in the Montessori setting at Penfield Montessori Academy in 2018. Prior to her career in Montessori she was a special needs nanny, and because of this has a special interest in genetic disorders. In her free time, she enjoys showing her daughter the many fun things life has to offer. Some of her favorite adventures are going on roadtrips, attending Brewers games, and going to the Zoo. Ms. Cassie also loves teaching her daughter about finding the best deals, whether it is couponing at grocery stores or heading out to thrift stores. This year she is excited to continue her career at West Side Montessori Academy and Adeline Montessori. Ms. Cassie looks forward to providing a nurturing and safe environment in which your child can learn and grow in both mind and body.