OUR STAFF

PRIMARY

Betty Namuddu

Lead Teacher - Primary 1

Betty graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Education; History, Economics from Makerere University, Kampala Uganda. Before coming to MSC, she worked as a primary assistant teacher at Jubilee Academy and as a volunteer teaching assistant at Columbia Montessori Children’s House. Betty earned her Early childhood Montessori credential at the Institute of Advanced Montessori studies in Maryland and her Master’s in Education from St. Catherine University in Minnesota.

Viji Saravanan

Lead Teacher - Primary 2

Viji Saravanan has a Bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Madras, a diploma in Computer Applications from Loyola College, and holds two Montessori certifications at the primary level. Before joining MSC, Viji taught for 10 years at the Montessori Children’s House of Columbia. She has been a lead primary teacher at MSC since 2014.

Mani Seneviratne

Lead Teacher - Primary 3

Miss Mani, as she is known to generations of children and parents in Columbia, has worked as a Montessori teacher for more than thirty years at the Montessori Children’s House of Columbia. Mani was trained as a Montessori teacher in her native country, Sri Lanka, and has been teaching children using the Montessori Method since 1976.

Sarah McCants

Assistant Teacher - Primary 1

Sarah is completing her undergraduate studies in early childhood education at the University of South Carolina. She has been working at MSC since 2015 and has worked as a classroom assistant, extended-day teacher, and summer program counselor. Before joining MSC, Sarah worked to create and establish her family’s hydroponic gardening company in Ridgeway, SC.

Janeta Radieva

Assistant Teacher - Primary 2

Janeta received her Bachelor’s Degree in Education and Master’s Degree in Pedagogy and Primary Education from the University of Sofia in her native country, Bulgaria. She holds more than 30 years of experience working with children, 13 of which were spent as a primary teacher in Bulgaria. After moving to the U.S., her focus has been working with preschool children and she has spent the last 6 years teaching in Montessori schools.

Corey Jungclaus

Assistant Teacher - Primary 3

Corey received her Bachelor’s Degree in Social Science from the University of North Dakota. Since graduating in 2011, she has worked as a Montessori teaching assistant, a nanny, and a mother. She received her 230 hour yoga certification and loves to practice Ashtanga yoga. Corey is planning to attend the San Diego Montessori Institute to become trained at the primary level.

ELEMENTARY

Misty Dickson

Lead Teacher - Lower Elementary

Misty graduated from USC with a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and returned to USC for a Master’s degree in Early Childhood Special Education. She taught first grade in South Carolina for two years and spent five years teaching first and second grade in Indiana. In 2011, Misty completed her Montessori elementary certification at the Seacoast Center for Education in New Hampshire.

Sidney Little

Lead Teacher - Lower Elementary

Sidney graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from the University of South Carolina and has since worked with all age levels of our school in roles such as extended-day teacher, physical education director and summer program counselor. Prior to his career at MSC, Sidney volunteered at Tutor Eau Claire and was a professional baker for Publix. He’s completing his training at the Montessori Elementary Teacher Training Center in Lexington, MA.

Michael Thigpen

Lead Teacher - Lower Elementary

A career student, Michael has three degrees from the University of South Carolina and one degree from Lander University. He holds a Master of Education, a Master of Arts in Teaching, a Master of Public Administration, and a Bachelor of Psychology. Michael completed his Montessori lower elementary training in 2015 and his upper elementary training in 2019. He taught in the public school system for ten years before becoming a Montessori teacher. Michael joined the Montessori School of Columbia elementary teaching team in 2016.

Erica Patterson

Erica has her bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in English from the University of South Carolina, as well as two degrees in elementary education from Drexel University and Lander University. She is certified by the American Montessori Society to teach lower elementary. Erica has taught English at Keenan High School; writing, ESOL and 4th grade at public schools in New York; and was a lower elementary teacher at Brockman Montessori in Forest Acres.

Jim Young

Lead Teacher - Upper Elementary

Jim holds a Bachelor’s degree in Slavic Languages and Literature from the University of Virginia and an AMI elementary teaching diploma from the Washington Montessori Institute in Washington DC. Before joining MSC, Jim taught lower elementary for nine years and upper elementary for four years. He began his Montessori career at The Butler School in Darnestown, Maryland. Jim and his wife, Kathy, founded the Montessori School of St. Andrews in Columbia, where Jim was the co-administrator and a lead teacher.

Erin Knox-Boyd

Lead Teacher - Upper Elementary

Erin is an MSC alumna, having attended from age 3 through the sixth grade. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in Women’s and Gender Studies from the College of Charleston with a minor in Studio Art. After graduating college, Erin moved to Portland, Oregon where she obtained her AMI elementary teaching certificate from Montessori Northwest.

ENRICHMENTS

Nitzia Gutierrez

Nitzia Gutierrez is a native Spanish speaker from Mexico. She holds a bachelor’s in law but found her passion as a Spanish teacher at the Bridges Language School in Charleston, SC. Nitzia teaches our students in small groups five days a week.

Jennifer Roche

Music Instructor

Jennifer has a Bachelor’s degree in music and is a certified K-12 music instructor. Jennifer is also trained in Montessori elementary education and enjoys incorporating music with the Montessori curriculum. She plays the piano and has taught music to children both in public and private schools.

Jessica Smith

Art Teacher

We are thrilled to Jessica Smith teaching art at MSC. Jessica, or “Jess” as we fondly call her, has her bachelor’s degree in studio art from Winthrop and has worked as an art teacher at The Hive Studio and Gallery, The Art and Play Therapy Center of SC, The Portrait Gallery, and Our Heritage Studio. Jessica is also a yoga instructor for people of all ages and abilities. She is certified in trauma yoga and is now a Yoga Alliance Continuing Education Provider. Jess describes herself as an artist, spouse, mother of two girls, and lover of nature.

Kathy Young

Librarian and Reading/Writing Coach

Kathy holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism from the University of South Carolina. She earned her Montessori lower elementary certification at the North Carolina Center for Montessori Teacher Education. Kathy was an owner, administrator, and teacher at the Montessori School of St. Andrews in Columbia, and she taught lower elementary Montessori at the Montessori Community School in Durham, NC. Prior to her work as a Montessori teacher, Kathy had extensive editorial and writing experience at various South Carolina newspapers, schools, and businesses. After years of being in the elementary classroom, Kathy loves being our school librarian and reading/writing coach.

OFFICE

Karen Kuse

Head of School

Karen has been in Montessori education since 1990 when she began her career as a lead teacher in a lower elementary classroom. She has been a Montessori Head of School in Florida, North Carolina and South Carolina. Karen holds a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies and a Master of Science in Elementary Education. She also holds two certifications with the American Montessori Society and is certified in School Management. Karen is also an adjunct professor and teacher trainer, and she became Head of MSC in 2010.

Leslie Greene

Assistant Head of School

Leslie graduated from the University of South Carolina with a Bachelor’s degree in Experimental Psychology, Cognate in Child Psychology. She earned her 3-6 certification from the Center for Montessori Teacher Education in Raleigh, North Carolina. Leslie is a level 250 certified yoga instructor for children and adults. After teaching in MSC’s primary program for 5 years, Leslie joined the administration as Assistant Head of School in 2016.

Becky Carter

Director of Development

After years of volunteering with MSC’s development office, we hired Becky as our Director of Development in the fall of 2016. She holds a Master’s degree in Public Health from Emory University and a B.S. in Nursing from McMaster University. Wanting a change from the nursing and public health industry, Becky joined MSC as a philanthropy specialist.