"If education is protection to life, you will realize that it is necessary that education accompany life during its whole course."
- Maria Montessori
Interim Head of School
Leslie joined MSC as a primary lead teacher in 2011 and moved to administration as Assistant Head of School in 2016. In 2023, she stepped in as Interim 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 Montessori Primary Certification from the Center for Montessori Teacher Education in Raleigh, North Carolina. Leslie is also a level 250 certified yoga instructor for children and adults and enjoys spending time outdoors and with her family.
Sarah attended Midlands Technical College and the University of South Carolina for Psychology. She has been working at MSC since 2015 and has worked as a classroom assistant, extended-day teacher, and summer program coordinator and counselor. Before joining MSC, Sarah worked as both a hydroponic gardening specialist and the manager and baker at a gourmet cupcake shop. Sarah loves to cook, bake, organize, and spend time with her family, which includes her two dogs, Birdie and Juniper.
Chief Financial Officer
Brittney graduated from Midlands Technical College with a degree in Business Management and The University of South Carolina with a degree in Organizational Leadership. She previously worked at USC for 10 years with positions in grant management, budget, human resources, and procurement. Brittney is certified in LEAD professional management, Title IX training, and PCI compliance, which she obtained from USC. She also holds a commercial drivers license and worked in transportation for over 12 years.
Administrative Assistant & School Photographer
Virginia graduated from University of South Carolina with a degree in Photojournalism and a minor in Media Arts. She worked as a stringer for the Associated Press for 20 years before becoming a full time freelance photographer. Virginia has been a photographer for MSC for several years and chose to join MSC’s staff in 2021.
Director of Development
Michael attended Colorado College where he received a BA in Chemistry and a minor in Ancient World. He worked as a financial planner and tax preparer for over a decade before becoming a stay-at-home parent for his twins. During the 11 years the twins attended MSC, Michael served on the Board of Trustees for six years, five of which he was Chairperson of the Board. While his children have graduated, Michael is thrilled to continue to be part of the MSC community.
Lead Teacher - Primary One
Sunshine has been working in both private and public Montessori classrooms since 2012. Her career began at the Montessori School of Spartanburg where she was trained as a Montessori assistant and began her Infant/Toddler certification. It was also there that she fell in love with the pedagogy of Montessori. After moving to Columbia and into Richland One’s public Montessori program, she created a mindfulness room at Caughman Road Elementary and was Logan Elementary’s 2022 Classified Employee of the Year. Sunshine attained her Primary Certification from the Houston Montessori Center and is completing her Bachelor’s in Behavioral Health Science .
Assistant Teacher - Primary One
Siquan was born and raised in Charleston, SC. She graduated in 2019 with an Associate’s Degree in Education and completed her Bachelor’s in Interdisciplinary Studies 2023. She has worked in childcare for over three years and is excited to join the Montessori classroom as an assistant guide.
Lead Teacher - Primary Two
Tonisha Higgins is joining the MSC team for the 2023-2024 school year and is receiving her Primary Montessori certification from the Center for Montessori Teacher Education in Huntersville, North Carolina. Before coming to MSC, she earned her Associate’s Degree in Early Childhood Education and taught as a Primary Montessori instructional assistant for sixteen years. In 2017, Tonisha obtained her Bachelor’s Degree in Educational Studies. She is excited to join MSC and has loved each visit to the campus, noting how loving and welcoming the staff and children are at our school. She loves Montessori because it teaches her to follow the child, and her goal is to become the best teacher possible. She believes the love and support from the MSC community will help her to reach that goal.
Assistant Teacher - Primary Two
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.
Lead Teacher - Primary Three
Corey earned 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 completed her primary AMI teaching certificate at the Montessori Institute of San Diego.
Assistant Teacher - Primary Three
Tristin graduated from highschool in 2021 and is a South Carolina native. She has worked as a camp counselor, babysitter, nanny, daycare employee, and waitress, before joining MSC as an aftercare teacher.Tristin then quickly fell in love with the Montessori values and began to substitute at the school when needed. This year, she is an assistant teacher and excited to continue her Montessori education. Her goal is to become a lead teacher after completing the school and training that she will be working towards as she settles into her new position.
Aftercare & Summer Camp Program Director
Vera holds a Bachelor of Arts in Professional English from Claflin University. She also holds a Master’s Degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Human Resources from Strayer University. She served the South Carolina Education System for two years and retired from The South Carolina Department of Corrections after over 22 years of service. Vera joined the MSC community in 2018.
Lower Elementary Lead Teacher - Magnolia
Misty has been teaching for over 30 years. She graduated from the University of South Carolina Honors College with a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and returned to USC for a Master’s degree in Early Childhood Special Education. She taught traditional first and second grades in South Carolina and Indiana. In 2008, she started working at the Montessori School of Columbia where she was an upper elementary assistant teacher and a primary teacher. In 2011, Misty completed her Montessori elementary certification at Seacoast Center for Education in New Hampshire. She has been a Lower Elementary Lead Teacher for 12 years.
Lower Elementary Lead Teacher - Magnolia
Sidney graduated in 2013 from the University of South Carolina with a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication. In 2014, he joined the Montessori School of Columbia as a Primary extended day teacher. From 2015 to 2017, Sidney served as an MSC summer camp counselor, Upper Elementary Assistant/ PE Teacher, and Lower Elementary Assistant. In 2017, Sidney began his Lower Elementary Teaching Certification with Montessori Elementary Teacher Training Collaborative located in Lexington, Massachusetts. He has served as a Lead Lower Elementary Teacher since and has obtained his Elementary I Certification.
Lower Elementary Lead Teacher - Palmetto
Michael Thigpen earned his AMS Certification in Lower and Upper Elementary Montessori through Lander University, where he also learned an M.Ed. in Montessori Studies.
Lower Elementary Lead Teacher - Palmetto
Originally from Ukraine, Iryna graduated from the national university of Yuriy Fedkovich with a Bachelor’s Degree in English and Arts, she also obtained her Master’s degree in teaching English language in higher institutions. She also holds a translator’s diploma. Iryna has worked as an assistant professor at her university for a year, then moved on to lead an English course program at a private college. She started her Montessori path 6 years ago, when she started working at a local Montessori school back in VA. She completed her AMI Elementary training in August 2022. She has been teaching for over 15 years.
Upper Elementary Lead Teacher
Erin is a graduate of MSC, attending from age 3 to 12. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in Women’s and Gender Studies from the College of Charleston with minors in Studio Art and Latin. After graduating college, Erin moved to Portland, Oregon where she obtained her AMI elementary teaching certificate from Montessori Northwest. Erin has worked with all age levels of our school starting the extended day program,then lower elementary, and now she is currently co-teaching in the upper elementary classroom.
Lead Teacher - Upper Elementary
Stuart has been in the Montessori classroom since 2004, beginning as a Teacher’s Assistant and growing into a Lead Teacher role in Upper Elementary at Brockman Montessori School in 2011. He has experience at the Primary, Lower Elementary, and Upper Elementary Levels. Stuart holds his Master’s Degree in Montessori Education from Lander University and his Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education from Columbia College. He also achieved Media Studies and Art and Design Degrees from his home country, the United Kingdom.
Upper Elementary Lead Teacher
Andrea graduated from the University of South Carolina in 2016 with her Bachelor’s of Arts in Elementary Education. She attended Sandhills Montessori Institute in Swansea, South Carolina where she received her Elementary I and II certifications. She has worked in both Lower and Upper Elementary classrooms in Lexington District 4 and Richland District One.
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 is currently teaching all levels of students at our school, ages 3-12.
Jessica has her bachelor’s degree in Studio Art from Winthrop and has worked as a 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.
School Librarian & Community Education Specialist
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.
Elementary Physical Education Teacher
Elliot is a current University of South Carolina student who is obtaining his Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology. He has been the Physical Education instructor since January 2022 and attended the Montessori School of Columbia as a student from 2008-2013. As someone who grew up in the community, Elliot hopes to integrate his knowledge of athletics with the Montessori curriculum to allow PE to be fun for all ages and ability levels.
Cat began playing violin when she was 5 years old and has played in orchestras and chamber groups all over the world. Before graduating from USC in 2020 with a BA in Violin Performance, she performed in the Saarburg International Music Festival in Germany and the International Concerto Festival in Czech Republic. On top of her Classical training, she has been singing all her life– experimenting with several genres, including rock, pop, folk, and jazz. She performs all over town with various music projects as a songwriter and bandleader. Ms. Cat uses her diverse musical background to help students reach their musical aspirations. She encourages trying new things and is committed to helping students become passionate about music.
Where Next? Our Campus
At MSC, we strive to develop the unique capabilities of each child. Guided by the work of Dr. Maria Montessori and informed by current research, our committed staff honors the natural curiosity of children.