OUR STAFF

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 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.

PRIMARY

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 years, Leslie joined the administration as Assistant Head of School in 2016.

Sunshine Gallahar

Lead Teacher - Primary 1

Sunshine has been working in private and public Montessori classrooms since 2012. Her career began at the Montessori School of Spartanburg where she earned a Montessori assistant training and fell in love with the pedagogy. She created a mindfulness room at Caughman Road Elementary and was Logan Elementary’s 2022 Classified Employee of the Year. Sunshine is completing her Bachelor’s in Behavioral Health Science and her Primary Certification from the Houston Montessori Center.

Corey Jungclaus

Lead Teacher - Primary 3

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 San Diego Montessori Institute.

Garet Fryar

Assistant Teacher - Primary 1

Garet joined MSC as an aftercare teacher and immediately fell in love with the Montessori method. She earned her Bachelor’s of Arts in Psychology and Sociology at Wake Forest University. From The Children’s Home in Winston-Salem, N.C. to Bright Horizons in Arlington, V.A., Garet has been working in childcare since 2011.

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.

Sarah McCants

Assistant Teacher - Primary 3

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.

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.

Kathy Young

Lead Teacher - Lower Elementary

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.

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.

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.

Stuart Stoner

Lead Teacher - Upper Elementary

Stuart has been in the Montessori classroom since 2003, 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 hold his Master’s Degree in Montessori Education from Lander University and his Bachelors Degree in Elementary Education from Columbia College. He also achieved Media Studies and Art and Design Degrees from him home country, the United Kingdom.

Jessica Gibbons

Assistant Teacher - Upper Elementary

Jessica earned a Bachelor’s in Music and Minors in Political Science and Spanish from the University of South Carolina and a Master’s of Arts in Teaching at the University of Seattle. Before her move back to Columbia, Jessica taught general education for six years in Seattle Public Schools. She is well aquatinted with the Montessori community as she has nannied for several children who have attended MSC.

MIDDLE SCHOOL

Erica Patterson

Lead Teacher - Middle School

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.

ENRICHMENTS

Nitzia Gutierrez

Spanish Instructor

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.

Cathy Wiskes

Upper Level Spanish Instructor

As a senior instructor of Spanish at the University of South Carolina, Cathy coordinates the foreign languages and teaches Spanish. Her academic interests are foreign language acquisition and instruction, translation, and sign language development. She has been teaching at the University of South Carolina since 1998. Cathy has also worked as a translator and interpreter for the Department of Social Services and the Department of Health and Environmental Control, and has translated and recorded materials for McDonald’s and BCBG Max Azria.

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.