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Expanding windows of opportunity through personalized place-based Montessori education. 

our staff

Team Teamwork Togetherness Collaboration

We are small but growing group of professionals who are passionate about the Montessori educational approach.  We are unified by our deep commitment to equity; making sure this developmental model is accessible to all students and families, not just those who can bear the financial weight of a tuition-based program. 

All students deserve the opportunity to have the education that works best for them!

Meet our growing school staff!  Our team will continue to expand over the next few years so check our CAREERS tab frequently.

Our journey began over 4 years ago with a question and grew into surveys and focus groups, and community input sessions.

administrative 

Staff photo of PCM's current Head of School

Laylah Sullivan

Head of School

I am a 20-year resident of Pullman, a WSU alum, and an avid Hounds supporter! In 2014 I helped establish a team dedicated to exploring the potential for expanding Pullman's public education options to include a developmental model. I am elated to have the opportunity to continue this work by serving as the School Leadership and Design Fellow and to have earned the privilege of being selected as the school’s leader. I am eager to continue my contribution using my experience in agricultural research, as a secondary science teacher, and as a small business owner/operator, galvanized by my passion for whole-child personalized education. I look forward to serving our community and continuing discussions with Pullman School District to identify collaboration potential to moving us closer to achieving our common goal of meeting the needs of more families.

Check back soon!


Endorsements:
Biology, Science

Staff photo of PCM's current Montessori Coach

Jill Stansbury

Montessori Coach

I am an educator with over 25 years of experience in teaching and school leadership. For most of my career, I have been interested in the project of bringing Montessori to the public sector so that this dynamic style of education is available to all. As a student, school was the place I felt belonging and significance and so it was no surprise to anyone when I became a teacher. I have served as a classroom teacher, early childhood curriculum coordinator, and head of school in Montessori charter schools.  I am American Montessori Society trained for early childhood education and certified for early elementary.  In addition, I have worked as a co-teacher in a Montessori middle school program. I hold a master’s degree in educational leadership from DePaul University. I have a passion for social and emotional education and believe that healthy relationships are the foundation for both learning and wellness. I look forward to being part of a school culture that justly seeks to nurture young people to achieve their highest potential. Partner dancing and camping in our family RV (affectionately referred to as the Escape Pod) are some of the things that bring joy to my life.

Check back soon!


Endorsements:

Operations

Staff photo of PCM's  current Office Manager

Desiree Porter

Office Manager

I am a ten-year Pullman resident and am happy to call this town my home. Many of you have seen me over the past seven years at the Department of Licensing conducting drive test examinations and issuing licenses and identification cards. I am currently the website designer and maintainer for both Pullman Community Montessori and The Montessori School of Pullman. I was a participant in the Community Input Sessions and actively help run Pullman Community Montessori’s social media platforms.


After learning about the Montessori Education model and watching my daughter flourish at the Montessori School of Pullman, I decided that I wanted to do everything I could, to help make Montessori a public education option for the children in my community. I love how the Montessori model empowers her to learn by helping her discover her strengths and overcome her weaknesses. She can learn at her own pace and the only thing that can stop her now, is herself. It warms my core to see her so eager to learn that she counts down the hours until her next day of school.


Now that PCM has become a reality, I am excited to be part of an educational program that will empower our PCM LEADERS and encourage a lifelong love of learning so they can accomplish greatness in all that they do.


Fun fact about me: When I am not working or spending time with my family, I enjoy drawing and making the cartoon footprints that you stand on when you take your photo at the Pullman Department of Licensing.

Staff photo of PCM's current Office Assistant

Katie Usky

Office Assistant

I am a 14-year resident of Pullman. I am excited to continue contributing to the community and children's education using my many years of experience as an educator and as a leader and manager in the nonprofit social sector. I am passionate about holistic personalized education and approaching children with empathy always.  I believe that by providing that, we can create a better society and future for all.


I am so excited that PCM has been established and is an option for our community’s families, and so happy I have the opportunity to help and be a part of it.


Fun fact about me: A genetic mutation was discovered for the first time in my dog by a WSU veterinary student!

Staff photo of PCM's current School Nurse

Shayne Whitson

School Nurse

I have been a Registered Nurse since 2007, after graduating from Lewis-Clark State College in Lewiston, ID. I have worked in Labor and Delivery/Postpartum and the Emergency Department for most of my career, with the past year working as a RN Case Manager. My passion has always been children. I decided I was going to be a nurse when I was 3 years old and was always driven to pediatrics. I am so excited to work with Pullman Community Montessori, and feel this is a dream come true. I believe in this education model and am so excited be a part of this organization, and to share my passion for health promotion.


I am married to my High-School Sweetheart and we have 2 little girls, ages 3 and 5. We live in Lewiston with our 2 dogs. We love boating, camping, 4-wheeling, fishing, and being in the mountains.


Fun Fact: I grew up with horses and have been a Rodeo Queen 3 times. In my free time, I make barn quilts. I cannot sew, but I can paint, so that is how I can create beauty.

Staff photo of PCM's current Food Services Manger

Veronica Craig

Food Services Manager

I became a Pullman resident 6 years ago when I moved with my family from Seattle. I have worked with children in a volunteer capacity most of my life since high school. Ten years ago I began my career journey in early childhood development at the Goddard School in Redmond, WA. I was also a nanny for two years before moving to the Palouse region. I continued my work with children by teaching in centers, nannying, and providing care in my own home-based classroom. I have always loved guiding and nurturing children. 


My experience in the early learning kitchen began 3 years ago. I developed a love for nurturing children by preparing and providing nutritious meals. This has opened a whole other creative and exciting side of working in education. While taking courses in childhood development I was introduced to the Montessori educational model. I am attracted to the aspects of community building, independence, and hands-on learning. I am thrilled at the opportunity to be a part of the PCM community of educators and young learners. 


Fun facts about me: I was born and raised in NY. I am a mother of five and grandmother of three. My oldest granddaughter started her school journey last year as a kindergartener at PCM. I love spending time with my family, sewing, photography, walking, and buying and selling vintage items on Etsy

Staff photo of PCM's current Bus Driver

Lori Spiker

Bus Driver

Bio coming soon!

Teaching

Staff photo of PCM’s current SPED Guide - Program Manager

Emily Klein

SPED Guide - Program Manager

As a child, I always loved the act of teaching. I loved helping others and seeing them succeed. I felt confident when I could teach them successfully because I struggled in school. 


I’ve always had a special place in my heart for those that learn differently. I have wanted to be a teacher since I was a young girl. I want to make an impact on my students the way my teachers did on me. I believe that an education filled with enthusiasm, movement, and curiosity led by mentors that care is the pathway to success. 


I grew up in the rural town of Gardnerville, Nevada, and loved school. I graduated from Idaho State University in 2013 with a B.A. in Physical Education and received my Master’s in Special Education from the University of Idaho in 2015.


I first became interested in Montessori while I was pregnant with my now 5-year-old son. I lived in Juneau,  Alaska where I was able to witness these environments in person. It immediately resonated with me and what I believe childhood is about; freedom, play, and choice. I strive to build such an atmosphere at home. I am so excited to be a part of the PCM because of what it has to offer children from all walks of life.


I taught elementary special education in Moscow, Idaho for two years after moving back to the lower 48. We recently moved back to the Palouse from Carson City, Nevada where I was a secondary special education and adaptive PE teacher.


I look forward to mornings reading with tea, taking advantage of the bike paths everywhere again, sunsets, and spending many hours outdoors with my family and dogs in this beautiful countryside.

Check back soon!


Endorsements:
Health & Fitness, Special Ed, Elementary Ed

Staff photo of PCM's current Instructional Assistant/Interventionalist (SPED)

Instructional Assistant (SPED)

Staff photo of PCM’s current PCM's Older Elementary Guide

David Schneider

Older Elementary Guide

My wife Mary and I, both WSU alums, moved to Pullman in 2018 from the Seattle area in search of a better pace of life and to attend more Cougar sporting events.  I taught for four years at Palouse Prairie Charter School in Moscow, and loved that experience, but couldn’t pass up the opportunity to work at start-up charter school in Washington.  I previously taught in a traditional public school in Kenmore and at a homeschool resource program in Edmonds, Washington.  I’m especially excited to learn the Montessori method of teaching in a multi-age classroom.  My goals as an educator are to cultivate learning experiences for students that emphasize critical thinking, creative problem solving, and collaboration; and to help students discover their strengths and interests in order to become life-long learners and contributors to building a better world.  One of the best things Mary and I have done in our life is walk the Camino de Santiago in 2017.


M.A. Education, University of Washington Bothell
B.A. English Teaching, University of Washington
B.A. Recreation and Leisure Studies, Sport Management, Washington State University


Endorsements:
7010 - All Subjects (K-8)

Staff photo of PCM’s current Instructional Assistant/Interventionalist - (OE)

Jordan Bovee

Instructional Assistant (OE)

I am new to Pullman and am originally from Virginia Beach, though I also lived in the mountains of Appalachia for nearly seven years while I attended college at Virginia Tech. I graduated this past spring with a Master’s degree in Material Culture and Public Humanities, and before that with Bachelors’ degrees in Art History and International Studies, and a minor in French. While in school, I picked up two and a half years of experience teaching undergraduate art history and visual arts courses as part of a small team of graduate teaching assistants and tutored in academic and technical writing and research methods. I also have years of volunteer experience working with kids as a swim instructor and coach. I have always found helping others to learn and succeed to be very fulfilling work, so I am delighted to be joining the PCM team this year! Though I am new to the Montessori method, I value its hands-on approach and I am enthusiastic about the opportunity to help create and support this dynamic learning environment!


Some fun facts about me are that I drove across the country twice to move here, and have seen 31 U.S. States altogether! I love to travel and I have a personal goal of visiting every National Park in the country - and then hopefully also the ones not in the U.S.!

Check back soon!


Endorsements:

Staff photo of PCM’s current Younger Elementary Guide

Amanda Wilfong

Younger Elementary Guide

I am from the Camas Prairie in Northern Idaho where I grew up in a large, close knit family. I found Montessori education after graduating with my degree in Elementary Education and understanding through my experiences that to be effective, education must follow the natural development of children.

I am a true believer in the power of Montessori education as a transformative agent for social change. My first experience with Montessori education was through The Institute for Educational Studies (TIES) at Endicott College in Beverly, MA. There I explored Montessori as an alternative approach to education and completed my M. Ed in Montessori Integrative Studies. I later completed my AMI training at the elementary level. 


I am a state certified teacher with over 12 years of experience guiding elementary children in both upper and lower grades. It is my privilege and honor to serve elementary children. I am thrilled to be returning home to the Palouse and to be part of the PCM community. 


My interests include health/fitness, travel, and exploring nature. I am always in search of a good book, great conversation, and the perfect cup of coffee.


AMI Elementary Certificate, Montessori Northwest

M.Ed. Integrated Montessori Education, Endicott College
B.A. English Teaching, University of North Carolina

Endorsements:

Staff photo of PCM's current Instructional Assistant/Interventionalist (YE)

Trish

Instructional Assistant

I graduated from the University of Idaho with a Bachelor of Science in Education and a Bachelor of Science in Communication.  After graduation I became a long term substitute at the school where I did my student teaching practicum.  I was then hired at the school district and I spent a decade as a World Language and Speech Communication teacher until I became a mom. I transitioned to being a parent volunteer helping with the parent teacher organization, fundraisers, class projects, tutoring students, chaperoning field trips, helping with community service projects and working as a substitute.  I have worked with children from PreK-grade 12.  I chose education because I want to help students develop skills for academic and personal success which can lead to life long learning.  A strong education system is an investment in and foundation of our community.

I enjoy spending time with my family, friends and learning about wellness, mental health, child advocacy and much more. 


 A fun fact about me:  I had coffee and donuts with a Senator.

Check back soon!


Endorsements:

Staff photo of PCM’s current Younger Elementary Guide

Demond Roberts

Younger Elementary Guide (A)

I am excited and thrilled to have the opportunity to move to the Northwest and teach in Pullman. Currently, I live in Florida and am originally from Connecticut. 


I enjoy traveling and experiencing new opportunities. I began working with children the second semester of my senior year at Morehouse College which is where my passion for guiding young minds began. I returned home and began working as an assistant at a public Montessori school in Connecticut. Although I had no idea about the Montessori teaching, the more I was a part of the culture the more I became interested in the philosophy. I made the commitment to receive both AMI Primary and Elementary Montessori Certifications and began teaching Elementary Montessori in 2010 and have appreciated every moment and lesson learned since embarking on this journey. Allowing young minds the opportunity to be the authors of their learning while the Guide is merely a shadow, is one lesson I look forward to experiencing every year of teaching.


A few things I enjoy doing are traveling anywhere and at every opportunity I can. I was also an on-air personality for 89.9 WQTQ FM (a radio station in CT) and in my spare time like to practice deejaying so that I can host events and parties in the future. Is it safe to say I enjoy music?? 

Check Back soon

Staff photo of PCM’s current PCM's Younger Elementary Guide

Laura McCormick

Younger Elementary Guide (B)

I’m originally from Omaha, Nebraska, which is where I raised my three children. As a passionate supporter of Montessori, I sent each of my children to a public elementary Montessori school in Omaha. I selected Montessori because I was so impressed by the child centered approach as well as the commitment to self-directed learning, and my children flourished in the nurturing and warm environment. After sending my youngest child off to college, I decided to pursue a life-long dream and applied to the library science program at the University of Washington. I earned my Master of Library and Information Science from the UW in June of 2022. Midway through graduate school, I was accepted to Teach For America, which is an AmeriCorp National Service coalition focused on the goal that one day every child will receive an excellent and equitable education. While working as an elementary educator in Las Vegas, Nevada, I earned my Master of Education - Instruction and Curriculum from the University of Nevada Las Vegas. When I’m not working, you can often find me reading or walking my dogs, Fefe and Clooney.


Fun Fact:

I also love to ride my bike, and just last year, I completed  RAGBRAI  (Registered Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa) for the second time. The ride last year covered 468 miles!

Check back soon!


Endorsements:

Staff photo of PCM's current Instructional Assistant/Interventionalist (YE)

Katie Kendrick

Instructional Assistant (YE)

I have chosen education as my career path because I know the impact that it can have on a life. I had a series of wonderful teachers who cared deeply about me, and believed in me, and today I want to give back to students.


I have numerous years of daycare experience, as well as time volunteering in classrooms around Pullman. I've spent time working one on one with students who need additional help with classroom work, as well as leading whole classes in activities. In August I will graduate with my degree in education, with plans to continue my education and earn my masters degree.


Fun fact about me: I have a pet hedgehog!

Check back soon!


Endorsements:

Staff photo of PCM’s current Stand-Alone Kindergarten Guide

Melissa Anderson

Stand-Alone Kindergarten Guide

I grew up in northern California and spent most of my life there before moving to Pullman with my husband and two daughters in 2019. We were in search of wide open space and a slower, more intentional lifestyle, and we found it here in the beautiful Palouse region. While growing up I had a strong desire to work with children after watching my mother positively impact the lives of children and families as an elementary teacher. I had a natural love for young children and a desire to invest in their growth and development. 


This passion led me to pursue my Elementary Teaching Credential with an emphasis in cross-cultural language acquisition development.I was first introduced to Montessori by my sister-in-law who was pursuing a masters degree in Montessori Education. I watched in awe as she worked with my young daughters, and gave them the freedom to engage with materials independently. I was fascinated by my children's ability to concentrate and become fully absorbed in learning for themselves. I quickly realized that the multi-sensory, whole child approach was an extremely effective form of education. I began to study the Montessori method, make my own materials and guide my children at home from the ages of 2-6.


I have over 10 years of elementary teaching experience along with providing literacy and math intervention. I hold my Washington State Residency Teacher Certificate with an endorsement in English Language Learning. I am currently pursuing my Montessori Early Childhood full certification through the Center for Guided Montessori Studies. I am absolutely thrilled to be joining the team at PCM and bringing high quality public Montessori to the Pullman community!


I love shopping with my teen daughters, camping with my husband, cooking, yoga, dark chocolate and strong coffee!

Elementary Teaching Credential, Chapman University

B.A Social Science, California State University

IMC Montessori Certification for Early Childhood, CGMS 5/2023


Endorsements:

English Language Learners

Staff photo of PCM’s current Stand-Alone Kindergarten Guide

Christina Brandt

Stand-Alone Kindergarten Guide

My name is Christina Brandt and I am very excited to join Pullman Community Montessori. I have a passion for teaching and developing young children. I understand the incredible impact that a good teacher can have on the life of a child. I have always wanted to be a teacher because of the positive influences my teachers had on me. PCM aligns well with my personal values and mission.


I attended Iowa State University where I studied education and theatre. I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Performing Arts. I went on to attend the University of Idaho where I received my Master of Fine Arts degree in Directing, specializing in Children’s Theatre.  After graduating I taught drama as well as kindergarten at a private school in Seattle. It was there that I was first introduced to a teaching philosophy based on Montessori principles. I was immediately drawn to this method of teaching and learning. When I found out that I would be moving back to the Palouse for my husbands’ job, I knew that I wanted to teach in a school that emphasized the educational values that were so close to my heart. After moving to Pullman, I had the privilege of working as a lead teacher at a private Montessori school.  I am thrilled to continue my journey by joining PCM as the lead teacher for a kindergarten community! My goal has always been to foster life-long learners that are excited to come to school day after day.


When I am not in the classroom I enjoy drinking coffee, hiking, running, and snuggling my 10-month-old baby girl!  I cannot wait to get started with PCM and meet our PCM students!

Check back soon!


Endorsements:

Staff photo of PCM's current Instructional Assistant/Interventionalist - (K)

Sara Kirshner

Instructional Assistant (K)

I am a Washington State naturalist but have spent the last 9 years traveling around the world, while my husband has been serving in the military. I recently moved from beautiful Okinawa, Japan where I spent the last 3 years working in the child development and education programs.


Now living in the Pullman area where I am continuing my education doing what I love most. I am overjoyed to start my new journey with Pullman Community Montessori as a Kindergarten Instructional Assistant. What I most enjoy about working with young children is the relationships I have been able to build with them and their families. I am passionate about creating an environment for children that supports and encourages a love for learning from a young age. I truly enjoy what I do and appreciate each unique personality that I meet.


Interesting Fact about me: I studied photography at Spokane Falls Community College and have a passion for photography. I enjoy all the different types of photography fields, but I love photographing children and families. Being able to document their love from behind my lens has been a joy of mine. Through my photos I can give that joy to them so that they cherish it forever.  When I am not using my camera, I enjoy spending time with my 2 daughters and husband hiking, trying a new restaurant, and using my personal training education to help others build confidence in themselves. I live a simple life but am grateful for every moment.


CHEERS!

Check back soon!


Endorsements:

Our Roots

Founders note

While we all support and deeply value our community and the Pullman School District (PSD), we believe additional options for high quality public education in Pullman are necessary to meet the needs of our growing and increasingly diverse community. With that said, we are committed to continue to grow and strengthen our relationship with PSD and share data and opportunities available to us that may benefit all children in our community.

our beginnings

Initially known as The Pullman Charter School Initiative, (PCSI), the founders were a small group of diverse, passionate community members who had experienced, in one way or another, the powerful whole-child educational approach of Montessori. This experience drove the group to investigate what educational needs were specific to our community and how to make expanded options accessible to all families, not just limited to those in the position to pay tuition. 

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The group dove into state report card data and engaged a community focus groups to gather preliminary data. Data emphasized the need for a whole-child focused 

developmental model, like Montessori that would help: 

  • close persistent achievement gaps for at risk demographics,

  • increase supports for students who struggle,

  • increase rigor for those students considered to be advanced,

  • offer more opportunities for project-based and service learning,

  • offer more student voice and choice, and

  • provide intense focus on social-emotional learning and life skills development throughout a students education. 

The group found that application for charter as the most equitable option for accessibility.  This led the team to engage in 2 rounds of application to the Washington State Charter Schools Association School Leadership and Design Fellowship program. The Fellowship provided financial support and guidance for selected teams in designing a high-quality community responsive school.

After a rigorous vetting process, PCSI was accepted into the 2018-19 fellowship program.  Laylah Sullivan, a fellow founder, local business owner, and Pullman High School science teacher, was identified for the Fellow role.  Ms. Sullivan led the writing of the 795 page charter application (a detailed legal operating contract for the school) and led the team in the 9-month application process. 

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Application & Approval

Following submission of PCM's application in February 2020, the PCM founding team engaged in:

  • an intensive Capacity Interview with a council assembled by the Commission, which involved a performance task and 3 hours of intense questioning.

  • a Commission-hosted Public Forum to offer another opportunity for community input and for commission staff and Commissioners to ask questions.

  • a final question session by Commissioners at the resolution meeting on June 25, 2020.

 

On June 25, 2020 Commissioners gave their full support and unanimous approval for the opening Pullman Community Montessori. The schools charters was negotiated and formally accepted on Septembers 8, 2020.

PCM is now in its planning year which consists of numerous deadlines and deliverables including securing a facility, finetuning the design, hiring and training staff, growing the board and committees, and overall logistics. 

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The formal application writing process took place between July 2019 to February 2020.  During the application writing process the Fellow and founding board received monthly professional development and application writing support.  Community forums were run in the fall to solicit community input on the design, informing the services we provide, the school councils we will maintain, our mission, and our core values.  A number of survey opportunities were provided, for example at the 2019 Lentil Festival, for interested community members to engage in selection of the school name, logo.  Prompted by a request from our founding board, a Washington State Charters School Commission staff member hosted a Charter Starter - Community Conversation to inform our community about Washington's unique charter sector.  The application underwent multiple internal reviews by our team and Washington State Charter Schools Association staff, was reviewed by key partners, a national review agency and a contracted application specialist, and underwent 2 rounds of copy editor review before submission.

Please contact us if materials are needed for languages other than English.

The greatest gifts we can give our children are the roots of responsibility and the wings of independence." 

Dr. Maria Montessori

115 NW State Street
Suite 212

Pullman WA 99163

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Public

Free

K-9