VANESSA KOCH began her career with MCH as an assistant at the CASA (our child care center) in 2012. Inspired by the children and seeing Montessori in action, Vanessa developed an interest in seeking training at the infant/toddler level. This interest heightened with the birth of her son. Through her own experience and training, Vanessa's commitment to this stage of development has continued to grow. Vanessa offers great care, love, acceptance, patience, and understanding - all wonderful characteristics which will help her establish and lead our toddler community.
Vanessa has her Bachelors of Social Work from Central Michigan University, Associates in Secondary Education, and received her Association Montessori International (AMI) Assistants to Infancy training through the Montessori Training Center of St.Louis, MO.
VALRIE BROOKS received her initial training with the International Montessori Council in Early Childhood Education in 2010. Valrie completed her internship with and returned to assist Patty Blackburn for several years. Valrie returned to and recently completed training, receiving her A.M.I. Primary credential and is taking the lead role in the classroom following Patty's retirement.
Valrie holds a Bachelors of Business Education from Northwood University. She is certified through the International Montessori Council in Early Childhood Education and earned her A.M.I. Primary credential from the Montessori Training Center of New England.
CANDY VOIGT believes Montessori is a transformative, creative process of development where learning is based on one's meaningful engagement in context of the social life of a caring community; all belong. Candy enjoys being out in the beauty of nature, especially by the water. She loves music, art, reading, and travel.
Candy has a BA from Michigan State University in Elementary Education with endorsements in Child Development and Literacy. She has a Master’s degree from Walden University in Elementary Reading and Literacy. Candy has her Montessori Primary Level credential through AMI and AMS. She is certified in Primary Level Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. Additional training: LINDAMOOD-BELL language processing. In July 2014 she was one of five teachers in the U.S. awarded by UNICEF to travel to Tanzania.
WENDY KOPITSCH has been actively involved with MCH since 2001 as a parent, volunteer, Director of After School Program, and a primary level Assistant. She has been teaching yoga for more than 12 years. She recognizes that one of the parallels between yoga training and philosophy with that of Maria Montessori is individualized teaching and respecting the spirit within each of us.
Wendy has a BA in Education from Olivet College and is certified through the Adrian Dominican Montessori Teacher Education Institute in Michigan.
Lower Elementary Teachers
CLAUD AGNELLO says that although there are many things we can do to enhance the life of a young child, two of the most important actions we can take are reading to them daily and limiting screen time. He feels that teaching is like life: full of wonder, mysteries, joy, and challenges. For Claud, biking, cross country skiing, fly fishing, and canoeing satisfy that million year-old gene that urges our connection with nature.
Claud has a BS in Crop and Soil Science from Michigan State University with a K-8 Teaching Certificate. He received his Montessori Diploma through the Washington Montessori Institute in Washington D.C. He has also completed an Alternative Energy Certificate through Lansing Community College.
MINDY BANKS was working as a Naturalist at the Woldumar Nature Center developing environmental education programs for children when she began to realize that she wanted a deeper connection with the children. During that time a group of 3rd graders from MCH would visit once a month. She heard about an open position as an assistant in one of the classrooms. She took that position and has been with us ever since.
Mindy has a BS in Parks and Recreation from Michigan State University. She is certified through the Michigan Montessori Teacher Education Center at the Primary Level and through the Center for Contemporary Montessori Programs at the Elementary Level. She has a Master’s Degree from Michigan State University in Literacy Instruction. She also has a K-8 Teaching Certificate from Michigan State University. Additional Training includes LINDAMOOD-BELL – Seeing Stars Literacy Program
UPPER ELEMENTARY Teacher
SHARON DHANAK worked as a Sign Language Interpreter for the Deaf before going into teaching. Her philosophy on education revolves around following the child, respecting the child, and fostering independence and life long learning. A favorite quote by Maria Montessori is “Children are human beings to whom respect is due, superior to us by reason of their innocence and of the greater possibilities of their future.”
Sharon has a BA in Elementary Education from Michigan State University and a Master’s Degree in Education from Loyola University. She is certified through the Ohio Montessori Training Institute. Additional Training is LINDAMOOD-BELL
See the scientist, artists, musicians and others who lead our extended curriculum classes in the arts and sciences.
MAUREEN “MO” NEWTON, our Head of School, grew up in Chapel Hill, NC, then settled in Michigan in 1985. Her work has always involved experiential education. Her favorite things to do with children involve anything in the outdoors, cooking, and music. Her involvement at MCH began when her oldest son enrolled in 1990. She has a BA in Literature from St. Andrews College, a Master’s Degree in Education from Virginia Tech, and Postgraduate level training in Counseling from Michigan State University.
RENEE DVORAK, Administrative Assistant, joined the Montessori family as a parent in 1994. Her son and two daughters attended MCH through the 6th grade. She was an assistant in the elementary program for 13 years and joined the office staff in 2007. She holds a BS in Marriage and Family Studies from Brigham Young University - Idaho.
KRISTI TAYLOR has been involved with MCH since 1999 when her son and daughter started in Primary. She began working at MCH as a Substitute and later became an Assistant in the Lower Elementary with Claud and then in Primary with Maggie. She currently assists Mo and Renee in the office as the Bookkeeper. Kristi received her degree in Marketing and Management from Western Michigan University after which she worked as a Financial Consultant for ten years until the birth of her son. When she is not at school she enjoys riding her horses, helping her garden grow, sailing the seven seas, and researching her family history.
SUE HUSBAND has been with MCH since the beginning. In 1975 she became the first head of school and remained in that role for 33 years. Sue’s involvement with MCH continues. She works with children on conflict resolution and mediation. Overall, she serves as a key advisor and mentor for all the staff. She received her BA from Marygrove College in Detroit. She has a Master’s degree in Education from Loyola University and completed her Montessori training at Denver’s Montessori Institute. In 1998 she was awarded the Crystal Apple Award for excellence in education from MSU. In 2010 she received a Distinguished Alumni Award from Marygrove College.