MEET THE IVY SCHOOL STAFFThese are the amazing people who make The Ivy School so special
Nikki comes to the Ivy school with over 17 years of experience in Montessori education as a Teacher, Coordinator, Principal and Program Supervisor. She served for five years as the instructional leader and Head Principal of a pk-12 grade Montessori public school. Her Montessori experience ranges from birth to high school and when asked which age group is her favorite she tells us, “I honestly don’t have an answer. Each stage in the development of a child is a precious and meaningful experience.”
After earning her bachelors in Group Science with an emphasis in Biology and Minor in Elementary Education, Nikki began her career in education as a traditional classroom teacher but was soon fascinated by the Montessori program that her young daughter attended at the time. After one year as a traditional
Nikki is a mother of a
Campus Support Coordinator
Hello! My name is Amy Stuhr. I am looking forward to my sixth year at Ivy and my fourth in a student support/campus support role. I cherish this community of talented educators, curious, creative, loving children and supportive parents, guardians, grandparents, aunts and uncles. I worked in alternative education, charter education, at Portland Community College and at Jefferson High School before landing at Ivy.
I graduated from the University of Iowa with a Bachelor’s Degree in General Studies and found my way to Oregon in 1989. I worked in the non-profit sector until my daughter was born in 1996. In my freetime, I enjoy watching my twin boys play baseball at Madison High School and doing anything outside, especially if it involves water!
My name is Cassondra Salazar and I have been at Ivy for almost 9 years. I have 4 children, ages 47, 46, 22, and a 14 year old who graduated from Ivy last year. I am from Albuquerque New Mexico.
I have worn many hats at Ivy, from preparing lunches, driving kids from one campus to the next, Ivy After School, covering for office staff, toy drive, graduations, Equity Team. There are not to many things that I haven’t done at Ivy. My grandson took his first steps at Ivy while I was doing childcare for the P.T.A.
I am looking forward to meeting new parents and children this year.
Returning for a second year, I am looking forward to this first year in our new building.
Prior to Ivy, I did a lot of other things. Professionally, I designed and developed websites for 20 years. I was a journalist for 10 years and am still active in keeping the stream of Hispanic / Latino / Chicano news flowing on social media. I practically grew up in a TV station. I worked in Media, Higher Education and a Silicon Valley Startup with various position titles and duties. Basically, I am a jack-of-many-trades.
Today in the sweet here now, I am an artist again.
I was born and bred in Chicago, spent a year in Spain, lived in Columbia, Missouri for years, “visited” Ohio for one year, and now have been in Portland for almost six years.
I have two children. One attends OSU and the other is at PCC.
Hello Ivy Families! My name is Stephanie, also known as Efi. I have a B.S. in Education with a major in Spanish, minors in Language Arts and Mathematics from Central Michigan University. I also have a Lower Elementary Montessori certificate. I have taught various subjects at all ages (pre-k through college) in three different states (Michigan, North Carolina and Oregon). I began working at the Ivy School in 2012 and I have filled a variety of roles here as well. I have been an Assistant Teacher, Lead Guide, Spanish Teacher, After School Teacher, Campus Support Coordinator, Substitute Teacher and now Kindergarten Teacher.
I am a mother of a 5 year old son and 1 year old daughter, and we enjoy being outside at parks, playing disc golf, and riding bikes together. I also like to make jewelry, garden, and travel when I get the opportunity. I have studied abroad in both Seville, Spain and Valparaiso, Chile. I also stayed with some of my husband’s family in a few islands in Indonesia, friends in Beijing, and traveled up the coast of Vietnam.
Lower Elementary (1st to 3rd)
Hi Ivy Community! I am so excited to be joining Ivy this year! I have 10 years of experience being a Lower El teacher in a public Montessori school in Tucson, AZ. Before that, I worked with middle schoolers, high schoolers and begun my educational path in a Montessori early childhood classroom committed to social-emotional growth and problem solving through developmentally appropriate communication. My educational belief system is based on teaching the whole child with my overarching interests being social justice, community building, and the emotional growth of children all while engaging students in the quest to be life-long learners.
I am strongly committed to individualized education and differentiation and have been successful at running a classroom that meets all these standards with attention to children who have individual needs and abilities, intellectual disabilities, students with English as their second language and children who are have exceptional academic proficiency. Like Maria Montessori, I believe in the potential of all students and I believe the job of a Lower Elementary teacher is to sow the seeds of interest so children can find what inspires them. I hold a Masters in Education, a lower elementary Montessori certificate from AMS and from NAMC and a GATE (Gifted and Talented Education) endorsement. I co-chaired the Ecology Team at my school for over five years and ran a weekly Farmer’s Market with my class. I hope to be able to bring some of those lessons to my class here as well as learn from my students and families more about gardening in the Northwest.
In my time not in school I am often reading, playing board games or riding bikes with my two children. I also have a monthly writing group and practice a type of meditative yoga that focuses on breath work. I am from Tucson AZ, and lived in Portland for several years a long time ago and then a couple of other places. I am thrilled to be back in Portland and to be joining your community!
I am a born and raised Oregonian. I ventured off to Boston for a Bachelors degree in Stage and Production Management at Emerson College. New England is a fantastic place, so I stuck around and worked in educational children’s theatre as well as some other theatrical projects for a few years. When I moved back to Portland I decided to pursue the educational world further. I did a Post Baccalaureate in English Education at PSU and by chance stumbled upon Montessori. Immediately, I fell in love.
I have worked with a large range of children and I have found every age brings something special to the educational community of a Montessori classroom. I adore the creativity and passion children are able to express in well cultivated, intentional, and caring environments. I am beyond excited to start my journey with the Ivy School this year.
In my free time I am usually reading, baking, knitting, trying to play my violin, gardening, hanging out with my family, or making terrible puns. Often I will endeavor upon multiple of these things at once because I love a good challenge. I love cats, dogs, funky fabrics, babies, octopuses, and the Fibonacci Sequence. Please come and strike up a conversation with me if you see me around! I’d love to get to know you.
Hi! I’m Caroline Halaby, a recent Oregon transplant having spent the last six years living and teaching in DC. I grew up in Palo Alto, CA and moved to the East Coast in 2008 to attend Davidson College, where I earned my BA in History with a Music minor. Having assisted my mother’s Art Camp many summers during high school and college, I realized that teaching was my calling. After college, I joined a Montessori school in Arlington, VA as a Primary assistant for two years. It was there that I first learned about and fell in love with all things Montessori! I realized that I wanted to work with older children, so my school sent me to get my Elementary Montessori degree (AMI) from the Washington Montessori Institute and a Master’s in Education from Loyola University of Maryland. I then returned to my school and taught in Lower Elementary for three years. While there, I also started an after-school Art class, inspired by my mom’s Art camp.
I felt a pull to return to the West Coast to be closer to family, so I made the move to Portland in July 2018…and here I am! In my free time, I enjoy wandering around new neighborhoods, watching music and comedy shows, reading, cooking, and most importantly, sampling delicious food!
Hello! My name is Brianna Jayne and I am thrilled to start my first year as an assistant teacher at the Ivy School. I graduated from the University of Oregon with a Bachelor’s of Arts in Communication Disorders and Sciences with emphasis on Special Education. A summer internship at a camp that serves to individuals with a variety of abilities guided me to a paraeducator positon at the Ivy School. I soon fell in love with the Ivy School and the Montessori philosophy and decided to dive into assistant teaching.
Throughout my adult years I have worked with programs such as Head Start, the National Student Speech Language Hearing Association, and the Help Group. I have a passion for sign language, dance and movement, astronomy, music, yoga, and anything outdoors.
St. John's Classroom
Hello Ivy families, I’m so delighted to be joining the Ivy school team. I’m a Pacific Northwest girl through and through. Born in California, I’ve lived most of my life in the Seattle area and am looking forward to the relative quiet of Portland. I asked my mother what to tell you about myself, and this is what she said. As a child I was a bit different and needed a non-standard educational experience in order to meet my needs. Because she was able to find it for me I succeeded in school and gained the foundations for a great adult life. I believe that every child deserves the same chance for an education which will lead them to develop strong self-esteem, academic and life skills. As a teacher, it is my privilege to do all I can to honor each child’s individual strengths, to meet them where they are and work with their family to help them grow into their best self.
Teaching was not my first job, but it is the only one I’ve loved. Varied experiences along the way give me many stories to share with students. After two years assistant teaching, I have had my own classroom for 11 years now, mostly in the first through third grade level. I have my Montessori certificates for grades 1-6, and have attended the training for younger students as well so that I have tools to support students at any level of learning. I also have a bachelor’s degree including a mix of science and humanities classes, and a Master’s degree in education. I speak French and a little bit of Mandarin Chinese, and I understand a little Spanish. In my personal time, I love being outdoors, walking, gardening, exploring, and taking pictures. I adore the ocean and studying the living world around us. I have a lot of fun reading, writing, doing home improvement projects, crafts, painting, sewing, and learning new things.
Bio coming soon!
Sauvie Island Classroom
Hello, my name is Jason Santa. I am excited to join the Ivy School community at the new campus this fall! My Montessori roots go back to childhood. I attended a Montessori school from age four through third grade, and that experience continues to guide me as a teacher. I believe children have the best chance to thrive when they feel safe, seen, and connected. As a child I absorbed Montessori’s practice of inclusion, and that’s what I strive for as a teacher. At the Ivy School I hope to model my enthusiasm for learning and kindness for others.
I grew up in northwest Montana. After graduating with a B.A. in History, I got an assistant teaching position at the Montessori school of my youth. I was captivated by it all: the familiar materials, the devoted teachers, the kids at work and play. So I decided to take the Montessori Early Childhood training. After a few years and a turn as a lead teacher, I became intrigued by the elementary curriculum. In 2007, I moved to Salem to begin my M.A.T. at Willamette University; though it was my first time living in Oregon, I found homecoming in the forests of the Pacific Northwest. A sense of wonder too. A few years later I completed my Lower Elementary Montessori certification (AMS) at a private school near Seattle, and then in 2011, I joined a small group of educators to help start the first public Montessori program in Olympia.
More recently I’ve been teaching in traditional classrooms in Missoula. I enjoy hiking, indoor climbing, reading, cooking, and writing small poems. I like to cat sit for my friend’s feline, Molly.
My name is Genevieve, and I have been working in education since I graduated from college. I worked as an English teaching assistant in Paris, served as an AmeriCorps VISTA working with illiterate adults in Muskegon, Michigan, and then moved to Portland where I have been an art teacher, preschool assistant, nanny, and Ivy After School teacher.
I love making art, speaking French, caring for plants, and swimming in the ocean.
Upper Elementary (4th to 6th)
Greetings Ivy families! My name is Ray Luongo, and I am the Lead Guide in the Hawthorne Bridge classroom. I have been happily married to my partner Carolyne for 27 years! I am originally from Brooklyn, NY, where as a teenager I launched my first career as a chef. In my early 20s, I received my Associate in Applied Sciences for hospitality management from the New York City College of Technology, and went on to work as a chef in New York City, Northern Italy and then Chicago. I began my second career teaching elementary age children when I lived in Madison, WI, where I founded a Taekwon-Do school for children. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to work with diverse and vulnerable populations, teaching kids lifeskills and empowering them using Taekwon-Do as a vehicle. While in Madison, I began my formal education in teaching at Edgewood College, while working in special education in an inner city elementary school, and teaching TAG camps for the University of Wisconsin. We relocated to Portland mainly because of the weather, and the profound beauty of the Northwest! When we moved here in 2007, I continued my studies at Concordia University, where I received my BA in Curriculum and Instruction, my M.Ed. and a literacy endorsement. Along with my partner, I now run a community based Martial Arts program at three schools in Northeast Portland. I am so excited to begin my FOURTH year at The Ivy School! I am looking forward to an engaging and fun year working with your children and helping them learn and grow. Let’s do this!
Aloha! My name is Tess Meier. Growing up on a small island, I was instilled with a great appreciation for community, and within the Montessori framework I’ve found that same sense of care and compassion. While pursuing a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Hawaii, I was naturally drawn to teaching. This has taken many different forms over the years, from swimming and yoga to a myriad of formal education settings (preschool – college, Montessori – special needs). The students I’ve worked with have ranged in age from two to twenty, varying greatly in terms of abilities. Truthfully, I’ve reveled in every experience. It can arguably be said that one cannot be an effective educator without the humility and willingness to be a lifelong student. I’m incredibly excited to show all that I have to offer to the Ivy School, and am confident that we’re going to have a blast!
Being newer transplants to Portland, my partner and I have found a seemingly limitless world of adventure. Between hiking, biking and general exploration, we keep pretty active. Travel is also an important part of our lives. Whether it’s traversing the jungles of Belize or taking a simple road trip down the coast with our fur baby, Churro, we’re on a mission to experience all that this world has to offer. Possibly the biggest adventure yet; Jenn and I are currently working on expanding our exploration team by one over the next year. Future Montessori student? You betcha!
Ross Island Classroom
Hello, My name is Rania Kanaan and I am excited to start my first year with Ivy. I finished my undergraduate degree at Portland State University in Psychology and pursued my Masters in Education from Loyola University. I earned my Association Montessori International degree (AMI) from Montessori of Northwest in Portland. This will be my tenth year working as a teacher. I worked as a Montessori teacher for Crescent Montessori School, along with being the school director for three years. I also worked at Beaverton High School in their “Future You” program working with newcomers.
I enjoy reading, and mostly read Arabic novels, which is my native language. Apart from that, I am a proud mother of four amazing children. My 20 year old daughter is attending the University of Oregon, my 18 year old son is entering his freshman year at Willamette University, my 16 year old is a junior at West Linn High, and my youngest is beginning fifth grade.
My mission is to give each child a chance to maximize his or her own potential, through self-directed activities in a climate of mutual trust and respect. My goal is that each child leaves my class with a strong sense of self-worth, an abiding love of learning, a respect for themselves and others, and a healthy independence of action and thought. I am really looking forward to an amazing year!
Hello, my name is Rich Granillo (pronounced Gran-ee-yo) but to my students I usually like to go by Mr. G. I’m originally from the L.A. area but have lived all over California, in AZ, CO, Mexico City, moved here from HI, and now OR. I have lived in the Portland area for a little over 2 years in Hillsboro and Cornelius but I’m looking to move into Portland. I have been teaching for many years (14+) in multiple different settings and positions, worked with all sorts of students, and with all age levels. I graduated from UH, Manoa with a B.A. in Sociology with an emphasis on education and juvenile delinquency. I enjoy watching sports and movies, listening to music (I collect vinyl records), cooking, being out in nature (especially fishing), and hanging out with my 2 sons (5 and 3). I’m very friendly and I’m very excited to be a part of the school. Please feel free to come up to me and talk with me more if you have any questions or you just want to find out more about me.
My name is Alison Barros and I am a lower elementary trained Montessori school teacher by trade. I started my teaching career as an ESL instructor in Japan, Thailand and South Korea and spent about three years living abroad while teaching. Once my contract was finished in Japan, I was hired by a private Montessori school in Palo Alto and moved to California. While working in Palo Alto, I was able to spend two summers training at CMTENY in New Rochelle, New York; a highly accredited Montessori training program and I received my Montessori teaching certificate for lower elementary. After seven years in Palo Alto, I decided that I wanted to work with a different demographic so I moved to Urban Montessori Charter School in Oakland and spent a year there before moving to Laos for six months. I met the Ivy team while I was in Laos and moved back to Oregon after having been away for almost ten years. I spent two years teaching lower elementary at the Ivy School but then decided to take a break from teaching altogether because I desperately needed it.
Since taking space from teaching, I’ve realized that it’s something I have to do in order to make a difference in some small way in the world around me. I love connecting with people, building relationships. creating community. As a teacher, I am in a unique position to do all those things as well as spread knowledge and teach the students how to think in a critical and discerning way about the world around them. These days the urgency is real and we have no time to lose if we want to save ourselves and the planet.
Aside from training the next wave of revolutionary super heroes, I’m a waitress at a local watering hole. I also work and spend most of my free time at a dance studio where I get to indulge my love of movement. I have a one-eyed Abyssinian named Collie and I live in SE with my mom who is a veteran. I have a BA in sociology from the University of Oregon. And I’m a vegan hip-hop head!
Hi my name is Kellen Levi and I’m from Denver, Colorado. I grew up there and love the outdoors. I recently graduated from the University of Redlands, in the beautiful southern Californian dessert, with a degree in “Understanding and Developing Biotechnology”. I went to a super awesome college where I got to create my own major and took classes that suits my learning goals and interests. I blended my love of health care and art into a course of study that was truly unique. As an outdoor educator and athlete, I am extremely passionate about providing access to the outdoors through experiential learning. I have professional experience tutoring and working with children. This past summer I worked at the Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center, a program for people with all types of disabilities, which allowed them to have access to outdoor recreation and therapeutic recreation services. I’m excited to be working at the Ivy School!
Hello! I am Melissa Warren, and I am so excited to be returning for my fifth year at Ivy! Working here has been an incredible growth and learning opportunity, and such a positive experience. I am honored and excited this year to be able to return to the classroom as the lead guide in the Steel classroom.
I have been teaching and working with children since 1998. I hold a Masters in Elementary Education, a Bachelor of Arts in Music, and a certificate in Gifted Education. I have taught in both traditional public school as well as both private and public Montessori schools. Though I have worked with a wide range of ages, my absolute favorite age grouping is upper elementary. I am passionate about meeting social-emotional needs of my students, promoting creative problem-solving and conflict resolution. My greatest joy in teaching is helping each of my students and their families find a love for school and their community there.
I grew up in rural Kentucky (child of two music educators), and have lived in Oregon with my spouse and two children for most of the last 15 years (there was that brief return to Kentucky in 2011; you can ask me for that story sometime). I absolutely love camping and hiking here in Oregon, and return to work each fall full of new adventures to share!
Assistant TeacherHello, my name is Smariea Williams and I am an Assistant teacher at The Ivy School.
Before coming to work for the Ivy School I Worked as an In-home childcare provider for foster families. I started off as a volunteer at The Ivy School and then was later on hired as an AfterSchool Assistant. My title was changed from AfterSchool Assistant to AfterSchool Teacher a year Later. Then Last year I became the Head of AfterSchool, and I substituted in a class room as an Assistant Teacher.
During this journey at the Ivy School I’ve learned so much about myself and about others.I am proud to say that I have been here to watch the school grow and become what it is today. This year I will be coming in as an Assistant Teacher. Looking forward to getting back into the classroom doing what I love to do.
Middle School (7th & 8th)
Hello, Ivy Families! My name is Matt Schrunk, and I am thrilled to be starting my teaching career here at the Ivy School’s new Interstate campus. Some of your returning eighth-graders may remember me as the student teacher from Concordia University who was in their classroom from February to May last year getting my feet wet in the teaching profession. Well, I now have my teaching degree and I’m ecstatic to be coming back for the 2019-2020 school year as part of the middle school teaching team!
I have a BA in English and an MA in writing and book publishing from Portland State University, and now an MA in teaching from Concordia. Prior to starting this new chapter in my life and career, I worked for a commercial laundry route operator for 17 years as an appliance installer and service technician while I helped raise my three wonderful kids and earned my degrees. I was a student teacher in the fall of 2018 at St. Helens High School, then was lucky enough to be placed at the Ivy School during the spring of 2019. I have a passion for reading, writing, and editing, and also for exploring what drives societies, civilizations, and individuals (in the past, present, and future).
When I’m not teaching, you’ll probably find me reading a book, watching a film, or finding new places to eat and explore with my family (although, let’s be honest—this year you’ll probably find me planning lessons). I enjoy comedy, love to laugh, and like to travel when I get the chance. My wife is also a middle school teacher, so I look forward to lots of collaboration and brainstorming with her to bring new and exciting ideas into our respective classrooms.
It feels so exciting to say that I am beginning my sixth year with the Ivy Middle School Program! I have really enjoyed spending the past five years working with five very different groups of students across both campuses. I received my Masters in Teaching from Lewis & Clark College in the area of integrated science. While science will always be my first love, I also enjoy working with students in the humanities, and integrating curriculum across subject areas.
What I love most about Ivy is having the ability to really get to know each student and work with them to create meaningful learning experiences, and provide individualized opportunities to show what they know. This connection with students is something that I have not experienced in other settings, and makes teaching more fun as well as more effective. Of course, the opportunity to spend lots of time out in the world, and engage students with projects helps too.
When I’m not teaching, I mostly enjoy spending time with my four-year-old daughter. With any time that is leftover, I like to grow vegetables, scour the wild for rocks, and pet cats.
Cibyl Kavan is a visul artist, clown (she carries her clown nose with her at all times because you never know when a situation might require a laugh!), storyteller, and arts educator. Born in France, she spent her childhood on a farm on the Isle of Wight in England, and on a sailboat in the Mediterranean islands of Malta and Greece before moving to the United States in 1977.
Cibyl studied theater, dance, art history and vintage clothes in college, graduating with a BA in Literature. After college she worked as an au pair in Montpelier, France, then in museums in Washington DC while taking art classes at the Torpedo Factory in Alexandria, Virginia. In Portland she has studied drawing, painting, and monotype printmaking with Portland artists Phil Sylvester, William Park, Kaz Tanahashi and others. While raising her three children she worked as a free lance artIst, did arts focussed volunteering in Portland Public Schools, taught art through the Zen Community of Oregon, Trinity Cathedral and Saturday Academy and began showing her work around the region, including Talisman Gallery, Mark Woolley Gallery, Lower Columia College, Portland Open Studios, Local 14 and The Drawing Studio.
Cibyl received her AMI/ M.Ed in Montessori Primary Education in 2010 and her teaching artist training from Young Audiences and Lincoln Center NYC in 2016. After working in several Montessori schools around Portland in a variety roles, from classroom assistant to aftercare coordinator, Cibyl started at the Ivy School in 2017 as the Hawthorne assistant and in 2018 as the art teacher.
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MORE ABOUT IVY SCHOOL FOR INTERESTED APPLICANTS
The Ivy School is an innovative public Montessori Charter School in Northeast Portland, Oregon serving students in grades 1 – 8.
The Ivy School employs Lead Teachers, Assistant Teachers, Substitute Teachers, and After School Program Teachers.
Enrollment in The Ivy School is by lottery each spring. We enroll students from diverse backgrounds, including students with extensive Montessori experience as well as students with no Montessori experience whatsoever. We enroll students with special needs and students in Special Education with Individualized Education Plans.
Every student of The Ivy School will be given equal educational opportunities regardless of age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, race, religion, color, national origin, disability and marital status. The Ivy School may not limit student admission based on ethnicity, national origin, race, religion, disability, gender, income level, proficiency in English language or athletic ability, but may limit admission to students within a given age group or grade level.
Teaching at The Ivy School requires flexibility and willingness to individualize instruction for all learners. Assistant Teachers work cohesively with Lead Teachers, and Assistants and Leads work collaboratively with teaching teams across grade levels.
As a public school we are required to meet all expectations for Oregon public schools, including teaching Common Core State Standards and participating in annual state testing. All Ivy School teachers are expected to support public school requirements in the context of the Montessori teaching method. Specifically, they must help guide the child through self-directed activities, allowing the child to develop at his or her own pace. They are expected to foster, along with the lead teachers, a nurturing and stimulating non-competitive environment where students meet Oregon state standards for learning.
Ivy School teachers and assistants are required to adapt and work collaboratively with other teachers trained in various Montessori schools of teacher education including the International Montessori Council (IMC), the American Montessori Society (AMS), the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI), Montessori Educational Programs International (MEPI), and the Pan American Montessori Society (PAMS).
Montessori Elementary training and an Oregon Teaching License are preferred but not required.
A criminal background check is required for all applicants, and fingerprinting may be required for some applicants. Employees who may have direct, unsupervised contact with students and who do not require a license or registration must be fingerprinted.
Also required of all applicants is a signed disclosure release authorizing former employers to release all information related to any substantiated reports of child abuse, sexual conduct under ORS 339.370, or crimes listed in ORS 342.143, including all related documents.
Interested applicants should email a letter of interest and resume to email@example.com.