Gabby was born and raised in Savannah, where she graduated from St. Vincent’s Academy. She discovered her passion for working with children at a very young age and spent most of her middle and high school days babysitting and tutoring children. Gabby graduated from Georgia Southern University, where she earned her Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education. While in college, she worked in the afterschool program at St. Peter’s the Apostle Catholic School and joined the Coastal Empire Montessori staff in 2020. Gabby earned her Montessori Primary Certification through the North American Montessori Center.
Gabby and her husband Taylor have one daughter, Ellie, who is the sweetest and most adorable baby girl! In her spare time, she enjoys cooking, traveling and spending time with friends and family. Gabby also has two fur babies – Gracie (a Shih-tzu) and Chadwick (a Holland Lop). She is excited for another year at CEMCS!
Melissa was born, raised and graduated high school in Massachusetts. She moved to Savannah to attend SCAD, where she earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts. She also earned a Master of Arts in Teaching from Armstrong State University, and her teaching journey began in 2008. In 2010, she worked at a Montessori Early Childhood Program and fell in love with the philosophy. In 2018, she started at Coastal Empire Montessori, and that same year, she earned her Montessori Primary Certification through the North American Montessori Center. This will be her 5th year with CEMCS
Melissa married Thomas Christopher Friel, a proud Savannah High Alumni, in 2011. They have 2 children - a 9-year-old boy (Archer) and a 6-year-old girl (Matilda) – who both attend CEMCS. Her hobbies include raising chickens, reading, cooking, and watercolor painting.
Hannah graduated from Towson University in Baltimore, MD, with a degree in Theatre. During that time, she discovered her love of teaching while using theatre skills and games as a way to inspire the children of inner-city Baltimore to read. She loved spending time with the 3rd graders involved in the program and knew that her life would take a turn toward education. This will be Hannah’s seventh year here at CEMCS, her fifth year teaching Kindergarten. She feels incredibly fortunate to have found such a wonderful family of educators here. She has completed her Montessori certification in Lower Elementary through the North American Montessori Center and has also completed the Georgia Teacher Preparation & Pedagogy Program (GaTAPP) with Oconee RESA for her certification.
Hannah was born in Easton, MD, but spent a lot of her time growing up near the beach in Ocean City. She loves going home to visit her family whenever she can. Hannah moved here to Savannah nine years ago and has fallen in love with coastal Georgia; it reminds her of home. In her spare time, you might find Hannah spending time with her husband, Matt, and their three wacky dogs: Bob, Peter and Rita. They love exploring the outdoors, seeing live music, visiting family, cooking, hanging out at the beach, and traveling. In fact, traveling is one of Hannah’s passions, and she has traveled to and lived in several different countries around the world including Morocco, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, the Dominican Republic, the Cayman Islands, Nicaragua, Honduras, and Thailand. She plans on adding many more places to that list.
Jessica was born and raised in North Georgia and graduated from the University of Georgia with a Bachelor’s Degree in English. She went on to earn her English Master’s Degree at Georgia Southern University and almost immediately joined the CEMCS family, where she worked as a paraprofessional in the 4th and 5th Grades. The opportunity arose in the middle of the 2021-22 school year for her to move into a lead teaching role in Lower Elementary, and Jessica embraced it! She will continue with her class this year, and she is very happy to be continuing her work with the 2nd and 3rd graders of LE2 while she completes her certification through a GaTAP Program.
Jessica and her husband moved to Savannah in 2020. They have a Bengal cat named Juniper who enjoys screaming at them and demanding attention at the most inconvenient times. She enjoys reading and writing (and, in fact, is a published author!) as well as traveling to the beach. Working at CEMCS has been a wonderful experience for Jessica and she truly enjoys working and bonding with all of her students!
Janine was born in Ohio and grew up in Savannah. She graduated from Valdosta State University with a Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education and earned a Master of Education in Counseling in 2006. One of her greatest passions is teaching, and this year is her 20th. She has worked for the Savannah-Chatham County Public School System and for Richmond County School System in a variety of grade levels throughout the years. Janine completed her Montessori Certification through the North American Montessori Center and has recently earned her Gifted Certification. This will be her 5th year here at CEMCS!
Janine loves spending most of her time with family and friends. She has a soon-to-be-13-year-old daughter whom she adores. She enjoys traveling, reading, shopping, going to the beach, and most of all having fun with her daughter. She also enjoys working with children and is looking forward to a prosperous school year.
Ashton was born and raised in Savannah, GA, and graduated from Georgia Southern University with a Bachelor Degree in Elementary Education. While in college, Ashton’s combined field and job experience included teaching in Kindergarten, First and Fourth Grades. She also worked as a Nanny for five years, entrusted with the care of three children, aged 2, 6 and 8. Ashton has had a passion for working with children for a long time, ever since volunteering at her younger brother’s daycare! She considers some of her greatest strengths as an educator to be her patience and her ability to create a positive and respectful learning environment so that each child is able to learn and prosper at his/her own pace. Ashton is beyond excited to continue in her third year teaching at CEMCS and has successfully completed Montessori training through The Center for Guided Montessori Studies.
Ashton enjoys spending her free time with her family, significant other and friends. She absolutely loves the beach, swimming, kayaking, and drawing. Her goal as a teacher is to instill a love of learning in her students by helping all children discover their interests in a positive learning environment.
Kylene was born and raised in Tampa, Florida. She graduated from the University of South Florida, where she earned her Bachelor Degree in Communication and Science Disorders. She worked for four years in speech therapy for public elementary school students. During this time, Kylene earned her Master Degree in Early Childhood Education from Nova Southeastern University. She has taught for 19 years in Kindergarten through 3rd Grade, being recognized as Teacher of the Year at Pasco Elementary. She earned her ESOL endorsement in 2008 and has completed her Montessori Certification with the North American Montessori Center.
Kylene and her family moved to Savannah in 2015. She and her husband, Brian, have two children - Kaden (14) and Kyla (7). In her spare time, Kylene enjoys spending time with her family, outdoor activities, reading, shopping, and learning yoga. Her favorite quotations from Maria Montessori are "Believe in the child” and "... the teacher's task is to first nourish and assist, to watch, encourage, guide, induce, rather than interfere, prescribe, or restrict." Kylene loves teaching Montessori and observing her students grow into confident and independent learners.
Kelly was raised in Central Florida and developed a passion for teaching at a young age. She's entering her 13th year of teaching! She earned her Elementary Education degree and Reading and ESOL endorsements at the University of Central Florida. In 2021, she completed her Master of Education degree in Evaluation, Assessment, Research & Learning from Georgia Southern University. Kelly spent her first five years teaching 9th-grade reading in Deltona, FL; during that time, she earned over 300 hours of in-service training and conducted several trainings for her peers. She has spent her last six years of teaching here at Coastal Empire Montessori Charter School, during which time she earned her Montessori certification. Kelly has enjoyed teaching Lower Elementary at CEMCS; her students have always valued her sense of humor, enthusiasm, and ability to make learning fun!
Kelly relocated to Savannah in 2015 with her three boys and loves living in one of her favorite cities in the US! In her spare time, she loves spending time with her family and friends, going to the beach, Nerf wars, reading (especially non-fiction), watching documentaries (learning!), and playing games – from chess to rock-paper-scissors! She's looking forward to another exciting year here at CEMCS and cannot wait to start working with her students and their families!
Alana is originally from Ohio, and her Army career took her to various places before she settled in Savannah. Upon exiting the military, Alana began volunteering at Coastal Empire Montessori in her daughter's classroom, and it was there that she learned her love for teaching. Alana earned a Bachelor’s of Business in Human Resource Management and has completed her Elementary I Montessori Training through the Seacoast Center for Education. She has also completed the GaTAPP (Georgia Teacher Preparation and Pedagogy Program) with Oconee RESA for her certification, and most recently, her Gifted Education Endorsement.
In her spare time, Alana enjoys spending time with her family. She is married and has four daughters. Her 2 oldest daughters are graduates of CEMCS and her third daughter is a 3rd Grader here.
As Patty enters her 34th year in education, she still enjoys and embraces all that teaching has to offer. She began her career by earning a Bachelor Degree in Elementary Education with a specialization in Early Childhood from Southern Illinois University. She moved south and had her first teaching experience in an inner-city Atlanta school; she then moved on to teach at-risk Pre-K special needs students in a private school setting. After moving to Savannah, Patty taught Primary Grades (1st – 3rd) in Chatham County, while adding a Gifted Endorsement to her certificate. She also taught and was the assistant director at a private school for children with neurological disorders, where she learned a variety of invaluable methods for differentiation and positive behavior management. She moved to Augusta, GA, for 7 years, which ended up being a highlight in her career. In 2007, Patty was named Teacher of the Year for her school and runner-up for Columbia County. She obtained her Master’s Degree in Education Curriculum and became a certified trainer for PBIS, Thinking Maps and Writer’s Workshop. She came to CEMCS from teaching 4th and 5th grades in Bryan County, where she was the recipient of two Donors Choose Grants for flexible seating and modality equipment for her inclusion class. She obtained her Montessori Certification from the North American Montessori Center in March of 2019 and a Masters of Special Education in 2020.
Even though she was born in Michigan and raised in Illinois, Patty considers Savannah her true home. She is very involved with animal rescue and taking care of her fur babies, Stella and Stewie. Patty embraces the challenge of teaching in all aspects of life. She feels she learns as much as she teaches. Every day is different and should be welcomed with enthusiasm, a belief that she hopes to instill in her students. As she begins her 5th year at CEMCS, Patty finds teaching her “family of students” to be the best part of her day.
Michelle was born and raised in New Jersey. She has a B.A. Degree in Sociology from The College of New Jersey. While she worked as a counselor in a residential facility for homeless teenagers in NYC, she discovered a passion for teaching. Michelle returned to school and earned a M.A. in Special Education from New Jersey City University. She has worked for the past 25+ years teaching and advocating for students with disabilities. During her career in NJ, Michelle was involved in the development and implementation of special programs, such as track, dance, and swimming. Michelle believes that all students can thrive when given the opportunity to explore their interests, question the world around them, and challenge themselves daily to do better and be better.
Michelle and her family relocated to GA in 2021. She and her husband, Darryl, have three boys – Isaiah, Zayden and Justin. She enjoys reading, walking, exercising, attending church, and spending time with family and friends.
Terri was born and raised here in Savannah. She has always loved children and decided to become a teacher early on, earning her Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education from Armstrong State University. While teaching over the course of the last 26 years, she has gone on to also earn a Master of Arts in Professional Counseling from Argosy University and an Educational Specialist Degree in Educational Leadership from Cambridge College. Terri joined the CEMCS staff in 2021.
Terri is the oldest of 4 children and is affectionately known as “Aunt Bunny” to 13 nieces and nephews (including 3 grandnieces and 1 grandnephew)! She enjoys spending time with family and friends, reading, traveling, music, and outdoor concerts.
This is Bethany’s fifth year teaching at CEMCS. She graduated summa cum laude from Armstrong State University with a Bachelor of Science in Art Education. Following graduation, she also earned a certification in Early Childhood Education. Bethany firmly believes that studying Art, and the artistic process itself, can teach children important life skills such as problem solving, decision making, empathy, collaboration, and of course, self-expression. She also believes that every child is an artist, and is determined to find some aspect of Art – whether it’s a certain medium, style, technique, or subject matter – that excites every student who enters her classroom. As Pablo Picasso said, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.”
Bethany lives here in Savannah with her husband and son, the sweetest, cutest, baby boy ever! She is looking forward to being able to work on projects in person with the students again.
Stephanie is a social scientist and educator who has had careers in both law enforcement and education. She possesses the following degrees: a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and French from Bucknell University, a Master of Arts in Political Science from the University of Wisconsin - Madison, a Master of Science in Criminal Justice from Suffolk University, and a Master of Education in Middle Grades Education from Armstrong Atlantic State University. Additionally, she was a part of the innovative CharterLeader Program, a residency-based Educational Specialist program at Kennesaw State University, designed to develop charter leaders and strengthen the charter school sector in Georgia. Stephanie is certified to teach Early Childhood Education, Middle Grades Education, Special Education, and Gifted Education, as well as being certified in Performance-Based Educational Leadership. Before becoming an educator and teaching middle-grades Mathematics for the SCCPSS for several years, Stephanie served as Deputy Director of the Office of Research and Evaluation at the Boston Police Department, where she did crime, intelligence and statistical analysis. Public-school educated herself, she is a strong believer in the value of public schooling and the idea that all families should have access to positive educational alternatives for their children.
Stephanie’s association with CEMCS began when she enrolled her boys, Sam and Ben, when the school opened back in 2008. She has been here ever since – as a parent, a CEMCO Board Trustee and Officer, then as Director of Operations. She is now serving in her 11th year as the school’s Executive Director. She has always believed in the power of the mission and vision of the CEMCO Founding Board and remains intensely-committed to the school’s success. Being a part of the growth of so many students over the years – including her own children – has deepened her conviction that CEM’s commitment to “doing Montessori right” serves children and families faithfully.
Stephanie ongoingly participates in Montessori and other relevant training and professional development, most notably from the National Center for Montessori in the Public Sector. In addition, she serves on various local and statewide committees and leadership groups and engages in educational reform initiatives across the state. She is involved with the Montessori for Social Justice movement and is a proud member of the Savannah Charter Schools Collaborative, through which she works with her charter colleagues here in town in order to advocate for children, families, teachers, and staff. Stephanie also teaches the Gifted Resource class here at CEMCS because she misses teaching when she is unable to work directly with students!
Stephanie is a transplanted Yankee who has lived in many areas of the United States, as well as in France. She is a workaholic who also enjoys family time, being a soccer mom, going to the gym, watching sports, reading, and traveling anywhere that’s interesting to explore. She is most proud of the way her sons are growing into outstanding men, and she sees the lasting, positive impacts of their Montessori education in so many facets of their lives. In her never-ending pursuit to develop as an individual and become the best educator and guide possible for the school, she continues to work on enhancing her reflectiveness and mindfulness.
Katherine was born and raised in the Savannah, GA, area where she attended Armstrong Atlantic State University. While studying Art History and Techniques there, she found a passion for teaching art, which quickly turned into a passion for the art of teaching. Katherine graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Art Education and taught Kindergarten at CEMCS for 5 years. During that time, she earned her MACTE-accredited Certification in the Early Childhood Program with Montessori Live. Since becoming the Head of Montessori Curriculum and Instruction, Katherine has earned her Montessori Live School Leadership Certification and has completed Lower Elementary Montessori training with the North American Montessori Center. She is now pursuing an Educational Specialist degree in School Psychology from Georgia Southern University.
Katherine’s husband Matt is active duty in the Air National Guard and their twin boys attend CEMCS. They maintain a mini-homestead, where you can find cats, dogs, ducks, and rabbits! In her spare time, Katherine enjoys spending time outdoors, gardening, rock-hounding, geocaching, and swimming. Her two favorite quotes from Maria Montessori are, "Imagination does not become great until human beings, given the courage and the strength, use it to create" and "Play is the work of a child.”
Bill is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati, where he earned a Bachelor of Business Administration Degree with a major in Accounting. He is a CPA and has had quite a varied professional career. Bill has spent time in the public accounting field, served as the Controller of a multi-billion dollar construction program, and provided consulting services to various state and local government entities. As a mid-career course change, Bill focused his attention on the not-for-profit industry and became the Chief Administrative Officer of St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Houston, TX, the largest Episcopal congregation in the United States. Bill also served as the Executive Director of the Open Door Mission (a residential drug and alcohol recovery program for homeless and indigent men) and then finished out that segment of his work life as the Executive Vice President and CFO of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society – South Central Region.
Bill was born and raised in Ohio but spent 35 years living in Houston, Texas. He and his wife, Peggy, moved to Savannah in 2015 to relax and enjoy all that Savannah has to offer. They have five children, seven grandchildren and one very pampered cat. Bill likes to spend his spare time working on home renovations and traveling. He’s been to 47 of the 50 states - with a goal to cross the remaining 3 off his list in the next couple years.
Shannon has worked in fundraising and non-profit management for the past 27 years and has helped raise millions of dollars for non-profit organizations such as The Ronald McDonald House, Union Mission, the American Cancer Society, and Georgia Southern University. Her work passions include strategic planning, board development and finding ways to marry tried-and-true fundraising strategies with innovation.
Shannon earned her undergraduate degree from Minot State University and has been in and around the Savannah area for nearly 27 years. She has two children - Ben, a sophomore at Kennesaw State University, and Sophie, a junior at Georgia Southern Armstrong Campus. She is married to Jason and has four stepdaughters ranging in ages from 13-25. Shannon is a fitness enthusiast and likes to strength train, swim, paddleboard, and do just about anything else she can do to be active and/or outside.
Wanda was born and raised in Savannah and attended Valdosta State University. She has over 15 years of experience in Education Management, including Facilities and Operational management, and has spent most of her career overseeing the operational needs of educational institutions. Wanda has even designed and built educational facilities from the ground up. In the early days of her career, she taught Middle School Math and Science, along with coaching softball, basketball and soccer.
Wanda lives in Thunderbolt with her wife of 17 years, Mary, and their 5 fur pups (all rescues and under 20 pounds). She is the proud mom of Joshua, US Navy Chief Petty Officer stationed in Washington, and daughter, Kala, special education teacher in Belgium. The loves of her life are her two grandchildren, Emerie and JJ. She is a member of the Bonaventure Historical Society and likes to spend her spare time working in her yard/gardens (or "digging in the dirt," as she says). Wanda and Mary are also avid shell collectors and love to shell hunt all over the eastern seaboard.
Jenn was born and raised in Melbourne, FL. After high school graduation, she married and lived all over the US for the next 15 years. In 2010, she relocated to beautiful Savannah, GA, and joined the school staff as the Administrative Assistant. Jenn went back to school to further her education; she graduated with a Health Care Assistant Certification with endorsements as both Certified Nursing Assistant and Patient Care Technician from Savannah Technical College. This will be Jenn's 12th year at CEMCS!
Jenn has 3 great children, aged 26, 22 and 17. She enjoys spending her free time with them and their various activities and families. When she gets time to herself, she enjoys reading, relaxing, and raising backyard chickens. Jenn is always looking for more ways to grow both personally and professionally and is excited to see where life takes her next!
Willie joined the CEMCS Facilities Department after having served as a Job Coach in the SCCPSS for more than 20 years, where was responsible for job placement and training for high school students with special needs. He combines his experience in education with his skills and interests in building, gardening and handiwork in order to help the school continue to improve its facilities and campus.
Willie was born and raised in Statesboro, GA. After high school, he served as a Unit Supply Specialist in the US Army and then attended Armstrong State University in Information Technology. He also serves as Chair of the school’s Green Team and is looking forward to expanding opportunities in the garden with hydroponics and a greenhouse.
Twilia was born and raised in Ridgeway, SC. After graduating high school, she worked as a paraprofessional at the elementary school where her mother worked. She then joined the US Army in 1998, which is where she met her husband William. They were stationed at Ft. Lee, VA, where she ended her Army career; her husband continued his path with the US Air Force and they moved to Savannah. Twilia took a position as an accountant at a car dealership, where she worked for many years and gained much administrative expertise. Twilia's education includes studying Criminal Justice at Midlands Technical College in Columbia, SC, and Central Texas College in VA. Twilia has worked at CEMCS since August 2013 and loves making the Main Office work.
Twilia is very family-oriented and enjoys spending most of her free time with family.