Children’s House Lead, Hummingbird Room
Born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana, I spent my summers during high school working with preschoolers and lifeguarding at a day camp. Summers while I was in college, I worked at a farm and wilderness overnight camp in the mountains of Western North Carolina. I graduated from Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana with a BA in biology in 1998.
After a brief stint owning a catering business in East Tennessee, I embarked on AMI elementary Montessori training and a masters degree in education at Washington Montessori Institute at Loyola College in Maryland.
In the summer of 2001, my husband and I moved to Denver, Colorado. While living in Colorado, I guided an upper elementary class at a public charter Montessori school in Littleton and a lower elementary class at a private AMI Montessori school in Boulder.
In June of 2006, I moved to Prineville, Oregon with my ten-day-old baby to join my husband. Recognizing a shortage of high quality educational options for young children in Crook County, Oregon, I completed AMI primary Montessori training at The Montessori Institute Northwest in Portland, Oregon.
In the fall of 2010, Meadowlark Montessori Children’s House was born in the basement of my family home with three students. By the following school year, MMCH had grown to over 20 students, an AMI trained co-guide and a part-time assistant in a designated commercial schoolhouse.
In the winter of 2014, my family moved to The Dalles. In the fall of 2015, my younger son, Finn, joined Little Oak Children’s House. This fall my older son, Leo, is joining the elementary class, and I am very excited to become the guide of the Hummingbird Room!
Assistant, Hummingbird Room and Office Assistant
In 2014, shortly after getting married, I moved from the small town of Loomis, California to Hood River where my husband is from. We live on 11 acres with our dog Pete, and are in the process of building a house. In our spare time, my husband and I love being outdoors: hiking, kayaking, swimming, fishing, camping, and cross country skiing.
Before getting married and moving to Hood River, I attended Sierra College in California and was working on my degree in Early Childhood Education. In my time there I learned about Montessori education and thought it was simply amazing. I knew I wanted to be a part of a Montessori school if I ever had the opportunity. Needless to say, I am thrilled to be here at Little Oak.
Jillian Maeve Schneider
Children’s House Lead, Dragonfly Room
I come from a long line of educators, artists and storytellers. My great grandmother and her three sisters were teachers, my grandmother was a professor of English and my mother first taught German and later child-birthing classes as a nurse midwife. Growing up as a military brat afforded me the opportunity to hear and share unbelievable stories, to experience life in many places and to adapt easily to changing environments. With a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Art Education and a Master of Education in Scientific Pedagogy, I work to promote a love of learning with a strong emphasis on curiosity, resilience, and peace. My teaching style focuses on creative problem solving, self-discovery and experiences in empathy.
I first discovered Montessori while working as a Teaching Artist with the Children's Museum of the Arts in Soho, New York, New York. I was amazed by the compassionate communication and the divergent, enthusiastic creativity I witnessed and began researching Montessori education with fervor. I decided to move to the Northwest to train at Montessori Northwest in 2009, and had the pleasure of training with Eleanor and Jenna!
In my free time, I study permaculture, horticulture and expressive arts. My husband Adam and I dream of creating an art farm homestead for workshops, classes and retreats. When I'm not in the classroom or tending the land, I work as an illustrator. I am currently illustrating two coloring books and a poem written by my grandmother. I enjoy sharing my artwork with the children and am thrilled by their feedback and ideas. I believe in sharing all my life's passions and work with the children. I'm so happy to join the Little Oak community as Guide in the Dragonfly Room!
Assistant, Dragonfly Room and Afterschool Program Coordinator
My earliest school memories are of scrubbing pumpkins and working with the metal 'insects' at a Montessori Children's House nestled in the foothills of the Colorado Rocky Mountains. After witnessing the remarkable transformation first hand, my parents did everything in their power to keep me in Montessori through middle school—a gift I am forever grateful to them for. Upon completing my undergraduate degree at the University of Denver in 2009, I decided to heed the call westward, moving to Portland and embarking on the adventure of becoming an educator by enrolling in a primary training course at the Montessori Institute Northwest.
After completing the training (alongside my friends and now colleagues, Eleanor and Jillian), I worked as an assistant under two seasoned guides at two different schools in Portland, gaining valuable experience and practice in the Montessori method. With a heart full of wanderlust, I then set off on a year of travel, observing and volunteering with a handful of Montessori programs across three continents. Upon my return to Portland, I settled into a Lead Guide position at West Hills Montessori, and completed a full 3 year cycle in the same classroom.
In recent years, my roots in the Rockies and my passion for homesteading have persuaded me to return to the woods. I'm ever so delighted to be joining the Little Oak community, and moving to a place where I can pursue my passions for permaculture and land-based living, while also working with children in the Montessori classroom.
In my time outside of work, I enjoy gardening, cooking, hiking, playing guitar, and being with my beloved family and friends!
I grew up in a tiny town in central Ohio, and then began my teaching career in Dayton, Ohio, where I taught physics, math and science for four years. From there I joined the Peace Corps in Nepal where I trained teachers and continued to teach math and science, first in a village school and then at the international school in Kathmandu.
After 5 years in Nepal, in 2002 my husband and I relocated to Afghanistan where I worked in teacher training as well as women’s literacy with UNICEF and other agencies. However, through a chance encounter with a very passionate Montessori teacher, the seeds of Montessori philosophy had been planted in my mind some years earlier, and so in 2004 I decided to study for my elementary Montessori certificate in Bergamo, Italy. This launched a new path for me into the world of Montessori education, and transformed my career as well as my outlook on life. I returned to Afghanistan and co-founded the House of Flowers orphanage as a Montessori environment, and after Afghanistan I worked on Montessori projects with schools in Nepal, Ethiopia and Lesotho.
In 2008 I returned to the US to teach a Montessori Elementary class in Connecticut. I also received my masters degree in Conscious Evolution from The Graduate Institute in Connecticut, focusing on Montessori education as an embodiment of the emerging worldview.
In 2013 I made the move to the Columbia Gorge in order to join the vibrant community of Little Oak Montessori. It is truly a joy to be a part of the growing elementary program with our 6-12 classroom. I love seeing how the philosophical principles of Montessori education serve both the children and society, and am endlessly amazed by the power of the human mind and heart as demonstrated by these children.
I was first introduced to Montessori when I was three years old at Sun Garden Montessori in West Linn, Oregon. It was there that I found a passion for learning through the Montessori method, which I’ve applied throughout the rest of my educational career. I loved being outside and exploring the natural world around me, always bringing home critters and art pieces I crafted from the woods. My parents were whitewater raft guides in Idaho while I was growing up, and my family and I spent many days on the beautiful and scenic Snake River exploring Hells Canyon and all that it had to offer. It was there, connecting with the beauty of nature and being on some of the greatest rivers in the nation, that I began to recognize my love and passion for the outdoor adventure.
I graduated high school in 2010 in Washougal, Washington and ventured on to a new place as I began my freshman year at Linfield College in McMinnville, Oregon. I started school with the intentions of grasping more knowledge of children’s education and figuring out my place in the world amongst the 1700 students that were doing the same. Looking back at an adventurous life I had started as a child, I decided to take a quick break from school to go back and do something that I was truly passionate about, and that was being on the water, rafting. I ended up spending four wonderful summers surrounded with people who shared the same love for the outdoors as myself, raft guiding on the Deschutes, Rogue, White Salmon and Clackamas rivers. During this time, I rediscovered the small, gem of a town, White Salmon and decided that I wanted to settle down into something that I had always had a passion for, and that was teaching children.
My passion and love for adventure has lead me to Little Oak Montessori, and I feel that the position as an after school programs coordinator will be a perfect fit for me as I can grow and learn with the children at this school, as well as apply what I have learned as a young Montessori child and an outdoor enthusiast. I am excited to start this new journey working as the After School Programs Coordinator at Little Oak!
My Montessori journey started when I was four years old at Morning Star Montessori. I have fond memories of my guide Mrs. Silva and of the classroom. My favorite classroom material was the movable alphabet on small white tiles with blue, cursive letters.
Fast forward many years to Oregon State University where I earned my B.A. in interdisciplinary studies with a Spanish minor. While in college, I tutored groups of ESL children and native English speaking adults in Spanish. I also participated in two academic exchange programs – first in Alicante, Spain, then in Hilo on The Big Island of Hawaii. Following graduation, I lived and worked in Santa Barbara, CA prior to moving to St. John, USVI for a brief time.
Upon returning to Oregon, I settled in Southeast Portland and worked for 10 years at a law firm; first in human resources and finally in lawyer recruiting. I also enjoyed seven years mentoring in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program. In 2007, I reconnected with a high school friend who later became my husband and we welcomed our first child in 2010.
As Portland natives growing up, my husband and I both spent time in the Gorge and loved it! As adults, we felt the strong community and values coupled with great recreation made this the perfect place to raise our family. So, in 2011 we relocated to White Salmon and I began working at Little Oak.
I’ve worn many hats at this amazing school, working in the classrooms with our children and guides and also with our families on the administrative end. In my roles, I‘ve learned about the Montessori philosophy and curriculum and am constantly reminded what a wonderful approach it is for teaching children of all ages.
I feel my Montessori journey has come full circle as my son is now receiving a world class Montessori education here at Little Oak.
Head of School
Originally from the tiny town of Curtain, Oregon, I spent much of my early years outside helping on the family farm, camping, hiking, skiing, and exploring the many aspects of nature. I was fortunate during that time to attend a small Montessori school where my natural curiosity for learning was supported and deeply encouraged, laying the foundation for my life-long love of learning.
I earned a BA in Elementary Education in 2008 from Central Washington University and spent the following year working in public schools before joining an environmental education organization in Leavenworth, Washington. It was during that time that my interest in working with non-profit educational programs began.
A year later I became involved with an art and nature based preschool program located on a 320 acre farm in Leavenworth where I was fortunate to be involved with the school in many capacities. I began in the classroom working with the children, creating teaching materials, developing curriculum, and facilitating an environment where children felt safe to explore their world and follow their unique interests. Later I moved into an administrative role and helped implement positive change to improve the program and grow the school.
Joining Little Oak has been a wonderful experience. I look forward to the path ahead and to continuing to foster excellence in our Children’s House and Elementary programs.
In my time away from school I enjoy sunshine, gardening, baking, and nature.
Board of Directors
The Little Oak Board is composed primarily of Little Oak parents. Board positions are volunteer positions with a suggested term of 2-3 years. The Board strives for a balance of representatives, both in terms of their own professional experience as well as with regard to the age/s of their child/ren. The purpose of the Board is to support the needs of the school and staff by working in coordination with the Head of School. Parents are invited to attend an open session at the commencement of each Board meeting, generally held at 5:30 P.M. on the 3rd Thursday of each month.
Suzanne Trickey (President), Jim Miller (Treasurer), Jeff Stageberg, Nashira Reisch, Cathy Newman, Lucy Mason, Prema Perumal and Naomi Bull (Head of School).