Assistant GUIDE, ELEMENTARY
I grew up in rural North Dakota where summers were spent at the lake and roaming through the Badlands, exploring nature as much as possible. Fishing, tubing, nature walks and camping were our regular activities. I knew from an early age that and I had a special connection with wildlife. In 8th grade I was certain I would study zoology at Colorado State University. I spent six years gaining in state residency and working while attending University. Shortly after receiving my BSc in Zollogy, I moved abroad to South Africa where my love of travel and learning about the greater human family was cultivated.
I attended postgraduate school at the University of Pretoria in South Africa. Here I studied wildlife management and rural community involvement with ecotourism. The majority of our coursework took place in the bush. I developed an intimate relationship with the flora and fauna of Africa. I trained and ride elephants and guided study abroad veterinarian science groups on study abroad safaris with an organization called Ecolife.
When I returned to America, I resided in Colorado. I joined a public school district as a paraprofessional, working with severe needs children. During the school year, I facilitated a program of exchange between my classroom and the classroom in the village where I worked in South Africa. We collected donations and made beautiful representations of our life in Colorado to share with our friends abroad. My mother flew with me to Africa with 600 pounds of donations and gifts to share with a similar aged class in the Pheeha community in the village of Thaklang. This experience in cross cultural exchange inspired me to develop a more global perspective of education. This is where my love for Montessori was born.
I met my husband in Colorado and we quickly agreed that the Pacific Northwest would be our home. After much searching, we settled in Hood River where I soon discovered Little Oak Montessori. In 2009 I was hired as a classroom assistant just as the school was experiencing it’s first phase of growth. I spent four years assisting and teaching. During this time I received my elementary education certification at the Montessori Institute of Northern Texas.
From 2012- 2015 we started our own family. My two children are enrolled at Little Oak Montessori School in the Dragonfly classroom. I am excited to re-enter the workforce with the same position that started my relationship with Little Oak.
In my spare time, I enjoy making a variety of purposeful crafts. I enjoy sewing, weaving, herbalism and perma culture. We live on 10 acres in Houston, Washington and spend a great deal of our time outside working the land and with our animals.
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!
CHILDREN’S HOUSE LEAD, HUMMINGBIRD Room
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!
Throughout my childhood I could be found outside in Northeast Ohio playing sports, hiking, backpacking, and learning as much as I could about the natural world. While outside of Ohio my family could be found exploring natural parks throughout the USA and Canada.
I attended Kent State University and received a degree in Economics, and Marketing. I also was able to take geography courses throughout my time at Kent State and enjoyed learning the role geography and economics had human history. During my time as KSU I worked as an Economics and Geography tutor and was able to share my love and knowledge of these subjects with others. This was the first time I can remember realizing I wanted to teach.
Upon graduation I began working in construction management and spent the next five years in Cleveland, Ohio, New York City and various small towns around California and Washington. I worked in a variety of roles but always enjoyed corporate education roles the most.
After working in New York City on Hurricane Sandy recovery, I spent a year traveling throughout Latin America and working with a small business development NGO in Guatemala. Somewhere in this process I realized I wanted change my career and become a Montessori Elementary teacher.
Over the last few years I have spent more time traveling, guiding in Alaska and Ski Instructing in Park City, Utah. In August 2018 I completed my AMI Montessori Elementary training as well as my Masters in Education from Loyola University.
I am excited to be moving to White Salmon and working with the Little Oak Staff. I look forward to working in a 6-12 classroom and bringing my knowledge and passion for learning with me to the classroom daily.
Kristina Cronkright OFFICE administrator
I grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan. During high school, I had the opportunity to travel to Australia and then Europe with the People to People Student Ambassadors Program. After graduation, I moved to Kalamazoo to attend Western Michigan University. In 2005, I earned a Bachelors in Social Psychology, with an emphasis on childhood and adolescent socialization, as well as a Bachelors in Gender Studies. Shortly after graduation, I led a classroom of 4th and 5th graders in a literacy-based after school program for the Kalamazoo Public School System.
In 2007, I came to Hood River, Oregon to visit a friend and immediately fell in love with the surroundings. I knew right away this place was exactly what I needed. I flew back to MI, sold most of my belongings, packed my car with the rest and drove to Hood River. For several years, I lived and worked on a flower farm on Mt. Hood and was a barista at Dog River Coffee. It was there that I met my husband and ventured into a new life chapter of motherhood. I knew I wanted to give my son something more than a public school education and was thrilled to find there was a Montessori school in our area. My son is a student at the elementary campus and I have no doubts that this is the exact right place for him.
I am deeply honored to have been chosen for the office administrator position at Little Oak and will love every moment spent with our little learners and their families. As a sociologist, I am always fascinated with the inner minds, behaviors, and interactions of children. One of my favorite things is listening to children talk about their experiences, especially to one another. They are so open to wonder and imagination, and their personalities are still so genuine. When I am not at Little Oak, I enjoy hiking, gardening, cooking, writing, reading, and being silly with my family.
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.
Lucy Mason (President), Jim Miller (Treasurer), Mendy Maccabee (Secretary), Lindee Lewit (Interim Head of School), Karen Holt, Jeff Stageberg and Suzanne Trickey.