Meet Our Staff
Jennifer Davidson, B.A., M.Ed. – Executive Director
Jennifer is a leader in the administration of Montessori teacher training centers in the United States. Her Montessori career began at the Montessori Institute Northwest in 2001, helping to develop MINW’s current organizational structure. Jennifer has presented at the AMI North American Trainers Meeting and at the Australian Refresher Course, and is currently directing the 2013 International Montessori Congress planning committee. She holds a B.A. in Environmental Studies from Lewis and Clark College, an AMI Primary diploma from the Montessori Institute Northwest, and an M.Ed. from Loyola University Maryland. Jennifer is also a third-degree black belt in Poekoelan Tjimindie Tulen, which is an Indonesian form of kung fu. She believes that compassionate and respectful education contributes to peace, and that peace is possible.
Andrea Hippensteel, B.F.A. – Administrative Assistant and Admissions Director
A transplant from the south shore of Lake Superior, Andrea is a new addition to the staff at MINW. After obtaining her B.F.A in Graphic Communication from Northern Michigan University in 2003, she lived in the woods and tried her hand at several careers. Ultimately her work with at-risk youth led her to Montessori. Following her graduation from MINW in 2007, she put her knowledge into practice in the classroom, where her love of the Montessori Method and belief in its' benefit to children deepened daily. Andrea's passions include friends, bargains, horseback riding, baking pies, climbing, mud, and her dog Malutka.
Janet Lewis, B.A. – Community Education and Fundraising Director
Janet holds a B.A. in English Literature from UCLA and is an avid reader and lifelong learner. She and her husband raised two sons in the Portland area where both attended Montessori schools as children. Janet helped create the original Portland Children's Fair and has continued planning fundraising events for various non-profit schools and organizations in both the Portland and Seattle areas. When time permits, Janet enjoys walking, making bead-encrusted creations, and spending time with her family.
Sally Coulter, B.A. – Course Administrator
Sally hails from Adelaide, Australia, and lives in wonderful southeast Portland with her husband Brent and two extremely cute cats. Sally has educational and administrative experience in several different countries, including Japan, Australia and the United States. In addition to her B.A, she holds a Graduate Diploma in Adult Education. In her spare time, Sally likes to engage in all manner of crafty adventures. She graduated from MINW with her AMI Primary Diploma in June of 2007, and is thrilled to be furthering Montessori as part of the MINW staff.
Robyn Ellis, B.F.A. – Finance Manager
Robyn hails from Sacramento where she attended the Sacramento Waldorf School. She has lived in Portland since 2004 and has been working in the accounting field since 2000. In 2011 she graduated from PSU with honors and a BFA in liberal studies. She enjoys being a part of the Montessori Institute Northwest. In her free time she plays the piano, crochets, and labors in her garden.
Glenn Goodfellow – Congress Administrator
Glenn remains delighted to have joined the MINW team in the Fall of 2010. He’s on board, rather specifically, to help organize the forthcoming 2013 International Montessori Congress (http://www.montessoricongress.org/). His previous work experience includes nonprofit special-events planning, convention-services management, and accounting. When not crunching numbers and pondering the global Montessori community, he can also be found instructing baking and culinary skills to Primary-aged students. On the occasion that Glenn’s Montessori cap comes off, he also enjoys playing the piano, scheming up excuses for craft projects, and annoying “Sushi”, his pertinacious rat terrier. To contact Glenn, please click here.
Assistants to Infancy level - faculty and staff
Patricia Wallner, B.A., M.Ed. – Director of Assistants to Infancy Training
Patty received her AMI Primary diploma in 1971 in Washington D.C. She later studied under Dr. Silvana Montanaro and Judy Orion, earning the AMI Assistants to Infancy diploma in 1986. While living in Holland, Patty was involved with categorizing the unpublished lectures of Maria Montessori as well as working first with Mario Montessori and later with Ada Montessori.
In the 1990s, Patty undertook the Training of Trainers program at the Assistants to Infancy level. She has trained adults in Italy, England, Australia, Japan, Sweden and the United States, first studying with and assisting Dr. Montanaro, then directing courses as a Director of Training for the Association Montessori Internationale. Patty started the AMI Assistants to Infancy course at MINW, 'assistered' by her real sister, Nancy Lechner-Wallner. Although Patty now calls Amsterdam home, Portland, she claims, is her favorite U.S. city. She and Nancy love being here.
Nancy Lechner-Wallner, B.A., M.Ed. – Assistants to Infancy Course Assistant
Nancy has worked with young children since 1977, and holds AMI diplomas at the Assistant to Infancy, Primary, and Special Education levels. She has presented parent workshops and staff development in California, Oregon, Texas, Australia, and Europe and has been a guest speaker in the Early Childhood Education Program at Cabrillo College in Aptos, California.
Nancy is currently in the AMI Training of Trainers program at the Assistants to Infancy level. She and her sister, Patricia Wallner, are co-founders of Parent and Child Together, an education-based service offering parent coaching, private consultations, workshops and staff development. Living in Soquel, California with her children Angela and Patrick, Nancy enjoys ballroom dancing, sailing, and gardening in her free time.
Primary level - faculty and staff
Ginni Sackett, B.A, M.Ed. – Co-Director of Primary Training
Ginni is the Director of Primary Training at MINW. A trainer, lecturer, consultant and examiner of the Association Montessori Internationale, she is passionate about advancing the international Montessori movement and bringing the benefits of Montessori education to children worldwide.
She holds a B.A. in History from Seton Hill University, a M.A. in Asian Studies from the University of Hawaii, and the AMI Primary Diploma through the Montessori Education Center / Oregon. After twelve years as a classroom teacher, Ginni joined the staff of the Montessori Institute Northwest as a Course Assistant in 1994. She achieved the status of AMI Director of Training in 2002. Ginni has presented topics at regional, national and international workshops and conferences and has had articles published in AMI Communications, the NAMTA Journal and Forza Vitale. Ginni lives in southeast Portland with her husband, Jon, where they raised five children. She is a second-degree black belt in the Indonesian martial art of Poekoelan Tjimindie Tulen, enjoys exploring the charms of Portland, and loves spending time with her family, including her three grandchildren.
Sarah Werner Andrews, B.A., M.Ed. - Co-Director of Primary Training
Sarah joined the MINW team in 2008, bringing a rich background of primary and elementary classroom experience and a strong interest in connecting current education research to Montessori principles and practice. Sarah, as an AMI Primary Trainer and Oregon Registry Master Trainer, holds an M.Ed. in Education, a B.A. in Music Performance, and both Primary and Elementary-level AMI Montessori diplomas. Sarah’s contributions at MINW include classroom lectures, presentations, guiding practice sessions, as well as parent education, teacher development, and community education.
Sarah has lived in Portland since 1991 with her husband, Dave. They have two sons, Julian and Evan, who embody the wonderful possibilities of growing up Montessori. Sarah enjoys botany, music, cooking, hiking, reading, historical documentaries on OPB, and anything related to the Bretz Floods!
Corinne Stastny, B.A., M.Ed. - Primary Course Assistant
Corinne first encountered Montessori prior to her third birthday when she joined a Montessori Children’s House in Corvallis. She is thrilled to now share Montessori with her almost three year old daughter, Stella. Corinne holds a B.A. from the University of Oregon, and completed her AMI Primary Training at the Montessori Institute Northwest in 1999 while concurrently earning her Loyola University Maryland M.Ed.. Corinne served as MINW’s Primary Course Assistant from 2003 – 2007, moved to California for a spell and joyously rejoined the MINW staff in Spring of 2012. She loves being a part of the Portland Montessori community and the rich and inspiring education that MINW offers.
Elementary level - faculty and staff
Elise Huneke-Stone, B.A., M.Ed. – Director of Elementary Training
Elise is mother to Virginia and Sara, both Montessori educated, and wife to David Ayer, a Montessori primary/adolescent teacher and administrator. Originally from Connecticut, Elise came to Portland in 1980 to attend Reed College, graduating with a BA in Psychology. She earned her AMI Elementary diploma in 1987 and her Primary diploma in 2010, She has a Masters in Education from Loyola University, Maryland. With twenty-one years of classroom experience, Elise has taught at both lower and upper elementary levels. Elise and David were program developers and teachers for the Montessori Adolescent Project NW in Portland, and spent three years as resident faculty at the Hershey Montessori Farm School in Ohio. Elise worked for several summers at the NAMTA Orientation to Adolescence, has presented at AMI-EAA and NAMTA events, and served for six years on the board of the Oregon Montessori Association. She completed her Elementary Training of Trainers program in spring 2012 and is also an Oregon Registry Master Trainer. In addition to her Montessori work, Elise has worked with families as a certified natural childbirth educator and doula. She is a spare-time novelist, lyricist and poet.
Shannon Welsh, B.A., M.Ed - Elementary Course Assistant
Shannon hails from New England, where she was born and has lived most of her life. She graduated with a B.A. in Anthropology and Fine Art from the University of Maine at Farmington. After college, she discovered Montessori education and knew it was her next step. She received her AMI Elementary diploma and M.Ed. from Loyola University Maryland in 2007. She then moved to Boston and taught in both 6-9 and 9-12 elementary environments, before deciding to join the staff at MINW. You can usually find Shannon with her nose stuck in a book or her fingers wrapped around some knitting. She and her husband Mikey recently welcomed their first child, Gwynneth Grace. Shannon also loves hiking with her husband and can’t wait to take the Gwynneth out on the trail!
Jennifer Ryznar, B.A., M.Ed - Elementary Course Assistant
Jennifer is originally from Northern Michigan, attended Kenyon College in Ohio, and lived in Juneau, Alaska, where she met her husband and started a family. She is AMI trained at the Primary and Elementary levels, and enjoyed teaching in the Juneau community in both the private and public sectors. After relocating to Portland, Jennifer became, and still serves as, the Executive Director for the Oregon Montessori Association. She is a member of the Board of Directors for Whole Child Montessori Center. She enjoys hiking, reading, yoga, and spending time with her family and friends.