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OakHaven Faculty and Staff

The entire OakHaven team is dedicated to providing the best possible education for children and parents alike.  Each staff member is committed to living our mission and values.  All of OakHaven’s faculty and staff have been trained in the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, are CPR and First Aid certified and have passed a thorough background check and physical exam.  The combination of enthusiasm, warmth, education and experience creates an unparalleled educational team that sets OakHaven apart from all other schools.

 

Miss DebraDebra Watson

Primary Directress

Debra brings the perfect combination of love for the children and passion for Montessori to the entire OakHaven community.  After spending a year as a dedicated OakHaven parent, Debra was so enthusiastic about Montessori that she decided to change her career so that she could be even more involved with the magic that happens here every day.  Children and parents alike are drawn to Debra’s calm and peaceful demeanor and appreciate the respect she gives to all.  Most importantly, Debra’s gentle and nurturing spirit helps create a safe and friendly environment where each child is free to blossom and become her very best.

Debra lives with her husband, Steve, in O’Fallon, Missouri. Her two precious daughters, Natalie and Alyssa, are both elementary students at OakHaven and couldn’t be more thrilled that mom gets to come to school with them every day!

Articles by Debra:  The Birth of a Montessori Assistant, Building Respect – A critical component of fostering success, There’s No Place Like…School

Peggy Komadina

Primary Directress

Peggy brings a wealth of knowledge and experience in Montessori education to OakHaven.  After attending Missouri State University and working in the service industry for several years, Peggy fell in love with Montessori for her own children when her two boys were very young.  Since 2007, she’s worked at Montessori schools in administration, as a classroom assistant, and ultimately as a primary directress.  Peggy’s passion for children coupled with her loving patience brings out the best in each child.

Peggy lives in Lake St. Louis with her husband Paul and three lovely children: Aiden, Ben, and OakHaven’s beloved elementary student, Andrew.

Articles by Peggy:  A Passionate Peace, The Need for Sleep, LOVE, Refreshed

Ms. CassCass Aitken

Elementary Directress

Cass has consistently brought much knowledge and joy to OakHaven since 2009. Prior to joining OMS, Cass spent many years caring for children in their homes, teaching at other schools and working as a behavioral specialist for children with special developmental or psychological needs. She received her B.S. in Psychology and Child and Family Development from Truman State University and holds an A.M.I. Elementary Teaching Diploma from the Montessori Center of Minnesota.

All of the children absolutely adore Cass’s pleasant nature and intriguing lessons. Cass has three beautiful daughters of her own, Morgan, Kendra and Reese.

Articles by Cass:  Goings Out – Not Just for Children AnymoreSportsmanship, Team Sports and Montessori Education; Elementary Birthday Celebrations: Parents we’re not in Primary Anymore! , Scenes From The Elementary Playground

Mikol Gillespie

Elementary Directress

Mikol brings an incredible amount of knowledge and experience in Montessori education to her classroom.  After assisting in a Primary classroom for several years, she knew that Montessori was the place for her.  Mikol completed her Primary Directress training at the Montessori Training Center of St. Louis in 2012, and her Masters of Education from Loyola University in 2013.  She served as a Primary Directress for five years at another Montessori school before joining OakHaven as an Assistant in our Elementary school. After completing her three years of training in Montessori Elementary education, Mikol brings her passion for Montessori to the students as Elementary Directress. 

Mikol lives on a beautiful farm in Silex, MO (about 40 mins. from here) with her husband, Cody, and their son, Neo.  Their 2 calves, chickens, ducks, geese, dogs and apple orchard keep them quite busy.  And with all this, Mikol still makes time to pursue her love of running.

Articles by Mikol: Imagination

Mandy Hoskins

Elementary Assistant

Mandy has been a beloved member of the OakHaven community since 2014 and has served the children in a variety of roles including classroom assistant, infant/toddler caregiver, aftercare teacher, camp counselor volunteer, and leader of the OakHaven Family Association.  Anyone who knows Mandy will tell you that she is a passionate Montessorian, an avid animal lover, and a lifelong learner.  Mandy studied psychology and education at SCCC and UMSL, and she has over 20 years of experience in working with children of all ages and capabilities.  The combination of Mandy’s gentle spirit, extensive experience, and unwavering dedication to her work make her a valuable asset to the classroom community.  

Mandy is a native of St. Louis, currently residing in Wentzville with her five children (yes, she has five children!).  Her only son, Sammy, and her daughter, Carys, are students in our elementary class.  Mandy’s youngest daughter, Livi, is in the primary classroom here at OakHaven. When not at work, Mandy can be found enjoying outings with her family, making frequent road trips, reading, writing, and researching.

Julie Belter

Primary Assistant in Ms. Debra’s room

Julie found Montessori education when she was looking for a preschool for her son.  “We saw one classroom and enrolled him that day!  We loved the focus on social and academic development and that it really felt like a second home for him.”  With a B.A. in Middle School Math Education from Lindenwood University, Julie has spent many years working with children in an educational capacity.  After tutoring for many families and teaching middle school math for several years, her discovery of Montessori made her realize that she needed to be in a Montessori classroom!  She has spent the last several years as a classroom assistant and has found much joy in her work.  Julie’s patient and friendly nature makes her the perfect fit for a Montessori classroom.

When she’s not at work, Julie’s favorite thing to do is spend time with her husband, Bryan, and their three beautiful children Brenden, Delaney, and Riley.  Brenden is an elementary student here at OakHaven, Delaney is in our primary classroom, and Riley is a future student in 2019.

Articles by Julie: How to Help Children Work Through Change

Laura Rodriguez

Primary Assistant in Ms. Peggy’s room

Laura has a strong Montessori background and a deep commitment to our mission.  While studying early childhood education, Laura discovered and became interested in Montessori education.  She loves working with children (“They make me happy!”) and has worked as a Montessori assistant since 2010.  Laura was thrilled to join the OakHaven community after hearing lots of great things about us over the years.  The children all love her kind and caring nature in the classroom.

Laura has been married to her husband Dean for 20 years, and they have two teenage children – Jenna and Tyler.  They love to go out to dinner, watch movies, swim and play dice games together.

Carmen Ballestas

Lunch Coordinator

Carmen was born in beautiful Chile and moved to the US almost 20 years ago when her husband was relocated here.  Growing up as one of 13 children, Carmen has an easygoing and peaceful spirit that draws out the joy in everyone around her.  After studying education at Lee College, Carmen taught many subjects ranging from Geography to Mathematics for several age groups.  Growing up in such a large family also gave Carmen lots of practice cooking for large groups!

She and her husband, J.C., live in St. Peters and have three wonderful children, each in different stages of their educational careers.  Carmen is, “…so happy to have been given the opportunity to work with these children and be a part of their daily life!”.

amy-bungeAmy Bunge

Administrator

Amy’s strong background in working with children and families makes her a helpful and effective manager of OakHaven’s office. Whatever the needs of the children, parents, or staff, Amy is there to cheerfully meet them. Amy earned her Masters degree in Speech-Language Pathology and served in that field since 2005 in North Carolina. Her family’s move to Missouri brought her to OakHaven as a parent. In her role as Office Manager, Amy is able to live out her passion for Montessori education everyday.

Amy lives in Dardenne Prairie with her husband David and their sons Beckett and Harrison, who is an OakHaven Elementary student. She enjoys exploring the great outdoors with her boys, discovering new places, and learning new things.

Articles by Amy:  A Parent’s (Montessori) Education, Summer Lunch Ideas, The Reason, Trusting Children to be Capable

Dr. FredDr. Fred Henrichs

Administrator

Dr. Fred has served as a counseling psychologist in private practice in the St. Louis and St. Charles areas for the past 30 years. His studies of the effective development of human minds led him to his passion for Montessori. Fred’s firsthand experience in business is substantial, having started his own clinic and expanded it to four locations. His undergraduate degree in Business also serves him well as Administrator of OakHaven. But to the children who love him dearly, he is just their dear “Mr. Fred”.

Articles by Fred:  Nature vs. NurtureMr. Fred’s Annual Tip on Child Care Tax Credit

Judy Henrichs

Administrator

Judy has a rich background in the business and education worlds. In her first career of 25 years with AT&T, she served as manager and leader for over 2,000 employees in customer service, sales, marketing, finance, real estate, and architecture. Her final position there as Director of Education offered her the background to establish OakHaven. Her second career took Judy throughout the United States for 14 years as a professional leadership speaker and executive coach for the FranklinCovey Company. Helping organizations and people realize their potential fueled her passion for education and for leaving a legacy.

So, having retired twice, Judy entered her final career here at OakHaven. With her husband Fred and beloved daughter April, she is excited to be living out their family dream to create a peaceful and beautiful educational world for the children. Although now retired from the day-to-day operations, Judy continues to serve as advisor and mentor at her beloved OakHaven.

Articles by Judy:  Ask Better Questions 101; The Perfect Sandcastle; Red Cup, Yellow Cup, Green Cup; The Woes of Being a Montessori Parent; The Real Value of Values; Parent: A job description; Beginnings…; Dads’ BBQ Takes Gold Medal ; Shhhhhh….Listen to the Learning; The Two Wolves; The Bigger “YES!”, Memories of the Future

dsc_0156Terra Weiss

Executive Director

How fortunate we are to have Terra as our executive director!  Her Bachelor of Arts in Education from Maryville coupled with her Masters of Science in Education and Technology from Kaplan (summa cum laude, no less!) brings new and exciting ideas to our school.  Add to that 15 years of experience in leadership roles, serving both public and private schools as well as directing summer camps, and Terra offers an incredible fountain of knowledge and experience.   Parents and children gravitate to her warmth and her constant willingness to help.

In her personal life, Terra is a true lifelong learner and fitness enthusiast.  Her hobbies include reading, Yoga, working out at the local YMCA, racquetball, and traveling. Terra finds great joy in working with the entire OakHaven community and is honored to be a part of our growth.

April Powell

Head of School

April has been involved in Montessori education since she was 2 ½ years old. She began as a Montessori child and loved it so much she became a Montessori teacher! April holds a B.S. in Social Sciences with a minor in Early Childhood Education from Webster University. She completed her Montessori teacher certification at the A.M.I. Montessori Training Center of St. Louis in 2004. (Go to amiusa.org for more information on the Association Montessori Internationale.) After teaching at a Montessori school for several years, April’s passion for Montessori and her supportive family led her to open OakHaven in 2008.  Children and parents alike respond to April’s nurturing charisma as she leads OakHaven’s students to excellence.

April lives in O’Fallon with her husband Jeff. Their daughter, Maebel, is a primary student at OakHaven, and their son, August, will be joining us in 2019.

Articles by April:  Summer at Last, The Little Things, Trash or TreasureHow Do We Do It?, Keys to the World, The Montessori Mindset, Creating a Peaceful Home, When Children Disagree (or even fight) – What’s our role?, Is Bigger Really Better?, If you don’t know where you are going, it doesn’t much matter how you get there

 

OakHaven Montessori School is a private pre-school and elementary school serving children ages 2.5-12.  We are located in the O’Fallon/Dardenne Prairie area of St. Charles County.  

We would love to meet you and show you around our beautiful school!  Please call today for a personal tour (636) 978-4440.

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