Demetria Leach

was born into a family of educators who instilled in her a love for learning.  She received a Bachelor of Science degree in Health Education from MTSU.  She is currently working on a Montessori Early Childhood credential at the Montessori Training Center of Brentwood.  She has taught Physical Education in the MNPS system, and has over 5 years of professional experience working with children.  In her spare time, she enjoys riding four wheelers and spending time with her daughter, family, and friends.

6021 Cloverland Drive - Brentwood, TN 37027

(615) 833-3610 f (615) 833-3680

Chelsie Adams

was born and raised in Franklin, Tennessee. She began as a Primary After Care teacher in 2013 while she was pursuing her Bachelor's degree in psychology. Until her graduation from Trevecca Nazarene University this past May, she has continued to work in the After Care program in addition to the summer camp program. She fell in love with the Montessori philosophy, and jumped at the opportunity to co-teach in the toddler department. She has worked with children since the age of fifteen, and is passionate about fostering educational growth in every developmental stage a child experiences. She is thrilled to expand her experience and knowledge of Montessori philosophy. 

Tanelle Murphy

Director, Primary

  • B.A. - English/Dance, University of Memphis

  • MAT - Curriculum & Instruction, University of Memphis

  • Montessori Early Childhood Credential (Ages 3 - 6)

Tanelle is a native of Nashville who began her teaching career in 1993.  After earning a BA in English and an MAT in secondary curriculum and instruction from the University of Memphis, she taught high school English and modern dance for three years in the Memphis public schools.  She then returned to Middle Tennessee and taught K-12 English as a Second Language for six years.  In addition to working with children, Tanelle taught continuing education ESL classes as an adjunct professor at Volunteer State Community College for two years, and she trained public school teachers at school, district, and regional levels to help them understand how to meet the needs of their ESL students.

This background in traditional education gives Tanelle a strong appreciation for the many benefits of Montessori education. ​ Having experienced K-12 traditional education, she knows from experience the numerous limitations of that approach and the inability to meet the needs of individual learners within a traditional structure.  Her search for an educational method that would nurture the remarkable early learning abilities of her daughter brought her to Montessori Academy in 2005. Inspired by those classrooms full of busy, calm, and happy children, she joined Montessori Academy as a Primary teacher in 2007 and completed her Early Childhood Montessori Credential in 2009. In 2016, Tanelle joined the administrative staff at MA as Primary Assistant Director while still teaching.  After 10 years of teaching at the Primary level, she decided it was time to step out of her own classroom and have a bigger impact within the Montessori Academy community.  She became the Primary Director at MA in 2017. 

In addition to working with children, partnering with and educating adults has always been a passion for Tanelle.  She joined the Montessori Training Center of Brentwood as an instructor when it began in 2015 with the hope of inspiring future generations of Montessori teachers. While working as an instructor, she also became Assistant Director in 2016 and then Early Childhood Program Level Coordinator in 2017.  Whether working with children, teachers, or parents, Montessori education continues to inspire Tanelle and remains her passion.  

Maral Missirian-Dill

graduated with a B.A. in International Studies from The American University in Washington, D.C. She also has a post-graduate teaching certification from the Memphis Montessori Institute in Early Childhood Development with an emphasis on early reading and language skills.  Maral taught at Montessori Academy from 1995-2001 and re-joined MA in 2016.

She has a genuine passion for teaching young children and through the years has enjoyed being a volunteer as a mentor at Cockrill Elementary School, as well as Harvest Hands – a Christian non-profit organization in South Nashville.  She also taught as a full-time interim teacher at The Oak Hill School last fall.  In addition, she has recently enjoyed private tutoring.​

Liz Bradley

Liz began her Montessori education journey at Montessori Academy in March of 2016.  She is in the middle of completing her Montessori Training in Early Childhood (Primary level) at MA's Montessori Training Center of Brentwood. After earning her Bachelor's degree in Family and Consumer Sciences with a concentration in Dietetics from Eastern Illinois University, Liz moved to Nashville in May of 2015 with a strong desire to learn more about the Montessori philosophy and system of education. She has witnessed the undoubtedly positive impact a Montessori education can have on a child's life through her two young cousins that have grown up in a Montessori environment. Along with her passion for working with children, Liz also enjoys traveling, hiking, healthy eating, and music. 

​​Marynet King

Upper School Director

  • B.A. - Psychology, Jacksonville State University

  • M.A. - Clinical Psychology, MTSU

  • Certification: Elementary I, Columbus Montessori Center

Marynet began her teaching career at Montessori Academy in 1988 when Mrs. Eileen Bernstorf asked her if she had ever considered becoming a Montessori teacher.  She has taught at the Lower Elementary, Upper Elementary and Middle School levels and has had training at all levels.  She holds a B.A. in Psychology from Jacksonville State University and a M.A. in Clinical Psychology from Middle Tennessee State University. She worked as a Clinical Therapist and Licensed Psychological Examiners before coming to M.A. In 2016 she joined the Administrative Team as the Director of the Lower Elementary Program

She enjoys traveling, gardening, and reading great literature.  She and her husband, Gerald, have three children and four grandchildren.  All of their children attended M.A., and their four grandchildren now do also. 

She feels strongly that the Montessori philosophy and approach to education is extraordinary because, “It fosters a love of learning, encourages and supports the pursuit of individual interests, and facilitates the development of talents.  It celebrates diversity and instills respect for oneself, others, and the environment.”

Morgan Fincher, MA

began working at MA as a Toddler Teacher in 2014 but took a year off to stay home with her first son, Auden. She received a Bachelor of Music from Belmont University in Music and Music Education in 2013 and a Master of the Arts from Columbia University in Music Education in 2014. She also has a state teaching license in K-12 music. Her love for Montessori philosophy stems from being a Montessori student herself and has only grown as she has begun her teaching career. Her love of learning has inspired her to pursue her Infant/Toddler certification in 2016-2017.  Morgan enjoys crafting, decorating and spending time with her family at their farm in Springhill.

Jon Rosenthal, MM

was born and raised in the Chicago area, began his musical training in 1976 with piano lessons, and has gone on to become an accomplished pianist, vocalist, songwriter, drummer/percussionist, composer/arranger, conductor, and educator. He earned his Bachelor of Science in Music Education degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and his Master of Music in Band Conducting from the University of Kansas. Jon has always enjoyed working with kids and has been a professional educator for more than 20 years. Although classically trained, he is a "rock 'n' roll guy" at heart and released his first CD in 2013 and is working on his next one. Jon performs regularly as a keyboardist/vocalist as a solo artist, with his own original band, and also with a locally-renowned 80s & 90s cover band. He also has his own private lesson studio.

Jon lives in Antioch with his wife and two daughters. When not teaching, performing or writing, Jon enjoys date nights with his wife, taking his family on out-of-town trips, watching movies, and, of course, rooting for the Chicago Cubs.

Ben Wright

started teaching at Montessori Academy in the Fall of 2015. He began his Montessori journey at age three and graduated from Montessori Academy’s high school program in 2006. After graduation, he then attended MTSU graduating with a B.A. in Business Administration in 2011. He is currently completing his Montessori Secondary Credential at CMSTEP in Cincinnati, Ohio. Mr. Wright  realized at a young age he enjoyed working with children and began coaching AAU Basketball in 2008. He lives in Nashville with his son Jayden. When he is not coaching one of his son’s sports, he enjoys playing sports of his own or listening to a variety of music.

Jessica White

Jessica White has been working at Montessori Academy since 2012. She has worked is several different positions. She started as an After Care Teacher and then moved to substitute teaching. Over her time at MA she has fallen in love with the Montessori Philosophy along with the staff. She is currently getting her certification for Infant and Toddler from the Montessori Training Center of the Rockies. Jessica graduated from Belmont University with a Bachelor in Exercise Science and a minor in Psychology. She has a love for Occupational Therapy as well and would love to combine these two passions. 

Kelly Roerig

graduated from Belmont University with a degree in Education and Liberal Studies. She has many years of experience working with children and during her educational endeavors at Belmont; she discovered Montessori was the right path for her. She completed her first summer session of Montessori Training in Early Childhood (ages 2.5-6) at our Montessori Training Center of Brentwood. She brings a passion for education and her previous experiences working with children have prepared her for this new chapter.

Kelly Ott

began working at Montessori Academy during the fall of 2014 in the After Care Program and as a substitute teacher. She is currently pursuing her Montessori Early Childhood Credential at the Montessori Training Center of Brentwood. Kelly has worked as an assistant at a another local Montessori school and has a decade of experience working with children. She holds a degree in Education from Edgewood College in Madison, Wisconsin. In her spare time, Kelly enjoys traveling, scuba diving and taking care of her garden. 

Jasmine Dewaratanawanich

was born and raised in Tennessee. She is a full time student at MTSU and enjoys horseback riding and reading books. Jasmine began as an After Care worker at Montessori Academy in 2014 and fell in love with the Montessori philosophy and method. She is entering into her second year as a co-teacher Toddler Teacher.   

Erin Truman

has been with Montessori Academy since May 2015. She began in the Infant Room, and has since transitioned to the Primary level. She is currently working on her Early Childhood certification through the Montessori Training Center of Brentwood. She became interested in education through her studies in psychology at DePaul University, and her experiences as a Teach for America corps member. In her free time, Erin enjoys reading, running, traveling, and drawing.

Jennifer Jarnagin

has lived in Tennessee since she was 8 years old. Having grown up in the area and graduating from Brentwood Academy, she returned to her home state of Mississippi and attended the University of Mississippi where she earned her B.A. in English with minors in Business  & Theatre. Jennifer began her teaching career here at Montessori Academy in 2002 in the Lower Elementary. She taught here from 2002-2006. She took time away from teaching for the birth of her two sons, Elijah and Xavier, and when deciding where to put them in school, knew she wanted a real Montessori education and experience for them. She returned to MA to begin a new LE classroom. She holds a 6-9 certification from The North American Montessori Center and is currently she is working on Montessori elementary certification for 6-12 through the Center for Guided Montessori Studies. Jennifer and her husband, Chad, and their sons reside in Franklin, TN.

Joyce Stewart, MA

began her career in education 40 years ago as a paraprofessional in the area of learning disabilities. She has worked in public schools in Ohio, Kansas, and Tennessee. She has a B. A. degree in German from Bowling Green State University and a Masters of Education from Belmont University. She began a career in Montessori education in 1997 while working at Hull-Jackson Montessori School, and is certified in Elementary I as well as having teaching certification from the State of Tennessee.

Joyce began working Montessori Academy in the fall of 2006. She has a deep love of the Montessori way of learning and enjoys feeling a connection with her students. She believes Montessori Academy strives to exemplify the best of this tradition and she is grateful that it provides an environment where she can continue to grow professionally.

Rhonda McKay,  MA

was born and raised in a small farming community on the outskirts
of Indianapolis, Indiana. Rhonda’s passion for Montessori education developed through her twin boys when they experienced a Montessori environment at 4 years of age. After her own frustrations as a parent with the public system, she moved her children back to a Montessori school.  It was during her path of obtaining a Master’s in Education when she had her “Aha!” moment and turned her focus towards becoming a Montessori educator. Rhonda holds a Master of Arts in Teaching, an AMS Early Childhood credential, Classroom Organization
and Management Program Certification (COMP)… all from Belmont University.

She holds a Montessori Applied to Children At-Risk (MACAR) Level I certification and Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning training for trainers. Rhonda has worked in the education field for over 25 years. After teaching at the Joseph S. Bruno Montessori Academy in Birmingham for 3 years, she moved to Nashville with her boys to take a 3-year appointment with Belmont University’s Montessori Teacher Education Program. 

Elisabeth Gay

first joined the teaching staff at Montessori Academy in 2000 as an Upper Elementary Teacher. She holds a B.A. from Wofford College in Spartanburg, SC with a double major in German and French. She is Montessori AMS certified in both 6-9 and 9-12 with 14 years of teaching experience in Lower Elementary and Upper Elementary combined. She has taught in both private and public schools in South Carolina, North Carolina, Alabama and Tennessee. She is married to Trey and has 3 children: Judson, Ella Diane and Landon, who are enrolled at Montessori Academy. Mrs. Gay has studied overseas in Switzerland, Austria and Germany. She has also spent time in Ukraine and Honduras with missions. She enjoys gardening, reading, creative writing, cooking, music, drama, and quilting.

Lisa Hill, MA

is a native of Nashville, Tennessee.  She received her B.S. in Psychology from Tennessee State University and her M.A.T. and AMS primary certification from Belmont University.  She enjoys reading, travel, and working in her garden.  She loves teaching in a Montessori classroom because it give her the freedom to follow each child's interest and watch them grow and develop over a three year period.   

Before beginning her teaching career, she worked in research at Vanderbilt University for several years and as a puppeteer with Kid's on the Block for a year. She has worked at Montessori Academy since 2008.​

Herman E. Jackson, Ed.D.

holds Bachelor’s, Master's, and a doctoral degree from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville in areas of chemistry, biology, and mathematics and mathematics education. He has been teaching at Montessori Academy since 2002 in the area of mathematics and science.  Prior to working at Montessori Academy he worked as an Associated Research Development Engineer at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Manager at AT&T , and Instructor of Mathematics at Knoxville College and the University of Tennessee. He has been an Assistant Professor of Mathematics & Adjunct Professor of Mathematics at Walters State Community College, Trevecca Nazarene University, and Nashville State Community College.  His extensive background in math and science includes, consulting work, guest lecturer, VIP Host, serving on a Board of Directors and many other accomplishments and presentations. Dr. Jackson currently teaches science and math in the Upper Elementary/Middle School. Students become very inspired to progress under his leadership and facilitation.

Melissa Snider

followed her children to Montessori Academy. Jack and Emerson began at Montessori Academy in 2013 and Melissa made a career move from teaching Spanish to teaching Montessori toddlers during the fall of 2014. She loves the essentials of Montessori philosophy: fostering independence, mixed age classes, individual lessons, student's choice, order, and deep respect for the child. She enjoys helping toddlers explore their world.

When not at school, she enjoys playing with her children, attending Bible study, cooking and baking, reading, and finding great deals at yard sales. She began her Montessori Infant/Toddler certification program during the summer of 2014.

Laura Byars

decided that she wanted to be a teacher as soon as she entered kindergarten!  She grew up in St. Louis, Missouri and earned a B.A. in both Elementary and Special Education from Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas.  In 1999, Ms. Byars began teaching in special education for Metro Nashville Schools.  A few years later, Ms. Byars discovered Montessori, and in 2004, she earned her AMS Elementary 6-9 certification while teaching at Stanford Montessori.  She loved the Montessori approach and found that it solved many of the frustrations she felt in traditional education.  In 2011, Ms. Byars joined the Montessori Academy family.  Her daughter, Katie, has felt "at home" at MA ever since she started in Primary. Ms. Byars loves to learn and feels that, as a Montessori teacher, she has been given a great opportunity to inspire a love of learning in her students.  Outside of school, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends (usually laughing,) playing games with her daughter, traveling, reading, and any chance to be creative.  

Lisa Jarsen , M.A.

began teaching in 1992 while attending Michigan State University. She holds a B.A. in communication and an M.A. in Education from Concordia University. She has written and published elementary curriculum, been an early childhood director, an adjunct instructor at Nashville State Community College, a reading tutor, and early childhood teacher, and an elementary substitute for Williamson County. Montessori methodology and philosophy allows her to teach the individual child through exploration and using varied techniques. She is in the process of Montessori training. Married, with one child, Ms. Jarsen enjoys spending time with family and friends, reading, writing, baking, and learning something new everyday.

Mark Woodward

holds a Bachelor of Music from Belmont University where he studied piano and voice with a music technology emphasis. After graduating, he toured nationally and internationally with a Christian band, participated in mission work, produced and recorded a variety of artists, and taught piano lessons on the side. Mr. Woodward began teaching Music and Drama at MA in 2010. He offers private lessons and leads the Running Club, Guitar Workshop, Montessori Singers, and Songwriting and Recording Club. In 2014, he composed and produced his first original musical, entitled The Animals’ Christmas. 


Mr. Woodward lives in Brentwood with his wife, Faith, and
their four children. He enjoys sports,
biographies, musicals, gardening, chicken farming, foreign food, and spending time with his family. 

Beth Woodard, MA, MAT

received a Bachelor in Early Childhood Development and a Masters in Early Childhood Education from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. She has a state teaching license for Pre-K through 3rd grade.  While she was attending UT, she began working at Knoxville Montessori School as an after care teacher where she fell in love with Montessori method and philosophy.  

After completing her graduate work at UT, she began working on her Montessori certification at Belmont University in Nashville, where she earned a Masters in Teaching/Montessori Certification for Primary (AMS).  After 8 years teaching in a Primary classroom, Beth is excited to be moving to Lower Elementary and beginning her 6-9 training for that level.  

Gar Vallone

started teaching at Montessori Academy in 2012. He holds a BA in History from UCLA where he was  Captain of the UCLA baseball team. Following college Mr. Vallone played professional baseball for the Anaheim Angels. Along with teaching Mr. Vallone is a varsity baseball coach at Ensworth High School and an instructor at Vanderbilt Univerity's youth baseball camps. Prior to entering the teaching profession Mr. Vallone spent twelve years in Marketing at several technology companies in California. 

Coach Vallone lives in Nashville with his wife Marcy and two sons Tristan and Tate. Both boys attend Montessori Academy. When he’s not busy doing what he loves most, coaching his son’s sports teams, Coach Vallone is an avid fly fisherman.   

Angela Skelton, MEd

found Montessori Academy while in the graduate education program at Belmont University, where she focused on Children's Literature and Gifted Ed. She has taught at MA off and on since 1996 and received Lower Elementary certification from North Carolina Center for Montessori Teacher Education. She likes the creativity of the Montessori environment, the respect for children, and the grace that allows students to reach their potential in their own, unique ways.

At home she enjoys puzzling, knitting, reading, writing, and spending time with her husband and her Miniature Schnauzer, Fritz. She loves having deep conversations and giggling with her two teenagers, one studying music and computer science at Davidson College and the other studying Literary Arts at Nashville School of the Arts. 

Kimberly Stanford

was born and raised in southern California but moved to Murfreesboro for a more family-oriented lifestyle shortly after she and her husband married. Introduced to Montessori method and researching Montessori philosophy convinced her that her daughter would thrive in a Montessori environment. She joined the toddler staff in fall 2014 and loves guiding little people and watching their faces light up with new discoveries. Hearing "I did it!" is a daily gift. She is currently in Infant/Toddler AMS training.

When not at school she helps with her daughter's dance studio and dance team, loves to read, quilt, and spend time with her family.

Martine Panagiotis

was born in Bethel Connecticut, but moved to Nashville at the age of 5 and has called it home ever since. Ms. Panagiotis started very young working with children and knew immediately that she belonged doing it. She joined Montessori Academy over four years ago working in Toddler After Care, having since been given the wonderful opportunity to continue to grow in her knowledge of Montessori by branching out and experiencing not only the Toddler level, but Infant as well. She is entering into her third year as a Toddler teacher with many more to follow! In her free time she enjoys spending as much time possible with family and friends, along with outdoor activities such as hiking, horseback riding, and walking with her dog. After children, her second love is for animals, big and small! She is excited for her future and continued growth with Montessori education.

Tanelle Murphy, MA

is a native of Nashville who began her teaching career in the public schools in 1993.  Tanelle earned a BA in English and an MAT in secondary curriculum and instruction from the University of Memphis.  She taught high school English and modern dance for three years in the Memphis public schools.  She then returned to Middle Tennessee and taught K-12 English as a Second Language for six years.  In addition to working with children, Tanelle taught continuing education ESL classes as an adjunct professor at Volunteer State Community College for two years, and she trained public school teachers at school, district, and regional levels to help them understand how to better meet the needs of their ESL students.

This background in traditional education gives Tanelle a strong appreciation for the many benefits of Montessori education. ​ Her search for an educational method that would nurture the remarkable early learning abilities of her daughter brought her to Montessori Academy in 2005. Inspired, she joined Montessori Academy as a Primary teacher in 2007 and completed her Early Childhood Montessori Certification in 2009. Tanelle joined the Montessori Training Center of Brentwood as an instructor and Assistant Director in 2015 with the hope of inspiring future generations of Montessori teachers.

Kay Mattingly, MA

has been teaching art in some form for the last 32 years. At the University of Kentucky, she received a Bachelor's of Art. in K-12 Art Education. She moved to Los Angeles, California and continued her education at Loyola Marymount University receiving her Master's of Art degree in Clinical Art Therapy, Marriage, Family, and Child Counseling. For the next five years she counseled severely emotionally disturbed children and their families. It was during this time that she developed the fundamental belief that the art process lends itself naturally to therapeutic catharsis and cognitive development.​

In 1994, Kay moved to Nashville and enrolled her children at Montessori Academy. She was asked to join the staff as a science teacher in Primary Room 3. She received Montessori training and taught science part-time for three years. When the position of art teacher opened, Kay moved into what she considered the "perfect" position. She has been teaching art at MA since 2004. In addition to two fabulous art shows each year that highlights work of MA students, Kay builds and designs sets for drama and musical productions at MA.

Romella (Mia) Bermillo Lee

Is a native of the Philippines.  She holds a Bachelor’s degree In Secondary Education, major in Math from the University of the Philippines. During her stay in Japan, she learned of Montessori education working at East-West Montessori, a school that served as an English language immersion program for young Japanese children and as an alternative to the public school system for American military children. She holds an Early Childhood Montessori Certification through Montessori Educators International in Louisville, TN.

Mia has worked at Montessori Academy since 2001. She believes that Montessori Academy offers an environment that provides young children an excellent foundation for learning success and feels very fortunate that her children have had such a valuable foundation.

Julia Denison

is a Nashville native and graduate of Indiana University, where she studied Spanish and Fine Arts. She first became interested in working with children while teaching in Trujillo, Peru. There she discovered that her creativity was a perfect complement to teaching language. Her love for the Spanish language also grew immensely during her time in South America, when she became close with her Peruvian host family and discovered a passion for using foreign language to open doors to a child’s understanding of the world. She has continued developing her language-teaching skills by tutoring EL students from a variety of countries, working primarily with Spanish-speakers in Nashville. Ms. Denison is delighted to be  at MA and greatly enjoys working with students of many different ages. She is currently in a Montessori age 6-12 training program.

Mellynne Dickason, MA

hails from Mississippi where she received her B.A. in English with a minor in French and an M.A.  in English with a TESOL Emphasis.  After receiving her Master’s degree, she and her husband relocated to Chicago where she taught a variety of English/writing courses at several Chicago area colleges. She worked for 7 years at Triton College as a full-time English Instructor until she and her husband, Joe, decided to relocate closer to family in Nashville. She found Montessori Academy when looking for a school for her daughter, Waverly. The nurturing environment suited Waverly and her younger daughter Kalee.  Mellynne completed Montessori certification in 2011 through Montessori Educators International.  She loves the child-centric Montessori philosophy and loves working in the 3-6 year old class teaching children to love reading and books just as her family does. 

Claire Buchanan

began working at Montessori Academy in the fall of 2013. She completed her 3-6 Primary training the summer of 2012 through Montessori Educators International in Louisville, TN.  She holds a Bachelor's degree from Middle Tennessee State University. She is currently in Infant/Toddler training at the Center for Guided Montessori Studies. Claire fell in love with the philosophy during her position as an after school care teacher at Knoxville Montessori School. She was studying education in college, but knew the Montessori philosophy resonated with her and she felt it was her calling to be a Montessori teacher. She is passionate about her job and feels that every child deserves this kind of education.

Cheri Drummond

has been teaching at Montessori Academy since 2000. Ms. Drummond holds a Bachelor's degree from Boston University. She maintains a private violin and viola studio and directs the Lower Elementary Suzuki Violin program and the Upper Elementary Strings classes. She has Suzuki training through book 6 and takes many continuing education classes. She has performed with the Nashville Symphony, the Memphis Symphony, the Naples Philharmonic, the Western Kentucky Symphony, and the Palm Beach Opera.  Cheri has played on many recordings and has appeared on videos with many country and Christian artists, including Vince Gill. She has conducted the Murfreesboro Youth Symphony, the Middle Tennessee Summer Youth Orchestra, and the Williamson County String Bash.  "I couldn't think of doing anything else; I do what I love!"

Janene Becker

is a native Texan from the Dallas area. Coming from a musical family, she decided to study music at Texas Wesleyan. However, she ended up in Child Development  where her first love of children has been her continued education.

After her sons were grown she came to MA in 2012 as a Toddler teacher and completed her AMS certification in 2014. One of her favorite quotes from Maria Montessori is, "Little children, from the moment they are weaned, are making their way toward independence".​​

​​​Sara Aronson 

joined Montessori Academy as a Toddler teacher in fall 2013. She has four children who attend school at MA. Her two daughters are in UE/MS and her two sons are in our Infant and Primary programs.  She lives in downtown Murfreesboro with her husband and children. She is Montessori Infant/Toddler certified and plans to pursue her Master's degree. Her past times include learning more about cooking, Montessori philosophy, and psychology.


​​​Anna Sitter, MBA

began working for Montessori Academy in the Aftercare program while in high school at Franklin Road Academy. She continued working in the Aftercare program throughout college. Anna has a BA in English from Belmont University. Her current position, as Operations Director, makes her responsible for e-News, information through the website, the MA calendar and she is the supervisor of the Aftercare program. She completed a Masters of Business Administration Degree at Trevecca University in 2016. 

​​​​Cathi Prather

has been at Montessori Academy since July of 2010.  Cathi is the Office Manager and is responsible for keeping student accounts in order. She graduated from the University of North Texas in 1985.  She lived in Texas for 30 years before moving to Nashville in 1992.  When she's not in the office, she fills her time with her other creative ventures: voiceovers for radio/TV/film and assisting with an acting school in Franklin.  Her son is a political campaign worker and her daughter is an Aesthetician working for a laser spa in Green Hills.

Leanna Pound​

​​has been a friendly face around Montessori Academy for over 25 years. She loves children and they love her! Leanna became familiar with Montessori education early in her marriage.  Although she and Pat had no children at the time they fell in love with Montessori and hoped to be able to raise their children through the same method.  Their first born, Kara, began attending Montessori Academy at age four (in 1987)--their son, Casey, at age 3 (in 1989) and their third, Kelsey, at age 2 1/2 (in 1990).  Her granddaughter, Jaden, graduated from  Montessori Academy 8th grade and is now a student at St. Cecelia's. Her two older children are registered nurses and the third is a dance teacher.  

Administrative Staff

Emily Breaux

Director Infant/Toddler

  • B.A. - Women’s Studies, Knox College

  • M.A. – Education, Mount Mary College

  • Certifications: 
    • AMS Infant/Toddler (ages 0-3)

    • AMS EC I (ages 3-6)

Emily has been teaching for 12 years and in administration for 2. She has a Masters of Education, a certification in Waldorf education, and two certifications in Montessori for 0-3 and 3-6.  She has been at Montessori Academy since 2009 when she came looking for an exceptional Montessori environment for her 3 children. Emily has been Director of our Infant and Toddler Program for the last 2 years. Emily gives presentations and workshops at Montessori conferences, attends workshops on Sensory Processing, Autism, Gifted education, and loves to observe at other Montessori school. 

Linda Bernstorf 

Upper School Admissions

​​Linda became captivated by the Montessori philosophy when her mother, Eileen Bernstorf  helped found Montessori Centre.  She joined the MC staff in 1985, completed the 3-6 Montessori certification, and took over as Director while Eileen founded our current campus. Montessori Centre was sold in 1991 and Linda joined her mother at MA as a teacher/Primary Director.  After completing the Lower Elementary Montessori certification, and the Masters in Educational Leadership she was the Assistant Head before becoming the Head of School from 2005 – 2013. With her 30+ years in Montessori education, she now is our Upper Elementary Admissions Director.  She loves giving tours of our campus to new families and introducing them to our  school. Having played viola in the Nashville Symphony, she now enjoys playing her violin in worship. She is married, has two grown sons, a step-daughter, 2 step-grandchildren and one grandchild of her own coming in November of 2017.

​​Mrs. Korine Walther

Director, Primary

  • B.A.- Education, Trinity College & University

  • Certification: Early Childhood (2 1/2 - 6), St. Nicholas Training Centre, Cincinnati , Ohio

Korine started teaching at Montessori Centre in 1972, under the direction of Mrs. Eileen Bernstorf, while her sons were young. She continued to teach at Montessori Centre after it was sold (1987) and joined the Montessori Academy staff in 1992. This master teacher turned administrator brings her understanding for young children and her extensive experience to Montessori Academy doing what she loves best: working with young children and their families. Her vast experience makes her a valued member of the educational leadership team. She is often the first "face" that people meet at Montessori Academy. Evenings are filled with fun with her husband, Charles Arthur, son and two delightful grandchildren. Korine is an avid reader.

Brenda Bernstorf

Deputy Executive Director

  • B.S. – Music Education, Asbury University

  • MBA – Trevecca Nazarene University

  • Doctoral Student in Organizational Leadership with an emphasis in organizational development - in progress with Grand Canyon University, Phoenix Arizona

  • Certification: Kentucky License, General Music, Vocal, Band, Orchestra, K-12

Brenda is strategically driven and fascinated by organizational development, specifically engaging people with the organization. She joined the administrative team in 2008 with over 20 years’ experience in business and nonprofits. She is responsible for developing and managing the brand, marketing, human resources, organizational development, continuous improvement, and accreditation.  Her belief in continuous learning, education, and organizational leadership makes her an avid reader and drives the development strategies of the organization. 

She loves quilting, sewing, cooking, and reading and is busy completing a doctoral program. She and Jim enjoy working together and have been married over 35 years. They have two grown children, and five amazing grandchildren. 

Montessori Academy Administrators 

Dr. Jim Bernstorf 

Head of School/Executive Director  & UE/MS Director

  • B.A. – Philosophy, Asbury University

  • M.Ed – Masters in Educational Leadership, Trevecca Nazarene University    

  • Ed.D. - Doctorate in Educational Leadership, Trevecca Nazarene University

Jim's educational background includes a Masters in educational leadership and a Doctorate in educational leadership with a dissertation focused on testing and accountability. Jim came to Montessori Academy in 2001 with an extensive background in business. That experience provided a background in sales, purchasing, accounting, operations, and sales management in five different states.  He served as CFO at Montessori Academy prior to assuming the responsibilities as the educational leader in 2013.

Jim has been married to Brenda for over 35 years, has two grown children, and five grandchildren.  He loves sailing, boating, gardening, and enjoys playing basketball.