Kelly Ott

Kindergarten Enrichment & After Care Director


Kelly 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 was a classroom teacher in Primary for 3 years at Montessori Academy. During this time her passion for child development, the outdoors and building community grew exponentially. Now, she is thrilled to begin her new journey at Montessori Academy through her diverse skills and interests. She has more than 10 years of experience working with children and holds a degree in Education from Edgewood College in Madison, Wisconsin. In her free time Kelly enjoys traveling, scuba diving, music, gardening and all things outdoors. 

Dr. Jim Bernstorf
Executive 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.

Cathi Prather

​Office Manager


Cathi is the Office Manager and has been at Montessori Academy since July of 2010. She graduated from the University of North Texas in 1985.  She lived in Texas for 30 years before moving to Nashville in 1992.  Her husband, Rich is a producer of entertainment projects and a private investigator. She has two children, five step-children, and two grandsons. When she's not in the office, she fills her time with her other creative ventures: assisting with The Actor's School in Franklin, helping Rich with his projects, and doing occasional voiceovers for audiobooks, radio, and TV.

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. Tanelle Murphy
Assistant Director, Primary


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


  • MAT - Curriculum & Instruction, University of Memphis


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.  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.

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 five grandchildren.  All of their children attended M.A., and four of their 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.”

Administration

Leanna Pound​

Office Assistant


Leanna 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.

Mrs. 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. 

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. 

Support  Staff

Anna Sitter, MBA

Operations Director


Anna 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. ​

Tanelle Murphy
Primary Director


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

  • MAT - Curriculum & Instruction, University of Memphis

  • Montessori Early Childhood Credential (Ages 3 - 6)


Tanelle is a Nashville native who began her teaching career in 1993. Before discovering Montessori education, she was a public high school English teacher and K-12 ESL instructor.  This traditional background gives her a strong understanding of the limits of traditional education and the many benefits of Montessori education.  In 2005, Tanelle toured Montessori Academy for her daughter.  Inspired by those classrooms full of busy, calm, happy children, she joined MA as a Primary teacher in 2007.  After 10 wonderful years in the classroom, Tanelle became Primary Director of MA in 2017.

In addition to working with children, partnering with and educating adults has always been a passion for Tanelle.  While teaching ESL, she was an adjunct professor for an ESL continuing education course and did teacher training at school, district, and regional levels. Tanelle has worked with the Montessori Training Center of Brentwood since 2015 in both administrative and teaching roles, and she is now an instructor of both the Language and Parent Involvement and Education courses. Whether working with children, teachers, or parents, Tanelle continues to be inspired by Montessori education.

Dr. Jim Bernstorf
Executive 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 40 years, has two grown children, and six grandchildren.  He loves sailing, boating, gardening, and enjoys playing basketball.

​Sara Aronson

Infant/Toddler Director


Sara 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.  

Marynet King
Lower Elementary 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.”