Head of School
Jessica Thompson is originally from Los Angeles, California. She has a B.A. in Psychology from Mount St. Mary’s College and her M.A. in Spiritual Psychology from the University of Santa Monica. Jessica started her career in the non-profit sector in the late 1990’s. She spent 8 years with the Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation, the largest digital archive of videotaped testimonies with Holocaust Survivors and eye-witnesses ever assembled aimed at teaching tolerance. During her time there, she worked to establish the Foundation’s European Headquarters and Fund Development in Berlin, Germany, and then moved to educational development. Upon moving to Maui, she joined Friends of Moku’ula as their Program Coordinator and Grant Writer, working to restore one of Hawaii’s most sacred sites. Jessica joined Montessori Hale O Keiki as the Development Director in November 2009 and as a parent with the school since 2008. She lives in Kihei, Maui with her husband Jamie and young son Bodhi. Her favorite things do are going to Hana with her family, cooking, dancing Hula, and creating art. Her favorite quote is: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”
Patty Herren joined Montessori Hale O Keiki in May 2012 as Admissions Coordinator & Registrar. She is a graduate of Berkely Business College in NY and brings over 20 years of administration and business experience to the school. Patty has three children enrolled at MHOK and before joining our faculty, she was an active parent-volunteer in our school community. When she does have free time, Patty’s favorite activities are spending time with family & friends, cooking, entertaining, volunteering, swimming, scuba diving & Pilates.
Stacey Breitlow recently joined MHOK as the school’s Development Director. Originally from Michigan, she has B.S. in Human Biology from Michigan State University and fell in love with the non-profit world after joining AmeriCorps in Nevada. Stacey recently relocated from Denver, Colorado to Maui after working as the Development Director for the National Kidney Foundation and as a Fundraising Coordinator for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. While working for each of those non-profits, she helped plan annual galas, golf tournaments and walks. In her free time, Stacey and her husband love to do anything that involves being outside, traveling and reading.
Development Associate & Office Administrator
Lara Gauthier came to Montessori Hale O Keiki in January of 2012 as the Primary Classroom’s Teaching Assistant. Following the 2011-2012 school year, Lara became MHOK’s Office Administrator and Development Associate. Lara has assisted with the Summer Explorers program curriculum, worked directly with the children as one of the Camp Counselors and was a former Extended Care teacher for the Primary aged classroom.
A former resident of Massachusetts, Lara found her way to Maui after volunteering in Arequipa, Peru, where she taught English as a Second Language (ESL) to Peruvian children. Lara has a BA from Plymouth State University and has worked in various educational organizations throughout her career. A strong believer in the benefits of a Montessori education, Lara looks forward to being a part of MHOK as it grows and flourishes on the beautiful island of Maui.
Director of Finance
Brad Sacho joined the school in late January, 2011, as Controller. He brings to our school over 40 years of accounting and business experience, much of it in the non-profit sector. Brad’s MBA is from Minnesota, and he holds a Certified Internal Auditor designation from the Institute of Internal Auditors, as well as a Canadian CPA credential. He has been involved in education for the past 29 years, and he currently is licensed in Hawaii under the operating name of Brad’s Students Group, mentoring accounting students in the practical application of the student’s University theoretical training and education.
Controller- Erica Nakamura
Primary Classroom (Age 2.8 through Kindergarten)
Katie Farley joined Montessori Hale O Keiki in 2013. She grew up in Colorado and earned her BA in Communications at the University of Colorado and then later took her Montessori Primary training at the Montessori Education Center of the Rockies in Boulder, Colorado. In addition to teaching, Katie spent 2 years as a soccer coach for the Primary age group. She has an eight year old son who has attended Montessori schools since he was three.
Fiona Cherrett joined Montessori Hale O Keiki in 2013. She grew up in Chicago and attended Miami University where she received her BA in Early Childhood Education. During her summers she worked with children ranging in age from 8-17 at a Marine Biology camp on Catalina for four years. Fiona did her training with the Department of Defense, in Hohenfels, Germany as a kindergarden teacher. She began her teaching career at Catalina Island Marine Institute where she was an instructor for outdoor education. Fiona worked as a long term substitute teacher at North Shore Country Day School in Winnetka, IL and was also a home school teacher before she started working at MHOK. She currently holds her Hawaii state teaching license.
Michelle Lazuka has a BA in Early Childhood Education from Ohio University. She worked in Pediatrics at Northeast Medical Hospital in Concord, NC as a Child Life Specialist. She also has worked as a lead preschool teacher, wish granter for Make- A- Wish, and she developed a children’s yoga program at Providence United Methodist in NC. Michelle is also a 200 hr. certified yoga instructor. She is currently working toward her Masters of Education and Montessori Credential at Chaminade University of Honolulu
Lower Elementary (1st – 3rd Grade)
Lindsay Wurtzal holds an American Montessori Society Credential in both Lower Elementary and Upper Elementary. She has her B.A. in Anthropology from the University of Texas Pan American and her Master’s from Hebrew College. She is also certified as a public educator in Texas and Florida (Early Childhood through 4th grade).
Lindsay has been in the classroom for almost a decade. She has a broad scope of Montessori and traditional teaching experience from Kindergarten through sixth grade. She has predominately taught at independent Montessori Schools, but also has experience with Public, Charter Montessori and traditional private school programs. She served as the Lead Elementary Teacher at the Montessori School of Central Vermont, Countryside Montessori School, Discovery Montessori School and Sagebrush Montessori Academy.
Upper Elementary & Middle School (4th – 8th Grade)
Cindy Conesa grew up in California, where she attended the University of California at Santa Cruz and earned a B.A. degree in philosophy. She began her teaching career in public schools, and moved to Montessori education in 1989. Cindy has six years public teaching experience and over eighteen years in Montessori education. She is Montessori certified (AMS) at the lower and upper elementary levels, has worked as a teacher trainer for the Montessori Education Institute of the Pacific Northwest in Seattle, Washington, and consulted for a new Montessori charter school in Alaska. In 2004, Cindy and her husband took a sabbatical in Switzerland, where she taught at an international Montessori school for two years. Upon returning to the states in 2006, she completed her M.Ed. She lives upcountry with her husband and has two grown children, both of who attended Montessori schools. Cindy has been with Montessori Hale O Keiki since 2011.
Misty Pasco was born and raised on the island of Maui. She graduated from St. Anthony High School and attended Hawaii Pacific University on a full athletic scholarship as a cheerleader and a member of the dance team. In 1997 Misty graduated with a B.A. in Human Services from HPU and began studying for her Masters in Human Resource Management. After one year, her interest turned to Early Education and she began working towards achieving her Masters Degree in Education and her Montessori Certificate at Chaminade University. During this time, Misty worked as a Montessori Primary Teacher’s Assistant for three years at Kawaiahao Church. Upon returning to Maui, Misty worked part-time at Montessori School of Maui in Haiku, working with the toddler and after-school programs. She then became the “Kid’s Club” supervisor at Kea Lani Resort and stayed there for five years before she becoming a Manager for Camp Grande at the Grand Wailea Resort in Wailea. Four years later, in 2010 , Misty started working at Montessori Hale O Keiki as the Summer Camp primary teacher, which she has continued each summer. For the last two years, Misty has worked in several capacities, including Upper School assistant, Art & Technology teacher, and Licensed Primary Director.
Assistant Teacher & Naturalist- Raquel Hernandez
Reading Specialist, Art & Aftercare
Susan Wilson started working with MHOK in the fall of 2012 as a Reading Specialist. She works with whole groups, small groups and individual students from Primary through Middle School. At the Primary level, Sue leads whole group pre-reading activities. Sue works with Lower Elementary students individually helping beginning readers gain basic skills. With older readers, she assists in building comprehension and writing skills.
As the MHOK Art Teacher, Sue meets with LEL and UE/MS students once a week to develop drawing and painting skills, as well as art appreciation and self-exploration. Students are given many options within a class to practice new skills and experiment with combining various art media. Sue also teaches an “art camp” at MHOK during the summer.
Sue has a Bachelor of Science degree in Early Childhood Education from Salem State College in Massachusetts and a Master’s of Education degree from Harvard University. Since 1993, she has worked in a variety of settings as a reading/literacy specialist, at elementary and middle school levels. Sue provides teacher in-service sessions in areas of reading assessment and early writing analysis. Her particular interests include encouraging young writers and teaching various approaches to comprehension and non-fiction texts.
Sue has lived on Maui for ten years teaching, tutoring and enjoying the ocean. She loves reading historical fiction and art books along with walking and snorkeling.
Larry Behnkin, Scuba/Snorkel Instructor & Naturalist
Raquel Hernadez, Pre-k through 8th grade Naturalist
Brant Robinson, Maui Tumblers P.E. Coach is looking forward to an exciting year with our MHOK students. In addition to teaching at MHOK the past two summers as our Sports Week Coach, Coach Brant has been working as a Gymnastics Coach for Maui Tumblers for over a year and a half. Before his time in Maui, Brant lived in Korea for two years, where he was an English PE teacher and also an after school sports instructor for Bishop Sports. He spearheaded a variety of sports programs for the kids in soccer, basketball, baseball, inline skating, and swimming just to name a few. Brant also spent a year in Saipan in the visitor industry as a Kids Club Scout leader.
Brant’s goal is to make sure students learn how important it is to be physically active in life and educate the students about eating the proper foods to help them have the energy they need to stay physically fit. In addition to a variety of sports and game curriculum, the program will also focus on learning sportsmanship. Last but not least he hopes to see our MHOK students having fun and enjoying themselves.
Marti Kluth is filled with music and a great love for Maui. Marti enjoys sharing her incredible talent and vitality with the MHOK community. As a skilled pianist and vocalist, she brings her unique style to classical, pop, jazz, blues, reggae, Broadway and Hawaiian music to our classrooms.
Classically trained at Oberlin Conservatory in Ohio for three years, Marti finished her schooling with a bachelor’s degree in piano performance from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota. She has over 30 years of stage and theater experience and 18 years as a music teacher. Marti has had a wide range of experience teaching children and has been with MHOK since the fall of 2013. She loves to see the excitement that children show when they see that they can learn to sing and play a new song- it makes her heart sing!