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 to 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.”
Admissions/Registrar, 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.
Office Administrator & Development Associate, 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.
Development Director & Accountant, Stacey Breitlow 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.
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.
Primary Classroom (Age 2.8 through Kindergarten)
Head Co-Teacher, Ashli Nuzum was born and raised in the lush hills of West Virginia where she grew up on a farm with her big family, 7 cows, an impressive garden, and several thousand honey bees. Before starting Kindergarten, Ashli knew she wanted to be a teacher and in 2007 she earned her BA from Fairmont State University. Shortly after graduating, Ashli began working as a K-12 Substitute Teacher until she moved to the Great Smokey Mountains in beautiful Asheville, North Carolina. In NC, Ashli taught Special Education & Exceptional Children for nearly two years before she became a Kindergarten teacher. After 5 years of teaching Kindergarten, Ashli was introduced to Montessori classroom, “I walked into the classroom and felt such a beautiful and calming space, I was floored. I could not believe I found a way to educate children that felt right in my heart! I was hooked and intrigued. On the ride home I was googling Montessori and made up my mind that evening to pursue Montessori Education. I have been reading,researching, and learning so much about Maria Montessori and her approach to children ever since!”.
During the summer of 2015, Ashli drove across the country to Denver, Colorado to begin her journey in Montessori Education. She has worked in a public Montessori school as well as a private for-profit school as a Teaching Assistant and After School Coordinator. “I am thrilled and filled with so much joy to have been given the opportunity to come to the islands and be a part of the MHOK team.” – Ms Ashli
Head Co-Teacher, Eva Sikes
Assistant Teacher, 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/Extended Care Teacher, Alicia Lynch grew up in New Zealand until she was nine years old before moving to Washington State. Alicia has an Elementary Education degree from Pacific Lutheran University along with her Washington State teaching certification. After graduating Alicia started working as a Primary Assistant at a private Montessori school. She fell in love with Montessori education and went to to obtain her American Montessori Society credential for Lower and Upper Elementary. Alicia has taught as a lead teacher in Lower Elementary for 5 years and has worked with MHOK as a Substitute Teacher. Alicia absolutely loves traveling and she is so happy to have the opportunity to now live on Maui. Her hobbies include running, hiking, scrap-booking, spending time at the beach and anything outdoors.
LOWER ELEMENTARY (1st – 3rd Grade)
Head Teacher, Lindsay Wurtzel 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.
Assistant Teacher, Jessica Marshall grew up in Sturgis, South Dakota. Her fondest memories as a child include: drawing comics on cardboard boxes to create forts, riding bike to the library with friends, playing piano, sewing with mom and tossing the ball with dad. After graduating high school in 2003, she moved to Bozeman, Montana to attend her first year of college at MSU. In 2008, Jessica earned her Bachelor’s degree at Black Hills State University, graduating magna cum laude with concentration in Elementary Education, Art and Athletic Coaching. As part of her student teaching experience, she traveled alone to Punjab, India, where she student taught visual art concepts in an English-speaking public school. Jessica has lived in Maui for six years teaching in the public schools, mostly as a lead teacher. She also has experience teaching in the preschool environment. Ms. Jessica is excited to branch out to Montessori education and is looking forward to supporting Ms Lindsay.
UPPER ELEMENTARY & MIDDLE SCHOOL (4th – 8th Grade)
Lead Teacher, Marie-Laure Ditte grew up in France, where she attended the Institut Superieur d’Agriculture in Lille and earned a Master’s in Science (with a specialty in Marine Biology, Fisheries and Environment) , and later on, an M.B.A. She worked as a production manager for few years until she decided to travel around the world in 2007. In 2008, she moved to Maui and began her teaching career, teaching French on Maui, then substituting in various private schools; this is when she discovered Montessori and fell in love with its philosophy. Her love for teaching took her back to school, and she recently obtained her Elementary Montessori certificate. She has been full time in an Upper Elementary Montessori classroom for the past 4 years. She lives with her husband upcountry, and when she is not gardening or playing in her yard with her hens, she is busy surfing or baking. Marie-Laure is really excited to join the MHOK community this year and she is looking forward to meeting everyone.
Assistant Teacher, Valerie Gobel
Raquel Hernández grew up in New York City until age 17 when she moved to Puerto Rico to obtain her Bachelors of Science in Biology with a sub-specialty in Environmental Studies. During this time she started working as an outdoor educator and upon graduation she continued this work. She lead camping, hiking, canoeing, trail maintenance and forest/wetland ecology trips with “at risk” inner city youth in MA and NYC. After a couple years she decided to go back to school in Puerto Rico where she graduated with a Masters of Science in Marine Science specializing in Biological Oceanography.
Brant Robinson In addition to teaching at MHOK’s Summer Explorers Camp, Coach Brant has been working as a Gymnastics Coach for Maui Tumblers for over several years. 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!