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.”
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 Assistant, 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 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.
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)
Lead Teacher, Jordan Pavoni was raised in Philadelphia and raised in Park City, Utah. Ms. Jordan’s first love is teaching and she obtained her Masters Degree in Education with a specialty in Montessori Education, from Loyola University of Maryland. She recently moved to Maui after spending the last year as a Lead Primary Teacher in San Diego, California. Ms. Jordan came highly recommended by her numerous references, one of whom said, “I know and see Jordan’s natural ability to teach children… She really sees people for who they are and the potential of who they can become. She inspires and is always willing. She can see many different points of view and guides towards harmony.” Ms. Jordan also has a natural affinity for the outdoors. Her hobbies include reading, snowboarding, surfing, yoga and pottery. She is ecstatic to have made the move to Maui and is looking forward to exploring the beautiful island. She loves to travel and teaching young childdren is her passion. Fun fact: Ms. Jordan is an expert lead whitewater river guide and is a qualified Wilderness Emergency Medical Technician.
Assistant Teacher, Evonna Krec has been a Primary Assistant Teacher with MHOK for the past year. Originally from Poland, Ms. Evonna credits one of her first teachers with influencing her decision to be a preschool teacher. Ms Evonna holds her A.A. degree in Early Childhood Education and has extensive experience as a teacher in the preschool environment both in California and Hawaii. She truly believes in providing a positive and inspiring influence to children at an early age so that it can make a difference later on in their lives. This is what brought her to learn more about Montessori. Evonna’s hobbies include: reading about philosophy and bio medics, interior and floral design, art, cosmetics, Asian cooking and spending time in nature… above all motherhood/family life is the most important to her. Fun Fact: Ms Evonna keeps a picture of herself with her inspirational preschool teacher so that it may continue to inspire her in her job!
Assistant Teacher, Chloe Searcy grew up in Paris, France and received her Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology at the University of Descartes in 2013. She joins MHOK with years of experience working with children and families. Ms. Chloe tells us that it is after the birth of her first child that she fell in love with the Montessori Method and decided to become a teacher. She is completing her Primary Montessori teacher certification from the Mid-American Montessori Training Institute and will be our resident Teaching-in-Training this year at MHOK. Ms. Chloe loves spending time with her husband and her son, riding horses, being in nature and practicing yoga. Fun Fact: Ms. Chloe speaks fluent English and French, and is moving to Maui from Tulsa, OK.
Lower Elementary (1st – 3rd Grade)
Lead 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, 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, 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 subspecialty 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. This was a changing point in her life; she discovered the joy of teaching marine science and sailing. She lead sailing excursions lasting 2 weeks for Thompson Island Outward Bound teaching marine science and sailing for 5 years. During this time she also co-managed the garden, developed environmental and marine science curriculum for the environmental education program and worked as a part-time substitute teacher within the NYC public school system.
These experiences lead her to work and live aboard a tall ship teaching marine science, sailing, kayaking and snorkeling to youth from across the United States – all while sailing along the beautiful Channel Islands of CA. From CA it was easy for her to hop over to Maui. Here she quickly found her way to MHOK as school naturalist teaching marine science and gardening. Outside of school she enjoys crafting of all sorts, riding her bike, exploring new waterfalls and streams, and tinkering in the garden.”
Reading Specialist & Art
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.
Pre-K through 8th Naturalist, 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.
Scuba/Snorkel Instructor (4th-8th grade), Larry Behnkin
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 two and a half 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!