As Mountainside Montessori School starts the school year at its new location in Marshall, the school has also welcomed several new staff members to aid its mission of providing high-quality education integrated with sustainable agriculture, environmental stewardship, and free play in nature.

The new staff members include:

Lakota Coon (Toddler Guide): A native Virginian, Lakota received her bachelor of fine arts in ceramics and art education, with a minor in special education, from James Madison University. Subsequently, Lakota attended the Montessori Institute of San Diego for her Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) Assistance to Infancy training. She enjoys all creative endeavors, including cooking, baking, and theater.

Amanda Hess (Elementary Guide): Amanda received a bachelor of arts degree in child and family studies from Berea College and an AMI Elementary Diploma from Washington Montessori Institute. Now in her fifth year as an Elementary Guide, Amanda enjoys reading, gardening, and swing dancing.

Janelle Stewart (Adolescent Guide): After graduating from George Mason University, Janelle taught World History and French at a public high school in North Carolina and worked as a program administrator at a private school in northern Virginia. Janelle left the education field for about 15 years and pursued a career in construction management only to be called back by her passion for education and for children. She is pursing a master’s degree through George Mason’s Transformative Teaching Program and Montessori Adolescent Training through the Montessori Accreditation Council for Teacher Education and expects to complete both programs next June. Janelle and her family have raised hogs, sheep, and goats on their farm, and participated in 4H for the past 7 years, where she currently serves as the leader for the Loudoun County 4H Sheep Club.

Shannon Rogers (Adolescent Mentor): Shannon has an undergraduate degree in studio art from Beloit College and a master’s in museum administration from Baylor University. Her work experience includes Red Fox Fine Art in Middleburg, and fundraising at Baylor University, the Corcoran Museum, Wakefield School, and Highland School. Recently, Shannon co-chaired Middleburg Montessori School’s “Art of the Piedmont” fundraiser and installed the 68th annual Piedmont Regional Art Show at Grace Episcopal Church in The Plains.

Jeff Wolfe (Adolescent Mentor): Jeff has taught middle school math and science for over 20 years in Fairfax and Fauquier counties. His most recently assignment was Marshall Middle School, where he taught Physical Science and 7th Grade Math. He holds a degree in music education from Principia College and Elementary classroom certification from Pacific Lutheran University.

Martha Johnson (Extended Day Assistant): Martha has decades of experience in the field of child care, including raising five children of her own. A grandmother of six, Martha worked most recently at Brumfield Elementary School doing payroll and office management. Martha and her husband, Nathan, live in Warrenton and enjoy cooking and spending time with family.

Shannon Falli-Lasser (Office): Shannon holds a bachelor of science in biology from the University of New Hampshire and a master’s in business administration from Arizona State University.

The new hires come as the school moves to its new location on Belvoir Road, the fruition of a five-effort that included planning, fundraising and construction. The new facility rests on 10 acres of farmland, with a separate classroom and garden area for each age group, from toddlers through adolescents.

The school’s new location close to Interstate 66 also makes it easily accessible for families throughout the region, including Fauquier, Loudoun and Prince William counties.

All of the students will have access to the outdoors throughout the school day, allowing them to work in the gardens, interact with the livestock and hike around the school’s property.

Mountainside’s older students will also be responsible for tending the school’s sheep, goats, chickens and bees. It’s all part of a hands-on educational experience that allows students to apply their knowledge in subjects such as math, science and economics by essentially operating their own farm.

Mountainside is also offering a free class on Friday mornings from 9:00-11:00 a.m. for parents with infants and toddlers from ages 8 weeks to 3 years. The class will give parents and caregivers the opportunity to learn about appropriate developmental tasks for their children and get answers to common questions like how to potty-train.

Parents who are interested in arranging a tour of the facility or want to learn more about its programs should call 540-253-5025 or email office@mountainsidemontessori.com.