I am often asked the question when working with this age group, “How do you do it?”. For me, it isn’t a job but God’s wonderful plan for me that I am following and it totally fulfills my needs.
You see, I have always wanted to become a teacher of some kind. While attending Fort
Vancouver High School I did some student teaching at Martin Luther King School, then worked
part time as a Spanish teacher with the preschoolers at Skinner Montessori School and later as
an assistant. After getting married at the pristine age of 19 (whoa!), I worked in various other jobs until I had a son, Adam in 1980 and I enrolled him in Vancouver Montessori when he was 3 ½. Even though I loved working at home with my son, I missed the atmosphere of a classroom.
Then I discovered that the Montessori Training Center was now located in Portland (previously it was only as close as California). Immediately I enrolled and graduated in 1983 from what is now called the Montessori Institute Northwest. My first job was at my old stomping grounds at Skinner Montessori in Vancouver. In 1984, I had a daughter, Danae who later attended Skinner when she was also 3. In 1988 I was offered the chance to start a Montessori school at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church in Camas (where my adorable mother-in-law attends.)
To sum it all up, I have been teaching for over 30 years and administrating for over 27 years. My
husband and I celebrated our 42nd wedding anniversary in 2017. Our children have grown into
wonderful adults of whom I am very proud. My favorite activities include competitive volleyball ,
crossword puzzles, and traveling.
In my heart I know that someday I will have to retire and give up this enjoyable career, but until then I will continue to give all of myself, (the kid in me too) to the children by whom I am consistently intrigued. Although some of my former students are now in high school or even married(!), I love it when I run into them again to see how much their five-year-old personalities and bodies have changed! My students will always remain a wonderful memory.
My name is Nina Draper. I was born in San Francisco, California. I became interested in
Montessori when I visited a classroom during my Early Childhood Education training. I received my A.S. Degree in Early Childhood Development in 1987 from the College of the Redwoods in Eureka, California. I taught preschool for 3 years at Moore Avenue Children’s Center in Eureka, California. I also worked for 1 year at Little People’s Corner also located in Eureka. I left teaching in 1991 for a job at the local newspaper (Eureka).
In 1996 my husband and I moved up to Vancouver, Washington. I found the Montessori Training Center in Oregon City (the Montessori Institute Northwest). I received my AMI Montessori Diploma in June of 1998 and then I gave birth to my one and only child 2 weeks later. I stayed home and was a nanny for 2 years and then started working at Aquinas Montessori in September 2000. My daughter, Mia, started here in 2001, she was in Tami’s class for 4 years. Mia was enrolled at Cascadia Montessori before her completion of high school in 2017.
Assistant / Aftercare
Hello, I am Monica Costan. I was born and raised in Romania. My husband and I moved to Vancouver, Wa in 1995. After a visit to Camas we fell in love with its beautiful landscape. We decided to build our house here and we moved into our new home in 2000. Three years later our daughter was born. Over time our family extended including now one dog, one cat, and three parakeets.
Following the advice of our best friends we decided to enroll our daughter in Camas Montessori School. Because of her positive experience I fell in love with Montessori education. In 2010 I’ve got my Primary Montessori Teacher diploma from Montessori Institute NW in Portland, OR.
I enjoy being around children. One of the happiest times for me is to witness their “Aha” moments and satisfaction in accomplishing goals. I also like nature walks, dancing, reading books on spirituality, self-development, the science of the mind, and healing.
My name is Brandi N. I grew up in the Camas area and graduated from Camas High School. My career started with an internship from the high school called the Paper Maker Preschool. I then went to college up north and perused my AAA in Early Childhood Education. I am honored to be back and working for The Camas Montessori School.
Hi! I am Sueann Robinson, I have been married to my best friend Casey for 6 years and we have a one year old little man named Jack. I am excited to be an assistant teacher in the new ladybug room. I have lived my whole life in Vancouver, Wa. My husband and I love traveling to the coast and spending family time on the beach, we also enjoy going to the zoo and children’s museum with Jack whenever we can. I have worn many hats in my years working, I have been a swim instructor, a pool assistant manager, a daycare teacher, an office manager and now an assistant Montessori guide. I have always had a passion for working with children, mostly because I am a big kid at heart and I love to see children grow and discover new things. I have been a stay at home mom for a year and watching my son grow has been amazing and I can’t wait to carry that over to the classroom and watch all the students grow and learn. I went to Montessori for my preschool years and really believe in the teaching philosophy. One of my favorite quotes from Maria Montessori is “Never help a child with a task in which he feels he can succeed.”
My name is Barbara Williamson. I was born and raised in Portland, Oregon. After high school I worked at Meier & Frank’s for 16 years starting as Inventory Help, then Sales, then Clerical work. After moving to Camas I heard of an opening at a local Montessori School and started working at Aquinas Montessori as the afternoon assistant from 2:30-5:30. Then an opening came up to work as Donna’s classroom assistant and I welcomed the chance to be involved in an operating Montessori classroom. I have been here for 17 years.
I have been married to Pat (who was literally, the “boy next door”) for over 30 years. I have known him since I was 3 1/2 years old! I love working with children, working in my yard and going for walks.
I started working at CMS in 2005. I had never heard of Montessori before and I was amazed at what I learned. I knew then that this was what I wanted to do.
In 2009, I was able to become a lead assistant. I loved being an assistant and getting to know all of the families and parents better. I learned a lot of the lessons and how to use the materials and my lead guide suggested that I take the training to become a teacher. I am so glad that I did. I Took the Montessori Training in 2012 and co- taught with Ms. Donna for a year in 2014. Since 2015 I have been the lead guide in the Bumblebee classroom.
I have an 8 year old little boy (and former Montessori student) and we love going to the library, for walks, camping and going to the beach in my time off. I have lived in Vancouver Washington all of my life. I love learning and taking continuing education classes. I am pretty crafty and enjoy making new classroom materials.
My name is Danae Hargrave Kizer. I was a Montessori child when I was in preschool and Kindergarten. I went on to become a cosmetologist for about 12 years at Essentials Day Spa in Vancouver, filling in at Aquinas Montessori and then at Camas Montessori as a sub and then as an Aftercare worker for many years. Now I enjoy being in the classroom with the children and helping Ms. Jessica. I am married to my sweetheart of 8 years, Josh Kizer. We have 2 shitzus at home and are looking forward to starting our own family one day.
- Hi. My name is Kelsee Smith. I was born in Washington, yet raised in Oregon. I moved back to Washington a few years ago and have been working with children ever since. Family is very important to me, so I have always loved the time I have spent with children, especially my two nieces. I also have a love of animals. Currently, I have 2 dogs, which are an English Mastiff Great Dane mix and a Beagle. I also have 2 cats. These members of my family can sometimes make it difficult to go with my love of traveling, as I have to coordinate with family members to watch them. In my spare time, I also enjoy reading and watching the fantasy genre. I am looking forward to beginning a new chapter of my life in the Camas Montessori family.
- Hi. My name is Moriah.