Staff

OUR STAFF

Donna Hargrave

Administrator

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 we 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, we 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 attended.)

To sum it all up, I have taught for over 35 years and administrated for over 30 years. My
husband and I celebrated our 43rd wedding anniversary in 2018.  Our children have grown into
wonderful adults of whom I am very proud.  My favorite activities include crossword puzzles, enjoying family time 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.


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Nina Draper

Teacher

Butterfly Room

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.


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Cindy Musselwhite

Assistant / Aftercare


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Cindy Guschov

Teacher

Ladybug Room

I am quite delighted to be welcomed into the charm of Camas Montessori School. I have known Donna and of this school for many years. I feel quite lucky!

As a native New Englander, I was raised on the mountains and lakes of New Hampshire. When quite a young woman, I left my roots behind for the adventure of exploring America in a little VW Bug. Stunned by the beauty, and full of ideals, I soon chose to settle on the Pacific coast, in the lush rain forest by the Salmon River in Oregon. It seemed the perfect place for our young family.

Just before my daughter turned two, I was inspired by the ways I witnessed at a small Montessori school on the coast. The following year I commuted weekly to the then young, AMI Montessori Teacher Training Center (now MNW) in Portland with my daughter in tow. I was determined to learn these fascinating ways of meeting children’s desire to learn, guiding them with respect for their spirit, and to learn how to use the most beautiful and interesting teaching materials I had seen. I received my AMI Primary (3-6 year olds) Certification in the 1985 course. Ten years later, I trained in a three summer AMI course at the Elementary (6-12 year olds) level. In the following years I taught in public and private school settings, in large and small intimate schools, including in a converted barn in a valley in Neskowin, OR.

Meeting the child in this place called by Maria Montessori a “Children’s House” continues to remain timeless. For me it brings abundant joys, an ever growing understanding of the nature of our human development, humility and awe for the wonders Dr. Montessori observed so long ago.

Other things I like very much include: traveling to be with my children and grandchildren in Spokane and Hamburg Germany, snow skiing, learning the names of native plants and the geology of a place, flowers, and exploring and appreciating other cultures (and how we all fit together).


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Brandi Nester

Assistant

Ladybug Room

My name is Brandi. 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.


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Lea Wheeler

Teacher

Dragonfly Room

HI, I’m Lea and am a graduate of University of California at Santa Cruz with a degree in Cultural Anthropology.

I went on to receive my AMI certificate at MNW in 2005.  I joined the Camas Montessori Staff in 2013, bringing 7 years of Montessori Primary teaching experience to the Dragonfly Room. I am also the proud parent of a teenage daughter, Karsyn who was a Montessori child.  In addition to my work in the classroom, I enjoy hiking, yoga, soccer, reading, traveling and spending time with friends, family and our Australian Shepard, Wynston.


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Sueann Robinson

Assistant

Dragonfly Room

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.”


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Jessica Huynh

Teacher
Bumblebee Room

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.


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Danae Kizer

Assistant

Bumblebee Room

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 9 years, Josh Kizer.  We have 2 shitzus at home and are looking forward to starting our own family one day.


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Kelsee Smith

Aftercare

  • 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.

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Moriah Borba

Aftercare

Hi, My name is Moriah Borba and I am one of the Afternoon Assistants here at Camas Montessori. For as long as I can remember I have loved working with children. I grew up in a huge family, filled with lots of siblings and cousins. I’ve worked several childcare jobs including daycares, kids clubs, babysitting, and as a nanny. My dream is to go back to school and eventually have a classroom of my own.