Director/ Trained Guide
With more than 20 years of experience with children, Jamie spent the last 10 years in the Montessori community as a Primary Guide, a full-time substitute, and an Assistant Administrator in both Portland and Los Angeles. Graduating from the University of California at San Diego (UCSD) with a BA and an Environmental Studies Minor from the University of Ghana in Accra, Ghana, it was only a matter of time before Jamie discovered Montessori Method and the Pacific Northwest. She received her Primary Level AMI Degree at Montessori-Northwest (MNW) here in Portland in 2007. Through the years, Jamie has worked as a Children’s House Summer Guide and Full-time Substitute at Portland’s beloved Montessori school, Childpeace. Meeting Elizabeth and Carl van Warmerdam right here at HVM in the 2015, the seed was planted to step into a new roll. Upon their retirement (and desire to be full-time grandparents!), Jamie developed a relationship with the van Warmerdams that would lead her to become the new owner and director of Happy Valley Montessori School in 2016. In her spare time, Jamie loves live music, yoga, hiking, traveling, roller skating, and spending quality time with family and friends.
Katie Dunkirk received her Montessori Primary degree from MNW in the spring of 2015, and she absolutely loved her first year in the Casa at HVM! Before becoming Montessori certified, Katie taught preschool at a play-based school for two years, finding that she loved working with the age group, but wanted something more engaging than the play-based philosophy offered to the children. She was drawn to Montessori because of the respectful attitude it takes towards children, and she loves that her training gave her practical skills for fun ways to engage children in activities specifically designed for their age group.
Katie graduated from the University of Iowa with Honors in English Literature and Creative Writing, with minors in History and Religious Studies. This background and her interest in multi-cultural tales and literature has provided Katie with a brimming selection of stories and poems to share with the children, which is one of her favorite things to do in the classroom. She also enjoys discussing scientific topics ranging from anatomy to astronomy, and has always been astonished by how much her students can retain and extrapolate from these conversations!
In her free time, Katie likes to make things, whether clothing for herself or materials for the classroom. She enjoys traveling by car and reading aloud to her partner, visiting friends and family, and baking. She is attempting to learn to play the ukulele, and she loves singing. Whenever she has time, she tries to write!
Tanya graduated from high school in 2014 and attended Mt. Hood Community College for a few months before starting her roll as a regular Substitute Assistant here at Happy Valley Montessori. Coming from a large family, Tanya loves the enthusiasm that children bring into everyday life. Enjoying time with children resulted in a dedicated practice of volunteering at her Bible class at church (youngest group: ages 3-5) for the last 7 years. With a keen interest in early childhood development, Tanya clearly recognizes how important the child’s first years are for their overall well-being and healthy growth. Since hearing about the Montessori method, Tanya had been looking for an opportunity to see and better understand how this particular way of teaching and interacting with children benefits and encourages their growth, joy of living, and discovering new things. Since joining the HVM Staff in 2016, Tanya has witnessed first-hand the tremendous and positive influence that the children experience daily through the Montessori method, especially in practical life skills. Tanya is so excited and grateful to be on board this year as the Guide Assistant to continue this important work while learning alongside the children.
In her spare time, Tanya enjoys drinking tea, taking long evening walks, regularly attending and volunteering at her church, cooking, listening to music, and spending quality time with family and friends.