Susanne Coffield is the Director of Charleston Montessori School (CMS). Susanne holds a B.A. in Psychology from West Virginia University (1990) and a J.D. from the West Virginia University College of Law (1993). She practiced law at Robinson & McElwee PLLC and Rose & Atkinson and clerked for state and federal judges. She was a founding board member of Big Brothers Big Sisters of South Central West Virginia as well as CMS. She has a solid understanding of Montessori philosophy and pedagogy. Prior to becoming our Director, she worked in various capacities of Montessori education including co-director, administrator, and teaching assistant. Susanne is married to Robert Coffield. They have two children: Daniel, who attended CMS and is an 8th grader at Horace Mann Middle School, and Rachel, who is a 5th year elementary student at CMS. firstname.lastname@example.org
Jennifer Morris is our Chief Financial Officer and also works part time as Assistant to the Director. Jennifer graduated from the University of West Florida in 1994 with a B.A. in Accounting. Over the last twenty years, she has worked in both public accounting and for private enterprises, occasionally running her own bookkeeping business and volunteering for a number of nonprofits. Jennifer’s family has been involved with Montessori education since 2007.
Emily Capece is our Upper Elementary Lead Guide. This is Emily’s eighth year of teaching, having taught K-12 in New York City, Fairfax County, VA, Princeton, NJ, and for the Department of Defense Schools in Okinawa, Japan. She holds a Bachelor of Music Education and Bachelor of Arts in Vocal Performance from Otterbein College in Ohio, and a Masters of Music Education from Westminster Choir College/ Rider University in New Jersey. Emily received a grant through the National Endowment for the Humanities to study in Vienna, Austria in 2005. She is currently pursuing her Elementary Montessori certification through the Center for Guided Montessori Studies. An avid musician, Emily is the Artistic Director for womanSong Chorale, and frequents the stage in lead roles with the Charleston Light Opera Guild. Emily has two children of her own, both of which attend Charleston Montessori. Emily joined the staff of CMS in 2013. email@example.com
Melissa Menon joined our staff in 2014 as a primary assistant and is now our lead guide for primary. Melissa is a graduate of the University of North Texas and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Radio/TV/Film. She is pursuing Primary Montessori certification through the Center for Guided Montessori Studies. She and her husband, Venu Menon, have two daughters who completed a total of 16 years of Montessori education. firstname.lastname@example.org
Alasha Al-Qudwah is a member of our after school care team. She is a mother, musician, and artist that is native of Charleston, WV that is passionate about working with children. She studied Violin Performance and Music Therapy at Ohio University under Marjorie Bagley, Steven Huang, and Dr. Stephen Miaky, and continued her studies at West Virginia State University under Amelia Chan, Dr. Dirk Johnson, and Scott Woodard. She holds a Bachelor of Arts and performs all over the tri-state region in many different genres. Alasha is currently a member of a popular band Qiet, who recently finished producing a full-length album under Producer and Professor Eddie Ashworth of Ohio University. Alasha also is the Fine Arts Instructor for Partnership for African American Churches, teaching strings, as well as the founder of the newly developed strings program in Clay County. Alasha is mother to her beautiful daughter Avalee, in which she believes the Montessori education will be her daughter’s best route to the ultimate experience of creative learning.
Dionne Canterbury joined CMS in 2013 as a primary assistant and also coordinates our nap program for primary half-day students. She is a certified Kindermusik educator and brings music to our primary students every day. She earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Charleston and has been a choir member or soloist in womanSong, OPUS and the Charleston Light Opera Guild. Ms. Dionne is also the children’s choir director at Village Chapel Presbyterian Church. She is mother of three children, all of whom are students at CMS.
Jennifer Wood is a primary assistant and also our strings teacher. She has performed and taught music for over 20 years, and is a violinist with the WV Symphony Orchestra. Ms. Jennifer earned a Bachelor of Music Degree in Performance from the University of Wisconsin. In addition to the WVSO, she has performed with the Chautauqua Symphony, New York; North Carolina Symphony; Charleston Symphony Orchestra, South Carolina; Breckenridge Music Institute, Colorado; New World Symphony, Florida. She has two sons, Camillo and Giovanni.
Ann Williams is our lower elementary lead guide. She Montessori certified having earned her Elementary A.M.I. credentials in 2000 from Montessori Institute of Milwaukee in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Ann joined our faculty in January 2015 with over a decade of experience teaching in Montessori schools in the United States and in Switzerland.
Rachel Hicks is a teaching assistant in our elementary classrooms. She holds a masters of arts in English from Marshall University. Rachel has taught creative writing to children ages 10-16 and also taught English Composition I & II at WV State University. She also has experience working in the editing, book publishing and small press fields. She hopes to spread her love of reading and writing to students, showing them the importance of these subjects and how it can enrich their lives. She completed the Montessori Fundamentals course offered by The Center for Guided Montessori Studies. Rachel joined the staff of CMS in 2013.
Fran Norman is an assistant in our lower elementary classroom. She has been an integral part of Charleston Montessori from the start. With over 20 years in the classroom, she brings to our school a wealth of knowledge and outstanding abilities in teaching, creating rich classroom environments and cultivating a love of learning. Fran joined the staff of CMS in 2010.
Morgan Purdue is a member of our after school care team. She is a recent graduate of West Virginia Wesleyan College, where she had a triple major and earned a bachelor’s degrees in Psychology, Religion, and Gender Studies. She loves working with children and has several years of experience volunteering as a teacher’s aid and shadowing school counselors.
Adam Arthur is our physical education teacher. Adam’s hometown is Nottingham, England. He is a graduate of Lander University, York College (England) and is the Director of Coaching at the Charleston Football Club, Manager at Quantum Sports, and plays for West Virginia Chaos. His Arthur played for York City and Ossett Town. He played two games for York as a trainee in their final season in Football League Two prior to their relegation to the Football Conference, before moving to Ossett in the Northern Premier League. In 2007, he moved to the United States to play college soccer at perennial top 15 program Lander University, where he was an NSCAA Division II All-American. During his college years he also played for two seasons with West Virginia Chaos in the USL Premier Development League. Following the conclusion of his college career, Adam returned to the UK, playing for Selby Town in the Northern Counties East Football League in the 2010–11 season. He returned to the United States in 2011, again playing for West Virginia Chaos.
Marilyn Monahan is our Spanish teacher. She has a passion for the Spanish language and many years of working with children. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Spanish from The University of North Carolina at Asheville as well as teaching experience ranging from college instruction to working with kindergartners. She has a background as a Spanish Medical Interpreter and Translator, having worked in that capacity for over five years in every department of the major hospital in her hometown, Asheville, NC. She has been employed as Interpreter and Translator for government agencies such as The Department of Social Services and The Children’s Developmental Services Agency. In Spanish class, your child will become comfortable with conversational Spanish while hearing and practicing the unique phonemes and being exposed to the lilting rhythm of this enchanting language.
Julie Wirts is an artist in residence at CMS. She is a master seamstress and owner of The Dressmaker’s Closet. Julie is a graduate of Marshall University, where she studied theatre. Her students learn the craft of sewing, including hand-stitching, sewing on a machine, and pattern making.
Mark Parsons-Justice is our music teacher. Mark trained in music and worship theology at Methodist Theological School in Ohio (Master of Divinity, 2007) and Robert E. Webber Institute of Worship Studies (doctoral studies, 2009). An accomplished pianist, vocalist, worship leader and clinician, composer/arranger, accompanist, director, and singer/songwriter, Mark is both entertaining and inspiring. He has lead music ministries, choirs, and school ensembles throughout West Virginia and Ohio, and even in Moscow, Russia. As part of his creative ventures, Mark is the Director of Music at Bream Memorial Presbyterian Church, accompanist for the Charleston Gay Men’s Chorale, accompanist for South Charleston High School Chorale, and Music Specialist at Charleston Montessori. Mark is also actively involved in community theater with Charleston Light Opera Guild and is enrolled in the West Virginia Institute for Spirituality’s Associate Spiritual Director Training Program. Mark and his husband, Barrett, live in Charleston, with their children, Isabella and Mark III.