Bob&Susie.LandauSusanne 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 and Rachel, who are both alumni of CMS. Email Susanne at

Alasha Al-Qudwah is our music specialist and administrative assistant. She is a mother, musician, artist and Charleston native 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 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.  She is a member of a popular band Qiet.


CaitlinCaitlin Brash is our elementary lead guide. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Natural Resource Conservation from Virginia Tech.  Caitlin earned her Elementary Montessori certification through the Center for Guided Montessori Studies.  An avid outdoors-woman, she moved to Fayetteville, WV, to be closer to rock climbing and to enjoy nature.  Caitlin hopes to share her love of nature and respect for the environment with her students.


MelissaMenon (2)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 received her 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. 



DionneDionne 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.  



RachelHicks (2)Rachel Hicks is our elementary assistant.  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 our primary class assistant.  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.  




Buffy Bonwell is a cognitive coach for the Arrowsmith Program.  Buffy is also a Registered Nurse with 15 years experience in child and adolescent psychiatric nursing. Her son is severely dyslexic.  After many years of struggles, trying many avenues and methods, she became a certified Arrowsmith Program Cognitive Coach and hopes to help other children with learning difficulties.



Shanna Thompson is a cognitive coach for the Arrowsmith Program.  Shanna holds an M.Ed., CCC-A, is an audiologist, and is the mother of two girls, one of which is severely dyslexic. Shanna sought the help of the Arrowsmith Program for her daughter’s dyslexia. The improvement Shanna saw in her daughter’s learning disability prompted her to pursue a new career in neuroplasticity. She is now a certified Arrowsmith Cognitive Coach and wants to help other children.


Marilyn Monahan is our Spanish specialist.  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 has been employed as Interpreter and Translator for government agencies.  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. 


JenniferWood (2)Jennifer Wood directs the Suzuki Academy at Charleston Montessori School.  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.