Meet Our Staff
Kimberly Connor, Adminstrative Director and Curriculum Advisor, holds a Washington State Teaching Certicate and taught 10th grade Language Arts and 12th grade Public Speaking for five years at Mount Si High School in Snoqualmie, WA. Prior to that, she worked for nearly 10 years in marketing and graphic design for engineering, architectural, and consulting firms in both Seattle, WA and Anchorage, AK. She holds a BA in English from Providence College in RI, a Masters in English from the University of Alaska Anchorage, as well as a Masters in Teaching from Seattle University. She is passionate about the Montessori method, and enjoys working with the Board, staff, families, and students of Pioneer Meadows to continue to foster the excellence that a Montessori education can bring.
Ellen Lebitz, Education Director and Lead Elementary Teacher, holds both primary (ages 2–6+ years) and elementary (ages 6–12 years) diplomas from the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI). She has worked professionally with children in a variety of settings for over 20 years, and she has been active in Montessori education since 1992. In 1994, with a group of dedicated parents, Ellen helped found Heartland Community Montessori School in River Falls, Wisconsin. She held a position there as elementary teacher and Education Director until 1999. In 2004 she founded PVMS, with her husband Reed Braden, and served as its Children’s House teacher. Ellen has extensive experience working with children with cognitive, physical and learning differences. She has attended workshops, conferences and courses related to working with children with learning differences in a Montessori setting. In addition to her Montessori experiences, Ellen has a B.A. in Fine Art and an M.A. in Studio Art and has been teaching art classes to children and adults since 1991.
Reed Braden, Elementary Teacher, holds an elementary (ages 6–12 years) diploma from AMI and a M.Ed. in Montessori Elementary Education. He has worked with children and adolescents in a number of settings, including as an elementary teacher, environmental educator, and art instructor. From 2004 until 2006 he was the director of a Montessori adolescent program in Surrey, British Columbia. Reed has taught in the elementary program and summer camp since 2006. Reed is in charge of our grounds and animals, and is working toward creating our outdoor environment. He also works with our students in developing our school gardens, and in exploring the natural beauty around our site. In addition to his work with children, Reed holds a B.A. in Art and has been leading our 4H group in the exploration of Fine Arts.
Keri Bauckman, Assistant Elementary Teacher, holds a primary Montessori diploma from AMS and a Bachelors of Liberal Studies degree from St’ Mary’s College. She taught in Children’s Houses in Concord, CA for five years and also in Cambridge, MA. Keri is a versatile and talented artist who brings her passion and skill set to both Children’s House program and the Elementary Montessori Program. Keri is also instrumental in assisting our elementary children with any needed redmedial work,and participates in our school 4H program.
Lisa Melia, Lead Children's House Teacher, holds a primary (2-6 years) diploma from AMI and a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Science from Huxley College, Western Washington University. Her formal teaching experience includes environmental education with elementary students, and ESL with various age groups in Spain. She has also worked as a Case manager for Big Brothers/Big Sisters. Lisa lived and worked in Uganda, Africa for three years, collaborating with community members, park staff and teachers to achieve sustainable use of resources and improve daily living conditions.
Ana VanderPol, Lead Children's House Teacher, received her primary AMS diploma in 2005 and is currently undergoing a second primary certification in AMI, in conjunction with a M. Ed. in Montessori Education. She also holds a BA in Human Services with a concentration in Children and Families from Western Washington University. Ana’s diverse background and teaching experiences include: working in Nassau, Bahamas in a private school; as a birth-to-three home visitor for Lummi Head Start; and teaching in a few local Montessori Schools in Whatcom County. In addition to her passion for working with Montessori children, she also teaches private piano lessons, and brings her love of music to classroom by playing both piano and guitar. Ana also volunteers her time to help raise funds for the Whatcom County YMCA Strong Kids Campaign and LAW Advocates Lawyers’ Take Orders annual auction.
Tiffany McGary, Administrative Assistant, has been actively involved as a parent at PMMS since 2007. During this time she has been a key player in our school fundraising efforts. Her background includes numerous classes in Early Childhood Education at Whatcom Community College. She has also worked for a number of years in billing and bookkeeping for a local psychotherapist’s office. Tiffany began to assist in the office in 2009 and officially joined the staff as our Administrative Assistant for the school year 2010-11. All three of Tiffany’s children attend the school.
Rena Churchill is a part-time Classroom Assistant. Rena’s background includes working with children with developmental disabilities, as well as work with the Whatcom Center for Early Learning. She is a parent of a former student. Rena also helps in the office when necessary.
Megan Kittridge, Classroom Assistant, has worked for several years as a camp counselor and Camp Program Manager. She also has experience working with at-risk students, and in Environmental Education. Most recently Megan was involved in Western Washington’s “Campus 2 Campus” program that provides mentoring and campus tours for school age children. She holds a BA in Environmental Studies from Western Washington University.
Carissa Mann, Classroom Assistant, most recently worked as a Literacy Advocate for Northwest WA Reading Corps-Ameri-Corps. In this role she worked at Madison Elementary in Mount Vernon to help struggling students reach benchmarks for their grade level. Carissa also lived and worked for some time in China. She holds a degree from Western Washington University in Fine Arts.