Head of school:

Jon Orris holds a B.A. in Recreation and Parks from Pennsylvania State University, and a M.A. in Elementary Education emphasizing Place-based Curriculum Design from Prescott College. Jon was an educator and administrator in the educational non-profit sector for 20 years before moving into Colorado Charter Schools. Jon helped start and ran the Bioregional Outdoor Education Project (a teacher training and mentoring program to incorporate more place-based outdoor education into public schools) with funding from the National Science Foundation. The program won several State, National, and International Awards. Jon started his charter career in 2008 when he became the Executive Director/ Principal of a small rural charter school with an enrollment of 28 students in Preschool through 8th grade. In three years time Jon oversaw a doubling of enrollment. Jon successfully wrote a $2.7 million BEST Grant which required a $305,000 match in which he raised $370,000. He raised an additional $30,000 – $40,000 a year to fund a variety of after school enrichment programs. Jon received the Outstanding Charter School Leadership award from the Colorado League of Charter Schools in 2015. Jon is an avid outdoor explorer, photographer, river runner, and fly fisherman spending much of his free time in the desert southwest. Jon is excited to be in Salida and to take advantage of all the outdoor opportunities the area has to offer. Jon_Orris@salidamcs.org


Toddler Room (1 and 2 year old)Guides:



Stephanie Leddington has been a lead teacher in Montessori toddler rooms (ages 1-3) since 2009. Before that she lead 3-6 classrooms. Stephanie has diplomas for both age groups, through Kindergarten. Stephanie loves to travel and has lived overseas for most of her adult life.  There are Montessori schools all over the world and Stephanie got her first experience with Montessori in Shanghai, China after finding a Montessori preschool for her son, Jack in 2004. Stephanie is a musician and started teaching music to all the children in those schools soon after enrolling her son there and trained for a lead teacher position online from the North America Montessori Center. Stephanie also has a daughter, Lily born in 2004. Before finding the Montessori school in Salida, Stephanie and her children lived and worked on the Sunshine Coast in Australia. It was there that Stephanie began teaching toddlers. Her Montessori training for toddler age children is also through NAMC. Stephanie was happy to find a Montessori school in Salida while on Christmas vacation in Buena Vista in 2010. She moved there the following February and helped to build the toddler program at CCMS.  Stephanie also helped the SMCS Steering Committee create the Charter Application and loves the steady growth of Montessori education within Salida's community.  Stephanie has been the Lead Teacher in the Toddler Room since our opening in 2015. Stephanie_Leddington@salidamcs.org


Brianna Myers grew up in Salida and has always had a love for young children and helping others.  She has been teaching in early childhood since 2008. She has been an assistant in a Montessori classroom since coming home to Salida in 2013.  Prior to that, she spent five years at a private preschool in Grand Junction.  Two of those years were spent as a lead teacher in their toddler program and the last three years as Director.  Brianna attended Mesa State College where she earned her Large Child Care Center Director's Certificate. Brinna has three daughters, Sydney, born in 2005, Jayden, born in 2007 and Stella, born in 2016.  Brianna is very excited to be continuing her work in a toddler classroom at SMCS and also continuing on in the role of Preschool Director. Brianna_Myers@salidamcs.org 


Children's House (3 Year olds-K) Guides:


Jessica Hollensbe has worked in the Montessori Primary Classroom for the last 17 years and has devoted her life to the teachings of Maria Montessori and children age 3-6.  Jessica grew up on a small farm outside Richmond, Virginia.  She attended the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia and graduated with degrees in Biology and Environmental Science in 2001.  After graduation she joined Americorps NCCC where she served as a volunteer across the western United States and Guam.  Jessica then moved to Houston, TX where she began work in Montessori toddler and primary classrooms.  She quickly recognized the power of the Montessori Method and the affect a great school and teacher can have on a child, a family, and our society.  Jessica attended her Montessori training at the Montessori Education Center of the Rockies (MECR) in 2004, and she fell in love with Colorado.  She began her internship at Giving Tree Montessori School in Colorado Springs that year.  Jessica worked as a teacher at Giving Tree Montessori until joining SMCS in 2016.  Jessica, her husband, and their little dog are now thrilled to live in Salida.   They enjoy camping, hiking, playing music, and sitting around the fire with friends.   Jessica is delighted to be a part of such a knowledgeable and loving staff, and she is excited to see all the kids every day.  Jessica_Hollensbe@salidamcs.org


Lisa Lamb has worked in Montessori Toddler and Primary classrooms for over ten years. She received her degrees in German and Communications from East Carolina University.  Her Montessori teaching credential, AMS Early Childhood, was attained from the Montessori Education Center of the Rockies (MECR). Prior to landing in colorful Colorado, she traveled, lived, and guided children and young adults stateside and abroad, assisting in Montessori ESL classrooms stateside and overseas. Lisa was also a Fulbright TA in Woergl, Austria, volunteered at a Montessori school there, as well as at a Montessori program in Aursha, Tanzania. An advocate for Montessori education, Lisa honors the freedom and discipline, self-discovery, self-directed learning, and peaceful resolution the Montessori Method provides its children and practitioners. She is a student of the outdoors, world culture, art, and music, and enjoys offering these as a staple in the Children's House. In Fall of 2018, she was qualified as a Colorado Early Childhood Large Center Director.  Lisa_Lamb@salidamcs.org




Karen Fortier made her way to Salida after she and her family moved from Alaska in 2010.  After a career with the National Park Service as a Resource Education Park Ranger she pursued her interests in gardening, farming, and homesteading and worked as the Education Director for the Farm to School program for Guidestone Colorado, a local non-profit.  She spent the last 5 years helping to integrate Farm to School education curriculum and service learning opportunities for Salida School district students, and providing hands-on experiential garden opportunities through the summer garden, farm, and ranch programs in Chaffee County.  Karen was introduced to Montessori after enrolling her two daughters in 1st grade and preschool at the Chaffee County Montessori School in 2012.  She quickly saw the profound effect Montessori methods had on her children and she is excited to be joining a very caring and talented staff. She has spent time working as a substitute teacher and a classroom helper at the Chaffee County Montessori School in the past.   Karen and her family love anything outdoors and spend their free time rafting, camping, skiing, and travelling.  Karen_Fortier@salidamcs.org


Elementary I (1st-3rd Grade) Guides:


Molly Gallagher moved to Colorado from Fort Worth, TX in 2004 to attend the University of Colorado at Boulder where she received a Bachelor of Fine Arts with an emphasis in painting.  Molly completed her Lower Elementary Montessori teacher training at the Montessori Education Center of the Rockies in 2014.  She spent 3 years assisting and teaching at a Montessori charter school in Denver before joining SMCS in it's inaugural year, 2015.  Molly is particularly fascinated by the Montessori math materials and how they transform abstract concepts into concrete experiences for the learning child.  In her free time she enjoys creating art and jewelry, snowboarding, cooking, travel, and spending time with family and friends. Molly_Gallagher@salidamcs.org


Roberta Snyder more info to come


Elementary II (4th-6th Grade) Guides:



Maggie Murdoch is originally from Seattle, WA, where she was a Montessori preschooler way back when. The sun and mountains pulled her to Colorado after high school but Washington continued to be a home as well. She earned her BA in Environmental Studies and a certificate in Restoration Ecology at the University of Washington, returned to Colorado and fortunately landed in Salida. She has worked with children in a wide variety of settings including the classroom, day-cares, public recreation and outdoor education. Maggie's son has been in the Salida Montessori program since he was a toddler. She can attest to the magic of the Montessori method from seeing her curious, peaceful child grow up with its wisdom. Maggie is undergoing training to receive her Elementary I & II credentials (AMS) from the Montessori Education Institute of the Pacific Northwest in Bothell, WA. She also is a student of Iyengar yoga who loves spending time outdoors with her family and friends. Maggie_Murdoch@salidamcs.org



Angie Morrison is a guide in our Upper Elementary classroom.  Angie earned her degree in Elementary Education from the University of New Mexico in 2002 and has taught for 10 years at the 3rd, 4th and 8th grade levels.  She and her family moved to Salida from Austin, Texas in 2011.  She is the mother of a 6 year old, Camden, who is attending SMCS. From the perspective of a parent and classroom volunteer, she has seen the value of Montessori education and feels privileged to continue supporting this work in her new role.  Angie is passionate about guiding students in exploring topics they are interested in , while also discovering how to collaborate with their peers, manage their time and grow into confident leaders.  In her free time, she takes advantage of all that Colorado has to offer such as trail running, mountain biking, hiking and camping with family and friends.  Angie_Morrison@salidamcs.org


Secondary (7th & 8th Grade) Guides:


Kyra Alvez-Moats went to undergraduate school at Washington University in St. Louis, where she earned degrees in International Studies and French Language and Literature. Kyra spent the last four years teaching middle school in a Montessori charter school in the Bay Area. During that time she earned her AMS Secondary Education Certificate from the Houston Montessori Program and her California state teaching credential. Before teaching, Kyra spent a number of years doing conservation work, including a summer season based out of Salida with the Southwest Conservation Corps, and she is excited to be returning to such a gem of a town. Born and raised in Maryland, Kyra got a great foundation in a Montessori toddler and then primary classroom, which she largely credits as inspiration for becoming a Montessori teacher. Kyra_Alvezmoats@salidamcs.org



Matt Malloy was born and raised in Colorado Springs and earned his undergraduate degree in history and secondary education from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. After teaching for two years in a conventional middle school in the Springs, Matt wanted to find a different type of school. In 2016 he discovered SMCS and found his new approach to education in Montessori, along with a new home in Salida. Two years later, he began his Montessori secondary teacher training with the Cincinnati Montessori Secondary Teacher Education Program (CMStep) and is inspired to continue building the secondary program at SMCS. Whenever Matt has some spare time, he loves to ride his bike (on dirt or in town), play in the river, throw a frisbee, practice yoga, take his dog Shavano (named before moving to Salida) on hikes, grow, cook, and consume food, play board games, and just relax with a good book or sci fi show. Oh, and of course, he is always excited to learn new things!   Matt_Malloy@salidamcs.org


Curriculum Support and Intervention:


Hayley Trever is the SMCS Exceptional Students Lead. She graduated from the University of New Mexico and taught Exceptional Students for five consecutive school years in Albuquerque and Colorado Springs in grades K-6 before coming to SMCS in 2016 to work with students K-8 here. Hayley feels grateful to have found a school that resonates with her as an educator and as a parent. She and her family, including 3 daughters who attend SMCS, are very glad to be living in the beautiful and lively town of Salida. Being a lover of animals, nature, and outdoor recreating, Hayley feels that she has landed in the perfect place to call home. She is excited to have another wonderful school year, with this passionate and unique team of students, families, and co-workers. Hayley_Trever@salidamcs.org

Title I Teacher & school Counselor:


Dawn Catalano is our Title 1 teacher at Salida Montessori Charter School.  She earned her Bachelors degree in Psychology at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and a Masters of Education in School Counseling at the University of Pittsburgh. She worked as a school counselor for 18 years in grades K-12, and has a passion for seeing students reach their full potential.  Dawn and her family moved to Salida in 2015.  Already a fan of the Montessori Method, she enrolled her two daughters at SMCS and quickly saw their love of school and passion for learning flourish. Dawn is excited to work at Salida Montessori Charter School.  In her free time, she enjoys all that our small town has to offer, including spending time with her family, gardening, cooking, hiking, biking and snow boarding. Dawn_Catalano@salidamcs.org


Katie Tilt is a teacher with eighteen years of experience teaching preschool and early grades in Montessori and public schools in Smyrna, Georgia. Her international experience includes teaching kindergarten in England for a year after being selected for the Fulbright Teacher Exchange Program. She also fulfilled her student teaching experience in New Zealand.  Katie received her Bachelor degree in Education from Berry College in Rome, Georgia. She also holds a Master of Education degree in Early Childhood Education from Kennesaw State University and a Montessori Teaching Certification from the Pan American Montessori Society. Katie’s dream of starting her own Montessori school was realized in February 2011, when she opened the doors of Smyrna Montessori School, a small, private Montessori school in Smyrna, Georgia.  She has spent the past 8 years there as the director and lead primary guide. Summer 2019, Katie and her family, including daughter, Lily, and son, Liam, will move to Salida from Atlanta. They are so excited to join SMCS and the Salida community. Katie_Tilt@salidamcs.org

ARt & DRAMA Guide:

Tina Gramann: is the art and drama teacher with the creative and energetic SMCS community! Tina has worked with children and the arts for over 20 years. Her first degree was in Child Development and she worked in the early childhood classroom in Houston for 8 years. Then after earning her MFA in Theatre at the University Of Houston, she moved to Austin and served as a Performing Arts School Director and Education Director overseeing a year- round school, touring shows, and community outreach programs from 2001-2011. She also served as Resident Fight Choreographer for the Shakespeare company in Austin, staging fights for the young Shakespeare program and numerous professional productions. She moved to Salida three years ago for her husband’s work, and along with an empty nest, the move brought time for Tina to explore her visual arts side. She is a self taught artist focusing on large scale murals, chalk art, window art, as well as face paint! She founded Salida Creativity Lab in 2016- art and theatre experiences for the young and the young at heart, and has received grant funding to create art-based projects within the community. When not working with children and art, Tina gardens on her roof and spends time with family, traveling to Durango and Austin to catch up with her grown children. Tina_Gramann@salidamcs.org

Office Manager:


Hanley Harvey is a Colorado native.  She graduated from Prescott College with a B.A. in Environmental Education and Science.  Hanley and her family are long time Salida residents.  She has been a long time supporter of Montessori Education in Chaffee County.  Hanley works hard keeping all of our students, families and staff organized and the school as a whole running smoothly.   Hanley_Harvey@salidamcs.org



Courtney Landry graduated from Southern Methodist University with degrees in Psychology and TV/Radio.  Courtney earned a Master's Degree in Psychology, with a specialization in Early Childhood from Antioch University.  She worked as a therapist with children and families before having her own three children.  Courtney moved to Salida, Colorado in 2007.  Courtney has spent much of her free time volunteering and fundraising for her children's schools. She was a member of the SMCS Steering Committee, and a current Board Member for SMCS. Courtney is a member of the SMCS Curriculum committee and works for SMCS as the Registrar and Office Administrator.  Courtney_Landry@salidamcs.org



Rebecca Capozza: After obtaining her BSN from the University of Colorado in 1999, Rebecca Capozza worked as a registered nurse in New England and Colorado, volunteered as a nurse in Kenya and Nicaragua and started her favorite job, school nursing, a few years ago.  She obtained her Special Service Provider License from the Colorado Department of Education in 2012 and has been working to keep the Salida Montessori Charter School in compliance with state requirements since the Fall of 2015.  Nurse@salidamcs.org

Occupational Therapy:

Jennifer Faike: More info to come