Alan Flower, City Garden's 2018/19 Jesuit Volunteer (JV), comes to St. Louis from Encinitas, California. Alan received his B.A. in Theology from Creighton University (Omaha, NE) in December of 2011. After completing his undergraduate studies, he worked for a year and then decided to pursue graduate studies at Loyola Marymount University, which is located in Los Angeles. He graduated from LMU with a M.A. in Theological Studies in May of 2016. His long-term career goal is to receive a Ph.D. in comparative theology (with an emphasis on Muslim-Christian dialogue) and to become a professor at a Catholic-Jesuit university. He is looking forward to the exciting and humbling opportunity of playing an active role in the development and formation of the students at City Garden Montessori during his year of service with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps. Along with the more obvious passions of family and friends, his three primary interests are music, Star Wars, and theology.
Amanda Gilliom joined the City Garden staff in 2016. She is a painter who has lived in a lot of places (Texas, Virginia, Georgia, New Zealand, Chicago, Alaska, etc.). She has also had a lot of different jobs (barista, nanny, fisherwoman, teacher's aide, library assistant, etc.). Amanda landed in St. Louis in 1999 with her husband Todd and two children Mina and Sam. Here, she became a stay at home mom / school volunteer / bartender / lunch lady.
In her spare time she likes to cook, take care of her gazpacho community garden, dance, engage in social justice, eat tacos, ride her bike, travel and have adventures with her family, see live music, laugh and sew turtle stuffies.
She and her family moved to the Shaw neighborhood to have their children attend City Garden. It is a very treasured gift.
Amy Denother is the Junior High Math and Science Teacher. She has been teaching for 12 years. She taught high school Physics, Biology, 8th grade Math Lab, and Middle School Science prior to teaching at City Garden. When Amy is not working she enjoys running half marathons, sewing, baking, and relaxing with her family (Mike, husband; Dylan, 15-year-old son; Hazel, 15-year-old step daughter; and Campbell Jane, 3-year-old daughter). Amy believes students should guide their own learning and take ownership in their education. She also believes students should be taught content through many real life experiences.
Having started in the middle of the 2016/17 school year, Bob Busby is looking forward to his second full year with City Garden! In addition to his Outdoor Education role, he will provide supplemental small group science instruction for third through sixth graders. He has 20 years’ experience working with students Pre-K to 8th grade in science and sports. He attended Central Missouri State University and Lindenwood University to earn Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Education/Science. He is a proud dad of twins! Jude and Bennett will attend Sappington Elementary with mom, Dori Busby. His kiddos are adopted from Taiwan and China. They are proud to be travelers from other countries and residents of Missouri and Arizona; yet, they are super excited to be back in the land of the Gateway Arch near family and old friends. Dori has been an elementary counselor for 10 years and a classroom teacher for 5 years. They love their pets, parks, and opportunities to make memories! They moved to AZ for family reasons four years ago. They survived the scorpions, cactus, and melt-your-face- desert heat. They are glad to be back and experiencing life in the city (the City Museum is their backyard)! Bob's family lives in St. Charles County – it feels like a road trip to visit them. Bob thanks City Garden for the opportunity to work with the community, families, and scholars!
Bob has spent most of his professional career working to reform education creating more accessibility and equity in education. After receiving a Master’s Degree in Education, he began working with the newly passed Charter legislation in Missouri. Bob became a startup coordinator for three charter schools in Kansas City, his home town. After opening the doors of these schools, Bob was recruited by the Christian Brothers to assist in codifying and expanding an inner city mission school model in different urban cores throughout the nation. Bob was selected to do a feasibility study for a school in St. Louis. In 2001, Bob opened De La Salle Middle School as Founder and President on the North side of the city, in the historic Ville neighborhood. During this time, he met his wife, Grace, married and had their daughter, Mila Rose, a recent alumna of City Garden. Bob and Grace worked with the founding families of City Garden in 2006 to ready the school for opening in 2008. Since, Bob has given freely of his time and energy to City Garden as a board member, the development committee chair, board chair, and donor to the educational community. Ultimately proud of the organization of City Garden and its growth in the first decade, he is thrilled to be working full time as the Director of Development and Public Affairs at City Garden with such a dynamic, visionary organization to continue his life's work in transformative education.
Candace Robinson is one of the Assistant Guides for Junior High at City Garden. Candace holds two Bachelor of Arts degrees from the University of Missouri- Columbia in Sociology and Psychology with a concentration in Multicultural Studies. After college, Candace’s interests in social equality, education, and urban development led her to teach English for the Ministry of Education in rural South Korea and on Chicago’s South-side. In her spare time, she enjoys laughing, reading, and cultural exploration! Candace has experienced an abundance of cultures, gained a phenomenal educational skill set, and believes in the development of young children socially and academically, which has led Candace to City Garden.
Catherine Dolan has been working at City Garden as the full-time speech/language pathologist since 2014. Catherine is a wife and mother of three children. In her free time, she keeps busy by trying out new restaurants, watching her sons play basketball, baseball, and soccer, and enjoying time with her daughter.
Cathy Bain has been teaching since 1987 and working at City Garden since 2011. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education and a Master’s Degree in Special Education from the University of Kansas. She obtained her reading specialist certification from Webster University. As an avid reader, it is not surprising that she specializes in teaching all areas of language including: decoding, reading comprehension, writing, spelling, handwriting, vocabulary, and study skills. She performs two roles at City Garden. Cathy teaches Title I Reading services to the lower elementary students and is the Director of Special Education. In her spare time she can be found needlepointing on the sidelines as she cheers on her sons in all of their sporting endeavors. Her oldest son, Jonathon, is an attorney in Chicago and still finds time to play touch football, basketball, and softball. Her middle son, Trevor, attends college at Lake Forest College in Chicago and plays football. Jake, her youngest son, attends John Burroughs School and plays football, basketball, and runs track. She is a natural cheerleader and advocate for all of our students at City Garden. Let’s go team!
With a background in community organizing and social activism, Christie entered the education reform movement as a parent and community member concerned about education equity and integration in schools. She worked with City Garden’s founder, Trish Curtis, and other parents to develop City Garden’s elementary school. Christie is still a proud City Garden parent (Nicholas, 8th grade, and Jude, class of 2015) and lives in the Shaw neighborhood.
Christine Phillips has been a special education teacher for 8 years. She's been at City Garden since 2016 and has really enjoyed working with all the students and families. Christine has three children, a four-year-old daughter, two-year-old son, and one-year-old daughter. Christine loves to run, read, and enjoy time outside with her family and friends. She's thrilled to be a part of the City Garden team!
Chris Stevenson had the privilege of joining City Garden in 2017 as a first-year assistant, expanding his role from after school tutor to summer school classroom assistant and now City Garden's building support guide. He has spent many years working with children ranging from elementary to high school in both the classroom and athletic setting. He attended Iowa Wesleyan University where he began studying Chemistry with a Secondary Education minor, later converting to Sports Medicine with a minor in Physical Education. He is currently going into his fourth year as an assistant varsity football coach at Chaminade College Preparatory School. As a new teacher with a physical education background, Chris believes that a child’s most important work is their play, and he will strive to maintain an environment where your child can grow and thrive while exploring the world around them.
Danielle Ross-Combs graduated from Eastern Illinois University with a degree in industrial technology. After spending some time in the corporate world, she decided to switch professions. She taught as an ESL teacher in Seoul, South Korea, and undoubtedly knew teaching was the right path for her. Upon arriving back in the States, she began classes to obtain an elementary education certification. In 2016, she received a master’s degree at Lindenwood University. Danielle joined City Garden Montesssori School in the summer of 2015. She has led in lower elementary, assisted in primary, and is now the physical education and health teacher and director of the aftercare program. Danielle enjoys spending time with family and friends, exercising, traveling, and learning about new cultures.
Darion Robinson was excited to join the team and family at City Garden Montessori School in 2017! Darion has a degree in Urban Affairs and Public Administration with an emphasis in Urban Education Leadership from Harris-Stowe State University and he recently completed both the Neighborhood Leadership Academy and an Education Entrepreneurship Residency at UMSL. He brings experience from various roles in the Saint Louis Public School District and Teach For America. Darion is extremely passionate about education and finding innovative ways to improve communities, which is what attracted him to City Garden.
David Blank is the Director of Finance and Operations. He has over 20 years experience in public and corporate accounting and finance. David has earned a B.S. in accounting from Truman State University and a Master's in Business from the University of Missouri - St. Louis. David was also one of the original board members when City Garden Montessori became a charter school, serving as the Chairperson of the Finance Committee.
Dr. Evans is a native of St. Louis and has been in the education field allof her life. She grew up in the home of an educator and was always following her role model, her dad, around while spending many hours in his classrooms! She earned all of her degrees here in St. Louis.
Dr. Evans has a Bachelors Degree in Elementary Education from Harris-Stowe University, a Masters Degree in Educational Administration from Lindenwood University and a Doctorate Degree in Educational Leadership from Maryville University. She joined City Garden during the '12-’13 school year after serving as an educator, Assistant Principal, and Principal for the past 17 years. Dr. Evans is very excited to lead a school that strongly believes in the Montessori Theory of Development and lives to go above and beyond to ensure success for everystudent who walks through the doors of City Garden. Dr. Evans has a supportive family which includes her husband, Russell, two sons, Ryan and Scottie, and Tyra, her daughter. She also is a grandmother to three little ones. Her oldest son, Ryan, has two sons, RJ and Rylan, and Tyra has a daughter, Amaris. All three are the apples of Dr. Evans's eye!
Prior to coming to City Garden in 2015, Liz Harris spent 8 years working as a receptionist at a wonderful acupuncturist’s office. She was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, where most of her family still resides. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology and a Master’s Degree in Social Work. Liz is a photographer in her spare time and LOVES to travel, especially with her husband and two beautiful daughters.
Ashley "Faybra" Hemphill is a St. Louis native and a Montessorian by trade. She is an American Montessori Society affiliated educator, and has been working in Montessori schools in the St. Louis area since 2013. She holds a B.A. from Saint Louis University in African American Studies and a M.Ed. in Elementary Education from the University of Missouri - St. Louis. She has worked as an educator in several capacities: as a classroom teacher, an assistant, a researcher, support staff, and non-profit aftercare program assistant; hence, she's acquired a diverse view of what the quest for quality education entails. While working as a student researcher and an African American Studies major at Saint Louis University, she recognized her passion for diversity & inclusion, social justice, and advocacy. City Garden is committed to providing quality Montessori education to a new generation of future advocates, and she is honored to be a part of this process.
Hannah Jensen originally hails from the East Coast, but has called St. Louis home since 2015. Back in Burlington, Vermont, she attended the University of Vermont to study French, but found that her true passion lies in education and child development. She got her start working for a community youth organization, creating and facilitating out-of-school programming for elementary ages children. After moving to St. Louis, she became interested in pursuing Montessori education (she was actually a Montessori kid herself!) and she has completing her AMS Early Childhood Credential. Joining City Garden in 2017, she's so excited to be part of City Garden’s community and looks forward to working with the children in the Primary 2 class! When not at school, she spends lots of time in the garden and the kitchen– growing food, cooking, and baking are some of her most favorite activities.
Hilary began working with children as the Artist-in-Residence for Hope Montessori Infant-Toddler Community. It was with the littlest children that she began learning about and loving the Montessori method. She received her Montessori certification shortly thereafter and has worked with preschoolers for the past twelve years, as both an art teacher, a primary lead guide, and a City Garden Primary Assistant Guide. In 2010, she completed her Master's in Elementary Education at UMSL. She also has the pleasure of teaching adult learners as an instructor for Hope Montessori Educational Institute, an accredited Montessori teacher training center. She has taught Classroom Leadership, Parent-Educator Partnership, Art, and Sensorial. Hilary is deeply committed to Montessori and social justice. She was humbled to become the Lead Guide of Primary 2 in 2017 and excited to continue being a part of this community along with her husband and two young sons! She is so looking forward to growing alongside everyone in the City Garden community. She still has much to learn and is excited by new opportunities and challenges.
Jori Martinez-Woods has been an educator for over thirty years, but who’s counting? She received her B.A. in Cognitive Psychology, Human Development, and Elementary Education.
Upon graduating she was hired by the Japanese Ministry of Education to deliver professional development workshops to Japanese Teachers of English. She returned stateside to earn her Masters in Education from Harvard GSE, where she specialized in teaching, curriculum, and learning environments. After her first son was born, she became an AMI Montessori Certified Guide. Both of her boys attended Montessori schools and the oldest went through middle school. Jori is a native of St. Louis, returned to be a lead guide at City Garden in a 9-12 classroom, and then transitioned in 2018/19 to serving as Erdkinder Specialist to Upper Elementary. She is multi-passionate; she leads expressive arts ‘playshops’, is an artist, and loves to dance!
Juliet has a deep passion for the teaching and acquisition of language, and believes that everyone is capable of learning a foreign language if taught correctly. She believes that students learn best when information is presented to them in authentic ways that take into consideration their prior knowledge, life experiences, and academic expectations or goals. She wants students to be engaged in their own language learning, and treats that learning as a facilitated, communal process, where students learn by speaking with one another and engaging in multi-modal lessons that encompass the four macro skills of language learning
Juliet holds a Bachelor's Degree in Spanish and a Master's Degree in Teaching English as a Second Language from Webster University. She has sixteen years of experience in speaking Spanish and can speak, read, write, and understand the language with native-like fluency.
Lorena Veresh is a new Lower Elementary Guide, but is not new to teaching. She comes to City Garden with 16 years of experience. Her background is in public administration, but she soon discovered a strong passion for teaching after her oldest daughter entered preschool. She holds certificates in Elementary Education grades 1-6 and French K-12 in the state of Missouri and is preschool certified in the state of Maryland. She is very excited about this new opportunity to learn the Montessori Theory of Development, because it closely aligns with her personal beliefs about how children learn. Lorena is bilingual and speaks French at home with her 3 daughters ages 19, 15, and 12.
Nicole Nelson is a St.Louis native and graduate of Saint Louis Christian College. She has an Associate Degree in Arts & Science. She has always had a passion for youth since the age of ten. Seeing a need for programs that catered to minorities with literacy issues, she created T.A.G Poetry LLC. She is passionate about volunteering, and over the years she has worked with organizations such as Epworth Drop-in center, Shannon West Teen Shelter, Iglesia de Cristo (Christian School in Puerto Rico), and many others. She believes every child is capable of learning, they just have to be inspired to recognize their own greatness. She joined City Garden in 2017 as Assistant Guide in Primary 1.
Norman Williams III is a multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, songwriter, composer, music director, audio technician, computer technician, father, and husband. He was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri. Over the past 20+ years, he's had the pleasure of sharing the stage or performing with various local, national, and international artists, including Rodney Bryant, Bobby Jones, Robert Ray, and Brian McKnight. As a young child, he learned music by ear and was able to perform across the United States, but his formal training didn’t occur until he attended Central Visual Performing Arts High School. After graduation in 2002, Norman decided to pursue a career in instrumental music studies. In 2007, he received a Bachelor of Arts in Jazz Percussion Music. Afterwards, he continued working towards a Master of Arts in Teaching with K-12 certification in Instrumental Music. Currently, he is the Senior Tech Leader at The New Church located in South St. Louis. He is the music director for his own band Dre-Dre & Coast, as well as keyboardist for local groups, Honeyvox, E.N. Hodge & the O.G.O’s, and a freelance musician. Norman also has experience as a substitute teacher from Parallel Education. In his free time, he loves composing original music, bowling, working on cars, and spending time with his family. His mission as a teacher is to help students explore music and stimulate their creative minds. He joined City Garden in 2017 as Music Specialist.
Pat Garrett taught English and Social Studies for 15 years before joining the team at City Garden in 2011. Pat grew up in Monett, Missouri, a small town in the foothills of the Ozark Mountains. Pat and his partner, Jessica, and three children live near the school and moved into the neighborhood so they could attend City Garden. Pat very much enjoys his work with students and families in St. Louis and feels privileged to work in a dynamic and student-centered school. When not working, he can be found wandering around with his children, throwing a Frisbee, making food, reading books and magazines, and playing an instrument or two.
A native of Chicago, IL, Rahviance Robinson is a multi-disciplined visual and performing artist, in the specialties of Graphic Design, Photography, Voice Over, and Spoken Word. An initial graduate of St. Louis University, additional credentials and certifications in these disciplines herald from Otis School of Art & Design (Los Angeles), School of Visual Arts (NYC) and the International Academy of Design (Chicago). An active performer both nationally and internationally, her previous tenure includes that as an adjunct instructor in the literacy of graphic design, a teaching artist to early childhood students, and the voice for educational apps for children aged 2-6 in the AppyStore Kids Learning Videos. Utilizing her disciplines as tools, she's created a bridge connecting different methods of learning to the retention and expression of said lessons within early childhood students. This is where her passion lies, in advancing knowledge and confidence in the minds that will shape our tomorrows. Rahviance joined the City Garden staff in 2017 as Assistant Guide in Primary 3.
Robert Nelson is a proud native of St. Louis from a legacy of educators and was honored to join forces with the amazing team of lifelong learners and instructors at City Garden Montessori School in 2017. He is expecting an awesome, eye-opening experience. He is an English and Writing Instructor with years of rewarding experience, yet he remains excited about this fresh approach to academia that City Garden Montessori offers. Robert is a proud graduate of Alabama A&M University and Lindenwood University and a proud father and grandfather. He is passionate about many things ranging from jazz music and the arts to cars and boxing. He is amazed at the process of student learning, growing, discovering, and utilizing their gifts and talents. He looks forward to meeting each and every one that has a vested interest in the success of this amazing organization.
Sandi Bowers is an elementary educator from St. Louis, MO who enjoys planning community outreach programs, visiting local parks and attractions, and spending time with family and friends. She is a mother of two very busy children and a member of the Islamic Foundation of Greater St.Louis. She's very outgoing and enjoys meeting new people and sharing her experiences as a Muslim-American to those who are curious. After graduating as the Valedictorian of her high school class, Sandi continued her education at Truman State University. While completing a Psychology degree, she worked three jobs that she believes improved her personal and professional development. Working as an International Student Affairs Office student assistant, at the Maritz Inc. Call-Center, and as a substitute teacher for the Kirksville School District, she realized her passion for making connections with as many different individuals as possible to foster mutual understanding. Sandi received her Masters Degree in Elementary Education at Truman State University and completed student-teaching in 4th & 5th grade classes in the Pattonville and Affton School Districts. Her first years of teaching included teaching intermediate grades in a private school in Ballwin, MO and public school in the St. Louis Public School District. Her experience working with culturally and developmentally unique student populations has further prepared her to meet the needs of each student in her class. Outside of working and being a mother, Sandi enjoys volunteering at local sustainability events with the Missouri Botanical Gardens and attending professional workshops provided by education organizations and local libraries. She considers herself to be a life-long learner, critical-thinker, and problem-solver, and is excited to provide learning opportunities for each student that reflect these crucial academic and life-skills. Joining the staff in 2017, she looks forward to guiding the growth of the unique individuals at City Garden Montessori School and having a FUN and productive school year!
Shannon Adams has always had a love for school and learning and always knew that she would be a teacher. Shannon was born here in St. Louis and comes from a big family, born the fifth of eight children. She has her BA in Early Childhood Education from Harris Stowe State University and finished her Montessori training in 2018. When Shannon first started volunteering for City Garden, she noticed how warm and welcoming it was, how it felt more like a home than a school, and how it felt more like City Garden was a family, not just a group of good friends. Nearly eight years later, Shannon is still here. She reports that she has “had the chance to guide, learn from, meet, laugh, and play with so many great children and their families over the last few years and I am excited to continue. I look forward to meeting you all.”
Sharmouel Mosley worked for St. Louis Public Schools as a school secretary for 15 years before joining the City Garden family in January of 2014 as the school secretary. In August of 2015, Sharmouel was appointed to Assistant to the Principal. In this role, she is responsible for providing administrative support such as completing state reports, managing the testing systems, and organizing meetings led by the school principal, among many other tasks. She was born and raised in St. Louis and has one brother who lives in Kansas City. Sharmouel has a niece and two nephews and four dogs (Diva, Maxx, Hershey, and Honey). Sharmouel loves to travel, spend time with friends and meeting new people, and learning new things.