City Garden is excited to welcome so many wonderful new staff to the City Garden family! Get to know them:
Sandi Bowers, Lead Guide, Upper Elementary 2
Hello! My name is Sandi Bowers. I am an elementary educator from St. Louis, MO who enjoys planning community outreach programs, visiting local parks and attractions, and spending time with my family and friends. I am a mother of two very busy children and a member of the Islamic Foundation of Greater St.Louis. I’m very outgoing and enjoy meeting new people and sharing my experiences as a Muslim-American to those who are curious. After graduating as the Valedictorian of my high school class, I continued my education at Truman State University. While completing my Psychology degree, I worked three jobs that I believe improved my 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, I realized my passion for making connections with as many different individuals as possible to foster mutual understanding. I received my Masters Degree in Elementary Education at Truman State University and completed my student-teaching in 4th & 5th grade classes in the Pattonville and Affton School Districts. My 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. My experience working with culturally and developmentally unique student populations has further prepared me to meet the needs of each student in my class. Outside of working and being a mother, I enjoy volunteering at local sustainability events with the Missouri Botanical Gardens and attending professional workshops provided by education organizations and local libraries. I consider myself to be a life-long learner, critical-thinker, and problem-solver, and I’m excited to provide learning opportunities for each student that reflect these crucial academic and life-skills. I look forward to guiding the growth of the unique individuals at City Garden Montessori School and having a FUN and productive school year!
Bob Busby, Outdoor Education and Science Specialist
Good day! I am looking forward to my first full year with City Garden! In addition to my Outdoor Education role, I will provide supplemental small group science instruction for third through sixth graders. I have 20 years’ experience working with students Pre-K to 8th grade in science and sports. I attended Central Missouri State University and Lindenwood University to earn my Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Education/Science. I am a proud dad of twins! Jude and Bennett will attend Sappington Elementary with mom, Dori Busby. My 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. We love our pets, parks, and opportunities to make memories! We moved to AZ for family reasons 3 years ago. We survived the scorpions, cactus, and melt-your-face- desert heat. We are glad to be back and experiencing life in the city (the City Museum is our backyard)! My family lives in St. Charles County – it feels like a road trip to visit them. Thank you City Garden for the opportunity to work with your community, families, and scholars!
Hilary Fischman, Lead Guide, Primary 2
Hello, my name is Hilary Fischman. I began working with children as the Artist-in-Residence for Hope Montessori Infant-Toddler Community. It was with the littlest children that I began learning about and loving the Montessori Theory of Development. I received my Montessori certification shortly thereafter and have worked with preschoolers for the past eleven years, as both an art teacher, a primary lead guide, and, last year, as City Garden Primary 2’s Assistant Guide. In 2010, I completed my Master’s in Elementary Education at UMSL. I have also had the pleasure of teaching adult learners as an instructor for Hope Montessori Educational Institute, an accredited Montessori teacher training center. I have taught Classroom Leadership, Parent-Educator Partnership, Art, and Sensorial. I am deeply committed to Montessori and social justice. I am humbled to become the Lead Guide of Primary 2 and excited to continue being a part of this community along with my husband and two young sons! I am so looking forward to growing alongside everyone in the City Garden community. I still have much to learn and am excited by new opportunities and challenges.
A. Faybra Hemphill, Director of Racial Equity Curriculum and Training
I am Faybra Hemphill, Director of Racial Equity Curriculum & Training. This year, my role is shifting to predominately focus on school-wide professional development, growing capacity for the development of an antibias- and anti-racist-centered teacher training program for emerging and experienced Montessorians, and supporting instructional leadership. I hold a M.Ed. in Elementary Education and an AMS Early Childhood Credential. My Bachelor’s degree is in African-American studies, where I nurtured special interest in Critical Race Theory and the African Diaspora. I’ve conducted and presented research as a Ronald E. McNair Scholar, and I have a deep love for research in anti-racism, intersectionality, and experiential learning methodologies.
Hannah Jensen, Assistant Guide, Primary 2
Hello! My name is Hannah Jensen. I originally hail from the East Coast, but have called St. Louis home for just over two years. Back in Burlington, Vermont, I attended the University of Vermont to study French, but found that my true passion lies in education and child development. I got my start working for a community youth organization, creating and facilitating out-of-school programming for elementary ages children. After moving to St. Louis in 2015, I became interested in pursuing Montessori education (I was actually a Montessori kid myself!) and I’m just completing my AMS Early Childhood Credential. I’m so excited to be part of City Garden’s community and look forward to working with the kids in the Primary 2 class! When not at school, I spend lots of time in the garden and the kitchen– growing food, cooking, and baking are some of my most favorite activities.
Nicole Nelson, Assistant Guide, Primary 1
Hello, my name is Nicole Nelson. I am a St.Louis native and graduate of Saint Louis Christian College. I have an Associate Degree in Arts & Science. I have always had a passion for youth since the age of ten. Seeing a need for programs that catered to minorities with literacy issues, I created T.A.G Poetry LLC. I am passionate about volunteering, and over the years I have worked with organizations such as Epworth Drop-in center, Shannon West Teen Shelter, Iglesia de Cristo (Christian School in Puerto Rico), and many others. I believe every child is capable of learning they just have to be inspired to recognize their own greatness.
Robert Nelson, Assistant Guide, Lower Elementary 1
My name is Robert Nelson. As a proud native of St. Louis from a legacy of educators, I am honored to join forces with the amazing team of lifelong learners and instructors at City Garden Montessori School this school year. I am expecting an awesome, eye-opening experience. I am an English and Writing Instructor with years of rewarding experience, yet I remain excited about this fresh approach to academia that City Garden Montessori offers. I am a proud graduate of Alabama A&M University and Lindenwood University and am a proud father and grandfather. I am passionate about many things ranging from jazz music and the arts to cars and boxing. I am amazed at the process of student learning, growing, discovering, and utilizing their gifts and talents. I look forward to meeting each and every one that has a vested interest in the success of this amazing organization.
Stephan Peterson, Assistant Guide, Upper Elementary 1
Hello, my name is Stephan Peterson. I’m an alum of University City Public Schools and the University of Missouri-St. Louis with a Bachelors in History. My teaching certifications are for grade levels 1-6 and 9-12. I’ve taught 9th grade social studies in both the Ferguson-Florissant and University City school districts. I have also taught one year of 2nd grade in University City school district. My goal is to help every student discover a love of learning and to succeed to their full potential.
Angela Richard, Lead Guide, Lower Elementary 3
Hi, my name is Angela (Angie) Richard. I have fifteen years of experience in education, teaching kindergarten, first grade, and owning an in-home daycare here in St. Louis. During my time as a classroom teacher, I have also trained many instructional staff members in my district on how to use and integrate technology and science in the classroom. I earned a M.Ed. in Early Childhood Education from the University of Missouri, St. Louis. In the near future, I would like to pursue studies in human development. However, my greatest pleasures come from my family. I enjoy spending time with my husband, Tim, my daughter, Britanee, her husband, Justin, and their two children, Anniya and Justin, Jr, and my parents. While I love people, I am gravely afraid of animals! That’s it for now. I can’t wait to meet you soon!
Darion Robinson, Volunteer and Community Engagement Coordinator
Darion Robinson is excited to join the team and family at City Garden Montessori School! 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.
Rahviance Robinson, Assistant Guide, Primary 3
A native of Chicago, IL, I am 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, my 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 my disciplines as tools, I’ve created a bridge connecting different methods of learning to the retention and expression of said lessons within early childhood students. This is where my passion lies, in advancing knowledge and confidence in the minds that will shape our tomorrows.
Christopher Stevenson, Building Support Guide
Meet Chris Stevenson! He has the privilege of being a first-year assistant here at City Garden, expanding his role from after school tutor to summer school classroom assistant and now our 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.
Julia Weyhaupt, Assistant Guide, Lower Elementary 3
Hello! My name is Julia Weyhaupt. I grew up in Alton, Illinois, and attended Eastern Illinois University, where I earned my Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education in 2000. During the 2010-2011 school year, I attended the Montessori Institute of Milwaukee and earned a Montessori teaching credential. In May of 2014, I received my Master’s degree in Montessori Education from Loyola University Maryland. Some of my pastimes include: hiking, biking, camping, scrap booking, and singing. I currently live in Illinois with my husband, Adam, my two boys, Brandon and Ryan, and my dog, a St. Bernard named Rooster.
Norman Williams, Music Specialist
Hello! My name is Norman Williams III. I am a multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, songwriter, composer, music director, audio technician, computer technician, father, and husband. I was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri. Over the past 20+ years I’ve 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, I learned music by ear and was able to perform across the United States, but my formal training didn’t occur until I attended Central Visual Performing Arts High School. After graduation in 2002, I decided to pursue a career in instrumental music studies. In 2007, I received a Bachelor of Arts in Jazz Percussion Music. Afterwards, I continued working towards my Master of Arts in Teaching with K-12 certification in Instrumental Music. Currently I am the Senior Tech Leader at The New Church located in South St. Louis. I am the music director for my 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. I also have experience as a substitute teacher from Parallel Education. In my free time, I love composing original music, bowling, working on cars, and spending time with my family. My mission as a teacher is to help students explore music and stimulate their creative minds.