Meet Our Faculty

The role of the Montessori teacher

is to help match each child with the work appropriate for them, adjusting as needed for every individual as they master concepts and look for challenges. The Montessori teacher is a role model, an educational resource, an observer and environmental engineer. Hilltop teachers are truly caretakers of the educational and emotional growth of their students, while bringing their own individual flavor to their classic Montessori classrooms. As an accredited, authentic Montessori program, all of our lead teachers meet the high standards of AMS Montessori certification, which is internationally recognized.

At HMS, the average years of teaching experience for our faculty is 12. The average teacher-student ratio is 1:10. Our retention rate over the last five years averages 90%. The average age of our faculty is 45 and the average years spent teaching at HMS is 8.

73% of our faculty have advanced degrees beyond a college degree. Two have Orton-Gillingham Associate level certification.

“The training of the teacher is something far more than learning ideas. It includes the training of character. It is a preparation of the spirit.”
Maria Montessori

Toddler Program (ages 18 mos – 3 yrs)

Cindy “C” Richmond

Toddler Teacher
Image

c@hilltopmontessori.com

  • Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education
  • Masters in Deaf Education
  • AMS (American Montessori Society) Toddler and Preschool certification
  • Educating students since 1988, Employed at HMS since 2000

Ceci Vaughn

Toddler Assistant
Image

ceci@hilltopmontessori.com

  • Educating children in Montessori since 2019
  • Employed at HMS since 2022

Brittany Lamb

Toddler Teacher
Image

brittany@hilltopmontessori.com

  • Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education
  • American Montessori Society Certified For Infant and Toddler
  • Educating children since 2007, Employed at HMS since 2017

Stacia Stewart

Toddler Assistant
Image

stacia@hilltopmontessori.com

  • Bachelor of Science in Education, AMS Montessori certified 3-6
  • Educating children since 1998, Employed at HMS since 2016

Primary Program (ages 3 - 6)

Cindi Stehr

Primary Teacher,
Toddler & Primary Program Director/ Founder
Image

cindi@hilltopmontessori.com

  • Bachelor of Arts in Biology
  • AMS (American Montessori Society) certification for ages 3-6 students
  • Educating children since 1991, Employed at HMS since 1996

Mary Jo White

Primary Teacher
Image

maryjo@hilltopmontessori.com

  • Masters in Education
  • AMS certified in Montessori 3-6, primary
  • Educating children since 2003, Employed at HMS since 2005

Teresa Barnett Lindsay

Primary Teacher
Image

teresa@hilltopmontessori.com

  • Bachelor of Science in Education
  • American Montessori Society certification, 3-6
  • Educating children since 2011, Employed at HMS since 2014

Christi Franks

Primary Assistant
Image

christi@hilltopmontessori.com

  • Associate’s degree/education
  • Montessori assistant trained
  • Educating children since 2011, Employed at Hilltop since 2010

Roopa Iyer

Primary Teacher
Image

roopa@hilltopmontessori.com

  • Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education
  • AMS (American Montessori Society) certification, 3-6 students
  • CMTE/NY Center for Montessori Education graduate
  • Educating children since 2011, Employed at HMS since 2012

Melissa Smith

Primary Assistant
Image

melissa@hilltopmontessori.com

  • Masters in Education
  • Montessori assistant trained, significant preschool and toddler experience
  • Educating students since 1997, Employed at HMS since 2015

Michelle Scott

Primary Teacher
Image

michelle@hilltopmontessori.com

  • Bachelor of Science in Psychology
  • Orton-Gillingham Associate level certification
  • AMS (American Montessori Society) certification for ages 3-6 students
  • Educating children since 2004, Employed at HMS since 2007

Mary Knoechel

Primary Assistant
Image

mary@hilltopmontessori.com

  • Kennesaw State University- Early Childhood Education, Montessori assistant trained
  • Educating children since 2012, Employed at HMS since 2013

Lower Elementary Program (ages 6 - 9)

Dama Nichols Thornton

Lower Elementary Teacher,
Elementary & Middle School Program Director
Image

dama@hilltopmontessori.com

  • Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education
  • Masters in Education
  • AMS (American Montessori Society) certification for ages 6-9
  • Educating children since 1998, Employed at HMS since 1999

Stephanie Kirkpatrick

Lower Elementary Teacher
Image

stephanie@hilltopmontessori.com

  • Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education
  • Educating children since 2011, Employed at HMS since 2014
  • American Montessori Society 6-9 certified

Chelsea Calhoun

Lower Elementary Teacher
Image

chelsea@hilltopmontessori.com

  • Bachelor of Arts in English
  • Orton-Gillingham Associate level certification
  • AMS (American Montessori Society) certification for ages 6-9
  • Educating children since 2003, Employed at HMS since 2006

Ona Adams

Lower Elementary Teacher
Image

ona@hilltopmontessori.com

  • Bachelor of Arts in Political Science
  • Montessori alumni student
  • Montessori assistant trained
  • Educating children since 2009, Employed at HMS since 2010

Upper Elementary Program (ages 9 - 12)

Janet Lewis

Upper Elementary Teacher
Image

janet@hilltopmontessori.com

  • Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education
  • CMTE/NY (Center for Montessori Teacher Education, New York) graduate
  • AMS (American Montessori Society) certification for ages 9-12
  • Educating children since 2004, Employed at HMS since 2009

Jodi Hunt

Upper Elementary Teacher
Image

jodi@hilltopmontessori.com

  • Bachelor of Science in Special Education
  • Educating children since 2009, Employed at HMS since 2014
  • Montessori assistant trained

Megan Spokes

Upper Elementary Teacher,
Music Teacher
Image

megan@hilltopmontessori.com

  • Bachelor of Arts in Music Performance
  • Private Music Instructor since 2000
  • Educating children since 2011, Employed at HMS since 2021

Middle School Program (grades 7 - 8)

Michele Camp

Middle School Teacher
Image

michelecamp@hilltopmontessori.com

  • Masters of Education
  • Working with Children since 1994
  • Employed at HMS since 2021

Specials

Jamie Lewis

Art Teacher
Image

jamie@hilltopmontessori.com

  • Bachelor of Arts in Fine Arts
  • Employed at HMS since 1998

Cecilee Eddy

PE Teacher
Image

cecilee@hilltopmontessori.com

  • Bachelors Degree
  • Employed at HMS since 2020

Megan Spokes

Upper Elementary Teacher,
Music Teacher
Image

megan@hilltopmontessori.com

  • Bachelor of Arts in Music Performance
  • Private Music Instructor since 2000
  • Educating children since 2011, Employed at HMS since 2021

Maria Navarro

Toddler & Primary Spanish Teacher
Image

Patricia Sanely

Elementary & Middle School Spanish Teacher
Image

patricia@hilltopmontessori.com

  • Native Speaker
  • Bachelor’s Degree
  • Elementary/Middle school Spanish immersion teacher
  • Montessori Accreditation Council for Teacher Education Certification 3-6
  • Employed at HMS since 2021

Kitchen

Nich Arvin

Kitchen Manager
Image

nich@hilltopmontessori.com

  • Diploma in Culinary Arts
  • Working in food service since 2009
  • Employed at Hilltop since 2022

Daisy Moon

Kitchen Employee
Image
  • Working at HMS since 2016
  • Food service experience since 2015

Dianne Beasley

Kitchen Employee
Image

Administration

Dave DeHarde

Head of School
Image

dave@hilltopmontessori.com

  • Master of School Administration
  • AMS Montessori Certification, Primary
  • 20 years plus experience in Montessori education and administration

Dorothy Ewing

Admissions Director
Image

dot@hilltopmontessori.com

  • CGMS Montessori Certification, School Leadership
  • Working in Management and Leadership since 2000
  • Employed at HMS since 2022

Shiela Jones

Office Manager
Image

shiela@hilltopmontessori.com

  • Working in office administration since 2000
  • Employed at Hilltop since 2002

Theresa Fox

Director of Finance
Image

tfox@hilltopmontessori.com

  • Bachelor of Business Administration and Finance
  • Working in Financial, Business, and Management since 2003
  • Employed at HMS since 2003

Cindi Stehr

Primary Teacher,
Toddler & Primary Program Director/ Founder
Image

cindi@hilltopmontessori.com

  • Bachelor of Arts in Biology
  • AMS (American Montessori Society) certification for ages 3-6 students
  • Educating children since 1991, Employed at HMS since 1996

Dama Nichols Thornton

Lower Elementary Teacher,
Elementary & Middle School Program Director
Image

dama@hilltopmontessori.com

  • Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education
  • Masters in Education
  • AMS (American Montessori Society) certification for ages 6-9
  • Educating children since 1998, Employed at HMS since 1999