Ms. Margie has worked for 16 years in Montessori education as a guide, consultant, and interim Head of School. She is AMS certified in Elementary I and II from the Michigan Montessori Teacher Education Center. She has a Bachelors degree in Elementary Education and a Masters in Human Development and Family Studies. Margie has ties to the East Lansing community and is happy to be back with friends and family here. “I have always admired the community of families and staff here and am very happy to become part of the Stepping Stones community.”
Ms. Amy Ward: Head of School
Ms. Amy has a worked as a teacher, administrator, curriculum developer, board member and teacher educator over the last decade. She is excited to start a new journey as Head of School. Amy has two children and a husband at home and in her past time enjoys gardening.
Ms. Susan Lipka: Business Manager
Susan joined the Administrative team at Stepping Stones in August 2015. Susan loves the Montessori philosophy and is delighted that her son’s education is in this Montessori school. Susan has a background in human resources and bookkeeping. She also has experience as a nurse assistant. She is thrilled to work in a Montessori environment and to be part of the Stepping Stones community.
Lead Staff (Classroom Guides)
Ms. Mandi Kaufmann: Upper Elementary Classroom Lead Guide
Ms. Mandi earned her B.A. in Elementary Education from Goshen College. She has taught in many capacities since then including teaching 4th grade in Asheville, NC, English in Seoul, South Korea, and art through the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Ms. Mandi has been at Stepping Stones for over 2 years and will be completing her American Montessori Society (AMS) Elementary II Credential training this year. She has a cat and husband at home. She enjoys riding her bike, reading, hiking, canoeing, gardening, and crochet.
Ms. Lorie Latsko: Primary
Ms. Lorie will be starting her 11th year in a Montessori Primary environment in June. She has been at Stepping Stones for three years. She earned her American Montessori Society (AMS) credential from Adrian Dominican Montessori Teacher Education Institute in 2010. Additionally, Ms. Lorie holds a Bachelors and Masters in Education and a Michigan Teaching Certificate K-8. Ms. Lorie is also a proud parent of a son who has attended Montessori programs from age 2.
Ms. Maria Miklojcik: Toddler House
Maria has a lifelong connection to Montessori. First as a student, second as an after-school program coordinator, third as a parent, along with countless volunteer hours. Maria’s favorite Maria Montessori quote is “Children are human beings to whom respect is due, superior to us by reason of their innocence and the greater possibilities of their future.” Maria started her career of working for the Michigan House of Representatives where she actively worked on policy regarding education and tax reform as a legislative assistant. After 5 years working for the State of Michigan, Maria was eager to get back to working with the children. She then worked for 2 years at a child care center, first as a teacher and finished her last year as an Assistant Director of the facility. After finding some inspiration from a Primary Guide at Stepping Stones, Maria found that she was truly eager to get back to her Montessori roots.
Ms. Stephanie Morgan: Toddler House
Stephanie’s philosophy for working with toddlers is to encourage children to work independently, using her skills as a guide to help aide that process. She observes children and offers assistance and guidance when necessary. Kind, clear, and consistent is her motto when working with children, and that is her goal for creating a nurturing environment for the children. Stephanie’s qualifications include ten years of experience working in professional childcare environments with a variety of age groups. Stephanie began at Stepping Stones as an assistant in the Toddler House and is honored to work as co-lead in the Toddler House to continue her experience here at Stepping Stones.
Mr. David Potts: Lower Elementary Classroom Lead Guide
Mr. David obtained a Bachelors Degree in History as well as a Masters Degree in Reading Instruction from Michigan State University. He is American Montessori Society (AMS) certified in Elementary I. Additionally, he has successfully completed many programs given by the American Montessori Society and Michigan Montessori Society. Mr. David takes pride in bringing out the best in each and every one of his students.
Ms. Allyson earned her Elementary Education degree from Michigan State University, with a focus in language arts. She is a certified elementary school teacher and will be working toward her Montessori certification this upcoming year. She is originally from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and loves everything outdoors (and sports-Go Green!). She is excited to learn from her students and fellow staff members, as she begins this new journey in her career path!
Wendy Rowan: Art Lead
Ms. Wendy is originally from Philadelphia, PA. She has a BS in art education from Miami University in Ohio. She taught elementary through middle school art in public schools in Indiana, Michigan, and Hawaii, and Germany and is now in her 5th year teaching at Stepping Stones. This year she is teaching the elders in the primary program in addition to lower and upper elementary. Wendy and her husband Jake have two children, both of whom attended Stepping Stones, and two dogs. She enjoys the arts, travel and hiking.
Kayla Cicola: Music Lead
Kayla Cicola is teaching the music program here at Stepping Stones. She earned her Bachelor of Music in Music Education from Miami University in 2010. This is her sixth year teaching music. She is very excited to be in our classrooms, teaching music and songs to our children.
Jim McGrath: Nature Discovery Lead
Jim McGrath has been a weekly specialist Michigan Natural Science instructor at Stepping Stones since 1992. He has a wildlife biology degree from MSU, but his lifelong interest and focus on the natural world dates back to his earliest childhood memories. He and his wife, Carol, founded and operate Nature Discovery, a Michigan-specific wildlife education business, out of their home in rural Williamston. Their private nature center features the state’s most comprehensive zoo of Michigan-native reptiles and amphibians. Nature Discovery offers wildlife education presentations and exhibits to all ages in a wide variety of venues throughout the state. Their services are also utilized regularly by the Michigan DNR. Jim also teaches as a weekly specialist at Montessori Children’s House in Lansing and at Okemos Nursery School. Visit www.naturediscovery.net to find out more. You can also request to be added to an email list to receive their informative monthly newsletter.
Ms. Bhagwati Bisht: Primary Assistant
Ms. Kumud Gupta: Primary Assistant
Mr. Parks Marion: Upper Elem Assistant
Parks Marion originally hails from Tennessee but has explored many parts of the country and world. He graduated from Guilford College with a double major in Biology and Music Performance. In the time since he graduated he has focused on becoming an Environmental educator and getting kids excited about learning outside. For the past two years he was a teacher at a Montessori middle school in the mountains of North Carolina. He will be joining the school as an assistant to Ms. Mandi in the Upper Elementary.
-Not Pictured-Ms. Raquel BarrientozMs. Kelli ElliottMs. Jazmyn CheeseMr. William ZajicMs. Shannon Beczkiewicz