About the school photos Strip

“In addition to maintaining the best instructional practices in reading, writing and math, their program of inspiring kids to be kind, well mannered and cooperative fills my heart.” –

Young Children’s Community

Morgan Spivey, Fireside Guide

Morgan attended Santa Cruz Montessori School as a child and graduated from our Wavecrest Junior High program. During high school, she worked at Santa Cruz Montessori in the After School Care and Summer School programs. In 2009, Morgan completed her undergraduate work at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, receiving her BS in business administration with a concentration in human resources, and a minor in child development. During the summers of 2010 and 2011, she completed her Assistants to Infancy training at the Montessori Institute Northwest in Portland, Oregon. During the academic years between her training, she ran the extended care program and worked as the director’s assistant at the Montessori Children’s School of San Luis Obispo. Morgan returned to SCM in 2011 to begin her career as a Montessori guide in Fireside. In the summer of 2012 Morgan completed her graduate studies toward an MEd in Baltimore, at Loyola University Maryland in Baltimore.

Marika Ross, Fireside Guide

After graduating from Middlebury College with a B.A. in American Studies, Marika decided to pursue her love of education and completed the AMI primary training in Portland, OR in 2011 and received her M.Ed. from Loyola University Maryland. After a few years of leading a primary classroom she made her way to Santa Cruz Montessori and assisted in the Mulberry classroom for two years before completing her A to I training, also in Portland. An avid hiker and backpacker, Marika brings with her to the classroom a deep appreciation of of nature and movement.


Annie Morris, Monarch Guide

Annie has been with Santa Cruz Montessori since 1990 and established the Monarch class when our Primary program expanded at that time. After attending Cañada Community College, Annie continued her education at the Montessori Teacher Training Center of Northern California and received her Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) Primary (3 to 6) diploma in 1984. She was a guide at the training center before coming to SCM. Annie has continued her education through AMI refresher Courses and is also trained in Sequential English Education (SEE), Lindamood Phoneme Sequencing® (LiPS®), and teaching children with autism spectrum disorders. In addition, she serves as a mentor teacher for the AMI Teacher Training Center and regularly oversees observers and student teachers. Annie has a special interest and talent in preparing Montessori classroom environments and often advises other guides in creating beautiful, harmonious environments for children.

Heather Hays, Ohlone Guide

Heather has been with Santa Cruz Montessori since 1998. She was first a Primary assistant teacher and has been the guide for the Ohlone class since it first opened in 2005. Heather graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a BA in psychology and received her American Montessori Society (AMS) Early Childhood credential from the Montessori Teacher Education Center San Francisco Bay Area in San Leandro, California. She has been involved in the Montessori community in many ways as both a parent and a staff member. Her daughter and son began as small children at SCM and attended through our Wavecrest program. Heather leads our Primary parent education Classes, “What is Montessori Primary?” and “Montessori in the Home,” and enjoys introducing the Montessori philosophy to new parents. She continues her education through a variety of workshops and conferences and has served as an SCM board member.

Amy Nishikata, Willow Guide

Amy is the lead Guide for the Willow Classroom. She has worked with children as an educator since 1995. Prior to moving to California for a position at SCM, she was the lead guide at the Montessori School of Syracuse in New York for six years. She also spent 10 years living in Japan teaching English as a second language (ESL) and opened her own school to provide an afte-rschool language and enrichment program to children from preschool through sixth grade. She currently enjoys sharing her Japanese language skills with the Willow children. While an undergraduate she served as a conflict resolution mediator for at risk youth in Los Angeles. Her daughter Sachi is a SCM student and her family is thrilled that she will have the opportunity to continue her education through Wavecrest. Amy has a B.A. in Japanese from the University of California, Los Angeles, and a Montessori Teaching Credential. She is also a certified ESL instructor and is trained as a conflict resolution mediator.

Sarah Nofi, Redwood Guide

Sarah received her BA degree in literature from UCSC in 2002, and before discovering Montessori, worked in the public school system as a reading volunteer and student teacher in the Santa Cruz and New York City areas. After receiving her American Montessori Society (AMS) teaching credential from the Montessori Teacher Education Center San Francisco Bay Area in 2008, Sarah assisted in the Redwood class. She became the Redwood co-guide in 2011. Before deciding to teach as a career, Sarah worked in the state and national parks throughout California building and maintaining trails. She brings a love of nature, love of literature, and love of children to her work every day.

Lower Elementary

Molly Block, Sequoia Guide

Molly was born and raised in Aptos, California and attended Montessori school as a child, including the elementary and adolescent programs at SCM. During high school and college, Molly worked in the summer and after school care programs at Santa Cruz Montessori. After graduating from the University of Michigan with a BA in American culture, Molly returned to SCM and worked as an assistant in the primary program. She received her Association Montessori Internationale Elementary diploma from Washington Montessori Institute in 2012 and will complete her MEd from Loyola University in 2013. Molly loves working alongside some of her former teachers and is passionate about sharing her love of learning with children.

Nina Noorzad, Adobe Guide

Nina received her BA in Liberal Studies from California State University, Fullerton in 2003 and in 2004 completed the Multiple Subject Teaching Credential Program at CSU Fullerton. Following graduation, Nina discovered Montessori and worked as an assistant in a Montessori school in Southern California. After working as an assistant for five years, Nina entered training and earned her Association Montessori Internationale Elementary diploma from Montessori Institute of San Diego. Before joining Santa Cruz Montessori, Nina was the head teacher of a lower elementary Montessori classroom in Huntington Beach, California. Nina has traveled to many places around the world and loves to incorporate cultural diversity into her classroom.

Susanne McGraw, Evergreen Guide

Susanne first started teaching Montessori as a Primary guide in 1999 after completing her AMI Primary training in Vancouver, Canada. After many years of teaching at the Primary level and directing a Montessori school, she then completed the AMI Elementary Training in Milwaukee in 2013. Susanne joined Santa Cruz Montessori School in 2014 as an Elementary guide in the Evergreen class. Susanne is passionate about Education, and studied it through Interdisciplinary lenses during her undergraduate studies at the University of British Columbia, and in the Masters of Education program at the Loyola University of Maryland.

Upper Elementary

Maryse Lepoutre-Postlewaite, Cypress Guide

Maryse has been an Elementary guide at SCM for more than 30 years. Her interest in education began in her college years. She attended Loyola University Maryland in Baltimore, and graduated with a BA in education and certifications in elementary education and special education. She received her Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) Montessori training in Bergamo, Italy, in 1978-79 with her husband, Tom. Over the course of her years of teaching at SCM, she co-taught with Tom in the Junior class, initiated the Evergreen class in 1983, and opened the Cypress Class in 1999. Maryse serves as a mentor teacher for various AMI Teacher Training Centers nationwide, supervising observers and student teachers. In the early 1980s, Maryse was the publication editor and served on the charter board of AMI-EAA (Elementary Alumni Association). Through the years, she was a presenter for various workshops on conflict resolution and peace education. She continues to be active with the organization, attending refresher courses on a regular basis. Maryse and Tom have two children who attended SCM from birth. Maryse is fluent in French, enjoys gardening, and loves to travel.

Melissa McGuffin, Junior Guide

Melissa was born and raised in Santa Cruz and attended Santa Cruz Montessori when she was five years old (Kathy Rideout was her guide). She earned her BS in psychology at the University of California, San Diego. After graduating from college, she volunteered a year through AmeriCore, where she worked in Iowa at a camp for adults and children with disabilities. Melissa returned to SCM in 2005, where she first assisted for a year in the Willow Class. She received her Association Montessori International (AMI) Elementary diploma from the Montessori Training Center of Minnesota in 2009. In 2010, she earned her MEd from Loyola University, Maryland. Melissa has been co-guiding the Junior Class with Tim Donovan since 2006.

Kristin Tosello, Junior Co-Guide

Kristin was born and raised in Santa Cruz, California and attended Santa Cruz Montessori as a child. She started at Santa Cruz Montessori in primary and was in the inaugural Wavecrest class. Kristin went to University of California, Santa Cruz for her Bachelor’s degree, where she received a BA in Community Studies with Honors. After working out of the area with homeless youth, Kristin returned to Santa Cruz to raise her daughter, who has attended Santa Cruz Montessori since primary. She worked as an assistant in the upper elementary program since 2010 and she received her Association Montessori Internationale Elementary diploma from Montessori Institute of San Diego in 2015. Kristin enjoys hiking in the redwood forest with her daughter and three dogs. She also enjoys doing woodworking projects in her free time.

Junior High Program

Tom Lepoutre-Postlewaite, Wavecrest Director

Along with his wife, Maryse, Tom received his Montessori Elementary certification from the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) at Bergamo, Italy, in 1978. He earned a BA in psychology from the University of California, Santa Barbara (1971), and a MA in theology and education (cum laude) from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley (1975). He has been a teacher at SCM since 1980, with 13 years teaching upper elementary students. Tom founded our Wavecrest adolescent program in 1991 and has directed the program while serving as the history and English guide since that time. He has been a presenter and participant at the Montessori Adolescent Colloquium held in Ohio and has presented at the summer workshops for teachers of adolescents. He was a founding trustee of the AMI-EAA (Elementary Alumni Association) . He also has piloted a conflict resolution program in Santa Cruz and given numerous workshop presentations to educators. He has trained with the Central Coast Writing Project and enjoys writing poetry. Tom has served as president and currently serves as a trustee on the board for AMI/USA. Both of Tom’s children attended SCM from the Young Children’s Community to the adolescent community. In his spare time, he enjoys sailing competitively and recreationally.

Catherine B. Murphy, Assistant Wavecrest Director

Catherine B. Murphy, BA, Certified Guide with AMI Montessori Orientation to Adolescent Studies, Assistant Director, Guide for Spanish and Micro Economy, and Coordinator of Student Exchange.  Catherine was born and raised in Uruguay, South America, where she completed her primary and secondary education. In the United States, she obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Relations from San Francisco State University. Later, she obtained a California Professional Clear Multiple Subject Credential, and a Bilingual Cross-Cultural Specialist Credential from a District Intern Program with San Diego City Schools. Catherine taught as an elementary bilingual education teacher and has worked in adult education for two years teaching both Spanish and English as a Second Language. Catherine is committed to high expectations for second language learners, and believes in teaching respect and appreciation for different cultures. Ms.Murphy has been teaching Spanish at Wavecrest since 1999. She completed and was certified in 2012 with the Association Montessori International Montessori Orientation to Adolescent Studies.

Educational Specialist Program

Jenny Taskey, Learning Support Program Director

Jenny Taskey has been with Santa Cruz Montessori since 2003, when her son entered the Monarch primary class, and she joined the Learning Support Program as a SEE instructor and classroom tutor for all levels. Since then, she has completed her lower elementary Montessori training with the Montessori Teacher Education Center San Francisco Bay Area in San Leandro, California. She also received training in the Lindamood-Bell programs of Visualizing and Verbalizing as well as Seeing Stars, and the Montessori Applied to Children at Risk Training at the June Shelton School in Texas. Jenny was born in Germany, where she completed high school before she started her college education in America. She received a BS in Marine Biology from UCSC and completed the undergraduate program in psychology at San Jose State University. She is currently a graduate student for the masters program in Special Education at San Jose State and has taken on the role of the new director of the Learning Support Program. She is passionate about learning and applying all she knows to help children reach their potential as happy human beings.

Santa Cruz Montessori Administration

Kathy Rideout, Director

Kathy first came to SCM in 1976 as a Primary teacher. Over the years, she served as a guide in the Redwood and Adobe (Primary) classes, and helped begin the Fireside and Willow classes. Kathy received her BA in psychology (1970) from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and her American Montessori Society (AMS) Primary teaching credential (1973) and MEd (1979) from the College of Notre Dame. Kathy became the director of Santa Cruz Montessori in 1997. Her previous work history includes experience in financial administration, construction, and fundraising, which has proven to be beneficial in her role as SCM director. As a Montessori parent, she originally joined the Board of Trustees and served as president in the mid 1980s and now serves on the board in her administrative capacity. Over the years, Kathy has continued her education in nonprofit management and Montessori school administration and has participated in a wide variety of workshops on child development and education. She is the mother of two former Montessori students and the grandmother of two current Montessori students.

Kim Saxton, Co-Director

Kim has enjoyed creating a love of learning in children from a very early age. She fell in love with Montessori education while working at the preschool level. She is truly a local girl, having been born and raised in Santa Cruz County. She attended Humboldt State where she received her BA in English. To complete her goal of being a Montessori Guide, she obtained her Association Montessori Internationale Elementary certification and her MEd from Loyola University of Maryland. Kim has worked in Montessori classrooms for twenty-one years; thirteen of those at Santa Cruz Montessori. She has been a Parent Education Presenter since 2001, served on the SCM Board of Trustees, and was a member of the strategic planning committee. In 2015, Kim was selected for the position of co-director. She is eager to share her love of Montessori with the entire community and is embracing her new responsibilities with enthusiasm. Kim is married and has twin 16 year old children, both attended SCM through Wavecrest and are now in High School. She enjoys CrossFit physical training, gardening, and cooking with an emphasis on nutrition.