MCS Staff


 Maegan Brusaw

           Head of School

Mrs. Maegan Brusaw holds a B.S. in Healthcare Management from The University of Mount Olive and a M.Ed. in Montessori Integrative Learning from The Institute of Educational Studies at Endicott College. She is certified by the American Montessori Society in Montessori Primary Education. Mrs. Brusaw has been at MCS for 11 years. She spent 3 years as an Assistant in Stepping Stones, one year as an Office Assistant and was the Lead Directress in Primary West for 7 years. She has four children, all of whom have been MCS students. In Maegan’s spare time, she enjoys reading, traveling and spending time with her family.

Karina Konchalski

Office Administrator

This is Karina’s first year at MCS. She is originally from New Jersey and recently moved to the Jacksonville area. She has spent most of her career in the Medical Field and is excited to be joining the MCS Community! In her free time, she likes to bake, go fishing, and spend time with family and friends. 

Christina Dieffenbach

Compliance Coordinator

Ms.Christina Dieffenbach was in the Navy for four years. After the Navy, she completed a B.A. in Early Childhood Education from the University of South Carolina. She lived in Italy for three years before moving to Jacksonville in 2010. Prior to joining our staff at Montessori Children's School, she was the assistant director for three child development centers on Camp Lejeune for 11 years. Christina has two children and she enjoys reading, traveling and spending time with her family and friends. 

Amanda Cruz

Accounting and Operations Manager

Ms. Cruz is a New Orleans native and this is her first year at Montessori Children's School. She earned her B.S in Business Administration from the University of Maryland. Ms. Cruz has plans to pursue her  MBA through Louisiana State University. She brings over 10 years of accounting and HR experience to MCS. In 2018, she moved to Japan where she fell in love with working with children. While in Japan, Ms. Cruz worked as a Preschool/ Pre-kindergarten teacher. Then she went on to work at the middle school on base in the special education department. 

Ms. Cruz has a very active 4 year old daughter who attends MCS. Her daughter is in the primary program and loves everything the school has to offer. When not at MCS, Ms. Cruz enjoys spending time with her family and friends. 

Stepping Stones

Alice Hampton

Stepping Stones West Lead

Ms. Hampton has been at MCS for 23 years! She guides the 2 and 3 year olds in the Toddler classroom and is affectionately called the ”toddler whisperer.”  Ms. Hampton holds an Associates Degree in Early Childhood Education and her Montessori Infant/Toddler credential from CMTE/NC.  In her spare time, she loves to sing, and play volleyball and ping pong. While at MCS, Ms. Hampton has been the Lead Teacher in both a one-year old and a two year-old classroom.

Lorrie Hall

Stepping Stones West


Ms. Lorrie has been working at MCS since 2015 under her Montessori Mentor, Miss Hampton. She has her Associates Degree in Arts and holds certifications in Early Childhood and Infant & Toddler Care. Ms. Lorrie has been working with children for over 20 years. She grew up in a Military family and has lived all over the United States. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family and her interests include photography, swimming, painting, the beach, and learning/exploring new places and things.

Nicole Hart

Stepping Stones Floater and Elementary  Aftercare

This is Nicole's first year at MCS.  She started learning about the Montessori philosophy in 2019 and is pursuing a long career in Montessori Education. Nicole will be graduating with her Associates in Early Childhood Education in November of 2022 and is looking forward to completing Montessori Teacher Assistant training this year. Nicole grew up in California and moved to Jacksonville in 2019. She enjoys the outdoors, road trips, and spending time with friends and family.  Nicole has a 3-year old daughter.


Kelsey Keller

Primary East

Lead Directress

Kelsey began her career at MCS in 2014 as a Teacher Assistant in the Primary West Classroom.  She completed the Trillium Montessori Teacher Assistant training in 2019. In 2021, Kelsey assumed the role of a Self Guided Lead in Primary East under the mentorship of Primary Level Coordinator Maegan Brusaw.  This year, Kelsey is returning to Primary East as Lead Directress. She is actively pursuing her Montessori Diploma in Early Childhood (3-6) from the North American Montessori Center. Kelsey has held a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Kentucky since 2011. She has worked with children for over 14 years and loves that the Montessori philosophy allows children to follow their interests and learn at their own pace. She has two children who attend and love MCS. When she is not at school, she enjoys the beach, cooking, and spending time with friends and family.

Lauren Blake

Primary East

Assistant Teacher

This is Mrs. Blake’s third year at Montessori Children’s School. She assists Mrs. Keller in Primary East and is very excited for the new year. Some of Mrs. Blake’s favorite things about the Montessori philosophy are that each child is able to learn at their own pace and that it fosters such a deep level of independence. She looks forward to furthering her Montessori education. In her free time, Mrs. Blake enjoys spending time with her husband, two children and family. 

Olivia Hawkins

Primary East Floater

Carol Gayhart

Primary West

Lead Directress

Miss Carol has been working with young children for many years in the New England area. She is new to North Carolina but is glad to have made this her home.  Although she has been here a short time there is so much to appreciate about this great state.

Miss Carol has a BA in early childhood and psychology. She says the  most important part of her education is what she has learned from the children that she has met throughout her teaching career.

Teaching in the MCS environment is a new chapter in her life and she is grateful for this opportunity to learn, grow and develop and acquire skills that will establish her as a Montessori teacher. 

She loves spending time with her husband, and says that the best times they have had in NC are just sitting outside talking, laughing and appreciating the awesome weather. She enjoys  her neighborhood; she says you can step outside and there is always a friendly person inviting you over for a cup of coffee. She loves the hospitality and the kindness of the people that she has met here. 

Miss Carol is also pursuing Early Childhood Montessori Diploma Training through the  North American Montessori Center. 

Kathy Pesqueira

Primary West 

Assistant Teacher

Mrs. Pesqueira has been at MCS for 8 years and has grown a love for the Montessori Philosophy and how it accommodates all learning styles. 

Her journey started in September 2014, as a Floater in the Outdoor environment, the After Care Lead (2015) and currently the Primary West Assistant (2017). She has completed the North Carolina Early Childhood Credential and Montessori Trillium Assistant Training  (2016). She is pursuing a B.A. Degree in Communications. 

During her free time, Mrs. Pesqueira enjoys cooking, baking, and spending quality time with her ohana. 

Samantha Warmbrodt

Primary West Floater and Aftercare

Ms. Sam is a North Carolina native, graduating from Croatan High School just 45 minutes down the road. Her passion is working with children; helping them learn and grow. Ms. Sam has been working with children for more than 10 years. In her spare time she enjoys reading and spending time with her 5 children. Ms. Sam plans to start college in the Fall focusing on getting her Associates Degree in Library Science.  

Sandra Smith

Primary South

Lead Directress

Ms. Smith

Tami Beckes

Primary South 

Assistant Teacher

Tami Beckes grew up in Wisconsin. In 2005, she married her best friend, who joined the Marine Corps.  Together they moved to North Carolina and have two teenage daughters. Tami has lived in Wisconsin, North Carolina, Hawaii and Arizona. Tami has a certification in Early Childhood Education and has worked with children in a variety of settings over the past years:  Sunday School Teacher; Girl Scout Leader, Kindergarten Aide, CDC Preschool/Infant Classroom Assistant and most recently Art Teacher for Pre-k to 6th Grade. She enjoys the outdoors, hiking, going to the beach and kayaking, as well as loves spending time with her family and traveling.  Tami will be completing Montessori Teacher Assistant Training.  

Coming Soon!

Primary South Floater and Aftercare

Lower Elementary

Lilian Sawyer

Lower Elementary

Lead Directress

This will be Lilian's second year with MCS.  She spent her first year under the direct mentorship of Lead Directress Alice Hampton in Stepping Stones. After completing intensive Elementary Montessori training at CMTE-NC this summer, she is moving to Lower Elementary as Lead Directress. Lilian is passionate about the Montessori philosophy and is looking forward to the new journey!  In addition, she is actively pursuing a BA in Child Psychology and Development with an estimated completion date of August 2023. Lilian has two children, both in Primary at MCS. In her free time, she enjoys spending family time at the beach, traveling, fishing, crafts, and painting. 

Jacqueline Tew

Lower Elementary 

Assistant Teacher

Jacqueline Tew is native to North Carolina and grew up here in Onslow County.  After serving several years in the Army, Jacqueline received her BS in Criminal Justice from Campbell University. She spent many years working with youth in the juvenile justice system before returning to school to obtain her Master's Degree in Special Education and Behavior Analysis from George Mason University. Jacqueline has since worked with students across many settings to include public classrooms as a lead teacher and providing behavior therapy services. She immensely enjoys working with young people and believes that the Montessori learning environment allows youth the opportunity to fully explore their passion for learning without diminishing the individuality they each hold. She has four children of her own, the youngest who just started college, and two Boston terriers. In her free time she enjoys the beach, photography and family.  

Justina Lewis

Lower Elementary 

Assistant Teacher

This is her first year teaching Montessori. She has been drawn to learning the Montessori way since having her son who is now 2 years old. She achieved her Bachelor of Arts from Sonoma State University. Some of her favorite things to do are painting, writing, and exploring the beauty of nature. 

Upper Elementary

Pierce Clawson

Upper Elementary 

Lead Director

Pierce Clawson is a third generation Montessori Teacher, AMI Graduate from the Montessori Institute of Milwaukee, and a former Montessori student himself. He enjoys his passion for music in his free time, and likes the aspect of interdependencies between all subjects in Montessori Elementary Curriculum. He believes that the spontaneity and independence the child feels in learning through the Montessori Method is both a reward to the child's sense of self and to their overall growth. Mr. Pierce has earned a BA in Photography from UNCG and holds a Master's degree from Loyola University in Montessori Education. 

Maria Celeste Lay

Upper Elementary 

Assistant Teacher

Maria Celeste Lay graduated from St. Joseph’s College, in the Philippines with a Bachelor's degree of Arts in Mass Communication.  She worked as a producer/writer for a television company for 12 years before pursuing a Master's in Education, majoring in Special Education.  The past 4 years, she had the privilege of teaching children in Asia online.  Maria loves traveling and hanging out with her family which includes two dogs.  With previous Montessori classroom experience, she is excited to be a part of the MCS community and to complete Montessori Teacher Assistant training. Her friends call her Celeste. 

Education Specials

Bob Patterson

Environmental Education


Mr. Patterson has been at MCS for 10 years, first as the Outdoor Education Assistant and most recently as the Lead.  He holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Financial Management and a Master of Science in Parks, Recreation and Tourism.  Mr. Patterson’s two older daughters attended MCS and his youngest daughter is a student in the Upper Elementary classroom. Bob enjoys kayaking, hiking and coaching basketball. 

Addie McConnell

Literacy Specialist

Addie McConnell is excited to start her journey into Montessori education with us as the Literacy Specialist. She attended East Carolina University earning her Bachelors in Elementary Education with a specialization in Reading. She is licensed to teach General Education K-6 and has a Literacy Specialist license for K-12 in the state of North Carolina. She previously taught second grade at Coastal Elementary with Onslow County Schools. She is currently working towards her Masters in Clinical Mental Health Counseling with a concentration in Marriage and Family Therapy at Walden University. She also has an infant son who is very excited to attend school with us when he is old enough. In her free time she enjoys crocheting, baking, and playing the board games from her collection. 

Kelly Linares

Foreign Language Specialist

Kelly Linares fell in love with the Montessori environment while attending Guilford College, where she graduated with a Bachelors of Science in Anthropology/Sociology. She learned about the wonders of Montessori through a senior project.  After graduation, she gained knowledge of Montessori philosophy with her mentor/lead teacher in the toddler and 3-6 environments.  She enjoys the magic of learning through a hands-on approach in the Montessori environments, outdoor activities, and long walks.  Her marriage took her to Colombia, South America and Onda, Spain.  For twenty years, she enjoyed teaching ESL with 6-8 year olds and immersing herself in new cultures, climates, and languages. 

Emely Mejia

Foreign Language Assistant/Floater