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


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

Kathy Pesqueira is completing an Associates of Arts Degree, with an expected completion date of May 2020. She has completed the Trillium Assistant Training and holds a North Carolina Early Childhood Credential (NCECC 2016). She has been at MCS for 6 years and has been an after care lead in addition to a classroom assistant. Prior to coming to MCS, Kathy served as a Marine Corps Community Service (Family Childcare Provider) and a USAF Family Services (Family Childcare Provider). Kathy plans to obtain her Bachelor’s degree and to attend training to become a Montessori Directress. When she is not at school, Kathy enjoys cooking, baking, and spending quality time with her daughters and husband.

Samantha Warmbrodt

Primary West Floater and Aftercare

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.

Amanda Ramirez

Primary South Floater and Aftercare

Amanda has lived in NC for the past eight years. She was born in Germany and lived most of her life in Florida. She has worked with children for over two years and thoroughly enjoys it. Amanda enjoys traveling, singing and songwriting. She is very close to her family and enjoys spending time with her nieces and nephews. Amanda's favorite dish is mushroom pasta, and her favorite color is yellow. Her favorite season is summer and her favorite place is Laguna Beach CA.

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.

Alexandra Smeage

Lower Elementary

Assistant Teacher

Alexandra received her Bachelors of Science with a focus in sign language from Siena Heights University in Michigan. She has spent 6 years as an educational sign language interpreter in the public school system, primarily working with elementary age students. She recently graduated with her Masters degree in alternative and complementary medicine. This is her first year in Montessori. She is looking forward to experiencing a different way of learning and completing Montessori Teacher Assistant training.

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.

Coming Soon!

Foreign Language and Art Specialist