MCS Staff


 Maegan Brusaw

           Head of School

Mrs. Maegan Brusaw holds a Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Management from The University of Mount Olive and a Master of Education 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 second 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 Bachelor of Arts 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 second year at Montessori Children's School. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of Maryland. Ms. Cruz has plans to pursue her Master of Business Arts degree 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     

Lead Directress

Ms. Hampton has been at MCS for 24 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 


Ms. Lorrie has been working at MCS since 2015 under her Montessori Mentor, Miss Hampton. She has her Associate in Arts degree with a concentration in early childhood education 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.


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.  She has currently completed her Primary  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.

Rachel Torres

Primary East


Ms. Rachel just moved to Jacksonville from a small agricultural town in central California this June. Prior to joining Montessori Children’s School, she worked at another Montessori school in California where she received her Primary Montessori Teaching Credentials. Ms. Rachel has over 8 years experience working with children of all ages, from infants to high school.

Ms Rachel loves to go hiking, traveling, going to the gym, spending time with family, & going on new adventures with her husband & their three German Shepherd’s. 

Samantha Posadas

Primary and Stepping Stones Floater

This is Ms. Samantha’s first year at MCS.  She grew up in New York where she received her primary education, then earned an associate degree in criminal justice and accounting.  She married her high school sweetheart, who is an active duty Marine. Together they have lived in Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina.  They have two young children, one of which attends MCS.  Samantha has been a competitive equestrian for over 25 years and has been teaching horseback riding lessons to children and adults for 10 years.  She has enjoyed sharing her passion, love, and knowledge of horses and the sport with her students.  In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her family, riding her horse, gardening, walking her dogs, and spending time outside. 

Carol Gayhart

Primary West

Lead Directress

Ms. 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.

Ms. Carol has a Bachelor of Arts degree 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. 

Ms. Carol has completed her Early Childhood Montessori Diploma Training through the  North American Montessori Center. She is currently pursuing her Early Childhood (Ages 3-6) credentials through The Center for Guided Montessori Studies.

April Smith

Primary West


Ms. April is originally from New Jersey and  shortly after graduating High School, joined the Marine Corps and served 9 years as a Military Police Officer. During her time in the Marine Corp, she completed her Associates in Arts degree from Coastal Carolina Community College. After that, Ms. April attended the University of North Carolina Wilmington, where she majored in Criminology and received a minor in Forensic Chemistry. Ms. April has 2 children and after the birth of her youngest, began working in the Onslow County School System as a Substitute Teacher and Exceptional Child Teacher Assistant for 4 years. She began subbing for MCS last year and will be the Teacher Assistant in Primary West. When not at school Ms. April enjoys hiking, swimming, kayaking, and many other activities with her 2 children.   

Shiaquieta Carlton

Primary Floater and Aftercare Coordinator

Sandra Smith

Primary South

Lead Directress

Ms. Smith joined the MCS community in 2000 working as after school staff and in the Fall of that year, she transitioned into the position of Toddler Assistant.  After her time as an Assistant Teacher, Ms. Smith pursued her Montessori Certification for Primary.  Her training was at the Center for Montessori Teacher Education in North Carolina and she is currently the Lead Directress in Primary South.


Ms. Smith is passionate about instilling a loving and mildly structured learning environment for her students. She believes a Montessori classroom provides the ideal environment for children to learn and grow and hopes to guide her students to becoming lifelong learners.


In her free time, she enjoys gentle yoga, breathing exercises, journaling, and taking care of her plants. Ms. Smith also enjoys traveling to visit family and loved ones.  

Tami Beckes

Primary South 


This is Ms. Beckes' second year at MCS. She 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.  

Lower Elementary

Lilian Sawyer

Lower Elementary South

Lead Directress

This will be Lilian's third year with MCS.  She spent her first year under the direct mentorship of Lead Directress Alice Hampton in Stepping Stones. Ms. Lilian is currently completing her Lower Elementary Montessori credentials from The Center for Montessori Teacher Education in Charlotte, NC and will be the Lead Directress in Lower Elementary South this year. Ms. Lilian is passionate about the Montessori philosophy and is looking forward to the new journey!  In addition, she is actively pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in Child Psychology and Development. Lilian has two children, who both attend MCS. In her free time, she enjoys spending family time at the beach, traveling, fishing, crafts, and painting.

Mariah Seigfried

Lower Elementary South


Mrs. Mariah Seigfried holds a Bachelor's Degree in Secondary Education with an emphasis in English. She is certified by United Montessori Association in Montessori Primary Education. This is Mrs. Seigfried's first year at MCS. She is a Veteran of the Armed Forces. She has 2 children and in her spare time likes to ride horses, read, bake and travel. Her favorite place traveled thus far is Germany.  

Justina Lewis

Lower Elementary North

Lead Directress

Justina Lewis is a Lower-Elementary (6-9) Lead Montessori guide. She is known as Ms. Justina in the classroom. Ms. Justina graduated with her Bachelor of Arts degree in Art Studio with an emphasis in painting from Sonoma State University. She found her passion for the Montessori philosophy while pregnant with her son. Both Ms. Justina and her son Ashur love being apart of the MCS community! Ms. Justina is currently pursuing her Lower Elementary certification at CGMS (The Center for Guided Montessori Studies). Her passion for the Montessori method and love for witnessing the joy of learning continues to grow.  

Kathy Pesqueira

Lower Elementary North


Mrs. Pesqueira has been at MCS for 9 years. Throughout her journey that began in 2014, she has held the following positions: Primary Floater and After Care Lead (4 years), Primary West Assistant (5 years). Her diverse experience in various roles have helped her to prepare for her new position as she will be joining the Elementary staff as a Lower Elementary Assistant in the 2023-24 school year. Mrs. Pesqueira is passionate about the Montessori method and hopes to guide her students to become lifelong learners. In her free time, if she is not studying (pursuing her Bachelor of Arts Degree), she enjoys spending quality time with her Ohana.  

Upper Elementary / Adolescent

Pierce Clawson

Adolescent / Upper Elementary

Co- Lead Director

Pierce Clawson is a third generation Montessori Teacher, AMI (Association Montessori Internationale) Graduate from the Montessori Institute of Milwaukee with both Upper and Lower Elementary credentials, 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 Bachelor of Arts degree in Photography from UNCG and holds a Master's degree from Loyola University in Montessori Education. He is currently pursuing his Adolescent credentials from The Center for Guided Montessori Studies.

Paul Gaita

Upper Elementary 

Co-Lead Director

This is Paul’s first year at MCS. He holds a Master of Music degree in Music Composition from New Jersey City University and spent years working as a professional musician. Paul has taught music in a public education setting for the last eight years and is very excited to be joining MCS. In his free time, Paul enjoys spending time with family, being outdoors and woodworking. He is currently pursuing his Upper Elementary credentials from The Center for Guided Montessori Studies. 

Upper Elementary / Adolescent 

Assistant and Aftercare Coordinator

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 degree  in Parks, Recreation and Tourism.  Mr. Patterson’s daughters have attended MCS. In his free time, he enjoys kayaking, hiking, and coaching basketball. 

Deanna Rushing

Literacy Specialist

Deanna Rushing is excited to begin her Montessori journey as the Literacy Specialist at MCS. She has been involved in the educational setting for the past 11 years. She attended George Mason University to earn a bachelor's Degree in Integrated Studies with a concentration in Elementary Education and a Masters of Education in Curriculum & Instruction.  Deanna taught 4th and 5th grade in Northern VA for seven years before moving to TX and then to NC. While in TX, she completed a second Master's degree as a reading specialist. Her spouse is in the Marine Corps and together, they enjoy giving back to the community in a variety of capacities. They have two kids who are attending MCS and a new little one who will be arriving mid-August 2023. As a family, they enjoy running, hiking, biking, visiting the beach, and playing games. Deanna and her family are excited for her new role at MCS and joining the MCS community! 

Coming Soon!

Foreign Language Specialist  and Aftercare Coordinator