Meet Our Amazing Team

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Maria Costadini

Administrative director

Maria was born in Chicago, but raised in Southern California.  She has an Associates of Science degree in Radiologic Technology from Cypress College, and a Bachelor of Arts and Master's degree in Theology from Life Christian University.  Maria has been with MSF for seven years. She started out as Office Administrator, moved to Finance Director, Interim Director and is now the Administrative Director.  Maria was the administrator and co-pastor of a church in SoCal for 16 years.  She also has owned and operated two Greek restaurants with her husband.
Fun Facts: Maria’s a hard core classic rock & roll gal. “Rock on.” And can make a greek feast that’s out of this world!


Gwen Howard

Education director

Gwen grew up on the West Coast. She has her MA in Teaching, Belmont University; BBA, Belmont University; Elementary Education, TN Licensure PK-4; AMS Certification 3-6 Belmont University; Elementary 6-9 training from Seacoast, Montessori.
Fun Facts: If Gwen could be anywhere, it would be relaxing on a lake, mountain, or seaside cabin in Scotland. Her family brings her so much joy. And her favorite pastime is listening to music, reading a book or curled up on the couch with her dog.
Why Montessori? “MSF was an easy choice for me. We have amazing staff, wonderful parents, and precious young people.”


Rachel Costadini

Administrative Assistant, Event Coordinator & Theater Director

Rachel Costadini hails from sunny Oceanside, California.  She graduated from Southeastern University in Lakeland, Florida, with a degree in Theology and Graphic Design.  Rachel has worked at MSF for four years now. She is the Administrative Assistant and Event Coordinator, and also teaches the Boot Camp enrichment class to the Kindergarten and Elementary students. 
Fun Facts:
On holidays, she travels all over to spend time with family and friends.  Rachel took a swim in the Amazon River in Brazil, and she volcano boarded down a 3,000 ft volcano in Nicaragua, which was gnarly.


Jennifer Baillargeon

Administrative Support & SteM and Cultural studies teacher

Jennifer grew up in Portland, Oregon. This is her fourth year at MSF. Jennifer is a TN state licensed teacher K-5th.
Fun Facts: She enjoys hiking, cycling, traveling, doing yoga and spending time with her husband and daughter. If money were no object, the first thing she would do is hire a chef!
Why Montessori?  “I fell in love with the Montessori philosophy because it is the development of the individual child.  I saw the materials and love the concrete, simple materials. I wanted that for my daughter. Being a teacher, I never fully bought into the traditional educational methods.  I saw that Montessori was a philosophy for the education of children.”


Eri Nakanishi

Lead Teacher - Toddler

Eri is from beautiful Japan! She has an AMI Assistant to Infancy (0-3 years) Diploma; AMI Primary (2.5-6 years) Diploma; B.A. Musashino University, Tokyo, Japan.
Fun Facts:
Why Montessori?


Katie Beasley

Toddler AssistanT

Katie was born and raised in Nashville. She has her BS in Interdisciplinary Studies Elementary and Special Ed K-6, Middle Tennessee State University; AMS Certification 3-6 Memphis Montessori Institute.
Fun Facts: If Katie could be anywhere, she would love to explore Europe! She loves her quiet time and enjoys knitting, crochet, and reading.
Why Montessori? “I grew up in Montessori, from 2.5 years to the 4th grade. My mom was a Montessori guide, so naturally this is the right fit for me!”


Bunmi Anifowoshe

Lead Primary Teacher & Aftercare Coordinator

Ms. Bunmi is from Nigeria and has been with MSF for 12 years. She has an Association Montessori International (AMI) Certification as well as a BSC in Microbiology.  
Fun Facts: She loves cooking, spending time with her husband and two daughters. She is passionate about treasuring relationships.
Why Montessori? “Montessori is not a trend, it is a philosophy and it works. The method is consistent and the materials are beautiful; the materials are the same in any Montessori classroom around the world.”


Kristina Gray-Counts

Primary Assistant

Kristina is originally from San Francisco, CA and has a BA degree from MTSU. She has been at MSF for 17 years, three years as a parent and 13 years as a primary assistant. Both of Kristina’s children attended MSF, Patrick age 19 and Elizabeth who is 15.  
Fun Facts:
Kristina is loves animals; she loves to do volunteer work and is passionate about children’s issues.
Why Montessori? “I am a big advocate of childhood. I love the fact that we teach children how to be a community.  We teach them how to respect others, our environment and themselves. As a Montessori parent I saw how it helped my children have a strong work ethic that comes from within.  It helped them to be compassionate towards others and our world.”


Kelly Kimbrough

Lead Primary Teacher

Kelly was born in Chattanooga and raised in Murfreesboro, TN. She has her Bachelor of Science in Integrated Studies-Early Childhood Education and Family Studies, Middle Tennessee State University; Associate of Applied Science in Early Childhood Education, Motlow State; Certification in Early Childhood Education by the Department of Education, Motlow State; AMS Certification 3-6 Montessori Training Center of Brentwood.
Fun Facts: If Kelly could be anywhere, she would be by an ocean or in Ireland. Being around her family, hanging our with friends or being outdoors with her dogs brings Kelly so much Joy. Her favorite pastime is swimming or sitting on the patio with a good book.
Why Montessori? “When I looked into MSF, I found a sense of family and home. I knew this was the place for me and I couldn’t be more excited about this year!”


Jamie Pollock

primary assistant

Jamie is she's from Knoxville, TN, but has lived in Jersey for many years. She has her B.S., Business Management, Curry College, Milton, Massachusetts.
Fun Facts: If Jamie could be anywhere, she would be taking cooking classes in France or Italy. Being in nature brings her the most joy. Jamie loves going on hikes with Stella, her Jack Russell.
Why Montessori? “I sent my daughters to Montessori during preschool through 3rd grade and fell in love! At MSF, I’m really enjoying the small environment and awesome staff.”


Colleen Walker

Lead Primary Teacher

Colleen is from Cape Town, South Africa. She has a Mercy Montessori Africa, Pre-Primary/Primary Teacher's Diploma (3-9 years); Mercy Montessori Management and Assessment.
Fun Facts: If Colleen could be anywhere she would be with her husband. He is currently in the Republic of Congo for work and she wishes he could be back in the U.S. soon! Her family brings her the most joy in life.
Why Montessori? “My youngest son went to Montessori and I loved the environment so much that I became a teacher. It’s a new year and a new school for me, but when I walked through the doors of MSF, I felt at home.”


Eny Moore

Primary assistant & spanish Teacher

Eny is from Puerto Rico, she has been at MSF for 8 years.
Fun Facts: She has three children, two dogs and two birds. Her passion is spending time with her family and researching and gaining information on natural health solutions.  Her favorite place to vacation is Kiawah Island in South Carolina; which is an annual family tradition.
Why Montessori? “My mother Noemi worked at MSF teaching Spanish.  When my mother passed, I picked up the baton and have been teaching Spanish at MSF ever since.”  


Ramona (Smeltzer) Jones

Lead ElEMENTARY Teacher

Ramona is from upstate NY, near Albany. She moved to Franklin the summer of 2010 to work at MSF. Ramona has her Elementary Montessori certification; and is a TN state licensed teacher with a Masters in Literacy and Special Education.  She wanted to become a Montessori teacher to help children learn. She struggled in school herself, so she got a Masters in Special Education.
Fun Facts: In her spare time she love to hike & explore state parks. She also enjoy reading thrillers or personal narratives are her favorite. 
Why Montessori? “Montessori looks at every child as an individual and looks at what each child’s needs are.  Montessori is a way to reach every child.”


Shaun Petty

Elementary Assistant

Born in Henderson, NV, has live in Franklin since she was 12 years old. Shaun has been at MSF for 18 years.  
Fun Facts:
She enjoys gardening, cooking, getting together with family and friends, spending time with her nephews, and loves to play games. If I were rich I would build MSF an awesome school.
Why Montessori? “Independence of the children to be who they are and work at their own pace. I believe in the Montessori method.  I see so much growth in the children. I love working with the staff and the parents at MSF. It feels like a second family.”


Jan Shepard

Administrative Support

My passion for learning and delight in supporting others' learning has been a driving force in my life. That strong focus resulted in my TN teaching certification (K thru 12), my 25+ year career training adults (Vanderbilt University, Ernst & Young, etc.), and, fortunately, led me to join the MSF team over 9 years ago. I'm grateful to be part of the dedicated Montessori team at MSF who share my commitment to nourishing the unique learning aptitudes and abilities of each child.  As an adoring grandmother and native Tennessean who loves nature, exploring the paths around Radnor Lake with my grandsons tops my free time list.


Patty Verastegui

CLassroom support & Substitute Teacher

Patty is from Peru and has been at MSF for seven years. She has her Tennessee Early Childhood Training Alliance (TECTA) and has completed 16 early childhood certifications. She enjoy working as an assistant teacher at Montessori, because it is a very established school. Children are able to learn not only great education but also values for life. Kids have the liberty to choose, and are mentored to their potential. Learning is fun at Montessori.
Fun Facts: She likes to shop, go to movies, out to dinner with family and friends, travel, read, go to concerts, and cook.  Patty’s favorite place to travel to is Europe, Italy and Austria. She has four children and a grandchild. Family is very important to Patty.
Why Montessori?  “I like to see the Montessori method, where the children are free to do the work in the classroom environment. The children have liberty of enjoying the environment that we have created for them.”


Cheryl Hall

Substitute Teacher

Cheryl has her BS in Business Management; she was born and raised in Alabama. Prior to working as an assistant at MSF, Cheryl was a parent, a board member, volunteer and a substitute.  Her son Nathan went through 7th grade at MSF.
Fun Facts: Cheryl loves life and loves to laugh, she has an infectious (contagious) laugh.  If money were no object, she would travel the world, but keeping it low key so she can see how people live in other cultures. “I’m not a fan of touristy things.”
Why Montessori? “Everybody should do Montessori. My son Nathan had a negative experience in Kindergarten at a school which was classical in training. It didn’t work for him; he shut down. Montessori gave him the confidence to learn again; he thrived in the Montessori environment within a few days of being here.”