Caroline Russell, Executive Director
Caroline Russell was raised in Alexandria, Virginia and attended the University of Virginia where she graduated Magna Cum Laude in 1995 with a B.A. in both French and Political and Social Thought. After college, she earned a Master’s degree in International Studies from the University of Cambridge, England. Caroline began her career promoting non-profit institutions of learning while working at the World Affairs Council in Richmond. Upon moving to the Rockbridge Area in 2008, she was appointed to a position in the Washington and Lee Development Office where she worked for six years and specialized in corporate and foundation grants, capital gifts, and stewardship. Caroline has deep ties to Woods Creek Montessori as a parent and a board officer, serving as Board President in 2004-2005. During this time, the Board oversaw an expansion in program facilities and staff, and developed a long range strategic plan. More recently, Caroline has been a volunteer language arts enrichment teacher at Waddell Elementary where she has taught a Great Books program. She lives in Buena Vista with her family: husband Chris, who serves as Buena Vista’s Commonwealth’s Attorney, and their three children, ages 16, 14 and 12, each of whom attended the toddler and primary classrooms at WCM.
Jess Reid, Assistant to the Director
Jess is delighted to be joining the Woods Creek community. She has experience at both the high school and middle school levels teaching French. She holds a B.A. in French from Baylor University and a M.S. in French and Foreign Language Education from the University of Tennessee. Although a native Texan, Jess recently moved to Lexington from Boston, where she served as the Children’s Ministry Coordinator at Citylife Presbyterian Church. She lives in Lexington with her husband Colin (professor at W&L), daughter Sloane, and her dog Gus. In her spare time, Jess enjoys running, reading, cooking, and spending time outdoors.
Amanda McKemy, Lead Teacher, Pre-toddler
Amanda McKemy has been a Lead Teacher over the Pre-Toddler and infant age groups since 2001, both here at Woods Creek Montessori as well as another preschool. She received her RIE (Resources for Infant Educators) certification in Florida during the summer of 2008. Amanda truly has a passion for working with young children and finds them to be very interesting. “It is amazing what we, as adults, can learn from children.” Amanda and her husband Eddy are life-time natives of Rockbridge County. They have one son, Logan, who recently graduated from college and is pursuing a career in business.
Mallory Bane, Assistant Teacher, Pre-Toddler
Mallory Bane is a native of Rockbridge County, and grew up in rural Collierstown. She has worked in child care for the last five years, first in special needs, and then for Head Start. Upon graduation from high school, Mallory traveled to Luoyang, Henan, China, to work in a special needs orphanage. While there, she completed a Global Adoption Program, and is active in adoption advocacy. Upon return from China, Mallory completed her Child Development Associates, while working for head start. In her spare time, She enjoys art, books, volunteer and mission work, as well as traveling. Mallory actively enjoys Bluegrass and Folk Music, and loves playing music and singing with her family. She currently resides in Buena Vista with her best friend Tasha.
Samee Taylor, Lead Teacher, Toddler
Samee Taylor and her husband, Mark, have lived in Rockbridge County with her husband Mark and their eight children since 2000. Samee has used her Family Science degree from BYU while she was home schooling her children, hosting four foreign exchange students, and providing emergency and respite foster care. Her family is also active in music and theater. Samee’s love for children led her to join the Woods Creek staff as an After School teacher.
Michael Taylor, Assistant Teacher, Toddler
Michael Taylor has lived in Rockbridge County since 2000. He holds a BA from Southern Virginia University, where he studied music and philosophy. He plays viola and piano. He is the oldest of eight children, and loves working with students of all ages. He began work at Woods Creek Montessori as a substitute in 2013, and since then he has worked in the After School and Summer Camp programs. Michael is excited to work with the Toddler class this year.
Farishte Irani, Lead Teacher, Primary I
Farishte Irani was born and raised in Silver Spring, Maryland. She holds a BA in Sociology from the University of Maryland. Farishte and her family moved to Virginia in the summer of 2010 from New Hampshire. There she worked for 8 years at Mont Blanc Montessori Academy in many capacities including Lead Primary Teacher, Elementary Teacher and Middle/High School Teacher. She is passionate about the Montessori Philosophy and truly believes every child is a natural learner. Farishte lives here in Lexington with her husband, Afshad (Professor at W&L) and her two children Kaizad and Parizad.
Kristin Flippen, Assistant Teacher, Primary I
Kristin Flippen was born in New London, Connecticut and spent much of her childhood along the Atlantic seaboard. In 1990 she graduated from Eastern College with a B.S. in Psychology and minor in Biology. Kristin moved to Virginia in the fall of 2000 from New Hampshire with her husband, David, and two sons, Brody and Henry. She has spent the last twelve years home-educating her boys, as well as teaching writing for a local co-op and working as the Assistant Youth Director at her church. Kristin joined the Woods Creek community in the fall of 2013 as a long-term substitute in the Primary II classroom. She also worked this past summer with the five to ten-year old “Frogs” in the Woods Creek summer program. She joins our team full-time this fall as the Assistant Teacher in the Primary I classroom.
Kitty Burke, Lead Teacher, Primary II
Kitty Burke is a Lexington native who graduated from Goucher College with a BA in Dance, with concentrations in Dance Therapy and Dance History and Criticism, and two minors in Psychology and Communications. Following graduation, Kitty served a joint internship with the Development and Communications offices at Dance/USA in Washington D.C. She has also pursued Montessori certification through the Center for Guided Montessori Studies in Sarasota, Florida. In addition to being the Primary II Lead Teacher, she teaches all levels and styles of dance at TheStudio and choreographs for The Rockbridge Ballet. In her spare time, Kitty loves to dance, run, read, travel, and spend time with her husband Daniel and their dog Linus.
DeIna Coleman, Assistant Teacher, Primary II
DeIna Coleman is originally from the Hampton Roads area. She has a BA in Art Education from Mary Baldwin College. She moved to the area shortly after graduation. Two years later she married her husband Robert, a Rockbridge County native. They have a son and two daughters. She taught Art at Lylburn Downing Middle School for eight years. The first few years the position was part time, and in 1994 she spent her mornings at Woods Creek Montessori as an assistant teacher. The following summer she and Robert were a part of the summer program. She was a stay at home mom for six years before returning to her passion and profession of teaching. She taught Kindergarten and First Grade at Rockbridge Christian Academy. She has taught private Art lessons and recently delighted in being an instructor at Clifton Forge School of the Arts. She is excited to be back at Woods Creek Montessori.
Melody Cluff, Music Specialist
Melody Cluff has taught music and provided music programs in elementary classrooms as a volunteer in San Diego, CA, Knoxville, TN, and here in our local schools for more than 25 years. While living in Knoxville, she founded and directed “Sunshine Singers,” a singing group for children grades K-5, which performed throughout the Knoxville area for several years. Teaching music, tutoring, and reading aloud to children has been a way of life for her. She continues to lead children’s and youth choirs in church settings. Melody loves living in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley and enjoys spending time with her husband, an English professor at Southern Virginia University, their five children, and their four grandchildren. Melody has a deep love and respect for all children and is excited about working and learning with them at Woods Creek Montessori.
Betty Anderson, Elementary After School Teacher
Jenna Bane, Primary After School Teacher
Jenna was born and raised in Virginia. She has been a resident of Rockbridge County for 15 years. After graduating high school she became a Dance Instructor for The Studio for Dance and the Arts and was a member of the Rockbridge Ballet for 10 years. She has always enjoyed working with children of all ages. In her spare time Jenna enjoys staying active, painting, reading and spending time with family and friends. She is excited to be a part of Woods Creek Montessori Summer Camp.
Kassidie Funk, Primary After School Teacher
Rebekah Taylor, Toddler After School Teacher
Rebekah Taylor is a Senior at Southern Virginia University, majoring in Liberal Arts. She loves music, theater, and literature and hopes to become a children’s librarian. Rebekah began working at Woods Creek Montessori during the summer of 2015 and has been an After School teacher since January 2016. She absolutely loves working at Woods Creek!
Alison Krites, Toddler After School Teacher
Alison Krites is originally from Redmond, Washington and arrived in Virginia to attend school. She holds a B.A. in Liberal Arts from Southern Virginia University. She plays the piano and taught lessons for four years. She is the second oldest of six children and has always loved working with children. She lives in Buena Vista with her husband. In her spare time, Alison enjoys photography, cooking, and sewing.
Lauren Lambert, Toddler After School Teacher
Lauren Lambert is from Draper, Utah. She is a junior at Southern Virginia University and is majoring in English and Business. She loves to spend her time reading, studying art, singing, watching movies, and spending time with others. Lauren is looking forward to working with the children at Woods Creek Montessori.