Maria Thomas

Primary East Guide 

Maria is certified through the American Montessori Society (AMS).  She completed her Early Childhood Teacher Training, ages 2.5-6 years, back in 2017 at the Montessori Training Center of Brentwood.  Maria holds a Bachelor's Degree in Communication from the University of South Florida, graduating Summa Cum Laude. She has worked with children, going on 15 years, both in private independent schools and as a home educator to her own two children in their homeschooling co-op. She believes in fostering a life long love of learning and caring for others. A personal accomplishment of hers is rescuing and rehabilitating two feral dogs, from a pack in the woods, to join her family. She has a big heart for animals and children.  Maria is thrilled to be a part of our Amare community and wants each child to feel loved, encouraged and have a reverence for nature. 

Faculty & Staff

Amare Montessori’s faculty and administration are committed to uncompromising standards of academic excellence, and to preparing students to be future leaders. 

Chris Coletta


Chris or more affectionately known as "Ms. C", brings 31 years of office experience with 15 years of those as the Director of Business & Finance at Saint Paul's School in Clearwater, FL.  She loves being a part of a school atmosphere and is excited to have joined her daughter and grandchildren here at Amare.  For the past several years, Chris and her husband have been full time RVer's, traveling cross country visiting family, friends and stopping at the "must-see" places our great country has to offer.

Enrichment Guides

Ronni Sherbin

Outdoor Classroom Guide

Rhonda Sherbin is a homeschooling mother of four. She taught at her first Montessori school in 1986.  Rhonda has over 16 years experience with both adults and children in Montessori environments. She started her Montessori training in Knoxville and continues personal development yearly. Rhonda has been a guest lecturer at ASPU on the Montessori method. Rhonda has also worked as a private mentor and consultant for families establishing in-home Montessori environments. Rhonda hopes to instill a love of nature, science, and geography in each child.  Her goal is to help develop independent, self-directed individuals who have confidence and a passion for life long learning.

Jaime Yeager

Head of School

Jaime obtained both a B.S. in Early Childhood Education and Child Development as well as a M.Ed. in Special Education from Vanderbilt University. She also holds a Montessori teaching credential from Montessori Educators International (MEI). Jaime has spent 2 decades teaching and directing Montessori programs in both Tennessee and Arkansas. She is also the Executive Director of the Montessori Alliance of Tennessee, a statewide group for nurturing and expanding Montessori in Tennessee. She, her husband, and their three children enjoy visiting bookstores, eating Colombian food, and playing card games.

Courtney Hester

Student Services Specialist

Courtney was a special needs facilitator and nanny for 12 years in the Washington D.C. area.  She returned to school to study special education in 2003. She graduated from Austin Peay State University with her Bachelor of Science in Special Education in 2005 and her Master’s in Instructional Technology in 2007. Courtney taught in the public school system for seven years and has been with Amare since its opening in 2015. In 2017, Courtney started working on another Master’s degree, this time in Dyslexia Therapy.  In 2018, she left the Toddler Community to become the Student Services Coordinator.  In 2019 Courtney completed her Master’s degree in Dyslexia Therapy and became a Certified Academic Language Therapist from ALTA (Academic Language Therapy Association). Courtney loves spending time with her son, Ivan, her dogs, and her cat. She is an avid photographer and reader and cross-stitches in her spare time.

Classroom Assistants

Becky Bittner

Lower Elementary Guide

Becky received her Montessori Elementary Certification for children 6-12 years old from the Center for Guided Montessori Studies and her Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education from the University of Memphis. In the past, she has taught in the public-school systems of Shelby and Montgomery Counties of Tennessee. She and her husband Eric have four adult children. Becky spent 16 years homeschooling their children while also enjoying teaching and leading in a variety of classes at her local homeschool co-op. One of her greatest joys is witnessing students’ excitement as they discover and learn new things. In her spare time, she enjoys walking, reading mysteries, watching older classic movies, volunteering, and spending time with her family and friends.

Alysa Cook

Lower Elementary Assistant

​Alysa is from Tampa, Florida. She was delighted to find a job in a Montessori school, when her husband's job brought her to Clarksville, since she had been working for five years in Montessori. Alysa enjoys working with children and helping create the optimal learning environment for them.  Alysa is pursuing a degree in psychology and and enjoys her two canine babies! 

Nikki VanMaanen

Office Manager

Nikki completed her Associate of Arts degree at Hopkinsville Community College and is currently enrolled at Austin Peay State University, majoring in Early Childhood Education. Nikki discovered Montessori through her previous career as a nanny for an Amare family and decided to enroll her own child at Amare.  When Nikki began observations in our classrooms for her college course work she fell in love with Montessori and knew she wanted to be a part of the staff here. Nikki truly believes in helping each child meet their needs cognitively, socially, emotionally, and physically. She believes there is nothing more rewarding than seeing a child grow and develop into their full potential. Outside of the classroom, Nikki loves to spend time with her husband and daughter, family, and pets (a dog and two cats). 

Emily Bailey

​Primary East Assistant

​Emily was born and raised in Northern California. She attended college in Southern California studying Child Development. She then moved to Nashville, TN where she met her husband and started a family. Before discovering her love for Montessori, she was a career nanny for 7 years working with children of all ages from infancy through elementary age. While searching for a preschool for her son, Jax, Emily discovered a Montessori school where she decided to pursue a career as a Montessori Guide. She now holds a Montessori Assistant Certificate and is set to earn her Lead Nido and Toddler diploma later this month.  Emily is grateful to have experience and knowledge in the Toddler community.  She is utilizing that training to continue working with children at the Primary community level. Emily has a deep respect for children and a desire to assist children in forming a positive self-view, self-drive, and self-discipline. Outside of school, she enjoys spending time with her husband and son, gardening, paddle boarding, and cooking.

Andrea Ellison

Upper Elementary Guide

Andrea received her Montessori Elementary Certification (ages 6-12) through the Center for Guided Montessori Studies and her Bachelor of Arts Degree from Sam Houston State University. Her love of travel and exploring new cultures inspires her to learn more, dig deeper and explore our world. This curiosity melds brilliantly with the Montessori elementary philosophy to support autonomy, interest, competence, and relatedness to our world. Guiding the child in the development of their own internal motivation, while supporting the development of lifelong skills, is her focus for each child. Having been at Amare since its inception, witnessing the Montessori Methods ability to positively touch so many lives is one of her greatest joys.  Married, with two children, Andrea enjoys traveling, hiking, tennis, reading and spending time adventuring with her family.

Darby Rodriguez

Toddler Assistant

Darby was born in Lawrence, Kansas. Darby’s family moved to San Jose, California when she was entering elementary school and that is where she discovered her love of dance, ultimately leading her to performing arts high schools. She graduated from Nashville School of the Arts with Honors as a Ballet Major. Having attended non-traditional schools and understanding education happens though actively doing, Darby’s interest in Montessori was sparked when her niece and nephew started their education in Montessori. After spending a semester at the University of Kansas studying early childhood education and development, she is excited to jump into the classroom. In her spare time, Darby loves spending time with her niece and nephew, decorating cakes, and sewing.

Michelle Eidman

Primary West Guide

Michelle has a Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education from Ohio University. She completed her Montessori Primary training through The Center for Guided Montessori Studies (CGMS). She was introduced to Montessori when her son started attending a Montessori school while they lived in California. As a mother and educator, she was drawn to the Montessori method because of the focus on educating the whole child, meeting the needs of each student, and the caring community. Michelle enjoys spending time creating, learning, and being outdoors with her husband, Chris, and their children, Will and Sydney.

Connie Gomez

Toddler Guide

Connie was born and raised in the Dominican Republic, where she worked for several years teaching English as a second language to children and adults. After finishing her bachelor’s degree in General Psychology in 2014, she worked as a Human Resources Manager. Connie married in Clarksville, TN and then lived in New Jersey and New York for two years before moving to Clarksville to be closer to family. Connie discovered the Montessori Method while working in a school in NJ, where she was a toddler assistant and then the Lead Teacher in the Infant room, obtaining Montessori Infant/Toddler training during this time. After being an Assistant in the Primary level for three years at Amare, Connie has recently transitioned to the Toddler classroom. In her spare time, Connie enjoys listening to and singing music, baking, and cooking. 

Amare Montessori does not discriminate on the basis of race, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic level, physical ability, genetic information, learning style, religion, national origin, or ethnic origin in faculty, administration or educational policies or in any school programs.

Administrative Support

Classroom Guides

Amy Unruh

Farm Guide

Bio coming soon.

Kelsey Hinton

Primary West Assistant

Kelsey Hinton was born and raised in Clarksville, TN. She has always been passionate about caring for children and educating them in the most authentic ways possible. Her love for Montessori was discovered during research in one of her education classes at APSU. In her free time Kelsey enjoys spending time with family, playing golf, and practicing photography.

Julie Rullmann

Creative Arts Director

Julie graduated from Martin Methodist College with an AA in Liberal Arts, then following her adventurous spirit, she traveled to Anchorage, Alaska and received her BA in Humanities, Arts and Communication from Alaska Pacific University and then to Seattle, Washington for design courses at Cornish College of the Arts. Julie has worked as a professional in the Creative Arts field as a Graphic Designer and Creative Director for more than 20 years. She discovered her passion for children’s art education when she volunteered to teach art once a week in her son’s kindergarten class. She continued this practice until given the opportunity to teach art regularly at Pleasant View Montessori. Julie has also served as the choir director at Port Royal UMC and has been actively involved in Community Spirit Inc., a local Theatrical organization. Julie lives with her family on their "Century Farm" in Adams, TN.

Morgan Terry

Adolescent Guide

​Morgan is originally from Vandalia, IL. She relocated to Clarksville after completing her Elementary Education degree from Illinois College in Jacksonville, IL. She is currently completing the adolescent program (7th-12th)  through the Center for Guided Montessori Studies. She was raised on what her mother referred to as a "toy farm" with lots of animals including horses, rabbits, sheep and many more. Morgan recently married and is a proud aunt of 5 wonderful nieces and nephews. She enjoys sports and staying active. Morgan believes strongly in education through hands on experiences and having an open mind to learning strategies. These ideals led her to Montessori and she has become an advocate for the philosophy.

Alexis Beatty

Toddler Guide

Alexis was born in Clarksville, but as a military child, she had the opportunity to live in many places before putting roots down in Tennessee. After working as an assistant in the Toddler classroom for 3 years, she received her AMS Infant and Toddler certification through the Montessori Training Center of Brentwood. She also holds a Bachelor's degree from APSU, a Childbirth Educator Certification, and a Parent-Infant and Child Facilitator Certification. Working with children for over a decade, she has a deep respect for the young child. Alexis is passionate about treating children as whole humans from the moment of birth and spreading awareness about the importance of the first three years of life. She values diversity and inclusivity, creating a welcoming environment for all families. Alexis has three children with her husband James. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family, reading about pregnancy, birth, and child development, creating art, and supporting families to learn more about the Montessori method.

Susan Harper

Upper Elementary Guide

Susan relocated to Clarksville from Iowa where she and her husband Dennis spent the past few years restoring their historic Victorian home. Susan has Montessori training in both Elementary and Primary levels. Her prior Montessori experience includes guiding a classroom of 40+ Upper Elementary students with a co-teacher, leading Primary classrooms, supervising adult learners in Montessori training, and administrative work.