This is my son’s second year at KMS and we are thrilled! He asked everyday over summer break when he could go back! KMS Parent, 2008

Our Staff

The KMS teaching staff includes some of the best and most experienced Montessori educators in East Tennessee.

All of our teachers have a minimum of a B.A. and a Montessori certification from training centers accredited by the Montessori Accreditation Council for Teacher Education.

Our Education Director – Valérie Kuentz – and our four certified Teachers – Elizabeth Coburn, Ellen Kellogg, Paige Fowler, and Rebekah Carpenter – have over 60 years of combined Montessori teaching experience.

All of our teachers and staff care deeply about our students, and they have the training and experience to help children reach their full potential.

Montessori Educators

Photo of MariKate Abuhelweh

MariKate Abuhelweh

Primary II Assistant

  • B.A., Education with emphasis in Special Education, Milligan College, Johnson City, TN
  • KMS Tenure – Since 2015

Paige Fowler

Primary II Senior Teacher

  • B.S., Wildlife and Fisheries, University of Tennessee
  • Montessori Early Childhood Teacher Certification, Montessori Educators International, Knoxville, TN
  • KMS Tenure – Since 2002

Nuria Hernández

Spanish Instructor

  • Associate of Applied Science in Business Management Technology from Roane State Community College
  • Extensive experience as a translator for Denso and Spanish instructor for Oak Ridge High School
  • KMS Tenure – Since 1998

Photo of Ellen Kellogg

Ellen Kellogg

Lower Elementary Teacher

  • B.A., Psychology, Maryville College, Maryville, TN
  • Montessori Primary Teacher Certification, Center for Montessori Teacher Education, Angier, NC
  • Montessori Elementary Teacher Certification, Center for Montessori Teacher Education, Angier, NC
  • KMS Tenure – Since 2008

Sukhee Kim

Primary I Assistant

  • B.A., Chinese Culture, University of Ulsan, Mugeo-dong, Ulsan, South Korea
  • M.S., Linguistics, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV
  • KMS Tenure – Since 2018

Photo of Nigel Lay

Nigel Lay

Lower Elementary Assistant

  • M.A., Psychology, University of Tennessee Knoxville, TN
  • B.A., Psychology, University of Tennessee Knoxville, TN
  • KMS Tenure – Since 2014

Georgiana Schmitt

Music/Movement/Dance Teacher

  • BS, Music Education with specialization in Orff Music and Dalcroze Eurythemics, Gettysburg College, Gettysburg, PA
  • Certified Music Teacher with experience teaching PreK-8th Grade in Tennessee South Carolina, Louisiana, and Pennsylvania
  • Montessori Primary course work
  • KMS Tenure – Since 1997

Operations Staff

Photo of Gillian Denham

Gillian Denham Jones

Operations Director

  • B.A., Parks and Recreation Management, Program Leadership, Minor: Elementary Education; Western Carolina University; Cullowhee, NC
  • KMS Tenure – Since 2010

Valérie Kuentz

Education Director

  • B.A., Psychology and Education, Southern Connecticut State University, New Haven, CT
  • M.Ed., Preschool-Grade 3, Cleveland State University, Cleveland, OH
  • AMI Montessori Early Childhood Teacher Certification, Ohio Montessori Training Institute, Cleveland, OH
  • Montessori Teaching Experience (partial): New Horizon Montessori School (Knoxville), Jefferson Montessori School (Jefferson City, TN), Garden Montessori School (Knoxville), Nature’s Way Montessori School (Knoxville), The Bilingual Montessori School of Val de Marne (Paris, France), and Marotta Montessori Schools (Cleveland, OH)
  • KMS Tenure – Since 2013

Justine Link

Lead After Care and School Support

  • B.S., Adventure Based Counseling, Burman University, Alberta, Canada
  • KMS Tenure – Since 2019

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My daughter just completed her first semester of college and did very well. Her Montessori roots certainly helped!! KMS Alumni Parent, 2011