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Classroom Staff

Nido North

Britny Tollstam Britny Tollstam, Nido Guide

B.A. Family Relations, Spring Arbor University, Spring Arbor, MI
AMS Infant-Toddler Montessori Certification, Seton Montessori Institute, Chicago
AMS Primary Montessori Certification, Michigan Montessori Teacher Education Center, Rochester, MI

The Children's House experience (2003- present)
Primary Classroom Guide
Young Children's Community Guide
Nido Guide

Britny has been with the Children’s House for over 15 years, both as a parent and as a guide. Her two children had the privilege of attending TCH for many cherished years. Britny is passionate about being a life-long learner. She is constantly in search of new classes to attend, hobbies to adopt, or music to listen to. She also enjoys traveling, hiking, camping, and afternoons at the beach.

Jennifer Patanella

Jennifer Patanella, Classroom Support

Jennifer enjoys outdoor activities, camping, hiking, and snowshoeing with her husband and three children. She has worked at TCH since 2011.

Emily Send

Emily Send, Classroom Support

Emily was born and raised in Suttons Bay. She started working in Britny's Nido in 2016. She has taught English in multiple Spanish speaking countries including The Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua. She tries to speak Spanish with the babies as often as she can.

Nido South

Jenny Lambel

Jenny Lamble, Nido-YCC Guide
B.S. Family Studies, University of New Hampshire
MEd Montessori Education, Loyola University, Maryland
AMI Assistance to Infancy Certification, Montessori Center of Minnesota, St. Paul

The Children's House experience (2016- present)

Nido-YCC Guide

Jenny grew up in Leelanau County, but lived in Colorado for 12 years where she taught in a Montessori Nido-YCC program.  She moved back to the area in 2016 with her husband, Jacob, two children, Evelyn and Henry, and dog, Ada. In her spare time, she enjoys skiing, whitewater rafting, sewing, cooking, gardening and spending time outside.

Taylor Fielding

Taylor Fielding, Classroom Support

Taylor’s journey with TCH began working part-time with Agnes and Carol in YCC.  She later began working with Jenny and Jeanette in Nido. Taylor plans to continue her schooling and finish her degree in Childhood Development. Her enthusiasm for working with children started with her younger siblings who inspire and challenge her to be better and do more. Her hobbies include playing the ukulele, making origami boxes, staying active, painting, and catching sunrises for her weekly post on Instagram!

Annie Botsford

Annie Botsford, Classroom Support

YCC North

Jeanette Kania

Jeanette Kania, YCC Guide 
B.A. Spring Arbor University, Family Life Education
AMI Assistance to Infancy Certification, Montessori Institute - Denver

The Children's House experience (2015- present)

Nido-Young Children's Community Support
Young Children's Community Guide

Jeanette has been working with children for over ten years having previously worked as a nanny for a few families in Traverse City. In her spare time, she enjoys knitting, volunteering at the Old Town Playhouse, practicing Spanish and German, and camping with her husband and their rambunctious dog, Powell.

Emily Palmer

Emily Palmer, Classroom Support

Emily has two children at TCH and enjoys motherhood more than anything else. When she has time for herself, it usually involves running or some other form of exercise. Her other passions involve animal rights and veganism. Her motto in life is, "In a world where you can be anything, be kind.”

Kaitlynn Brow

Kaitlynn Brow, Classroom Support

YCC South

Agnes Woynarowsk Agnes Woynarowski, YCC Guide

B.S. Krakow University, economics
M.A. Krakow University, business administration
AMS Primary Certification, Midwest Montessori Center, Evanston
AMS Infant-Toddler Certification, MECA, Chicago

The Children's House experience (2010- present)

Young Children's Community Support
Young Children's Community Guide

Agnes and her husband live on a farm with Icelandic sheep, Nubian goats, chickens, ducks, peacocks, two dogs, three cats and a tortoise. She loves reading mystery stories and classic literature. She is interested in art and history, especially in how people used to live a long time ago. She strives to preserve forgotten skills such as spinning wool and making soaps pioneer style. She likes baking and working in her flower garden.

Christy Burich

Christy Burich, Classroom Support

Christy has been singing, dancing and making music with children and their families since 1999. Before moving to Traverse City she was a Music Together center director in Chicago, IL, an entertainer performing at children’s birthday parties, and was involved in her local community theatre. She has produced and recorded 2 children’s CD’s. Christy is active with the Old Town Playhouse having played the role of “Mary Poppins” in the Mary Poppins Broadway Musical and “Sarah” in Stephen Sondheim’s musical “Company." Christy holds a B.F.A in theater performance from the University of Michigan and an M.A. in Marriage, Family, and Child Counseling.

Primary Community

Alison Breithaupt Alison Breithaupt, Primary Guide
B.S. Western Michigan University, Family Studies
AMI Montessori Primary Certification, Montessori Training Center of St. Louis, St. Louis, MO

The Children's House experience (1996- present):

Classroom Support
Primary Guide


Alison is a native of Traverse City. She knew when she graduated from college and met her husband, Eric, this is where she wanted to stay to raise her family. She enjoys all of the outside amenities this area has to offer. Alison has three sons who have all attended The Children's House and feels so fortunate to have found the Montessori philosophy and this school. It has played a big part in her life as an educator and a mom.

Monica Jarvis Monica Jarvis, Classroom Support
Amy Gollan Amy Gollan, Classroom Support

Melissa Cole

Melissa Cole, Primary Lead Guide
B.S. Western Michigan University, Graphic Design
AMI Montessori Primary Certification, Ohio Montessori Training Institute, Cleveland

The Children's House experience (2004- present):
Primary Classroom Support
Primary Guide


Taylor Vancil

Taylor Vancil, Classroom Support
Taylor graduated from Florida State University in December of 2012 with a degree in Social Sciences. During her time at FSU she played on the Seminoles nationally ranked soccer team. In her time away from TCH she enjoys spending as much time as she can hiking, kayaking or road tripping to the Upper Peninsula.

John Hart

John Hart, Classroom Support

Megan Andrews Megan Andrews, Primary Guide
B.S. Boston University, Early Childhood Education
M.A. Saint Catherine University, Education
AMI Montessori Primary Certification, Montessori Center of Minnesota, St. Paul

The Children's House experience (2015- present):

Summer Primary Classroom Guide
Primary Guide


Megan spent her childhood moving around South America and North America. She has lived in twelve cities, including the capitals of Chile, Mexico, Argentina, and Spain. She enjoys speaking Spanish, cooking, and reading mysteries. Megan moved to Traverse City in June 2016 and is excited to get to know the area!

Allie Cole Allie Bukowski, Classroom Support

Allie is passionate about the Montessori philosophy and has received her AMS Primary training certification from the Montessori Education Center of the Rockies. She is a recent graduate of the University of Massachusetts with a degree concentration of Early Care & Education. She has worked in both toddler and primary environments at TCH. Allie is thrilled to have her daughter join the Nido program and TCH community this fall!
Norie Warnke

Norie Warnke, Classroom Support

Norie grew up in central Michigan and moved to Traverse City in 2004. She enjoys crocheting, hiking and kayaking, and being at the beach. She is a self-proclaimed rock hound. She has been married for nine years and has two dogs (“her kids”). She loves all animals. Norie began working at TCH in 2011 and has supported the school in almost every department.

Amy Routzahn

Amy Routzahn, Primary Guide
B.S. Eastern Michigan University, Early Childhood and Science
Reading Recovery Certification, Oakland University
AMI Montessori Primary Certification, Montessori Training Center of St. Louis

The Children’s House experience (2009 – present)
Primary Guide


Anna Foulkrod Anna Foulkrod, Classroom Support

Elementary Community

Sandra Besselsen

Sandra Besselsen, Lower Elementary Guide
B.S., Hope College, Education-Language Arts Composite
Michigan Professional Teaching Certificate, K-8, Language Arts
M.A., Wayne State University, Library and Information Science
AMI Montessori Elementary Training – current student, Montessori Institute of Milwaukee (MIM)
National Writing Project Fellow, Top of the Mitt Writing Project 2016-2017, Teachers Leadership Institute

The Children’s House experience (2016-present)
Junior High, Nido and Primary Support

Sandra has been a part of the school community in a parent role for many years. Before beginning her work at The Children's House, Sandra was Director of Libraries at Interlochen Center for the Arts for 6 years and the K-12 Librarian at Glen Lake Schools for 3. When she is not at work, she loves spending time working in her yard, cooking for friends and family, playing games, taking lots of camping trips in the summer and just goofing around!

Jodie Tasch Jodie Tasch, Classroom Support

Nadine Elmgren

Nadine Elmgren, Lower Elementary Guide
B.A. Marylhurst College, Portland, OR, Education
AMI Montessori Primary Certification, Northwest Montessori Education Center, Portland OR
AMS Montessori Elementary Certification, Ottawa, Canada

The Children's House experience (1988- present):
Young Children's Community Guide, Primary Classroom Guide, Teacher Mentor & Elementary Classroom Guide


Nadine lives in Suttons Bay with her husband David, their son Patrick, a TCH alumni, and their Golden Retriever, Sally. She loves being active outdoors year around by enjoying cycling, hiking, kayaking, snowshoeing and skiing. In the summer Nadine spends time in the gardens of Omena Cut Flowers, as the bouquet maker.

Jana Gray

Jana Gray, Classroom Support

Karin Church Karin Church, Upper Elementary Guide
B.A. University of California, French, International Relations
J.D. Boston University School of Law
AMI Montessori Elementary Certification, The Montessori Training Center of Minnesota

The Children's House experience (2007-present)

Young Children's Community Classroom Support & Elementary Classroom Support


Karin enjoys spending time with her two children, Marguerite and Nicolas, her husband, Bill, and dog, Dozer, especially on great swimming days at Elberta Beach. She also loves to go on long, slow runs, ride her bike on the TART trail, read good books, hike Pyramid Point and discover new campgrounds around Michigan.

Tony Colombo

Tony Colombo, Classroom Support

Anthony has lived in Northern Michigan for over twenty years. He attended Grand Valley State University, majoring in Social Studies and minoring in Elementary Education. Being an avid outdoor enthusiast, he enjoys camping, fishing, hiking, and anything else that includes wooded hills and fresh water. He has worked at The Children's House for five years.

Jamie Schaub Jamie Schaub, Upper Elementary Guide

B.A. Kalamazoo College, psychology and art
Masters of Arts in Education, St. Catherine University
AMI Montessori Elementary Certification, The Montessori Training Center of Minnesota

The Children’s House experience (2012-present)
Elementary Classroom Support


Jamie is a lifelong learner choosing to spend her moments dabbling in new art projects, reading books about other cultures, writing poetry in new forms, growing her own food and trying new recipes, picking up new instruments and sports and experimenting with woodworking. She enjoys acquiring new skills and continuing to learn while making time to get outside and enjoy this beautiful place she calls home

Beth Ann Manning

Beth Ann Manning, Classroom Support

Junior High

Tree Sturman

Treenen Sturman, Junior High Guide
B.A. College of the Atlantic, Maine, Human Ecology
M.S. University of Delaware, Public Horticulture
AMI Montessori Orientation Programme to Adolescent Studies, Cleveland, OH

The Children’s House experience
Elementary Classroom Support
Junior High Classroom Support
Junior High Guide


Tree’s interests include the Sciences, US History, and Human Ecology. His hobbies are rock hounding, gardening, ceramics, and hiking. He is married to Elaine Grehl.

Kristina Weidenfeller

Kristina Weidenfeller, Junior High Guide
B.A. Michigan State University, Special Education K-12
M.A. Michigan State University, Curriculum and Teaching

The Children's House experience
(summer 2009- present):
Elementary summer yoga and nutrition class
Kitchen Classroom
Junior High Guide


Kristina has been a parent at TCH since 2006, and an employee since 2009. She has had many roles during her tenure; room parent, summer yoga instructor, coach, Kitchen Classroom, Earth to Table, and Junior High Guide. She enjoys time with her family, outdoor sports of all seasons, reading, and new adventures. Kristina appreciates that TCH community provides so many opportunities for not only students to explore and share their interests, but that adults are encouraged to as well.

This page last updated on 11/28/2018.

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tch_icon.pngThe Children's House - An Independent Montessori School
5363 N Long Lake Rd. | Traverse City, MI | 49685 (p) 231.929.9325 | (f) 231.929.9384 | email: learn@traversechildrenshouse.org