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Faculty and Support Staff


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.

Emily Walton

Emily Walton, Classroom Support

Emily is so excited to join the TCH community for the 2019-2020 school year. She will be going back to school to earn her Bachelor's degree and plans to continue her education to become a Pediatric Physical Therapist. She has an extensive music background, which she loves to utilize in the classroom daily. In her free time, she enjoys playing guitar, working out, and reading. Emily feels so blessed to be able to work in such an amazing environment with such wonderful staff and students.

Jennifer Patanella

Jennifer Patanella, Classroom Support

Jaime Janiszewski

Jaime Janiszewski, Classroom Support

Young Children's Community 

Jenny Lambel

Jenny Lamble, 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 learned to fly fish, row whitewater and skied her heart out. There, she found Montessori and her passion for working with toddlers. 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 downhill and XC skiing, sewing, cooking, gardening and spending time outside.

Annie Botsford

Annie Botsford, Classroom Support

Annie moved back to Traverse City after living in the Upper Peninsula and immediately felt part of the community at TCH. She enjoys traveling and spending time with her dog, Willow. Her parents have a small hobby farm outside of Cedar and she frequently helps take care of the goats and cows. 

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.”


Jeanette Kania

Jeanette Kania, YCC Guide 

A.A. Science & Arts, Early Childhood emphasis
Continuing student in Family Life Education, Bachelor of Arts, Spring Arbor University 
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.

Betsy Flitton

Betsy Bloomquist, YCC Guide

Kate Maas

Kate Maas, Classroom Support

Bridget Bernhard

Bridget Bernhard, Classroom Assistant

Agnes Woynarowski

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.

Karen Krwaczyk

Karen Krawczyk, Classroom Support

Emma Kelly

Emma Kelly, Classroom Assistant

Rachel Goodman

Rachel Goodman, Classroom Assistant


Alison Breithaupt

Alison Breithaupt, Primary Guide

B.S. Western Michigan University, Family Studies 
AMI Montessori Primary Certification, Montessori Training Center of St. LouisSt. LouisMO

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.

Taylor Fielding

Taylor FieldingClassroom 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!

Marisa Farr

Marisa Farr, Classroom Support

Marisa grew up in Brighton, MI and went to Western Michigan University. After graduating with a Bachelors of Science in Interdisciplinary Health Services, she moved to the Traverse City area where she nannied a family for 5 years. During that time, she found her love for children which led her to The Children’s house. This is her first year at the Children’s house and she is excited to learn and watch the children grow. In her down time she loves to be with family and friends, travel, and spend time in nature or on the water.

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.

Monica Jarvis

Monica Jarvis, Classroom Support

Monica grew up in Traverse City and is a current Ferris State University student studying early childhood education. She has received her AMI Primary training from Montessori Northwest in Portland, Oregon. She enjoys camping and exploring new places. 

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 spending summers in Suttons Bay.  She enjoys speaking Spanish, cooking, and practicing yoga. Megan moved to Traverse City in June 2016 and has enjoyed getting to know the area with her Daschund Terrier, Molly. 

Allie Bukowski

Allie Bukowski, Classroom Support

Allie is passionate about the Montessori philosophy and the TCH community. She has an AMS Primary training certification from the Montessori Education Center of the Rockies and a degree in Early Care & Education. She has worked in both toddler and primary environments at TCH. Allie is thrilled to have her daughter, Nora, in a toddler community at the school.

Brian Thelen 

Brian Thelen, Classroom Support

Amy Belovick 

Amy Belovich, 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

Anna has been working at The Children's House Since 2010.  She was born and raised in Italy and has a son named Peter who moved to traverse City 9 years ago.  Her passions are cooking, walking and spending as much time at the beach as possible. 

Brooke Houle

Brooke Houle, Classroom Support


Sandra Besslesen

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 – 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 as both a parent and teacher. She feels privileged to work in a community that I have valued as a part of our family for so 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 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

Jana graduated from the University of Central Florida with a BS in elementary education in 2001. She has received her Montessori primary certification from The Seton Montessori Institute in Illinois. She has been a part of TCH off and on since 2003, first as a primary guide, a sub and now elementary support staff. She has two children who are current students at TCH. Jana enjoys traveling, reading and rock hunting.

Karin Church

Karin Church, Upper Elementary Guide

B.A. University of California at Davis, 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.

Katelin Murphy

Katelin Murphy, Classroom Support

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.

Rebecca Sarin 

Rebecca Sarin, Classroom Support

Rebecca graduated with a degree in visual communications and worked several years as a digital imaging specialist and graphic designer, but recently switched career paths to pursue the wonderful world of education. She always knew she wanted to work with children, so after a recommendation to visit The Children's House, there was no hesitation. Her journey at TCH began during the summer of 2019 and after such an amazing experience, she has no doubt in her mind that she wants to spend the rest of her career serving future generations to come. Rebecca's hobbies include photography, hiking, exercising, reading, dancing, learning and being creative in any way possible.

Virtual Elementary

DiAnn Service

DiAnn Service, Virtual Elementary Guide,  Learning Lab Guide and Della Terra

BA Grand Valley, English and Elementary Education
AMI Elementary Certification Montessori Center of Minnesota
M.Ed. Loyola University Maryland

DiAnn has been a part of The Children's House community since 1995. From summer programs and primary assistant, to Master Gardener training and elementary guide, she has participated in many different aspects of school life. DiAnn enjoys spending time with her husband and two children, reading books, and exploring outdoors.

Junior High

Treenen 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 (2014-present)
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.

Kristina Weidenfeller

Kristina Weidenfeller, Junior High Guide
B.A. Michigan State University, Special Education K-12
M.A. Michigan State University, Curriculum and Teaching
AMI Orientation to Adolescent Studies, Compass Montessori, Golden, CO

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.

Ryan Adams

Ryan Adams, Junior High Math & Classroom Support

B.S. University of Michigan, Biopsychology, Cognition, and Neuroscience

The Children's House experience (fall 2018-present):
Junior High Math

I am a 2017 University of Michigan graduate who loves math and Jim Harbaugh. I grew up in Traverse City and cannot fathom living in a lakeless city. Apart from teaching math I am a researcher for local law firms, a goat babysitter, and an avid Sleeping Bear Dunes adventurer. I tutor math at the school as well so feel free to reach out if your student needs any extra mathematical guidance.