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Leadership and Administration

Strategic Plan

The board of directors adopted a new strategic plan in March 2019 that will be used to uphold the vision of high-fidelity, independent Montessori education for all of our students.  

2019 Strategic Plan

Board of Directors

The Children's House is governed by a board of directors.  The board consists of a mix of representatives from local businesses, our parent body and the broader community.  Candidates for board membership are drawn from a pool that includes parents, donors, partners and others.

Dan Besselsen
Courtney Danbrook
Julie Boss
Matt Hanley
Jessie Houghton
Stephanie Long
Carolyn Purcell
Dave Seman 
Peter Starkel


Michele Shane

Michele Shane, Head of School
B.A. University of Washington, Psychology 
MEd Loyola College Baltimore, Maryland
AMI Montessori Primary Certification, Montessori Institute Northwest, PortlandOR

The Children's House experience (1998- present):
Primary Guide, Head of School

Michele began working at TCH in 1998 in a Primary classroom.   After working as a guide for 9 years, she became head of school.  Michele holds a BA in Psychology from the University of Washington, AMI Primary diploma from Montessori Institute Northwest, and an MEd from Loyola College in Baltimore.  Michele currently sits on the Board of Directors for AMI-USA.  Michele is married with a son and a daughter, both of whom graduated from TCH.  She enjoys running, paddle boarding, mountain biking and being on the beach.  One of her favorite parts of being a Head of School is getting to visit the classrooms to sing and play ukulele with the children.

Liz Ammond

Liz Ammond, Media Coordinator
B.B.A. Western Michigan University, Finance

The Children’s House experience (2003-present):
Media Coordinator

Liz began working at TCH in 2003 when her two daughters were students in the primary and elementary programs.  Since that time, her girls graduated from The Children’s House, TCAPS and became successful students in college.  She and her husband John enjoy exploring northern Michigan on foot or by bike as well as being avid baseball fans. Additionally, you can find her competing in several local tennis leagues or unwinding with some yoga. Liz’s love for photography is shown in the photos you see weekly in the Compass and in school publications.

Colleen Christensen

Colleen Christensen, Director of Operations
B.S. Michigan State University, Family Studies and Community Services
M.A Michigan State University, Child Development and Elem. Education
AMI Montessori Primary Certification, Ohio Montessori Training Institute, Cleveland

The Children's House experience (1984- present):
Toddler and Primary Guide, Head of School, Director of Operations

Colleen has worked at TCH since its beginning in 1984. Her children Dusty and Ashley attended the school in the early 80’s and her grandson Ollie, is currently an elementary student at TCH. Colleen has enjoyed many different roles at TCH and has enthusiastically managed various school construction projects over the years. She enjoys spending time with friends on the weekend, water skiing, boating, and discussing politics. Her favorite get-away is the back side of the dunes on Lake Michigan.

Renee Hintz

Renee Hintz, Director of Advancement
B.S. Arts Administration, Butler University
Certificate in Fund Raising Management, Indiana University, Lilly Family School of Philanthropy

The Children's House experience (2018-present):
Director of Advancement

After 12 years as Executive Director of Michigan Legacy Art Park, Renee is happy to continue her career in the nonprofit sector at The Children’s House. She and her husband Chris became part of the TCH community in 2008 when their son started in the Primary program. Currently, their daughter is happily learning in Jamie’s Upper Elementary class. Renee enjoys running with friends, playing the cello, and exploring the great outdoors with her family.


Sheri Novak, Business Manager
B.A. Michigan State University, Financial Administration
M.A. University of Michigan, Health Services Administration

The Children's House experience (2017- present):
Business Manager

Sheri has loved The Children’s House since her first son attended the Primary program in 2005. In addition to spending time with her two teenage sons, she enjoys stand-up paddleboarding and spending time in nature. She has had a lifelong passion for natural health and healing, and is currently attending Naturopathy school. 

Kim Schrader

Kim Gallagher-Schrader, Administrative Assistant
B.A. Florida Atlantic University, Anthropology and Interdisciplinary Studies
M.S. University of Florida, Pharmaceutical Science, Forensic Toxicology and Forensic Anthropology

The Children’s House experience (2014-present):
Front Desk Parent Coop, Administrative Support, Summer Program Director

Kim began working at TCH in 2014 when her children, Adrienne and Charlie, started as students. Her children continue their education at TCH, both attending the elementary program. She has spent many days as a sub in various classrooms, and has enjoyed the summers as administrative support. For the past thirteen years, Kim and her husband Chad have owned a marketing and advertising company. She deeply appreciates any time spent on the water. She also enjoys playing piano, singing, writing and naturopathy. Traveling and sharing the world with her children is her greatest joy.

Norie Warnke

Norie Warnke, Administrative and 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.

John Hart John Hart, Custodial
Julie Schaar, Custodial