Ashley Keneller, Elementary Guide (Redwood Room)
Having grown up in the suburbs of Sacramento, Ashley considers the Pacific Northwest her home. She first joined the West Hills community in 2009 as an Aftercare support person and later stepped into the role of assistant in the Elementary class, where she developed a passion for Montessori education. After spending a year in Italy, immersed in a course of study which included practicum teaching experiences in Norway, France and Germany, Ashley received her AMI Elementary Diploma.
In additional to her Montessori credential, Ashley holds a Bachelor’s Degree in English from the University of Oregon, where she also worked on a literary magazine. Her love of travel, cooking, crafts, camping, and reading provide additional enrichment to her work in the classroom. She describes it as “a dream come true” to return to West Hills and resume her work in the Elementary community.
Kelly Hale, Elementary Guide (Cedar Room)
An experienced and passionate educator, Kelly explored a number of educational approaches before choosing Montessori. She holds a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Biology from Humboldt State University, and has worked in a traditional elementary school program as a tutor. Kelly also spent many years working in the field of Outdoor Education, including as a SCUBA Diving Instructor for teens, which allowed her to work with a variety of children from diverse backgrounds. Through this work, Kelly had the privilege of meeting a group of Montessori students and was later invited to spend a day in their Montessori classroom. That experience changed her life and her career path. She worked for two years as a Lower Elementary classroom Assistant before completing her AMI Elementary Training at Montessori Northwest in Portland and her Master’s in Education from Loyola University in Baltimore. Kelly joined our West Hills community in 2014 as our Lower Elementary Guide. In her free, she enjoys listening to live music, visiting local farmers markets, traveling, and laughing with friends.
Jessica Studivant was born and raised in Long Island, New York. After receiving a degree in Studio Art from Oberlin College in Ohio, Jessica attended Montessori Northwest and received her certification as an AMI Primary guide in 2011. She completed her MA in Education at Loyola University in 2012. After joining the West Hills community in 2008, Jessica played a number of roles including classroom assistant and aftercare support. After guiding a Primary class for a number of years, Jessica entered the AMI Montessori Elementary teacher training program and received her certification as an Elementary Guide in 2017. Her dual training and depth of experience makes Jessica the ideal person to assist Ashley and the children during the morning in the Redwood Room, while spending her afternoons focused on program development. Specifically, Jessica brings and passion to strengthening the relationship between our Primary and Elementary programs.
Jessica lives on a little farm in St Helens, Oregon, with her husband, Skippy and her children, Wiley and Ferdinand. They enjoy raising sheep, chickens and pigs… and hope to have cows in the future! When not working with children or animals, Jessica is an avid photographer and enjoys spending as much time as possible outdoors in nature.
Liz Hayden, Elementary AM Care Support, Drama Specialist
Liz has previously worked with West Hills in many wonderful capacities, including directing plays and other creative activities during our summer program, and facilitating the aftercare program for our Elementary community.
Liz holds a BA in Theatre from Southern Oregon University, as well as an MFA in Theatre and Performance from Northern Illinois University. Following graduate school, Liz spent time in Los Angeles teaching the Meisner Technique of acting to adults, as well as teaching children’s classes in improvisation and on-camera acting to children. She also managed an art’s camp in Santa Monica. Since moving to Portland in 2005, Liz has taught and directed children’s theatre projects through the Profile and Lakewood Theaters, as well as at many local public and private elementary schools.
Sean Goff, Assistant (Redwood Room), Spanish Instruction, PM Care Lead
Sean hails from southern Oregon where he received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science from Southern Oregon University. His rich background in education includes teaching music and working on outreach projects to bring Montessori Education to children in rural areas of Thailand and Tanzania.
In addition to his work assisting in the Redwood Room and leading our Elementary PM Care program, Sean provides Spanish instruction to children in both Redwood and Cedar classes.
When he’s not with working with children, Sean enjoys playing his saxophone and taking in live music performances. He also spends a lot of time reading contemporary fiction. Sean also enjoys hiking, camping and skiing, and generally taking in the natural beauty of Oregon.
Devin was born in Buffalo, New York, and grew up in Fort Meyers, Florida. She attended college in Sarasota at Ringling College of Art and Design where she earned at BA in the Business of Art and Design. After a few years working in marketing, she discovered her passion for working with children. Devin moved to Portland in 2014, and first visited West Hills and the Cedar Room community that same year while working with the Children’s Program. During her time with us, Devin became interested in learning more about Montessori education and found herself drawn back to West Hills by the opportunity to assist Kelly and the children in the Cedar Room. She brings a solid background serving children as a facilitator in the Girl’s Inc program, as well experience as a professional nanny. Away from school, Devin enjoys crafting, reading, and spending time outdoors. She also enjoys spending time with her pet hedgehog named Special Agent Dale Cooper.
Alan Wood, Physical Education
Alan first worked in our Elementary program for two years alongside our founding guide, Elise Huneke Stone, then for several years in our Primary program before transitioning into his role on the administrative team. He has had a continuing presence in the Elementary community over the years, acting as chaperone on school field trips and camping trips, as well as offering management and development support to our Elementary staff. As an AMI certified Primary guide, Alan has provided invaluable experience and expertise in the bridge between the Primary and Elementary Montessori curriculum. In his current role, Alan heads up the Elementary Physical Education program, morning calisthenics, and provides additional guidance and support during Elementary recess.
In his free time, Alan enjoys trips to the Zoo and children’s museum with his wife and two young sons, time together with family and friends, and going to the Oregon Coast. On his own, Alan loves woodworking, movies, and the Blazers!
Erik Carlson, Music Specialist
Erik has been teaching music and piano at West Hills since 2009. To further enrich and expand upon our Montessori Elementary music curriculum, we enlisted Erik, a gifted and passionate professional musician, as our music specialist. Erik works weekly with our Elementary students to develop their auditory musical sense, to learn to read musical notation, to become proficient with the use of hand bells, and to prepare and perform our annual Spring Musical. In Erik’s own words, “I love being able to teach at a school that promotes creative expression.” In addition to his collective work with the Elementary students, Erik also offers after-school piano lessons (at the Vermont Street campus) for children ages 5 and up.