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Meet our Team!

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Alanna 

Head of School/Executive Director

Joined Sunshine: Fall 2000

Alanna is in her twentieth year at Sunshine Montessori! She began her work at Sunshine while finishing up as a student at the University of Minnesota, majoring in Early Childhood Education. After graduation, she enjoyed several years as the lead teacher of the Toddler House prior to taking the role as Sunshine's Head of School. Alanna worked in small businesses from the age of sixteen and put herself through college by working as an office administrator before gaining experience as an assistant at Sunshine. The blend, between education and business administration, in the role of school Director naturally fit her in 2009 and has been both challenging and rewarding ever since! Her favorite thing about Sunshine is the community relationships and lasting friendships. Watching these develop, in both students, parents and staff, over the years has been just one of the highlights. Alanna has loved working with the various parent volunteers, on Sunshine Board of Directors, to create a strong vision for Sunshine that includes ensuring we are a unique and close-knit group of individuals who ensure we provide a positive, caring, beautiful and educational environment for both the children and the teachers to enjoy each day.

​Alanna grew up in the metro suburbs and resides just outside of St. Paul with her husband and two teenage daughters, who are both Sunshine alumni! She loves to cozy up with a good book, baking and getting away to travel or to relax at her family’s cabin in Wisconsin.  Her favorite childhood memories include playing with her two sisters, her cabbage patch kids, riding bikes with neighborhood kids and spending summers in upstate New York at her grandparents’ lake cabin.

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Melanie

Programming Director & Summer Program Coordinator
Joined Sunshine: Summer 2006

I hold a Bachelor of Science Degree in Speech/Language Pathology with a minor in Special Education from Florida State University. I enjoy working with children because they are delightful and inspiring; I am grateful to have a job where I can support their growth and nurture their love of learning. There isn't a day that passes which doesn't include a hug, a silly story or even a smile which makes my work day! I believe as Early Educators that we help build a strong foundation which positively supports the child's educational and human journey throughout their life. Sunshine is a special place because the teachers are forward thinking educators who strive to be leaders in our field. We are constantly pushing ourselves to grow in all aspects of programming, such as how we develop and present curricula. Our small community is a wonderful nurturing place and I so enjoy my time with the children and my co-workers.
 
I was born in Iowa but moved to a retirement community in Florida with my parents when I was thirteen. I attended high school and college in the South. After graduation, I relocated to Minneapolis where multiple family members lived. I now live in Minneapolis with my husband, three children, and two dogs and one snake. I am an avid hockey fan, gardener, reader, and crafter! My favorite childhood memory is camping with my whole family.

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Jenny W.

Program Administrative Support

Joined Sunshine: Fall 2009

I hold a degree in Elementary Education with a Pre-Primary emphasis from Concordia College in Moorhead, MN. I decided on a career in education because I am passionate about creating an environment for children that supports and encourages a love for learning from a young age. I will often say "Toddlers are my people" because I truly enjoy what I do and appreciate each unique personality that I meet in our toddler community. The toddler years go by quickly and it is a privilege to have this opportunity to support each child during a time of incredible growth. Just like the children, I love Sunshine! I look forward to each new partnership with families, as together we support and encourage the children. Sunshine is a place where we gather to dedicate our time, thoughts, and love into this common goal and value: The children.
 
I grew up in MN in a large family; two sisters and one brother. I am very close with and proud of my family. Each of us chose a career path that enables us to make a positive impact and care for others; from teaching to coaching to healthcare. When I am not caring for children, I enjoy spending time with my family and friends, my husband son and our dog! I also enjoy traveling, my favorite places are Grand Marais and Oregon. While I enjoy seeing new sights and exploring, my favorite spot is our backyard, playing yard games or relaxing on our back deck watching soccer games on the fields behind our house. I grew up playing and coaching soccer on the same fields! Many of my favorite memories from childhood have to do with my first love, soccer, and I have the fun privilege of sharing this game with the Sunshine Kickers each summer.

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Melissa

Children's House East - Montessori Guide/Lead Teacher
Joined Sunshine: Fall 2018

I hold a degree in Fisheries and Wildlife from the University of Minnesota and attended the Montessori Center of MN to receive my AMI diploma in 2006. What I enjoy most about working with young children is their innocence and love for learning! The phrases they use and their conversations with their peers are sometimes hilarious, too. I believe that early childhood education is so important because it is the time when the child is shaping his/her personality, routines, and has a drive to learn. What I enjoy about working at Sunshine is that it is peaceful. The teachers are truly devoted to the children's well-being, and it's like a family.
 
I grew up in MN and live out in the suburbs with my husband and our two kids. We also have a dog, rabbit, and fish. I'm passionate about chimpanzees and apes, and volunteered for the Jane Goodall Institute for Primate Studies at the U. My favorite childhood memory is going to my grandparent's cabin and feeding the horses.

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Bryan 

Children's House West - Montessori Guide/Lead Teacher
Joined Sunshine: Winter 2016

I hold a Bachelor's degree in Child Psychology from the College of St. Scholastica. I also have my AMI diploma from the Montessori Training Center of MN. I decided on education as a career path because I have a profound love for helping others learn and grow to be the best they can be. Children are the future and Montessori education provides a solid educational foundation for children to build off of. I believe it is a method that will carry them throughout the rest of their lives. What I like most about working at Sunshine is its focus on providing a strong parent community for families. It has a very welcoming atmosphere with passionate teachers and administration.

I was born in the midwest, but have spent the majority of my life in Minnesota. I currently enjoy time with my wife and two dogs. My other interests include flying my Mavic Pro drone, building and fixing almost anything, home theater audio, reading my Montessori albums, and watching reruns of Threes Company. My favorite childhood memory is when my parents brought home the Apple computer.

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Carolina

Toddler House - Montessori Guide/Lead Teacher
Joined Sunshine: Fall 2023

I hold a bachelor’s degree in Law, from my home in Venezuala,  yet my true dedication and passion have predominantly revolved around the realm of design. Following my degree, I embarked on a two-year journey at a fashion school in Barcelona, which further solidified my commitment to the creative domain. However, the pivotal moment arrived when I welcomed my first daughter into the world. It was then that I discovered the Montessori approach and felt a profound connection. Eager to delve deeper, I pursued my initial Montessori training in the Children's House Primary Program and then onto the Associates to Infancy Toddler training!

Embracing the opportunity to work closely with these fundamental years has granted me a priceless gift, a continual reminder of the profound significance of being entirely immersed in the present moment. As I reflect on my experiences, I am reminded of how these formative years, marked by their innocence and curiosity, have shaped my perspective on life. 

One of my most cherished childhood memories took place in Spain. I had the wonderful opportunity to travel frequently and immerse myself in a world filled with wonderful food, breathtaking nature, captivating museums and the presence of family that made those memories truly unforgettable. 

Additionally, I am Passionate nature explorer, museum, and design/art enthusiasts. Thriving in the great outdoors, I find serenity in nature's embrace.

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Isaac

Children's House West - Assistant Teacher
Aftercare Program Lead Teacher

Joined Sunshine: Summer 2016

I hold a Bachelor's degree in Theater with a concentration in Acting from Augsburg College. I've always enjoyed working with children and grew up with my Mom running a home daycare for twelve years. When I was old enough, I would help my Mom after school. Then in high school and college, I worked at a self-esteem camp for middle schoolers. Both of these experiences helped me realize my love of working with children. I love watching how young children's minds work; they are amazing! I enjoy seeing them excel in the Montessori environment by gaining independence and confidence. What I most enjoy about working with young children is the relationships I have been able to build with them and their families. Sunshine has a wonderful sense of community.
 
I grew up in outstate MN and moved to the Twin Cities for college and I have lived here ever since. My interests and hobbies include: Power walking, reading, singing, binge-watching Netflix shows, and spending time with my family and friends. My favorite memory from my childhood is putting on performances with my brother for our parents every Friday to kick off the weekend. They were usually songs we liked or plays we made up.

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Joy

Toddler House - Assistant Teacher
Joined Sunshine: Spring 2022

I hold a Bachelor Degree in Social Welfare from University of Seoul South Korea. I grew up in South Korea and came to Minnesota as an AuPair in 2018 and was introduced to Sunshine by one of the families! I've always loved working with children and believe early childhood is a critical developmental period as these early experiences build a strong foundation of who you are. I want to be there to create a warm and safe place where children can be themselves. 

I now live in Minneapolis with my husband and two cats. In my spare time I enjoy crochet, knitting and sewing also baking, cooking and playing piano!

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Johanna

Children's House West - Assistant Teacher
Joined Sunshine: Fall 2022

I graduated from the University of Wisconsin, Madison with a Creative Writing Degree in 2017. I attended training at the Montessori Center of Minnesota in 2021, and have spent many years working with children as a nanny and assistant teacher. I love the Montessori method because it honors the whole child, respects their independence, and provides them with the space and support necessary to realize their full potential. Children are deeply empathetic, curious and observant: it's a gift to spend time in their world, and I feel lucky to be a part of their lives!  I grew up in St. Paul, and now live in Minneapolis. When I'm not at Sunshine, you can find me riding bikes around Minneapolis, tromping through the Minnehaha Dog Park with my border collie, Jackie O, or reading fiction in an armchair somewhere.

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Liv 

Assistant Teacher - Children's House West

Aftercare Program Teacher
Joined Sunshine: Fall 2021

I completed my Bachelors degree in Communication Studies in May of 2020. What I enjoy most about working with young children is helping students gain the vocabulary to talk about and express their feelings and needs. It is amazing to watch each student's growth, self expression and collaboration with others. 

In my free time, I enjoy newspaper crosswords, cooking and hiking! My favorite childhood memories are from camping with my family. I loved swimming in the lake, building sandcastles and obviously smores.

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Rae

Children's House East - Assistant Teacher
Joined Sunshine Fall 2020

I joined Sunshine in the fall of 2020 when I began a career change into education! I am currently working towards my Bachelor's of Education and hope to go on to obtain a Montessori credential. Minneapolis has always been home to me and I feel that I am a part of  a team and enjoy the warmth and support I have found at Sunshine as I build upon my teaching experience.

I have always loved school and learning and have wonderful memories of my first grade teacher making such a positive impact on me.  In my free time, I like running, yoga, hiking, reading non-fiction, playing my banjo, listening to music and spending time with loved ones.

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Sarah

Aftercare Program - Teacher

Classroom Support Staff
Joined Sunshine: Spring 2021

I graduated in May of 2020 from Minneapolis College of Art and Design with a BFA in Graphic Design and Art History and first began working with children as an after-school tutor for elementary students ranging from 1st-5th grade when in high school. Since then, I have worked as a nanny, teaching assistant, teaching artist and swim instructor before discovering Montessori.  I love working in early childhood because of all the growth, changes, and development that happens in these year and when not at Sunshine, I love to cook, spend time in nature, and go rock climbing!
 

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Nathalia

Children's House West- Montessori Assistant Guide

Joined Sunshine: Winter 2024

I hold a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Saint Thomas University in Colombia. I also completed my AMS Montessori Early Childhood Credential after working for a few years in different Montessori Schools in Minnesota. What I enjoy the most about working with children is witnessing the beauty of humanity in their souls and seeing the world from a different perspective through their minds. The Montessori Method has allowed me to support children while they develop their independence and discover their personalities, which I believe are essential components for human well-being. One of my favorite childhood memories is going to my grandparent's house and listening to my grandfather's stories about when he was a fisherman. In my free time, I like visiting different coffee shops with my husband or camping with our dog. I also enjoy going to the bouldering gym, painting, or trying a new recipe at home.

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Miss Colleen

Music Teacher

Joined Sunshine: Spring 2014

Colleen began weekly music classes for our students in 2014!  She is a trained Musikgarten instructor, which focuses on introducing children ages 0-9 to music, rhythm, melody and pattern. Early music introduction is meant to reinforce learning and can bolster connections with mathematics, literacy, science, coordination and creativity!

"Miss Colleen" as the students call her, is also an Early Childhood teacher and has been working with young children in Montessori and other programs for many years. We are grateful to have her join us each week at Sunshine.

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