Meet Our Team

Dr. Maria Montessori:

“Our aim is not only to make the child understand, and still less force him to memorize, but so to touch his imagination as to enthuse him to his innermost core.”

 

 

 

Chris Durst, Operations Director

 

Chris Durst has more than 34 years of experience as a teacher and administrator in independent schools. He served as Head of School at the Altamont School for 3 years, and Upper School Principal at Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School, Atlanta, Ga for 10 years.

At Holy Innocents’, Durst also served as Middle School Principal, Upper School Assistant Principal, and teacher of AP U.S. history. At the Alexander Dawson School in Colorado, Durst was dean of students, director of athletics, assistant director of admissions, AP U.S. history teacher, and varsity boys basketball and soccer coach. He also taught and coached for seven years at The Columbus Academy in Ohio.

Durst holds a bachelor of arts and master of arts degree from The Ohio State University, where he was a varsity letter winner in baseball. Chris has triplet children, Niall, Nicole, and Julia, age 24.

 

 

Meghan Edwards

 

Meghan Edwards, Business Director

 

Meghan keeps the business side of our school humming. She has an eye for detail which makes her a meticulous record-keeper and a stickler for policy adherence. Her compassionate spirit enriches everyone around her. To Meghan, Hillsboro is a second family and she loves using her gifts to help grow and strengthen the school.   

 

 

Krysten Griffin, Admin Assistant/Librarian

 

Krysten is the friendly voice on the other end of the phone, the smiling face at the door, and the indispensable admin assistant and classroom librarian for all levels. Krysten spent over 15 years in the public library system before joining the Hillsboro team. She looks forward to getting to know everyone and helping kids discover the joys of reading.

 

 

 

Anna Freiger

Anna Freiger, Lead Toddler Teacher

 

Ms. Anna brings 15 years of childcare experience to our toddler class. She loves our low student-teacher ratio and the care our teachers show each student and to each other. Ms. Anna loves the Montessori philosophy and enjoys how it “just makes sense” in child development and learning.

 

 

Ashlyn Dismukes, Toddler Assistant

 

Ashlynn’s love of children is evident in all she does.  With Ashlynn’s passion for music and theatre, she inspires the student’s creative side through song and drama.

 

 

 

 

Samima Hassan, Lead Primary Teacher

 

Samima Hassan leads our Primary Class with unwavering kindness. She sees in her students the people they will become and never gives up on them. She holds a certification from the North American Montessori Center in Infant/Toddler.  Samima’s dedication to her class earned her a second Montessori certification in Early Childhood from the Center for Guided Montessori Studies. She loves teaching and using the child’s interests to make connections with their learning.

 

 

Raji Thopay

 

Raji Thopay, Primary Teacher

 

Raji is like family to our students. She brings to our school a decade of experience and an Infant-Toddler Certification from the North American Montessori Center.  Her class is full of energy and curiosity, and she loves finding new ways to keep them moving and learning. Raji gives each child the same love and attention they receive at home.

 

 

 

Katie Scruggs, Lead Lower Elementary Teacher

 

Katie’s creativity and adaptive style help her reach students at their level. She enjoys teaching the lower elementary ages and knows that not every child learns in the same way or at the same time. As a lifelong learner herself, she jumped right into studying Montessori Fundamentals and is currently earning her Montessori Elementary Certification from the Center for Guided Montessori Studies.

 

 

Lydia Edwards, Lower Elementary Teaching Assistant

 

Lydia is in school working toward a Bachelor’s in Elementary Education. Her favorite part about Montessori “is how the kids are eager to learn and how the kids are genuinely proud of themselves. They have adopted the mindset that it is okay to make mistakes, embrace those mistakes and learn from them. They understand the learning process that comes with their accomplishments and therefore makes it more special to them.” Lydia begins her Montessori training in June 2022.

 

 

Miriam Lagona

 

Miriam Lagona, Upper Elementary Teacher

 

Miriam believes that having real connections with her students makes a difference in their education. She enjoys creating meaningful lessons that address diverse student needs and interests.  Her students love her down-to-earth nature and know that she genuinely cares. She brings humor to her classroom and fits right in with our corny, punny crew.  Miriam studied Montessori Fundamentals at the Center for Guided Montessori Studies and will start earning her full certification in January 2022.

 

 

 

Taylor Steele, Secondary STEM Teacher

 

We are excited to welcome Taylor Steele to our Secondary class.  Taylor is passionate about science, and the environment.  His career also includes the US Program Coordinator with Compass Education, STEM teacher and the Director of Science and Education at Cornerstone School of AL, Education Outreach Coordinator/GLOBE in AL Environmental Research Coordinator and Trainer at McWane Center, Turkey Creek Nature Preserve Director, Volunteer & Education Operations Coordinator at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens, Director of Programs at Future Energy Solutions, and Park Naturalist/Natural Resource Specialist at Oak Mountain State Park.  Taylor has a Masters’s Degree in History from the University of Alabama in Birmingham and a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration from Fort Lewis College in Colorado.

 

 

 

Wendi Vick, Secondary Math Teacher

 

Math is nothing to fear when Wendi is teaching! While her love for math might not necessarily turn frowns upside down, she knows how to connect students with math and teaches how to apply concepts every day.

 

 

 

 

 

Areli Tarango, Spanish Teacher

 

Areli teaches Spanish to our Toddlers through 12th grade! Her immersive lessons are fun and silly with the Toddler and Primary students, interesting and interactive with the Elementary students, and conversational with our Secondary students. Areli makes learning Spanish an adventure by playing games, singing songs, and incorporating puppets. She studied Montessori Fundamentals at the Center for Guided Montessori Studies.

 

Cynthia McDaniel

 

 

Cynthia McDaniel, Aftercare Coordinator

 

Cynthia McDaniel is our outstanding Aftercare Coordinator. She has a heart for serving and taking care of others. Helping our children become curious, compassionate, and creative comes naturally because that’s who she is!

 

Emily Welch

 

Emily Welch, Aftercare Assistant

 

Emily is currently in school at The University of Montevallo working toward her Bachelor’s in Elementary Education. She was a gymnastics instructor for children and is brimming with ideas for aftercare activities. She thinks that learning should be hands-on and fun!

 

 

 

Leigh Sarver, Art Teacher

 

Leigh studied graphic design at the Savannah College of Art and Design. She inspires creativity in our students and enjoys sharing her love of art with others.

 

 

 

 

Interested in joining our team? We are always looking for talented Montessori teachers. Please send your resume and cover letter to cedwards@thehillsboroschool.org

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