Our Staff

  • Faye E. Hunt - School Director & Lead Primary Guide

    Faye E. Hunt holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in the History and Criticism of Art from Florida State University, a Master of Arts degree in Art History from the University of California-Los Angeles, and a Master of Science in Teaching degree from Fordham University. As an educator since 2003 in a variety of school settings, both within administration and as a classroom teacher, she has come to believe that the Montessori method of education is a way of life and an incredible way to educate all children. She holds an Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) Primary Diploma from the Montessori Institute of San Diego. She has dedicated her life and love of learning to art, education, and above all--children. She has a deep and abiding reverence for nature and enjoys spending time exploring the many amazing facets of the world with her husband and two children.
  • Alice Smith - Director of Admissions

    Alice Smith has a Bachelor of Arts in both Journalism and Christian Ministries & Missions from Asbury University. She began working at Montessori East in early 2010, a few months after the school was founded. Alice enjoys adventures with her family, discussing educational philosophies, learning alongside others, and is particularly grateful for the East Nashville community. In 2016, she completed the Orientation to Adolescent Studies offered by the North American Montessori Teachers Association (NAMTA) and the Association Montessori International (AMI) at Hershey Montessori School's Huntsburg Farm campus in Ohio.
  • Brooks Gerber - Early Childhood Curriculum Coordinator

    Brooks Gerber received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Liberal Arts at Sarah Lawrence College. She also holds a Master's Degree in Montessori Education from Loyola University Maryland. Brooks is Primary trained by the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI), has been in the field of Montessori education since 2004, and was a Lead Guide from 2008-2017. She currently is Montessori East's Curriculum Coordinator. In 2013, Brooks co-founded the Montessori Alliance of Tennessee. She believes Montessori education is not just a gift to children, but a gift to society. She dedicates her professional life to seeing the movement grow and prosper. Brooks is passionate about the needs of the whole child and enjoys incorporating her love of travel and gardening into her teaching. She calls East Nashville home and lives in a cheerful blue house with her husband, Matt, son, Reed, and daughter, June.
  • Ashley Dunham - Administrative Assistant

    A mother of three daughters, Ashley’s passion for Montessori started as an organic process through motherhood. A native of Indiana, Ashley has traveled and taught throughout the country. She has been an assistant in Montessori at schools in Colorado, Indiana and now Tennessee. Now living in Gallatin, Ashley and her family love calling Middle Tennessee their home and recognize it as a place where she and her husband want to raise their family. Ashley has studied early childhood education at schools in Arizona, Colorado and Indiana. Her daughters Sophia, Olivia and Emilia have also joined her here at Montessori East!
  • Christopher Guanajuato - Lead Elementary Guide

    Christopher A. Guanajuato studied the liberal arts at Occidental College, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy and Biology. He also studied medicine at the University of California San Diego and holds a Master of Science in Teaching degree from Fordham University. An educator since 2003, Chris completed a master teacher fellowship with the National Academy of Advanced Teacher Education. Chris holds an Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) elementary guide credential from the Montessori Institute of San Diego. He is deeply devoted to partnering with families and children in nurturing the potential of every child he works with. Chris’ goal is to unfold and tend to children's natural curiosity and joy for learning while fostering a community in which children build a foundation of knowledge and character for a life of learning. Chris is living the dream of a life of learning and loving with his wife, Faye, and two children, Quetzal Sol and Paloma.
  • Faith Echele - Lead Elementary Guide

    Faith Echele has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Liberal Arts from St. John’s College, the Great Books Program, in Santa Fe, NM. She holds an Association Montessori International (AMI) Elementary Diploma from the Washington Montessori Institute, Master of Education from Loyola University in Baltimore, MD, and a Master of Arts in Vedic Science from Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield, IA. Her Montessori journey began in childhood as a student through the sixth year of elementary. The passion for lifelong learning, developed as a Montessori child, led her to the Socratic seminar-based Great Books program, and later to become a Montessori educator. After graduating from St. John’s College, she tutored/mentored middle school students through AmeriCorps National Service in Santa Fe. Engaging in meaningful dialogue with students, relevant to their life experience and community, in addition to working with them on a local radio program, inspired Faith to return to her Montessori roots and become a Montessori elementary guide. Since 1998, she has worked to guide the greatest potential of students in Montessori schools throughout the United States and, most recently, abroad for five years (2012-2017) developing Montessori-inspired English education with children and teachers in Taiwan. Faith has a love of humanity and working with children from around the world, in support of each child’s unique gifts and whole development. She is an advocate of Montessori education for global understanding, peace, and compassion for all life. Faith is truly honored to join the Montessori East community to work together with Christopher Guanajuato in co-guiding the elementary class.
  • Julia Wilmeth - Lead Primary All Day Guide

    Julia Wilmeth received her Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) Primary teaching diploma from the Montessori Institute of North Texas. She recently moved to Nashville from Austin, Texas, where she helped to establish a Montessori school and worked as the director. She has over 12 years of experience working in Montessori schools in various capacities. Her mother is also a Montessori teacher, and Julia spent most of her life following her adventurous parents around the world, learning through travel. Julia lives in Southeast Nashville with her dog, Layla, and her turtle, Sparkles, and looks forward to moving to East Nashville as quickly as possible.
  • Cassie Coppess - Lead Primary Guide

    Cassie Coppess has been working and learning within the Montessori community since 2012. After earning a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from Anderson University in her home state of Indiana, Cassie started work as an assistant Montessori guide. This whole-child approach to education spoke to her on a deep level, in part because it built upon her own non-traditional background of having been homeschooled from ages seven through 18. Cassie began AMI training in St. Louis in 2014, alternating between summer training sessions and leading a primary class until she earned her AMI diploma in July 2016. A few months later, she relocated to the Nashville area from Indianapolis with her husband Daniel in December 2016, and is thrilled to become part of the Montessori East community.
  • Camille Jackson - Lead Primary Guide

    Camille Jackson received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Dance from The Ohio State University. She spent the last five years teaching dance to children of all ages in various studio and school settings in Atlanta, GA. While in Atlanta, Camille served as a volunteer and board member at Reforming Arts, a non-profit that provides theater infused liberal arts education to incarcerated women in the state of Georgia. After twenty years away, Camille has returned to her hometown and is excited to get to know the new Nashville! She has formerly served as a Primary All Day Montessori Program Assistant Guide at Montessori East and is currently in Association Montessori Internationale Primary training at the Southwest Institute of Montessori Studies.
  • Baylan Meganck - Lead Toddler Guide

    Baylan was born in Paraguay, South America and raised in Chattanooga, Tennessee. She attended Middle Tennessee State University where she earned a Bachelors of Science Degree in Sociology with a concentration in Lifespan Development and Family Studies. Baylan has been working in childcare for the past six years and feels that the Montessori Method is the most beneficial for child development. Baylan has begun AMI Assistants to Infancy training in Atlanta and will complete the Masters course next Fall. Baylan is married with one son and loves implementing Montessori practices at home. In her free time you can find her at a concert, in the woods or spending time with family in Chattanooga.
  • Susan Vonderheid - Elementary Assistant Guide

    Susan holds a Bachelors of Science in Elementary Education from Cabrini College, which is located near Philadelphia, PA, where she was born and raised. After moving to Nashville in 2004 she taught at Hull-Jackson Montessori for 8 years. Susan spent her childhood around many traveling circuses and is lucky enough to have been to all 50 states. After graduating from college she joined a small tented circus to teach the children of the circus employees. Susan is passionate about animals and the environment. She enjoys gardening and is excited about the opportunity to share her love of the natural world with the students.
  • Debi Brinker - Primary Assistant Guide

    Debi received her Montessori training through London Montessori Centre in the United Kingdom. She has traveled across the globe teaching and has taught Montessori in the United States for 16 years. Additionally, she has owned her own Montessori school in Texas. Debi has two daughters, two granddaughters, and a cat named Tiffany. She is an award-winning artist who also enjoys reading, travel, hiking, interior design, and the beautiful scenery of Tennessee!
  • Kelly Cox - Primary Assistant and Outdoor Education Guide

    Kelly is originally from Arkansas where she received a Bachelor's degree in early childhood education. With the desire to invest into a new community, she spent the last three years living in Colorado working as a lead teacher in a creative learning center and for a non-profit ministry. She is newly married and joyfully making a home in her East Nashville cottage with her husband, Andrew. She loves cooking new recipes, traveling, reading in her hammock and exploring the outdoors. She is passionate about children and honored to be a part of the Montessori East community this year!
  • Billie Assad - Primary Assistant Guide

    Billie has worked with children of all ages in one capacity or another throughout most of her adult life. After spending several years as a stay-at-home mom with her two beautiful children, Nollie and Johnny, she realized that early childhood development was truly her calling. She has just recently joined the Montessori family with a full heart; eager to assist in the development of each child, while continuing to learn and develop herself. For fun, she and her children enjoy exploring, camping, swimming, crafting, baking (taste-testing, mostly), reading and playing board games and baseball.
  • Carleigh Thomas - Primary All Day Assistant Guide

    Carleigh was born in Athens, Georgia where she learned to love music and art. In 2013, she graduated from The University of Georgia with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in art education. After graduation she moved to Taiwan to teach English and travel to other parts of Asia. Upon moving back to the United States, she got a job teaching art at an elementary school in Jackson, Mississippi. After two years teaching in a public school system, she realized the Montessori method was more aligned with her teaching philosophy and better for child development. Fast forward to 2019 when she found herself at Montessori East, where she hopes to learn more about Montessori and continue working with children. She loves nature, sewing, fashion and art. She enjoys being home and traveling with her husband, Dustin, and her cat, Hatchee.
  • Aleisha Johnson - Toddler Assistant Guide

    Aleisha Johnson has lived in Tennessee for 18 years. She is married and has two wonderful children. She has worked with children for 12 years in various settings. What she loves about working with children is that she can help shape their formative years by being a positive role model for them as children help you see things from a new perspective.
  • Rosa Tapia-Ayala - Toddler All Day Assistant Guide

    Rosa Tapia-Ayala originally from Cuenca, Ecuador, moved to New York in 1999. She has worked in various child care centers for the past 11 years--five of those years she worked at a Spanish immersion, Montessori program in New York. During this time she earned a NAMC (North American Montessori Center) Early Childhood Montessori Diploma. She also studied Early Childhood Education at the City College of New York before moving to Nashville. In her spare time, Rosa loves paper crafting, gardening, camping and fishing. She is delighted to be part of the Montessori East family and it brings her peace and joy to observe and guide children in this amazing environment.