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Meet Our Staff

Staff email addresses follow this format:

Lower-elementary teacher Eric Bear was born in Southern California, where he attended CSUF and earned a degree in psychology. He also attended several psychology-related courses at Lewis and Clark College before turning his attention to teaching (which seemed less stuffy than psychology) and a master’s in teaching from Pacific University. He holds an Elementary I credential from the Montessori Education Institute of the Pacific Northwest. He enjoys East Asian and Indian food and confesses to being an avid DIY guy who loves woodworking. Eric’s favorite school subject is history. He began working at Ridgeline in 2002.

Betsy Brandenfels joined our community in 2002 as a Ridgeline parent, and chaperoned field trips, assisted in the classroom or office, read with students, painted classrooms, helped with moves between buildings, and substituted as a library assistant. Following her sons’ graduations, she was an active substitute classroom assistant. Betsy has been our full time Tier III Instructional Assistant and Coordinator since 2015, providing support for reading, math, and writing. In addition she facilitates our data team and coordinates school-wide assessments. She has a master’s degree in speech and hearing sciences with additional graduate coursework in reading and math instruction.

Emily Burton has been a Montessori lower-elementary teacher for more than a decade. She joined Ridgeline in 2007 after teaching at a private school in Massachusetts. Emily received her Montessori diploma from the Association Montessori Internationale. She also has a strong scientific background. She majored in geology at Carleton College and has a master's degree in environmental toxicology from the University of Wisconsin. Sharing science and nature with the children is one of her passions. Emily's interest in Montessori started early, since she was a Montessori child from preschool until third grade. She especially enjoys seeing how much children learn and grow during their three years in the lower-elementary classroom. Emily is also a Ridgeline parent.

Lower-el classroom assistant Carmen Coleman was raised right here in Eugene, Oregon, and has been part of the Ridgeline community since 2002. Always a strong children's advocate, Carmen has adopted three of her four children through the state's department of human services. The Ridgeline community benefitted from Carmen’s skills at supporting students with reading for years in her former position as reading intervention specialist, providing Tier III intervention and supporting our IIPM team.

Middle-school science and math teacher Carrie Culliton has lived in Eugene since 1992 and has been an involved member of the Ridgeline community since 2003. She holds a bachelor's in art and psychology from the University of Oregon, and a Secondary Montessori Teaching Certificate from the American Montessori Society. Carrie enjoys cooking, gardening, creating beautiful useful objects, exploring nature, reading, and dancing. Her most treasured roles are as mother and teacher.

Kindergarten teacher Diana Fitzer holds an Oregon teaching license for preschool through eighth grade. She is a graduate of Pacific University, and her Montessori certification spans birth to age nine. She has been teaching in Montessori classrooms since 1991, and she's been at Ridgeline since 2004. 

Cynthia Friedman has been Ridgeline’s school community coordinator since fall 2006. Cynthia has worked as a festival coordinator at Appel Farm Arts and Music Center, in New Jersey; an artist-in-residence at Artpark, in Lewiston, NY; and a museum educator at the University of Oregon Art Museum. Before working at Ridgeline, she stayed home with her children, who then attended Ridgeline. When she's not coordinating volunteers, Cynthia enjoys reading, writing, knitting, sewing, and painting things purple. Cynthia has a BFA and an MA in arts & administration from the University of Oregon.

In 2017 Jen Hackstadt joined Ridgeline's office team as the front office lead. Jen has a background in IT and is the parent of one Ridgeline graduate and a current Ridgeline student.

Lower-elementary classroom assistant Emily Kintigh was born and raised in the Eugene area. She graduated from college with a degree in English and is an artist, knitter, knitting pattern maker, and aspiring children’s book author/illustrator. Emily is a self-proclaimed bookworm, and she often joins in with the students during silent reading time. She joined the Ridgeline community in 2007 as an upper-elementary assistant and moved to Eric's class in lower el in 2013. She represents the classified staff on Ridgeline’s site council.

Middle-school teacher Jon Labrousse is an Oregon-certified teacher with a B.A. in English from Oregon State University and an M.Ed. in educational leadership from the University of Oregon. He completed the AMI Montessori Orientation Programme to Adolescent Studies (12-18) in cooperation with NAMTA. In addition to his six years of experience teaching in Eugene middle schools and high schools, Jon taught English for two years in Japan and South Korea and spent seven years in leadership positions at the University of Oregon. He's a published, award-winning poet and a regular on the poetry slam circuit. His two children are Ridgeline graduates, and the bicycle is his favorite invention.

Upper-elementary classroom assistant Mary Kate Land has been involved in Montessori education for more than 20 years, working in AMS and AMI programs with students ranging in age from two and a half to 12 years old. Her training includes a BS in psychology from the University of Iowa, as well as an AMS Early Childhood credential. Mary Kate came to us in 2013 from Southern California, where she had been teaching at the upper elementary level for the past seven years, and training at the early childhood level for the past five years. Mary Kate enjoys taking advantage of the many opportunities for hiking, biking, and paddling available in the area.

Principal Sharon Dursi Martin happily joined Ridgeline as the Teacher on Special Assignment and in 2014 moved into the role of principal. Sharon was born in Connecticut and attended Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania, where she double-majored in fine arts and creative writing. She worked as an artist, showing work in Philadelphia, before she moved “out west” and became increasingly energized and fascinated by trends in education, especially alternative and charter schools. She earned a master’s degree in teaching and has since studied education; written curricula; acted as a consultant; and taught math, visual arts, philosophy, and language arts. Sharon enjoys meditation, yoga, stand-up comedy, and anything else that inspires her senses of humor and wonder.

Azusa McMullen hails from Japan and has lived in Eugene for 15 years with her husband and daughters (all Ridgeline alumnae). She has worked as an instructional assistant in Cheri’s class since 2005. She likes to share origami, cooking, and crafts with the class, and she teaches a bit of Japanese. When she’s not at school, Azusa enjoys bhangra dancing and bicycling.

Adriene Mills is proud to have been with Ridgeline since 2000 and has worked as a Ridgeline instructional assistant with both upper-elementary and lower-elementary classes. Prior to coming to Ridgeline she worked at the Early Education Program for eight years. Her family moved from Spokane, Washington, to Eugene in 1973 when her father became the director of the Ethnic Studies program at the University of Oregon. She later graduated from the UO with a BS in recreation. Adriene loves to read, work, and spend time with her two sons, Austin and Connor.

In 2013 Clint Moore joined our upper-el faculty. An Oregonian, Clint has taught in varied classrooms since 1999. His locales have included Milwaukie, Oregon; Brasilia; and Abu Dhabi. He earned a BA in anthropology and business from Linfield College and a master's in teaching from Concordia University, and he is pursuing postgraduate studies in nature-connected counseling and cooperative education. He attended Upper Elementary training at the Montessori Teacher Education Center, in California. His teaching experience includes third grade through middle school, with an affinity for mixed-age classrooms and interdisciplinary learning. He has a passion for the outdoors and spends his free time cycling, hiking, kayaking, climbing, exploring, and pursuing adventure. Clint began his formal Montessori training journey in summer 2013, when he and his wife moved from Brazil to Eugene.

We are excited to share that Montessori teacher Rachel Quinn will be the new teacher in Room 3 next school year. Rachel joins us with six years of experience working in a Montessori classroom, most recently as a primary teacher. She will begin lower elementary Montessori training this summer! Rachel completed an elementary practicum at Ridgeline Montessori in Emily Burton's classroom years ago. Emily shared, "Rachel truly understands the core of Montessori and we are lucky to have her join our team." We are thrilled to welcome Rachel as a staff member at Ridgeline Montessori (she is already a parent at Ridgeline)!

Executive Director Chrystell Reed began working at Ridgeline in 2001. Chrystell was awarded a bachelor’s degree in hotel administration, and she earned her Montessori administrator certification from the Houston Montessori Center. Chrystell's children attended Ridgeline from kindergarten through middle school. She enjoys knitting, gardening, watching her daughter jump horses, listening to her son play the acoustic guitar, and the love and support of her family.

Cheri Spies has been a teacher for about three decades. She has AMS Montessori certification in early childhood and lower elementary. She also holds a state teaching credential in elementary education with endorsements in early childhood special education and reading instruction. Cheri’s family includes two sons, Tony and Jameson, and her husband, Cliff. During her free time, she enjoys traveling, gardening, reading, and dance. Cheri has been at Ridgeline since the school opened, in 2000.

Adam Sumner has a special-education background and joined Ridgeline's upper-elementary team in the 2018–2019 school year.

Kindergarten assistant Kristin Warner joined Diana's classroom in 2017.

Ridgeline welcomes Jasper Weinrib as the new upper-elementary teacher in Room 10. Jasper has worked in education for five years, starting as a Director of Physical Education at Rising Star Montessori in Alameda, CA. Discovering his passion for inspiring joy in young learners, he decided to continue his studies into teaching and holds a Master’s of Education degree from Mills College. He led a second-grade classroom in Oakland, California, and has worked in the Beaverton School District. He loves science, nature, and technology and he and his wife spend much time cooking recipes from around the world.

Meridy Wheeler joined the Ridgeline staff in 2016 and is an upper-elementary classroom teacher. She has a BS in biology and an MAT in upper-elementary and middle-school science. Although she thought she wanted to teach science, it turns out she enjoyed teaching all the other subjects just as much! After graduation she traveled and worked in different fields until the sirens' call to teach found its way back into her ear. Meridy is a Washington native who loves to spend her time in nature skiing, biking, kayaking, camping, and just relaxing with a book.