Meet Our Staff
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.
Principal Michelle Texley has taught a wide range of ages, from Head Start through eighth grade, and holds a current school administrator’s license in both Oregon and Arizona. In 2018 she completed her administrative practicum at Lincoln Middle School in the Oakland, Oregon, School District. Throughout her practicum, and in her decade of experience teaching in the Oakland School District, Michelle has been a valued mentor for new teachers and a recognized resource for teachers addressing special education needs. She has led annual new staff orientation, assessment and curriculum training, and schoolwide initiatives around school culture and unity, restorative practices, and trauma-informed care.
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.
Kindergarten assistant Kristin Warner was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. She moved to Eugene in 1998 to attend the UofO and has lived in the area ever since. Kristin's first experience with Ridgeline Montessori was as a parent and volunteer, all three of her children attend school here and love it. She started out in an assistant capacity as a substitute and has been in the kindergarten classroom since fall of 2017. She really enjoys working with this age group as they grow, discover and learn. In her free time, Kristin loves to spend time with her family, read, hike and go to the beach.
Lower Elementary (Grades 1-3)
Lower elementary teacher Rachel Quinn leads Room 3. Rachel has over six years' experience working in a Montessori classroom, most recently as a primary teacher. She began her lower elementary Montessori training in summer 2019. Rachel's roots at our school are deep; she completed an elementary practicum at Ridgeline Montessori in Emily Burton's classroom years ago and is already a Ridgeline parent.
Jacob Searl is the classroom assistant in room 3. He is also a Ridgeline graduate! Jacob brings a wide variety of experience to the position, including a physics degree from the University of Oregon. Jacob is able to demonstrate a deep understanding of the developmental needs of lower elementary students and Montessori methods, as well as portray his sense of curiosity and excitement for the job. He he makes strong connections with our students and truly cares about their learning and growth.
Lower elementary teacher Emily Burton leads room 4. She 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 elementary classroom 4 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.
Lower elementary teacher, Cheri Spies, leads room 5. Cheri was our school's first Montessori teacher when Ridgeline Montessori started in 2000. 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, Anthony and Jameson, and her husband, Cliff. During her free time, she enjoys traveling, gardening, reading, and dance.
Lower elementary classroom 5 assistant, Azusa McMullen, hails from Japan and has lived in Eugene for 16 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.
Upper Elementary (Grades 4-6)
Upper elementary room 8 teacher, Adam Sumner, joined our school's teaching team in the 2018–2019 school year. Before leading room 8, he worked for five years on District 4J's special education team, including serving as special education assistant at Ridgeline. Adam Sumner graduated from Pacific University, with a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and English Language Learning. He speaks Spanish fluently, and uses it often in his classroom as part of his quest in providing equal access to education. In addition to Spanish, Adam is learning Tagalog, Brazilian Portuguese, and ASL. Adam likes the outdoors. Camping, hiking, swimming, rafting, and rock collecting.
Classroom assistant, Jonathan Sternberg, loves sharing language, history, science, math, and the arts with Room 8's Upper Elementary students. A native of Zimbabwe, he's grown accustomed to students asking "where is that?" In emphasizing self-guided research, he invites Room 8's students to utilize a range of different learning resources, in particular an ancient format of acquiring knowledge known as 'books'. As a bonus, Jonathan also teaches his students about sports that are popular around the world, like cricket and rugby.
Upper elementary teacher, Meridy Wheeler, leads room 9. She 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.
Upper elementary classroom 9 assistant, Adriene Mills, is proud to have been with Ridgeline since 2001 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.
Upper elementary teacher, Jasper Weinrib, leads room 10. He 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 in education 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.
Room 10 upper-Elementary Assistant, Anna Nichols, has lived in Eugene for four years, recently graduating from the University of Oregon with a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish. Prior to Ridgeline, she worked and volunteered in numerous education settings, including the Audubon Society of Portland, Camp Yakety Yak, and Buena Vista Elementary. In her free time, she loves to play guitar, bicycle, and learn new languages. She is currently learning Mandarin Chinese!
Middle School (Grades 7-8)
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.
Middle school science and math assistant, Christa Nova, grew up in Northern Utah. They graduated from Utah State University with a bachelor’s in Economics. Christa discovered their passion for education through martial arts, and ran a martial arts school of their own for 6 years before moving to Eugene. Their other interests include LGBTQ+ advocacy, community building, and Dungeons&Dragons.
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.
Middle school humanities and communications assistant, Maizzy Phayt, grew up in Seattle, Washington and graduated from Seattle University with a bachelor’s degree in Cultural Anthropology. After moving to Eugene, Maizzy unearthed a passion to provide support and education to middle and high school age students and their families. Volunteering with Ophelia’s Place for a few years, and a Summer as a Girl Scouts camp counselor, led Maizzy to joining the Ridgeline staff in 2015. When not working, Maizzy enjoys playing pretend and camping with family and friends. Maizzy believes that stories hold the solution to every problem a person can face.
Jenine Stocke is Ridgeline’s Floating Assistant. Although she was raised in Oregon, Jenine was drawn to “anything international” from middle school onwards. After living 6 months as an exchange student in Cyprus, she started studying International Relations at the U of O then transferred to CUNY: Hunter College in New York City where she earned a B.A. in Cultural Anthropology. Jenine ventured off to France where she raised a family and spent nearly 20 years of her adult life. In France, she worked 7 years in education. Before returning to the U.S., Jenine earned a certificate as an Association Montessori Internationale Children’s House Assistant for 3 to 6 year olds. In Eugene, she taught 6 years at a French language immersion school. Jenine has two sons, one at UW and the other at South, and loves to spend her time meditating, reading or outdoors hiking, camping, backpacking, biking, jogging and walking.
Jeannelle Mahle, the new PE teacher, will be graduating in December with her Masters of Arts in Elementary education and an endorsement in physical education, from Pacific University. She also graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Kinesiology and Exercise Science in 2017 from the University of Hawaii at Hilo. Jeannelle is passionate about health and fitness and is excited to share the importance of living an active lifestyle with her students. Her references were eager to recommend her, one saying she "connects well with kids and adults," and is "genuinely enthusiastic about kids and teaching."
Tier III Instructional Assistant
Betsy Brandenfels joined our community in 2002 as a Ridgeline parent and chaperoned field trips, assisted in the classroom and 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 schoolwide assessments. She has a master’s degree in speech and hearing sciences with additional graduate coursework in reading and math instruction.
Heather Rose LeCompte holds a license in K-12 School Counseling and is a Certified School Career Development Advisor. She has a BA degree in Anthropology from Humboldt State University and a MA degree in School Counseling from Bushnell University. Her work experience spans many years, in positions ranging from academic advising for non-traditional college students to teaching art to elementary-aged students and school counseling in all K-12 grade levels. She specializes in trauma-informed care, culturally competent counseling, focusing on integrating poetry therapy, art therapy, and play therapy techniques into her work as a counselor. Outside of the school counseling world, Heather enjoys spending time with her husband, son, and identical twin sister.
Julian Meeks-Wagner is the IT Support Coordinator at Ridgeline Montessori Public Charter School. Julian graduated from the University of Oregon with a bachelor’s degree in Sociology and has been working with computer systems and IT from a young age. Since 2014 he has worked as an IT Support Manager for a number of companies where he has provided support to staff and customers in countries around the world. Julian has a passion for helping others with computer and IT issues ranging from local network items to Cloud-based file sharing systems, and for creating and organizing secure data systems for end users. In his off-time Julian enjoys computer gaming, traveling, camping, and experiencing the Oregon coast with his dog.
Cynthia Friedman became a member of the Ridgeline community as a parent in 2004. She joined the staff in 2006 as the School Community Coordinator, when her youngest daughter started kindergarten. Originally from Vancouver, BC, she has now lived in Oregon for over thirty years. She headed south to attend the University of Oregon and she holds a BFA, and MA in Arts & Administration from UO. Cynthia worked in Elmer, NJ at Appel Farm Arts & Music Center and was an artist in residence at Artpark in Lewiston, NY before returning to Eugene to raise her family. When not running around coordinating volunteers and writing the eNews, Cynthia is sitting under a cat knitting, writing, sewing, baking, walking, or riding her cruiser bike with an enormous paperboy basket and her polka dot helmet.
Her name is Leauriy Polk(don't be afraid it's just pronounced Lorie). She was born in Canada, grew up in Michigan and followed the Oregon trail winding up in Eugene. Leauriy has worn many occupational hats from waitress, election polling place supervisor, and office administrator to dental assistant, job developer/job coach and instructor for individuals with developmental disabilities. She is a proud parent of a Ridgeline graduate and spent many hours as a parent volunteer helping with eye exams, making stone soup, and working a tree farm during the holiday season, to name a few. One of the things that her family appreciates about Montessori, is that not only did her daughter become an independent learner she also made several life long friendships. Leauriy is very excited to be returning to the Ridgeline community When not answering phones or enrolling students, She loves creating things with paper and rubber stamps, reading, volunteering at a local food buying club and herding cats.
Yaeko Rodrigues joined the Ridgeline office team in 2018 as the Special Projects Assistant. She grew up in the Bitterroot Valley and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Japanese from the University of Montana. After graduating she moved to Chicago where she met her partner. She spent over 10 years as a product manager overseeing the development of K-12 software products. Along the way, she joined the Ridgeline community as a parent, volunteer, and substitute before making her way on board the office team. When she isn’t working she enjoys hiking, reading, sci-fi, and taking walks with the dog.