Meet Our Staff
Executive Director Chrystell Reed (she/her) 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 (she/her) 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 Lead Kristin Warner (she/her) 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 have attended 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.
Kindergarten classroom assistant Sultana Sanders (she/her) was recently added to the kindergarten team. She comes to Ridgeline with a wealth of classroom experience with elementary students.
Lower Elementary (Grades 1-3)
Lower elementary teacher Rachel Quinn (she/her) leads Room 3. Rachel has many 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.
Lower elementary classroom 3 assistant, Katie Dahill (she/her), has joined our lower elementary team. She brings years of Montessori experience as an assistant and lead teacher. After living in both Austin, Texas and Boston, Massachusetts, she moved to Eugene with her husband and three children. Before learning about Montessori, she was an elementary theater arts specialist. Katie is thrilled to be teaching again here at Ridgeline! When she is not playing guitar and singing with her family, she loves to explore her new town and visit the beautiful towns along the Oregon coast.
Lower elementary teacher Emily Burton (she/her) 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 (she/her), 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, Emmanuel Gemora (he/him), is the lead teacher for room 5. Emmanuel was raised in San Diego, CA and Olympia, WA. Emmanuel comes to us with several years of experience serving as a licensed teacher in an elementary special education capacity. Emmanuel graduated from Western Washington University with a bachelor’s degree in Elementary and Special Education. He loves to create all manner of things (knitting, baking, painting, etc.) and especially loves gardening.
Josie Iseli (they/them) is the lower elementary assistant in room 5. They have multiple years experience working in a Montessori school. Their experience includes lead childcare teacher, planning and facilitating summer camp, and developing and implementing an emergency distance learning program. They were born and raised in Eugene, OR. Josie enjoys spending quality time with their large extended family. As the oldest of their cousin’s Josie realized how much they loved helping their younger family members learn and grow. As a teacher, they want to help their students reach their full potential with a smile on their face.
Upper Elementary (Grades 4-6)
Upper elementary teacher Kris Korfanta (she/her) leads room 8. She relocated to Eugene from Idaho where she taught science and electives at the middle school level. Prior to that, she taught 5th grade math and science in Texas. Kris has her BA in Elementary Education and her MS in Educational Technology both of which are from Boise State University. Her Montessori interest comes from being a Pre-K Montessori student herself and having her two daughters in Pre-K programs as well. Outside of school, she enjoys spending time with her family exploring Eugene, and visiting the coast whenever she wants!
Classroom assistant, Jonathan Sternberg (he/him), 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 (she/her), 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 (she/her), 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.
Ray Henry (she/her) joins our upper elementary team as room 10's lead teacher. She brings many years of teaching experience as well as great enthusiasm for the level, Montessori, and Ridgeline. Ray has relocated from Florence, Oregon where she previously taught 1st, 2nd, and 4th grades. When she is not busy in the classroom or earning her EII Montessori Credential she loves spending time with her family.
Jacob Searl (they/them) is the classroom assistant in upper elementary, room 10. They are 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 elementary students and Montessori methods, as well as portray his sense of curiosity and excitement for the job. They make strong connections with our students and truly cares about their learning and growth.
Middle School (Grades 7-8)
Middle-school science and math teacher, Carrie Culliton (she/her), 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 (they/her), 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.
Jen Hornsby (she/her), middle school communications and humanities assistant, hails from New England but loves the forests, high desert, and coast of Oregon. A former Ridgeline board member and classroom volunteer, she is the parent of a Ridgeline graduate.
Jen earned a degree in English literature and religious studies from Macalester College and has spent most of her professional years as a nonfiction book editor. During the pandemic she swerved to take on Ridgeline's meal program and then moved upstairs to Jon's middle school classroom. Jen loves to read, write, knit, hike, canoe, tandem cycle, and hunt for edible fungi.
Mental Wellness Team
Jon Talebreza-May (he/him) is the Mental Health Specialist (formally known as school counselor). He began his career as a social worker in 2003, working with children, families, adults, and high-risk youth in both individual and group settings. Since that time, Jon earned a Ph.D. in Depth Psychology from Pacifica Graduate Institute and taught social work full-time for 8-years. Jon and his family have lived in Eugene since 2015 and enjoy reading together, backpacking, canoeing, and being involved in youth sports. He is passionate about continuing the work to develop the Ridgeline community to be a space where children can gain lifelong social and emotional skills to know themselves, thrive academically, and interact with the world around them successfully.
Jenine Stocke (she/her) is Ridgeline’s Social/Emotional Support 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.
(Arts Specialist coming soon) Merideth Turner
(P.E. Specialist coming soon) Kyle Woods
Tier III Instructional Assistant
Betsy Brandenfels (she/her) 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.
Paula Cortez (she/her) will continue in her role as Tier III Instructional Assistant, supporting K-8 students in literacy and math. She was born and raised in Minnesota, where she earned her Bachelor’s degree in elementary education and English literature from Hamline University. Paula served in Americorps as a K-3 literacy tutor for two years. She was also a camp counselor at Concordia Language Villages for five years, teaching Russian to beginners. She loves exploring new places! Her most memorable teaching experiences took her to Phayao, Thailand and Moloka’i, Hawai’i. After two years of teaching 2nd grade on Moloka'i, she moved to Eugene in 2019 to be closer to her nanny families. In her free time, she enjoys baking, crocheting, reading, doing Yoga, and spending time in nature.
(Floating Assistant coming soon) Rianne Manning
Facilities Coordinator, Jesse Cloninger (he/him) began working at Ridgeline in 2021. Jesse brings a wide variety of experience for this position, including a master’s degree in jazz saxophone performance from the University of North Texas, ten years of experience as a music fundamentals and saxophone instructor at Lane Community College, and years of experience as a music arranger, music director, and professional saxophonist. As Facilities Coordinator Jesse enjoys the daily variety, unique challenges, and constant demand for creative thinking and collaboration that his job provides. At Ridgeline Jesse enjoys interacting with staff, teachers, and students! His favorite part is riding the lawnmower and making sure the grounds look sharp.
Julian Meeks-Wagner (he/him) 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 (she/her) is the Admissions and Office Coordinator. She 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. In the spring of 2022 she moved to her current position. She enjoys meeting all of our new families when they join Ridgeline. 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.
Bethany Dilla(she/her) joined the Ridgeline office team in 2023. She is the School Community Coordinator. She most recently was the Director of Annual Giving at a local university and brings with her a passion for helping others and developing meaningful relationships. She has experience in large event planning, fundraising and leading staff and volunteers among many other areas.
Yaeko Rodrigues (she/her) joined the Ridgeline office team in 2018. She is the Operations and Special Projects Manager. 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.
Shu Weng-Ramos (she/her) is Ridgeline's wonderful and dedicated bookkeeper. With an incredible eye for details, she handles our finances and financial records. Originally from Taiwan, in the early 90s she followed her dream to study abroad in the US. She obtained a Bachelor's degree in Finance at the University of Oregon. She has lived in Eugene for the past 20+ years and raised her family here. Shu joined Ridgeline in 2014. During her free time, she likes to cook, walk and travel.
Laurie Black (she/her) is the Meal Program Coordinator at Ridgeline Montessori Public Charter School. Laurie graduated from Southern Oregon University in Ashland with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology in 2010. Laurie has worked in mental health and social work since 2012, including helping at-risk and homeless youth. Laurie has a passion for helping others in any way she can. She likes parenting, NPR, dancing like nobody watching, chocolate, pizza, equity and social justice. In her off-time Laurie enjoys time with her family, video games, reading, walking with the dog and watching old or Miyazaki movies.
Special Education 4J Team
Robyn Louden (she/her)
Megan K. (she/her)
Sped Educational Assistant
Michelynah Anderegg, CCC-SLP (she/her)