Montessori Country Day has a team of passionate and experienced guides, or teachers. They all have a Montessori certification, college degree, or both. They also undergo continual early education classes each year.

Teachers are selected not just for their professional abilities, but for their genuine concern, respect and joy with children.

Maggie Whitmire

Director

IMG_3105Under the direction of founder and head guide Maggie Whitmire, Montessori Country Day has grown from modest beginnings to a thriving community of children, parents and teachers.

“Our teachers are the heart of our school.”

Maggie began her career in the corporate world in both Michigan and Texas, but when looking for a school for her daughter in 1985, she fell in love with the Montessori method of education. Leaving the corporate world behind, she obtained her Montessori Certification and began teaching at Montessori Country Day in Texas, namesake of our own Montessori Country Day. As a parent, she enjoyed watching her own children blossom in a Montessori environment.

img_3002.jpgWhen her family moved to North Carolina she worked in an Asheville Montessori school for twelve years. In 2004, Maggie founded the first Montessori Country Day in Arden. In 2012, she opened the Hendersonville campus.

With the quick growth of both schools, Maggie sold the Arden location in 2016 to a long-time teacher, Penny Marcus, so she could put all her energy in the Montessori Country Day Hendersonville school.

Maggie’s sincere love for children has been the driving force behind three decades of teaching. She strives to provide them with the best possible environment to be nurtured, learn and grow.


Rufus Whitmire

“Mr. Rufus” (as the children call him) is the co-owner and business manager of Montessori Country Day. When he’s not busy with the business of MCD, he plays as much golf as possible.

Rufus has a BA in Accounting and an MBA in Finance. After a career in the corporate world and commercial real estate, he owned and operated Whitmire Monument Company and Montessori Country Day.

The Whitmire’s’ greatest joys are being with family, especially their three children. Their daughter, Melissa, lives in Hendersonville. Their son, Derek, lives in Charlotte and is a Financial Planner with Vanguard. His wife, Sara, is a Therapist and a Professor at Pfeiffer University. Their youngest son, Austin, is a senior in high school.


Laurie Wilkins

Assistant Director

LaurieChildren and teachers alike enjoy seeing our Assistant Director. You will find her in the office and around the school assisting all of us.

A note from Laurie:

“It is a pleasure to be working with the staff at Montessori Country Day. I have been working with young children for 30 years as a teacher, staff educator, and program manager in a variety of programs and places. I thought I was ready to retire, but missed being with children, families, and the early education community.”

“When I have time off, I play outside. My husband and I hike several times a month, and I am a gardener-in-progress. Any other time is spent with my grandchildren (ages 1 and 4) and my daughters. All wonderful subjects for my rediscovered interest in photography.”

“I hold a master’s degree in early education, and I am excited to extend my learning to the Montessori method. I have learned so much in the last year here at MCD. I look forward to seeing returning students and getting to know all the new families, too.”


Jennifer Knaus

Toddlers

FB-IMG-1502844341295Laughing is Jennifer’s favorite, and she brings smiles and laughter to her students every day.

Jennifer is a Hendersonville native and East Henderson HS graduate. She studied early childhood education at Blue Ridge Community College and earned her Early Childhood Credentials in 2012.

She has 3 beautiful daughters: Lilly, Hazel, and Frances. They enjoy playing games and watching movies together (especially Nicolas Sparks movies and comedies).

Montessori Country Day gave Jennifer a whole new view of early childhood education. In her first early childhood job at another school, the teachers were mean to each other and impatient with children. Learning didn’t seem fun.

“Then, I found Maggie. When I walked into her school for the first time I couldn’t believe what a difference I was seeing and hearing.

“I love Montessori for so many reasons. I love the individual expectations for the children. I love the feeling of community and respect that are a part of daily routines. I also love the level of independence Montessori encourages.

There is nothing more amazing than the look on a child’s face who is truly proud of what they’ve accomplished.

“I could go on and on. I am thankful to be a part of something so incredible.”


Erin Carter

Pre-Primary

2016-06-24 15.02.23From the stage to the classroom, Erin loves to engage imaginations.

She earned her associate’s degree in Drama from Blue Ridge Community College and has her Early Childhood Credential. She still enjoys acting in plays. (You can bet her students always have an awesome dress-up area!)

Erin is working toward a degree in Early Childhood Education. When she’s not teaching or learning, she loves to spend time with her daughter, Rose, “the most important person” in her life. She is also very close with her mother and father.

Erin appreciates how Montessori encourages a great independence and sense of achievement:

“I’ve been told that I talk with children like they are little people. Well, I do because they are.

“Montessori is the philosophy that best fits the way I view early education.”


Sunny Smith

Pre-Primary

SunnySunny is a native of Asheville, NC. She graduated from T.C. Roberson in 2001 and went on to obtain her Early Childhood/School Age Associate’s Degree Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College. She has been working with infants-school-age children for 16+ years, and loves helping children learn and master new skills.

“I love the innocence, curiosity, and joy that children have. Seeing a child experience something for the first time is so rewarding.  When they have that “aha!” moment is my favorite part about what I do!

“I love the Montessori aspect of learning, because children learn best through play and their own experiences.

“I am super excited to be on Maggie’s team here at MCD!”

Sunny and her husband were married in 2004, and her son, Trey, was born in 2006. She enjoys being with family and friends. Her son plays travel baseball and keeps them very busy on the weekends. She also loves to go shopping and relax at home.

She has two Boston terriers, Molly and Mojo. They have almost as much energy as the two- and three-year-old kids in Sunny’s class.


Michelle Bennison

Primary

img_3607.jpgWhether she’s caring for children in our primary classroom or tending her garden and chickens, Michelle knows love is the key to success.

Before coming to Montessori, Michelle had heard from a former coworker that it was a cold, unloving method of teaching.

“Boy, was she wrong!! Maggie and the teachers here changed my mind.

“MCD is the most loving, caring school I have ever worked in.

“I love the Montessori method and its focus on the individual child and hands-on learning–so much so that I am now in the process of Montessori teacher training.”

Michelle trained at the Center for Guided Montessori Studies this summer and will be completing her practicum/internship this year under Maggie’s leadership.

Michelle’s Montessori training builds on her previous studies in elementary education and early education at Blue Ridge Community College, Haywood CC, and Mars Hill.

Outside of MCD, Michelle enjoys spending time with her husband of 20 years, Tim, and their two boys, TJ and Matthew. They have a dog, two cats, and ten chickens. For fun, she likes to work in her garden, read, sew, crochet and do embroidery.


Amie Dorsey

Primary

AmieFrom her classroom designed to welcome students to nearby mountain trails to her own basement, Amie relishes beauty in all areas of her life.

Amie received her Bachelor’s in Early Childhood Education from Ashford University in 2014. She worked at Head Start for 5 years before starting her Montessori education.

She is working toward her Montessori certification from The Center of Guided Montessori Studies.

“I love that the Montessori classroom is beautiful and not overwhelming with colors or cartoon-ish designs.

“I love that it is a place for learning about oneself, others and the beautiful world around them.

“The design of the classroom, methods and materials lend to the children teaching themselves the concepts that they will later use in academics, social skills and reality-based wonderment.”

Amie is a married foster mom with an adorable dog they all love.

As the only girl of her siblings, Amie’s not afraid to get her hands dirty…or covered with paint! She enjoys mural painting in her basement, strolling through the beautiful mountains, perusing thrift stores, taking road trips, and photographing roadside oddities.


Kara McNerney

Primary

DSCF0129Kara is an avid observer in nature and in her primary classroom, where she helps students discover beauty in each other and the world around them.

With a B.S. in Wildlife Management from Ohio State University, Kara went on to earn her Montessori certification from the Center for Guided Montessori Studies. During her 10+ years as a Montessori teacher, Kara has worked with ages from toddlers to 12 year olds.

“I love how Montessori classrooms foster independence.

“I love the emphasis on grace and courtesy and real life skills…like how to be a member of a community, solve problems, be a peacemaker and think for yourself.

“I am excited for my third year here at Montessori Country Day.”

Kara lives near the Rocky Broad River with her husband, Mike, two daughters, Iris and Stella, and dog. Her daughters (now in middle and high school) attended several years of Montessori school.

On any given weekend, you might find Kara “traipsing around in the woods looking at birds, flowers, rocks, and other interesting things.” Or she might be canoeing, kayaking, hiking, swimming, mountain biking, camping, or trying to do yoga on a stand-up paddleboard. She also spends a lot of time driving her girls around!


Michelle Gogolin

After School Care

MichelleMichelle cares for Toddlers after school and substitutes as needed in the mornings.

With her husband, Aaron, and daughter, Genevieve, Michelle recently moved from Cleveland to enjoy our warmer climate and beautiful mountains.

Michelle has a bachelor’s degree in sociology and a minor in early childhood education. She’s very excited to be working at MCD.

She appreciates and understands how the Montessori curriculum teaches children to become independent thinkers in an orderly and supportive environment.

In her leisure time, Michelle enjoys art, hiking, movies, and playing the guitar and piano.


Amanda Smith

After School Care

2016-06-24 15.04.15Amanda’s creativity shines at work as an after school teacher and at home as a wife, mom, and artist.

Amanda has her bachelor’s degree in Sociology Family Development with a minor in Psychology from Appalachian State University. Her husband Ethan is her best friend. They love talking and laughing with their daughter, Josephine aka “Josie.”

Amanda and her family enjoy going out to eat (especially Mexican and places with great dessert), seeing movies, spending time with friends, and participating in her church, Northview. She also creates watercolor paintings and has her own shop on Etsy.

“Why Montessori? I love the freedom and hands-on learning style!”


Chris Stanfield

MCD-FB-IMG_0225

After School Care

As an after school teacher, Mr. Chris brings energy, enthusiasm, and smiles to the playground and classroom. He enjoys working with children, and as a dad, he enjoys spoiling his own son, Abraham, with kindness and hugs.

Chris earned his associate’s degree in Elementary Education at Blue Ridge Community College. He is now pursuing his bachelor’s at Mars Hill.

Outside of school and school, he enjoys all outdoor pursuits, especially when joined by his lovely wife, Lauren. He spends his summer guiding zipline tours, and he’s always excited to return to MCD in fall.

“It is my pleasure to learn and grow with your children.

“Thank you for taking the time to read about me and feel free to swing by and chat anytime. I look forward to meeting all of you and your children.”