Montessori Country Day has passionate Montessori-certified teachers in all of our primary classrooms. We also have dedicated toddler teachers that have many years of experience and may have Montessori certification, college degree or both. All of the teachers 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.

Montessori Country Day is committed to providing our children the social, emotional, and intellectual needs in accordance with the Montessori philosophy.

Maggie Whitmire

Director

Maggie Whitmire

Under 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.

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When 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 allowing her to 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 Whitmires’ greatest joys are being with family, especially their three children and two grandchildren. Their daughter, Melissa, lives in New York City. Their son, Derek, lives in Charlotte and is a financial planner with Vanguard. His wife, Sara, is a therapist and mom of two. Their youngest son, Austin, is a sophomore at AB Tech.


Laurie Wilkins

Assistant Director

Laurie

Children 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 4 and 7) 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

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Laughing 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.”


Maria Rivera

Toddler Teacher

Originally from Buffalo, NY, Maria moved to the WNC area about five years ago. She received her Bachelors in Speech and Language in 2010 from SUNY College at Buffalo. From there she went on to further my studies in American Sign Language. While in Buffalo, Maria worked at St. Mary’s School for the Deaf as an Administrative Assistant in the Elementary Department. But spent afternoons working with the students in the after school program.

She soon became fluent in American Sign Language, and shortly after moving here, decided to take the Educational Interpreter Proficiency Assessment. This qualified Maria to be able to facilitate language in the classroom setting for students with hearing loss.

“I spent time working for Buncombe County Schools as an Exceptional Children’s Teacher Assistant, and most recently at Asheville Primary School as an Educational Sign Language Interpreter. This was where I first observed the Montessori Method of teaching.”

Maria enjoyed being immersed in this child centered, individualized style of learning. While her passion for ASL remains, Maria wanted to be a part of a more hands on approach to student learning. Soon after her son was born, she decided to pursue Early Childhood Education. Maria enrolled in Blue Ridge Community College to earn the NC Early Childhood Credential, which she received in July 2019. 

I am thrilled to be joining the teaching team at Montessori Country Day, and excited to get to know the families!

“Life as a new mommy has been quite the adventure for my wife Kris, our two dogs, and I. When I’m not working I enjoy spending time with my family, exploring the outdoors, baking and decorating sweets, and DIY crafts galore! “


Erin Carter

Pre-Primary

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From 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.”


Jackie Jones

Pre-Primary

Jackie has been working with children for over a decade in various settings. This started first as the neighborhood babysitter while growing up in Raleigh, North Carolina. This interest stayed constant as she worked in different jobs ranging from educational settings such as preschool assistant teacher and theater camp counselor to social work settings such as child mental health care manager and therapeutic group leader. Jackie’s favorite job has been working in Denmark at a traditional forest preschool!

“At my most recent job, I served as an Assistant Teacher in an Infant Montessori classroom. After this experience, I knew that the Montessori classroom was where I needed to be!”

She is currently in training at the Center for Montessori Teacher Education, North Carolina. By June 2020, she will be fully certified by AMS to guide Infant and Toddler Montessori classrooms.

Jackie attended college at Ohio Wesleyan University where she earned her Bachelors degree in both Psychology and Theater. She lives with her wife Anna, their dog, and two cats in South Asheville. You can usually find her at the dog park, hiking our beautiful mountain trails, or curled up at home with good book.


Michelle Bennison

Primary

Michelle Bennison

Whether 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 is thrilled to have completed her Montessori training & internship. She received her certification in 2019 from The Center for Guided Montessori Studies, accredited by MACTE.

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

Amie

From 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.

Amie will receive her MACTE Accredited Montessori certification from The Center for Guided Studies in August 2019.

“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.


Megan Specht

Primary

Megan has been in education for more than 12 years, and specifically in Montessori for almost 9 years. As a mom of 2 and through her early childhood education experience, she fell in love with the Montessori Method which led her on this career path. She received her American Montessori Society certification at the Montessori Teacher Training Institute in Clemson, SC in 2013.

“I feel extremely blessed to have found something I believe in and am passionate about. Watching children grow and blossom in independence and self-confidence through the Montessori Method is wonderful to observe.”

I am so excited to be coming back to where my passion for Montessori began. I previously worked at Montessori Country Day Arden for over 6 years and did my Montessori internship in Hendersonville for a year. I look forward to watching the children learn and grow in this beautiful environment.

“For the majority of my life, I grew up in Asheville, NC and feel lucky to call these beautiful mountains home. I spend most of my free time raising my two children, Jayden and Payten. We enjoy crafting, hiking, and traveling!


Chris Stanfield

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Extended Day Teacher

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 guiding and nurturing his 3-year-old son Abraham and 1-year-old daughter Juniper, 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.”


Amanda Smith

Extended Day Teacher

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

Amanda loves donuts, reading, and iced coffee. She was born and raised in North Carolina, and graduated from Appalachian State University with a degree in Sociology Family Development and a minor in Psychology. She has been working with children since right out of college, and grew up babysitting her 4 younger sisters. Craft time is her favorite, so you will often find her drawing with the children. In her spare time she loves hanging out with her husband and her two silly kids.

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


Betti Berkley

Art Teacher and Extended Day Teacher

Betti Berkley

Miss Betti has worked with children and art for 30 years, teaching every age from pre-K through high school.

In New York, she was an instructor for the Oswego Summer Art Institute, Art Association of Oswego, Lakeside Statewide, NYS Arts in the Parks Program, Loving Education at Home, and NYS Board of Coorperative Educational Services Migrant Worker Program.

She also recreates and restores Etruscan and Medieval jewelry in Italy every year. Her strengths are more 3D than 2D and she loves to explore messy options like pottery, paper making and sculpture. Read more about Art Class.

Originally from Central New York, Betti has a BA in Art History from SUNY College. Although she recently moved to Hendersonville, she has been coming here to visit her parents for decades and is so happy to finally be a local!

She and her three children have been to Italy many times and they all love everything Italian. The only ‘child’ left at home is her fur baby, Charlie the cockapoo.


Denise Knabb

Substitute Teacher

Denise Knabb

Denise was so impressed with how Montessori preschool helped her own granddaughter thrive that she joined the MCD team as teacher.

After a few years off to care for her mom in West Virginia, she’s back in Hendersonville and joining us as our Toddler Extended Day teacher. We are so happy to have her cheerfulness back at MCD!

Denise is a retired dental hygienist from WV. Her favorite job was working for a pediatric dentist, where she was proud of her ability to calm the children and make their dental experience a fun one!

“I was so impressed with Maggie’s love for the children and dedication to the Montessori method. I wanted to be a part of this. I was fortunate to take a position at the Hendersonville location.”

Outside of the classroom, music is one of Denise’s biggest interests, especially playing in a handbell choir. She also enjoys the outdoors.

“Being from WV and now western NC, the mountains are very important to me. Also, I love lakes and rivers. Anytime I’m on the water, I’m happy! And of course, spending time with my young granddaughters, Lena and Kasey!”

“I look forward for the opportunity to work with Maggie and the staff. I am certain we will make this on awesome experience for the children!”


Jamie Moshe

Yoga Teacher

Jamie Moshe

Jaime Moshe has been guiding children’s yoga for 15 years. She sees children’s yoga as a way to invite children into a playful interactive experience of mind, body, spirit connection.

“We go on fun yoga journeys in our mind  while we experience movement and fun with our bodies.

“Yoga helps children to develop self awareness, body awareness, imaginative play, and so much more.

“I’m looking forward to sharing the adventure with your child. 🦋 “