Meet the Team

"One test of the correctness of educational procedure is the happiness of the child." -Maria Montessori
Bri Steilberg
Owner & Director
Bri Steilberg

Bri Steilberg is the owner and director of Kinder Haus Montessori Mandeville. Her story at Kinder Haus started when Bri applied for a part time position at Kinder Haus as office help and classroom floater. “I remember walking into the interview with no idea what to expect. My knowledge of the Montessori Method included a quick Google search before applying for the open position. Little did I know that it would shape who I am as not only a parent but as a person. The philosophy and belief in the importance of a strong foundation for early childhood education resonates for my family. My first hand experience in watching my daughter become an independent, helpful, kind, resourceful, and caring child only grew my love for Kinder Haus Montessori. The opportunity it gave to me and my family has changed our life.” 

She quickly fell in love with Kinder Haus and the Montessori Method. She knew this would be the perfect place to raise her growing family. Bri’s three children, Gabrielle, Noah, and Alex have all experienced the wonderful teachers of each classroom.  Bri’s passion and ability to see future potential for the school helped in quickly gaining her more responsibility at Kinder Haus. She was first promoted to the afternoon Director then again to be the Assistant Director and once more to be the Co-Director. In 2018 there was yet another surprising turn of events in her professional life. She was offered the opportunity to purchase Kinder Haus Montessori Mandeville from the founder of Kinder Haus Montessori, Patricia Lacoste. Since purchasing the school, Bri has been able to see her dreams for the place she loves so much come to fruition. “The work that takes place in our classrooms is so much more than ‘daycare’. These teachers work endlessly to do exactly what Maria Montessori said, ‘follow the child’. Each classroom creates their own autonomous goals and curriculum formulated around their specific Montessori certifications. This school is much more than a Preschool to me, it is truly a community. The involvement of parents in conjunction with the teachers is what helps shape our individual community. We try to start the ground work for these children to help lead our world to a better future. Even the youngest children in our school are capable of so much if they are just given the chance to practice the skills they are interested in. Whether we are introducing cooking, music, Spanish, art, composting, gardening, or general care of our planet the end goal is to do everything we can to make this world better than when we inherited it. After being with Kinder Haus Montessori for the last eight years and seeing the children that have walked these halls, I know whole heartedly that our world is in incredible hands.” 

Bri was born raised on the North shore of Louisiana spending her time fishing and exploring the gorgeous wetlands and waterways that surround southern Louisiana. Her time outside of Kinder Haus is spent with her husband Robert and 3 children camping, hiking, and appreciating the beauty of nature as well as reading when she finds the time for herself.  Her personal goals include trying to minimize her consumption and be mindful of how her choices affect the environment.  She grew with strong roots in her synagogue and began teaching Hebrew school there when she was just 13 years old. She continues to volunteer and teach religious school at Northshore Jewish Congregation on the weekends.  Bri has earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology from Louisiana State University in 2010 as well as her Montessori Certification from North American Montessori Center in birth to three year olds in 2016.

While the unexpected pandemic circumstances halted some of the progressive steps Bri had in mind for Kinder Haus, these goals are slowly resurfacing. Providing high quality infant care is at the top of the list. Bri remains “cautiously optimistic” that the newest addition to the campus will be ready to accept students within the next year. The journey is just beginning for Bri and all of her dreams for providing the best possible education from the beginning for children!

Mandy Ringbloom
Assistant Director
Mandy Ringbloom

Mandy Ringbloom is the Kinder Haus Assistant Director. She joined the Kinder Haus community when her daughter, Lyda started her first day of the Toddler class. The youngest Ringbloom, Frankie is now a Kinder Haus kid, too. Mandy spent three years as the Head Chef before stepping into this expanded roll. Her husband, Eric, runs a set dressing team on a popular television show, filmed on location in New Orleans.

A Midwesterner at heart, Mandy grew up in Chicago, and graduated in 2005 with a degree in Fine Arts from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She performed and recorded music around the city while also pursuing her love for caring for creatures and their people. She went on to spend the next 10 years in Chicago and New Orleans working in veterinary medicine. Today she brings her lifelong commitment to creativity and care into everything she does at Kinder Haus.

Mandy lives with the rest of the Ringbloom clan on a 3 acre farm, where they tend to a vegetable garden and a menagerie of animal friends. These buddies include cats Lou and Snacks, dogs Beetlebones and Tippytoes, a duck Nibbles, and a number of French Maran chickens. In her downtime, Mandy loves to share meals and tell stories around backyard bonfires, connecting with loved ones of all ages, persuasions, and species.

Bethany Brown
Director of Finance
Bethany Brown

Bethany Brown started working at Kinder Haus in 2016 as the assistant life guard. She was immediately intrigued by the Montessori philosophy. She began working as a floater, going between all the classrooms and learning from the teachers. After finding her happy place in the Primary classroom, she decided to get Montessori certified for ages 3 to 6. She focused on areas of Practical Life and Culture in the classroom. Although her love for the children still shines through, she has moved to working in the office of Kinder Haus. When off the clock, you can find her having fun with her two sons, playing video games, or binging Star Trek. 

Colin Jedsen Peden
Kitchen Manager
Colin Jedsen Peden

The new kitchen manager and schoolyard gardener at Kinder haus Montessori is Colin Peden, the outgoing toddler room aftercare teacher.

Colin’s younger daughter Ingrid is a student in the preschool room at Kinder haus, and his older daughter Alma is a student at SMMS in Abita Springs who moonlights as a student at Kinder haus whenever she gets the chance. His partner Virginia is a marriage and family therapist and certified life coach.

In his (long past) academic career, Colin was a published biologist who worked in evolutionary biology, conservation biology, and endangered species management. Prior to the pandemic, he was often heard on WWNO New Orleans and WRKF Baton Rouge as the substitute local news anchor during All Things Considered, and produced and engineered local podcasts and radio shows.

In other times and places, Colin has been a pit boss at a historic Texas BBQ restaurant, a farmhand at the oldest Certified Organic farm in central Texas, a bartender, a barista at hip coffee shops in several states, and even a worker-owner at a natural foods cooperative in San Francisco. He has been a performing and recording artist since he was sixteen in genres ranging from jazz, to country, to punk rock (and beyond), and looks forward to the those halcyon days when he can play a show in a crowded bar again.

Colin is looking forward to bringing his interest in growing and cooking sustainable, locally sourced foods to his work at Kinder haus, and is excited to discuss with the students where their food comes from and how it gets to their plates.

Colin and his family live on a five acre farm close to Lacombe, with his mother in law in her own house on the property.

Adeline Nobles
Virtual School Teacher, Morning Opener
Adeline Nobles

Also known as Miss Addie, Adeline has been a team member of Kinder Haus since November 2019. Her journey this year involves being the learning coach to friends who are learning virtually, and she absolutely loves it! She has been in childcare for 10 years and previously worked at a traditional center before being introduced to the Montessori Method. Adeline's favorite part of working with Kinder Haus is the family style atmosphere; she loves the way all of the staff and teachers communicate and fit together like a puzzle. She says, "The children here are so kind and full of life, and it always keeps me on my toes and serves as a constant reminder that there's a little kid inside of everyone. This school is the best, and I wouldn’t want to work anywhere else!"

Tiffany (Tiffy) Welch
Toddler Community Team Leader
Tiffany Welch

Tiffany has been with Kinder Haus Montessori for a little over 5 years. She started her journey with KHM in 2016 as the assistant teacher in the toddler classroom and is currently in her third year as lead teacher. She found Kinder Haus after being in the public school system for 8 years as a long term substitute teacher in a junior high school. She quickly found passion and purpose at KHM! She is a huge believer in early childhood education and more so, in the Montessori approach for early childhood education.
 
She obtained her Montessori certification through NAMC with a focus on birth-3 years and also attended SELU with an intention to major in education but, life happens, and she was unable to get her degree at first. The good news is she is now returning to academia and will be done with her Bachelors’ degree by December. She has future plans to further her Montessori education as well in order to provide her toddlers with the best education she can! She says, “The toddlers are incredible little beings with so much potential and I am thankful that I am able to be a part of their lives each day.”

The toddler room at KHM is a cozy little home away from home and it is furnished with the toddlers in mind, meaning everything is scaled to meet their needs. While each month brings a new theme, their daily routine and expectations are consistent. Our days are filled with lots of language both verbal and sign language, while learning how to be more independent as we practice grace and courtesy.

Outside of KHM, Tiffany lives in rural Washington Parish with her husband, 5 of their 6 children and their pup Amos. She was raised in a family of die hard Saints fans and football is her favorite season! She spends as much time with her kids as she can, while she can but when she finds an occasional free moment she's usually getting into something outside. She loves music, it feeds the soul and it is always playing in her house and classroom!

Heather Perea
Preschool Lead Teacher
Heather Perea

Ms. Heather is native northerner born in New Jersey. She migrated down south by way of New York City. She has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in dance from Rutgers University and has been a Ballet teacher for almost 20 years. Heather worked as teaching artist/arts educator with a non-profit arts organization while living in New York. While in the program she found her passion for teaching the little ones during her residencies at many schools throughout the tri-state area.

Heather received her Montessori Teacher Certification for birth to three year olds in 2019 through NAMC. She has been a teacher in the Kinder Haus preschool classroom since 2018. She is also a certified yoga instructor, nature lover, and enjoys planting veggies in her garden. Heather loves her role in guiding children towards finding their independence in the classroom and enjoys seeing their growth and confidence build each day.

Her daughter Harper, 5, loves attending summer camp at Kinder Haus and helps her mom create Montessori activities for her classroom.

Taylor Wilson
Primary Lead Teacher
Taylor Wilson

Mrs. Taylor began her career in early childhood education working in a multiage childcare facility with with babies as young as six weeks old and children as old as 13. It was during her 3 years there that she realized the power and benefit of the older children helping to model for the younger ones. Her path to immersing herself in the Montessori Method began when she joined us here at Kinder Haus Montessori in 2016. Her first position in the school was in the Preschool room where she was eventually promoted to be the Preschool team Lead teacher. She worked in that classroom for four years refining her knowledge by completing her Birth to Three year old Montessori Certification (August of 2017) from North American Montessori Center.  In 2020 she took over as the Primary Team Lead Teacher with a focus on Math, Sensorial, Cultural Arts and Science. She is extremely creative, friendly, and her positive energy contagiously spreads throughout the entire classroom. Currently she is in the process of completing her three to six year old Montessori Certification through North American Montessori Center. When not at Kinder Haus and not studying for her certification, Taylor spends time with her husband Zach and her 2 year old son Zachary. They are also expecting their second child at the end of summer 2021. 

Jodi "JoJo" Taylor
Toddler Teacher
Jodi Taylor

Ms.Jojo's teaching philosophy is that children need to have fun in order to stay interested in learning so that they love coming to school. It is her goal to help the children learn life skills to reach their own personal goals as well as their developmental markers. Ms. Jojo graduated in June of 2020 with her associate degree in Early Childhood Education along with her CDA. She also completed her Montessori certification 0-3 in July of 2020. Ms. Jojo plans to return to college this spring to receive her Bachelor’s in teaching. Ms. Jojo has been a teacher and caretaker for children for the last 8 years. In her spare time she plays the piano and is active in her church.

Meghan Maier
Primary Teacher
Meghan Maier

Peaceful Mrs. Meghan Maier is our 3-6 Language Arts and Practical Life teacher. Meghan has worked in childcare almost her entire working life. She assisted at University Montessori in New Orleans as a teenager and at a small preschool in Midcity while attending college. In an attempt to defy fate, she worked at a Metairie Hair salon for three years after college before realizing nothing could fill her heart like working with children and returned to childcare as our Toddler assistant teacher in 2014. Since then, she has spent time working in every single classroom at Kinder Haus.

She has two children who attend Kinder Haus. Nico, 5, is finishing up the Kindergarten program in the Primary classroom this year and Zyleigh, 2, recently started in the Preschool classroom. She also has a daughter, Ivy, 13, that attends a Junior High School. As a mother of three she is practiced in the art of being kind, calm, empathetic, and firm.

She graduated from Tulane University with a degree in English Literature in 2011 and received her Montessori 0-3 certification with NAMC in 2016. Although she is already familiar with the 3-6 Montessori curriculum, she will soon be certified in 3-6 and is currently working on a Professional Development Certificate in Montessori fundamentals through CGMS to get her started.

In her free time, Meghan enjoys reading, trying to keep her indoor plants alive, and drawing (before she had children). In the future she hopes to fill her time with more education/childcare courses as well as a pottery class or two. 

Nathalia Toledo Barcia
Primary Art Teacher, Preschool Aftercare Teacher
Nathalia Toledo Barcia

Learning and the pursuit of inspiration have kept Nathalia traveling and studying around the world.  Coming from Ecuador, a pluri-national country, her major interests in life are ancestral culture and traditions, classical art, and cooking.

Her artistic career started at the age of 8 when she was admitted to study classical music at the National Conservatory of Music Antonio Neumane in the city of Guayaquil, Ecuador. Studying music for 12 years, she graduated as a piano teacher, already teaching since she was 15. Free to pursue studying other art forms she moved on to study graphic design and fine arts.

Nathalia studied Graphic Design and Advertising at ESPOL Escuela Superior Politécnica del Litoral in Guayaquil, Ecuador. Under the guidance of renowned teachers Ricardo Patiño, a member of the Artefactoría Collective, and Master Saidel Brito, cuban artist ex Dean of ITAE and ESPOL.  After graduating, Nathalia started to work at majors Advertising Agencies  as a Junior Designer in Qualitat Lowe until she became an Art Director at BBDO where she stayed for several years.  Realizing that she wanted more time to pursue creating art, she left advertising and graphic design to teach art at the Bilingual School Nuevo Mundo Samborondón. She would later return to Guayaquil to work in Political Advertisement for several years.

The drive to continue learning propelled Nathalia to travel and seek out masters. In 2011 she studied Etching and Engraving with the artist Alejandra Winkhaus in Buenos Aires, Argentina.   Later she studied with the Ecuadorian master Hernan Zúniga  at the Engraving Workshop at  ITAE in Guayaquil. Afterwards she returned to study at ESPOL, getting her Bachelor’s degree in Arts specialized in Audiovisual Production, where she graduated top of her class.

Nathalia has always had a deep appreciation for the diversity and history of Ecuador. In 2014, she studied pre-columbian ceramics at the MAAC Museo de Arte Contemporáneo, discovering her passion for working with clay. Throwing herself into study, she traveled around the Ecuadorian coast taking workshops. In learning from indigenous techniques, she found a deep connection to the functional and ritual art of indigenous people and civilizations pre-colonization. Winning a scholarship to study traditional art and Batik at a Universitas Negeri Semarang in Indonesia, this interest would bring her on further travels.

In Indonesia, Nathalia visited communes and indigenous villages. She traveled throughout the islands learning more of the traditions, philosophy, architecture, textiles, and arts. Afterwards she went on to travel and practice meditation in Myanmar and India.

Eventually her travels brought her back to Ecuador to do volunteer work in the Amazon where she would develop a deep friendship with the people of the Shuar tribe. She and her partner Zach continue to lead trips to the Amazon, where participants learn from the wisdom of the earth. They hope to one day create a green school and organization with this community. 

In 2016, Nathalia came to the United States and began living in New Orleans. She has worked as a portrait artist and freelance graphic designer, thriving in the vibrant art scene of the city. She traveled again in Asia and Australia, this time studying Thangka painting in Ladakh.  Moving to Mandeville with her partner Zach in 2018, she works in ceramics at her home studio under the name Kuri Mayai.

Now at Kinder Haus, she is teaching kids art and spanish. She brings her experience from travel, study, and practice into the classroom, creating a space where every child can begin their own adventure and foster their own creativity. 

Lora LeBlanc
Primary Art Teacher
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Lora was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico, but has resided most of her life in Louisiana. She has a Bachlors degree in Art Education from SLU. Her other studies have included photography, film, graphic design, psychology and biology.

Her introduction to the Montessori Method was when her daughter attended University Montessori in Hammond. Impressed with the school and the education of her child, she started substitute teaching at the school. She also spent time as an art teacher during summer camp at the YMCA. She is looking forward to furthering her Montessori education.

In her free time, Lora enjoys volunteering with START (St Tammany Animal Rescue Team), making art out of found objects and exploring the world with her daughter.

Ali Chiasson
Primary Aftercare Teacher
Ali Chiasson

Ali has been working in the primary room since February of 2020. She was raised in a large family and was given the nickname “Little Mama” because she was always drawn to help out with the younger kids.  

Some of her hobbies include working with animals, learning to play guitar, and playing games with her friends.

She states, “This is the most rewarding job I’ve ever been a part of. Seeing these children not only growing in their knowledge, but also in their self-confidence, is priceless.”

 

Linden Hasik
Primary Aftercare Teacher
Linden Hasik

Linden has been working in Montessori schools as an assistant teacher, and now as after care teacher, since 2015. She loves the Montessori philosophy and loves Kinder Haus the most, and plans on getting her Montessori Teaching License next year. She is currently in school earning my degree in Early Childhood Education. Since she was 16, she has worked in elementary schools, preschools, on organic farms and with small restaurants providing healthy and locally sourced foods. She is passionate about local foods, sustainable living, weird holidays, and education for all. She currently lives in Lacombe with her dog and cat in a very strange house that she is in the middle of remodeling. 

She moved to Louisiana from South Carolina, where she ran her own small "urban farm" complete with a flock of poultry, a greenhouse, a compost and worm-casting system, vegetable beds, and some fruit trees. In SC she played Roller Derby for the local team, but when it felt like it was time to relocate, she moved as close to New Orleans as possible to try out for the Big Easy Roller Girls. Before the pandemic, she was rostered to the All Star Team and very much look forward to going back when it is safe again. For now, she enjoys skating outside and spending time with her teammates over Zoom. She says, "I am so happy to be here and part of the Kinder Haus team!"

Dawn Ducote
Toddler Aftercare Teacher
Dawn Ducote

Dawn is one of the teachers in the 1-2 year old class here at Kinder haus Montessori.

While working with such young children, she hopes to be able to notice as they gain confidence and grow an identity. She also hopes to be a huge part of their confidence and success as well as being there for them whenever they need it. As someone who cares for children, she aims to earn the children’s trust simply by making them feel safe and happy.

Before coming to Kinder Haus, Dawn has worked as a teachers aide for head start, as a counselor for summer camp and after school care with YMCA, and in child nutrition with the public school system. Dawn is grandmother to a fifteen-month-old baby girl. Spending time with the baby or bargain shopping are her favorite activities outside of work.

Merhawit (MJ) Gaspard
Toddler Aftercare Teacher
Merhawit (MJ) Gaspard

Merhawit grew up in Ethiopia Africa. When she was 8 years old she was adopted by her family and moved to the United States. She has spent the last 10 years enjoying the local cuisine, spending time outdoors in the sun, hanging out with her friends and traveling the world. In 2015 she had the opportunity to return to her roots in Ethiopia to see her family who are still there. It was an amazing trip and a pivotal moment in her life. Merhawit joins the toddler room daily in the afternoons when she is done with her own studies. She shares with us her caring heart, her playful spirit and her grasp on youth. In the future she plans on attending college and major in Radiology. 

Kym Cortez
Preschool Teacher
Kym Cortez

Kym joined the Kinder Haus team in August of 2020. Her love of caring for children started when she was a little girl and she always knew that she wanted to be a teacher. While in her senior year of high school she began interning at a child care center in Slidell. She graduated from Slidell High in 2006 and after graduation, started working at a child care center in Slidell. She has been working in early childhood education since 2005. In 2006 she started her journey as a mom while she put herself through college. She has 2 kids, Dakota and Rae. She completed her associate’s degree in Care and Development in Young Children.

“In my short time here, so far I can say I absolutely love everything about Montessori. I am excited to pursue my career here and continue my education further. My love and passion to teach little minds has kept me in child care all these years. Watching the children learn new skills brightens my day and makes me strive to become a better teacher.”

 In addition to teaching, Kym owns a vinyl business and lives in Lacombe with her children and girlfriend. 

Stephanie Welch
Substitute Teacher
Stephanie Welch

Stephanie Welch is an enthusiastic substitute teacher for all the classrooms at Kinder Haus and instructor of Earth Science at Southeastern Louisiana University. Her relationship with Kinder Haus started in 2015 when her son Felix was enrolled in the preschool program - she quickly realized that this school, with it's wonderful supportive group of teachers, staff, and parents was going to be an important part of her life as well as her children's. Now Felix is in the virtual class and her daughter Iris is in Primary. Stephanie and occasionally her husband Vann enjoy bringing their experience in science education to the young minds at Kinder Haus Montessori. 

Morgan Garlepied
Aftercare/Substitute Teacher
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Morgan started her journey in childcare and at Kinder Haus Montessori in May of 2021 as an Aftercare/Substitute Teacher. She was born in Mandeville, Louisiana and grew up in New Orleans where she graduated from Cabrini High School in 2019 as Magna Cum Laude. She is currently going into her third year of college studying Social Studies Education at Southeastern Louisiana University and has dreams to become a high school history teacher. On the side, she enjoys doing makeup, exploring new places and restaurants, and is an avid documentary watcher. She loves spending time with family and friends and hopes to travel to all 50 states one day!

Kinder Haus Montessori has brought out the best side of her, and she cannot wait to learn more about Montessori education as the school year continues. She has always had a passion for caring for people but did not expect to love working with young children so much! She’s beyond grateful for this opportunity and everyone that she has met working at Kinder Haus! She cannot wait to see where this journey leads her and is excited to be a part of the Kinder Haus Family!

Jordan Myren
Groundskeeper
Jordan Myren

Jordan Myren is Kinder Haus Montessori’s groundskeeper. Jordan has an array of expertise including, but certainly not limited to, welding, landscaping, construction, auto body detailing, and working security. He truly does it all around Kinder Haus Montessori! His flexibility to take on new projects to beautify the school or to step into a classroom to lend a helping hand is irreplaceable benefits for all of our school community.  

Hailing from Wisconsin, Jordan arrived in Louisiana in 2008.  When asked what his favorite part of Louisiana life is, he is quick to respond that he most enjoys the lack of snow! He is married to Mrs. Meghan, our Primary teacher, and they have three children: Ivy, Nico, and Zyleigh. Their family enjoys attending all the New Orleans’s festivals and parades.

Jordan has handled the maintenance of our swimming pool, fixing of every miscellaneous project from fences to installing new light fixtures, beautifying our gardens and yards, applying fresh paint, and generally making our school a more lovely space; truly bringing our campus to its fullest potential!