Meet Our Staff
Whitney Blessing, Founder and Head of School
Whitney Blessing is the visionary and founder of our beloved Cathedral Hill Montessori School. Born and raised in Denver, Colorado, she came to the midwest and attended the University of MN – Twin Cities where she studied Sociology and English literature. After six years working in the real estate industry, Whitney discovered her true passions lie in parenthood and education. Once a mother of two, she set to work learning about Montessori education and yearned to build a better future for her children, while providing a means to share Montessori’s philosophies with other parents like herself. Whitney graduated from the Montessori Training Center of MN with an AMI Primary Diploma in 2011. Whitney has three delightful children attending Cathedral Hill Montessori School, Gwyneth, 5, and Weston, 3, and Freya, 6 months. Together with her husband and co-founder, Andy, the Blessing family live in St. Paul with their dog Penny. Whitney enjoys reading, photography, crafts, travel, road trips, nature, movie-going, live music, and taking walks about the neighborhood with her family. Contact Whitney.
Liv Christensen, Children’s House 1 Lead Guide
Liv grew up on the St. Croix River, in Scandia, Minnesota, where she continues to spend much of her free time canoeing, swimming, and exploring the river valley. She moved to Portland, Oregon to complete her undergraduate degree in Studio Arts from Lewis and Clark College and live life on the west coast! But, to her surprise, Minnesota lured her back and she pursued her AMI Primary Diploma through the Montessori Training Center of Minnesota in 2007 and received her Masters in Education from Loyola College in Baltimore in 2008. She now lives in White Bear Lake with her husband, daughter Vera (a member of the CHMS Toddler Community), and their cat and dog. Together they enjoy long walks, harvesting vegetables from their lush backyard garden, and sharing family meals.
This is Liv’s 6th year as a Children’s House guide. She attended Montessori preschool and was raised by a Montessori trained mom, and first-grade teacher dad; a love of children and education is in her genes! Over the years as a teacher she has witnessed the powers of the Montessori Method and is continually surprised by what children can accomplish at 3, 4, 5, and 6 years old! Her passion for early childhood education has become even stronger since she became a mother herself. She spends much of her free time observing, supporting, and loving each new development and skill her daughter acquires.
Liv has been a part of CHMS since before its doors opened and is looking forward to growing and strengthening a joyful and peaceful Children’s House community! Contact Liv.
Tyghre Schultze, Infant Community Coordinator (On maternity leave)
After becoming a first time parent and adjusting to her new role, Tyghre found a deep connection with Montessori’s theory and education. Though she obtained a BS in Retail Management and Apparel Design, volunteering as the Parent-Infant guide at Cathedral Hill Montessori School has helped her discover her true passion working with both children and parents and helping foster an understanding for independence and self-expression.
In 2012 Tyghre completed her AMI Assistant training from the Montessori Training Center of MN. Tyghre is also working towards completing her extensive lactation and postpartum doula training through DONA International and hopes to one day work with families and help them transition into their new role with confidence.
Tyghre’s daughter, Olive, is a current member of the Toddler Community and in the Fall, Tyghre will resume leading the Parent-Infant classes at CHMS. She is looking forward to bringing her love of sewing, painting and reading to the children. Her biggest desire is to instill a life long love of learning in each and every child she touches.
Tyghre lives in St. Louis Park, MN with her husband Carl, vivacious daughter Olive and newborn daughter Irene, as well as their two loyal dogs Louie and Porter. When they are not working on restoring their mid-century home, they can be found enjoying the lakes and parks of Minneapolis. Contact Tyghre.
Nadiya Rapp, Children’s House 1 Assistant
Nadiya was born and grew up in Kazakhstan, a large country south of Russia. She studied there to be an English Language teacher, and in 2005 she received a Masters degree in English as a Foreign Language from a North-Kazakhstan State University. While being perfectly fluent in both Russian and English, Nadiya also knows some basic French and Spanish. Her interest in the English language led her to the U.S. where she met her husband and started a family.
For the past seven years Nadiya has worked at Little Flowers Montessori School, and AMI school in St. Louis Park, first as a Children’s House Assistant and then as a Lead Toddler Guide. This year she is excited to work with three to six year old children again. Working with children of different age groups is something that Nadiya finds both fascinating and valuable. In order to further educate herself and to continue exploring wonders of the Montessori method she is planning to obtain an AMI Elementary diploma from the Montessori Training Center of MN by 2015.
Currently she is residing in St. Louis Park with her husband and son Liam, 8. In her free time Nadiya enjoys reading classical literature, exploring state parks with her family, and illustrating children’s books. In the coming year Nadiya hopes to make new friends among families and staff of CHMS and to help its children grow, learn and thrive.
Maya Verjovsky, Children’s House 2 Lead Guide
Maya was born in Minneapolis and grew up in St. Paul. She moved to Colorado and majored in Religious Studies in college, earning her BA in 2007. During course work in developmental neuropsychology and early childhood education, she became fascinated in how the young brain develops and what helps and hinders that process. Studying this material, particularly in connection with theories of learning and cognition, laid the groundwork for her lifetime interest in the developing brain.
Having learned a little about Montessori education in college, Maya sought an AMI accredited school for her 2-year-old daughter in 2010. Naturally, the Montessori training followed! She completed the AMI primary training at MTCM in 2012, with the hope to eventually pursue the Assistants to Infancy training. Her M.Ed from Loyola University is in process.
Maya’s experience working with children from infants to older adolescents defined her young life—teaching, tutoring, babysitting, working as a nanny, and as a counselor/wilderness guide through a YMCA camp. During college, she worked as a toddler and preschool teacher at Boulder County Head Start and later at the University of Colorado Family Housing Children’s Center. Prior to the training, she volunteered in the toddler community at Cornerstone Montessori School. She learned immeasurably from the children in those settings. She has always known she would pursue a career in teaching in some respect, and Montessori is where she would like to begin to build a foundation for a lifetime of educational experience. Contact Maya.
Kate Smith-Bridges, Extended Care Assistant & Art Specialist
Kate was born in Northfield Minnesota, and currently lives in Saint Paul with her husband Colin. She loves biking, taking walks, anything that is related to the outdoors, singing, playing her harp, dancing and creative, art activities. Kate graduated from the College of Visual Arts in 2010 with BFA degree. For several years she was a residency artist and taught art, (observational drawing) to science teachers and children in 2nd, 3rd and 4th grades in Minneapolis.
Currently, Kate got her certification at the Montessori Training Center of Minnesota as an assistant teacher in 2012. Through this training center Kate found out about Cathedral Hill Montessori School, and began as a substitute teacher in the Extended Care program. Since the time Kate took the class she strongly believes in the Montessori methods of teaching and the building blocks it provides for all ages of children. Kate is still learning so much through her own experiences in the classroom and she finds that the children are teaching her new things. She has started introducing new art projects to the children and hopes to do more in the future.
Juli Belanger, Toddler Community Lead Guide
Juli has been working with young children in a Montessori setting since 2005. She is an experienced, enthusiastic, and dedicated Montessori guide, and has held many roles within Montessori communities. She has been a Lead Toddler Guide, Children’s House Guide, as well as a Children’s House Assistant Guide, and feels fortunate to have been able to experience these different roles. With these experiences, Juli has come to realize that her passion and true talents lie in the Montessori education realm is working with toddler-aged children. Juli loves working with very young children and considers herself very lucky to have found a career she is so passionate about and enjoys so wholly. She takes great pride in preparing a beautiful and inviting Montessori environment that will nurture a child’s curiosity, setting the foundation for a lifetime love of learning.
Juli received her B.A. in Art with an emphasis in Ceramics and Graphic Design from Minnesota State University Moorhead in 2003. Juli is dually trained, having received her AMI Primary Diploma from the Montessori Training Center of Minnesota in 2007 her Assistance to Infancy Diploma from The Montessori Institute in Denver in 2012.
In her spare time Juli is a dedicated yoga practitioner, and loves taking care of and learning about plants and gardening. She enjoys photography, spending time outdoors, running, and working on various creative projects.
Clara Iwaszek, Children’s House 2 Assistant
Clara is a Saint Paul native who currently lives blocks from Como Lake with her wonderful husband Geoff, darling daughter Mirabelle, a first grader in a Spanish immersion elementary school, and their amazing cat Eno. In her spare time, Clara enjoys spending time with her family, riding her bike, making arts and crafts, traveling, trying new recipes, and supporting the local music scene. She earned her B.A. in Child Psychology from the University of Minnesota in 2008 and completed the AMI Assistants Course at the Montessori Training Center of MN in the summer of 2012.
Clara’s experience, passion and deep respect for children is evident. Before joining the CHMS community in 2011, she worked with a variety of ages at Parents in Community Action (the Minneapolis Head Start program) and as a substitute teacher for The Children Home Society and Family Services. She is committed to helping children reach their full potential in developmentally appropriate and creative ways, and is consistently impressed with how effective the Montessori Method is at inspiring children of all ages to become independent, confident members of the world. She is excited to watch CHMS continue to grow and is deeply appreciative to work in such a beautiful environment and with co-workers who share her respect for, and value each child as an individual.
Maegan Schock, Toddler Community Assistant
She is a of Fargo, who left the bitter cold of North Dakota to attend the U of M-Twin Cities. Maegan’s first experience with Montessori came shortly after moving to Minneapolis when she was offered a job as an Assistant Toddler Community Guide. What began as a fun job quickly turned into a passion, and Maegan soon knew a Montessori environment was where she wanted to be. After a year and a half as an assistant, Maegan took on the role of Toddler Community Lead Guide at Child Garden Montessori School in Minneapolis, a position she has held and enjoyed immensely for the last five years. Maegan feels incredibly fortunate to have come upon such a rich and rewarding path through which she is not only able to express her own curiosity and love of learning, but more importantly, is able to help foster it in others.
Along her own educational journey, Maegan earned her B.A. in both Political Science and History from the U of M in 2009 and will begin her Assistants to Infancy training at the Montessori Institute in Denver, CO the summer of 2013. Maegan hopes to continue on to complete her Masters Degree in Montessori Education through Loyola College, Baltimore, MD. Eventually, her goal is to complete AMI Primary Training through the Montessori Training Center in St. Paul, MN.
In her free time Maegan enjoys cooking, reading, and working on her newly purchased home, though a vast majority of this time is spent working toward completing the virtually endless number of sewing or craft projects she has begun and hopes to someday finish.
Peter Avirom, Extended Care Guide
Bio coming soon!
Colleen Carroll, Assistant
Bio coming soon!