“She [the Montessori teacher] must acquire a moral alertness which has not hitherto been demanded by any other system, and this is revealed in her tranquility, patience, charity, and humility. Not words, but virtues, are her main qualifications.”

~Dr. Maria Montessori, The Discovery of the Child

wild hearts staff

Savannah Moss
Lead Nature Guide: Tree Huggers Group
Savannah completed her BS in Developmental Psychology and has 10+ years experience working with children in various capacities; as a nanny, preschool assistant teacher and as a head counselor for a 4-H summer camp. Savannah has also completed the Forest School Level One Certification program and is currently completing the ERAFANS Nature-Based Teacher Certification program.

Winna Pumhirun
Lead Nature Guide: Puddle Jumpers
Winna earned her BA in Elementary Education from Elon University with a Minor in Spanish. She is a licensed K-6 Teacher and a certified Yoga Instructor. She has worked as a literacy teacher, peer mentor, substitute teacher and 1st & 3rd grade classroom teacher both in the US and internationally. Winna is currently completing the ERAFANS Nature-Based Teacher Certification program.

Megan Woynicz
Assistant Nature Guide: Puddle Jumpers Group
Process Art Coordinator
Megan holds a Masters in Human Services Counseling and a BA in Sociology. She has worked as a Program Assistant for a Child Development Center where she taught children ages 0-5 years, as a tutor and student assistant and has volunteered her time to open a youth shelter for her Youth Advocates group. She completed the Montessori Beginnings training through CGMS in 2019 and self-directed ongoing forest school training.

Jordan Burch
Assistant Nature Guide: Tree Huggers Group
Jordan holds a BS in Physical Education with a minor in Fitness Training and has 10 years of experience teaching pre-K through 8th grade P.E. She has also worked as a substitute teacher and is a volunteer with the Special Olympics.

toddler community staff

Ashley Sundwall-Byers
Lead Toddler Guide, Caterpillar Classroom
Montessori Parent & Child Assistant
Ashley has over 10 years of experience in early childhood education; as a preschool classroom teacher, behavior technician, camp counselor and as a dance instructor. She studied psychology at Boston University and is currently in her 2year of Montessori Infant/Toddler training with the Center for Guided Montessori Studies and is on track to earn her MACTE Accredited certification in 2020.

Becca McSweeney
Lead Toddler Guide: Butterfly Classroom
Montessori Parent & Child Coordinator
Becca earned her AMI A to I Diploma from The Montessori Institute of Denver and holds a Masters Degree in Montessori Education from Loyola University. She has more than 6 years of experience working with infants and toddlers both as a nanny and in a Montessori Toddler Community.

Chinarose Stayskal
Assistant Toddler Guide: Butterfly Classroom
Gardening & Nutrition Club Coordinator
China studied Early Childhood Education at Cabrillo College in California and went on to lead preschoolers and elementary aged-children in Parks and Recreation programs. China has also worked as a dance instructor and as a chef and is also a seasoned gardener. China completed her Montessori Beginnings training for assistants through CGMS in 2018.

Laura Rubin
Assistant Toddler Guide: Caterpillar Classroom
Laura earned her BA in Psychology from Pennsylvania State University and went on to complete her Masters in Social Work at Boston University. She has many years of experience working as a school counselor, social worker, garden coordinator and most recently as an Exceptional Children’s teacher for Moore County Schools while studying Education at St. Andrew’s University. She completed her Montessori Beginnings training for assistants through CGMS in 2019.


Lilliana Cuevas-Valentin
Spanish Immersion
and Floating Support Guide
Lilliana earned her BA in Psychology and has training in coaching, fitness and nutrition. She has worked as a tutor, personal trainer, elementary after school supervisor and as a cryptologic technician. She is bilingual and incorporates Spanish language learning opportunities into daily routines for her students.


Kelly Fagan
Yoga Instructor
Kelly has over 10 years experience in Special Education and many years incorporating yoga into her teaching. Kelly is also the owner of Dream Catcher: Yoga & Mindful Learning. This is her third year at The Garden providing an enriching and mindful yoga experience to our students.

support staff

Aimee Daniels
Aimee completed the ERAFANS Nature-Based Teacher Certification program 2019 and is a certified Master Naturalist. She has experience as junior librarian in the children’s department for 5 years, has worked with children in nature conservancy as an AmeriCorps member, was an intern at an organic farm, a 4-H State Ambassador and has many years of experience working with children and in gardening and agriculture. Aimee is currently completing her Masters in Environmental Conservation and loves to share her passion for nature with her students.

Mary Nelsen
Substitute Guide
Mary has spent the majority of her career in retail working in managerial positions and is excited to shift her focus to Early Childhood Education while providing extra support to our guides. Mary will be completing the Montessori Beginnings 0-3 Training for Assistants in Fall 2020.

Shalin Stanback
Substitute Guide
Shalin holds a BS in Psychology and has worked as a Direct Support Caregiver, Dietary Assistant and Office Assistant. She is excited to learn more about Montessori and Early Childhood Education while providing extra support for our guides.

Robyn Glenney
Substitute Guide

Robyn holds an MS in Environmental Policy and a BS in Biology. She started her career as an Environmental Educator for pubic parks and nature centers in NY and most recently, Robyn was a Park Attendant at Weymouth Woods. She has also worked as a Facilities Coordinator and Sustainability Educator for an educational retreat center, as an assistant teacher and tutor and assisted with habitat work with the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.


Kathryn Hall
Director Of Operations
Linden Rd Campus
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Kathryn holds a BS in Environmental Science and a Masters in Educational Leadership from Lynchburg College. Kathryn has nearly 10 years of experience in higher education, working as Assistant Director and Coordinator of Residence Life and as Graduate Hall Director. She completed the Montessori Foundations 3-6 training and the Montessori Beginnings 0-3 training through Center for Guided Montessori Studies. She also completed the Mastery of Montessori Leadership through Holistic Montessori Solutions in 2020.

Skye Dodson
Assistant Director
Linden Rd Campus
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Skye holds a Masters in Early Childhood Education from Ashford University. She has been teaching and practicing Montessori for the past 14 years after earning her AMS Infant-Toddler Credential in 2006. She is trained in Positive Discipline and RIE. Skye is also a Montessori Teacher Trainer in the US and Asia and teaches Education Theory and Philosophy at UNC-Greensboro.

Ellen Graham
CEO & Founder
Admissions & Finance Director
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Ellen earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts through UNC-Wilmington. She went on to earn her NC Early Childhood Credentials and attended Graduate School at Western Carolina University for Special Education before opening The Garden in 2014. She is also the founder of Kindermusik with Ellen, an early childhood music and movement program which has been in operation in Southern Pines since 2011, and additionally has over 20 years of experience in childcare and early education with training in Montessori for Early Childhood, Developmental Play Therapy and Early Intervention for Infants and Toddlers.