Faculty & Staff
Meet our faculty and staff.
The Montessori School of Washington Park employs dedicated teachers who are trained and certified in child development and the Montessori method. Our instructors are from all around the world including Spain and Scotland, and many speak more than one language. Teachers utilize this multilingualism in classroom instruction to increase cultural understanding. We encourage you to attend an Open House and meet our outstanding staff!
Mary Purfield- Executive Director
Mary joined the Montessori School of Washington Park in 2006. She is a Colorado native and received her degree in English from Colorado State University. Mary worked in both publishing and wine importing. She wanted to have a purpose again, and what better way then becoming involved in the education of children. Mary received her Colorado Director Certification in 2010. Mary comes from a very large family and is a proud aunt to 14 nieces and nephews. Mary loves to garden, cook and spend time with friends and family.
Danielle Porras – Assistant Director
Danielle is a born and bred Coloradoan. Danielle attended college at Colorado State University where she received her Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology. After graduating, Danielle worked as a nanny and Early Childhood Education teacher working with children of all ages. She found that working with children is her passion and this path is the best and the hardest way to spend her life. Danielle received her Colorado Director Certification in May 2018 and found MSWP not long after. She is excited to learn even more about Montessori and administration in Early Childhood Education. Danielle is thrilled to be a part of MSWP! Outside of work, Danielle enjoys attending sporting events (Broncos games in particular), trying new restaurants, and spending time with friends, family, and her dogs!
Kristy has been on the Montessori path her whole life. As a child she attended a Montessori school in Davis, California. As a parent, both of her daughters were in a Montessori school through elementary school, and now her youngest has begun a Montessori middle school. And finally, as a profession, Kristy is a licensed pre-K through 3rd grade teacher, but once again felt drawn to the Montessori philosophy. Kristy believes that through Montessori a child can find not only endless joy in learning, but also love of community and independence. In her spare time Kristy enjoys spending time with her family in nature, reading and doing crafts.
Julie adores working with children of all ages and is thrilled to be a part of the MSWP community. Julie’s interest in Montessori began with her three daughters, now young adults, who were fortunate enough to attend a Montessori school in Denver from age 3 through 5th grade. Julie has worked in Early Childhood Education for over ten years. She also continues to teach for a local company that is dedicated to encouraging children to explore and learn about food. She looks forward to sharing her passion for healthy food and cooking with the children at MSWP. In her spare time, Julie enjoys spending time with her family and friends, playing tennis and reading.
Dana Hamby – Lead Teacher Primary 2 (AMS)
Dana has worked with children for many years, but feels most inspired by and committed to the Montessori model and community. Dana holds a B.A. in Communication from the University of Maryland and has a background working in the non-profit sector. A career-changer, Dana made the decision to pursue a more fulfilling life dedicated to serving young children. She earned a Master of Arts in Teaching from Towson University, where she taught in two early childhood classrooms. Upon moving to Colorado, she discovered the incredible Montessori School of Washington Park (MSWP) community; here, she was amazed to find that the Montessori philosophy was fully aligned with her beliefs about education and guiding the young child. Dana received her Primary Teacher Training from the Montessori Education Center of the Rockies. Her family recently welcomed a son, and she is thrilled for him to begin his own Montessori journey. When not in the classroom, Dana enjoys being a life-long learner, staying active, escaping to the mountains, and spending time with her family.
Rosa Igelsias – Assistant Teacher Primary 2 & Spanish Guide
Rosa is from Madrid, Spain and came to the USA in 1991. She is married and has two daughters, Elena 21 years old and Sonia 19 years old, both are in college at the moment. Rosa started working at MSWP in 1991 teaching Spanish and left in 1992 when her first daughter was born, and came back to MSWP in 2002. She got her BA degree in art history from The University Complutense in Madrid, Spain. She has attended numerous Montessori workshops over the years and loves and understands the philosophy.
Erin Schmitt – Lead Teacher Primary 1
Erin has always had a passion for working with children. She pursued Early Childhood Education from the University of Kansas as her undergrad degree. After graduating, Erin explored many different avenues working with children. It is within the Montessori environment Erin began to feel at home while working with children. In 2004, Erin moved to Portland, Oregon to attend the Montessori Institute Northwest and received her primary Montessori diploma. She has been a primary guide since 2005 and has worked in both the private and public sectors of Montessori education. Montessori is a way of life for Erin and is grateful she stumbled upon it years ago as a classroom assistant. Outside of the classroom, Erin enjoys free time with her 2 year old son, yoga and enjoying the outdoors.
Kate Miles – Assistant Teacher Primary 1
Olivia Haws – Lead Toddler Teacher
Olivia has experience teaching all ages, but especially loves working with the youngest. Originally from Florida, she graduated with a human services degree focusing on child and youth development. After teaching elementary school for three years, she moved to Washington DC, where she worked at a museum-based preschool and found her love of teaching early childhood. She has lived in Denver for 3 years and couldn’t be happier to have found the Montessori approach and MSWP! In her free time, she enjoys hiking, reading and traveling.
Tiffani Allen – Toddler Assistant Teacher
Since age 18, Tiffani has worked in many different early learning centers, but her first introduction to Montessori came when she worked at a Montessori school in 2008. She was astonished by how much more capable the children were at that school and revered it as something set apart from any of the other schools she had worked at. After completing her degree in English Literature at the University of Colorado Denver, she taught English in Japan for three years, primarily to children from three to six years old. Upon returning to Colorado, her path lead her back to Montessori. She loves being a part of this community and learns so much from the children each day. Outside of work, she loves to spend time with her friends, have dinner parties, ride her bike, and would prefer to be petting all domesticated animals at all times (she loves wild animals too).
Åsa Strong – Music Teacher and Nap/Aftercare Coordinator
Åsa is originally from Stockholm, Sweden. Once upon a time she aimed for a vocalist career in Contemporary Jazz, which expanded to studying Opera, but along the way she fell in love with teaching children. She has thirty years experience working with children from infancy to high school. Åsa has worked as a lead teacher at Denver Cooperative Preschool, and worked as a music teacher with grades 3-6 in three different schools in Sweden.
Åsa holds two Swedish degrees – a BA in Education with minors in Music and Art from Örebro University, as well as a BA in Government with a History minor, from Livets Ord University.
Åsa found a passion for the Montessori Philosophy and graduated from Montessori Education of the Rockies in 2015 as a certified Primary teacher, and finished her internship at Adventure Montessori in Lafayette. She has also worked as a Montessori Primary lead teacher at Garfield Montessori, The Good Shepherd School, and at Little Lyceum Montessori, in Denver.
Åsa enjoys composing, singing and playing music with her husband, reading, traveling, studying health, exercising and gardening.