Our Teachers & Staff

Administration Team

Cynthia Dyer

Principal and Executive Director of Discover Montessori Society, 

Elementary Art Teacher


Cynthia holds Montessori certification for both Primary and Elementary levels, Early Childhood Education (ECE) Certification, a Bachelor of Child and Youth Care, and a Masters of Education in Educational Leadership from VIU. Cynthia is a past co-chair of the Vancouver Island Montessori Association and has been involved for many years with Montessori; first as a parent, then as a teacher.  Cynthia also facilitates Montessori parenting classes and teaches art to the elementary students.


Karin Barker

Office Administrator, Farm Project Manager


Karin holds a Bachelor of Arts from Simon Fraser University with a Double Major in Anthropology and Communications, as well as a Diploma of Technology in Broadcast Communications from BC Insitute of Technology.  She was instrumental in opening our Parksville Campus in 2008 and her son completed the entire program from age 3 through the end of Middle School.  Karin serves the school community as Office Administrator and is also the coordinator of the Montessori Farm School Project.

Primary Program Faculty

Kathleen Hancock

Primary Montessori Directress


Kathleen has been a Directress with Discover Montessori since receiving her AMI Montessori training in 2007. She also holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of British Columbia, in History and Botany, and has worked in community and outdoor recreation in the past. Kathleen is passionate about sharing Montessori education, and her love for the outdoors, with our students and families.

Valerie Mermet

Primary Montessori Directress


Valerie moved to Canada from the south of France in 2000. In 2003, she began working with Discover Montessori School as the French and Dance Specialist Teacher. Literally inspired by her students, Valerie completed her AMI Montessori Primary certification in 2008, and joined Discover Montessori School as a Primary Directress.  Valerie brings a global and ecological perspective to the classroom, having studied organic horticulture in England, and as a member of Kabudu, a professional West African dance and drumming ensemble. She has also lead expeditions and volunteer trips to Nepal. 

Jodi Donaldson

Primary Classroom Assistant


Jodi first experienced Montessori while assisting with Discover Montessori School’s summer program. Jodi has completed the Early Childhood Educator and Care program, including the additional Infant/toddler and Special Needs training. Jodi has worked with supportive child care at the Nanaimo Child Development Centre, and has since completed her AMI Montessori Assistant's Course. As part of Discover Montessori School's Primary Program, Jodi absolutely loves working with the students. 

Darla Thiara

Primary Classroom Assistant


Darla is the mother of three DMS Montessori educated children, and first came to the school as a parent. She is drawn to child development and early childhood education, and spent time fostering children before completing her ECEA and AMI Montessori Primary Assistant Certification. Darla is looking forward to continuing her Montessori training. 


Joyful Belino

Extended Day Montessori Program


 Joyful is a young Filipina who moved to Canada in 2017. With her mother’s encouragement, she completed her AMI Primary diploma at MTCBC in 2020. She started this journey by volunteering at a child care centre of Saint Louis University while she was taking Communication Arts. To further answer her calling, Joyful involved herself as coordinator of Amigos Para Tubo, a charity organization co-founded by her father to help marginalized children in remote and mountainous areas of their hometown. She collaborated with school administrators and local businesses to distribute school supplies and execute feeding programs and arts and music classes. She hopes to extend Montessori’s reach to even more children and to make it easily accessible.


Veronica Melink

Extended Day Program


Mrs. Milenk graduated from the Yukon College ECE program and she brings over 25 years of knowledge and dedication to working with infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and school aged children with their families. She has worked in a variety of early learning and education environments, including child care centers, child & family support services, full day early learning and kindergarten programs. With over 28 yrs of continued fostering services, Mrs. Milenk's role draws a full circle in terms of what makes her the happiest. Her favorite hobbies are being creative, gardening, traveling, reading, and singing in choir!

Our Elementary Program Faculty

Andrea Saam-Lawry

Elementary Montessori Teacher


Andrea completed a Bachelor of Education and a Bachelor of Arts in History and English from Malaspina Univeristy-College (now Vancouver Island University). In addition to AMI Montessori Elementary Teacher certification, she holds a Professional Certification of Qualification for teaching with the BC Ministry of Education. Andrea has travelled and volunteered in Europe, South America, and Asia, including Hsin Chu, Taiwan, where she created the curriculum for, and taught, the 'English as a Foreign Language' program to preschoolers at the America Montessori School. 

Zeny Belino

Elementary Montessori Teacher


Zeny holds an AMI Elementary Diploma and a BC Independent School Teaching Certificate. She worked in the ESL department at an international school chartered by the embassies of Canada, the UK and the USA in Moscow, Russia. Zeny holds a Bachelor of Science in Biology and a Masters in Science Education as well as Registered Professional Teaching Certification  in the Philippines. At the International School, Zeny pioneered the beginning of the Biology department and was the Coordinator and Head of Instruction in addition to teaching laboratory and natural science courses. She worked as a Middle School Classroom Adviser and Biology teacher before she joined the college Department teaching Laboratory Sciences. Alongside her teaching workload, she was  an adviser to an Indigenous Student Group in the Philippines which aimed to promote and preserve indigenous arts, songs and dances.

Kaitlin Jackson

Elementary Classroom Assistant


Kaitlin studied at Mount Royal College before completing a Bachelor of Education and Bachelor of Arts (majoring in English Language Arts) at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta. Kaitlin provided tutoring and aide/respite services to children with behavioural and physical challenges from 2011-2015, and worked at Bragg Creek School as a Teacher’s Assistant. In 2016 she completed her AMI Montessori Assistant’s training and is a valuable member of our Elementary team.

Stephanie Ingram

Elementary Classroom Assistant


Stephanie completed her BSc. in the Biology program at VIU, and her MSc. in Zoology at UBC.  She complete the AMI Montessori Assistant’s Training course in 2017 and worked in the primary program for 3 years before moving into the elementary program. Stephanie has been a part of the Discover Montessori Program most of her life. After joining the program at the age of 3, she completed her 7th year (the highest year available at the time). She later went on to volunteer at the school as a drama instructor and a reading companion to the students.

Aviva Stein-Wotten

Elementary Resource Teacher/Elementary Admin Coordinator


Aviva holds a Bachelor of Arts with minors in Languages & Culture and Liberal Studies, as well as a Bachelor of Education from Vancouver Island University. She also holds a Professional Certification of Qualification for teaching with the BC Ministry of Education. She grew up in Nanaimo, and has travelled in Europe, the United States and eastern Canada. Aviva is the Reading Specialist in the Elementary program and teaches Art to the Lower Elementary students. In addition to her teaching responsibilities, Aviva works assists an administrative capacity. Aviva is a professional photographer, and has shared her passion with both the Elementary and Middle School programs.

Rehanne Newcombe

Elementary French Specialist Teacher


Information to come

Elan Tombs

Elementary Music Specialist Teacher


Information to come

Our Middle School Program Faculty

Gail Conway

Middle School Guide


Gail has completed a Bachelor of Arts in Physics, Masters in Science in Astronomy, and a PhD (ABD) in Astrophysics. She also holds Independent School Teaching Certifications in math, science, English, and social studies, and is a graduate of the North American Montessori Teachers Association/AMI Montessori Orientataion to Adolescent Studies. Gail was a faculty member at Vancouver Island University for 16 years before joining the team at Discover Montessori School and has been instrumental in the development and implementation of our Montessori Middle School Program.
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