Nancy Characklis, The Learning Circle Montessori School's founder and director. Nancy established the school in 1980 after moving from Houston, Texas to Bozeman with her husband and two children in 1979. In Houston, she worked at School of the Woods Montessori school from 1972-1979. In 1977, she and her family spent a year in Switzerland where she taught in the Intercommunity School in Zurich. She has over 30 years experience as a Montessori teacher and three years experience in the public schools of Connecticut and Ohio. She graduated from Towson State College in 1964 with a B. S. in Elementary Education and earned two credentials from the American Montessori Society for Pre-Primary (2 ½ to 7 year olds) and Primary (6-9 year olds). In 1997 Nancy founded The Learning Circle Montessori Elementary School where she was the Head of School until June 2003. In recent years, the name has been changed to Bozeman Summit School, where Nancy continues to serve as a member of the Board of Trustees.
Christine Phillips, Head of School.
Christine joined The Learning Circle in the fall of 2007. Christine took her training at the Montessori Education Center of the Rockies and the Montana Montessori Teacher Education Center and was awarded the Early Childhood Credential from the American Montessori Society in 2010. She earned the NAEYC-recognized Directors Credential from the year-long program at the McCormick Center for Early Childhood Leadership. Her background includes teaching experiential and natural science, leading Outward Bound courses, teaching English in Chiapas, Mexico, and running cross-cultural trainings for international students. She is trained in the special learning needs of young children from the All Kinds of Minds Institute and is certified in Montessori Applied to Children at Risk from the Shelton School in Dallas, TX. She did her undergraduate studies at the University of Massachusetts and graduate work at the School for International Training. She is on the faculty of the Montana Montessori Teacher Education Institute. She, her husband Ted, and son Ian love to hike, ski, kayak and travel.
Heather Blood, Lead Teacher, joined The Learning Circle in the fall of 2009. She's completed three years of coursework toward an elementary education degree at Montana State University and she took Montessori teacher training at the Montessori Teacher Education Center in Kalispell. Heather received her early childhood American Montessori Society credential in June 2011. In addition to being a parent and having a daughter who attended Montessori school, Heather came to The Learning Circle with a year of experience teaching in an early childhood Montessori program. Heather and her husband Steve have two children who are avid skiers and they enjoy spending family time in their drift boat fishing on the Yellowstone river.
Jenna Fallaw, Teacher, joined The Learning Circle in the fall of 2011. She received her Pan American (3-6) Montessori early childhood credential from the Caspari Montessori Institute in 2003. In addition to her Montessori teaching experience, Jenna also has experience in science, outdoor and experiential education curriculum development and implementation in a variety of settings. She has served as president of both Montana Montessori Educators' Association and the Caspari Montessori Institute Alumni Association and volunteered as a board member for various community organizations. Jenna has a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Rhode Island. She is often seen running the trails with her dog or travelling the world with her husband, Mike.
Sandy Kindt, Teaching Assistant, joined Learning Circle Montessori School in the Fall of 2019. The span of her teaching career is more than 30 years in early childhood or primary age teaching. She has a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership from the University of Montana in Missoula. Her Bachelor’s Degree is in Elementary and Special Education. She has studied and worked in outdoor education settings with children. Sandy enjoys hiking, canoeing, swimming, camping and just being outdoors exploring nature.
Elizabeth D'Imperio, Teaching Assistant, started at Learning Circle in August, 2019. Her background in science, art and environmental education make a great combination for Montessori education. While running an environmental education program for Roanoke [VA] County's Parks and Recreation Department, she worked with preschool, elementary and middle school aged children. She has worked as a biologist in Yellowstone National Park. Elizabeth has a Master's of Science in Land Resources and Environmental Sciences from MSU. She, her husband and elementary-school aged son recently returned to Bozeman and love to hike, bike and explore Montana!
Carol Gullickson, Teaching Assistant, joined Learning Circle in January, 2015 and is a vital component of our team, helping to keep everything running smoothly day to day. Carol was born and raised in Helena, MT and attended the University of Montana. In 1980, Carol is recently retired from a career in banking and mortgage lending. She and her husband have two daughters and two grandchildren. She is a wedding planner in her spare time.
Robyn Dincau, Administrative Assistant, began working at the Learning Circle Montessori School in March of 2014. She has over 20 years of bookkeeping experience and has a Certificate of Applied Science in Bookkeeping from MSU-Gallatin College. Over the past several years, Robyn has worked with and served on the board of Directors of Montessori schools and other Montana businesses. Robyn owns a bookkeeping company in Bozeman, as well as two other local businesses that she and her husband run together. Robyn has two daughters who attended Montessori school from pre-primary through third grade and are now in college.