Nancy Characklis, The Learning Circle Montessori School's founder and owner. 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.

Heather Blood, Co-Director and 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, Co-Director, 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 traveling the world with her husband, Mike.

Christine Phillips, Teacher, joined The Learning Circle in the fall of 2007. Christine was trained at the Montana Montessori Teacher Education Center and was awarded the Early Childhood Credential from the American Montessori Society in 2010. She has a Master of Art in Education from St. Catherine University and a B.S. in Natural Sciences from the University of Massachusetts. Her background includes teaching experiential and natural science; teaching English in Chiapas, Mexico; and running cross-cultural trainings for international students. She was formerly Head of School for Learning Circle. She is a currently an instructor at the Montana Montessori Teacher Education Institute. She and her family love to hike, ski, kayak and travel, especially to Latin America. 


Shannon Boulger, Teacher, joins Learning Circle in Fall, 2021. Shannon received a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential from California State University, Monterey Bay, a Montana Teaching License, and a Masters of Education in Teaching and Learning from Brandman University. She has taught 1st grade for four years and has experience as a Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports team lead. Shannon values strong relationships, collaboration, creativity, and flexibility in and out of her classroom. She enjoys getting outdoors on hikes or bike rides with her fiance and dog, snuggling with her two cats and a good book, spending time with her three siblings, and finding new recipes to cook.

Margaret Twichel, Teacher, joins Learning Circle in Fall, 2021. She graduated from Grove City College in Pennsylvania with a degree in Middle-Level Math and English but loves working with all ages. She has been working with young kids ever since she first discovered her passion for teaching in high school, first volunteering in Sunday schools, Headstarts, pre-schools, and teaching piano, then working as a fifth-grade teacher in 2019 here in Bozeman. In her spare time, she loves biking with her son James, reading, and camping.


Angelee Rose, Assistant Teacher, joined the Learning Circle in the fall of 2020. As an Assistant Teacher, Angelee brings strong experience in teaching and working with young children. She has been a Kindergarten teaching assistant and nanny, and worked as a teaching intern for the Jeffco Outdoor Education Lab School in Colorado. She is currently a student at the MSU Honors College where she majors in Environmental Biology and Microbiology. In her spare time she loves to run and climb.

Kaydee Wood,  Assistant Teacher, joins Learning Circle in Fall, 2021. She received her Associate of Science Degree at Snow College in 2018. She then went on to pursue her education at BYU-Idaho. Kaydee recently graduated with a Bachelors Degree in Professional Studies with a minor in Child Development. She received her Elementary Certification in winter of 2021. She has been a nanny, daycare teacher, Elementary Teacher Aid, and a piano teacher. She is from Sugar City, Idaho but recently moved to Montana. In her spare time she loves to play music, take pictures, go horseback riding, and hang out with her cute little chihuahua mix dog, Izzy.

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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.

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