Meet Our Pocatello Montessori Teachers and Staff

Pocatello Valley Montessori is passionate about Montessori preschool and elementary school. Our teachers are seen as educational guides; they are there to introduce children to learning opportunities. Then they stand back as the children pursue their passions. As the children grow in their education, the teachers continue to guide them, gently drawing them into new and progressively more challenging learning experiences. The teachers also supported by classroom assistants who help the children stay on track during the school day. They make sure that the materials are properly stocked each day, and help with special projects and works.

Our Pocatello Montessori Teachers

Our teachers send a regular email to parents of our students. It is the best way to stay informed about what your child is learning at school. Sign up for the newsletter in the form at the bottom of this page.

Montessori Toddler Guide (Ages 18-36 months): Qaren Whitworth

Qaren Whitworth–lead teacher Montessori Toddler classroom

Qaren is an experienced child care provider and the lead teacher in our Montessori Toddler Program. “I got interested in teaching because I love how much of a positive influence I have on children. Well, technically it was because I took care of my dad and nursing school seemed too hard,” she says with a grin. She has two brothers, and grew up in Inkom, Idaho. She has two dogs, and enjoys spending time with friends and helping people out. She loves it when she builds a special bond with a child and knows that she’s helped that child have a stable relationship.

She has a technical certificate in Early Childhood education and four years experience in various child care and preschool settings. She is currently completing her Early Childhood Associates Degree at Idaho State University. To receive Miss Qaren’s newsletter, sign up here

Montessori Primary Guide (Ages 3 to 5): Shelley Schaugaard

Shelley Schaugaard
Shelley Schaugaard–lead teacher Montessori Primary classroom

Shelley is excited to be a part of the Primary Classroom, which is a Montessori preschool and kindergarten program. She has almost 15 years of experience teaching and mentoring children in many different settings.  Prior to coming to Pocatello Valley Montessori, she taught preschool in her home. She finds the excitement and enthusiasm that kids have for learning at this age such a joy to be a part of, and she loves to be able to provide a child’s first introduction to school in an atmosphere that feels safe, loving, and nurturing.

Shelley is affiliated with The North American Montessori Center and has a Bachelor’s degree from BYU. She and her husband, Chad, have four children ages 8 to 17 years-old. Sign up for Ms. Shelley’s newsletter.

Primary Montessori Primary Guide (Ages 3 to 5): Amy Holgate

Amy Holgate–lead teacher Montessori Primary classroom

Amy came to Pocatello Valley Montessori school after spending several years working as a paraprofessional in the local schools. She became intrigued by the Montessori philosophy while attending education classes at Idaho State University. Coming into the Montessori classroom felt like “home” to her as she embraced the individual paced instruction. She loves creating practical life material which teach young children useful skills like buttoning, sweeping, pouring, and simple food preparation. In addition to fostering specific skills, Practical life materials are often the children’s first introduction to the classroom and help a child develop inner discipline, self-regulation, focus, and concentration.

Amy is pursuing her American Montessori Society accreditation at the Montessori Institute at Westminster College in Salt Lake City. She and her husband have three daughters. Want to receive Ms. Amy’s newsletter? Sign up here.

Lower Elementary Montessori Guide (Ages 6 to 9): Sandra Morgan

Sandra Morgan–lead teacher Montessori Lower Elementary classroom

Sandra grew up in Utah, but having lived in Chubbuck for the past 23 years, she is happy to call Idaho her home. She and her husband, Rich, have six children, all of whom have benefited from a Montessori education. Naturally loving and caring by nature, Sandra loves working with children and is passionate about the Montessori method as an approach to life and learning. She is affiliated with the North American Montessori Center, and is the qualified teacher of Pocatello Valley Montessori’s Lower Elementary program.

Outside of the classroom, Sandra’s favorite pastime is cheering on her children from the sidelines as they participate in sports and musical activities. She also enjoys reading, gardening, and spending time with family. Ms. Sandra’s newsletter is available here.

Pocatello Valley Montessori Staff

Head of School: Leslie Woodford

Leslie Woodford–Head of School

Leslie Woodford fell in love with the Montessori method when she first toured a Montessori classroom in Savannah, Georgia. More than anything, she wanted her children to have a chance to experience the hands-on child driven education. When her children got wait-listed during the initial public school lottery, she submitted her own application to work at the school–she’d heard that staff member children got in automatically. She got hired! She worked at the school, while her two children attended the school.

Leslie has an AMS Montessori Administrator credential from the Institute for Montessori Innovation at Westminster College in Salt Lake City, a Masters degree in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, and a Bachelor of Arts in Humanities from Brigham Young University. She brings more than ten years of teaching, training, and leadership experience to the position. Sign up for the PVMS Newsletter from Ms. Leslie.

School Spokesperson: Morgan Kirkham

Pocatello Valley Montessori spokesperson Morgan Kirkham
Morgan wants all children to have a great education.

Morgan is a Pocatello native and the mother of four. She has been passionate about the Montessori method since sending both of her oldest children to a Montessori preschool. She also considered it as a homeschool option for her oldest son. Because of the Kirkham’s positive experience with the Montessori curriculum, Morgan felt strongly about founding an elementary school for her kids to further their education through Montessori. She is excited to come together with the community and to provide a wholesome experience for other local families who are also educationally motivated.

Office Manager: Kathy Kirkham

Kathy Kirkham facilitates all facets of the school

Kathy is the volunteer Office Manager for Pocatello Valley Montessori. For her full-time work she is the CFO for Commercial Real Estate Services of Pocatello where she manages the day-to-day financial affairs for some 80 commercial clients located in 32 properties in Southeast Idaho. Additionally she manages the finances for Contractor Sales Inc., and a number of other limited partnerships. She is a graduate in Business Management from BYU and has nine grandchildren, some of whom are students of Pocatello Valley Montessori. Several of her grandchildren have attended Montessori preschools both in Pocatello and other locations.

School Board Chairman: Rich Kirkham

Rich Kirkham is the chairman of the PVMS School Board

Rich is the President of Commercial Real Estate Services headquartered in Pocatello Idaho (Dale’s Inc). In 2002, he founded the successful The Academy Charter School in Pocatello, a Harbor School that has grown to serve nearly 500 children in the Pocatello-Chubbuck area.

Rich graduated from BYU in 1980 with a degree in Business Management and continued his Masters of Business studies at Idaho State University. He is a successful entrepreneur who owns and operates Commercial Real Estate Services, Contractor Sales, Dale’s Auto Supply, Meridell Park Events Center, and Dale’s Outdoor Advertising. Rich has served on a number of local boards including the Bannock Development Board, Valley Pride, The Chamber of Commerce, and the Idaho State University Symphony. A passionate Rotarian, Rich is the 2015-2016 President of the Pocatello Rotary Club.


Morgan Kirkham–Toddler Assistant Teacher

Nicole Corbridge–Primary Assistant Teacher

Stephanie Harman–Primary Assistant Teacher

Misty Bayliss–Lower Elementary Assistant Teacher

Kayla Furhman–Before and After Care

Misty Ralphs–Music Specialist

Matt Kirkham–Chemist and Handyman extraordinaire


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Learn more about our Montessori preschool program.