Meet our Teachers
In Montessori, teachers are often called guides since their role is to observe each child. Based on these observations, the teachers make necessary adjustments to the classroom to ensure each child's unique needs are being met. This approach allows each child to move at his or her own pace and optimize the sensitive periods for learning.

Erika Kambs

Head of School

Erika grew up in North Manchester, Indiana, and is excited to relocate to Indianapolis this summer. She attended Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, earning Bachelor of Arts degrees in Philosophy and Spanish. She has a diverse background and many years of experience in nonprofit leadership and project management, most recently serving as the Executive Director for Wabash County Habitat for Humanity. Erika brings firsthand experience in Montessori school administration, previously serving as the Head of School for Northeast Iowa Montessori.

In her spare time, she enjoys spending time outside, exploring trails with her dog, Birdie.

Elizabeth Williams

Director of Academics
Lower Elementary Lead Teacher

As a 2016 Lilly Endowment Teacher Creativity Fellowship recipient, Liz received her teaching degree from Ball State and taught public school—grades 4 and 6. Following a move to Florida, Liz was hired on staff at a new magnet school using the Montessori method. Elizabeth received her Lower Elementary training in Boston and later returned to Indiana to begin a Montessori elementary program in Westfield. She later launched her own Montessori Elementary School while continuing her training for Upper Elementary from Xavier and, after six years, joined with Habitat in 2013.

Liz is excited to combine her love as a Montessori guide with her years of educational experience in this new leadership role to share energy and inspiration with our incredible and dedicated teaching staff.

Kathleen Cliff

Upper Elementary Lead Teacher

Kathleen began teaching at Habitat in 2016, although she got her Montessori start as a three-year-old walking into her own first day in a Montessori primary program. From Sunshine Montessori, she matriculated at Earlham College where she majored in Human Development and Social Relations and minored in Education. After college, Kathleen returned to her hometown of Bloomington, Indiana where she received a master's degree in Elementary Education. Before coming to Habitat, Kathleen spent five years teaching in public schools in rural Indiana and the Boston area.

Kathleen holds 6-9 and 9-12 Montessori credentials from the Center for Guided Montessori studies. She loves seeing the deep focus, creativity, and self-growth that the Montessori method cultivates. Becoming a Montessori parent deepened Kathleen's appreciation for the philosophy and she takes great joy in watching her own children blossom at Habitat. When she isn't teaching, Kathleen enjoys spending time with her two young daughters, reading, and meeting with her book club, and planning the next Cliff family vacation.

Melissa Briede

North Primary Lead Teacher

Melissa has always had a passion for young children, finding tremendous excitement in sharing when it all comes together for them in that ‘ah ha' moment. She has spent her career working with children—helping to build connections and develop independence is just a part of her make up. Melissa earned a Bachelor of Science in Child Development and Family Life from Indiana State University in 2004, and later received her Montessori 3-6 teaching certification from the United Montessori Association. Prior to becoming lead teacher, Melissa served as an assistant teacher for five years. During that time she completed her Montessori paraprofessional training at MECA-Seton, now Seton Montessori Institute, in 2009.

Before joining Habitat in 2009, Melissa completed an internship at Methodist Hospital as a Child Life Specialist where she worked with hospitalized children and their families, conducting therapeutic play sessions that provided opportunities for expressive therapy. From there, she served as the head teacher in a Montessori-inspired toddler classroom that emphasized observation to assess the developmental abilities of individual children. Melissa went on to spend two years working with Hamilton Southeastern School Corporation, focused on developing and implementing individual education plans for students with special education needs.

When not at school, Melissa enjoys spending time at home with her husband, children, and miniature poodle.

Blaire Dosmann

North Primary Assistant Teacher

Blaire has taught for ten years in the classroom, having earned a masters degree in literacy. She loves reading, running, and traveling, and has two boys who will be attending Habitat in the fall, Charlie (5) and Fritz (3). Blaire and her family are very excited to be a part of the Habitat community!

Joyce Simmons

South Primary Lead Teacher

Joyce began her teaching career after earning a BS in Elementary Education from the University of South Florida and taught third grade for nine years. She has been part of the Habitat family since 2009 when she enrolled her oldest daughter at A Children's Habitat. She was enamored with the Montessori method and attended the Columbus Montessori Teacher Education Program in Ohio to obtain her AMS teaching certificate.

Minda Hohl

South Primary Assistant Teacher

Minda Hohl is proud to be teaching in the South classroom at A Children's Habitat. She has been a part of Habitat since 2008— teaching in the South class since 2011. Minda can also be found at Habitat during the summer months for camp! During the school year, you will most likely see her first thing in the morning at our drop off line—she loves having the wonderful opportunity to greet and welcome our students as they begin each day. Minda also loves being outdoors (especially in warm weather), wearing flip-flops, reading a good book, and cooking a great meal.

When not at Habitat, she can be found spending time with her husband and furry four-legged children.

Cholpon Meimanilieva

Toddler Lead Teacher

Cholpon is the Interim Lead Teacher in our Toddler classroom. She trained with Seton Montessori Institute as a Primary and Infant & Toddler guide, spending her practice year with A Children’s Habitat (ACH) in 2011 and remaining a part of the school since that time.

Cholpon first learned about the Montessori education philosophy in 2007, when she and her family moved to the Boston area from Kyrgyzstan. Inspired by the development of her 3-year-old nephew, she decided to learn more about Montessori and quickly became very passionate about it, eventually pursuing a study and career as a Montessori guide. Her four daughters are proud ACH alumni.

Cholpon brings a diverse international background to the school. With BA and Master’s degrees in Political Science and a major in Chinese studies from the Kyrgyz-Russian Slavic University (Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan), she studied in Kyrgyzstan, China, and Australia, and is fluent in Kyrgyz, Russian, Mandarin, and Turkish in addition to English.

Sarah Dargatz

School Aide

Sarah has been with A Children’s Habitat since 2016. First as a parent, then as a volunteer and now as a school aide. She studied Anthropology and Archaeology at IUPUI with a minor in Museum Studies. She has worked in the Spacequest Planetarium at The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis and the computer science lab at IUPUI.

Aftercare Teacher

Nicolette comes to ACH with nearly 15 years of experience working with children of all ages. She is a part time EMT, training for the Indianapolis Fire Department. When Nicolette is not in an ambulance you may find her roller skating, hiking, or spending time with family. She is a mom to her 9-month-old daughter, Simone, as well as her beloved pets, a cat named Mister, and two dogs, Sawyer and Aries!

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