A longtime proponent of Montessori education, Bonnie sent two of her own children to a Montessori school, and she has most recently become a trained paraprofessional through the Age of Montessori. Bonnie has served at Habitat as a substitute teacher in past years and is the proud grandma of two Habitat students.
MS. ELIZABETH "LIZ" 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.
MS. AMANDA LUFKIN
Amanda has two children who began their preschool careers at A Children's Habitat in the Early Years room and she has loved watching them grow and thrive every year since. After receiving her J.D. and practicing law for several years, Amanda was a stay-at-home mom and active parent volunteer at Habitat. She loved volunteering so much that she decided to make a career of it, and began as an Office Assistant, eventually adding on bookkeeping and office management. She continues to enjoy seeing the lasting effects of a Montessori education blossom in her children.
In her spare time, Amanda enjoys reading, shopping, and watching movies.
MS. KATHLEEN CLIFF
Upper Elementary Lead Teacher
Kathleen grew up in Bloomington, Indiana, and has recently relocated to Indianapolis from Boston with her husband David. She has a BA from Earlham College in Human Development and Social Relations with a minor in Education and completed her graduate coursework in Elementary Education at Indiana University. She is currently working toward her Montessori 6-12 certification through The Center for Guided Montessori Studies. Prior to joining Habitat, Kathleen taught 2nd, 4th, 5th, and 6th grades in public schools in rural Indiana and the Boston suburbs. In the classroom, Kathleen is passionate about guiding students toward a love of life-long learning and community engagement.
When she isn't teaching, Kathleen loves cooking, reading, camping, and playing with her cats.
MS. MELISSA BRIEDE (BREE-DEE)
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.
MR. STEPHEN BALL
North Primary Assistant Teacher
Stephen has been a Montessori elementary teacher for the majority of his adult life. After graduating from the University of San Diego with a BA in Political Science and a minor in Marine Studies, Stephen received his 6–9 training from CMTE in New York. He later received his 9–12 training from MMTTC in Chicago. Stephen has taught all over the United States and parts of Europe and is looking forward to the challenge of a new age group and getting to know the students and families of our school.
When not at school, Stephen enjoys outdoor sports, playing music, and reading.
MS. 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.
MS. 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.
MS. JESSICA FLAHERTY
Toddler Lead Teacher
Jessica helps your little ones grow in her role as the Toddler lead teacher for A Children's Habitat. After ten years of working within the Montessori community as a 3-6 assistant or lead teacher, she spent the 2014-2015 school year discovering the joys of teaching children 18-36 months. Jessica is fascinated by this age group and so happy to be working with them! She has been using American Sign Language (modified for our little friends' hands) for four years now and enjoys incorporating this into our daily curriculum.
She and her husband, who is an excellent cook, have an amazing and wonderful daughter, also at ACH. In her imaginary free time, Jessica reads a book a day, bike rides along the banks of rivers, and gardens in her huge yard, followed by a swim in the ocean, of course.
MS. CHOLPON MEIMANILIEVA
Interim 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.
MS. KATHLEEN NGO
Interim Toddler Assistant Teacher
A proud parent of Habitat alumni, Kathleen is a former toddler and preschool teacher and a previous substitute teacher at Habitat. Kathleen holds a BA and MSW from Indiana University and has worked as a mental health social worker, specializing in children and adolescents. Kathleen has completed her toddler assistant teacher certification program through the Age of Montessori.
In her spare time, Kathleen enjoys reading, hiking, camping, and time with her family.
MS. RACHEL BUEKER
As a Habitat parent for the last four years, Rachel has enjoyed helping in the classroom and looks forward to continuing to do that in this role. She holds a BS in Criminal Justice with a minor in Psychology from Indiana University. Through college, Rachel volunteered as a mentor for at-risk youth and went on to work in social work after graduating. Before joining Habitat in 2017, she was a co-op parent for 7 years and fell in love with a parent-run, child-led, and outdoor-friendly school model, which led she and her family to A Children’s Habitat. Rachel has been able to use her experience through co-op to continue assisting in the Montessori environment.
When not at Habitat, Rachel enjoys being outdoors and finding adventures with her family.