Faculty & Staff

Work Plans

The function of a teacher in a Montessori classroom differs considerably from that of the traditional teacher, which is why at Abintra we refer to our teachers as guides.

In the Lower School (3-6), independent student led work constitutes of about 80% of the day while guide-directed activity is about 20%. This develops the student's ability to direct his or her own work, receiving additional direct instruction from guides when needed.


In the Upper School (ages 6-14), students gradually receive more direct instruction through small and then large group presentations so guide instruction may comprise more of a student's day. This allows a student to self-organize, continue to develop and gain confidence in directing their own learning. This self-awareness and ability to self-regulate one's self is key to success in life.

Lower School

PATRICIA SALAZAR, Lower School Guide (since 2004)

Education: Universidad del Valle (Colombia) - B.A. Business Administration

Montessori Certification: Early Childhood 3-6, Age of Montessori 

ABIGAIL BEIER, Lower School Guide (since 2019)

Education: Lipscomb University – B.S. Elementary Ed.
Montessori Certification: Early Childhood 3-6, Age of Montessori


VANESSA SWIGGART, Lower School Guide (since 2020) (2014-17)

Education: Belmont University – B.A. Music Performance; Belmont University - Level 1 Certification, Orff Method
Montessori Certification: Early Childhood 3-6, Age of Montessori

BLAIR TRAMEL, Lower School Assistant (since 2019)

Education: Vanderbilt University - B.S. Human/Organizational Development, Studio Art

Montessori Training: Early Childhood 3-6, Age of Montessori

KRISTEN SLOCUM, Lower School Support, Reception  (since 2017)

Education: Middle TN State University - B.S. Early Childhood 

Montessori Certification: Early Childhood 3-6, Age of Montessori

Upper School

CARRIGA CAMP, Upper School Guide (since 2008)

Education: College of Charleston – B.A. English

Montessori Certification:  Early Childhood 3-6,  Age of Montessori Elementary Training 6-9

JOHN TOOMEY, Art Educator, Upper School Guide (since 2012)

Education: Murray State University – B.F.A. Drawing, Painting
Montessori Certification: Early Childhood 3-6, National Center for Montessori Education

LEAH GRABY, Upper School Guide (since 2007)
Education: Pennsylvania State University – B.S. K - Elementary Education
Montessori Certification: Early Childhood certification 3-6, Center for Montessori Education, Elementary Certification 6-12, Age of Montessori

JODI McDANIEL, Upper School Support (since 2004)
Education: University of New Orleans - B.G.A.
Montessori Certification: Early Childhood 3-6, St. Nicholas Montessori Training Centre; Elementary 6-9, Montessori World Education Institute   


JONELL SMITH, Upper School Guide (since 2009)
Education: East Tennessee State University - B.S. Elementary Education

Montessori Certification: Elementary 6-12, Age of Montessori

CHRIS FARRELL, Upper School Assistant (since 2020)

Education: University of North Texas – B.M; Indiana University – M.M;

JENNIFER GRIFFITH, Upper School Guide (since 2014)  
Education: Belmont University - M.Ed., Mathematics 7-12

Centre College - B.A. English

Montessori Training: Elementary 6-12

CLAUDIA C'deBACA, Upper School Guide and Inclusion Specialist (since 1999)

Education: Vanderbilt University – M.A. Special Education; University of New Mexico – B.A. Special Education


SHERRY KNOTT, Executive Director (since 1992)
Education: Barry University – Ed.S. Montessori Education; University of Georgia – M.Ed. in Educational Psychology; Belmont University – B.A. Secondary Education and English
Montessori Certification
: Elementary 6-12, American Montessori Society

MOLLY HENRY, Administrator (since 2000)
Education: Vanderbilt University – B.S. Psychology, Planned Parenthood Trained Sexuality Educator; Certified Positive Discipline Lead Trainer
Montessori Certification
: Early Childhood  3-6

MAURIE PONDER, Assistant Director (since 2020)

Education: Davidson College – B.A. English; Vanderbilt University – M.Ed. English Education

TN Teaching licensure: English 7-12

REBECKA ROBERTS, Technology Coordinator for Communications, Music Guide (since 2018)

Education: Hillsong International Leadership College in Sydney, Australia – Diploma in Ministry; The Royal College of Music in Stockholm, Sweden – M.A. in Music Education; Belmont University – Level 1 Certification in the Orff Method

KRISTEN SLOCUM, Lower School Assistant, Reception  (since 2017)

Education: Middle TN State University – B.S. Early Childhood Education

Montessori Certification: Early Childhood certification (ages 3-6), Age of Montessori

Support Team

EMILY ALLEN, Photographer, Visual Communications, and Social Media (since 2012) 

Education: University of Southern California – B.A. Psychology and Creative Writing

EMI CANAHUATI, Positive Discipline, Parent Support, Human Growth & Development Facilitator (since 2017)
Education: New York University – M.A. Counseling Psychology; Florida International University – B.A. Psychology

Certified Sexuality Educator – AASECT; Certified Positive Discipline Parent Educator

DAVID CLONIGER, Upper School Guide/Farm Mgr. (since 2017)

Education: Guilford College - B.S. Anthropology

LARRY KEELING, Facilities and Landscape Manager, Freelance Artist (since 1993)


BENTON MOORE, Upper School Aftercare Guide (since 2019)

CAMILLE PERRY, Support (since 2020)