Staff & Board

Educational Director: Joyce Downing

After receiving her certification in Lower Elementary from the Center for Montessori Teacher Education in New York, Joyce began her career in 1989 at Jarrow Montessori in Boulder, Colorado. In time she and her husband, Jay, moved to Alpine and Joyce began working at our school in 1993, developing our very first elementary curriculum and classroom. She then went on to help establish two other child care centers, Learning Tree and the Sul Ross Day Care Center. Joyce spent many years teaching for Alpine Independent School District, in the 1st, 7th and high school grades. She holds a M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction and is certified to teach reading, writing, social studies, and communication. She is also a skilled theatre instructor. In 2013, the school district honored Joyce as Teacher of the Year. Joyce resigned from AISD in the Spring of 2017 and we wasted no time luring her back to the Montessori elementary classroom to co-teach in the lower el class with Ms. Irene. In 2018, Joyce opened Alpine Montessori School's first Adolescent Program. Her expertise in education, and Montessori in particular, is second only to her kindness and patience. We feel very fortunate to have her!

Executive Director: Amelie Urbanczyk  

Amelie has been with the Montessori school since enrolling her oldest son in the primary class in 2007, first as an involved parent and volunteer, then joining the staff in 2009. After working as the school administrator for ten years, she began her duties as executive director in 2019. She can't say enough about the positive influence the school has had on her own children's whole education. She says "Montessori establishes a love for learning early on and this is a quality my children carry with them today. To me, that is priceless."

Administrator: Nan Hatty Edwards

Nan Hatty Edwards was curious about Montessori when enrolling her eldest son in the Primary class in 2014, and was quickly delighted with the gentle and thoughtful approach to early learning.  "Since then, every year amazes me.  I love the feeling of parenting alongside this education method, it's very familyful."

Upper Elementary Teacher: Amy Ellis
Amy began her path at Alpine Montessori as a volunteer in the school's library. The school quickly recognized her prowess in organization and hired her as the office assistant in 2012. After witnessing first-hand the benefits of the Montessori method in both her own child and the student population at AMS she decided come on board full time by applying for a position in the elementary classroom. She is certified for both lower elementary (ages 6-9) and upper elementary (ages 9-12). Amy enjoys helping the children to explore their areas of interest and expand their powers of observation — especially in the outdoor environment. 

Lead Primary Teacher: Irene Curry
Irene has worked with Alpine Montessori since 2011. She began her work with us assisting in the primary classroom and covering after-school care. She quickly picked up on the language and philosophy of Montessori and was promoted as a full time staff member. She is certified for the Montessori lower elementary (ages 6-9) curriculum, and has recently expanded her certification in the Montessori 3-6 curriculum, from the North American Montessori Center. She enjoys observing children in their natural, inquisitive state and looks forward to guiding them through their explorations.

Primary Teacher: Betsy Larson
Elizabeth Larson, also known as "Betsy", is an AMI certified teacher with over 40 years of classroom experience. She, along with a few colleagues and parents, started a school in Charleston, South Carolina in 1989. This school went on to become a successful Montessori Public School. She recently spent 6 years in China where she spent much of her time training teachers in the Montessori method and consulting in their classrooms. Now in Alpine, Betsy is excited to share her experience in the Primary Classroom.

Primary Assistant Teacher: Beckie Hagerman
 Beckie moved from Maryland to Alpine with her husband, Matt, and their two children in 2016. After enrolling her oldest daughter, Eden, in the elementary classroom we learned of Beckie's previous 10+ years of experience in daycare and quickly lured her in to oversee our after-school care program. In August 2018, she will join the primary classroom as a full time assistant. Beckie received her certification in Child Development and Curriculum Planning in 2009 and is currently completing her Montessori 3-6 certification. The children adore her motherly, down-to-earth nature and compassion; the rest of us admire her quick wit and dedicated work ethic.

Primary Assistant Teacher: Rebecca Pugh
Rebecca Pugh grew up with the Green Meadow Waldorf School in New York, and graduated from there before she attended Smith College, in Northampton, MA.  While at Smith College she studied with a master painter and received a rigorous classical drawing and design training as an artist and instructor.  She attended several art institutions before finally graduating from Smith College in 2007.  Intending to provide better quality art instruction in different educational institutions, she attended graduate school in Savannah, GA, to receive her Masters in Art Teaching degree.  During her graduate study she has taught in several educational settings, including public, Montessori, and Waldorf classrooms as an art teacher. She has taught in two Waldorf high schools since then and she looks forward to teaching in a Montessori environment this fall.  Rebecca fell in love with Alpine Montessori School after she enrolled her daughter, Eleanor, in 2017.

Elementary Assistant Teacher: Amy Oxenham
Amy Oxenham began working with children in 2007 through a small scale farming operation in Baltimore, MD which opened its doors to local schools to teach basic food and gardening skills to youth. Since then, Amy has provided leadership to a variety of school gardening programs and community outreach incentives throughout Maryland, Texas, and Washington—always with a focus on youth and family food security and education. After welcoming her first child, Amy worked for the YMCA of Texas as a Youth Programs coordinator. She recently earned her BS in Biology, cum laude. Since enrolling her eldest daughter in Alpine Montessori School in 2013 she has seen how children thrive in the program. What Amy enjoys most is nurturing children’s curiosity and their natural aptitude for learning through exploration. She appreciates how the Montessori method supports these values.

Board of Directors

Bret Scott, President
Avram Dumitrescu, Vice-President
Maria Curry, Secretary
Amanda Thompson
Carrie Branum
Katie Ray