Miranda Pickner


Miranda’s pathway within education has taken many traditional and non-traditional twists. After graduating from The University of Oregon with her Bachelor degree in Elementary Education, she went back to her roots and taught on an Indian Reservation in Montana in a public school setting. The calling of the lush Oregon forests drew her back and she discovered Waldorf Education in a private school setting. It was a joyful time for her, but a move to the Willamette Valley opened up the possibility of making a difference in the public school setting. She taught for 6 years in St. Paul, Oregon for an amazing community.

After the birth of her 2 children, her passion for having the right educational model for them was intense. She became a founder to The Community Roots School and has moved from founder, to business manager, and now to the role of administrator. Miranda’s passion for child development and purposeful education has found a home within the Montessori methodology. “I find so much peace from the teachings of Maria Montessori and her focus on the child,” says Miranda.

Outside of her passion for education, she loves to be outside. Nature is a second home to her, and she hopes to offer many experiences to the students of Community Roots surrounding the concepts of being stewards of the Earth. She spends her free-time hiking and camping as much as possible.

Jennifer Wiese


I was born in California and have lived in the Silverton area for almost 23 years. My husband and I graduated from Silverton High School when it was housed in our previous location. I am married and have 4 beautiful children ranging in age from 7-14. Two of my kiddos attend Community Roots. This is my second year working as an administrative assistant and secretary for CRS. I was a stay at home mom for 12 years and chose to join the work force after my youngest started Kindergarten in the fall of 2014. I feel so fortunate every day to be part of such a great community of students and staff.

My children are all involved in various sports in the community, including wrestling, basketball, volleyball and soccer, keeping us very busy. As a family, we enjoy camping and working in the yard.


"In Montessori education, the role of the instructor is to direct or guide individual children to purposeful activity based upon the instructor’s observation of each child’s readiness. The child develops his own knowledge through hands-on learning with didactic materials he chooses. " American Montessori Society

 Heather Kofstad

Kindergarten – Doves Class 

Heather’s two main goals growing up were to become a mother and a teacher. After fulfilling the first in working to raise 2 boys, she went on to pursue her love of teaching.  After earning her Associates in Early Education at Clackamas Community College, Heather continued and earned her BA from George Fox University in Social and Behavioral Studies.

Heather then had the opportunity to work alongside the amazing Teri Therkelson as a teacher assistant at Bluebird Montessori Children’s House for 3 years and went on to pursue Montessori training in becoming a lead guide.

Heather attended the Center for Guided Montessori Studies in New York. She will tell you learning from the trainers at the Homestead Farm School was one of the most valuable experiences of her life. The inspiring Homestead School taught ages 3-12 on a multi-acre garden that was powered using solar energy. There were 6 classrooms, tennis courts, longhorn sheep, and a fiber arts program—all purchased with money fundraised by the children.  Heather feels so thankful for such an incredible training experience.

Heather was so delighted to then have the opportunity to be the lead guide for Acorn Academy, as well as teaching our CRS half-day kindergarten program.  Now she is thrilled to be our full-time kindergarten guide.

Heather’s own children were 5 and 7 when she learned about the Montessori philosophy. Although disappointed her children missed out on a Montessori experience in their early years, Heather’s youngest son was able to attend grades 2 through 4 here at our Community Roots School. Heather has been amazed at the positive impact that had on him. She is very thankful for this method of teaching that has supported her own child’s individual needs.

Heather believes her purpose is to help make the world a better place by creating safe places for children to be free to develop into who they are. She now spends her school year teaching in the Montessori classroom, and her summers volunteering for organizations she believes in and wants to support.

Hilary Conroy

Lower Elementary (Grades 1-3) – Owls Class

Hilary always knew she wanted to be a teacher. Just ask her three younger sisters, they were her first students! After receiving her teaching credential in Illinois, Hilary moved back to the West Coast. She taught for five years in Fairfield, California, and then moved North to teach for the next six years in Siskiyou County.

During this time she continued her love of coaching, taught many new grades, and enjoyed working with her mom at the elementary school she attended as a child! These years gave Hilary a solid foundation and allowed her to leap into her newest professional adventure: She earned her Masters in Experiential Education and finished her Montessori teacher training.

Working at a public Montessori school was a priority for Hilary. She knew she wanted to live and work in a community where this incredible philosophy was offered to all — a mission she could embrace. After learning about CRS, Hilary knew this was where she wanted to work. She began teaching in her new “home” in 2012.

 Julie Ann Cassidy

Lower Elementary (Grades 1-3) – Hummingbirds Class 

Julie Ann has her AMI training in both Primary and Elementary Education. She has a cumulative experience of 15 years teaching Montessori and before teaching worked as a social worker helping families in crisis. Julie Ann loves music, playing her guitar in class, yoga, and nature but her passion is teaching children. The excitement of building community and following the child is a big part of what draws her to Montessori. Julie Ann will also be completing a 9-month yoga certification in Hatha Yoga this November and is excited to share this with the Silverton community. Julie Ann is excited to continue her teaching career in Silverton and is excited for an opportunity to now teach in a public Montessori school. Julie Ann is originally from the East Coast, has spent some time in Minnesota but is glad to be back closer to her children who live in the Portland area. The Pacific Northwest, especially the “Big Nature” fills her with joy and gratitude.

Matt Brossart

Upper Elementary (Grades 4-6) – Great Blue Herons Class

Matt is passionate about public education and what it can do to promote social justice.  He believes in the power of curiosity and excitement.  Matt loves watching children work together, challenge each other, and grow; he believes in the power of Montessori charter schools to be education for peace.  He found all of those things at Community Roots, and knew immediately after his first visit that he wanted to be a part of CRS.

Matt began his teaching in 2007 in Houston, TX as a member of Teach for America.  After helping open up a school in Houston, Matt moved home to Minneapolis, Minnesota to be near his family and help grow out a small and passionate charter school.  There he continued teaching, but knew that there was a way for education that allowed children to utilize their strengths and passions more than most schooling does.  His reading and exploration eventually led him to discover Montessori.

Pursuing a dream, Matt moved to the edge of Salem, OR to be closer to his wife’s family and attend Montessori NW.  The last year has seen Matt and his wife, Keena, add twin daughters to their family and enjoy settling into the nature, weather, and life in the Salem-Silverton area. He enjoys spending his mornings reading and singing to his daughters and jogging. Matt loves spending his days learning with the Great Blue Herons.  He loves to spend his evenings taking walks with his family and cooking.  On the weekends his family likes to explore festivals, go camping, and cheer for Oregon and Minnesota soccer, rugby, and football teams.

Josie Silver

Upper Elementary (Grades 4-6) – Great Blue Herons Class – Information Coming Soon!

Susan Andree

Adolescent (Grades 7-8) – Meadowlarks Class

Susan Andree has been supporting the work of children within the Montessori model of education since 2001.  She attended Montessori Northwest and completed her AMI Montessori Elementary certification in 2013, then went on to complete the Orientation to Adolescent Studies with NAMTA in 2014 and a Masters of Education with Loyola University Maryland in 2015. She has worked with adolescents for twelve years, and she helped to establish the middle school at Lewis & Clark Montessori Charter School in Damascus.  For her, teaching is a calling, to tend to the transformative potential of children so that they can be agents of change in the world.

Originally from the Northwoods of Wisconsin, she has sunk her roots in the Willamette Valley with the dream of establishing a land-centered Montessori secondary program, called Erdkinder.  She is helping to establish a middle school for Community Roots so it can become a fully-implemented K-8 charter school. She values the authentic community feeling that she has found at CRS and loves the cultural gravity that Silverton maintains as a vibrant small town.

When she isn’t in the classroom, her second favorite place to be is in the wild forests of the Pacific Northwest, or kayaking down one of its rivers.  She currently lives in Canby with her pack.  Other passions she makes time for are playing her oboe, knitting, spinning wool into yarn, and meditation.  She is completing her naturalist training with the Wilderness Awareness School and will be joining the Wolverine Tracking project this winter. Always exploring something new, she believes that learning is a lifelong adventure.

Sheldon Lesire

Special Education

Sheldon is originally from Belgium, though his mother is from the Pacific Northwest.  In the middle of first grade his family moved to Silverton, where they remain, and he graduated from Silverton High School.  After 4 years spent in Kansas earning his Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education, he returned to Oregon.  His continuing education has included a Masters in Teaching from Willamette University, and an Initial Administrative License from Portland State.  When he’s not at the school, he’s usually hanging out with his wife and 3 kids, fixing up their old house, weeding his garden, raising some backyard chickens, or working with one of his side businesses.  And yes, many know him as “The Guy in the Tie.”

The purpose of Special Education, and the Resource Room more specifically, is to provide students with a free and appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment. In other words, we will provide the students with the support they need to best access their education and experience success in their regular classroom. We will stop at nothing to ensure that our students are given every opportunity to be successful while in school.

If you’re a parent of a student on an IEP, you can expect this year to be challenging and exciting for your child. We have experienced a lot of success with new programs in the areas of reading, writing, and math which better assist the students in achieving their academic goals.  Indeed, while using these same programs last year, we witnessed the students making tremendous academic gains, and the increases in self-esteem and motivation, which often accompany such gains.  Sheldon’s personal teaching style tends to keep things lively, engaging, and most importantly, fun.  When he was a student, he had tremendous difficulty connecting with dull teachers, so he puts a lot of effort into not being that guy.  It is also important for you to know that we expect students to perform at the absolute height of their ability, to take responsibility for their actions and choices, and to respect others and themselves.

Dr. David Ortega

Special Education

I have 2 advanced degrees from the U of O in Counseling (M. S. & D. Ed). I retired 2 years ago after 15 years of teaching Christian Counseling at New Hope Christian College in Eugene, OR. After living 55 years in Eugene and Springfield, we moved to Silverton where my son, wife, and 3 grandchildren live. I thoroughly enjoy teaching my kids!


Nancy Miller

Kindergarten – Doves Class – Information Coming Soon!

Mindy McCraw

Lower Elementary (Grades 1-3) – Owls Class

Hello! I am Mindy McCraw.  I work in the Owl room as a teacher assistant and have a background in education. I have two girls who have both gone to Community Roots. I enjoy going for walks around town.

Ann Roth

Lower Elementary (Grades 1-3) – Hummingbirds Class

More information coming soon!

Nicole Aman

Upper Elementary (Grades 4-6) – Great Blue Herons Class

Nicole moved to Mount Angel in August, 2016 from Eugene, where she was
born and raised. She attended the University of Oregon and earned her
Bachelor of Arts in Art in June, 2016. The following summer she worked
for an educational outdoor day camp, where she discovered a passion for
working with children. She is excited to further explore a career in
education and share her love of art. Her main artistic focuses are
weaving, sewing, drawing, and watercolor. Outside of work, she enjoys
spending time with her husband and their families, camping, gardening,
and adventuring.

Michelle Bryntesen

Upper Elementary (Grades 4-6) – Great Blue Herons Class

Michelle was born and raised in sunny Fort Lauderdale, Florida. She moved to the Pacific Northwest in 2007 to attend the University of Idaho. While there, she earned a Bachelors of Science in Forest Resources. After graduating from the U of I, she worked at a tree seedling nursery where she had the opportunity to organize tours and activities for children visiting the nursery. It was during these interactions that she truly realized her passion was working with children. She enjoyed teaching preschool at a childcare center in Idaho for several years. In 2015, she had the opportunity to move to the beautiful Willamette Valley. Michelle feels so lucky to have found this wonderful school and community! Outside of CRS, Michelle enjoys spending time with her dog, Bailey, camping, traveling and crafting.

Alyssa Burge

Garden Specialist

Alyssa Burge moved to Silverton in 2010 to pursue an interest in organic farming. That interest has grown and deepened into a commitment to working with young people in the field of farm education.  Aside from her work as the Garden Specialist at CRS, she also works as the manager for the Silverton Farmers’ Market and the Power of Produce Kids’ Club, and continues to do field work in the summers. She lives on a small farm in Scotts Mills with her husband, Mike, and new daughter, Osa.

Isaac Soper

Outdoor Specialist

Isaac Soper is an Oregon native and is an avid outdoor enthusiast and conservationist. He has a Bachelors of Science in Natural Resources with a focus on Adventure Leadership and Experiential Education from Oregon State University, where he was able to gain experience and training as both an outdoor recreation leader and biological science technician. Through OSU’s Adventure Leadership Institute, he trained as a rock climbing and hiking guide, assisted in teaching wilderness medicine, urban disaster response, mountaineering, and wilderness survival, and worked as a climbing wall instructor as well. OSU’s College of Forestry allowed him experiences including working in Borneo as a conservation field intern, and a dendrology and botany assistant.

Since high school, Isaac has loved working with kids; in 2008, he was awarded as Big Brothers Big Sisters “Best Teen Big in Oregon.” This past summer, he worked as a Nature Day Camp Counselor with Tualatin Riverkeepers. He will be utilizing his passion and knowledge of the outdoors to teach CRS students about the natural world as the CRS Outdoor Specialist.

When he’s not working, Isaac enjoys playing music with the Aspen Meadow Band, rock climbing, scuba diving, photography, and spending time with his family.

Have More Questions?

Please don’t hesitate to contact us. Thank you for your interest in our school. We hope to see you soon!

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