Montessori Education Staff
is the Center's Research Director. She completed her B.A. at the University of Richmond and earned masters degrees from the University of Virginia and University of South Carolina and her Ph.D. from the University of Virginia. Currently, Dr. Culclasure is the Principal Investigator of the South Carolina Public School Montessori study, the Overcoming Obstacles Life Skills Program evaluation, and the education model evaluation funded by the Education Oversight Committee. Dr. Culclasure also currently serves as a lead evaluator for the United Way's Middle Grades Initiative, the Pickens County Drug-Free Communities federal grant, and the Orangeburg District 3 Elementary and Secondary School Counseling federal grant. She also served from 2012-2014 as an evaluator for the Florida Race to the Top federal grant. From 2005 to 2008, Dr. Culclasure coordinated the Riley Institute's Hewlett-funded research study on public education in South Carolina.
David J. Fleming
, Senior Researcher, is assistant professor in the political science department at Furman University, where he teaches classes in research methodology, American politics and public policy. Dr. Fleming has significant experience in education research and program evaluation. A senior research associate for the School Choice Demonstration Project, he is participating in the official, state-authorized evaluation of the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program (MPCP) the nation’s oldest and largest urban school voucher program. He is also the project statistician for the Montessori, Overcoming Obstacles and Middle Grades research projects. Dr. Fleming graduated magna cum laude
from the University of Notre Dame and earned his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
, Co-Investigator of the South Carolina Public School Montessori study, is associate professor of education and the coordinator of Furman’s early childhood teacher education program. Dr. DeJong received her B.A. from Cornell University and Ph.D. from Florida State University. Her research and scholarly interests include early childhood teaching models and pedagogy. She has published several book chapters and articles related to service learning, project based learning, and integrated curriculum designs. Dr.DeJong has experience developing, coordinating and reporting numerous grant projects related to early childhood education. She currently serves as president of the South Carolina Association of Early Childhood Teacher Educators.
Ginny Riga, Project Montessori Consultant, has held numerous teaching and administrative positions in public education for over 30 years. The majority of her work has been in Columbia, SC, where she was principal of the first total Montessori public school in the state in the early 2000’s. She led the growth of Montessori in public schools throughout South Carolina as Coordinator of Montessori Public School Programs at the South Carolina Department of Education from 2008-2011. Dr. Riga earned a doctorate from the University of South Carolina in Educational Leadership and Policy and is Montessori trained in primary and lower elementary levels. She also serves on the board of directors of the American Montessori Society (AMS) and is a member of the Montessori Leadership Collaborative, a national group working towards unifying the Montessori movement in America. She is a past board member of Montessori Educational Programs International (MEPI) and a founding member and former officer of the South Carolina Montessori Alliance.
joined the Riley team in 2008. She is currently the Research Specialist with the Center for Education Policy and Leadership, where she is responsible for assisting with data collection, instrument and report creation, research logistics, and database compilation associated with several research projects, including the South Carolina Public School Montessori study, the Overcoming Obstacles Life Skills Program evaluation, the education model evaluation funded by the Education Oversight Committee, and the Middle Grades initiative. She received a B.A. from Winthrop University in 2006 and is in the process of earning her M.A. at the University of Nebraska (Kearney).
Montessori Classroom Observers
Catherine Stevenson Beemer was a classroom Montessori directress for over 30 years as well as a co-owner of a private Montessori school. She holds credentials for teaching 3-9 year olds and has been a teacher educator in several programs since 1985.
Gail Hornsby has taught in the public school system for 27 years, and completed primary and lower elementary Montessori training in 2000 with Montessori Education Programs International (MEPI) through Lander University. She worked as the Curriculum Resource Teacher for seven years at Brockman Montessori in Richland School District One. After retirement, she served as Richland One's Montessori consultant for four years.
Stacy Hudson received her AMI Primary Montessori Diploma in 2001 in Paris, France, where she worked in bilingual Montessori schools before moving to Charleston. Subsequently, she completed AMS Lower Elementary training with Seacoast Center for Education and the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd levels 1 and 2. She has taught ESL, French, and Montessori in both public and private schools since 1998. In 2013 she completed her Masters of Education in Teaching, Learning, and Advocacy at the College of Charleston. Her capstone research project involved observing instances of metacognition in teacher practice in the context of both Montessori and Reggio Emilia primary classrooms in both public and private schools.
Elaine Kalagher received secondary Montessori training from the Houston Montessori Center and primary Montessori training from Montessori Educational Programs International (MEPI) in South Carolina. She has taught in both public and private school settings.
Jo-Anne Long is credentialed by the American Montessori Society to educate children ages 3-6, 6-9 and 6-12. After a combined forty-seven years of teaching in traditional schools and Montessori schools, and serving as a principal in private Montessori schools, she began coaching and instructing Montessori teachers.
Russell Long holds three Montessori teaching credentials from the American Montessori Society (ages 3-6, 6-9 & 6-12). He spent 33 years teaching in Montessori classrooms in both private and public schools and has been a Montessori teacher-trainer for over 25 years.
Teresa Noble received her Primary Montessori Classroom Guide certificate from Montessori Educational Programs, International. She has 28 years of experience teaching in public schools, and ten years as a Primary Montessori Guide. For the past six years, she has served as an instructor and program director for the Institute for Guided Studies, a Montessori teacher education program.
Diana Zellner has earned National Board certification in the upper elementary grades. She has worked in both private and public Montessori school settings over the past 30 years, and has served as a presenter in Montessori training programs in a variety of curriculum areas.