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Montessori Education Staff

Brooke Culclasure
Brooke Culclasure is the Center for Education Policy and Leadership’s Research Director. Currently, Dr. Culclasure oversees the Center’s Program and Evaluation Capacity Building Initiative and serves as the Principal Investigator of studies related to Montessori education, New Tech schools, and project-based learning. She also serves as a co-Investigator for the United Way of Greenville County’s OnTrack Greenville initiative. She is a lecturer in the Politics and International Affairs Department at Furman University and an editorial board member for the Journal of Montessori Research. She has had recent presentations at the International Montessori Congress, the American Education Research Association annual meeting, and the American Montessori Society national conference. Dr. Culclasure earned master’s degrees from the University of Virginia and the University of South Carolina and her Ph.D. from the University of Virginia.
David Fleming
David J. Fleming, is an Associate Professor in the Politics and International Affairs Department and a Senior Researcher with the Richard W. Riley Institute at Furman University. He graduated magna cum laude with a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Notre Dame, and he received his Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2009. His scholarly work has been published in the American Educational Research Journal, Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, Education and Urban Society, and the Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, among other outlets. His current research projects include evaluations of Montessori schools in South Carolina and the Early Warning and Response System and associated interventions in Greenville County. He has recently presented research at the American Montessori Society annual conference and the American Educational Research Association annual meeting. At Furman University, Dr. Fleming teaches courses in American politics, public policy, and political analysis.
Delia B. Allen
Delia B. Allen serves as a Research Associate in the Center for Education Policy and Leadership. Currently, Dr. Allen is the principal investigator of the College Advising Corps project and assists with the Program and Evaluation Capacity Building Initiative. She also serves as a co-Investigator for the Brady Education Foundation’s Montessori initiative and works on business development opportunities around school safety and issues of equity. Prior to joining the Riley Institute, she was a research assistant at the University of Georgia’s J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development. In addition, Dr. Allen has been a public high school mathematics teacher and an engineer in her earlier career. She received her Ph.D. in Educational Administration and Policy from the University of Georgia. She earned a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Clemson University and master’s degrees from Northwestern University and Converse College. She has served on the student editorial board for the Education Law and Policy Review and has had recent presentations at the Association for Education Finance and Policy annual conference, the Education Law Association annual conference, and the Black Doctoral Network annual conference.
Lorraine DeJong
Lorraine DeJong, (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.
Rashmi Janakiraman
Rashmi Janakiraman serves as a data collector for the South Carolina Public School Montessori Study. She currently teaches in the Greenville Country School System and is a graduate student in Early Childhood Education at Furman University. She has a degree in computer science and engineering from Madras University, and completed her elementary teacher training at Furman University. Rashmi is familiar with many early childhood curriculum models including Project Approach, Montessori, Reggio Emilio, High Scope and Creative Curriculum. She is keenly aware of the diverse cultural, social, and family backgrounds that influence families from outside of US, especially Asia, and is interested in bringing sustainability initiatives into the primary and elementary classrooms.
Ginny Riga
Ginny Riga, Project Consultant for the South Carolina Public School Montessori Project, 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.
Alexis Sprogis

Alexis Sprogis
 joined the Riley team in 2008. She is currently a 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 and the education model evaluation funded by the Education Oversight Committee. 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).


Student Intern

Mattie MacDonald
Mattie MacDonald ('20) 

I am a senior Economics and Politics and International Affairs double major from Myrtle Beach, SC. Furman has been an amazing academic experience that has provided me with unbelievable academic opportunities. My interest in international affairs was piqued during my study away experience in Brussels, Belgium in Fall 2018. I was fortunate enough to have an internship in the European Parliament working for a member from Malta, which was an introduction to how culture impacts worldview. I am interested in education policy, which led me to spend Summer 2019 doing research with the Politics and International Affairs department and my current internship with the Riley Institute’s Center of Education Policy and Leadership in which I assist with the College Advising Corps (CAC), the Montessori Education and TransformSC projects.


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.