Discovery Garden Staff


Andrea Shreni | Head of School

Our DGMS Head of School, Andrea, is originally from the Washington D.C metro area. After finishing her degree in Aerospace Engineering, she joined The Boeing Company testing helicopters and aircraft all over the world. She has always had one foot in the Education field by developing STEAM programs for low income families. After settling in Seattle, WA, she continued to support local schools and communities by creating workshops addressing reading, math, and art for students and teachers through her work in the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE). However, her husband, Ben, convinced her to move to Nixa, MO, where she became the VP of Operations for Springfield Marine. Again, she found herself sharing her skills by supporting the Ozark Literacy Council. Her children attend DGMS. Andrea has a Master’s degree from American University.  Everyday she is inspired by the staff and students who make DGMS a special place.

Pam Blosser | Administrative Staff

Pam Blosser is semi-retired, part-time administrative staff and advisor.

Pam graduated from Texas Christian University in 1969 with a double major in English and sociology. From 1970-1976 Pam traveled and lived in Japan and Hong Kong teaching ESL to adults and children. In 1977 after completing training, she graduated with honors at the Association Montessori Internationale, London. Pam feels fortunate to have studied under students of Montessori herself.

Upon returning to the US, Pam began 44 years of study, teaching and service with the School of Metaphysics and Montessori teaching.  Her experience with both metaphysics and Montessori philosophy have made her who she is today.

Hailey McCartney | Administrative Staff

Hailey McCartney works in the office part-time as an administrative assistant. 

Hailey has been at DGMS since last summer. When she started she was the Roses Camp Counselor. In 2020 she graduated from Ozark Technical Community College with an Associates Degree and is currently a student at Missouri State University. She is working on her Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work to pursue a career in advocacy. Hailey was born and raised in Springfield, Missouri. In their free time they enjoy reading and relaxing with their partner and two cats. Hailey enjoys the opportunity to work with children and to have a role in administration.

Toddler Community – Tulips, Magnolias & Daffodils

Karol Diniz | Tulips Directress and Educational Director

Karol is originally from Manaus, Brazil. Since a young age she has been involved in teaching, and interested in languages and child cognitive development. Karol holds a bachelor’s degree in Education and a licentiate degree in Psychopedagogy from the Federal University of Amazonas. Recently, she earned her Early Childhood credential from the American Montessori Society through the Hope Montessori Educational Institute. Karol also shared her love for people and language skills from 2005 to 2009 when she volunteered her interpretation services on Mission trips, mainly with “Amazon Vision Ministries”. Through the mission she met her husband, and now lives in Springfield since 2012. Karol enjoys riding her bike, dancing, reading, traveling, the beach, and is curious about different languages.

Morgan Groves | Tulips Assistant

Morgan Groves is from a small town south of St. Louis called Festus. She came to Springfield for her degree in Elementary Education at Missouri State University and graduated in 2021. Then Morgan worked at Gloria Deo Academy and nannied her, at the time, 2.5 year old niece. During this time she heard of the philosophy of Montessori and dreamed of teaching at a school later in life. However, to her surprise, an opportunity opened up here in Springfield! She’s been working at DGMS since August, 2022 and  loves it! Morgan also got married to the sweet love of her life, Addison, in June, 2022. In her free time Morgan enjoys the outdoors and doing anything creative. She also likes to spend time with friends.

Angelica Costello | Magnolias Directress

Angelica is the Directress of the Toddler Community. She was born and educated in Mexico and graduated from Escuela Normal para Maestros de la Universidad del Estado de Morelos in Mexico with a degree in Literature. After graduation she taught literature and reading to Junior High students. She has lived in the United States for 25 years and has taught preschool, Spanish Literature, special needs children with the Easter Seals, and at-risk youth with Even Start in Joliet, IL. She and her husband moved to Springfield four years ago. In 2015 she completed Montessori Training in St. Louis to become certified through the American Montessori Society in Infant and Toddler education.


Iliana Kauffman | Magnolias Assistant

Illiana is from Mexico, originally from a beautiful and colonial city called Querétaro where she studied Business Administration. She is married and has three children, Thomas, Kevin and Andrew. 

She and her family have been living in the United States since 2003, and she’s have been working for DGMS for five years. She has received early child development courses and is so happy working and sharing her time with the little ones in the toddler community.

Morgan Yansen | Daffodils Directress

Morgan graduated from Missouri State University in 2019 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education. She then attended Xavier University and graduated in 2021 with a Master’s Degree in Education with an emphasis in Montessori Education! Morgan’s love for education and children is what drives her every day in the classroom. Seeing students enjoy learning is the best part of her day. After working with children in various capacities for 11 years, she is proud to call DGMS her home. During her free time, she enjoys spending time with her 2-year old daughter, her two dogs, hiking, and traveling! She also has a secret love for Nicholas Spark’s novels and Grey’s Anatomy.

Jenna Goble | Daffodils Assistant

Jenna Goble was raised here in Springfield and has been working at DGMS since Fall of 2022. Jenna has been involved with kids for the majority of her life, getting the opportunity to babysit since she was young and nanny as she’s gotten older. She deeply enjoys toddler-age children and is excited to be with the toddler community! 

On her own time, Jenna likes creating different types of art as well as making and listening to music. She loves to learn about psychology, culture, and language, and to travel anytime she can.

Primary Classrooms – Daisies, Lilies & Sunflowers

Lynetta Couch | Daisies Directress

Lynetta began her Montessori career in 2015 in Kansas City. She started as an assistant in a primary class. She quickly fell in love with the Montessori method and has gone on to receive her Montessori certifications from North American Montessori Center (NANC) and the American Montessori Society (AMS). 

In her spare time, Lynetta likes spending time with her husband and two children. They like spending time outside by going on walks or playing in the many water sources the Ozarks offers. Lynetta also likes to bake, read and play with her two cats.

Victoria Skaggs | Daisies Assistant

Vicky is originally from Springfield and lives here with her husband, Alec, one sweet senior pup, and two cats. She went to school at MSU and received a bachelor’s in early childhood education in 2021. She had previously worked for OACAC but decided that she wanted to continue working with preschoolers but wanted to try something different. This is her first year at a Montessori school, and she said she is impressed so far! In her free time, she plays the Sims a lot (where I can live out my dreams of owning a home and seven dogs!). I also like to sew, crochet, and collect houseplants.

Sara Mitchel | Lilies Directress

Bio coming soon!

Josie Groves | Lilies Assistant

Born and raised in Minneapolis, Josie moved to Springfield to attend Evangel University to pursue a double major in Early Childhood and in Elementary education. After graduating in May 2021, she worked as a paraprofessional in a public school before becoming an assistant primary teacher at Discovery Garden. The Montessori approach came naturally to her because of her sister’s Montessori-inspired parenting methods that Josie both observes and practices with her niece. She is genuinely excited to see her students and co-teacher Sara every day, and hopes to spread positivity and encouragement to all kids, staff and parents she encounters. During her free time, Josie can be found spending time with friends, creating art, and playing with her bird, Grey.

Kim Varner | Sunflowers Co-Lead

Kim is originally from Des Moines, Iowa. From 2008-2011, she studied Music Education and English Education at Emporia State University and University of Central Missouri. While she deeply loves music and currently writes it as a hobby, she also discovered her interest in english education after getting involved in the International Department in both universities and teaching English in Korea for a short time, but felt that neither one of those professions were where her life was headed. In 2013, she was offered a job as an assistant in a Montessori classroom having no prior knowledge to what Montessori even was. After careful observation of helping set up the classroom and assisting in there for one school year, that same year she decided to get her training in the Montessori method! She graduated in 2015 with an AMS Certification and her life has been forever changed by it! Whether brand new or a veteran to the method, she’s so glad to be sharing this Montessori journey with you and your precious littles!

Alexis Miles | Sunflowers Co-Lead

Lexi Miles is originally from Whitefish, Montana. After moving to Missouri for college, she graduated from Cottey College in 2012 and moved to Springfield a few short years later. Lexi began her Montessori journey after applying for a part-time office position here at Discovery Garden, only to be presented with many more opportunities for growth thereafter. Lexi has studied at Hope Montessori Educational Institute. Her love for the arts, language, environmentalism and the spiritual well-being of all humankind can be found both in and outside the classroom. When she is not at school, you can find her doing yoga, jogging, collaborating with the local music community, or running her photography business as Ms. Miles Media.

Lower Elementary Classroom – Roses

Mary Swann | Lower Elementary Directress

Mary Swann is the DGMS Lower Elementary Lead Teacher.  Her career in education includes teaching: third grade, animal education, prek-adult literacy and quilting classes.  Quilting, reading and gardening are her favorite hobbies, and her favorite plants to grow are sunflowers and heirloom tomatoes. Mary holds a B.S. Ed. and a M.S. Ed. in Elementary Education. She says, “The Montessori philosophy is a tool that helps to develop life-long self-regulated learners.  Helping children to be their own personal best is a worthy goal, and working with the children at DGMS is a joyful journey.” 

Discovery Garden Support Staff

Carrie Colpitts | Support Teacher (Grace & Courtesey)

Carrie came to Springfield via Chicago in 2014. After studying education in Chicago, Carrie worked as a reading and writing teacher with Chicago Public Schools and as a learning specialist at a Montessori school in the city. In Springfield, she has worked in Springfield Public Schools and lead a chapter of a national non-profit. Carrie has experience training teachers in anti-racist and LGBTQ+ inclusive best practices.

In her free time Carrie sews, makes jewelry, creates other crafts, and volunteers with youth. She also spends time with her cats. 

Claudia Ruiz | Chef

Claudia is a chef who has taught culinary classes to children in Spanish and English. She loves animals and traveling. She cares for dogs and horses, and she enjoys sharing her experiences with children. Her daughter, Ona, a toddler at DGMS, helps to care for the animals daily. We are excited to have Claudia join us this school year.

Grace Richter | Floater

Grace Richter attends MSU full time as a social work student. She has worked at Discovery Garden since mid-October of 2022 and  loves it. She had never heard of Montessori before working here but really enjoys learning about it and is excited to continue learning new things from all the wonderful teachers she gets to work with. Outside of school and work Grace enjoys spending time with her family and friends and spending time in nature.

Ivy Starks | Floater

Here at DGMS Ivy Stark is a floater and after care provider. As a floater, Ivy gets to spend time in all the classrooms and assist the Lead teachers. She enjoys working with all ages and getting to know the students and their families. Ivy is currently studying at Missouri State University to become a Child Life Specialist. Outside of school, she enjoys camping, trying new foods, and traveling.

Trista Lisek | Floater

Born and raised in Springfield, Missouri Trista Lisek is a Freshman student at OTC working on getting her GEN ED’S out of the way.  Trista never wanted any siblings and didn’t think she liked kids until she figured out just how special children really are!!!  She has been a nanny/babysitter for many families over the years and loves kids.  She has been working at DGMS since the summer of 2022 and absolutely loves it; it is very different and has more practical life skills than a public school.  In Trista’s free time she loves to run, workout, hold a baby, go to church/events, and hangout with friends!!!