An independent middle and high school based on Montessori principles
Shontia has been in the childcare field for over three years. She enjoys watching children grow, learn and experience new things everyday. Shontia has always been the “babysitter” of the her family and friends growing up, and working with children has always been her “super skill”. Throughout the years, Shontia has worked at multiple daycare centers; all of which she felt limited the tasks, growth, and freedom of children. Outside of education, Shontia is a family and friends type of person. She loves being around and hanging out with the ones that make her feel most comfortable in life. She lives at home with her Mom and three sisters; one of whom follows her footsteps in child education. Shontia also enjoys listening to music ,and focusing on herself during her free time. Working at Belle Meade has thought her lots of new things and allowed her to experience child education outside of daycare centers and for that, she’s thankful for the opportunity to be apart of Belle Meade.
Sarah is happy to be back at Belle Meade, where she was once a counselor and counselor-in-training at summer camp. With a multi-disciplinary background including business and consulting for startups, wellness and fine arts, Sarah is bringing a worldly approach to working with the exceptionally bright students at Belle Meade.
She believes in building community by understanding and highlighting each students’ unique gifts and learning style. Her approach teaching Spanish is student-centric, and dialogue-heavy, so that students may learn to feel comfortable speaking Spanish in real life situations.
Sarah loves nature, art, meditation, and community. You can usually find her trailing behind her very active 1-year old son, Silas. She holds a BA in Asian Studies and Mandarin Chinese from Cornell University and an MFA from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.
Math and Sciences – Jake is a recent graduate of James Madison University where he studied Integrated Science and Technology with an environmental focus. He is an avid environmentalist and possesses a love for the outdoors, nature, and life in general. When he is not in school he can be found hiking, biking, camping, or participating in just about any sport he can.
Primary Teacher – After growing up in Rappahannock county, Lakota attended a boarding school in Massachusetts with a focus on the head, the hand and the heart, a sentiment she carries with her as a teacher. At James Madison University, Lakota received her BFA with a focus in ceramics and k-12 art education and a minor in special education. Lakota realized that public education was not the arena for her and came to Montessori through her sister, who’s four children attended a Montessori school. She attended the Montessori Institute of San Diego and acquired her M.Ed from Loyola University Maryland. Lakota’s favorite aspect of teaching is seeing a child’s excitement and joy from learning something new and feeling capable of anything they put their mind to. She currently lives in Madison with her wife and two stepchildren. Lakota loves participating in local theater, creating art at home, baking, singing, and spending time with her family.
Mike brings a love of nature, the outdoors, and wildlife. His energy and wily sense of humor make working with him an adventure. He enjoys sharing practical projects with students.
Mike holds a B.S. in Biology from George Mason University. He has both a theoretical and a practical interest in farming. He practices sustainable, grass-based farming. Mike studies and practices ecological growing of food and animal husbandry. He created a heating system for the schoolhouse and the farmhouse using locally available wood. He is involved with the students as a teacher and a mentor; he goes on trips with the school. Together Susan and Mike also manage Belle Meade Bed & Breakfast and Belle Meade Day Camp. In addition, Mike is serving his second term on the Rappahannock County Board of Supervisors.
Sue is enthusiastic, compassionate, and loves working with horses (and children.) She brings 40 years of equine experience to our riding program. Sue encourages students to become capable, confident, knowledgeable, and compassionate English and/or Western riders. In addition to being an accomplished rider (dressage, hunters and eventing), Sue has extensive professional experience in equine husbandry including: breeding, foaling, nutrition and veterinary care.
Becky is a skilled full time artist who loves teaching. She has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Herron School of Art and Design at Indiana University and is currently illustrating picture books .Her work has been shown in galleries, museums, and conferences across the country including the Herron School of Art and Design in Indianapolis, The Gallery of Art and Design at the University of Central Missouri, LDS Church History Museum in Salt Lake, the 2019 Mid-Atlantic SCBWI Conference at Dulles VA, Rappahannock Virginia County Art Tour, The State Theater Gallery in Culpeper Va, and the Fredericksburg VA Regional Women’s Conference.
As an artist, she chooses to produce work that lifts the spirit and that shows an appreciation for life and the beauty that exists on this earth. She likes to make a difference in people’s lives with her work even if it is only for a moment. Her goal as an art teacher is to make art fun for everyone and introduce the students to a variety of art projects using different mediums including graphite, charcoal, pastels, watercolor and acrylic painting, and ink. She enjoys observing what evolves from the students’ imagination! You can see a sampling of her work at It’s the Nature of Things.
Susan is a dedicated and compassionate leader who provides inspiration and vision for the school program, working towards her goals with a determined passion. Susan cares about her staff and students, working hard to ensure that each person is valued and heard.
Susan Hoffman, A.B. Smith College, Ed. M. Harvard, Ed. D. Johns Hopkins University, has a diverse educational background. She has more than four decades of experience teaching, training teachers, and writing curricula. Her love of teaching and her love of the outdoors have merged in Belle Meade School. Susan’s experience includes training teachers, developing mathematics curriculum, working as a mathematics resource teacher, classroom teaching, individual tutoring in mathematics and reading. She was twice the state level winner of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics Teaching. She also was awarded a Cafritz Foundation grant for studying mathematics in China and Japan. She teaches Mathematics and Latin and participates in many school and farm activities. She and Mike established Belle Meade Day Camp in 1994 and Belle Meade School in 2007.
Head of the Lower School and Lead LS Guide – Jami enjoys working with children of all ages and specifically loves to design learning opportunities based on the students’ individual interests.
Jami is creative and artistic. She enjoys painting, photography, acting, and vocal performance. She has a B.A. degree from Converse College in Early Childhood Education and a Master’s degree in Elementary Education with an emphasis on Montessori Philosophy. She completed the AMS/MACTE program for ages 6 to 9 at Lander University in 2008, and the 9 to 12 program at the Montessori Teacher Training institute in 2012. Jami has experience teaching kindergarten through middle school, with a strong focus on Science, and also has experience teaching Early Childhood Education at the college level.
Jami’s simple philosophy of education is to trust the method, engage the students, and most importantly to trust the children in their pursuit of learning. She can’t imagine herself in any other profession than educator. She spends her free time reading, painting, learning new things, and performing in community theatre.
John is a man of all seasons. He interacts easily with people of all ages. His varied background means that he is comfortable in a wide variety of situations. He is patient, reasonable under challenging circumstances; he is an empathetic listener.
John has a B.S. degree from Brigham Young University in Education with an emphasis in Korean. He also studied construction management at San Diego State University. He completed the AMI/NAMTA Adolescent Orientation at Hershey Ohio in 2018. John has experience teaching multiple ages, kindergarten through high school including general elementary education, special education, science, history, and English in Virginia, West Virginia, Idaho, and Illinois. Other work has included military intelligence analysis, military instruction, farming, and writing short stories for publication. John is dedicated to student achievement and helping students reach their potential. He sees education as an exciting, continuing process that results in regular growth, an increasing ability to serve others, working for better ways of doing things, and a desire to learn even more. He enjoys reading, spending time with family, writing, science, and the outdoors.