Head of School/Executive Director

Gennifre Hartman: Gennifre has 20+ years educational non-profit experience in leadership roles and has  17+ years’ experience working as Head of School for various schools, including one she founded. She holds a Master’s degree in English Education from the University of Montana. In addition to Great Beginnings, she currently teaches at Montana State University, and works as an educational consultant to create experiential education curriculum and opportunities in outdoor and international environments.  


Assistant Head of School

Jamey McCormick: 2018 marks a decade that Jamey has been involved at Great Beginnings. Jamey loves getting students outside for "practical life," and is responsible for developing and managing collaborative community engagement, volunteer, and immersion experiences for students.  A certified K-8 teacher, Jamey was a primary school teacher in the Bozeman public schools before joining Great Beginnings as a volunteer classroom aide when her daughters attended the school.  Jamey completed an intensive Lindamood-Bell Learning Processes training in Michigan to support her focus on students’ early reading success. Jamey also has previous Montessori training and early childhood experience in Colorado, Wyoming and Montana. Jamey can often be found running with her dogs and skate skiing in the beautiful Bridger Mountains.


Director of Admission and Students

Mikel Daenan: For many of the new parents, she is often the first person you will meet at the school.  Mikel is responsible for all issues relating to the well-being of the students during their attendance at the school. With more than a decade experience at GBMS, including serving as a GBMS Board member, a fundraising leader, a classroom aide and a volunteer parent, Mikel knows our school well.  She brings 13+ years of experience from her work in the hospitality industry with cruise lines. Originally from the Seattle area, Daenen is the mother of three children, all of whom attended Great Beginnings. 


Business Manager

Brandi Ellerton: Brandi is our Business Manager, and simultaneously helps to teach our children how to read. She is a certified K-8 teacher with a degree in elementary education from MSU-Bozeman, and has worked in Montessori schools in Arizona and Montana. She has previously served as the Development Director for the Montana Ballet Company and spent many years traveling around the United States setting up and managing site offices for multi-million dollar heavy utility construction projects. Brandi has two wonderful children and enjoys camping and skiing with her family. 


Toddler Program Director

Deb Zander: Deb joined Great Beginnings as our Aftercare Director in 2014. After homeschooling and raising her five children, Deb decided that Montessori was a perfect fit for her love of individualized education and children. A graduate of Loyola University in Chicago, Deb’s first career was as a certified dental assistant. Deb earned her Early Childhood Montessori Certification with the Age of Montessori, supervised by our former Head of School, Victoria Brailsford. She has an additional certification as a Toddler Specialist.  When she’s not at Great Beginnings, Deb spends her time with her three grandchildren, and enjoys hiking, bike riding and scrapbooking. 


Lead Teacher

Abbee Skaggs: Abbee has a degree in health and human development with a focus in early childhood education from MSU, and is a fully certified 3-6 Montessori teacher. Abbee has also taught art classes and enjoys bringing her unique creativity and ingenuity into her classroom. Abbee grew up in Bozeman, and when not at work, she enjoys Zumba and time outside with her dog.


Lead Teacher

Hannah Beckner: Hannah is a graduate from West Virginia University with a BA in Child Development and Family Studies. Hannah additionally holds a 3-6 Montessori certificate from the NAMC. Hannah's college internship was specialized with infants and toddlers, and she has additional professional experience teaching preschool age children at a child development center. In her free time, Hannah enjoys being outside, floating on the river, and skiing and hiking. 


Assistant Teacher

Gina Pasini: Gina has a Bachelor's in Environmental Interpretation with a minor in Natural History, and an Associates in Early Childhood Education. She has spent her career working with a combination of wildlife biology and work with children. Additionally, she brings a background with a variety of work history; from working as a youth counselor, as a preschool teacher, as a ski instructor, as a wildlife biologist, and as a natural history guide. Teaching children has provided her with "the most laughter, fulfillment, rich memories, and a sense of positive contribution to the community." Gina's teaching style is based on a thoughtful, intuitive, playful personality and she believes that a child’s education can strengthen the entire family. Gina has found her niche and Great Beginnings suits her traits. 

Assistant Teacher

Marie Jones


Assistant Teacher

Elena Capousis: Elena was born in Annapolis, MD. She has her BFA in Art Education from Virginia
Commonwealth University and a minor in ceramics. She has over 10 years of experience
working with children, including working at Garden City Montessori School in Missoula. Elena has worked as a woodfire instructor at the Clay Studio of Missoula, teaching classes and workshops. She has also maintained a long-term Artist in Residence in Ceramics with the Cub Creek Foundation, where she focused in digging native clay and native clay research. Elena will be working with our students from the toddlers through the Micro-school and our school is excited to have the opportunity to combine her passions as both
a teacher and an artist. In her free time she enjoys making pottery in her studio, cooking,
gardening, and getting outside for hikes. 

Assistant Teacher

McKenzie Selden: A graduate from Western Washington University with a BA in Environmental Policy and Communication Studies. She became interested in education while serving as an environmental educator with AmeriCorps with Washington Service Corps. She taught over 2,000 elementary students lessons focusing on wildfire ecology, in addition to the water cycle. Passionate about outdoor education, McKenzie volunteers as a mentor with BYEP, serving local youth. In her free time, McKenzie enjoys skiing, camping, hiking and fly-fishing. 


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We know our teachers are the heart of our school.


At Great Beginnings, we aim to hire and retain a collaborative team of teachers who are kind, nurturing, inquisitive, capable and professional. 

© 2020 by Great Beginnings Montessori School

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