Kristal Burns (Director): Kristal has been teaching at Missoula Community School since 2004. Her background includes a BS in Education and a Masters in Curriculum and Instruction: Curriculum Studies. She is from Missoula, and her hobbies include enjoying time with her daughter, cranking out ‘80s dance moves, and getting outside to enjoy all Missoula’s outdoors offers. Her funniest part of teaching is listening to children socialize in the restroom. A resident of Missoula since 6 months old, you can find her adventuring with her daughter, husband and dad, hiking/running the local mountains and river trail, and more recently kiting with hopes of experiencing her first solo paragliding flight in the future.
Megan Sorg (Assistant Director): Megan began working at Missoula Community School in 2017. Her background includes spending a year as an AmeriCorps FoodCorps member and receiving her Bachelors in Community Health from the University of Montana. She is from Billings, Montana and her hobbies include gardening, hiking, reading, and cooking fabulous food. The funniest thing she has seen teaching (so far!) was a group of kindergarten students doing nutrient dance moves to show her what “good-for-you” nutrients exist in carrots. A resident of Missoula since 2011, you can find her on the trails and rivers around Missoula with her partner and their lovable dog.
Kasey Davis (2/3 Year Old Teacher): Kasey started teaching at Missoula Community school in 2018. Her background includes over 13 years of child care experience, a degree in musical theater, and a love of combining these two passions! She is most recently from Coeur d’Alene, although she’s lived in Seattle, Ohio, and grew up in the south, and her hobbies include dancing, hiking, and playing with her 2 kids. Her favorite part of teaching is witnessing an “aha!” moment… and the hilarious things kids say. A resident of Missoula since August 10, 2018 (a newbie!) you can find her exploring the city, “relaxing” with her family at a coffee shop, taking a beer date with her husband, or going to see a show at UM!
Whitney Miller (Tree Room Teacher Assistant): Whitney has been teaching at Missoula Community School since 2019. Her background includes a degree in Theatre from UM with an emphasis in acting, vocal performance and dance as well as a national tour with The Montana Repertory Theatre. She is from Billings MT and her hobbies include cooking yummy meals with her boyfriend, practicing yoga, and playing outside in our beautiful state. Her favorite part about teaching is watching kids gain their autonomy and independence as a person. A resident of Missoula since 2014, you can find her playing her ukulele and piano.
Ashlie Vinion (3 year old teacher and Mindfulness Coordinator): Ashlie Vinion has been teaching at Missoula Community school since 2013. She has countless hours of Early Childhood Development training provided by Childcare resources, and the Lifelong Learning Center. She has a little over 10 years of hands on experience working with children of all ages. She spent her childhood growing and exploring the beautiful Northwest corner of Montana, residing in Libby. Her hobbies include reading, painting, crafting, exploring in nature and the community, and generally being active. Her favorite part of teaching is watching children make their own discoveries by asking questions and examining the world around them. You can find her enjoying brunch with her friends and family at the local downtown restaurants on most weekends.
Samantha Toundaian (Aqua Room Teacher Assistant): Sam has been teaching at Missoula Community School since December 2018. Her background includes a degree in art education and a teaching certification from Michigan. Her favorite part of teaching (especially art) is seeing and experiencing her students’ vast imagination and witnessing the “ah-ha” moment. Sam recently moved to Missoula from Marquette, MI and you can find her skiing every weekend at Snowbowl with her hot pink skis.
Danielle Wright (3 year old teacher): Danielle has been teaching at Missoula Community School since 2018. Her background includes a degree in Early Childhood Education. She is from a teeny tiny town in North Eastern Oregon. Her hobbies include reading, biking, cooking, quilting, and outdoor adventuring. Her favorite part of teaching is exploring nature with the kiddos and being reminded of all the wonder and magic the world has to offer. A resident of Missoula since January of 2012, you can find her hiking many of the trails in Montana with her husband, two kiddos and three dogs.
Lesa Setters (4 Year Old Teacher): Lesa has been teaching at the Missoula Community School since 2006. She has a degree in fine arts which helps keep her creative juices flowing when she is with the children. She is also certified to teach elementary students in Montana. Lesa was born a mid westerner in North Canton, Ohio. She is the designated “weeder” of the family garden, loves learning about natural science, and trains in the martial art of Aikido. Lesa’s favorite part of teaching is watching children become enthusiastic about learning and coaching them to employ kindness when they solve problems. A resident of the Missoula area since 1982, you can find Lesa tending the garden in summer and at the dojo year round.
Bryan Wood (Blue Room Teacher Assistant) – Bryan Wood has been teaching at Missoula Community School since 2019. His background includes work with children of all ages and has been a musical guest at MCS over the last 2 years. He is from Helena, MT and his hobbies include camping, hiking, and anything outdoors. His favorite part of teaching at Missoula Community School is getting to be a part of an encouraging team that truly models kindness. A resident of Missoula since May of 2014. You can find him biking his way through Missoula on any given day.
Maddie Christenson (3 Year Old Teacher): Maddie has been teaching at Missoula Community School since 2019. Her background includes a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education from the University of Montana. She is from Missoula, Montana, and her hobbies include hiking, photography, and calligraphy. Her favorite part of teaching is reading books with the class. A resident of Missoula since birth, you can find her making wooden signs with her business partner.
Nicki Wood (4 Year Old Teacher): Nicki has been teaching at Missoula Community School since 2015. Her background includes a Bachelors in Elementary Education with a minor in Psychology. She is from Puyallup, WA and Helena, MT, and her hobbies include reading, dancing,and comic books. Her favorite part of teaching is singing silly songs! A resident of Missoula since 2014, you can find her at the Farmer’s Market.
Gabby Keller (Green Room Teacher Assistant): Gabby has been teaching at Missoula Community School since 2017. Her background includes a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work from the University of Montana which included an internship with Missoula Early Head Start, as well as working at Watson Children’s Shelter where she continues to work as an on-call staff. She is from Columbia Falls, Montana and her hobbies include hiking, disc golf, weightlifting, playing tennis, trying out new foods and recipes, and spending time with her family and husband. Her favorite part of teaching is building relationships with the children and getting involved in their world through play. A resident of Missoula since 2015, you can find her up Pattee Canyon, one of her favorite places to unwind and enjoy nature.
Robin Bryne (Pre-K Teacher): Robin began teaching at Missoula Community School in 2015, and had the opportunity to work as a sub in all of our classrooms prior to becoming a lead teacher. Her background includes many years of teaching preschool at Clark Fork School in Missoula as well as at schools in Great Falls , MT and New Haven, CT. She is from Nebraska but moved to Montana when she was 11. Her hobbies include gardening, writing, hiking, quilting and all manner of mixed media art making projects. Her most engaged aspect of teaching is the relationships that develop with kids around art and natural science exploration. A resident of Missoula off and on since 1985, you can often find her poking around the water or ice in Rattlesnake Creek in Greenough Park on any given sunny day.
Kelly Byard (Yellow Room Teacher Assistant): Kelly Byard taught at the Missoula Community School as a before care teacher during the 2016-2017 school year and has been teaching full time since 2019. Her background includes teaching art, inclusion, and environmental education in a variety of settings, most recently at Clark Fork School. She is from Tacoma, Washington, and her hobbies include self care, backpacking, quilting, cross country skiing, bicycle commuting, and gardening. Her swimmiest part of teaching is receiving hugs from students. A resident of Missoula since 2015, you can find her spending time with her wife outside, identifying plants and snacking on berries.
Outside of our 9 am – 3 pm school day, we have wonderful staff members leading our extended care programs. Many of these folks are Teacher Assistants during the school day in one of our other classrooms as well as teaching in extended care.
Before Care: Hours 7:30 – 9:00 am
Gabby Keller & Samantha Toundaian (Bios above)
Aftercare: Hours 3:00 -5:30 pm
Bryan Wood (Bio above)
Whitney Miller (Bio above)
Brooke Heckeroth (Lead Aftercare Teacher): Brooke Heckeroth has been teaching at Missoula Community School since 2019. Her background includes a bachelor degree in elementary education and 3 years teaching at Corvallis Primary School. She is from Corvallis, Mt, and her hobbies include reading, listening to podcasts, hanging out with friends, listening to music and love of Korean things (food, tv, music, etc. I love it!). Her favorite part of teaching is seeing the complete joy and excitement a student radiates when they share something they love and did well on. A resident of Missoula since 2018, you can find her happily scarfing down sushi with friends and discussing her favorite new dance jam!