Shalene Jahn – Administrator

Helen Bajema – Lead Guide

Ms. Helen

Ms. Helen

I am excited and privileged to be the Guide for your children, and look forward to building relationships with them, and yourselves.

Although born in England, and raised between there and Northern Ireland, I have spent all of my adult life in Scotland, until moving to the USA in 2006. I have a daughter (Joni) and granddaughter (Erin) still in Glasgow.

In my previous life, or that’s how it feels, I was a counselor, which in some ways is the polar opposite of working with the children – who are so on the threshold of their life. I believe that The Montessori Method is really the greatest start in life that a child can have, and that Dr. Montessori’s voice can be still be heard today, through the materials and their interaction with the child, as the child interacts with them.

I am passionate about health, and eat an organic diet; love making Montessori materials; spending time with friends; going for walks and watching movies with my husband.

Credentials: Primary Diploma, Montessori Training Center of Minnesota, Association Montessori International.

Machie Wojack – Assistant Teacher

Machie Wojack

I was born and raised in Tokyo, Japan. I graduated from Jumonji Junior College and majored in English literature. I worked for a trading company as an international trader until I moved to Minnesota in 2011 to marry my husband, Matt. After relocating to Minnesota, I worked as an assist to the Japanese programs in District 196. I enrolled in the Montessori Training Center of Minnesota to study Montessori education. I believe Montessori theories are the best for children’s development and independence.

I have a variety of hobbies that I enjoy. I like reading Montessori books, singing in choir, practicing origami, knitting with my friends, cooking, going to gym, and watching movies with my husband.

Credentials: Dakota County United Educators in 2013
Primary Diploma in 2016, Montessori Training Center of Minnesota, Association Montessori International

Florence Tillman – Assistant Teacher

Florence Tillman

Florence Tillman

I am a 2016 graduate of the Montessori Center of Minnesota’s Assistant Teacher’s Course and I am 100% behind the Montessori Method. My goal is to take the Lead Montessori Teacher training in the next few years.

I was born and raised in Minnesota. I knew from a young age that I wanted to be in a classroom working with children. I have enjoyed working at Mississippi Valley Montessori School this past year. The children are my passion!

In my spare time I like reading, baking, listening to music and watching movies.I am excited to continue learning more about Montessori and am thrilled to be part of the MVMS team!

Mikayla Williams – Assistant Teacher


Mikayla Williams

Hello, my name is Mikayla, and I recently started at MVMS in late August. I am so excited to explore classrooms so focused on children’s independence and ability to thrive. I’ve been in school for Early Childhood Education for two years and plan to continue. I love the Montessori Method and hope to learn more about it as I work here. I have six years of volunteer experience as well as child care experience.

I was born and raised in Richfield, Minnesota. With such a large family, there’s never been any doubt for me that my passion is teaching children as well as learning from them. I have an incredible love for reading and hope to show your child the magic of literature. Feel free to ask me any question you may have — the best part of getting to know a child includes getting to know their family!


Fiona O’Brien-Thatcher – Assistant Teacher and Float Staff

Fiona O'Brien-Thatcher

Fiona O’Brien-Thatcher

My interest in the Montessori approach began when my oldest daughter was 3 years old and started in her Children’s House.  I immediately wanted to learn all I could about what exactly goes on in there!  My interest
in working in the Children’s House grew over the years, as my second and third daughters also enjoyed wonderful experiences in their Children’s Houses.  In 2015 I completed the AMI Assistants Course at the Montessori
Center of Minnesota.  Later that year I began working at Mississippi Valley Montessori School, and I have loved every minute of it!

I was born and raised in Dublin, Ireland.  After graduating from Trinity College Dublin, I spent many years working in Germany.  I moved to Minnesota in 2006 and live in Minneapolis with my husband, three
daughters and our dog.  I enjoy Minnesota’s climate and feel lucky to live in the Twin Cities.  I love traveling back home to Ireland to see my family, but also like spending time getting to know Minnesota and beyond.  I enjoy reading, running, biking and generally being outdoors with my family and friends.

Liz Kimbrel, Assistant Teacher and Float Staff

Liz Kimbrel

Liz Kimbrel

Montessori was new to me until one of my daughters attended Mississippi Valley in 2014. This method of teaching was an eye opener. My daughter thrived, and we have been a Montessori family since! It was my daughters’ love for learning in this environment that led me to take a position at Mississippi Valley. Most recently I have completed the AMI Assistant Teacher’s Course at the Montessori Center of Minnesota. Seeing children learn in a Montessori environment first hand is amazing, and I feel so lucky to be a part of it.

My husband and I have three incredible daughters. We recently moved back to Minnesota after living in Seattle, WA for a year and a half. It was quite the adventure for our family. While we have many fond memories and new friends in the Pacific NW, we are happy to be back home in Minnesota. As a family, we love going out to the movies, to Twins games (Go Twins!), exploring the magic of the Twin Cities, and having summertime BBQs with friends. Game nights, playing cards, bike rides and reading books are also favorites of ours.

Thank you for the opportunity to get to know each and every one of your amazing children. They are a gift! I look forward to learning more and being a positive role model for MVMS.