Teaching and Administrative Staff

Jessica Gowans, Head of School

Originally from Omaha, Nebraska, Jessica moved to Portland with her family in 1989.  Gaining experience in school administration by working at the Montessori school her mother owned for 10 years, Jessica eventually graduated from Portland State University with a Bachelors of Science in Social Sciences with a minor in Sustainability.  She is currently in the process of a MACTE recognized School Leadership credential through the Center for Guided Montessori Studies.  She also holds her private pilots license.

Jessica started Busy Hands Montessori in 2016 while pregnant with her second child with the goal of providing a high quality Montessori school for her own children.  

She enjoys spending time with her family including her two children ages 6 & 9, her husband, and their two dogs,  Pete & Louie.  Her hobbies include architecture and design, reading, camping, and skiing.  If she wasn't a Head of School she would be the editorial director at Architectural Digest.

Jaden Fooks, Lead Primary Guide & Primary Program Director

Jaden holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Portland State University majoring in Film Production with a minor in Spanish.  She has directed and produced dozens of children’s theater productions all over the Portland Metro area.  She also holds her Montessori 3-6 teaching credential from the North American Montessori Center. Jaden is also trained in the Barton reading and spelling system and tutors children and adults in reading and language.

Jaden has been teaching in various capacities for nearly 20 years and has taught theater classes and summer theater camps. She has been teaching at Busy Hands Montessori since 2016.


Jaden enjoys reading, film editing, watching movies, and spending time with her son, a sophomore at AMDA New York.  If Jaden wasn't a teacher she would be directing films in far-flung locations.

Richelle Whitekiller, Lead Toddler Guide & Young Children's Program Director

Richelle is originally from Washington and Colorado but Oregon has been her home for almost 15 years.

She first began working with children as a nanny but was inspired to work in Early Childhood Education after the birth of her daughter 10 years ago. She has been the Lead Toddler Guide at Busy Hands Montessori since 2018 and holds her Montessori teaching credential from the North American Montessori Center for children ages 0-3 years.


Richelle enjoys spending time with her family as well as crocheting, painting, reading and drawing portraits.  If she wasn't working with children, Richelle would be..... that's it.  There's nothing else she would rather do! 

Satomi Jin, Lead Primary Guide

Satomi was born and raised in Tokyo, Japan.  She moved to the United States to study Linguistics, Fine Arts/Ceramics at the Ohio State University originally and then Education. After she received BA and BFA from Ohio State, she started teaching art at the Ruffing Montessori school in Cleveland, OH where she first encountered Dr. Maria Montessori's teachings.


Satomi's love of the Pacific Northwest came from her time living in Seattle, first as a graduate student in her Master's of Fine Arts program at the University of Washington and then as a working artist in the city.


In 2011 Satomi moved to Portland for her Montessori Primary teacher training at MNW and she completed her Master's degree in Education in 2015 from the Loyola University of Maryland.


She currently lives with her husband and 6-year-old daughter Juliet, and she enjoys cooking, eating, reading, and being outdoors with her family and friends. She is passionate about Montessori education and happy to be a part of Busy Hands Montessori community.

Dhvani Sinha, Assistant Guide - Primary Classroom

Dhvani was born and raised in India.  She has a background in Finance having received a Masters Degree in Accounting from her time at a university in India.  She was drawn to early childhood education in an effort to understand the needs of her own children and was eventually drawn to Dr. Maria Montessori's philosophies around early childhood. 


She completed her Montessori teaching diploma in 2008 in India and has been working with children ever since.  She strongly believes in the uniqueness of each child and their journey to self discovery and infinite possibilities. 

Dhvani loves music, traveling to new places, and exploring different cultures.  She enjoys experimenting with cooking and spending quality time with her husband and two children.

Brianna Pearman, Assistant Guide - Primary Classroom
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Bri is drawn to working with children because of how rewarding it is.  She has learned a lot about herself and the world through teaching.  Her enjoyment of watching them learn and grow is what she considers to be most rewarding and she enjoys helping shape future generations through her work.

She is currently working on an Associates in Early Childhood Education from Central Oregon Community College and has been teaching at Busy Hands Montessori since 2020.  


Brianna is new-ish to the Portland area having moved here a few years ago from Reno, Nevada where she was born and raised.

In her free time she enjoys trying new restaurants in Portland, going on hikes, or to the beach.  She also loves baking and believes that, if she wasn't a teacher, she would work as a baker.

Shauna Snider, Safety Specialist & Classroom Aide
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Shauna was born and raised in Portland, OR.  After accepting a position in a local preschool, Shauna soon discovered that her passion lies in teaching and caring for young children.  She enjoys children's honesty and thinks that they're much more fun to be around than adults.  She has been working with children for over 10 years.

Shauna enjoys road trips, traveling solo, and listening to live music.  She is currently taking classes to learn American Sign Language and hopes to one day become fluent enough to act as an ASL interpreter.

Erin Steffey, Teaching Assistant - Toddler Classroom

Erin is from Klamath Falls, OR and has recently moved to Portland.  Erin graduated from Western Oregon University in Monmouth, OR with a degree in Psychology.  


Erin loves her work with children because of how joyful and happy the children are.  She hopes to one day combine her degree and her love of children by being a youth councilor.

In her free time Erin enjoys staying active and watching her favorite TV shows.

Azucena "Suzy" Reyes, Lead Guide - Young Children's Classroom

Suzy was born and raised in Mexico where she lived until she married.  She and her husband moved to Oregon to have a better future.  She is happy to be here in Oregon, achieving her dreams!

Suzy was born to work with children, playing "teacher" with her dolls as her students.  She always new that she wanted to be an educator.  She is blessed with a lot of love to give to the children in her classrooms!

Suzy started working with children as a nanny, but was always looking for something more.  She found that when she discovered the Montessori method of teaching and has been teaching in a Montessori classroom for the past six years, the past three years have been at Busy Hands Montessori.  

In Suzy's free time, she enjoys being with her family and takes advantage of any time she can spend with them.  She is the mother of three children, ages 10, 20, & 23.  She also loves to dance and walk outdoors.

Hope Segura, Classroom Aide - Young Children's Classrooms

Hope was born and raised in California and moved to Portland with her partner and cat.

Hope was raised in a Montessori environment, both her mom and aunt were Montessori educators and she was a Montessori student herself.  She was inspired by her aunt, who owned a Montessori school, but also had a teacher in high school who helped guide her through a tough time.  She hopes to someday be the person who helps a child like she was helped by her teacher.

In her free time, Hope enjoys hanging out with her partner and her cat, Decaf.  She has dreams of becoming a child psychologist.

Maja Birdwell, Classroom Aide - Primary Classrooms

Maja comes to Portland from Corvallis, Oregon.  She attended the University of Oregon and earned her degree in Community Development and Spanish.

Maja had the opportunity to teach Arts & Crafts and English classes in Spain for several years and during that time discovered that she has a love of teaching.  She enjoys how rewarding it is and loves to watch children learn and grow.

Maja enjoys cooking, listening to music, and spending time with her dog.  She is also a certified yoga teacher.  If she wasn't a teacher, she would have a job in social services or would be working with animals.