Sara Gensic, Co-Founder, Upper Elementary Teacher Leader
For the past 20 years, Sara was either in the classroom or the library. She has been fortunate to work with children of all ages from infants through high school and places great value on collaboration with parents, students, and teachers. While she loves Montessori Cosmic Education for elementary students, some of her favorite lessons include Ancient Civilizations, Peace Studies with Montessori Model United Nations, and Writer’s Workshop. Her educational journey includes an AMI, 6-12 Montessori credential from Hershey Training Center, a Bachelor of Arts in Secondary English Education from Grace College-Winona Lake, IN and a Master of Library Science from Indiana University-Fort Wayne. She is overjoyed to be part of the first Wildflower school in Fort Wayne and the state of Indiana. Likewise, Sara feels grateful to continue sharing Montessori with families in Fort Wayne as she was able to do for her own children for many years.
Suzy Ulmer, Co-Founder, Lower Elementary Teacher Leader
Suzy found her love for children after volunteering at a local therapeutic horseback riding center. From there, she pursued a Bachelor of Arts in Biology with a minor in Therapeutic Recreation from Indiana University-Bloomington and followed this with a General Science Teaching Endorsement for grades 6-12. While growing her family, she earned a Masters in Education from Indiana University-Fort Wayne focused on marriage and family counseling. She worked regionally to provide homebound preschool services to low-income families and taught parenting classes for a social service agency in Fort Wayne. She discovered Montessori elementary education at a local Montessori School while serving on their board. She pursued her AMS, 6-12 credential from St. Catherine’s University in St. Paul, MN and has relished being in the elementary classroom these past 18 years. She loves teaching children to appreciate Earth’s beauty and the laws of nature through science and ecology lessons. She is excited to have found The Wildflower Network and to be given an opportunity to pioneer a unique, educational perspective in Fort Wayne focused on the powerful work of social justice through learning about implicit bias in the classroom.
Beth Speiser, Primary Teacher Leader
Following in her mother’s footsteps, Beth is ingrained with a deep love for young children. While home with her two daughters, she opened a home daycare and this is when her passion for the Montessori method began. Beth earned her Montessori certification for ages 0-6 and has been teaching for the past 21 years. She strives to teach the whole child with an emphasis for meeting a child’s emotional needs. She really loves the Montessori math materials and her classrooms are known for their warm, homelike feeling. This warmth extends to the families of her students. She is excited to be a part of Alyssum and the Wildflower network so she can pursue her love of lifelong learning and inspire her young students to do the same.
Our Teaching Team
Jess Croft, Elementary Classroom
Although Jess has worked with children for over 7 years, when she discovered Montessori she knew she’d found a philosophy that reflected who she is as a parent and educator. So, for the last three years, you could find Jess in the Montessori elementary classroom where she loves exploring the hands-on materials with the children. Watching young people develop their interests and discover the world and their place in it, is the best part of her day. Jess also has a passion for getting children outdoors so they can experience how to coexist with nature in a way that teaches collaboration, sustainability, and problem solving skills. Her love of music, hiking and laughter is a big part of the Alyssum community.
Madeline Miller, Elementary Classroom
Jackie Dispenza, Primary Classroom
Jackie hails from a long line of educators, both in and out of formal classrooms. She earned a B.S. in science education from The Ohio State University. Since then, she’s raised four children and taught in public, private, parochial and homeschools as well as tutoring in NY, OH and IN, from preschool through high school. Before her arrival at Alyssum, she ran an after-school science enrichment program for 19 years. A past owner of a local fitness center and director of a conservation camp, she grew to love fitness, the outdoors and teaching in a hands-on way. Subbing so much at local Montessori schools has helped her develop a great understanding of the Montessori philosophy. In the Summer you can find her at camp, being a children’s local library programmer or traveling. Jackie loves the look of excitement on children’s faces especially when she’s sharing her passion for science, culture, gardening, outdoor education and anything to improve planet Earth.