School Board Members
Kristy Fehr received her bachelor’s degree in Elementary and Early Childhood Education from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls and is currently working on her master’s degree from the same institution. That degree will include a Montessori certification. Her experience working with and teaching children is quite diverse including inner-city, small towns and international schools. However, her true passion is with the youngest learners. She enjoys the work of teaching and creating environments for her students to flourish.
Kristy also has a passion for charter schools, most specifically that they enable all children, regardless of life circumstances, to have school options. Education is not a one-size-fits-all approach and private schools are not an option for most Americans. Charter schools can fill a need for those searching for alternative learning choices beyond their local school district for their unique learners.
Craig Smith comes to Modern Montessori with a varied background ranging from teaching and technology to environmental education and international development. This varied experience has shaped Craig’s thinking and dedication to innovative and experiential education. Craig earned a B.S. in Biology from the University of Minnesota. After College Craig was a U.S. Peace Corps Natural Resources Management volunteer in Uganda for two and a half years. These experiences really solidified Craig’s connection to education, extension and service. After returning home, he earned a technology certificate from Brown College and worked in various roles at area charter schools including environmental education, science teacher, student advisor and IT manager among other roles.
Currently Craig is a technology consultant and is working with the Center for Global Environmental Education at Hamline University. Along with the dedicated and innovative group of co-founders, Craig will use all of his experience and passion for education to help Modern Montessori with the development and implementation of a unique high-quality program.
John Sedey has been a teacher, school and district administrator and educational consultant. Since retiring from public school administration, he works consulting an intermediate school district, a community college, three alternative schools and four charter schools. He has been involved in advocacy for strong charter schools since 1991. He is the executive director of an education non-profit. John has provided leadership to career and technical education, guidance and social services, assessment and testing, student data systems, alternative education, state and federal program administration, education-business partnerships, and environmental education. He has been a senior developer for one of the eleven New American Schools Development grants. In his advocacy for college and career readiness, he has consulted to federal and state departments of education.
John holds a bachelor’s degree in History and Business, a master’s degree in Education Administration, and has done additional graduate work, including that as a Bush Public School Executive Fellow. He currently works as a Lead Evaluator for AdvancED, a non-profit corporation that accredits more than 32,000 elementary and secondary schools nationally and internationally.
board Vice chair
Valerie Blanco has invested in her education throughout her life by earning an associate’s degree in Law Enforcement Studies from Minneapolis Community and Technical College, a bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies from the University of Minnesota, and a master’s degree in Organizational Leadership from Saint Mary’s University. Valerie worked in a leadership capacity at UPS for 14 years. She specialized in asset protection holding the following positions: specialist, supervisor, manager, and ultimately a director.
Valerie has a personal and professional passion that has led her to the Modern Montessori Charter School founding board. She is excited about the Montessori approach for her children personally. From a professional standpoint, Valerie believes that her leadership skills balanced with her professional experience make this opportunity one where she can truly pursue the purpose of the organization with passion because it aligns with her beliefs and values.
Laura Gaustad achieved her associate’s degree in Early Childhood Development at Hennepin Technical College, with the intent to open a licensed in-home childcare program. She has successfully run her business for eight years. Laura implements Montessori and Waldorf principles within her classroom. She also enjoys having a close relationship with the children and their families, due to low teacher-child ratios. Currently, Laura is attending the online program through Grand Canyon University to achieve a bachelor’s degree in Elementary and Special Education, which will lead to teacher licensure. This is in addition to running her in-home childcare business. Laura’s goal is to enroll in a master’s degree program for Montessori Certification after achieving her bachelor’s degree in teaching.
Before Laura’s own child became kindergarten age, she did a lot of research on all the different school options available. In the Champlin area, she found she was very limited to the number of choices because she needed to rely on bus transportation. Laura knew Modern Montessori was the perfect school for her and her children. The Montessori method allows children to excel at their own pace, pursue their own interests in learning, and provides hands-on activities.