SUNFLOWER FACULTY & STAFF

How The Garden Grows

Kaori Van Dyke

Kaori Van Dyke

Lead teacher in the toddler classroom, Kaori has a graduate degree in psychology, and her coursework included Developmental, Experimental and Educational Psychology. She loves that the program at Sunflower allows the students to learn at their own tempo and with their own objectives. She's looking forward to studying her native Japanese with the children later this year.

Mary Tallent

Mary Tallent

Now co-teacher in the toddler classroom, Mary previously she worked as a Project Manager in NYC. She has an MBA in MIS. In 1998, wanting a break from New York, Mary took a summer job in Glacier. There she met her future husband Doug and the pair eventually moved to Missoula. Beginning as a substitute teacher, Mary is now enjoying being part of the teaching team, learning from the other teachers and the kids themselves. Mary has completed the MT Certified Preschool Teacher Education course.

Jenny Willis

Jenny Willis

Co-teacher in the toddler classroom, Jenny has over 16 years experience working with children. She has owned her own childcare, filled in as an Interim Director for a preschool, and worked as an infant teacher and preschool teacher. She has lived in Montana for 8 years. She has three daughters ages 5, 11, and 13. Together, Jenny and her husband home school their girls. In their spare time they enjoy going to their forested property and building towards a self sufficient future.

Taylor Jackson

Taylor Jackson

Taylor recently relocated to Missoula from the Salt Lake City area to be close to family. She graduated from the University of Utah with a BFA in modern dance in 2014. After graduating she worked with Odyssey Dance Theatre for a number of years before retiring from the stage to focus on teaching dance. Last year was her first experience with children in an academic setting and she fell in love with it! She is excited to be a part of the team here at Sunflower Montessori.

Amy Smith

Amy Smith

Lead co-teacher in the preschool classroom, Amy recently joined Sunflower Montessori school with 20 years of experience working with children. She graduated from MSU, Bozeman with a Bachelor's degree in Elementary Education. Soon after, she received her Montessori certificate from The Caspari Institute. In her spare time, she enjoys exploring in nature, crafting, biking, baking and spending time with family and friends.

Sarah Frazier

Sarah Frazier

Substitute teacher in the preschool classroom, Sarah got her start as an assistant teacher at Green Arts Montessori in Helena, MT. She has been working in Montessori since 2016. Sarah joined the Sunflower team in January of 2020, and is eager to learn and grow with this special group of children. Outside of Sunflower, Sarah maintains her solo music career as a synth-pop artist.

Samantha Pollington

Samantha Pollington

Preschool classroom lead teacher, owner and director, Sam has been with Sunflower for over 10 years and liked it so much she decided to buy it. She is a certified AMS Montessori Instructor who spent two years studying theatre at the University of Northern Colorado and two years studying Early Childhood Education through University of Montana Western.

Jon Van Dyke

Jon Van Dyke

Jon is an occasional substitute in both classrooms, but most of his time at Sunflower is spent in the office keeping the hounds of chaos at bay with his bookkeeping skills. Jon grew up in Missoula, attaining his MPA from the University of Montana after 15 years living in Japan, where he met wife Kaori. Jon enjoys home improvement and landscaping projects, and devotes much of his time to KFGM - Missoula Community Radio.