SUNFLOWER FACULTY & STAFF

How The Garden Grows

Samantha Pollington

Samantha Pollington

Preschool classroom lead teacher and co-owner, Sam has been with Sunflower for four 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. If you are one of those parents who still go out at night, you might hear her singing in the indie-rock band The Magpies.

Evgeniya Strakhova

Evgeniya Strakhova

Director and co-owner, Evgeniya is originally from Russia. She graduated from Kazan State Pedagogical University with a degree in Education and Linguistics, has a TEFL certification and Montessori certification. Evgeniya has over 20 years of experience working with children of all ages. She taught in Russia and China before moving to Montana, and this summer teamed up with Miss Sam to buy Sunflower. Ask her how many languages she can speak!

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.

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.

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.

Sarah Frazier

Sarah Frazier

Assistant 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 this year, 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.

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.

Call Us: 1-406-830-3025   /   sunflowermontessori1@gmail.com  /   721 S 6th St W Missoula, MT 59801