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Faculty and Staff

School Administrator

Danielle Benge

School Administrator
Danielle Benge graduated from Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1986 where she earned a degree in History and Broad Field Social Studies. After graduation, she attended the Midwest Montessori Training Center under the direction of Hildegard Solzbacher and received her AMI Primary Certification (ages 3-6). Danielle was a primary teacher at Montessori Country Day School in Mundelein, Illinois for 4 years. She then went to the Montessori School of Lake Forest and co-lead in their elementary program for another 4 years. Danielle coordinated various camps and after school activities as well as volunteered with their auctions. She has also attended various Montessori conferences and refresher courses throughout her career. Danielle is also trained in the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd a Montessori based religious formation for children ages 3-12. In 1997, Danielle and her husband, Dan, relocated to Vancouver, WA. Their children, Natalie and Sam, have attended Montessori schools from an early age. They both graduated from Cascadia School in 2009 and 2012, respectively. Danielle has volunteered at Cascadia over the years. When Cascadia held its first auction, Danielle chaired the silent auction committee. Danielle subsequently chaired the following two auctions with the help of many wonderful Cascadia parent volunteers. In January 2012, she became a board member. Currently, she is Administrator and an ex-officio board member. She firmly believes in the whole child approach that Montessori offers for children. Because of this belief, she is passionate about Cascadia School and the opportunities it offers children in the Vancouver area. She is grateful for the stellar staff, families and alumni that make up Cascadia School.

Lower Elementary Faculty

Joya Hastings

Lupine Class Guide
Joya is the Lower Elementary Guide for the Lupine classroom. Prior to Cascadia, Joya spent three years as an Elementary guide for a 6-12 year old class. She enjoys the rewards and challenges of fostering a peaceful and productive learning community and considers the best aspects of her work learning alongside her students and sharing in the excitement that occurs when the intellect and imagination are inspired. She is a huge believer in the importance of mixing childhood and nature; as a child she grew up playing, hiking, swimming and exploring the pristine redwood forests of the secluded northern California coast. Joya received both her B.Ed. and a Multiple Subjects teaching credential from Humboldt State University, where she also studied geology and language acquisition. Joya has been working with children in different capacities for 25 years, from teaching water safety and swim lessons and tutoring English language learners to leading environmental and naturalist classes and working with homeschooling families as a curriculum specialist and guide. She also has training and experience in fine metal work and jewelry making, dance, and creative writing. Joya finished her AMI elementary training in Wisconsin in 2012. She completed her M.Ed. in Montessori Education at Loyola University Maryland in 2014.

Patrick Hastings

Lupine Class Assistant
Patrick has been a professional artist specializing in fine Japanese metal crafts for the last 15 years. He trained as a bench jeweler and as a bronze sculptor. His hobbies include speleology , rock collecting, CNC technology ( machining, 3d printing) , engraving, inlay, carving, drawing, sculpting, woodworking, Electronics, digital photography and editing. He joined the Cascadia faculty in 2015 as the Lupine class assistant.

Andrea Lovio

Larkspur Class Guide
Andria Lovio is the Lower Elementary Guide for our Larkspur Classroom. She received an AMI Elementary Diploma from Montessori Institute Northwest in 2013 and a Masters in Education from Loyola University the following year. Andrea completed her BA in English Literature at Humboldt State in 2006. After moving to Portland in 2008, she received her training to become a clinician for the Northwest Reading Clinic, working with children to improve their reading, spelling, and writing. Alongside this work, she joined Ethos Music Center and has taught individual and group piano classes to children for the past six years. Andrea grew up playing piano and a variety of other instruments, and has been teaching piano and music to children since she was 15. Additionally, having grown up in the beautiful coastal town of Arcata, CA, Andrea has as deep love of the forests, rivers, beaches and mountains of the Pacific Northwest and makes a point to get outdoors whenever possible. An avid runner and lifelong athlete, she is excited to share her love of movement, nature, and music with her students.

Elliott Gajan

Larkspur Class Assistant
Elliott's personal educational experience has built a distinct appreciation for diverse and inclusive education. Attending both arts focused and public schools growing up in both urban and rural areas, and having attended the Akademiet for Utaemmet Kreativitet (an arts based, mixed age school) in Copenhagen, Denmark while also learning the language and Danish culture has given Elliott much insight and experience that he shares in the classroom to ensure individual needs of students are met in engaging, creative, and compassionate ways. Elliott has a passion for writing and firefighting, in addition, a strange fascination for left-handedness, and is focused on pursuing a bachelor's in psychological and behavioural sciences.

Upper Elementary Faculty

Kim Kuhle

Willow Class Guide
Kim Kuhle, the Upper Elementary Guide, for the Willow Classroom, holds an AMI Montessori Elementary diploma from Montessori Institute of Milwaukee, a Bachelor of Science in Education from the University of Portland and a Washington State teaching certificate (elementary and secondary). She has fifteen years of classroom teaching experience, most of it at Aquinas Montessori School (now Camas Montessori) and Cascadia. In her spare time she enjoys gardening, bird watching and playing board games with friends.

Amy Lilly

Willow Class Assistant
Amy Lilly is the Assistant for the Willow classroom. She provides much needed support through her nurturing and consistent presence with the children and her keen eye for organization in the classroom. Amy is in her sixth year at Cascadia. She was an Assistant in lower elementary for four years before moving to upper elementary. Amy has been through Primary Training through the Montessori Teacher Preparation of Washington. She has also attended many workshops on classroom management, children with special needs, and communicating with compassion through The Montessori Institute of the Northwest and other offerings held at her places of employment. Amy has worked in an AMI Montessori classroom at the Elizabeth Perry Primary Level Montessori School as a guide for 2 years. She has also worked at Child’s View Montessori School as an educational assistant for 10 years and previous to this she worked in their aftercare program. Amy says she chose this vocation because she enjoys working with children. She especially finds pleasure in seeing that spark of discovery; what she calls that “I get it!’ moment lighting up a child’s face. In her free time and in the classroom, Amy likes to create. We have benefited from her knitting skills as she shares those with our students patiently teaching them this ability to make something beautiful and warm out of yarn. She also enjoys cooking and creating lovely materials for the classroom. Finally, reading is one of her favorite pastimes. Amy lives in LaCenter, WA with her husband, college-age daughter, and their small dog.

Middle School Faculty

Barb Sparling

Cedar Class Guide
Barbara Sparling, is the Middle School Coordinator and Hummanities Guide. A great sense of humor, affirming demeanor and passion about her subject matter all contribute to the amazing rapport Barbara has with the Middle School Students (and the rest of the student body) here at Cascadia. Before taking on this role, she worked as a part-time reading specialist here giving one on one support to individual students and maintaining our extensive library which contains many books supplied by Barbara. Her ability to connect sometimes reluctant readers to books that hook them into the joy of reading is definitely a gift highly beneficial to our students. Barbara holds a BA in English with a Writing Emphasis and a Graduate Degree in Secondary Education Language Arts from The University of California, Davis. On top of this, she holds an MA in English from Sacramento State University. She has 13 years of experience as a High School English Teacher as well as two years of experience at the Counseling Center at U.C. Davis. In 1995 Barbara won the North Central Association of College and Schools Award for “Excellence in Education” and was the guest speaker at the NCA (North Central Association) Annual Conference in Chicago. This is Barbara's sixth year as the Middle School Language Arts Guide. Barbara lives in Vancouver, Washington, with her husband. They have 2 sons in college, both of whom graduated from Cascadia’s Upper Elementary and Middle School Programs.

Elliot Apatov

Middle School Science Specialist
Elliot is already known to some of our students as Mr. Einstein. He will be working in the Middle School classroom as the Science specialist. He started his teaching career in New York and has a passion for the physical sciences, especially engineering and building bridges. He has pioneered and taught several one-of-a-kind science and math courses across the country. Although he has lived everywhere, he spent the last 20 years in Portland being highly involved in the STEM community.

Kathryn Athay

Math Specialist (middle school) / Spanish Specialist (schoolwide)
Kathryn grew up in Beaverton, Oregon and has lived there most of her life. She went to Oregon State University, double majoring in Spanish and Elementary Education, and minoring in Mathematics. Her focus was bilingual education (Spanish/English). After completing her undergraduate degree, she studied at Montessori Northwest. For the past six years, Kathryn has served as a coordinator, both at the local and regional level, for the Junior Youth Spiritual Empowerment Program, in Oregon and SW Washington. This summer she completed her Master's Degree in Education at Loyola University in Maryland. Kathryn enjoys Latin dance, running, making music with friends, cooking (especially Mexican food), and being of service to others.

Support & Office Staff

Brooks Sparling

Administrative Assistant
Brooks is a college junior studying computer science at Western Washington University with a minor in psychology. He graduated from Mountain View High School in 2013 after four years on the Varsity Tennis Team. Brooks loves math and science as well as playing the guitar and piano. He enjoys spending hot summer days at his family’s lake cabin with his three dogs and younger brother, Tyler. During the rest of the year, he is a die-hard Blazers fan. Brooks’ mom, Barb, has been a Middle School teacher at Cascadia for several years and he is an alumni of the middle school himself. Brooks has a love for education and has a longstanding knowledge of Cascadia from his years volunteering as a chaperone on field trips and in the classroom.

Michael Parker

Aftercare specialist
Michael Parker graduated from Clark College with a Associates in Arts degree then served in the US Air Force as a Intel Analyst. Between 2012-15 he worked for the Vancouver School District as a Special Program Para educator, working one on one and in guided group activities with special needs students of all ages with a emphasis on middle school. Michael started working at Cascadia in fall 2015 and greatly enjoys viewing the Montessori philosophy of a freedom of learning. Michael spends his free time cooking, hiking, and playing trombone.