OUR TALENTED TEACHERS

Kelly Vellanoweth  |  Grades K / 1
kvellanoweth@djusd.net


Hello! My name is Kelly Vellanoweth and I am a kindergarten/first grade teacher here at Birch Lane elementary school. I grew up in Sacramento where I enjoyed playing competitive soccer, club volleyball, recreational swimming, tennis, and skiing. Now I am busy taking care of my children; ages 8, 12 and 15.  We also have five chickens, two dogs and a cat.  I love to read, exercise when I can and spend time with my family.  

My interest in Montessori began while I was in college.  I attended Sacramento State University and worked at two different Montessori preschools as an assistant teacher. This was when I fell in love with Maria Montessori’s philosophy for teaching.  In 2004 I graduated with a BA in Art Studio from Sacramento State University while also receiving my Montessori teaching credential from Hayward. Once I graduated I worked in a Montessori classroom until the birth of my first child, Emma. I stayed home to care for my daughter then went back to work teaching art part time at an elementary school in Sacramento. After having my second child, Jimmy, I went back to school and received my Multiple Subject Teaching Credential and a MA in education with a minor in Art. I then taught at the California Montessori Project in Carmichael until I had my third child, Annie.


In 2013 my family moved to Davis and I became a sub while also volunteering at my children’s schools for three years.  After taking on a long-term teaching assignment here in Davis in a kindergarten class I realized how much I missed teaching Montessori and having my own classroom.  I got a position at Birch Lane Elementary and have been teaching in the Montessori program for the past few years.  Currently I co-teach with Amanda Garza and it has been wonderful to collaborate with her and the other K/1 Montessori teachers at our school.  Our program is amazing and I feel so fortunate to be working with my Montessori team of teachers, families and students!


Jessica Beckinger |  Grades K / 1
jbeckinger@djusd.net


My name is Jessica Beckinger, and I teach a kindergarten/ first grade Montessori class. I was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. Growing up, I participated in choir, horse-back riding, dance, and took piano lessons. These days, I enjoy reading, cooking, yoga, traveling, and spending time with my family and friends. I am a parent of two young girls, and we live in West Sacramento.

I earned my BA at UC Davis then went on to complete my Multiple Subject Teaching Credential at Sacramento State University. I also have a Master’s in Education degree with a specialization in Autism Studies from National University. For the first few years of my career, I worked as a lead teacher at a private Montessori preschool in Davis. During that time, I earned my first Montessori credential through the North American Montessori Center. Later on, I completed a second Montessori credential through the Montessori Training Center to receive AMS (American Montessori Society) certification.

Following my preschool experience, I went on to work at the California Montessori Project, Elk Grove Campus, and led a kindergarten/ first grade classroom there for three years. I then transitioned to Birch Lane, and I am now in my tenth year here. It is very rewarding to work with such a wonderful group of students, parents, and teachers!


Darren Wong  |  Grades K / 1
dwong@djusd.net

My name is Darren Wong, and I teach two kindergarten/first grade Montessori classes. I was born and raised in San Francisco. Before moving to Davis, I spent many weekends camping with Boy Scouts and volunteering in San Francisco’s Chinatown. I also taught English in China one summer. In my spare time, I enjoy cooking, reading, watching movies, and spending time with friends and my dog, Mochi.


I transferred to UC Davis to earn my BS and continued at UC Davis to complete my Multiple Subject Teaching Credential. I have recently completed my Lower Elementary Montessori credential at the Montessori Training Center in Shingle Springs.


I did my student teaching here at Birch Lane then worked for one year as Mrs. Beckinger and Ms. Hansen’s co-teacher.  I’m excited to continue teaching here. I look forward to working with the students, families, and staff who have been so welcoming!




Amanda Garza  |  Grades K / 1
agarza@djusd.net


My name is Amanda Garza and I am a Kindergarten/First Grade Montessori teacher.
Prior to teaching K/1, I taught grades 5/6 as well as 4/5 all within the Montessori program here at Birch Lane. I completed my undergrad work in the Blended Program at Sacramento State University while simultaneously earning my teaching credential. I student taught in West Sacramento and then was a 5th grade teacher for a few years.


After falling in love with the Montessori philosophy I decided to pursue my Montessori credential at the Montessori Training Center in Shingle Springs, CA and took a position at Birch Lane co-teaching with Amie Hansen. In 2016 our family was relocated to the East coast, and I took a break from teaching to pursue my M.Ed. in Early Childhood/ Play-Based Education. I am happy that life has led us back to California and I am
thrilled to be back at Birch Lane!

My husband and I currently reside in Vacaville with our two children, Claire and
Emmaline. We also have a dog and two cats. We enjoy hiking, camping, board games, cooking, and baking as a family. I am also an avid reader and love gardening!
 



Marissa McBride  |  Grades 2 / 3
 
mmcbride@djusd.net


I am Marissa McBride. I was born and raised in Gilroy, California (the Garlic Capital of the World!). I moved to Davis to pursue my BS in Human Development and minor in Education. In my junior year of undergrad, I led the ACCESS afterschool program at Birch Lane and began interning in Ms. Hansen’s Montessori classroom. In her classroom, I found that Montessori students had an intense drive to learn that I had never seen anywhere else. I loved being a part of her students’ learning and decided early on that Montessori was the way for me. I enjoyed being in a Montessori classroom so much that I kept coming back as an intern for her for nearly two years!

After finishing my bachelor’s degree, I continued at UC Davis to earn my Multiple Subject Teaching Credential. During my credential year, I student taught in Jessica Beckinger’s K/1 classroom at Birch Lane. In 2014 and 2015 I completed my Elementary I Montessori credential and Masters in Education while teaching 1st and 2nd grade at Birch Lane. In 2016, I transitioned into teaching 2nd and 3rd grade.

When I’m not teaching, I enjoy working out at CrossFit Davis, camping, hiking, or doing anything outside! I also enjoy cooking and going to the farmer’s market with my significant other and taking my dog to the dog park. I have a great life here in Davis and the best job in the world.


Eliza Sater |  Grades 2 / 3
esater@djusd.net

I decided to become a teacher when my girls were preschoolers and I realized how much I enjoyed being with children. Though I was working as an environmental scientist at the time, I launched headlong into my credential program and never looked back.

While I was teaching in the neighborhood programs at Montgomery, Birch Lane and Korematsu, my daughters, Zoë and Maddy, were enrolled in Birch Lane’s Montessori program and loving it. They came home everyday full of excitement and ideas. Their enthusiasm for the student-centered, hands-on work in their classrooms inspired me as a parent and teacher. I earned an AMS credential at Saint Mary’s College, and began teaching in the Montessori Program in 2010. I am grateful to be able to teach in this wonderful program!

Before becoming a teacher, I completed a Masters in English literature from UW Madison and a Masters in Ecology from UC Davis. I worked for 10 years as an environmental scientist at the Department of Water Resources in Sacramento, where I met my husband, Eric. We’ve lived in Davis since 2001. Eric is an avid cyclist, and keeps our family pedaling year round. Along with teaching and spending time with my family, I also love to read, run, needle-felt and bake cookies.



Remy Glovin  |  Grades 4 / 5 / 6
rglovin@djusd.net


I graduated with a M.A. in Education from UC Davis in 2008. I received my AMS Montessori certificate from Sacramento Teachers College in 2009. I worked at Dixon Montessori Charter School as a 2nd/3rd grade teacher for two years 2007-2009. I then worked for California Montessori Project as a Montessori assistant in a 1st-3rd grade classroom until I moved to New Zealand. I was fortunate enough to work in a fantastic little school in New Plymouth on the North Island of New Zealand as a 6-9 years old Montessori classroom teacher for three years before returning to California to be closer to my family. I then started at Birch Lane in 2013 teaching K/1st grade Montessori and moved to 2/3 the year after. Since 2019 I have been teaching upper elementary Montessori classes, grades 4/5/6.



Katherine Allen  |  Grades 4 / 5 / 6
kallen@djusd.net


For the past several years I have been very involved in the Montessori community in the Sacramento area. Prior to my position at Birch Lane I was a Montessori Kindergarten teacher. In 2018 I finished my M. Ed in curriculum and instruction with a minor in early childhood development. Through my latest research project, I have found that the Montessori philosophy is ingrained in many current teaching strategies and academic research. Building a strong community environment for learning is key to how I manage my classroom.


I have three beautiful boys who have all been in the Montessori setting since Kindergarten and/or preschool. As a parent, I volunteered quite often in my children's classes which has provided me with Montessori insight and philosophy for each grade level until 6th grade. It was my oldest son who changed my career course and I decided to be a teacher. His love for learning encouraged me to get my teaching credential. While looking for a school that would provide an equitable and differentiated experience I came into the Montessori philosophy. I fell in love with this theory and pedagogy and quickly went back to school to receive my Montessori credential. 




Lindsay Capitanich  |  Grades 4 / 5 / 6
lcapitanich@djusd.net


My name is Lindsay Capitanich, and I am a 4th/5th/6th grade teacher here at Birch Lane Elementary. I was born and raised in California, and have lived in Davis since 2006. Growing up, I participated in dance, soccer, hiking, lapidary, and camping. These days, I enjoy traveling, camping, hiking, reading, crocheting, and spending time with my family.

Before teaching, I majored in Geology, did field studies in both Canada and Australia, and was an Environmental Geologist for 10 years.  I then decided to follow my passion for teaching and began to substitute teach for DJUSD. I was a substitute teacher for 3 years and decided to earn my teaching credential and Master’s in Education. I learned about the Montessori program through substitute teaching at Birch Lane, and began my Lower Elementary Montessori credential that year.  I have been teaching the Montessori upper elementary grades 4/5/6 since 2019.

I’m so excited to be working with such an amazing group of students, parents, and teachers! 


Sally Palow  |  Grades 4 / 5 / 6
spalow@djusd.net


I was born and raised in Kankakee, Illinois. I have two grown children, Abby and Adam. Abby and my granddaughter Maggie, live in Folsom. My son Adam lives in Florida. Abby works for the CA Department of Education and Adam is at the helm of a business in Florida.

My late husband and I attended Illinois State University and Olivet University, where I earned my B.S. in education. The minute I stepped out of university I began teaching. My first job was teaching forty second graders, all by myself! I taught at that school for twelve years as a traditional classroom teacher in various elementary grade-levels 1-8. My two children attended a public school Montessori magnet program, much like Birch Lane’s Montessori. My children’s’ principal asked if I would like to take the Montessori training, earn my Montessori credential and join his staff. I jumped at the opportunity.

My Montessori training and credentialing took place at DePaul University/Midwest Montessori Teacher Training. I taught four years at the public school Montessori Center in Kankakee. I taught grades 3, 4, and 5. Moving to CA in 1988, I taught 6th grade at 99th Street School in South-Central LA. After one year at 99th Street School, I had the opportunity to join the educational product development team at Educational Insights. What a fun job…developing educational products for the school, toy and instructional products industries. While at Educational Insights, I moved to the position of special products (electronics) manager and senior staff writer/editor.

In 1994, my family and I moved to Folsom. I started my own business developing educational products for the instructional materials industries. In 2005, I learned of the Montessori program at Birch Lane and I got myself to Davis, ASAP! I have been at Birch Lane for the past thirteen years. I love teaching the Montessori philosophy and methods, interacting daily with my young learners and partnering with my parents.