Jessica Beckinger |  Grades K / 1

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 eleventh year here. It is very rewarding to work with such a wonderful group of students, parents, and teachers!

Sovandara Chhin | K/1


My name is Sovandara Chhin, and I am a K/1 Montessori teacher. Born to Cambodian refugees, I spent most of my childhood in Long Beach, California. In 2007, I student taught and received my AMS Credential from West Side Montessori School in NYC. In 2011 I earned my Master of Education with an emphasis in Montessori Education from Chaminade University. Then in 2014, I completed my Master of Arts in Teaching in Elementary Education from Seattle Pacific University. More recently, in 2020, I cleared my CA Multiple Subject Teaching Credential. I have 18 years of teaching experience that includes teaching for 5 years in three different countries (The Gambia, China, and India). I have also taught in the US in both public and private schools in NYC, Seattle, and Los Angeles.

Amelia Hansen | K/1


Amanda Garza  |  Grades 2 / 3

My name is Amanda Garza and I am a second and third grade Montessori teacher.
Prior to teaching 2/3, I taught grades K/1, 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!

Kelly Vellanoweth |  Grades 2 / 3

Hello! My name is Kelly Vellanoweth and I am a 2/3  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. Our program is amazing and I feel so fortunate to be working with my Montessori team of teachers, families and students!

Kathy Barnes  |  Grades 2 / 3

Hello, my name is Kathy Barnes and I teach second and third grade Montessori at Birch Lane Elementary School. I feel fortunate to get to work with truly talented coworkers and a wonderful group of students and families!

Maria Montessori rooted her Cosmic Education in stories. So, here is a little bit of my story. I was born in Oakland and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. I grew up in a house full of laughter and love with two older brothers and a younger sister. 

I came to Davis to earn a BS in Environmental Design at UC Davis. After graduation I worked professionally as a graphic designer for many years. After I had children, I transitioned to working from home, then, to working part-time and volunteering in my kids’ classrooms and schools. Both of my children attended the Montessori program at Birch Lane from K through 6th grade. I experienced the full scope of the program from a parent’s perspective. I was (and am) inspired by Montessori’s philosophy of child-led, hands-on, whole-person education.  Well, both of my children are in college now, and I am back in elementary school.

I loved being in the classroom, and so, in 2014, I started working as a reading para-educator. I worked at three different schools in many different classrooms.  While working, I went back to school and earned my teaching credential from William Jessup University in Dec. 2019. I also began my Lower Elementary Montessori credential through the Montessori Training Center in Shingle Springs. In January of 2020, I was thrilled to start teaching my own class at Birch Lane. My first few years of teaching have been exciting, challenging, and full of surprises and new experiences.

Outside of work, I am fortunate to be Mom to my dear children, Nicole and Alex. I am also an artist and a lifelong learner who enjoys reading, nature, traveling, camping, anything in the arts, and spending time with my family, friends and my dog, Molly.

I am grateful to be teaching in the community that is Birch Lane and I look forward to discovering what lessons each new day brings.

Remy Glovin  |  Grades 4 / 5 / 6

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.

Lindsay Capitanich  |  Grades 4 / 5 / 6

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!

   |  Grades 4 / 5 / 6