Learning Cooperative Leadership
Aimee Verdisco, Executive Director
Aimee Verdisco brings over 20 years of experience in education to Mountain Laurel. Prior to becoming its Executive Director, she had a long and fulfilling career as a lead education specialist with the Inter-American Development Bank, working all angles of education throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. She combines a passion for education and learning with a great love for her family, the outdoors and four-legged creatures large and small.
Sara Litzau, Learning Center Director
Sara earned her BA in Education and Environmental Studies from Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA. She has a passion for working with children and has done so in a few different states around the country. In 2015, she joined MLLC, first as its Administrative Coordinator and now as Learning Center Director. She enjoys playing outdoors and spending time with her husband and two children.
Learning Center staff
Shaena Crossland, Primary lead guide
Shaena has served with the Learning Center for over five years. After volunteering for three years, she has been the Primary Classroom Assistant since 2016. Shaena will complete her Montessori certification in spring of 2019 through North American Montessori Center. Shaena lives with her husband, their children, and their beloved furry and finned family members.
Jody Logar, Lead Lower Elementary Guide
Jody received a Masters of Physical Therapy from West Virginia University and a B.S. in Biology and Environmental Science from Davis and Elkins College. She completed the Lower Elementary Teacher Training credential through North American Montessori Center in 2012 and has been teaching with us since that time. She enjoys outdoor activities with her family and running.
Shannon McCann, Lead Upper Elementary Guide
Shannon earned a BS in environmental science from Lynchburg College and received her Master of Teaching degree (middle school math and science) from Virginia Commonwealth University. Shannon completed upper elementary Montessori certification through North American Montessori Center in 2016. She has worked in public schools, having taught 7th grade life science for five years and 5th–8th grade math, including algebra, for four years. She enjoys skiing, mountain biking, and hiking with husband Rob, daughter Delaney (an MLLC student), and their dog, Josie.
Mat Cloak, Lead Upper Elementary Guide
Mat received his BA from James Madison University, double-majoring in English and media arts. His work in education began at the Discovery School of Virginia as a counselor. He then earned his master’s degree in secondary education. His Montessori experience began with Mountain Laurel Montessori School (a separate organization from MLLC), where he taught at the school’s secondary farm-based program in Flint Hill, Virginia. Mat’s instructional strengths are literature, composition, humanities, and the arts.
Jocelyn Gaujot, Elementary assistant
Jocelyn Gaujot has been a Tucker County resident for 16 years. She has a B.S. and M.S. in geology. She helped develop and implement environmental and place-based education for a broad range of school-aged children in both Virginia and West Virginia. She has two children that attend the Mountain Laurel Learning Center, and she loves her role as the Elementary Classroom assistant where she can witness and provide support to the unique learning environment MLLC creates for local children.
Kristen Behrens (KB), Advanced Practical Life Specialist
At an early age, KB learned from the women around her the value of working with her hands to create things. She enjoys exploring different mediums, including various fiber arts, sewing, knitting, cooking, and gardening. In 2017, she completed a two-year Herbal Apprenticeship at Owlcraft Healing Ways in Scottsville, VA. She is grateful to be able to share her knowledge of practical life skills with these children and learn more with them, too. She values the natural world and works to incorporate this into the classroom.
casey king, primary assistant
Casey King studied Environmental Education and Early Childhood Development at Prescott College. She has worked in both formal and informal educational settings leading environmental outdoor programs in multiple states. Casey has lived in West Virginia for ten years and has two sons that attend the Mountain Laurel Learning Center.
Katie judy, primary assistant
Katie Judy has an educational background in Environmental Science and hopes to pursue a degree in Early Childhood Development. In her spare time, she is working towards completing the Master Naturalist program, with a special interest in local flora. Before being employed at MLLC as a Primary Assistant Guide, Katie worked as an in-home DHHR-licensed childcare provider for 3 years. Katie lives in Davis with her husband and daughter, Juniper, and her son, Oren.
Jessica mash, primary projects specialist
Jessica Mash is the projects specialist guide for the primary classroom. She creates specific tasks including art projects, artist studies, special lessons, and introduces and builds on basic kitchen skills. She has lived in Red House, MD for 3 years with her husband, two children (MLLC students), dog, cat, and chickens.