Main Street Staff & Faculty

  • Audrey Page Bio Photo)

    Audrey Page

    Business Manager

  • christine

    Christine Anderson-Ihrig

    Head of Montessori Program

  • Molly Stempin_2

    Molly Stempin

    Primary Montessori Guide

  • Mary Strickler Photo

    Mary Stickler

    Elementary Montessori Guide

  • Katy Severe Photo

    Katy Severe

    Montessori Program Assistant

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    Tanya Apana

    Secondary Teacher, Founder and Head of School

  • sheri

    Sheri Florez

    Secondary Teacher

  • meghan

    Meghan Buntin

    After Care Coordinator

Audrey Page

Business Manager

Audrey is the Office Manager at Main Street. She has a degree in Marketing from Simpson College and lives in Ankeny with her husband, daughter and dog – Milly. Since taking the position she has mastered the art of lamination and cutting on the lines – a highly sought after skill in the world of Montessori! Prior to joining us at Main Street, Audrey worked in the banking industry.

Christine Anderson-Ihrig

Head of Montessori Program

Christine is passionate about bringing people together in the community, inspiring young minds and furthering the Montessori model of learning.  Growing up in the carefree countryside of Minnesota making stick forts, catching bugs and pond stomping –  gave her an appreciation of nature exploration and the role it can play in education.  She has a B.A. in Communications with an emphasis in Marketing from the University of Sioux Falls and has worked in Management throughout her career.  After staying home with her children the last several few years exploring Iowa – she now runs the Montessori program at Main Street.  It’s the best of both worlds – supporting Montessori and getting to work where her kids go to school!

Molly Stempin

Primary Montessori Guide

Molly Stempin has a B.A. in American Sign Language and received her Montessori certification in April of 2017. She began her journey with Main Street as a volunteer providing the students exposure to the language of signing. During this time, she developed a deep appreciation and love of the Montessori method of learning. She believes the Montessori environment provides a space where children can work to become independent life-long learners. Aside from teaching, Molly interprets for the Deaf community. She lives with her family in the Des Moines where they can often be found taking neighborhood walks.

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Mary Stickler

Elementary Montessori Guide

It was the mid 90s. An enthusiastic me, fresh out of college, is eager to get started. Would I teach science to junior high students? I would!  I had seven periods of class: 176 students every day.  Stacks of paperwork, hours of meetings, piles of mandated homework commandeered the rest of my waking hours. I quickly came to this conclusion: “Ye gods!”  I went to work for a low-end big box store stacking shoes. Toe, heel, laces inside, toe, heel, laces inside… I lasted 3 weeks. “Would you like fries with that?” didn’t seem like a viable option, either, and so began the great search for what a quality, reasonable, developmentally appropriate, onus of responsibility on the child, educational program for the whole of the person school would look like.  Welcome to Montessori! I have never looked back. You won’t, either.

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Katy Severe

Montessori Program Assistant

I’m an Oregon native turned Iowan, a wife, a mother, a teacher, a Hike it Baby branch ambassador, and a lover of nature, art, and all things outdoors!
I graduated with my Master’s degree in Education in 2007 from the University of Oregon. After graduation I taught fourth grade for four years before moving to Des Moines in 2011 with my husband who was hired as a professor of Economics at Drake University. I was a substitute teacher for a few years, then stayed home with my son when he was born in 2014. In 2016 I returned to teaching part time as a Special Education teacher in Urbandale.
I have always been intrigued by the Montessori approach to learning. My nieces and nephews in Oregon attend a public Montessori school and that was my first exposure to Montessori. I knew that I wanted my son to attend a Montessori school when he was three, and Main Street felt right in so many ways. When I walked through the doors during our first visit, I knew this was a special place and I wanted to be a part of it somehow.
After teaching in the public school system for ten years, I am ready for a new adventure in teaching. I am very excited to be working part time at Main Street this school year assisting Mary Strickler in the elementary grades with the goal of attending Montessori training during the summer of 2018.
When I’m not teaching, I enjoy spending time with my family, hiking, camping, exercising, and being outside.
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Tanya Apana

Secondary Teacher, Founder and Head of School

I was a high school science teacher in my first life where I loved the subject and the students; however, the rigor of seeing 120 kids a day didn’t fit well with my style of teaching. I wanted to know so much more about my kids and how they learned. I started to search out a different niche and eventually found it when I started the original school.

Our school is special, and it is here that I found a way to thrive as a teacher. What makes it special is I have students for up to four years. Knowing my students so well, I am confident I can bring out their best.  We let our students’ interests determine the pace and direction of their curriculum, allowing them to thoroughly investigate subjects and follow their natural curiosity. I am not restricted to a set curriculum and have the freedom to do what is in their best interest.

At Main Street we firmly believe that all humans learn best when engaged in real life situations, when the learning is practical and authentic. As a teacher I actively seek out opportunities for our students to learn from their community.  I am fascinated by the idea that everyone has something to teach us. By connecting subjects to the world around our students, the information becomes relevant and helps to build a sense of each ones’ place in the world.

I received my degree in biology and my teaching certificate from Iowa State University. I didn’t start out thinking teaching would be my profession. I was actually quite opposed to it until one of my favorite professors said “I can tell you were born to teach”. Now I have been a teacher for 18 years. The last 11 have been in this special niche, and I’m enjoying every minute of it.

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Sheri Florez

Secondary Teacher

“I either love adventure, or I can’t keep a job.”  That’s what I say when people ask me why I have moved so much and lived in so many places.  I am a Norwalk girl, born and bred, but the truth of the matter is that I am challenged by new places, new experiences, and new learning opportunities.

I received my B.A. from Simpson College and a Master’s in Education Administration from Drake.  I have been teaching for 39 years in different states and countries, in different disciplines, at different levels from 7th grade to college and IB to AP English. I have always told myself that when I didn’t love going to school anymore or found challenges too much, it would be time to retire.  But, that time hasn’t come yet.  I am energized by the sheer joy of engaging kids in learning and watching them have their “aha” moments.

I took my first big leap into teaching in the Peace Corps.  I spent two years in DR Congo (known as Zaire then) living in the jungle with no running water or electricity.   When all is said and done, I have taught from Seattle to Houston to Iowa and from the Congo to Turkey to my last position in Kuwait.  I spent 15 years living in cultures that weren’t my own, listening to Kikongo, Turkish and Arabic spoken all around me, learning new (and, yes, sometimes strange) cultural norms, and making friends with teaching colleagues and students from many different countries.  I have traveled in 42 countries and have seen more than I ever imagined.

I believe all of these experiences have brought me to the Montessori and the kids I have in my middle school class.  I love where I have landed after all these years because these kids are bright, ready to learn and, most uniquely, curious.  I get to teach literature which connects to history and flows into writing.  I really believe that the Montessori teaching philosophy utilizes the best of me to nurture the best in your kids.  !  I feel like I have come full circle, and it is time to reconnect to my roots and give back to the community that nurtured me.

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Meghan Buntin

After Care Coordinator

Meghan Buntin has worked with children in various capacities throughout the years as a nanny and in childcare programs in the Des Moines Metro Area.  She is a graduate of Norwalk High School and is currently studying at Iowa State University in Child, Adult and Family Services.  Much of her free time is spent with her adorable son and working to complete her degree.