Board Members

The idea for Heartwood Montessori School began in 2013 when neighbors and Montessori parents, Sarah and Sinead, were longing for a quality Montessori program in Northeast Minneapolis.  They knew of many parents (including themselves) who were driving their children out of our neighborhood to find high quality Montessori environments, and that did not feel right.  Since that first idea, Sarah and Sinead took the time to thoughtfully plan out all the information they would need to start a non-profit school.

In February of 2014, Sarah and Sinead held their first informational meeting about creating a board for this new Northeast Montessori school.  The founding board of Heartwood was formed by a group of passionate parents and community members.  Together they logged over 3,000 hours of volunteer hours and raised over $21,000 to launch the school in September of 2015.

Our governing board is now composed of hard-working, dedicated parents, community members and Montessori professionals who continue to guide the school towards the mission and vision set forth by the founding board members.

Monthly meeting minutes can be found here.

We are currently seeking board members from the community. We also have a variety of subcommittees, including fundraising, community engagement, finance, and building & grounds, for whichever activities might best suit your interests and skill set. Email to learn more.

Melissa Olson President
Melissa Olson is profoundly grateful for Heartwood Montessori after watching her two youngest children experience the joy of learning in such a wonderful environment. She and her husband, Erik, are the parents of three children, Hendrik, Cecilia & Emmett. Melissa has been in education for her entire career, starting out as a secondary language arts teacher. After serving students for many years, she switched her career trajectory to teaching teachers, earning her doctorate in educational leadership. As an adjunct professor for Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota, she focuses on curriculum design and instruction for both new and experienced teachers. In her day job, she has the pleasure of serving Spring Lake Park Public Schools as an Educational Services Coordinator. In her free time, she loves being with family and friends (including puppy George), gardening, trying new restaurants, and reading. She looks forward to committing her time and energy to Heartwood Montessori as both a parent and a board member.

Kate Murray Vice President
Kate became a fast fan of Heartwood when daughter Willa began attending in 2019. Involvement with the Board felt like a natural fit. Kate holds a master’s degree in Public Health Administration and Policy and had been working in environmental epidemiology at the Minnesota Department of Health until she was reassigned to the COVID-19 response in early 2020. She brings experience in board membership and leadership from her service with the Minnesota Public Health Association, Bright Water Montessori, and the University of Minnesota School of Public Health. Kate loves being in Nature, making and listening to music, and spending time with Willa, partner Reed, and dog Cosmo.

Michelle Gerrity Treasurer
Michelle is a civil engineer in St Paul specializing in highway design and ADA compliant sidewalk/trail design. Her son started at Heartwood when they opened their doors and she loved the community so much she chose to serve on the board after he finished his kindergarten year. She lives in Northeast with her husband and two boys.

Stephanie Malone  Secretary
Stephanie joined the Heartwood board as Treasurer in 2017 and has recently transitioned to Secretary. She enjoys cooking, crafting, video games, and going to new grocery stores.

Corinne Ivanca Past President
Corinne Ivanca is the current board president. Her daughter attended Heartwood from 30 months through kindergarten year. Corinne is an attorney practicing in St. Paul and lives with her family in Northeast Minneapolis.

AJ Niehaus
AJ lives in the Waite Park neighborhood of Northeast Minneapolis with her husband, Dan, and their two children, Zoe and Penelope. Zoe, a former student, is now attending Great River School. Penelope is a current student and loving it.  AJ was drawn to a Montessori education for her children because of the freedom, creativity, independence, and ability to work at one’s level that the Montessori philosophy fosters. AJ owns SANscript, an automated publishing company, with her mother. She holds a BS and MFA in performance and technology, where her thesis was in wearable computing and smart fabrics. When not running after her small children or working, she loves to knit, read, and create. AJ was drawn to joining the Heartwood board because she believes Northeast needs a stellar Montessori option that is open to any child. During her tenure she held the offices of President and Past President.

Caitlin Hargarten
Caitlin is an arts event instigator + organizer, graphic designer and maker of animations with her partner Sam under the moniker Squawk. She and Sam have had two children in the Heartwood community and live in Northeast Minneapolis. 

Amy Tweet
Amy joined the board in May of 2019. She previously worked as the Assistant Guide at Heartwood from 2017-2019. She loves the community and wanted to stay connected as transitioning to a new career. She enjoys biking, yoga, camping and identifying trees.

Kristi Curme
Kristi was the founding teacher at Heartwood and is a current stay at home mom to a young toddler.  She lives in Northeast with her partner Patrick, their young child, and their two cats and newly adopted senior dog.  She enjoys biking, crafting, reading, and her new passion: animal relations management. 

A huge “THANK YOU” to our founding board members! Everything you see in the classroom and school community has been a product of this initial investment of time and talent.  They took a dream to a reality!

Sarah Walker
Sinead Carolan
Sareen Dunleavy Keenan
Jonathan Turner Bargen
Crystal Chance
Jess Jellings
Heather Vinge Hanson
Liz Anderson