The staff of Spruce Tree Montessori School share a common vision. We believe that education should be an inspiring experience — a journey for both the child and the parent — during which a partnership between the school and family serves both through a love of learning.
All Spruce Tree Montessori School classroom teaching staff hold bachelor’s degrees and are CPR-First Aid certified. All Lead Teachers and Co-Teachers also hold Montessori credentials for the level at which they are assigned. We hold the safety and security of the children of Spruce Tree as our top priority.
Sabrina was born and raised in Wiggins, Colorado and attended the Colorado School of Mines (CSM) on a basketball / volleyball scholarship. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Petroleum Engineering there and enjoyed a well-rounded experience as a student-athlete. She met her husband, Ryan Binkley, at CSM and moved to Alaska in 2001 to begin her life in Alaska and a career in engineering. After a short time with Alyeska Pipeline Service Company (the company that owns/operates the Trans-Alaska Pipeline), she began work in the family business at the Riverboat Discovery. For 15 years she worked as Vice President of Retail Sales and as the Head Buyer for the company. She now serves as a consultant to the retail management team.
After many seasons of work in the visitor industry with the Riverboat Discovery and four seasons as Head Volleyball Coach at a local high school, she learned the value of top-notch customer service and leadership. During this tenure, she developed a strong understanding of business operations, finance and marketing. Those skills combined with her passion for inspiring children led her to become the Founder of Spruce Tree Montessori School (STMS) in March 2012, Fairbanks’ only Montessori preschool and elementary school affiliated with the American Montessori Society (AMS) as a Full Member School. The school opened in August 2012 and she has served as Head of School since the beginning. With growth from 7 students and 1 teacher to 50 students and 4 teachers in just three years, the school repurposed the historic Fairbanks train depot in downtown Fairbanks and relocated its campus. This well designed building with beautiful outdoor play and work scapes, combined with its prime location has positioned STMS for further, strategic expansion in the near term. Spruce Tree now enjoys enrollment of 90 students, and employs 10 full time and 2 part time staff.
Sabrina is involved in her local community in several ways including serving on the Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors for the past five years. She has been a Rotarian for 12 years — a charter member of the Golden Heart Rotary Club — and has held several offices including Secretary, President and Past President in service to her club. She’s also proud of her past service on the United Way Board of Directors, a 10 year stint, during which she enjoyed co-chairing the organization’s annual fundraising campaign in 2010 that brought in upwards of $1.4 million.
Her professional extra-curricular interests and activities include serving as the Chamber’s Education & Workforce Development Committee Chair for the past four years, a member of the Chamber Board Executive Committee for three years, volunteering with her Rotary club at local events, working with the newly formed Alaska Montessori Association Board of Directors, on which she serves as Secretary/Treasurer, and attending AMS conferences for the past 7 years. To begin her journey, she has fond memories of her time serving on the Fairbanks Montessori School Board for four years (2009 – 2013) where her oldest son attended preschool and kindergarten.
Sabrina was named to the Alaska Journal’s Top 40 Under 40 class of 2017 for her work in education and business.
At home she enjoys cooking/baking, entertaining friends and family, yoga, and playing board games and cards. She looks forward to a time when she’ll have more time for skiing, running, hiking, and summertime gardening.
Sabrina is married to Ryan Binkley (16 years) and together they have two boys, Simon (12) and Clive (8), and a 1 year old English Springer Spaniel named Glady. As a family, boating, traveling, following Simon’s hockey team and Clive’s nordic ski adventures keep them busy.
Kristen attended a Montessori preschool when she was a child. She went on to earn a degree in Elementary Education from the University of Florida. She earned her Montessori credential for the early childhood level (EC 3 – 6) Summer 2013 from the Center for Guided Montessori Studies in Florida.
Kristen joined our team Fall 2013 as our first Children’s House Lead Teacher. During the weeks leading up to the first day of school, she was instrumental in creating an inviting, fully authentic Montessori classroom environment and led our school’s first early childhood cohort along an inspiring educational journey. After a maternity leave Spring 2016, she returned as our Program Advisor until moving to California that August for a 1-year training stint with the USAF as her husband, AJ, is an F-16 pilot. Upon their return to Fairbanks summer of 2017, she re-joined our team as our Children’s House Program Coordinator, serving as the Children’s House team advisor collaborating with the Lead Children’s House Teachers, Teacher Assistants and other classroom support staff. She accepted her current position as Lead Teacher this summer and continues to serve as our Children’s House Program Coordinator.
Ms. Kristen joined our staff in August 2013.
Megan graduated from North Pole High School in 2008 and attended the College of Idaho for one year, majoring in Education. Upon returning to Alaska, she transferred to the University of Alaska – Fairbanks and hopes to pursue her degree in Elementary Education. Megan attended the Seton Montessori Institute’s Paraprofessional Preparation course in March 2018, which provided a broad foundation in Montessori philosophy, educational techniques and classroom best practice. She has many years of experience in home childcare and hospitality.
Ms. Megan joined our staff in May 2017.
Greetings! I was born and raised in Poway, Calif. (suburb of San Diego) and I came to Alaska in the fall of 2000 to earn a degree from the University of Alaska and play volleyball for the Nanooks. I wound up getting my degree in foreign language (Hispanic studies/Spanish emphasis) with a minor in Linguistics. After graduation, I worked in the athletic department as the media relations and communications director and met my future husband, Randy, who is an Alaska Smokejumper. I stayed involved with the volleyball program as a volunteer assistant coach for 10 seasons and for the past two years I served as the full-time assistant coach. Jamie earned her Montessori Early Childhood (EC 3 – 6) credential Summer 2017 from the Center for Guided Montessori Studies in Florida and completed her practicum teaching year as Lead Children’s House Teacher, Taiga community, at Spruce Tree.
I always had an inclination I would be a teacher and a coach just like my father, a retired public school P.E. and Math teacher of more than 30 years. My Montessori journey really began when our eldest daughter, Isabella, joined the Children’s House class at Spruce Tree Fall 2014. Watching her all-around growth and development coupled with the education and exposure we got through school functions and educational opportunities fueled a deeper intrigue and grew my passion to know more, be more involved in the school’s amazing family community and to bring the Montessori way of living into our home as well.
The ultimate goal of Montessori and several of the guiding principles and methods encompass my preexisting philosophies for parenting, teaching, coaching and living life in general. Working around and with children of all ages has always been a big part of my life. As such, it was a very easy and exciting choice to pursue the path to become a Montessori teacher with an age group where I can foster and guide future leaders, providing a solid and comprehensive foundation of character, intelligence, empathy and understanding so they may grow up with the knowledge, compassion and strength to change the world.
It is a blessing and a pleasure to be a part of the amazing staff at Spruce Tree Montessori and I am looking forward to the exciting year that lies ahead.
Ms. Jamie joined our team Fall 2015.
Hello! My name is Haihong Jane Lee. I grew up in mainland China, and am ethnically Korean. I speak Chinese, Korean and English. Having a multilingual background, I am very interested in languages and linguistics, which led me to pursue linguistics as an undergrad at Peking University.
After getting married and moving to Boston in 2009, I started to consider what I could do to help the local community. I had the opportunity to teach in Boston’s Chinatown which exposed me to the great needs of the Chinese community for learning English and navigating their life in the US. This experience along with my personal interest in linguistics led me to pursue a master’s degree in applied linguistics at the University of Massachusetts, in Boston. While I considered pursuing a career as an English as a second language instructor, life somehow led me to be a Chinese teacher. During the past ten years, I taught Chinese at Yak Academy, a language immersion preschool, where for the first time I was exposed to the Montessori schooling environment. I enjoyed singing and playing with the little ones there, and learned classroom and time management in a classroom setting. Later, I also had the chance to teach Chinese at Wellesley High School. I thoroughly enjoyed building a relationship with the young students and designing an effective curriculum that fit the class. Besides teaching, I enjoy cooking and baking, spending time in my garden with my little ones, reading and memorizing Bible verses, and exercise! I can’t wait to see what Spruce Tree has in store for me. I am looking forward to this new school year!
Ms. Jane began work us September 3, 2019.
Bryanna began work with us September 3, 2019.
Alisha Thompson was raised in the small town of Salcha, Alaska. Growing up in such a small town instilled a lifelong love of creating in her. Alisha plays violin and guitar, sings, and loves to write her own music, stories, and poems. Alisha loves to cook and bake and tries to be as creative as possible in the kitchen! In 2012, Alisha moved to Fairbanks where she met her husband Alex. They have a Munchkin cat, Einstein, and a Black lab-Akita pup, Vesper. Alisha has experience working in both daycare and classroom settings as well as experience working in the fields of customer service and hospitality. She reflected, “I have always known that I wanted to work in the field of education. I believe that knowledge of the world around us and of the self is of the utmost importance; I understand the crucial role that caring and passionate educators play in the construction of this knowledge.” She earned a Bachelor’s degree in English and a minor in Psychology from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks in 2018.
She continued, “During my undergraduate studies, I began to really think about and explore the role of an educator and the type of educator I hope to become. In this exploration, I found that my own personal philosophy of education aligns closely with the Montessori philosophy. I really admire the whole child approach of Montessori education and its focus on instilling a lifelong love of learning in all students. I am currently enjoying my practicum year of my Montessori elementary certification program as I continue my own educational experience, and I am very excited to be a member of the team at STMS.
Ms. Alisha joined our team January 2019.
Hello friends! My name is Erica Nash and I was born and raised in Palo Alto, California and took a leap of faith by attending the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) to play volleyball.
I earned a BA in Psychology before pursuing a Master of Education degree in Community Counseling. Before joining the team at STMS, I worked as a mental health counselor with teens and young adults, and I truly enjoy helping people on their journey toward a positive life. Outside of work, volleyball is a major passion of mine, and I curb this craving through coaching competitive club volleyball. This California girl loves exploring the natural beauty of Alaska through hiking and camping and I’m looking forward to new adventures at Spruce Tree Montessori School this school year.
Ms. Erica joined our staff Summer 2016.
Jarrett was born and raised in the Ozark Mountains of Missouri where he attended Missouri State University and acquired his Bachelor of Science in Agriculture. In 2016 Jarrett and his family moved to New Mexico where he taught Agriculture at Jemez Valley High School, his extra duties were assistant high school basketball coach, head baseball coach, and FFA advisor. While in New Mexico Jarrett obtained his Masters in Agriculture Extension Education from New Mexico State University.
Jarrett moved to Fairbanks in April of 2019 with his wife and two children ready for their next adventure.
For 25 years Jarrett has been involved in youth sport programs. He started coaching in 1994 with a youth school basketball team that lasted 6 years together, and went on to win a state championship together when in high school. After that he was hooked on helping the youth sports programs in the area. He is excited to be a part of the community and staff at Spruce Tree Montessori.
Mr. Jarrett will join our team January 2020.
Ms. Geneva Preston (photo coming soon)
Enrichment Education Coordinator: After School Programs, Camp, Spanish
Born and raised in the rolling hill country of Georgia’s Piedmont, Geneva’s path to Fairbanks has been diverse, circuitous, and filled with laughter. Geneva attended Athens Montessori School in Athens, Georgia from ages 3 to 11, after which she transferred to the local public school system. While her brief but rich tenure as a trombonist blossomed in the Oconee County Schools, much else was left to be desired. At 16, Geneva found an opportunity to move to Massachusetts and attend an early college, from which she graduated with an Associate of Arts degree at age 18.
Geneva returned to Georgia in 2009 to pursue a B.S. in Ecology at the University of Georgia, which she completed in 2013. Geneva was lucky to attend a semester with the National Outdoor Leadership School during this time, learning and playing in spectacular back country settings throughout the Rocky Mountain West. Here she discovered a deep passion for communication and leadership. In her final semesters at UGA, Geneva realized the profound nature of her love of information, and began cultivating the seeds of a mission to make information available to all, to communicate the interdependencies that sustain our planet, and to break down the jargon barriers that keep people feeling isolated as “non-science-minded.”
In years since, Geneva has spent time working as a wilderness therapy guide in central Utah, a tour guide in a hydroelectric facility, and an environmental educator in Washington’s North Cascades National Park, interspersed with opportunities for travel in Eastern Europe and Central and South America, where she gained perspective, experienced new things, and began her journey in learning the Spanish language.
A seasonal position conducting remote songbird surveys brought Geneva to Fairbanks in 2017, and since then, the decision to stay has been effortless. In free moments, Geneva enjoys rock climbing, bike touring, ethnobotany, natural dye-making, fiber crafts, salmon, listening to and making music, any opportunity for a hearty laugh, and watching insects navigate leaf litter. While her Alaskan Summers have been happily filled with biological field work, Geneva is thrilled to be joining the Spruce Tree community this winter as Enrichment Education Coordinator.
Geneva joined our team November 2019.
Ms. Catey joined our team January 2019.
Hello, My name is Annie Scott! I am local to Fairbanks and I am very excited to join the Spruce Tree Montessori Team!
I enjoy spending time with my family doing outdoor activities such as snow machining, sledding and berry picking. I also enjoy volunteering time as my daughter’s Girl Scout Troop Leader.
As a young adult, I worked at a local financial institution for ten years. This time brought me a great deal of experience in finance and administration that I have found invaluable. After becoming a mother in 2010, I was inspired to start an in-home daycare that I continued for the following six years. While this was an incredibly fun, love-filled, challenging experience, it was also an amazing time for me to spend nurturing the hearts and minds of my children.
Spruce Tree Montessori is a perfect environment for me to continue my passion of working with children while making effective use of my administrative abilities. I am excited and thankful for the adventures ahead!
Ms. Annie joined our team Fall 2017.