Sabrina was born and raised in rural Colorado and attended the Colorado School of Mines (CSM) on a volleyball scholarship. She earned a BS degree in Petroleum Engineering there and enjoyed a well-rounded experience as a college-athlete. She met her husband, Ryan Binkley, at CSM and moved to Alaska in 2001 to begin her life in Alaska and her career in engineering. After a short time with Alyeska Pipeline Service Company, she began work in the family business at the Riverboat Discovery. For the past 12 years she has worked as Vice President of Retail Sales and as the Head Buyer for the company.
She is involved in the community in several ways including serving on the United Way Board of Directors, the Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and is a charter member of the Golden Heart Rotary Club of Fairbanks where she is currently serving as President. She developed a passion for Montessori education when she realized how beneficial it was for her son at the primary level. His interest in the process of learning (not the product) was inspiring and he was engaged in his work. Sabrina began to study the methodology. She served on the Fairbanks Montessori School Board of Directors for nearly 4 years. During that tenure, she chaired the Building Committee through Phases I and II of a three-phase, large-scale capital renovation, and led efforts through the Capital Campaign Committee to secure a state allocation upwards of $180,000 for future work on the facility. Her son Simon Binkley (8) completed the Fairbanks Montessori School three-year program (ages 3 – 6) and began his elementary adventure Fall 2012 as a first grader in the inaugural class at Spruce Tree. Her son Clive (4) began his educational experience in the Children’s House Program at Spruce Tree Fall 2013.
Mrs. Kristen Roper
Lead Children’s House Teacher
Hello! I was born and raised in Southwest Florida. As a child I attended a Montessori preschool and have fond memories of washing dishes and building the pink tower. I earned a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from the University of Florida and began my journey to follow my mother’s footsteps to become a teacher. For three years I worked as lead teacher for the 3-6 age group at Kingswood Montessori Academy in Homestead, Florida. During that time I fell in love with the Montessori Method and decided to pursue my primary Montessori certification from The Center of Guided Montessori Studies. She and her husband, AJ, an F16 pilot at Eielson Air Force Base, are excited to be in the last frontier of Alaska.
Ms. Kristen joined the Spruce Tree staff last fall as our Lead Children’s House Teacher and will continue in that role this school year.
Ms. Jane Peppey
Lead Elementary Teacher & Curriculum Director
Hello! My name is Jane Peppey. I am originally from Chicago, IL. I graduated from Goucher College in Baltimore, MD with my degree in English and Literature. During time spent working at my College’s Writing Center, I became inspired to begin addressing education at the elementary level. I began my journey to become a Montessori teacher at Seton Montessori Institute in Illinois, an American Montessori Society training center. I had the absolute pleasure to spend the last year at Lloyd Barbee Montessori School, in the Milwaukee Public School district, where I worked with a wonderful group of students and teachers. I am very excited that the next step in my journey is Fairbanks, Alaska. I look forward to meeting the bright, promising students of Spruce Tree Montessori School this September!
I often go back to a quote from Maria Montessori that I hope to incorporate into our work in the classroom this year: “Imagination does not become great until human beings, given the courage and the strength, use it to create.”
Ms. Jane will join our full-time staff this fall serving as our Lead Elementary Teacher & Curriculum Director.
Mrs. Ellie Ishaya
Elementary Teacher & Cultural Enrichment Coordinator
Hi, my name is Ellie Ishaya and as a lifelong Alaskan and a lifelong Montessorian, I am excited to join the Spruce Tree team! I was a Montessori student myself from ages three through 12, and am delighted to come full circle and teach Montessori elementary. I grew up in Anchorage and received a Bachelors of Science in Anthropology with a minor in dance from the University of Alaska Anchorage. I attained my State of Alaska K-8 teaching certification through the University of Alaska Southeast. During this time I was fortunate to be able to work as a teacher’s assistant in a Montessori kindergarten classroom, as well as fulfill my university practicum and internship requirements in Montessori elementary classrooms. I attended Montessori Elementary I training at the Montessori Educational Institute of the Pacific Northwest (MEIPN) and then completed a yearlong internship in a Montessori lower elementary classroom. I enjoy sharing my love of science, culture, and art with children and look forward to being a part of the Spruce Tree community.
Ms. Ellie will join our full-time staff this fall serving as our Elementary Teacher & Cultural Enrichment Coordinator.
Ms. Stephanie Graf
Teacher of the Arts & Children’s House Teacher Assistant
I was born the oldest of 6 children and raised on a farm in Watertown, Minnesota. Through the years, my daughter, Katrina – now 25 years old – and I lived a somewhat nomadic life. We have lived in Minnesota, California, Kentucky, Colorado, and Oregon. After earning a BS in Elementary Education from Indiana University Southeast, I discovered The Waldorf School of Louisville and developed a love for the philosophy of Waldorf Education. I completed one year of Waldorf Teacher Training at the Rudolf Steiner College in Sacramento, California, in 2008 and intend to continue that certification program next year. In 2009, Katrina, who had moved to Alaska to attend UAF, said “Mom! Move to Alaska!” I was packed and heading north on the ferry within a month, and arrived in Alaska midwinter. I’ve taught in many settings: a public school in Salida, Colorado for 2 years and in Fairbanks for 3 years. While looking for alternative education opportunities within the Fairbanks community last summer, I discovered Spruce Tree Montessori School, and shortly thereafter, Loki, my dog, and I joined the school as the Elementary Teacher’s Assistant and Cultural Enrichment Program Coordinator.
This fall, Ms. Stephanie will return to Spruce Tree as Teacher of the Arts and Children’s House Teacher Assistant. Loki will continue to serve as Playful Companion of Students and Classroom Dog.