Staff Directory

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 or have equivalent experience and are CPR-First Aid certified. All Lead 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.

 


Mrs. Sabrina Binkley
Head of School & Founder


AMS Credential: Administrator

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 11 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. She has been a Rotarian for 16 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 Greater Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce Board Chair for 2020, the Chamber’s Education & Workforce Development Committee Chair for four years, a member of the Chamber Board Executive Committee for four 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 10 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 and together they have two boys, Simon (15) and Clive (11), and an English Springer Spaniel named Glady who often comes to school. As a family, boating, sports, and travel keep them busy.

Sabrina founded Spruce Tree in March 2012 and has been the Head of School ever since.


Mrs. Kristen Roper
Educational Director

AMS Credential: Early Childhood (3-6)

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. The following year, she returned to her role as Lead Children’s House Teacher and continued in that position until April 2021 when she went on maternity leave.

Ms. Kristen joined our staff in August 2013.


Mrs. Annie Scott
Administrative Director

Hello, My name is Annie Scott! I am local to Fairbanks and I just love being a part of 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 business 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 in August 2017.


Mrs. Jamie Foland
Lead Children’s House Teacher, Taiga Community

AMS Credential: Early Childhood (3-6)

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.


Ms. Megan Dean
Lead Children’s House Teacher, Boreal Community

Montessori Paraprofessional Certification

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.


Mrs. Francely Mobley
Children’s House Teacher Assistant, Taiga Community

Hola! My name is Francely Mobley. I was born in Mexico, and raised in the Bronx, New York. I attended a small private college in Kentucky where I earned my degree in Elementary Education. For the past three years I have been traveling alongside my husband and our baby boy. After moving around so much I am so excited to have landed at

Spruce Tree Montessori school! After becoming a mom I discovered Montessori teachings and have been implementing it at home with my 18 month old. I look forward to continue learning and growing as a teacher.

Ms. Francely joined our team in May 2021.


Ms. Parker Roy
Children’s House Teacher Assistant, Boreal Community

Hi my name is Parker, I was born and raised in Alaska.  I graduated from West Anchorage High School in 2017 with a Seal of Biliteracy in Russian. I then attended Montana State University for a year before transferring to UAF to pursue a certificate in Culinary Arts.

Growing up I was always drawn to working with kids, whether it was helping with younger cousins and siblings, babysitting or coaching youth soccer, I was excited for any opportunity to help. Throughout Middle and High School my mom ran an in-home daycare and preschool, and I enjoyed working with the kids as much as possible, after school and during the summer. Watching them transition through the stages of early childhood taught me so much.

I love the Spruce Tree Montessori Family and look forward to continuing to be a part of this growing community.

Ms. Parker joined our team as School Chef in August 2020 and accepted her teaching position in April 2021.


Mrs. Erin Reger
Lead Upper Elementary Teacher, Tongass Community

Hello Spruce Tree community! My name is Erin Reger and I am happy to be returning to my home town of Fairbanks after several years away.

I knew I wanted to become a teacher from a very young age, and I have enjoyed my teaching journey over the past 15 years. I graduated from Simpson College in Redding, CA in 2001 with a BA in Liberal Studies and later went on to earn my Elementary Teaching Credential from Crown College in Minnesota. I earned my Multiple Subject Teaching Clear Credential upon moving to California a couple years ago. I’ve worked with children from early childhood through 5th grade in both the public and private school spheres. For the past 10 years my focus has been mostly on Upper Elementary, including 6 years teaching 4th grade at ICS in Fairbanks. I’ve most recently been living and teaching in the San Francisco Bay area.

I have long been interested in Montessori teaching, and my interest has been further enhanced with the birth of my daughter in 2018. As I approach her care and early education I have found myself leaning toward Montessori tools and methods in an effort to nurture her curiosity and independence. I believe that every child is unique and should be given the opportunity to develop their individual gifts and talents.

In my free time I enjoy spending time with my family – cozy days at home, reading, baking and having dance parties. I recently learned to love running and I am working toward running my first half marathon this year. I enjoy learning new things and expanding my worldview in the process. I am excited to join the team at Spruce Tree Montessori, and I look forward to learning and growing together.

Ms. Erin joined us August 2020.


Mrs. Alisha Thompson
Lead Lower Elementary Teacher, Tongass Community

AMS Credential: Elementary I

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.

Alisha joined the Spruce Tree family in January 2018.


Mrs. Pamela Metzger
Elementary Teacher Assistant, Tongass Community

Bio & Photo coming soon!

Ms. Pamela joined our team August 2021.


Ms. Jane Peppey
Elementary Program Coordinator & Mentor Teacher
AMS Credential: Elementary I/II

My name is Jane Peppey. I am originally from the Chicagoland area, but left to pursue my bachelors’ degree in Baltimore, Maryland at Goucher College. There, I earned my B.A. in English and Literature. My love of reading and writing is what brought me to teaching. I trained and received my American Montessori Society credential in Elementary I & II from Seton Montessori Institute in Clarendon Hills, Illinois.
I began my teaching career in Wisconsin at Lloyd Barbee Montessori as a Lower Elementary assistant and student teacher. In 2014, I accepted the position of a lifetime at Spruce Tree Montessori School in Fairbanks, Alaska. In Fairbanks, I discovered many amazing things, and had the opportunity to work with dedicated coworkers as the Elementary Teacher in the Tongass community.
In 2018, my journey brought me back home to the midwest—where I have since been an Upper Elementary teacher at MacDowell Montessori, a proud part of the Milwaukee Public School District. Although I may be in Wisconsin, STMS will always hold a special place in my heart. I am pleased to be able to rejoin the STMS team as a virtual Mentor Teacher and Academic Coordinator with the wonderful Tongass Elementary team!

Jane rejoined our team June 2020.


Mrs. Erica Nash
School Counselor & Support Coordinator

M.A.Ed.; Montessori Paraprofessional Certification

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.


Ms. Kristin Donaldson
PE Teacher & After School Program Lead

Hello, my name is Kristin Donaldson. I grew up in Kodiak, Alaska and have a passion for being active and in the outdoors. Some of my adventures include spending two years in Bolivia studying neotropical primates and one year in the People’s Republic of Congo studying western lowland gorillas.

I received a BS degree in Biology from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and a Master’s in Anthropology from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. I earned an athletic scholarship to run both cross country and track in college and competed in triathlons at the elite level while in graduate school.

I taught for eight years in both New Hampshire and Massachusetts as a middle and high school science teacher. In addition, I coached six seasons of Nordic skiing, cross country running, and track at the high school level. Then I became a mother and for two years lead a play group and forest school for little ones.

My parenting philosophy closely aligns with the Montessori Method and I find comfort in witnessing my daughter flourish in this environment. I am so thankful to be a member of the Spruce Tree Family, both as a parent and staff member. It is a privilege to work here and I look forward to what lies ahead.

Ms. Kristin joined our team in July 2021.


Mr. Jacob Cates
Educational Assistant

Hello, I’m Jacob Cates. I’ve lived in Fairbanks for the past thirteen years after moving up from Birmingham, Alabama. I worked at the Riverboat Discovery for six years meeting great people and that job actually lead me to Spruce Tree. I graduated from the University of Alaska Fairbanks in May 2020 with a degree in Mechanical Engineering concentrating in Aerospace. I decided to join the military once I graduated and am currently in the process of applying to become a Marine Aviator. I grew up with three younger siblings and have enjoyed kids all my life. I am excited to be here working with the great team at Spruce Tree Montessori.

Mr. Jacob joined our team June 2020.


Mrs. LJ Johnson
Educational Assistant — photo/bio coming soon!

LJ joined our team in November 2020.


Parent Advisory Committee (PAC) — formed in 2016.