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 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.

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 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.

Mrs. Kristen Roper
Children’s House Lead Teacher, Boreal Community

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. 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.

Ms. Megan Dean
Children’s House Teacher Assistant, 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. 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.

Mrs. Haihong Jane Lee
Children’s House Teacher Assistant, Taiga Community

Montessori Paraprofessional Certification

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.

Ms. Bryanna Antle
Lead Elementary Guide, Tongass Community

Masters Montessori Education, M.A.Ed.
AMS Credential: Elementary I/II

Bryanna was born in Glendale, California and was raised in the town of Camas in southern Washington. She and her twin brother, Brendan, attended Montessori school beginning when they were three and continued until they were 14. Bryanna graduated high school with her Associates Degree, then went on to study pre-med at the University of Washington in Seattle. When her interests shifted, she transferred to Evergreen State College where she graduated with a BA in social psychology and business leadership. Bryanna worked as a caregiver for the elderly and disabled, and as a counselor for nutrition and addiction post college. During her time as a counselor, she embarked on a mission to create a pedagogy which would allow children the freedom of choice, while promoting a reverence for all living things in the pursuit of peace. After researching several alternative schools, she returned to Montessori this time as an adult. She left counseling and started as an assistant in a combined (6-12) elementary classroom at Northwest Montessori School in Seattle. Bryanna lived and taught in Mexico for a year after Northwest, then returned to the U.S. to start her elementary teacher training. Three Tree Montessori school in Burien, WA generously sponsored Bryanna to become a teacher for their growing elementary program. Bryanna concurrently studied for her Masters in Montessori Education during her Montessori certification training, and graduated from the Montessori Northwest Training Institute in Portland, Oregon in June 2018. As a co-teacher in an upper elementary (9-12) classroom and as a substitute for all elementary classes, Bryanna learned the subtle, and sometimes not-so-subtle differences within the 6-12 age group. She is thrilled to start a new adventure in Alaska and honored to join the Spruce Tree family!

Bryanna began work with us September 3, 2019.

Mrs. Alisha Thompson
Elementary Guide/Student Teacher, Tongass Community

AMS Credential: Elementary I/II, Summer 2020

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.

Mrs. Erica Nash
Educational Counselor

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.

Mr. Jarrett Burke
Elementary Guide Assistant & PE Teacher
M.A. Agricultural Extension Education, B.S. General Agriculture

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 Burtness-Adams
School Chef & Food Service Coordinator

As the Spruce Tree Montessori Chef, I strive to bring my culinary education, personal passion for cooking, varied cuisine experiences, and love of my hometown into creating an exciting and educational culinary space for all ages.
I grew up in Alaska, first in rural Bristol Bay and later here in Fairbanks where I developed my first interest in cooking from my mom and my aunt. I went to Drexel University in Philadelphia for a Bachelor’s in Hospitality Management with a minors in Culinary Arts and Business Administration. I enjoyed the thrill of such a different environment, but I am consistently reminded I belong here in my hometown community. After university, I spent time exploring various employment fields here as well as traveling extensively. I initially opened the deli at the Co-op Market, substitute taught, worked in residential construction and various hospitality establishments, most recognizably (and recently) at Hoodoo Brewing Company.  I also spent multiple non-consecutive years exploring, volunteering and working in Central and South America, Central Asia and New Zealand. Most of my travels were initially motivated by culinary experiences, yet despite the excitement and challenge of each new adventure, I have always been drawn back home to my family, friends and community.
Now I have the privilege to create a menu that provides wholesome, homemade, popular dishes while also presenting palate expanding and culturally varied dishes in a supportive environment.
In part, my love of Fairbanks is also motivated by the outdoor opportunities. I am thrilled to share my enjoyment of skiing and biking with the students as well.

Ms. Catey joined our team January 2019.

Mrs. Annie Scott
Administrative Manager

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.