About Us

Our Facility
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We moved into our Passiv House-standard building in 2017. Designed and built by Belfast-based architecture and construction firm GO Logic, the new facility is highly energy efficient and green, with photovoltaic panels supplying the majority of our electricity. Just minutes from downtown Belfast but situated on more than 35 acres of woodlands, Cornerspring offers a wealth of opportunities for nature-based education.

Our History
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Cornerspring Montessori School was founded in 2001 by Paula Johnson in response to a need in the area for a high-quality preschool program. Originally located in a Victorian home in downtown Belfast with an enrollment of eight children, the school’s reputation and the appeal of Dr. Maria Montessori’s teaching philosophy grew and enrollment increased.

In 2007, Cornerspring became a non-profit institution, and in 2008, in order to meet the needs of its growing community, Cornerspring added an elementary program and moved to the athenahealth campus on Route 3. 

A few years later, in 2012, the Board of Directors conducted a strategic planning process to identify a new, permanent home. During a yearlong search, the committee reviewed 40 potential buildings and sites, and ultimately recommended building a 6100 sq. ft. school on a wooded property on Lower Congress Street. In the fall of 2014 the board approved the purchase of 35 acres and a building design by GO Logic, an architecture and construction firm based in Belfast, Maine that creates sustainable, super-insulated, highly energy-efficient buildings. Ground was broken in the Fall of 2016 and the community moved into the new building in July of 2017.

Today, Cornerspring is recognized as offering families an outstanding choice for children ages 18 months to 12 years in a beautiful natural setting.

Mission Statement
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Using an approach based in the methods developed by educational visionary Maria Montessori, Cornerspring Montessori School is committed to individualized education, allowing children freedom to develop at their own pace. We strive to satisfy a child’s need to know, to belong, to feel safe and secure, and to develop their self-esteem. Our nurturing staff is Montessori-trained, and our school accepts all children as individuals and does not discriminate in any way based on race, ethnic background, gender, disability, or financial position.

“Let the children be free; let them run outside when it is raining; and when the grass of the meadows is wet with dew, let them run on it and trample it with their bare feet; let them rest peacefully when a tree invites them to sleep beneath its shade; let them shout and laugh when the sun wakes them in the morning.” – Maria Montessori

Staff
  • Chandra Elmendorf
    Chandra Elmendorf Assistant Teacher
    Chandra came to Cornerspring last year as the Assistant aftercare teacher, and substitute.  She has more than 10 years’ experience working with children, including 7 years of teaching nature observation, and wilderness survival skills through a program she and her husband created in Bridgehampton, NY.  As the assistant teacher in the Cardinal classroom, she is glad to be able to contribute her experience to the enrichment of the learning environment.  Chandra lives in Northport with her husband Ben, and enjoys handcrafts, nature exploration, gardening and cooking.
  • Diane Sternberg
    Diane Sternberg Middle School Teacher

    After spending over a decade delivering immersive educational experiences at sea, Diane returned to land to complete her Masters in English at Breadloaf in Middlebury, Vermont. She is thrilled to join the Cornerspring community as a Middle School teacher. Diane enjoys reading, swimming, sailing, hiking, creative writing and spending time with good friends.

  • Sue Beemer
    Sue Beemer Head of School

    A native of southern Minnesota, Sue grew up on a farm on the prairie. She holds a BS in Home Economics Education with an emphasis on Family Life and Child Development from Minnesota State University—Mankato. Sue has worked in early education for over thirty years, serving as a parent educator, preschool teacher and administrator. She currently lives in the woods in Searsport with her husband Jeff and beagle Beasley. Her two grown children live in the NYC area and visits with her grandchildren Jackson and Eloise are the highlights of Sue’s vacations. Sue also enjoys baking, sewing, crocheting, gardening, hiking and a good snowstorm.

  • Amanda Barnes
    Amanda Barnes Lead Teacher: Puffin Classroom (18 months-3 years)


    Amanda received her Associates degree in Early Childhood Education from Beal College and certification from Northeast Montessori Institute. Amanda has worked in the Chickadee and Cardinal classrooms and is excited to apply her training to the Puffin classroom. Amanda lives in Kenduskeag with her husband Terry and enjoys swimming, dancing, taking care of her horses and other farm animals.

  • Wiola Shaw
    Wiola Shaw 
Lead Teacher: Chickadee Classroom (3-6 years)

    Wiola has worked with kids for over 20 years, including time teaching in Poland, where she was raised. For the past five years she has been the Assistant Teacher in the Chickadee classroom, and now is the Lead Teacher as she begins her Montessori teacher training. Wiola lives in Camden with her husband Ethan and their son Tristan, and is committed to making your child’s Montessori experience productive, stimulating and fun!

  • Lori Pearson
    Lori Pearson Assistant Teacher

    Lori has over 25 years of experience in early childhood education, including 10 years as a head teacher in the aftercare program at Montessori Discovery School in Norwich, CT. She is glad to be returning for her 9th year at Cornerspring as Assistant Teacher in the Chickadee classroom. Lori lives at Swan Lake in Searsport and loves baking, especially anything chocolate! When not baking, she can be found kayaking, gardening, weaving, crafting or just relaxing with a good book and a cup of tea.

  • Doug Soholt
    Doug Soholt 
Lead Teacher: Cardinal Classroom (3-6 years)

    Doug grew up in Montessori: his mother was a primary classroom teacher for nearly forty years, and he was in Montessori schools until age 12. For the past decade, he has been working as a wilderness and environmental educator through the Chewonki Foundation, the Appalachian Mountain Club and St. Lawrence University. In 2016, Doug received a degree in primary training from Montessori Northwest, and is excited to have begin leading the Cardinal Room in Fall 2018, where he can help developing children thrive.

  • Maeve O’Connor
    Maeve O’Connor Assistant Teacher

    Maeve is an energetic Montessori mom with two years of classroom experience; she is planning to continue her studies in Montessori education. She began working with children at the age of 13 and has previously worked as a nanny and preschool teacher. Maeve grew up in Belfast but was born in Galway, Ireland and is passionate about her Irish heritage.

  • Haley Norris
    Haley Norris Lead Teacher: Robin Classroom (6-9 years)

    Now in her fourth year at Cornerspring, Haley is excited to be moving into the Lead Teacher position. Before moving to Maine, Haley managed a 120-acre organic CSA farm while earning a degree at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where she studied linguistics, Spanish and education. Here in Maine, Haley continues to farm, while also working at her local fire department. When she is able to grab some free time, she likes to sit on her porch in Morrill, enjoying the evening with her partner Emily and their cat He-Man.

  • Alexandra Woodruff
    Alexandra Woodruff 
Lead Teacher: Raven Classroom (9-12 years)

    Alex holds a Masters in Education in Montessori Elementary Education from Loyola University and has earned Elementary 6-12 certification from the Association Montessori Internationale as well as primary certification from the North American Montessori Center. She has over twelve years experience in Montessori classrooms and lives in Camden with her husband Scott and two teenage daughters.

  • Susan Therio
    Susan Therio Middle School Teacher

    With a Masters in Chemistry, over 20 years of experience in scientific laboratories, and professional teaching certification from the University of Maine, Susan has been the science teacher at Cornerspring for ten years. When the school needed a Middle School Teacher, she was the perfect fit!  She lives in Stockton Springs with her husband Frank, their son Isaias and two dogs. Susan enjoys swimming, canoeing, cross-country skiing, snow-shoeing and gardening.

  • Conor Quincey
    Conor Quincey Administrative Assistant

    Originally from New Jersey, Conor and his wife recently relocated to Maine for a change of pace. Conor is a graduate from the Military College of Vermont: Norwich University where he received his bachelor’s degree in History. Conor, his wife and young daughter live in Palermo and are excited to be starting their life and family together in Maine.

Board of Trustees

Michael Comer, President

Geoff Bird, Vice President

Fred Jackson, Treasurer

Michael Comer, Secretary

Jennifer Albee,  Trustee

Geir Gasiednes, Trustee

Morgan Hotham, Trustee

Scott Kelley, Trustee

Charndra Michaud, Trustee

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