Upper Elementary Staff


Danna Karlavage, E5 Head Teacher

With 11 years experience in education, Danna joined the FMS teaching staff in 2008. She has a BS in Psychology and a M.Ed in Curriculum and Instruction. She trained at the Columbia Teacher’s College with Lucy Calkins, founder of “The Teacher’s College Reading and Writing Project.” Danna also has experience with special needs children. Danna’s favorite thing about the Montessori method is that “we honor the children by attending to their individual learning needs. The children that attend our school have a unique and important perspective of our world. The materials and the child-led lessons create independent thinkers and life-long learners.”

Ariel Ramstad, E5 Co-Teacher

In the fall of 2016, Ariel joined the Upper Elementary teaching team.  With a Masters of Education from UNLV and a BA in Political Science from Gonzaga University, Ariel brings a fresh perspective to the classroom.  She has taught fifth grade for several years in the Clark County School District and is inspired by the Montessori method because of the independence and love of learning that it fosters.  Ariel is an avid hiker and having grown up on a farm in Montana, she has a deep love for animals.  One of her fondest memories is taking care of the family dairy cows each morning before school.  Ariel’s keen eye for details and her appreciation for the individual learning styles of each of her students will contribute to the overall success of her students.

Kerry Gross, E5 Support Teacher

Kerry joined the FMS teaching staff in 2011, bringing with her 11 years experience in education. She has a BA in Education with a partial TESL Endorsement (Teaching English as a Second Language). Kerry’s favorite thing about the Montessori philosophy is “how Montessori values each child’s intrinsic need to learn. I love that Montessori hands-on approach to teaching provides appropriate differential instruction for the individual child.”


Amy Nhaisi, E6 Head Teacher

After watching her own children thrive in the FMS environment, Amy joined the teaching staff in 2010. She holds a BA in English, a BA in Psychology and a MA in Social Work. She is Montessori certified for teaching Upper Elementary. She also has a Master Gardener Certification and enjoys trying out her hand in our gardens. Her favorite thing about Montessori is “the hands-on learning experience and the close relationship you build with the students over the three-year cycle. You really get to witness their growth!”

Brittany Francom, E6 Co-Teacher

Music, dance and theater have always played a big role in Brittany’s life.  Starting early in her career, she was a private vocal teacher and taught singing and dancing to children ages 3-15.  She shared her theater talents with FMS in spring 2016 when she volunteered to stage manage and direct the production of “Peter Pan.”  In the fall of 2016, Brittany joined the FMS staff as the E6 Co-Teacher.  Brittany holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music, Dance, Theater.  Brittany’s high level of professionalism and her natural love of working with children makes her a welcomed addition to the E6 teaching team.

Sarah Newcomb, Support Teacher

Sarah Newcomb is reunited with the Upper Elementary team after a brief hiatus in getting her Masters degree in Curriculum and Instruction from UNLV. She has gained valuable teaching experience in the public sector as well, while raising her two young daughters. In addition, Sarah holds a BS in Social Work from UNR. Having previously worked at FMS in the Upper Elementary program, Sarah brings a level of warmth and familiarity to her position. She is motivated by the Montessori method, and its emphasis on teaching to the individual student.