Founder / President
Brandy (Warner) Franks is a graduate of Tallmadge High School. She attended Mount Union College where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology, and Plymouth State University, where she earned her master’s degree in Elementary Education with a Montessori Concentration. She holds a Primary (Preschool/Kindergarten) Montessori Education diploma from North American Montessori Center (NAMC). Brandy completed her post-graduate, master’s level Montessori certification from Mid-America Montessori Teacher Training Institute in Omaha, Nebraska, and received an AMS Elementary I (Grades 1-3) and AMS Elementary II (Grades 4-6) Certification. Brandy has worked with children in many settings including a child care facility, coaching athletics (softball, swimming and basketball), Montessori schools and The Cleveland Clinic Foundation treatment programs. She is a member of the American Montessori Society (AMS) and the North American Montessori Teacher Association (NAMTA).
Throughout Brandy’s life she has had a passion for teaching and guiding children. Some of Brandy’s fondest memories are of her own experiences attending Montessori school as a child. The impact this had on Brandy’s life is the reason she has chosen the Montessori Method of education for her own school. Brandy continues to pursue her dream of helping children learn and grow through Absorbent Minds Montessori School. Brandy resides in Stow with her husband and four children.
Kelly (Davis) Andamasaris is a graduate of Stow-Munroe Falls High School and earned her American Montessori Society (AMS) accredited teaching credential through Mid-America Montessori Teacher Training Institute in Nebraska. She is a member of the American Montessori Society (AMS) and the North American Montessori Teacher Association (NAMTA). Kelly did not originally begin her career path with her eyes set on Montessori Education, yet the twists and turns of life opened doors and she found her calling! Kelly’s first experience with Absorbent Minds Montessori School was during its inaugural year. During that year she began to see the impact the school had on her child as well as all of the other students and their families. This impact is what led Kelly to join the administrative team of Absorbent Minds and to complete her own Montessori certification. Kelly is passionate about the Montessori approach to education. She believes we have a great responsibility to lead and guide our next generation and can achieve this by creating an environment where a child develops a passion for learning and the confidence to succeed. Kelly continues to serve the “Smarter Families” at Absorbent Minds in managing the operations and administration. Kelly resides in Stow with her husband and their three children and loves to spend time with family, friends, and serve at her church.
Primary Director | Science Instructor
John Kotradi holds a Bachelor of Arts in Human Ecology from The Ohio State University (O-H, I-O), and an American Montessori Society (AMS) Primary (Preschool/Kindergarten) Montessori certification from Midwest Montessori Teacher Training Center in Evanston, Illinois. John’s experience with the Montessori Method of education began when his own children started school. Through watching them thrive in the environment he was inspired to get involved and become a teacher. John’s passion for influencing his students shows in everything he does. John strongly believes the Montessori environment promotes independence, self-reliance and good statesmanship. In addition to John’s passion for the Montessori teaching philosophy he shares his enthusiasm for science with all of the children at Absorbent Minds Montessori School. One of John’s favorite things about teaching science is exploring through experiments and seeing the children develop their own hypotheses. John resides in Akron raising his three children. Go Buckeyes!
Kelley Laney is a graduate of Cuyahoga Falls school. She attended The University of Akron where she studied Child Development and Early Childhood Education. It was during her studies at The University of Akron where Kelley fell in love with the Montessori method. Therefore, Kelley pursued her love of all things Montessori and obtained her Montessori certification through the AMI training institute in Denver, Colorado. Kelley has had a total of thirteen years’ experience working in a Montessori classroom as well as sixteen years applying the Montessori method with her own children. It was through her students and her work with her own children that Kelley observed the amazing opportunities and benefits that Montessori provides for the growth and development of children. She has had five years of experience as an assistant and six years as a Lead teacher running her own classroom. Kelley did take a brief sabbatical from working in the classroom after the birth of her second child before returning to the Montessori world at Absorbent Minds Montessori School. It was during her time at home that she became a Montessori Mom and applied her training to raising her own children. Kelley feels shes has gained valuable experiences having worked in both the primary and elementary classroom environments.
When she is not in the classroom teaching Kelley enjoys many hobbies. Kelley loves to spend time outdoors with her family hiking, camping, and enjoying nature. She also enjoys reading, crocheting, spending time with her large family, and volunteering at her children’s school. She currently resides in the wonderful city of Cuyahoga Falls with her husband and three children and pets.
Dawn Frantz is a graduate of Stow-Munroe Falls High School and earned a Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education (Pre-K – 3rd grade) at Malone University. Dawn is currently completing her Montessori Education through Nebraska. She has worked with children in many settings including a child care facility, public school systems (teacher’s aide, teacher, and intervention specialist), Montessori schools, and coaching athletics (softball, cheerleading). Dawn has a passion for teaching students and helping them grow into life-long learners.
CHERRY BLOSSOM CLASSROOM
Tonya Shaw is a graduate of Kent State University with a Bachelor’s in Early Childhood Education. Here she fell in love with teaching preschoolers, as well as implementing the Montessori method of teaching. In 2013, Tonya went back to school and obtained her Montessori Certification for ages 3-6 through North American Montessori Center. Tonya was a lead teacher at a Montessori preschool for six years before spending four years in administration, both within the preschool environment and a Head Start program as well. While she enjoyed this new set of challenges, her heart remained in teaching and she began the journey back to the classroom. Tonya joined the Absorbent Minds family in the fall of 2019 and felt as if she had come home. Tonya loves the Montessori method of teaching because it is individualized to the child. She strongly believes that every child is unique and wonderfully talented and that the Montessori environment assists them in discovering their passion for learning. There is nothing better than watching a child succeed and seeing the pride that they feel! Tonya resides in Kent with her husband (who is also a teacher!) and her two amazing children. She and her family love to hike and camp together, and have a goal to visit every National Park!
Support Staff Team
Ms. Sandy first joined Absorbent Minds as a substitute teacher and a parent. A few short years later, after serving the school in varying capacities, she moved into the office to help support the daily operations. Ms. Sandy and her husband Ben have three children, two of which currently attend AMMS. Ms. Sandy loves that the experiences she gained in her different roles laid the foundation for her success in both supporting the teachers, students, and school operations.
Elementary Assistant Directress
Stephanie Appleton has been an educator for over 20 years. Her roles have included classroom teacher, homeschool parent, teacher’s aide, and individual tutor. She earned her BA in Economics from the University of Toledo and her teaching credentials from Heidelberg College. She is committed to nurturing a love of learning in students and creating independent learners. Her hobbies reflect a love of the great outdoors: hiking, camping, and gardening are among her favorite things.
Primary Assistant Directress
Angela has a Masters in Marketing Communication and Foreign Trade from Corvinus University in Budapest, Hungary. Later in her life, Angela found her passion for working with children in a Montessori classroom environment. She went on to obtain her Early Childhood Teacher Certificate through the Age of Montessori MACTE program. Prior to moving to Ohio summer of 2021, Angela lived in Texas for the past 10 years where she worked at a local Montessori School as a primary teacher-assistant for five of those years. Before teaching in a Montessori classroom, Angela was a stay-at-home mom, raising our four children, who all attended Montessori Schools growing up. Seeing firsthand how much it helped them thrive made her even more passionate about the Montessori method. Her favorite moment as a Montessori guide is witnessing the “point of consciousness” when children suddenly figure things out on their own. She believes children can teach us adults how to slow down and live in the moment. She loves seeing things through their eyes, their sense of wonder and discovery. In her free time, she loves to travel and has visited and lived in many countries around the world.
Assistant Directress, Library Instructor
CHERRY BLOSSOM CLASSROOM
Samantha Mook is a graduate of Stow-Munroe Falls High School. She attended Kent State University where she earned a Bachelor’s degree in Music Education, with a focus in Vocal and General Music. She taught in a K-5 music room before becoming a stay-at-home-mom for almost a decade. Over the last three years, Samantha homeschooled her children through grades K-2. She is passionate about helping children learn in their own individual way and is excited to guide her students to become life-long learners. Samantha lives in Stow with her husband and their two daughters. In her free time, she loves reading, singing, and spending time with her family.
Mrs. Katherine Varela is a graduate of West Texas State University with a Bachelor’s in Fine Arts. She is certified in representational drawing with children and adults and holds a Montessori Certification for ages 3-6. Mrs. Varela has over 34 years of teaching experience working with students ages 3-14 in Montessori and traditional school settings. She also teaches Art and Spanish in Kent, Ohio; students grades kindergarten through eighth grade. Mrs. Varela selects themes and develops lessons to teach many areas of the visual arts and art history for a well-rounded curriculum. Mrs. Varela’s students have the opportunity to explore and experience the magic of artistic expression.
Elementary Physical Education Teacher
Glenn Warner is retired from Babcock Publishing Company where he worked in advertising sales. Glenn has two degrees from the The University of Akron, an AAS in Industrial Technology and an AAS in Mechanical Technology. He also holds a BA in Finance from Kent State University. Glenn enjoys working with children and playing golf. He has coached girls fast pitch softball teams for 13 years and was an umpire for 15 years doing fastpitch tournaments, high school and college games. Glenn has been married to his wife, Lisa, for 44 years, has 2 daughters, Brandy and Jenna, and four grandchildren. He enjoys sports, the outdoors and spending time with family and friends.
Elementary Latin Instructor
Mr. Knox is a graduate of Emory University with a Bachelor of Arts-History. He also has a Master of the Arts-Classics from the University of Georgia and J.D. Degree from Cleveland-Marshall College of Law. Mr. Knox is currently a staff attorney for the Eleventh District Court of Appeals in Warren, Ohio. He is excited to bring his love of Latin and Greek to our Elementary classrooms. In his spare time, Mr. Knox enjoys reading, walking, and traveling.
Music Teacher | Elementary Piano Instructor
Lisa Adams is a teacher, singer and co-arranger of music used in the Exploring Music curriculum. Lisa has a Bachelor of Arts in music education and over 20 years of teaching experience. She has also sung professionally throughout the United States. For each of her weekly classes, Lisa selects songs and develops lessons to teach many areas of music in a way young children can both understand and enjoy. Lisa loves sharing her passion for music with children.
Tae Kwon Do Instructor
Master Barnick holds a 4th degree Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do and has been studying Martial Arts since 1998. He specializes in teaching children 2.5-5 years old and has been a Tae Kwon Do instructor for Asian Sun for over 20 years. During his career at Asian Sun, Ohio’s best Martial Arts School, ranked by number of Black Belts produced, Master Barnick has produced many black belts himself and coached National Champions. He is the General Manager and Head Instructor at Asian Sun Tallmadge. Master Barnick has a passion and gift for teaching children Tae Kwon Do. He has brought the Asian Sun program to Absorbent Minds for many years.