Home / About / Faculty & Staff

Faculty & Staff

Faculty & Staff

HOS-AnnS-1-3Ann Schaufenbuel

Head of School

Ann joins NEIM with a myriad of experiences within the educational field. She began her career as an Associate for the deaf in a hearing impaired program. Finding this field engaging, she enrolled in classes to become an educational interpreter and began her role as an interpreter for students in grades kindergarten through eighth grade. Over the years Ann took on the challenges of several career path changes. She ran a registered daycare, operated a registered preschool out of her home, taught sixth grade and was a principal of a private school. Most recently, Ann spent 13 years teaching kindergarten.

Ann earned her BA degree in education with a minor in psychology from Iowa University in Fayette. Her strengths and loves in education include reading, literacy and children’s literature.

Considering herself a motivated and enthusiastic lifelong learner, she once again embraces a new career change. Ann feels honored and privileged to be part of the NEIM staff. She is excited to witness children experience the Montessori program and sense the Joy of Discovery with them. She appreciates and honors the eagerness of children to learn and the independence of choice. Ann brings her love of children, experiences as an educator, and her belief of leading by example. She works to create positive partnerships and develop close rapport among children, staff, families and the community.

Ann and her husband Dean reside outside of St. Lucas. They have three adult children and three grandchildren. Ann enjoys traveling, grilling/cooking/baking, and outdoor activities such as gardening, stargazing and bonfires. She loves to read adult books, but most often you’ll find her in the children’s section! Her favorite activity is finding time and opportunities to spend with her family.  Ann works part time at the Fort Atkinson library and assists with the summer reading program.


Lead Guide

Christine Gowdy-Jaehnig has been with NEIM School since 2005 in a number of roles: substitute, Guide, and Lead Guide.  2017 marks her 7th year as Lead Guide in the Children’s House.  Her undergraduate degree is in the Liberal Arts from St. John’s College in Annapolis, MD. She has an American Montessori Society (AMS) certificate completed at St. Catherine University.

Christine was first introduced to Montessori through The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, a Montessori-based religious formation curriculum begun by Montessori and completed by collaborators. She uses The Catechesis in the Sunday School at Grace Episcopal Church, where she also serves as one of the priests.

Christine particularly loves the little ones of the Children’s house: creative and lively, loving and forgiving, surprising and funny, growing and changing, puzzling and frustrating (yes, they are human!), eager to learn, and breath-taking. Her endearing nature and open heart is regularly refilled as the children inspire her to laugh, love, ponder, create, and learn. She has lived in Decorah since 2004 with her husband Mark, a large-animal veterinarian. They have three adult children. Christine also enjoys cycling, cross-country skiing, reading and quilting.


Assistant Guide

Jenny Lenehan has been the assistant guide for eight years in the Children’s House at Northeast Iowa Montessori School. She graduated in 2005 from Upper Iowa University with a Bachelor’s degree in both Elementary Education and Graphic Design. After graduating, Jenny worked for Camp Adventure as a camp counselor and then for a preschool in Germany on a U.S. military base. In 2011, she completed the A.M.I. Assistant Guide Training at The Montessori Training Center of Minnesota in St. Paul, MN.

Since then, Jenny continues to bring a warmth and compassion to our NEIM community. She loves how the environment encourages hands-on, self paced, collaborative, challenging, and joyful learning! The age mix allows her to witness and be a part of a community where older children being leaders, mentors and help teach lessons while the younger children have the experience of working with older classmates. Even something as small as observing a child voluntarily and spontaneously helping another child zip up his or her jacket gives Jenny a sense of joy and happiness.

Her passion for witnessing joyful life spills over into her photography work with J & A Designs Photography, which she runs with her sister in law, Amy Hayek. In her free time Jenny enjoys the outdoors, helping out on her parents farm, and spending time with her husband, Shane and dog, Ava.

Claire Tebbenhoff

Assistant Guide

Claire moved to Decorah with her family in 1995, graduated from Decorah High School in 2004, and received her B.A. in History from Luther College in 2008. Having always loved working with children Claire decided to return to school to complete coursework in Elementary Education with an emphasis in Early Childhood Education and Special Education. She began working at NEIM in the fall of 2010 as a latchkey aid where she discovered a Montessori environment where children are encouraged to become independent and to take charge of their learning experiences. To Claire, giving children the chance to become independent in taking care of themselves, the world around them, and in their learning is very integral to their overall development. She witnessed children taking great pride in learning to accomplish work that relates to themselves and their environment, and believes that pride fuels interest in all academic and social aspects of their lives.

From there, Claire attended an AMI Assistants training course at the Montessori Training Center of Minnesota in the summer of 2014. She is now qualified to be an assistant in the Children’s House environment and currently enjoys subbing, supervising lunch and rest time and being open to helping the children be successful.

Claire loves to see how the children grow and change. Every day, each child learns something new about themselves and the world around them. It may be a small skill, such as whistling or zipping their own coats; but it shows her that they are working on becoming
independent, thoughtful, learners. She loves that no day is the same as the previous one, there is always some surprising and an unexpected element that sparks thoughtfulness and reflection in herself.

In her free time, she enjoys reading, crochet, and water aerobics.