image1Cypress Junction Montessori’s board of directors is excited to announce the school’s administrative team. Karen Winningham will be leading the school as the Executive Director. Karen was born and raised in the Bronx, NY. She has spent the last 13 years with the United States Postal Service, most recently serving as an Operation Industrial Engineer implementing process improvement methods and coaching a national network of Industrial Engineers. Karen moved to Winter Haven in 2012 with her family and quickly realized this is where she is meant to be. In 2014, Karen helped create the founding group that worked to open a Montessori charter school in order to offer this unique educational choice to all children of our community. She brings enthusiasm, business acumen and strong leadership skills to her new role at Cypress Junction Montessori.

Casey Moyer-Caswell is coming on board in June as CJM’s principal. She began her career as a Montessori teacher right out of
college and holds an American Montessori Society certification in Lower and Upper Elementary. While working as an Upper Elementary Montessori teacher at North Vista Elementary in South Carolina, she was also a FLL Robotics coach and advisor of National Honor Society. Casey holds a Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Northcentral University and is currently working towards her Doctorate in Education for Educational Leadership.

When asked about the Montessori Method, Casey says, “I believe that Montessori allows students the freedom and independence to be themselves and explore their passions. I enjoy watching the concentration and ‘light bulb’ moments when Montessori students can solve problems on their own.”

The entire CJM team has been working hard as the school is gearing up to welcome 174 students on August 15th. Students are enrolled, teaching staff is being hired and the school’s building is nearing completion.

“August 15th is going to be a great day for our team!  Watching the community really come together to help make this school happen, and meeting our CJM family has been the most satisfying and exciting part of this entire process so far,” says Winningham.

The school’s new downtown facility is a prime example of the community partnerships that are making the founding group’s vision a reality. “We always wanted to be downtown because it would offer our students a variety of opportunities to plug into the community and collaborate with local businesses – all within walking distance,” says Katrina Hill of CJM’s Board of Directors.  Andy Thornal & Co., along with Tom Wolf Co., teamed up with Lunz Prebor Fowler Architects and Whitehead Construction to help make that vision a reality.

Most recently, area Lowe’s stores have teamed up with the school to further enhance the school’s facilities. Local stores have come together and adopted the school, donating supplies and volunteer hours to complete projects such as providing and installing fencing, child-height sinks and custom cabinetry in each room, landscaping and a playground. Coscia Development and Gator Pressure Cleaning & Custom Painting are also donating time and expertise to help paint the exterior of the school.

Next steps for the school include a ribbon cutting ceremony on August 10th and joining forces with the Winter Haven Public Education Partnership to plan a fun and unique fall fundraiser which will be announced soon. For more information about the school and to follow the progress, please visit CypressJunction.org or follow the school on Facebook.