New Staff Members for 2018/2019 Announced

As we close out the 2017-2018 school year we are excited to announce some fantastic new additions to our staff as we look forward into 2018-2019. The best way to introduce these new members to our team is to let them do it themselves! Each year here at Cypress Junction Montessori we bring new elements of education and learning, and we are truly looking forward to the new elements that each of them will bring to our community. Welcome aboard!

April Cruz

Lower Elementary 1 Guide (1st – 3rd Grade)

“My name is April Cruz. I graduated with high honors from Lake Region High School in Eagle Lake, FL. I later went on to Florida Southern College in Lakeland, FL on a full scholarship and as a George Jenkins Scholar. I received a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and Sociology and received teacher certification from the Educator Preparation Institute. I spent my teaching career so far at Chain of Lakes Elementary as a kindergarten and first grade teacher. While there I was recognized as a Best and Brightest Teacher by the Florida Department of Education. I am married to my high school sweetheart and we have 1 daughter and 2 sons. I am looking forward to beginning my journey as a guide and parent of the community of learners at Cypress Junction Montessori!”


Natalie Helms

Lower Elementary 2 Guide (1st – 3rd Grade)

“I am so excited to join the Lower Elementary team at Cypress Junction Montessori! I graduated from Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, GA in 2005 with a BFA, and later completed my graduate studies with the University of Nebraska at Kearney in 2012 earning a Master of Arts in Art Education. I have been teaching elementary Art with Polk County Public Schools for the past 13 years, and the last 11 years at Elbert Elementary School. Since 2008 I have also taught summer art camp and some adult courses with the Polk Museum of Art. I am certified in Elementary Education K-6 and Art K-12, and am looking forward to guiding my students in their studies in a Montessori setting. I feel like my experience in collaborating with classroom teachers with my lessons, and fostering creativity and problem solving in the art classroom has prepared me for this type of position. I look forward to getting to know my students and their families as we work together toward a common goal of cultivating creative thought and problem solving in order to raise independent learners.

Christian Soriano

Upper Elementary Guide (4th – 6th Grade)

“I was born in many places, but records legally show that I was birthed in Manila, Philippines. From whence, I have moved around significantly – from a few small towns in the Philippines, to a snow-covered city somewhere in New Jersey, and then settling in at Winter Haven, Florida when I was approximately 6 years old. I received my Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing in 2014 from Florida State University, and since then worked various jobs in Education and many other fields. I live mostly alone with my dog; my mother often visits. My sisters live elsewhere. I also live with a robust set of hobbies.


Whitney Ure

Upper Elementary Guide (4th – 6th Grade)

“Hello! My name is Whitney Ure. I am originally from a small town in Morgan, Utah and grew up there. My husband and I recently moved to Haines City at the beginning of the 2018 for him to finish up his schooling in Lakeland. We are excited to welcome our first baby, a little girl, coming in June! I graduated with my Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education from Utah State University with an emphasis in Music. My teaching experiences vary from teaching at alternative high schools to first grade to children with autism at a behavior clinic to private music lessons. Through these various experiences, I realized the crucial need for autonomy and student led environments to be the center of my teaching in order for my students to become lifelong learners and leaders. It has been my quest to find an educational pedagogy that fits this learning profile and that is why I have chosen to to teach at a Montessori school. I am excited to begin my journey and to be a part of the Cypress Junction Montessori!”

Michael Stimac

Secondary Guide (7th – 8th Grade)

“Hello. My name is Michael Stimac and I am proud to be joining Cypress Junction for the upcoming school year. I was born in the “Steel City” of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where I attended Plum Senior High School. After graduation I attended Gannon University in Erie, Pennsylvania where I majored in Elementary Education. Upon graduating, I moved to Florida and began my 20 year teaching career for Polk County Schools. I taught grades 6-8 and coached high school football. For the last 8 years I have been a Dean of Students. I am excited to get back into the classroom and I am looking forward to continuing my career at the Montessori School.”



Tony Smith

Facilities Manager

“Hello everyone. My name is Anthony Smith, I’m 25, my birthdate was 04/01/1993 and I was raised by my grandparents. I had an awesome childhood where I attended Wahneta elementary then fr

om there I went to Westwood middle school and on to Lake Region High School. I attended there a year before I dropped out due to a knee injury from playing football. After missing too much school I then decided to go back to school for my G.E.D at West Area Adult School, and I met the woman I now call my wife. After 3 years of marriage we welcomed a beautifulbaby girl that weighed 7 pounds 5 ounces named Ella Nicole. I am ecstatic to be a part of the Cypress Junction Montessori community and I can’t wait to meet everyone.”