top of page


Montessori at Sandy Ford Private Secular School Preschool, Elementary and Middle School Serving Hickory and Newton, NC
Mary Helen Cline

Head of School


Mary Helen Cline has served as Head of School since 1985. Following graduation from Kenyon College, she discovered the Montessori Method of education and began her teaching career in 1982. She has been a teacher throughout her tenure at the school, first in Early Childhood and later in Elementary. 

Mary Helen serves on the Board of Directors and holds the position of Education Director for Montessori Educational Programs International (MEPI), headquartered in Indiana. She was a founding member of this organization in 1995. Prior to the founding of MEPI, Mary Helen was associated with Montessori Institute of America, and served on the Board and as Education Director for that organization.

​She has been involved in educating Montessori teachers for over 20 years with the Institute for Guided Studies (IGS). In 2008, she was appointed CEO of this organization. IGS adminsters Teachers Education Programs including Infant/Toddler, Early Childhood, Elementary, and Adolescent levels of education. Future plans include moving the IGS office from South Carolina to Montessori at Sandy Ford. Many IGS courses are accredited by the Montessori Accreditation Council for Teacher Education, an accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.

Mary Helen is also an active participant in her community. Her services have  included Rape Crisis Center, Acoustic Stage, Bas Bleu, ALFA, Newton Main Street Commitee, the Catawba County Department of Social Services, Lenoir Rhyne University Visiting Writers Series, and United Arts Council of Catawba County.  

Montessori at Sandy Ford Private Secular School Preschool, Elementary and Middle School Serving Hickory and Newton, NC
Kenyon Kelly​​
  • MSF Lead Teacher and Staff since 1984

  • Born in Kenya, Africa but raised all over the world

  • Hobbies include gardening, hiking, paddling and supporting local live music

  • Serves as President for the Catawba Valley Heritage Alliance for past 15 years

  • Serves on the City of Newton Appearance Commission and is on the Governing Board of Acoustic Stage

  • Favorite thing about teaching at MSF: "Educating for Peace"

Other Staff Include:

Early Childhood (EC) age 3 years - Kinder.


​- Brooksie Whitener - EC Lead Teacher

- Elyse Flaxman - EC Assistant

- Danielle Salomon - EC Float


- Emma Baldwin - EC Lead Teacher

- Meili Russell - EC Assistant

- Gretchen Oetting - EC Float

Elementary (Elem) 1st-3rd grade (age 6-9)

- Debbie Vickers - Elem. Lead Teacher

- Carolina Allen - Elem. Assistant

- Olivia Lineberger - Elem. Float

Junior (Jun) 3rd-8th grade

(age 9-12 with a few age 13-14)

- Mary Helen Cline - Jun. Lead Teacher

- Elizabeth Archer Jarman - Jun. Assistant

Elem and Jun

- Izak Fleenor - MRX and Tech Assistant

All ages

- Kenyon Kelly - Afternoon care and Substitute


- Janet Wepner

- Becky Schell 

Montessori at Sandy Ford Board of Directors:

Hugh Gaither - President

Mary Helen Cline

Sally Fanjoy

Susan Gaither Jones

Marian Erikson

David Peltzer

Eli Glynn

Michele Loy

Michael Lemke

bottom of page