Our Staff

Diane Smith

Director/Lead Teacher Morning and Afternoon Class

Diane Smith is the founder and director of Countryside Montessori School and has 26 years experience teaching preschool age children.  She started her teaching career as a Suzuki piano and preschool music teacher in 1987 after receiving her Bachelor’s of Music degree from the University of Western Ontario and completing course work for a Master’s degree in piano performance.  In 2005 Diane received her Montessori Certification from the United Montessori Association.  Diane and her husband own and operate a crop farm in Addison Michigan, where they raised their 7 children.  Out of the classroom Diane enjoys hiking, cross country skiing, knitting, and spending time with her children.  



Maria Cowan

Assistant Morning Class, Co-Lead Teacher Afternoon Class

Maria received her Bachelor’s of Early Childhood Education from Lake Superior State in 2012. She has worked in Early Childhood Education for seven years, the last four here at Countryside. She enjoys reading, traveling, and spending quality time with her husband and sons.



Nancy Livingston

Assistant Morning Class

After completing her Associates degree in Early Childhood Education, Nancy taught and became the program director of a daycare center. Nancy brings many skills to the classroom that she acquired while homeschooling her own four children. Nancy enjoys reading, gardening and spending time with her children and grandchildren.



Regina Olson

Morning Lead Teacher

Regina earned her Bachelor’s of Elementary Education Degree from Austria before moving to the United States. She has homeschooled her children for the past 20 years on their family farm just outside of Hillsdale. She enjoys reading, gardening and spending time with her children and grandchildren.


Tressa Stille

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Tressa earned her Associates Degree in Early Childhood Education at Maranatha Baptist University in Watertown Wisconsin.  After  working at  the  University  Daycare  and  private  tutoring,  Tressa  joined  the  staff  at  Countryside  in the  summer  of  2018.  Tressa  enjoys  caring  for  her  pet  rabbit,  crocheting,  and  wood  working.


Susan Smeenge

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After receiving her Associate Degree in Early Childhood Education from Ferris State University, Sue spent 20 years as the head teacher at The Camp in Holland, MI. She likes to spend time with her husband at their cottage, enjoys all kinds of water sports, and spending time with her adult son.


Annette  Helmuth

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Annette studied at the University of Southern Mississippi and earned her Montessori Certification at the Adrian Dominican Montessori Teacher Institute. She has 40 years of experience in Early Childhood Education and owned and ran the  Back to Basics Montessori School in Saline, MI for 2? years. Annette likes gardening and cooking, and she and her husband enjoy spending time with their four adult children and seven grandchildren.



Jessica West


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Jessica studied Early Childhood Education at the Branch Area Career Center and previously worked at her family business. She is very interested in Arts and Music, gains strength through mediation, and enjoys spending time with her family.



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