The River Room & The Waterfall Room
The River Room
Kristin McConnaughey – Lead Teacher
Beth Pratt-Russum – Assistant
Christina Balesky – Assistant
Kristin McConnaughey began her work at Harmony as an Assistant to our founder, Jude in November 2000. For years she had worked with children many in different capacities, mainly as a nanny, but it wasn’t until she found Harmony and learned more about Montessori that she discovered her true calling in life. Kristin continued her work as an assistant the following year and then began her Montessori teacher training and certification through North American Montessori Center, while co-teaching for two years with Jude. She has been guiding the River Room at Harmony since 2005. Kristin’s life away from Harmony includes a passion for music and the outdoors. In her spare time she enjoys playing her guitar, singing, and exploring Oregon’s wild and scenic areas with her husband Jim and daughter Mesa.
“It is such a blessing to truly love the work you do! Everyday I feel inspired and uplifted through my interactions with the Harmony staff, parents and especially the children. Together, we are building a brighter, more enlightened and peaceful future.” -Kristin
Beth Pratt-Russum began at Harmony as the Aftercare Assistant in 2010 shortly after moving to Portland in search of work in a Montessori classroom. She began helping out in the River Room in 2012 where she is now the Assistant. She has her undergrad degree in Youth Ministry from Eastern University. Eventually she hopes to continue her education with Montessori training. Outside of the classroom, Beth enjoys spending her time with her husband Mark, son Kade, and dog Oliver. She enjoys volunteering with her Quaker meeting, loves all things crafty (especially knitting), adventuring outdoors and advocating for evidence-based maternity care.
Christina Balesky joined the River room in 2015 as an assistant. She has experience as a nanny, in the food industry and has taught jewelry making classes for children. Though she has been in many different work environments, working with children has been a constant through all of them. She’s never questioned her passion for it, but it wasn’t until 2011, when she was introduced to Camp Odyssey, that she truly understood the value. Her time there showed her how empowering it is to be in a safe space free of judgement, where individual voices are encouraged, and appreciated even when they are different. She realized that she had the capability of spreading that strength and harmony, and that is exactly what she intends to do here.
The Waterfall Room
Liz Riemer – Co-Teacher
Joline Bassett – Lead Teacher
Cree Belknap – Assistant
Joline Bassett joined the Harmony community in the Waterfall classroom in June 2013. She realized her love for young children while still a child herself, and began babysitting neighborhood children when she was ten years old. It was when Joline was invited to be a last minute substitute in a friend’s Montessori school that the pieces fell together. She continued working as an assistant while completing her Primary Associate Certification at the Montessori Education Institute of the Pacific Northwest in Seattle, Washington in 2004. Joline has over ten years of experience in the Montessori classroom, as an assistant, intern, Co-Teacher, and Lead Teacher. Outside of the classroom, Joline enjoys spending time with her husband Brendon and their two boys, Loic (8), and Simeon (4), and their newest addition, Percy the fluffy dog. She loves discovering new crafts to dabble in, and recently discovered that she actually enjoys running. Joline has also worked recently as a certified Birth Doula.
Liz Riemer began in the Waterfall room in the fall of 2014 as a co-teacher. She is originally from Minneapolis, Minnesota, and began her higher education with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Illustration. Liz became interested in Montessori after being a nanny for a 5 year old boy, and had good luck trying out its principles on her niece and nephew. The Montessori stars kept aligning, and Liz moved to Portland to take the Montessori Primary training at Montessori Northwest in 2011 and fell in love with Portland and the natural beauty of the Northwest. She completed her Masters of Education in 2013. For the past few years, Liz has worked as an assistant in a primary classroom in Portland. She is looking forward to joining the lovely staff at Harmony. In her free time, Liz enjoys pets, creating art, playing sports, gardening, camping, and being active with friends and family, preferably outside.
Cree Belknap joined the Harmony community in the Waterfall Room in August of 2015. Cree has been working with children for over 15 years. She has 5 years experience in Montessori classrooms, as a lead guide and as an assistant. She also provided care for children as a nanny and through children’s mental health. Cree graduated from the Montessori Institute Northwest in 2007 with an Assistants to Infancy (0-3) teaching credential and she is a graduate from the University of Portland with a BA in Elementary Education and a minor in Psychology. Cree is also on the path of becoming a Post Partum Doula and a Peer Counselor through Nursing Mothers Counsel. While juggling being a mom, partner, and teacher, Cree is also a passionate gardener. She loves the process of starting seedlings in the late winter and seeing them flourish through the summer and then sharing the bounty. Outside of teaching and gardening, Cree can be found knitting, sewing, quilting, and spending time in the outdoors with her daughter Sevi and husband Jason.