Staff Information

Ruth Jones, founder of Mead Montessori School. Ruth opened Farragut Montessori School in 1987, a strong and vibrant Montessori School serving children ages 3-6 in a beautiful farmhouse located in Farragut. In 2009, seeking more room for expansion, Ruth moved her school to its current location in the Island Home neighborhood, changing the name to Mead Montessori School to reflect the unique history of the building. Ruth passed away in June 20, 2010 but her legacy lives on each day at Mead Montessori School.

ellaElla Jones, Head of School, a Knoxville native, holds a Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature from the University of Tennessee.  She received her AMI Primary Montessori training from the Montessori Institute Northwest in Portland, Oregon, and her Master’s Degree in Montessori Education from Loyola College in Baltimore, Maryland. Ella was a Montessori child and has extensive experience caring for all ages of children and teaching in both Montessori and conventional educational settings with children ages 15 months to 15 years. Ella’s daughter and son both attend Mead. Following her mother’s legacy, Ella has expanded the reach of Montessori education through Mead’s growth and community ties to many children in East Tennessee.

Tiffany Allen, Toddler Lead Teacher, began as a Toddler Assistant at Mead West in the Spring of 2016. She graduated from the University of Tennessee with a Bachelor’s Degree in Child and Family Studies. During her time as a student, Tiffany served as a tutor, nanny, babysitter and child-care worker in a variety of settings. Tiffany is passionate about child development and has a great deal of experience working with young toddlers. Tiffany enjoys dancing, reading and crafting. She plans to begin AMI Assistant to Infancy training in the Summer of 2019.


Miah Weaver, Primary Lead Teacher, has been an employee at Mead since 2012, working with all ages of children – she started helping with our school when she was in 8th grade!  Her natural ability to care for and teach children has been evident from the start.  Miah completed her AMI Lead Teacher training at Montessori Northwest in May of 2017, and her Master’s Degree in Montessori Education from Loyola College in Baltimore, Maryland in the Summer of 2018. In her spare time, Miah enjoys kayaking, yoga, hiking, sewing, crafts and enjoying the great outdoors!

Jessica Hollensbe, Primary Lead Teacher, joined Mead in the Fall of 2022. She has worked in the Montessori Primary classrooms for over 20 years. Jessica grew up on a small farm outside Richmond, Virginia. She attended the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, and graduated with degrees in Biology and Environmental Science in 2001. After graduation she joined Americorps NCCC where she served as a volunteer across the western United States and Guam. Jessica then moved to Houston, Texas, where she worked in Montessori toddler and primary classrooms. She attended her Montessori training at the
Montessori Education Center of the Rockies in 2004. During her years in Colorado, she worked at Giving Tree Montessori School and Salida Montessori Charter School. Jessica and her husband Matt enjoy camping, hiking, playing music, and sitting around the fire with friends.

Erin Salter, Elementary Lead Teacher and Educational Training Coordinator.  Erin established the elementary program in 2010 and has been guiding the elementary community since then. She has worked with children (from age 2 to 12) in Montessori communities since 2000 and has experience supporting the growth and development of both young and established Montessori schools. While teaching at a Montessori school in Tokyo, Japan, Erin collaborated with the school staff and community to undergo an intensive accreditation process. This gave her new perspective on the many facets of a Montessori school. Erin has Montessori diplomas at both the Early Childhood and Elementary levels and holds a Master’s Degree in Montessori Elementary Education. She also holds a Bachelor of Arts in Art History from Oberlin College. In addition to guiding the Elementary Community here at Mead, Erin acts as the Educational Training Coordinator, training classroom assistants and providing support to lead teachers at all levels. Her depth of understanding of the Montessori method and perspective as a seasoned teacher is a wonderful resource to our staff. In her spare time, Erin enjoys spending time with her family, traveling, biking, gardening, and exploring new culinary experiences. She also continues to broaden her knowledge of art & design and especially enjoys making art with children.

EllenEllen Adams, Middle School Lead Teacher, is a Tennessee native that studied Biology at University of Tennessee Knoxville. After graduation she spent two years with Americorps, leading service projects in Knoxville and working at a high needs school in Denver. She then spent time at an outdoor education center leading and educating youth in the mountains of southern California. After traveling around for a year- farming, hiking, climbing, and teaching- she decided to come back to Knoxville as she loves the community and the surrounding outdoors. She is invested in the education of youth and found that Montessori schools truly reflect her views on how students should learn. She is AMI certified through her attendance at the NAMTA Montessori Orientation ot Adolescent Studies in Huntsburg, Ohio. Her training has helped her develop an occupation-based curriculum to deeply connect the students to their core areas of study, while integrating into the unique and special Knoxville community. In addition to her love of knowledge and passing that along, Ellen can be found biking, exploring with her dog, cooking, reading or outside in her garden.

Annie Crosby, Middle School Lead Teacher, graduated magna cum laude from the University of Colorado Boulder where she received her Bachelor of Arts Degree in English Literature and Humanities. She has worked as a mentor/tutor for middle and high school students at the Denver Center for 21st Century Learning at Wyman Middle/High School in Denver, Colorado. In addition to literacy and math tutoring, she helped develop art and yearbook programs and facilitated youth leadership through a service club. She has also been regional and site coordinator for Reading Partners in Baltimore and New York. Her love for reading carried her into bookseller and management positions at The Ivy Bookshop & Bird in Hand Cafe & Books in Baltimore and Union Avenue Books here in Knoxville. She loves the outdoors and hanging out with her dog Charley.

Allison Watson, Office Manager, provides administrative office support and assistance to all classes.  Her twins are current Mead students.  Allison received her Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration at Tennessee Technological University and her Doctor of Jurisprudence from the University of Tennessee College of Law.  Allison worked extensively with families and children of all ages in her 12 years of legal practice.  She has served as a director on various boards in her community advocating children’s rights and human rights for disabled persons and was a founding member of The House of Hope, which provides support and services for displaced children.  Allison has been a public speaker for criminal and social justice reform and at high schools regarding challenges faced by teenagers. She continues to serve as Trustee over scholarship funds for students who would likely be overlooked by other financial assistance services.  Improving the lives of children has always been her lifelong passion.

Gretchen McMurry, Office Support, is the mother of two Mead graduates and current Mead student, Nora. Gretchen is a Montessori child and has been steadily involved in her mother’s school, Jefferson Montessori School, for many years. She brings knowledge and passion for Montessori to her work and lends a helping hand both in the office and as an occasional classroom substitute teacher at Mead. In her spare time Gretchen enjoys
ballroom dancing, hiking, sewing and playing with her furry children, dogs Sprocket and Rigatoni.


Additional staff within the school serves as teaching assistants, language teachers, and art and music teachers. All strive to meet AMI recommendations and take advantage of AMI conferences and workshops when available.