Meet the Staff
We believe that the child and their needs are the central and commanding focus of the learning process. Our staff will observe, know, inspire, and advocate for your child as they proceed through the stages of development. We see, in each child, the future of our society, of our nation, and our planet. The child has unlimited possibilities and the future rests on our ability to cultivate and nurture these potentials.
Sister Judith Schaefer, O.P., PhD
Judith Schaefer, O.P., PhD, is the current President of Cotter High School and Junior High School and the Chief Executive Officer of Main Square Montessori. Dr. Schaefer has been in Winona, MN, since 2000, and has served as a theology professor and University Dean at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota prior to her tenure at Cotter Schools. Dr. Schaefer is a Catholic Dominican Sister from Sinsinawa, Wisconsin, and holds a BA in Elementary Education, a Master in Pastoral Studies, a Master of Divinity degree, and a doctorate in theology and psychology from Marquette University.
Jacque Paulsen, MS
Director / Project Manager
Jacqueline Paulsen, MEd has been working in Montessori environments since 2003. She holds a BSE from the University of Wisconsin - Whitewater, a BA from the University of Wisconsin - Madison, is part of the 2018-2019 Emerging Leader Fellowship through American Montessori Society, and holds Elementary I & II certification from the Montessori Center of the Rockies. In her free time, Jacque likes to play with her family, dance, and spend time outside.
Emma Cavanaugh - Lead Toddler Teacher
Emma holds a BA from Winona State University. She is passionate about caring for children of every age, but has a special heart for toddlers, and is pursuing her American Montessori Internationale certification at the Montessori Institute of Denver. Her other specialties are storytelling, poetry, and theater. She is excited to share these passions with the toddler community at Main Square.
Ena Moats - Assistant Teacher
Ena Moats is licensed in elementary education with an endorsement in Communication/Arts/Literature in the states of Iowa and Minnesota. She earned her Bachelor's degree at Saint Mary's University of MN. Ena has taught in both urban and rural districts to experience a wide range of diverse needs and backgrounds of students. Most recently, Ena taught literacy and social studies in 5th and 6th grade in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Much of her work there aimed to engage students through project-based learning. She is excited to become involved in a Montessori community where children's needs drive the learning process. Ena is originally from a small town in central Iowa called Roland. She looks forward to moving back to Winona to enjoy the lakes, bluffs, and community.
Jean Gunderson - Assistant Teacher
Jean Gunderson will be joining us, part time, starting in November. Jean has a Doctor of Nursing Practice and has spent a lifetime developing trans-cultural care models and health equity for all at Mayo Clinic.
Jen McGee - Lead Children's House Teacher
Jen McGee is a graduate of Winona State University with a Bachelor's degree in English Literature and Language, and holds an AMI Primary (3-6) Diploma from the Montessori Training Center of Minnesota. A native of northern Minnesota, she, like many others, can not resist the beauty of the driftless region and has called it home for over 16 years. Jen has been a part of the Winona Montessori community for over ten years. She is excited and honored to be a founding teacher at Main Square Montessori. Jen loves nature, reading, art, and spending time learning, exploring, and cooking with her daughter Piper.
Lead Children's House Teacher
Originally from the Milwaukee area, Marla holds a BS from the University of Wisconsin - La Crosse and a Master of Public Health, focusing on Maternal & Child Health, from the University of Minnesota. Marla has been working in Montessori environments since 2015, and is currently enrolled in the Primary Montessori training program through the Montessori Institute of North Texas. Marla and her husband, Moses, chose to raise their son, Judah in Winona because they love the strong sense of community they feel here. They enjoy spending time outdoors including hiking, canoeing, and being on the river at their boathouse. When Marla has time, she also enjoys knitting and working in her garden.
Reyna Najera - Assistant Teacher
Reyna was born in Mexico City, and grew up in the beautiful state of Oaxaca on the Pacific Ocean. She studied humanities and social sciences at Oaxaca State University. Reyna has worked as a kindergarten teacher, a Spanish teacher, and has served as a Director's Assistant at a Montessori school in Worthington, MN. Reyna moved to Winona in 2016, to spend more time with her grandson. Her hobbies are hiking, art, travel, playing the guitar, and spending time with family and friends.