Meet the MKU Homewood Team
About MKU Homewood Montessori School Staff
Our MKU Homewood Montessori Staff, provide a nurturing learning environment to Nurture, Inspire and Educate your child.
Jason and Kimberly McDougall
Jason and Kimberly McDougall are the owners of Montessori Kids Universe in Homewood, Alabama. They have three beautiful little girls who are current students at MKU Homewood. Their children are the love of their lives and when they decided to give up their careers they wanted to do something that would allow them to spend more time with them and make sure they had the best start in life. Jason and Kimberly both believe in the Montessori teaching method as Jason started his education at Sunrise Montessori in Citrus Heights, CA. We have witnessed our daughters firsthand grow with the MKU program and turn into sweet, independent and strong little girls.
Kimberly McDougall graduated from Hoover High School in 2000 and from the University of Alabama in 2004 with a degree in Telecommunication and Film. She started her professional career as a news reporter and anchor for WVUA 7 news in Tuscaloosa. She then went on to work for CBS 42 news in Birmingham before finding her way FOX 40 News in Sacramento, CA. It’s there that she met her best friend and now husband. In 2014 they welcomed their first daughter and it wasn’t long after that Jason and Kimberly decided they wanted to move back to Alabama and open a state of the art Montessori preschool that would not only challenge our daughter but inspire her to find a love of learning. Kimberly love’s coming to work every day and seeing all the bright and smiley faces ready to learn and have fun. Outside of work, Kimberly loves spending time with family, rooting on her beloved Crimson Tide and playing with her girls at the park.
Jason McDougall was born in Sacramento, CA and is an identical twin. After receiving a job promotion, Jason’s father moved his family to Redmond, Washington in 1994. It’s there where Jason graduated from Redmond High School and eventually earned a degree in Business from Washington State University in 2002. Jason then moved back to California where he began a career in property management. Over the course of thirteen years with the same company, he held numerous positions where he gained knowledge in all aspects of business ranging from accounting to acquisitions. He knew with his business experience and his wife’s communications and sales experience that they would be a great business team. Kim and Jason are so happy to have discovered the Montessori Kids Universe Franchise and to have opened the first MKU in the State of Alabama. Aside from work Jason is a huge football fan and loves boating, camping and fly fishing. Most importantly he loves hanging out with his wife and three daughters!
Jan Hayes - Head of School
Jan Hayes is the Head of School at MKU Homewood. She is from a small town in West Virginia and comes from a family of seven children. Jan moved to Alabama to work as a Space Camp Counselor at the U. S. Space and Rocket Center in 2001. After falling in love with teaching children, Ms. Jan changed her college studies from Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering to Education. She earned her degree from Athens State University in Elementary Education. Before teaching preschool, Ms. Jan taught elementary and middle school students at a small private school in Huntsville. She has worked with ESL (English as a Second Language) students, children with Selective Mutism, and those who are hearing and visually impaired. After living in Fort Lauderdale for almost a year, Ms. Jan and her family moved to Birmingham. She has been working at MKU since 2017 and received her Montessori certification that same year. Ms. Jan has an International Montessori Teaching Diploma for the Montessori Early Childhood Teacher Training Program from The North American Montessori Center. Ms. Jan has been married to Mr. Bryan for almost 10 years. Together they have two children, Riley and Elijah. Elijah is currently a student at MKU and Riley is a frequent visitor.
Julia Bloom - Assistant Director
Julia Bloom is originally from Los Angeles, California, but moved to Birmingham as a child and grew up in the metro area. She graduated from the University of Alabama at Birmingham with a degree in psychology with a focus in child psychology. Before becoming a Montessori teacher, Julia helped run an afterschool care program within the Shelby County public school system for 10 years. After getting married and deciding to start a family, she changed careers and fell in love with the Montessori way of teaching. She taught for two years as a Montessori teacher, before coming to MKU in 2018. She is currently completing her Montessori certification. She and her husband have been married for 5 years and have two children.
Casey Cooper - Casa 2 Lead Teacher
Casey Cooper is the Casa 2 Lead Teacher for MKU Homewood. She is also the Lead Teacher for the afternoon Da Vinci program. Ms. Casey is from the Birmingham area and attended college at the University of Montevallo where she graduated with honors. She earned a Bachelor’s of Fine Art with a concentration in Painting and also won several art awards while attending college. Ms. Casey is married to her talented husband Jon and they have a little boy who attends school here at M.K.U. Ms. Casey enjoys gardening and teaching the children about botany. She has been with M.K.U. since the school opened in 2017. Currently, Casey is completing her International Montessori Teaching Diploma from the North American Montessori Center.
Kayla Goolsby - Toddler Two Lead Teacher
Kayla Goolsby is the Toddler Two Lead Teacher. She is from the Town of the Tide, Tuscaloosa, AL. She now lives in her own home in Clanton AL. She is the middle child of four brothers, two older and two younger. Miss Kayla has loved children since she was a child herself. Her life dream was to teach children and here she is doing what she loves. She is currently enrolled at Shelton State Community College getting her basics for Elementary Education. Ms. Kayla plans to finish her Early Childhood Education degree at the University of Montevallo. Miss Kayla has been working with children since she graduated high school in 2016. She started at M.K.U. in November of 2018.
Emily Farrell - Casa 1 Lead Teacher
Emily Farrell is the Casa 1 Lead Teacher. She was born and raised in Huntsville, AL where she graduated from Grissom High School with honors. She graduated from Maryville College in Tennessee in 2011 with a Bachelor’s in English Literature with minors in Spanish and Political Science. She has been working with children for nearly fifteen years. Her first job was teaching Spanish to the pre-k students at Girl’s Incorporated. While pursuing her degree, Emily was an assistant teacher at a preschool for about a year until becoming the lead teacher of her own pre-k classroom for the next few years. In 2010, she studied abroad in Ecuador at the University of Quito while teaching English as a second language at a local elementary school and working in a nearby orphanage. It was then that she realized her passion for working with children. Upon returning to the states, she began working with abused and special needs children as a Childcare Specialist for Catholic Charities. She later pursued a career in adult education and began tutoring women for their General Education Diplomas and college entrance tests. In 2018, she finally decided to return to her original love for teaching preschool and became employed at MKU. She began working on her Montessori Certification shortly after that in January of 2019.
Irina Pidberejna - Casa 2 Assistant Teacher
For Irina Pidberejna teaching has always been a constant and inescapable calling in her life. She graduated from the University of Central Florida (Cum Laude) with a Bachelors in Visual Arts and Emerging Media Management and has a Masters in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages). Originally from Ukraine, Irina speaks English, Russian, Ukrainian and Spanish, giving Russian lessons at Montessori Kids Universe (MKU). She was a Fulbright Grant Recipient and has lived and traveled in Russia extensively. Irina taught at a Russian Montessori School and has taught all ages and students from toddlers to PhD students in both public and private settings. She has also worked with students at Samford and the University of Alabama as well as an instructor in STARTALK language summer camps. With a strong desire to build bridges and mutual understanding both in the classroom and out in the world, Irina has contributed to the research on cross-cultural communication between Russian and American cultures both as an undergraduate and graduate. She has been involved in projects working with students who are blind and visually impaired as well as those with Down Syndrome. Irina is passionate about bilingual education and intends to pursue a PhD in Early Childhood with a focus on bilingual literacy. She will be undergoing Montessori Certification in the Fall of 2019 and is looking forward to seeing new faces in Casa 2!
Miss Nadia - Transitional Casa Lead Teacher
I’m Miss Nadia, the Transitional Casa Lead Teacher. I grew up in Texas and moved to Alabama and graduated from Chelsea High School. I then went to Texas A&M Texarkana where I studied psychology. I have a four year old of my own so I have learned the trials of each age and ways to calmly diffuse most situations. I have taken over the half of the class that focuses on group lessons during work cycle and enjoy the more one on one time I get with them. I have been working with all the kids on toilet learning after being deemed the “toilet genius” having potty trained many of the Casa 2 children. I absolutely cherish watching these kids learn, grow, and mature and I can’t wait for the new kids coming in.
Emily G - Transitional Casa Assistant Teacher
I’m Emily G and I’m the Transitional Casa Assistant Teacher. I grew up in Vestavia and graduated from High School in 2010. I went to the University of Montevallo and studied fine arts and psychology. I’ve always learned better through hands on learning and experimentation myself which is what drew me to Reggio and DaVinci. I have been doing DaVinci in Casa 3 for about six months and have recently begun doing it with the transitional two’s classroom. I’ve had five years of experience in childcare. Most recently I was a PreK teacher and after school care counselor at Primrose in Helena. That’s where I found my passion for doing art with kids and guiding them in their own forms of self-expression.
Caitlin Thoma - Casa 1 Assistant Teacher
Hello! My name is Caitlin Thoma and I am the Casa 1 Assistant Teacher. I graduated from The University of Alabama with a bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education. I completed my internship in an older toddler room with children ages 2-3 years old at a Reggio Emilia inspired school. I believe in the Reggio Emilia approach because it allows for the children to explore their individual creativity in a hands on way while learning through their expressed interest. I am excited to immerse myself in the Montessori and Reggio Emilia way to teach your children. Please feel free to come to me with any questions you may have.
Schedule a tour of our facilities to meet our Spring Montessori school staff and look over our campus. See with your own eyes the combination of the Reggio inspiration and Montessori philosophy reinforces and strengthens the image of the child as a self confident, creative and curious person.