Meet the Montessori Kids Universe Short Pump Staff

About MKU Short Pump - Richmond Area Staff

Montessori Kids Universe Short Pump recognizes that our caring, dedicated teachers are what makes our school so valuable. MKU Short Pump recruits and maintains a high-quality staff through an intensive selection and vetting process. We provide on-going professional development and growth opportunities within our school, and foster a healthy work environment for our employees. Meet the most important aspect of our school: Our quality teaching staff!

Owners | Ed and Sun Burhop

MKU-Shortpump-OwnersEd and Sun Burhop opened the Montessori Kids Universe of Short Pump in the fall
of 2019. The Burhop’s resided in Milwaukee, WI before relocating to the Short
Pump Area in 2017. Since moving to Short Pump, Sun has launched the RVA
Social Moms Group. Sun is also a board member for the non-profit group Asian
American Society of Central Virginia, this group seeks to educate children around
Richmond and spread cultural awareness. Ed is a Virginia CPA with a background
in Investments.

Ed and Sun met in July 2009 and married in November 2012 in Hawaii. Sun gave birth to William in 2014 and Freddie in 2017. In 2018, the Burhop’s realized the demand for a premium Montessori curriculum in the Short Pump area and embarked on a mission to spread the teachings of Maria Montessori!

Head of School | Ms. Alma Luyanda


Ms. Alma has over 20 years of Early Education experience and earned her Associate Degree in Early Childhood Education and Leadership. Through her experience, she came to love the Montessori approach and is genuinely excited about her position as Director here at Montessori Kids Universe of Short Pump. She strongly believes in the importance of allowing children access to activities that foster practical life applications learned through an encouraging and positive environment. Her skill set also extends to working with children with special needs, and she hopes to utilize all of her knowledge and passions to provide a safe and inspiring place for children to grow and develop into confident leaders.

Primary Lead Teacher | Ms. Kiera Ross

kieraMs. Kiera has over fifteen years of Early Education experience, most of which has been as a Lead Preschool teacher. In addition, she is currently completing her degree in Elementary Education from Ashworth University. She is certified as an instructional assistant in Henrico County Public Schools and certified to work with children within the Autism spectrum. Her passions have led her to working with and tutoring children in multiple subjects to reach their fullest potential in an encouraging and positive environment. She strongly believes in fostering independence and encouraging curiosity in children, so they can explore their interests and experience the world through their own unique perspectives with confidence. Her love for the Montessori method is what encouraged her to obtain her Montessori Certification.

Pre-Primary Lead Teacher | Ms. Emily Blankenship

emilyMs. Emily holds a degree in Environmental Science from Hollins University with a double minor in studio art and economics. Her passion for the natural sciences is displayed in her classroom where she provides STEAM activities for the children to participate in daily. She also has experience as an outdoor educator and wilderness trip leader, utilizing nature to offer therapy, education, and adventure to all ages! Her passions extend to encouraging children in all settings, providing a safe environment that allows them to freely explore and work with others. Ms. Emily is deeply passionate about the Montessori approach and is currently enrolled in the NAMC teacher certification program and due to complete it by spring of 2021.

Toddler/Pre-Primary Assistant Teacher | Ms. Carissa Inge

Ms. Carissa has a strong Early Education background with six years of experience working with children. In addition to her extensive experience, Ms. Carissa is currently pursuing a degree in Mathematics with a minor in Business. She is passionate about working with children in all age groups and hopes to apply her experience and degree to continue working with children in a school setting. Her belief in the Montessori approach is evident in how she leads her classroom, encouraging children to be independent and confident, and inspiring them to fully express themselves in a safe and nurturing environment.

Infant/Toddler Assistant Teacher | Ms. Emily Mitchum

emilyMs. Emily has a degree in Health Science from Virginia Commonwealth University, where she combined her love of understanding the mind and body in a holistic approach to wellness. Her passions center around nurturing children’s natural curiosity and desire to learn by providing a safe and encouraging environment where they can be free to explore their interests and express their emotions in a healthy way. Through her experience professionally, and firsthand as a mother, she found a perfect fit for her beliefs and passions through the Montessori approach at Montessori Kids Universe Short Pump.

Substitute Teacher | Ms. Marie Parker

Ms. Marie has a certificate of completion from Fairwood Bible Institute and was a licensed CNA for 3 years, and continued her work privately caring for others through 2016. Her passion for attending to children continued through her work in public schools as a substitute teacher, as well as a camp director. Her experience working with children spans over 15 years and continues to this day at Montessori Kids Universe of Short Pump. Her experience teaching and working with children has taken her around the world, from New England to Thailand, and back to Virginia with worldly experience that aligns perfectly with the Montessori values.

Schedule a tour of our facilities to meet our Short Pump 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.