Staff Spotlight: Sharyn Laux

Staff Spotlight: Sharyn Laux

This month’s Staff Spotlight features Hershey Montessori School Residential Guide Sharyn Laux.

Sharyn grew up a Montessori child and was encouraged by her parents to be herself, to ask questions, to be independent and follow her own path. She has done just that.

In her early twenties, she underwent Montessori training and received her AMI Primary certificate in 2001 and has since worked with both younger children and adolescents. Sharyn has studied theater, art, French, philosophy, business and English literature.

She has a genuine curiosity about life and people. Capturing Sharyn in simple text was not going to be easy, so for her interview, akin to Sharyn’s unique personality, we chose to do something different from our previous spotlights — we interviewed her in podcast format.

We hope you enjoy listening. You will see why Hershey students, parents, and staff embrace Sharyn as a warm, passionate, intriguing soul that lights up our school community.

Click this link and get ready to turn up the audio.

Thank you for all that you carry and exude, Sharyn. We appreciate what you do and who you are!

Staff Spotlight: Karen Hannan-DeWalt

Staff Spotlight: Karen Hannan-DeWalt

This month’s Staff Spotlight features Hershey Montessori School Children’s House Guide, Karen Hannan-DeWalt. Karen first joined the Hershey family in 1993 as a parent before obtaining her Montessori diploma and starting work at the school in 1998. As a Children’s House guide, Karen’s job is to observe the children’s interests, needs, social interactions, and readiness for lessons. Using these observations, she seeks out the most effective ways to connect children to work that offers just the right amount of challenge to engage their bodies and minds. She wants her students to work toward success and to feel like their presence in, and contributions to, the community are meaningful. She enjoys supporting the development of good citizens and thoughtful leaders.

Having been trained in biology, she offers a unique perspective to Hershey students. “I love to connect the children to nature, and I revel in their discoveries,” says Karen. Her favorite part about working at Hershey is the connections she makes with her students. She loves working with the same children for 3 or 4 years as it gives her the opportunity to know each student deeply. Karen views it as a privilege to witness her students’ successes and growth over this span of time and to watch them become leaders in the community.

Before coming to Hershey, Karen was a stay-at-home mom with her children for several years. Prior to that, she worked as a cytogenetics technologist, a college biology teaching assistant, and an environmental planner. Karen grew up in Wickliffe, Ohio, and currently resides in Hambden Township near Chardon. She is married and has three grown sons who all went to Hershey from the age of one all the way through middle school. She also has one granddaughter who participated in Hershey’s Parent-Infant program.

Below is our full interview with Karen:


What brought you to Hershey?

I was introduced to Hershey by the founder of its precursor, Western Reserve Montessori, who recommended the school for my oldest son. After one visit, I was hooked. The children seemed happy, engaged, and peaceful. After many observations of my own children at work in their environments, I felt compelled to become trained as a guide.


What draws you to Montessori?

Children are respected as individuals and the whole child is nurtured. Mixed age groups in one community creates a family-like atmosphere where older children generously share their skills with younger children. Maria Montessori was ahead of her time, and her observations and ideas have now been confirmed by modern neuroscience. I get very excited talking about it!


Favorite Hershey memory?

Seeing my sons happily working in their classrooms when they were younger.


Favorite place to go?

Any creek or river. That is my happy place.


Favorite thing to do?

The most peaceful thing I have ever done is snorkel in the Cayman Islands. I also like to kayak and work in my yard.


Little known fact about you?

I love hardware stores and tools.


How would your friends and family describe you?

Loving, likes to laugh, and good listener.


How would you describe yourself?

An observer of human nature, an introvert, someone who likes to connect one on one.


What has been your happiest moment?

Seeing my sons grow to be good humans.


What is a big life lesson you would like to share with others?

If you live true to yourself with integrity, you won’t have any regrets.


We cannot thank Karen enough for her contributions to our school community. She is a friend, mentor, and role model to all of her fellow staff and students, and it is an honor to have her as a member of our Hershey family.

Staff Spotlight: John Buzzard

Staff Spotlight: John Buzzard

This month’s Staff Spotlight features Hershey’s Upper School Humanities Guide, John Buzzard. John grew up in Alabama and has lived in many places, but finally called Ohio home about 7 years ago. He is currently moving from Kamm’s Corner on the west side of Cleveland to Lyndhurst. He is in his fourth year at Hershey Montessori School where he loves having the opportunity to work on skills he wouldn’t be able to do anywhere else, like making maple syrup or carving wooden toy cars. His favorite part of working at Hershey is having the opportunity to work with thoughtful and courteous students every day. John is married and loves spending time with his wife and three children: Vivian, 12; Caroline, 11; Gideon, 5, and their dog, Mabel.

Below is our full interview with John:

What did you do before coming to Hershey?

I have worked at a number of small schools, almost always with a project-based, student-centered structure. I have been a Curriculum Director, a Division Head, and a Head of School, but teaching is and will always be the best job.

What brought you to Hershey?

An admiration for the program here, including Upper School Montessori education, which is a newly developing model. I love being a part of things that are new and growing, and despite being new to Montessori, I have grown in understanding and admiration for this pedagogy.

What drew you to Montessori?

The focus on students and letting them lead the way.

Can you tell us what it is like in your classroom or the topics you cover?

In my 9th and 10th year Humanities class, I present themes related to current issues such as elections, immigration, economics, and others. Currently, we are studying the role of the police in our society. Like with any issue we cover, we look at it historically, legally, and in comparison to other countries. Students then do independent research on their own topic related to that theme and ultimately present their learning and arguments in some fashion – a presentation, an event, a paper, etc. In the 11th and 12th year, students are given additional freedom to determine the topics we cover and the kind of presentations they do. This allows the students to stay engaged and they gain a global view to help form their perspective.

What is unique to you as far as your approach to teaching or interacting with your students?

I believe that part of my job as a guide is to make great, genuine experiences possible – above and beyond the usual. So, let’s meet someone really important or especially interesting. Let’s go on a trip to someplace where events actually happened. Let’s create a new experience for ourselves and for others. To me, things like this are memorable and that means what we learn will stay with us far longer.

What is you favorite Hershey memory?

I have always loved the pancake breakfast. Seeing the entire Huntsburg community come together to work this event, and with barely any ‘training’ or experience, suddenly we are running a restaurant like we had been doing it for years. It is so fascinating and it gives me such admiration for our students and staff.

Where is your favorite place to go?

Camping, wherever that may be.

What is your favorite thing to do?

I love cooking, I love music, and I love games so … singing while eating dinner around a game?

What is a little-known fact about you?

I briefly ran a cooking business where we hosted events in people’s homes.

Who has made the biggest impact in your life and what does that impact look like?

It is hard to pick just one person, but I would say my first boss, John Potter. He hired me (with very little reason to do so) and gave me the space and support and responsibility to improve quickly.

What is your favorite book?

A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. LeGuin

What is your favorite quote?

Moderation in all things, including moderation.

Tell us your favorite movie.


How would your friends and family describe you?

Probably as freakishly sane and boring.

How would you describe yourself?

A learner.

Can you share with us your happiest moment?

Every moment I get to be a dad – I know, cop out, but I’ll stick with it!

What is the biggest life lesson you would like to share with others?

Relationships matter more than policy, knowledge, or expectations. Learning and teaching are about relationships, not information.

Is there anything else you would like to share or let others know?

As a guide, I see my role as being one that supports students in creating great learning experiences for themselves.

We cannot thank John enough for his contributions to our Huntsburg campus. He is an inspiration to his fellow staff and students, and it is an honor to have him as a member of our Hershey family.

Hershey Open Houses Are Scheduled

Hershey Open Houses Are Scheduled


Hershey Montessori School open houses are scheduled through May 2022.



Registration is required.

Concord Campus, Birth-6th Grade: 10229 Prouty Road, Concord, Ohio 44077
  • September 18th | 1:00 – 3:00 pm
  • October 16th | 1:00 – 3:00 pm
  • February 5th  | 1:00 – 3:00 pm
  • March 5th  | 1:00 – 3:00 pm
  • April 9th | 1:00 – 3:00 pm
  • May 7th | 1:00 – 3:00 pm
Huntsburg Campus, 7th-12th Grade: 11530 Madison Road, Huntsburg, Ohio 44046
  • September 18th | 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
  • October 16th | 10:00 am – 11:00 am – Come for the Open House and stay for the Harvest Festival from 11:00-am-3:00 pm!
  • February 5th| 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
  • March 5th | 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
  • April 9th | 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
  • May 7th | 10:00 am – 12:00 pm

Register Now

What Is an Open House?

An Open House is a set time for prospective parents and students to visit our school campus to learn more about Hershey Montessori School’s curriculum and culture. The Open House is structured to provide a better understanding of what a school has to offer. There are numerous benefits of attending these school open houses, many of which cannot be achieved by simply browsing a school’s website. Not only do open houses allow you to see the campus, but they also provide valuable insight into the programs and culture of each school. 


What Are the Benefits of Attending an Open House?

Prospective families and students benefit greatly by attending a Hershey Montessori School Open House. There is only so much that can be learned from literature, browsing a website and its videos, or even peer reviews. An in-person visit provides greater understanding through physical experience.

When participating in a school Open House event:

  • You have face-to-face dialogue with school personnel and sometimes students.
  • You experience authentic classroom settings.
  • You learn more about the curriculum and will be able to differentiate between Hershey Montessori School and other schools.
  • You will gain a clearer understanding of the school’s values and its approach to education.
  • You will learn what outcomes can be expected from our Montessori education model.
  • You learn how the school communicates with you about your child’s educational progress.
  • You will get a feel for the culture of the school.
  • You will learn things that help you in your decision-making process.
  • You are given the opportunity to ask questions.
  • You will meet some really nice people! 🙂


What to Expect

You will be given a tour of the school building(s) and see our Montessori classrooms and our outdoor space that provides stress-reducing connections to nature. A presentation will be given, allowing time afterward for a question and answer session.



Attending a Hershey Montessori School Open House will inform and equip you to make the best decision for your child’s education. It will also allow you to visualize your child in the school setting and determine if it is a good fit. The feeling you get from being on campus will be an important indicator of whether the school is a good choice for your child and family. Ask questions, be open-minded, and trust your parental instincts.

120 Trees To Be Planted in Hershey’s Name

120 Trees To Be Planted in Hershey’s Name

Hershey Montessori School is having 120 trees planted in the school’s name. Hershey received recognition as a TreeRing Green Yearbook School upon partnering with TreeRing to build, publish, and sell 120 Hershey Montessori School yearbooks to its students and families.

TreeRing, a partner to Trees for the Future, prints on partially recycled paper and only produces the exact number of books parents buy, eliminating unnecessary waste and resources.

Trees for the Future is an organization that works closely with farmers to continually discover ways to make positive environmental and economic impact. Trees for the Future has been planting trees across the world for more than 30 years to not only end deforestation, but help with poverty and hunger, providing families with food and income through their Forest Garden Approach.

Hershey Montessori School and TreeRing are pleased to be helping students preserve memories while also doing our part to help save the planet. Our school community can feel good about providing students and parents with a yearbook that captures their personal memories in a beautifully produced book. It can also have confidence in the sustainable and environmentally conscious approach taken in producing them. It’s the least we can all do for the next generation.


Hershey Adolescent Community Updates Fall Return to Campus

Hershey Adolescent Community Updates Fall Return to Campus

By Judy Kline Venaleck, Associate Head of School and Adolescent Campus Director

Hershey Montessori School staff and Adolescent Community are eagerly anticipating the 2021-2022 school year and the return of international and domestic boarding students to the Huntsburg campus. All signs from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) and the Ohio Department of Health look positive for increased vaccination rates and drastically reduced numbers of COVID-19 cases in many regions, and in particular, Ohio. We hope that the continued increase in numbers of vaccinated people in the United States will prevent the take-off of new, more virulent, variants of the virus such as those we are currently seeing in other countries.

What We Know Today
We are still in the planning stages for health protocols for re-entry to boarding life. We will design for well-being and expect that the boarding community will live like a family without masks and other COVID protocols. We will certainly honor any residential member who wishes to wear a mask and we will continue the increased level of attention to handwashing and day-to-day health awareness practices in general.

We closely follow announcements from the CDC as well as the Ohio Department of Health and weekly announcements from Ohio’s Governor, Mike DeWine. Following the science of these organizations is what informs our decisions. Please be aware that any unforeseen changes and announcements in the coming months can have an impact on our health protocols and planning.

• Students 12 years and older are now eligible to receive the COVID vaccine. We appreciate the science behind the fact that as more of us are vaccinated, the healthier the boarding program will be for everyone.
• Vaccination – we are not ready to make a decision about whether COVID-19 vaccinations will be required for boarding students, but we do strongly encourage them. This decision is subject to change as we follow the science or have a sense of any more contagious variants.
• Students who will not have all vaccinations required on Hershey Montessori School’s Medical Statement and Immunization Data form for 2021-2022 at the time of arrival in August, need to claim EXEMPTION status.

• If there is a significant spike in COVID-19 cases by mid-August, it is possible that students may have to quarantine prior to arriving to campus. It will be necessary to factor in a 5-day hotel stay followed by a negative COVID test to your arrival time.
• If there is a high rate of cases in only certain states or countries, students from those particular regions may need to quarantine off campus.

COVID-19 Testing
• We will be testing boarding students upon arrival to campus on August 23rd with a rapid results test.

Timeline and Date by Which Protocol Will Be Finalized
• June 17, 3:00pm EDT – Boarding parent ZOOM meeting with house parents.
• July 8 – Update on COVID-19 trends and the rate of any variant spread.
• July 22 – Final decision on whether COVID-19 vaccine will be required for boarding students.
• August 2 – Final protocols announced for boarding community.

I-20 Documents for International Students
• We will be releasing I-20 documents in the next 10 days that each student will need to:
     o obtain a Student Visa through the U.S. Consulate in your country.
     o enter the U.S. along with the Student Visa and passport.
• If a student has dual citizenship with the U.S., please notify us as an I-20 is not required in this case.

Regular updates regarding health protocols for next school year will be provided to enrolled families as we monitor the data over the next few months and continue to consult with our medical expert advisors.

Interested and enrolled families are welcome to contact the school office with any questions.