About Us


We develop self-assured, lifelong learners who are compassionate, globally minded, and empowered to positively impact the world.

Welcome to LMSS!

We’re so glad you’re visiting our website. On this page you’ll find more information about our school’s history and some of the main features you’ll find at La Crescent Montessori & STEM School.

You’ll also find a directory of all our staff and teachers, with links to individual classroom pages so that you can learn more about what happens in each class. There are links to contact info to help you get in touch with teachers.

We have listed our board of directors for easy reference, along with a list of links to:

  • Meeting agendas and minutes
  • School policies
  • Annual reports
  • Committees

Can’t find what you’re looking for? Be in touch by phone or email—we’re happy to help!

Smiling kid giving the OK sign

“My favorite part of LMSS is having my kids beam while explaining or showing off their works, and performing for school events.”

—Parent of an LMSS student

Our History

Built from community passion.

La Crescent Montessori & STEM School was founded by a group of interested parents who wanted an all day Montessori school option in the La Crescent area for their children. The school became a Minnesota public charter school in August, 1999. LMSS began with two classrooms in a brand-new building: Children’s House and Elementary I.

In 2003, the Middle School and High School was added to the charter. The focus of these upper grades is STEM education with the underlying foundation of a Montessori education. Earth Science, engineering along with contextualized math, are at the forefront of this curriculum. LMSS uses Project Lead The Way curriculum to enhance this experience.

In the summer of 2011, we made the exciting move to our current location. Many of us still remember when this building was the skating rink. We are lucky enough to have the beautiful wood floors still in use. Our first senior graduation ceremony was held in 2015. Today, we continue to promote compassionate and globally minded students through the use of Montessori practices and STEM experiments. Call us today to set up a tour and see for yourself!

About the School

Popular education for your child.

Located on the South end of La Crescent, LMSS is housed in the remodeled skating rink. The original hardwood floors can be seen in our Children’s House and Elementary I classrooms. Each classroom is designed to make every child feel relaxed and empowered to learn through exploration and experiments. Take a tour and see for yourself!

Lessons are tailored to each child’s abilities and academic readiness. The teacher relies on his or her observations of the children to determine which new activities and materials may be introduced to an individual child or to a small group. The aim is to encourage active, self-directed learning, and to strike a balance of individual mastery with small-group collaboration within the whole group community.

The three-year-age span in each class provides a family-like grouping where learning can take place naturally. More experienced children share what they have learned while reinforcing their own learning. Because this peer group learning is intrinsic to Montessori, there are often more conversation/language experiences in the Montessori classroom than in conventional early education settings.

For self-directed learning to take place, the whole learning environment—classroom, materials and social climate—must support the learner. The teacher provides necessary resources, including opportunities for children to function in a safe and positive climate. The teacher thus gains the children’s trust, which enables them to try new things and build self-confidence.

A main tenant of Dr. Maria Montessori is the child deserves respect as a human being from all other people, including adults. Children are to be respected as different from adults and as individuals who are different from one another.

The academic program at LMSS is based upon specific Montessori outcomes and aligned to Minnesota academic standards. Extensive use of Montessori materials help develop concentration, coordination, order, and independence, as well as provide concrete experiences of academic concepts.

Each student’s educational journey is a partnership between the child and the educator. Educators are specially trained to recognize avoidant behavior and indecision, and empower students to explore their interests and improve upon areas in need of development.

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education is an applied, exploratory approach. As a result, STEM education and Montessori are highly complementary, each emphasizing that the child determines what she or he learns through hands-on experimentation.

Beginning in the Montessori preschool environment, students learn the fundamental rules of math and science and the discovery of natural laws through the manipulation of didactic materials and problem-solving with peers. The work engages the senses and ensures the internalization of concepts, not just the memorization of disjointed facts and figures. The Montessori concept of Cosmic Education reinforces that everything is interrelated and students see how math and science work harmoniously in nature.

La Crescent Montessori & STEM School does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, creed, religion, national origin, sex, age, marital status, status with regard to public assistance, sexual orientation, or disability in its programs and activities.

Montessori Method at LMSS

The primary goal of a Montessori program is to help each child reach their full potential in all areas of life. Activities promote the development of social skills, emotional growth, and physical coordination as well as cognitive preparation. The holistic curriculum, under the direction of a specially prepared teacher, allows the child to experience the joy of learning, time to enjoy the process and insure the development of self-esteem, and provides the experiences from which children create their knowledge.

Montessori trained educators at LMSS prepare authentic Montessori environments to engage each child and to nurture and support students in their quest for learning and growing. Our staff know that education is not what the teacher gives, but rather a natural process carried out by the individual- acquired not by listening to words, but by experiences upon the environment.


From the youngest of students, to the oldest, all LMSS students are provided with the opportunity to engage with the local and global community through service. We teach all students that they can make a difference in the world by starting right outside our own doors. Whether it is raking leaves for our elderly neighbor, or raising funds to help build wells in Puerto Rico after a devastating earthquake, we are all able to work together to make the future of the world brighter.


It is important for students to know how to work within groups, as well as how to lead groups. Students at LMSS have many opportunities to develop their leadership skills both in and out of the classroom. “Never do for a child what the child can do for themselves” is a quote by Dr. Maria Montessori, and LMSS staff strive to adhere to that concept. When we do the work of the child for them, they lose the ability to think and do for themselves.


Dr. Montessori emphasized the interconnectedness of humanity and nature throughout her work and proposes that immersion in nature assists in the development of the whole child. Environmental education at LMSS is based on developing ecological literacy in our students. Nature experiences, activities, and studies are structured to correspond to the needs and abilities of students at each learning level.


Give us a call or send an email. We'll be happy to answer any questions you have!


Click on images below to read staff bios and learn more about their classrooms.


Kate Garfin

Head of School

Email Kate | 507-895-4054

Greetings! I am so excited to be on this new adventure with LMSS. Prior to moving to the Interim Head of School position, I worked as the Adolescent Program Social Studies teacher for four years. Working in administration was always a dream of mine, 

Read her full bio here.

Von Moos_Angela_250

Angela Von Moos

Children's House (CH)

Email Angela | 507-895-4054

Miss Moosey has been at LMSS since 2019. She is pursuing a master’s in Montessori Early Childhood Education. Read her full bio here.

Katie K

Katie Kabat

Elementary I (E1)

Email Katie | 507-895-4054

Hello! My name is Katie Kabat, and I am the E1 teacher this year at La Crescent Montessori and STEM School. I graduated from Winona State. Read her full bio here.


Melissa Johnson

Elementary II (E2)

Email Melissa | 507-895-4054

Miss J has been teaching at LMSS since 2006 and has served on the board and several committees throughout her tenure. Read her full bio here.


Tricia Runningen

AP English Language Arts

Email Tricia | 507-895-4054

Mrs. Runningen worked in business for 15 years before switching careers to teach at LMSS starting in 2018. Read her full bio here.


Luke Wahl

AP Mathematics

Email Luke | 507-895-4054

Luke has a degree in Mathematics Education with a Computer Science Education Emphasis from UW La Crosse. Read his full bio here.

Apple on top of a stack of books on a desk

Taylor Gruszka

AP Science

Email Cecilia | 507-895-4054

Mrs. C graduated with a degree in Education with a minor in Psychology in 2002. She has 19 years of experience teaching in public schools. Read her full bio here.


Hannah Mc Donah-Anderson

AP Social Science

Email Hannah | 507-895-4054

After moving back to the La Crosse area in the summer of 2021, Hannah is very excited to work with the LMSS AP team! Read her full bio here.


Holly Timm

Special Education Teacher K–6

Email Holly | 507-895-4054

Miss Holly is an elementary education graduate from Marquette University. Read her full bio here.


Ed Hoskin

Special Education Teacher 7–12

Email Ed | 507-895-4054

Originally from the UK, Mr. H has his teaching license from Saint Mary’s and has taught at LMSS since 2015. Read his full bio here.


Tammy Stremcha

Director of Operations

Email Tammy | 507-895-4054

Miss Tammy has been at LMSS since 2012 and has served as Director of Operations since 2017. Read her full bio here.


Below you will find our board of directors. Click on their names to send them an email.

August 18, 2022

September 15, 2022

October 19, 2022 *4:15 pm

November 17, 2022

December 15, 2022

January 19, 2023

February 16, 2023

March 16, 2023

April 20, 2023

May 18, 2023

June 15, 2023

July 20, 2023

The above Board Meetings have been scheduled for the 2021-22 academic year. All meetings will be held at 3:30 p.m. at the school unless otherwise noted. Committee Meeting dates, times and member information can be found when you click the ‘Committee’ button below.


There are several committees dedicated to managing and directing LMSS. These are the Board of Directors, the Finance Committee, and the Governance Committee.


We maintain minutes from each board committee meeting. You can see minutes for the past two academic years along with those from our annual meetings and approved budgets.


You can find all of our policies on this page; these include our policies about Entrance and Lottery, Bullying and Harassment, Graduation, and Preschool Tuition Policy.

Annual Reports

Each year we produce an extensive World’s Best Workforce & Annual Report, covering everything from student enrollment to academic goals and more.


Osprey Wilds Environmental  Learning Center
Erin Anderson, Director of Charter School Authorizing
1730 New Brighton Blvd, Suite 104 PMB 196
Minneapolis, MN 55413
Phone: 612-331-4181
Email: csdadmin@ospreywilds.org