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Bastrop Montessori Team

Cheryl Kruckeberg, Founder and Director

Cheryl Kruckenberg, Founder + Direcor


My lifelong passion has been working with children. I am constantly inspired by their curiosity, tenacity, eagerness to learn and their fun loving spirit, and  am humbled by their trust, kindness and courage. In pursuit of my passion for supporting young people I have worked at over a dozen holistic and non-traditional schools as an assistant, classroom teacher, administrator, director, consultant or board member. The opportunity to create a Montessori School in my own hometown is one that I am very excited about!

I was first introduced to the Montessori Method in 1988, when I was searching for the perfect school for my little girl, and I instantly knew that here was the model that most closely matched my own beliefs; that learning is the innate desire of all children and that in a thoughtfully designed environment and in an atmosphere of respect, they will do what comes naturally to them – inquire, practice, learn and take care of each other! My first inspiration grew into a lasting appreciation of the power and beauty of Dr. Maria Montessori’s work. I have incorporated some of the fundamental aspects of the Montessori Method into my work with children ever since, whether as a teacher, administrator or school director.

In the past 15 years I have been the Director of Austin EcoSchool/Austin Village Academy and have been developing an educational program called Game of Village, which I’ve run both in the homeschool community and in private schools.

Aside from my work with children I enjoy non-traditional building, gardening, puttering around outside, yoga, arts and crafts and spending time with my family and friends!


Mandi Wyatt, Lead Teacher, Ages 1yr-2yrs

I joined the Bastrop Montessori team as the Daisies lead teacher in November 2023. This was after moving here from CA, were we spent 20 years raising our daughter.  What a joy! 

During our time in CA I gained many years experience in a wide range of childcare & development. Including being a nanny, working at a preschool, being a teacher’s aide, as well as my involvement with leading and preparing curriculum for classes for youth and toddlers. This has given me well over 15+ years experience working with children.

During these opportunities I have realized there has been nothing that has compared to the Montessori method of learning. I have fallen in love! I have witnessed its peaceful & thoughtful way of introducing exploration and natural growth. I have also learned that I adore teaching toddlers specifically. It is beautiful to see the wonder of each child gaining their independence and confidence as they develop in one of the most crucial sensitive stages of their life. I feel so privileged I get the opportunity to love, nurture & guide each child in a time of exploration and significant growth. 

Chelsea Martin, C0-teacher, Ages 1yr-2yrs


Hi y’all, I was born and raised in Austin Tx! I moved to Bastrop with my family of six almost two years ago. We are happy to call Bastrop home. 

I started to explore the Montessori method when I was pregnant with our second and was offered a job at a Montessori school is Austin, FELL IN LOVE with the method the campus.. everything! 

I admire how independent children can be. I finds it very rewarding to see a toddler solve their own problems with just a little help and encouragement! Plus the hugs are always great! 

I enjoy house plants, hiking, swimming, movies, podcast, spicy foods, sleeping in ( as a mom,  it’s been years), interior decorating, photography. 

Dena Beattie, Assitant Teacher, Ages 3-6


Before becoming a teaching assistant at Bastrop Montessori School, I was a high school Special Education teacher for eight years.  I’ve also worked for several years as a substitute teacher and teacher assistant, and I taught English in Thailand for a year.  I decided to pursue a career in education because I love working with children and watching them learn and grow. 


I grew up in West Austin and graduated with a degree in Geography-Resource and Environmental studies at Texas State University.  My hobbies include traveling, attending music shows and festivals, gardening, playing sports, cooking, and interior decorating/designing.  

Ayla Richie, Lead Teacher, Ages 6-9

 As a mother of two, it was through Ayla's love of homeschooling that she began teaching core curriculum and enrichment classes for grades K-8 in a local homeschool enrichment program, while helping to manage an educational nonprofit and working part time for EISD. She experienced many different schools, classroom models, and teaching styles over eight years of teaching experience, and came to love the Montessori method and philosophy. While working at Bastrop Montessori she completed Montessori training to be an elementary guide.

It is my honor to observe, guide, and provide experiences for my students that will help them reach their potential as compassionate and intelligent people. 

  When I'm not in the classroom I love caring for my many plants and pets at home. I enjoy reading, gardening, kayaking, camping, and traveling with my son Max, daughter Lily, and our dog Lemon.”

Laura Metzger, Assitant Teacher, Ages 3-6

I grew up in Austin and our family relocated to Bastrop County 8 years ago.
I've been married to my best friend for 30 years,  and am a mom to four children, one dog and four cats. I've spent the last 20+ years providing private childcare services as a nanny and in home day care provider, while also homeschooling my own children in grades K-12.
Additionally, I taught K-12 classes at our local homeschool co-op.
I'm so happy to be a part of Bastrop Montessori. It is a joy welcoming and walking with our students through each day while watching them grow.  I am grateful that I get to spend my days practicing and fostering thoughtfulness and kindness among our youngest community members.
In my spare time, I love hiking with my family on our local trails,  swimming in cold water rivers and springs, camping, watching movies with my kids, reading, hanging out in book stores and eating good food.

We're looking more great teachers!

Email us at for more information

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