Our Staff

Kerry Merkel

Kerry graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology in 2001. After graduation, Kerry discovered the Montessori Method of teaching and subsequently completed the extensive Montessori certification program.  Kerry quickly moved into a lead teaching position a Montessori school in Louisville, but couldn’t stop dreaming of one day opening a school that was built just for kids and staffed with the best teaching team.  This dream became reality in 2007 with the opening of Blue Mountain Montessori together with her sister Kelly. Outside the classroom Kerry enjoys family time with her husband (Tim) and her three children (Darby, Hewitt, Pierce).

Kelly Merkel

Kelly graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder with a bachelor’s degree in History, then went on to receive her Montessori Certification. Kelly brings the globe to life with her passion for geography and history. Kelly and sister Kerry have an unspoken synergy which enables them to execute the demands of the classroom with grace and energy. When not teaching, Kelly, husband Ben, and dog Lola, can be found enjoying the mountains and time with friends and family.

John David Cleveland

John David is from Louisiana and attended University of Louisiana at Monroe studying Early Childhood Education and Psychology.  He spent his summers working at Colorado Mountain Ranch and moved to Colorado in 1994.  He worked at Boulder Montessori for four years.  After attending Montessori Education Center of the Rockies he taught at Fairview Montessori in Louisville where he met Kerry, Kelly, and Kathimarie.  He is one of the original teachers at Blue Mountain Montessori, and has been here from the beginning.  John David brings music to the classroom.  He has been playing the violin since he was three years old, and he has been singing professionally for years.  John David met his husband over ten years ago in Denver, and they got married in New York City in March of 2013.     When not in the classroom, John David enjoys biking, skiing, hiking, snowshoeing, movies, live theatre, live music, and reading.

Catherine Grodahl

Catherine hails from England and worked in advertising in London for 21 years.  She met her husband, an American, in England, who persuaded her to move to Colorado in 2005.  She learnt all about Montessori when her daughter attended Blue Mountain for 3 years.   Catherine loves the Montessori method of teaching children so much, she decided to get certified to teach it herself.  Apart from her favorite occupation – spending time with her husband Andy and daughter Sassa – Catherine’s interests are traveling, cooking, painting, gardening and she particularly enjoys doing arts and crafts with children.

Lauren Davis

Lauren graduated from the University of Northern Colorado with a BA in Fine Art and Art History.  She witnessed the magic of the Montessori method firsthand when her youngest son was attending Blue Mountain, and knew she was ready to make a change.  She gave up graphic design to become lead teacher qualified at the Montessori Education Center of the Rockies.  Lauren enjoys each area of the classroom, but is passionate about bringing famous artists and art to life for the children, and incorporating their work into the annual school art show.  Outside of the classroom, Lauren loves to spend time with her husband, Rob, two sons, Noah and Caleb, and rescue dog, Ruby.  She enjoys being in the mountains, hiking, running, reading, and any kind of arts and crafts.

Lucia Llanes-Kuhlmann

Lucia is from Mexico City. She graduated from the University Intercontinental in Mexico City with a BS in Graphic Design. After finishing her college studies, she decided to do the AMI Montessori certification, also in Mexico City. Shortly after she finished her certification she met her future husband, and decided to move to the United States.  She began her teacher career at Boulder Montessori where she spent 7 years.  After moving to Erie, she decided that she needed a shorter work commute so she could spend more time with her family.  Lucia brings a fun multicultural element to Blue Mountain with her bilingual knowledge and experience.  When she’s not teaching, Lucia enjoys spending her time with her two kids Emilia and Mateo and her husband. She also loves to paint and be outdoor sports.

I cannot tell you what your kindness has meant to us. We feel so fortunate to have you in our lives, and we look forward to staying in touch, long after we are gone from Blue Mountain :-) You guys are the best, we literally would be lost without you... Elijah's life path has been forever altered because of what you have given him, and the care you and the other teachers have shown.

—Jen Saless