Karl Zierhut, Head of School
2017-18 will mark Mr. Karl’s 23rd year in the field of education. During this time, he has enjoyed working in diverse school settings, both large and small, private and public.
Mr. Karl began his career at the high school level as an educator both in the classroom and on the football field. He coached football and completed his student teaching at Mountain View High School, while earning his California State Clear Credential from San Jose State University. From there, he enjoyed teaching and coaching at the high school level at Valencia and Simi Valley High Schools in southern California.
2005 brought a move to El Dorado Hills and a new career in private education, continuing as a classroom teacher and Head Football Coach. From 2008-2014 Karl worked in high school and middle school administration with a 13 month break in those years during which he relocated to Melbourne, Australia with his family. While in Australia, Mr. Karl earned his MBA from the University of LaTrobe.
Mr. Karl sees this upcoming school year as a unique opportunity to provide leadership as Rising Sun Montessori School continues to grow significantly. He and his family look forward to watching our school community grow and flourish in the years ahead.
In his spare time, he enjoys riding just about anything with handlebars, cooking, cross-training and spending time with friends and family.
Hana Arbuckle, Lead Teacher
Ms. Hana’s teaching career began in high school when she decided to volunteer as a student teacher in her community’s local Head Start preschool program. She immediately fell in love with teaching and decided to pursue a career in the field of education. After high school, she attended San Joaquin Delta College and received her A.A in liberal studies along with her early childhood education certificate. She then moved on to attend California State University, graduating with a B.A in liberal studies and a teaching credential with authorizations in English, science, and social science.
Ms. Hana has taught Kindergarten in a private Montessori school, and was an elementary teacher in a public school. She has a passion for learning and is always looking for new ways to enhance her teaching practices. It is her dream to one day earn a Ph.D. in education.
Ms. Hana and here husband met when they were 13 years old at Sacramento Raceway where they used to race dirt bikes against one another. They have been inseparable since. Together they have two young children and a beautiful little farm with a garden and plenty of animals. As Hana says, “In our house, family is everything. After all, the adventure of life just wouldn’t be the same without their continued love and support!”
Brenda Cauchon, Business Manager
Ms. Brenda has experience working with students and families in a variety of child-centered environments; a non-public K-12 school for at-risk youth; an agency that tended to the needs of children in foster care and youth group homes; and a private Montessori school. In her roles in these various organizations she has served on non-profit boards; led a school as the director; managed facility operations; handled legal and compliance issues; developed strategic plans; organized school-wide fundraising activities; and generated funding through grants and other community outreach efforts. She has a Bachelor’s degree in English and a Montessori Assistant Teacher Certificate.
In addition to providing services to students and their families in her administrative roles, Ms. Brenda developed and taught a fine arts curriculum to Montessori students aged 5-12. She also helped expand activities in the children’s garden at the Montessori school, where she loved to garden with the students on a daily basis.
As an original founding member of Rising Sun Montessori School, Ms. Brenda is happy to come to work every day and see all the happy, smiling faces of the students and teachers.
Kristina Chavez, Assistant Teacher
Originally from the Bay Area, Ms. Kristina moved to El Dorado County in 2004. She and her husband have two wonderful children. Ms. Kristina has spent hundreds of hours in her children’s classrooms, including volunteering in different organizations working with children.
She decided to follow her true passion and dream in the education field. She has since earned an Associate Teacher Certificate and is in the process of earning a degree in Early Childhood Education.
She is excited and honored to work with your children this school year!
Deborah Dymont, Assistant Teacher
Ms. Deb has been a resident of El Dorado Hills for twelve years. She’s returning for her second year at Rising Sun as a Teacher’s Assistant. Her prior experience before joining our team included working as a Yard Supervisor at the Rescue Union School District, where she also volunteered regularly in the classroom. She loves working with children, watching them learn and grow.
Ms. Deb and her husband have three teenage boys, with one in college, and a senior and freshman at Oak Ridge HS. She loves spending quality time with her family: riding, traveling, movies, and school activities.
She’s looking forward to another fun year at Rising Sun, and excited to be part of this great community.
Dan Olenchuk, Lead Teacher
Mr. Dan grew up in the Sacramento area outside of Cameron Park in Rescue. He graduated in 2010 from Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio with his teaching degree. Mr. Dan’s favorite thing about teaching is being able to bring a smile to children’s faces as well as helping them learn and mature. His talents with children include his patience and an ability to relate to them on their level. He brings energy and enthusiasm to learning that makes it fun for his students.
Mr. Dan loves spending time with his wife and their two beautiful daughters. He enjoys playing all sports, cooking, gardening, skiing, playing board games and putting together puzzles.
Susan Parker, Lead Teacher
Ms. Susan has a wealth of Montessori experience, having worked with toddler through elementary-aged children in both private and charter Montessori settings. Along with a former colleague, she assisted in the opening of a Montessori school in Fair Oaks. Besides her passion for the elementary Cosmic Curriculum, Ms. Susan loves implementing peace education and non-violent communication, while nurturing her student’s social/emotional intelligence. She successfully incorporates YogaEd and BePeace into the student’s daily schedule; with these practices she has created a community of respect among the students.
In addition to teaching young children, Ms. Susan mentors aspiring future Montessori teachers as they undertake their journey of Montessori training, teaching them the skills and lessons they need to implement in their own classroom settings.
Ms. Susan loves kayaking and mountain biking with her son Julian. She is excited to be a part of the Rising Sun Montessori team.
Jeff Ritchie, Lead Teacher
Mr. Jeff graduated from California State University Sacramento with a Bachelors degree in Liberal Arts. He has a California Teaching Credential with a supplementary authorization to teach Earth Science, and a Montessori Teaching Certificate for lower elementary (6-9 year olds). Mr. Jeff has been teaching for nine years and has taught everything from Kindergarten to 8th grade. The lower grade levels are still his favorite age group to teach.
Mr. Jeff has been married for 24 years and has two children, Emma and Connor. Mr. Jeff was born and raised in the Los Angeles area before settling down in El Dorado Hills.
Mr. Jeff enjoys travel; he as been to 11 countries and hopes to add to that list every year. He also enjoys working on his house. He had an upstairs loft built and then finished it himself. He has also built a new fence around his yard, and some shelves for his wife. In his spare time, he enjoys spending time outdoors and working with computers. He enjoys teaching children reading, math and how to explore the world around them. He looks forward to many adventures here at Rising Sun Montessori School.
Jenn Short, Administrative Assistant
Ms. Jenn grew up in Massachusetts where she earned her Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. In addition she also received her teaching credential. Shortly after graduating, she moved to San Diego, CA, where she met her husband. After a couple years, they moved north to his home town in the bay area. Two dogs, 2 kids and 8 years later, they relocated to El Dorado Hills with their twin daughters, Samantha and Casey. They love spending time with family and friends, traveling, and getting out to enjoy all our beautiful area has to offer.
Ms. Jenn has enjoyed teaching K-5th grade in elementary schools for eight years; as a substitute teacher, reading and math tutor, and Montessori Teacher Assistant. After two rewarding years as an Assistant Teacher here at RSMS, she is excited about her current role as Administrative Assistant supporting not only students, but our entire RSMS community.
Margarita Thomas, Assistant Teacher
Ms. Maggie attended Fresno Pacific University, where she received her Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education. For the past six years she has had the opportunity to work with children as a teacher assistant, preschool teacher, and an early Head Start teacher.
Ms. Maggie is a “military wife” and has been married to her husband for 7 years. Two years ago they decided to put down roots in Pollock Pines. They have two energetic kids, Ella and Alexander. They love spending time together as a family, enjoying the outdoors.
Ms. Maggie welcomes the opportunity to teach at Rising Sun and is excited about working with your children this coming school year.
Briana Warnshuis, Assistant Teacher
Ms. Briana moved from Hollister to El Dorado County for her love of the outdoors. She enjoys kayaking, paddle boarding, hiking and anything that keeps her outside and active with her Siberian Husky, Ama.
Ms. Briana’s previous experience in the classroom includes working as a paraprofessional instructional aide in an early childhood special education class of 3-5 year old children. She believes deeply in the importance of early childhood education, and that kindergarten specifically sets the educational foundation to guide children to become life-long learners. She feels that working with children gives her a chance to see the world in a fresh, new light.
Ms. Briana’s ultimate goal is to become a child psychologist so she can continue to foster a community of young people that grow, challenge, and respect one another and to become a vital part of our community. She is very excited about starting the new school year and getting to know the students, parents and RSMS community!
Robin Zierhut, Curriculum Coordinator
Ms. Robin has Montessori teaching certifications in Early Childhood (3-6) and Elementary (6-12) and a Bachelor’s Degree in Early Education Administration. She has been teaching children and designing curriculum for twenty years. At a private Montessori School in Folsom, where she was a teacher and the director, Ms. Robin not only taught all grades from PreK-5, she also conducted professional development training with the teaching staff, sharing her knowledge of Montessori best practices to ensure a school-wide authentic model.
Ms. Robin is a board member and Chief Executive Officer of Montessori Autism Programs and Services, which she co-founded in 2007. She has vast experience serving children with diverse needs and helping families gain access to therapy services that enable their children to be contributing members of their community.
As an original founding member of Rising Sun Montessori School, Ms. Robin continues to provide her vast knowledge and support to the classrooms, teachers, students and families by ensuring RSMS provides authentic, meaningful Montessori education to all students.