Our Staff

Stephanie Byam

Stephanie Byam

Executive Director

Stephanie was born and raised in a small New England town, in southern New Hampshire.  Growing up she was actively involved in 4H, showing and volunteering at 4H camps to help educate the youth.  Stephanie received her Bachelor’s Degree in Animal Science from the State University of New York in Cobleskill.  Before venturing out west, she worked as a veterinary technician for 3 years and managed her brother-in law’s restaurant Giorgio’s.  Her love for the outdoors, mountains and of course horses brought her to Elkhorn Ranch here in Big Sky.  She spent a few summers at Elkhorn Ranch working as a wrangler, guiding horseback rides, as well as teaching the youth (and adults) the basic fundamentals of horseback riding.  Stephanie has been in Big Sky for the past three years and loves the small community that we get to call home.

 

Stephanie’s Office Hours:

Monday through Friday: 8:30 am – 10 am or by appointment

sbyam@morningstarlearningcenter.com

Kimberly Pechischev

Kimberly Pechischev

Executive Teacher

Kimberly moved to the beautiful Big Sky in 2015. Her love of helping others find their “aha” moment lead her to the teaching profession. She has a Bachelor’s in Early Childhood Education from the University of Wisconsin Stout. Prior to Morningstar Learning Center, she experienced teaching opportunities in a cross section of schools as well as camp counseling for the past six years. Kimberly has a strong background in developmentally appropriate practice for all children. Some hobbies of hers include hiking, swimming, snowshoeing and woodworking projects.

kpechischev@morningstarlearningcenter.com

Michael Quisenberry

Michael Quisenberry

Preschool Assistant

Michael grew up in the humid metropolis of Houston, Texas, where he engaged in Texas’ pastime, high school football. He enjoyed the discipline and comradery that playing the sport taught him. He moved to Big Sky in early 2017 to pursue a life of outdoor adventure, follow a girl, but mainly get away from the Texas heat. He enjoys fostering a curiosity in the students of Morningstar and helping them to find the answers to life with questions like, “What’s inside of worms?” In his spare time, he enjoys hiking, rock hunting, model building and a newly discovered taste for skiing.

Mandi Lewis-Dibble

Mandi Lewis-Dibble

Preschool Teacher's Assistant

Mandi  Lewis-Dibble studied Early Childhood Education at Lake Erie College near her home town in Ohio. She has experience as a State Licensed Nursing Assistant and a Home Health Nurse. Mandi spent time as a Wilderness First Responder and Leave No Trace Educator on the Appalachian Trail in the role of a Ridgerunner. She came to us from Lone Peak Playhouse where she was a Teacher and a Cook. Mandi has been a resident of Big Sky since 2015 and spends her leisure time on the mountain hiking or snowboarding.

Kelsey Hash

Kelsey Hash

Toddler Three's Lead Teacher

I’m Kelsey Hash and originally from Southern CA. I moved to Montana about 7 years ago to attend Montana State University in Bozeman and fell in love with this place. I graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood and have been working with children in and out of the classroom for about 4 years. I have a strong background in early childhood education, emphasizing in social and emotional development in children ages 0-8 years. I love to be outside hiking, hanging out by a lake, relaxing with friends and drinking coffee.

khash@morningstarlearningcenter.com

Renee Carter

Renee Carter

Toddler Teacher's Assistant

Renee Carter was born in Cleveland, Ohio.  After she graduated high school she moved to Richmond, Virginia.  She moved from Richmond to Big Sky this past Spring to be near her two daughters.  She has her Bachelor’s Degree in Finance and Insurance.  She worked 12 years as an Underwriter for an Insurance Company.  She continued her education at the University of Richmond in the career switcher program where she completed her Post Baccalaureate Certificate in Applied Studies, Teacher Licensure.  She has had a variety of teaching experiences including Reading Intervention, Federal Programs Preschool, and teaching Kindergarten.  In addition to teaching, Renee enjoys yoga, golf, and her new hobby downhill skiing!  She is so appreciative for the opportunity to live and work here in the beautiful Big Sky community!

Danielle Brito

Danielle Brito

Teacher's Assistant

Danielle was born and raised in Northern Michigan. Shortly after attending college she joined the federal government. After 10 years of civilian service, she took an early retirement to stay home with her two children now ages 5 and 7. She has spent the last 4 years as a stay-at-home mother and home-school teacher. Her family has moved around and lived in several different states. After visiting Big Sky, she fell in love with Montana and knew it was a place she would call home. She recently relocated to Big Sky and is excited to be a part of the Morningstar Learning Center team.

Andrea Minert

Andrea Minert

Infant Lead Teacher

Andrea is from Mendocino, a small town on the Northern California coast, about halfway between San Francisco and the Oregon Boarder. In 1994 – 1995 she attended The College for Early Childhood Education, where she studied child development, early childhood education and childcare administration. Since then, she has worked with children in many capacities.  Her work for the past 25 years has focused primarily
on her career as a professional nanny and Infant/toddler specialist. She owns a frozen foods company, supplying nutritious and wholesome meals for infants and young children in Gallatin County.

Andrea has also been a preschool teacher and an instructional aide in both special-ed and mainstream classrooms. She has worked in group homes providing residential care for at-risk youth ages 6-17 and she was responsible for a 22-bed program for boys aged 6-12. She has also done a great deal of volunteer work with homeless and other at-risk families.  Despite the fact that she does not ski or snowboard, Andrea loves her new hometown of Big Sky, MT. The mountains, the wildlife and the amazing friends she has made in her 5.5 years here are just a few of the reasons she has stayed (despite the winters) and she hopes to stick around for many years to come.

Mindy Rebholz

Mindy Rebholz

Infant Lead Teacher

My name is Mindy Rebholz. I am originally from Pontiac, Illinois. I grew up in a small farming community. Growing up I always knew that I wanted to work with children, so after High School I went to get my Degree in Special Education. Ever since college I have been working in day cares and public schools. The last four years I worked in a grade school with 6th,7th and 8th grade special education children. We decided to move out to Montana at the end of the summer when my fiance got a job in Big Sky. I am so thankful for Morningstar for giving me this opportunity to be working in such a great community.

mrebholz@morningstarlearningcenter.com

Brenda Leanos

Brenda Leanos

Infant Teacher's Assistant & Spanish Teacher

Brenda was born in Chicago, IL.  She has spent most of her life in Mexico and is bilingual in Spanish and English.  She went to school in Chicago and is married with a four-year old son.   She has been living in Big Sky since August 2017.  It is different than what she is used to, but is really loving the change.   Her family relocated for her husband’s job and plans on being here for the next few years.  She is grateful and proud to be a part of Morningstar Learning Center.

Hope Rubyhawk-Azaratta

Hope Rubyhawk-Azaratta

Infant Teacher's Assistant

Hope was raised in California, but fell in love with the Montana mountains when she came to visit family in 2012, and decided she absolutely had to stay. Growing up, she spent several years as an after-school nanny for three young girls with Cystic Fibrosis and volunteering at an Early Head Start preschool. After much time since in guest services management, she is very excited to be working closely with children again, especially as her and her husband are expecting their first child. Her husband also works in Big Sky as a chef de cuisine offering Montana-style gourmet food. Hope is currently studying to be a spiritually-based life coach and loves to spend her free time singing, skiing, and going on long hikes with her two big dogs.

Board of Directors

Laura Kusto

Laura Kusto

President

Originally from the small town of Pisek, ND, I moved to Big Sky in 2013. My daughter was born in 2014 and I joined the Morningstar board in 2015 when she became enrolled. As someone who grew up in a very small town, I appreciate the close-knit community of parents we have in Big Sky. Professionally, I studied Industrial Engineering at North Dakota State University and then spent the better part of a decade in New York, NY working for consulting and financial companies. I currently work out of my home office as the Senior Director and Hotel Area Lead for BCD Travel. As the daughter of an elementary school teacher and principal I have a deep appreciation for the work of our educators. I seek to bring that passion and perspective to support MLC’s directors and teachers in what I know is one of the most important roles in a child’s life.

Jennifer Hendrickson

Jennifer Hendrickson

Vice-President

Jennifer has worked in hospitality for over 15 years and is the current Director of Food and Beverage at the Yellowstone Club.  She and her family moved to Big Sky in 2015.  She has served on the MLC Board for one year, and brings with her several years of leadership management as well as financial management for large income businesses.

Elex McAlear

Elex McAlear

Treasurer

I grew up in Twin Bridges, MT and moved to Bozeman to attend Montana State University. I graduated with a business management degree and started my working as manager for National Car Rental. Four years later, I decided to change careers and manager the deli at Wheat Montana in Three Forks, MT. I then started with First Security Bank. In May 2015, I was promoted as Real Estate Lender and moved to Big Sky.  I hope that my education, managerial and banking experience will help me on the Morningstar board.

Maren Dunn-Chandler

Maren Dunn-Chandler

Board Member

Alanah Griffith

Alanah Griffith

Board Member

I was born while my parents lived in Big Sky, MT, but was raised outside of Bozeman.  I returned to Big Sky a few years ago to join my law firm with another Big Sky attorney and open Griffith & Cummings, PLLC.  My practice focuses primarily on contracts (business, real estate, construction and Owner Association law.) My husband works for the Big Sky School District as the IT director, where our nine year old attends school.  Before leaving Bozeman, I volunteered for and served on the Board of a number of non-profits, including Eagle Mount and Reach, Inc.  I also represent a number of Montana Non-Profits.  I hope that my experience with other non-profits will serve MLC.

Stephanie Kissell

Stephanie Kissell

Board Member

I grew up in Washington State and moved to Big Sky in December 2005. I taught elementary grades at Ophir School for eight years before taking time off to raise my children.  I became involved in Morningstar Learning Center when my daughter turned two years old first as a parent, and eventually as its director.  After my son was born, I desired to serve MLC in a different capacity.  Becoming a member of the board seemed a logical way to merge my passion for education with service.  It is my hope that my background as an educator and as former director of MLC will be an asset to this board and to the children and families of Big Sky.