Our Staff

Stephanie Byam

Stephanie Byam

Toddler Lead

Stephanie grew up in a small town in southern New Hampshire where she was actively involved in 4H. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Animal Science from SUNY Cobleskill, where she then worked as a vet tech for 3 years before venturing out west. The past two summers she has worked at Elkhorn Ranch here in Big Sky as a wrangler guiding horseback rides through Montana’s mountains. After spending the past three winters in Tucson, Arizona she is definitely excited about getting back into some of the winter activities Big Sky has to offer.

Lori Van Eps

Lori Van Eps

Assistant Executive Director

Lori Van Eps is a native of Montana and been living in Big Sky the last 2 1/2 years. She graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Physical Education and Exercise Science from Dordt College in Sioux Center, IA. She spent the first two years of teaching Middle School Physical Education and Coaching Volleyball and Track in California. Her family then relocated to Denver, Co where she worked at Denver Christian in a variety of different roles. She is very passionate about working with children, spending time with her family, loves being outside and active in this beautiful place we get to call home.

Lori’s Office Hours:
Thursday and Friday: 8:30am – 10am & 4:00pm – 5:00pm
Or By Appointment

Lori Swenson

Lori Swenson

Teacher - Preschool Room

Lori Swenson was born and raised in New England with an older sister and a twin brother.  She lived in Massachusetts during the school year and on an island off the coast of Maine during the summer.  She obtained her degree in Occupational Therapy from the University of New Hampshire in 1994.  She worked in Rehabilitation in Boston for four years before striking out on her own to explore the west.  Lori moved to Montana in 1998 where she met her husband Paul, who is a Bozeman native.  They moved to Big Sky, Montana in 2009 and have made it their home to raise three beautiful children.

Lori has worked primarily in her role as an Occupational Therapist since 1994 and has had a myriad of experiences to include working in multiple school districts.  She is currently working as an outpatient pediatric OT for Epicenter Therapy Services here in Big Sky.  She is also the Thrive Parent Liaison in the Big Sky School District and is thrilled to be working part time for Morningstar Learning Center.  Lori says, “This is a great opportunity to get to know the parents of the students of Morningstar Learning Center who will soon be members of our community public school.  I look forward to each day when I see the trust in the parent’s eyes as they hand their child over into our care and we cherish that trust.  We work hard to be the helper to the parent because the parent will always be the first and most important teacher in their child’s life.”

“If I could trade places with anyone for a week, it would be my daughter Skye who has lived her whole life without the ability to talk, eat by mouth, move her body or use her vision in an effective way.  I would like to trade with her so that I may better understand her needs and have true empathy for what she endures day in and day out socially, emotionally and physically.  She would also get to live that one week in my body and experience so much she has not been able to so far.”

“I am a minimalist when it comes to “stuff”.  I like to get rid of stuff we don’t need or aren’t using.  I also do not like clutter, so I have very few trinkets or collectibles.  When asked the question, which would you clean first- house or car?  I would have to say I would clean the house because the whole family would benefit from a clean house and I have trouble organizing when everything is a mess.  After the kids helped me clean the house, I would send them out to clean my car since they are the ones leaving the mess in there in the first place.”

“Something I learned today was a strategy to help my children resolve their conflicts in the area of sibling rivalry.  It will change as each issue arises but I will be able to support them through making their own decisions and hopefully, keep my own emotions out of it.”

lswenson@morningstarlearningcenter.com

Kelsey Hash

Kelsey Hash

Preschool 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.

Renee Carter

Renee Carter

Teacher's Aide

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!

Karla Long

Karla Long

Infant Lead, Spanish Teacher

Karla Long was born and raised in Santiago, Chile. Her and her husband have been residents of Big Sky for almost 10 years now. She enjoys working with children and helping them to build strong minds and social skills. She is the mother of two beautiful, bi-lingual children and enjoys teaching Spanish at Morningstar two days a week.

Keely Larson

Keely Larson

Teacher's Aide, Dance Teacher

Keely Larson grew up in Helena, Montana where she developed her love for dance and working with children. At the age of fifteen she began to teach many dance classes in various styles. Keely moved to Bozeman to attend Montana State University and graduated with a double major in Religious Studies and History, and an additional Honors College degree. During her time at MSU, Keely continued to dance and teach dance classes at Bozeman Dance Academy, formerly Main Street Dance Theatre. The combination of studying concepts that thoroughly interest her and persistently pursing her dancing passions made Keely’s time in Bozeman extremely fulfilling. She looks forward to working on a dance curriculum for Morningstar Learning Center, continuing to teach and dance at BDA, and experiencing the Big Sky community to its fullest before she sets out to get her Master’s degree in Religious Studies.

Maria Perks

Maria Perks

Preschool Room

A native of Missoula, Maria served in the Americorps before earning her Bachelor’s degree in Math from Gonzaga University. Finding immense enjoyment from education, Maria has taught students from all ages in Washington, Texas, and Illinois. After 13 years, she has found her way back to Montana with her two children(Amelia and Lachlan) and her husband. Maria has been a part of MLC now for over a year and looks forward to continuing to grow with MLC.

Michael Quisenberry

Michael Quisenberry

Preschool Aide

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.

Mindy Rebholz

Mindy Rebholz

Infant Lead

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.

Brenda Leanos

Brenda Leanos

Teacher's Aide

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 two-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.

Board of Directors

Matt Dodd

Matt Dodd

President

I originally moved to Big Sky in 2000 with the intention to spend the winter skiing before heading to law school.  Nine winters later, I finally made the transition back to school and spent the next four years living and working in Utah.  During those years away I never lost my love of Big Sky, and returned in 2013 to settle and open my law practice.

I have been working with non-profits since 2003, when I founded and served as the Executive Director for Kidski, Inc., a Big Sky non-profit providing low income children in the Gallatin Valley the chance to experience the mountains through skiing and snowboarding.  I also served as a trainer for Eagle Mount, another local non-profit giving those with mental and physical disabilities the chance to enjoy the many outdoor activities available here in southwest Montana.

With two young children of my own, I am thankful for the learning opportunities provided by Morningstar Learning Center and I am excited to serve Morningstar as it grows with our local community.  My hope is that my non-profit experience, legal training, and desire to help Morningstar and its children thrive in our community will serve me well during my tenure on the Board.

Danielle McClain

Danielle McClain

Board Secretary

Originally from Pennsylvania, I have lived in Montana for over twenty years and in Big Sky for the last fifteen of those years. In that time, my husband and I have grown a small business to a bigger one and now, at ages nine and eleven, our two children have grown in the same way. My background is in education. I have a BA in English and a BS in Elementary Education. I am also a certified K-8 Library Media Specialist. As an educator, I spent eight years working as a middle school teacher and high school librarian in the Big Sky School District. Between family and work I also love to mountain bike, ski and explore this in this beautiful place we call home. My experiences as mother, educator and small business owner have brought me to the board of Morningstar. The cultivation of excellent childcare and education is essential to the health and sustainability of our growing community.

Kami Hussey

Kami Hussey

Board of Directors

Elex McAlear

Elex McAlear

Board Member

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

Opie Jahn

Opie Jahn

Board Member

Jennifer Hendrickson

Jennifer Hendrickson

Board Member