Meet our teachers

Discovery School was founded in 1975 by two women: Jan Schiesser and Barbara Thiele. The first classroom had twelve students in each class. Barbara retired in May of 1984 and the reigns of Directorship were turned over to Janet Wallace, who had volunteered and taught at Discovery School. After a leave of absence to obtain her Masters in Art Therapy, Jan Schiesser, became the Director from 1990 to 2000. Cathy Brennan took over as Director in May of 2000 after teaching at the school for eight years and is the current Director.

Discovery School offers a warm, talented and well-trained teaching staff. Two of the staff’s own children are Discovery School graduates. Teachers provide a loving, stable, and nurturing environment for students. The Teaching Staff is carefully selected for their academic credentials and ability to relate to children in a positive and caring manner.

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Cathy Brennan, Administrative Director/Teacher
I began my career at Discovery School in 1992.  In May of 2000 I became the director. I previously taught in other Montessori schools for 5 years. I received my BA Degree from Wilson College and my Montessori Teaching Certification from the North American Progressive Montessori Teacher Training Center in Vancouver, Canada. My husband, Tom, and I have four children; three sons, John, Michael (twins) and Patrick and a daughter, Katie, who is a graduate of Discovery School. We have six grandchildren, five in Michigan and one in Olathe.  We have lived in Topeka since 1985.

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Beverly Strausbaugh, Teacher  

I began teaching at Discovery School in November of 2014.  I was born in Manhattan, Kansas and am one of identical triplets.  I was raised on a farm west of Council Grove, KS.  I attended Emporia State University and earned a degree in Elementary Education with a concentration in early childhood.  I taught preschool south of Emporia for 2 years and then married my husband, Mark.  I have worked for Kaw Valley School District, assisted and taught in Kindergarten and first grade, also worked with students with special needs, and worked in the retail jewelry business.  I earned my Montessori Teaching Certification in August of 2017.  Mark and I have two beautiful children, our daughter Erica who is in college and son, Braden, who is a 6th grader.


Dee Mollenkamp, Teacher

I began teaching at Discovery School in August of 2015. My son, Mason attended from 2013-2015 and had a wonderful time. I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology from Emporia State University with a minor in Psychology. I earned my Montessori Teaching Certification in August of 2017. My husband Jared, Mason and I live in Topeka. Mason started Kindergarten at McCarter Elementary School in 2015 and is now a third grader.