Our Team

Cottonwood Day School’s quality and success is at the heart of its excellent teachers, specialists and dedicated administrative and support staff in the classroom. These professionals bring expertise, experience and, above all, a thorough understanding of the challenges facing our students and their families.

Executive Director/Special Educator

Meredith Scully

Meredith is the founder and a Board Member of Cottonwood Day School.  She received her undergraduate degree in Psychology from the University of Colorado at Boulder.  She continued her education by pursuing her Masters in Clinical Social Work from Fordham University in New York, receiving a license in Clinical Social Work.  Having a strong desire to work with children with learning disabilities, she returned to the academic world to pursue a Masters in Education from Teachers College at Columbia University in New York with a dual certification in Special Education and Elementary Education. She holds state teaching licenses in NY and Montana. At Teachers College, one of her notable professors was Lucy Calkins, founder of the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project and author of several well known texts including the Art of Teaching Reading.  Meredith worked for many years as a 4th and 5th grade special educator in an inclusion classroom in the very well regarded Chappaqua, NY school district. She has also received comprehensive training in the Orton-Gillingham approach from the Institute of Multi Sensory Education. Meredith is happily married to an amazing man and has three terrific children. In her spare time she enjoys trail running, horseback riding, baking with her children, and spending time with friends and family.

Director

Amy Wood

Amy is the Director of Cottonwood Day School.  She received her undergraduate degree in History from the University of Wyoming.  She continued her education by pursuing her Masters in Social and Philosophical Foundations of Education from Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona, receiving a M.A. Ed. Amy has a passion for at-risk youth of all ages, and paired with her passion for education, Amy pursued her teacher licensure from the Northern Plains Transition to Teaching Program in Bozeman, Montana. She holds state teaching licenses in Montana with a Secondary History Endorsement. Amy has worked for the past three and a half years as the Academic Support Director of at-risk middle school students. Amy has extensive training working with students of all ages (pre-school to post secondary). Amy is currently pursuing her Doctorate Degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Montana State University in Bozeman, Montana. She is the proud mother of two beautiful children, and in her spare time she enjoys cooking, reading, camping, and all of the wonders the Bozeman community has to offer.  

Elementary Teacher

Rachel Kinsey

Rachel was raised in Big Timber, but relocated to Minnesota for college. She received her undergraduate degree in Elementary Education from Minnesota State University Moorhead. She completed 120 hours of Orton-Gillingham training from the Upper Midwest Branch of the International Dyslexia Association and has been providing Orton-Gillingham reading and spelling instruction for private clients for 17 years. She has also been an advocate for these clients, helping write IEPs and appropriate accommodation plans. She also has experience providing teacher training in both Orton-Gillingham and the Sonday System.  In addition to her private clients, she has been teaching math, social studies and technology at a small Montessori School in Bloomington, Minnesota for the last seven years. She is excited to finally return to Montana and be closer to her family. She spends her free time researching Montana historical figures, canning and pickling, quilting, paper crafts, amassing Legos and hanging out with her two cats.

Occupational Therapist

Emma Neal

Emma has been practicing occupational therapy for 7 years, in which time she has developed a treatment approach centered around making a child feel comfortable and confident while engaging in therapeutic activities.  She excels at developing therapeutic relationships, communicating with families, adapting activities to suit the child’s needs and providing high quality treatment. Emma received her Masters of Science in Occupational Therapy from Duquense University in 2011, where she graduated with honors.  While in school Emma conducted a study to learn about the way therapists develop and sustain international partnerships.  This experience taught Emma about respecting each person’s individuality and culture when providing therapy. Emma is nationally certified through the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy and is state licensed in Montana.  She has studied DIR/Floortime approach to therapy, Craniosacral Therapy and Therapeutic Listening.

Instructional Aide

Alycia Kappler

Alycia is an Aide at Cottonwood Day School. She grew up in Big Lake, Alaska and has been a resident of Bozeman, Montana for over 10 years. Over those 10 years she has worked in positions varying from Special Ed Substitute Teaching/Assisting, Family Support Assistance, and working with children with Autism in a home based early intervention program using Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). She also worked as a certified Registered Behavior Technician (RBT) working with families and children using ABA principles to increase positive behaviors and social interactions at home, school, and in the community. She has a passion for empowering youth and their families by exploring creative solutions for unique needs. She has a drive to uplift, inspire, educate, and support children with a colorful range of needs as well as their families. In their downtime, Alycia, her husband, and their canines enjoy the mountains, the trails, whatever local fundraiser run is taking place that weekend, a home cooked meal, and time with family.

Music Therapist

Trina Rainey

Trina Rainey, MT-BC is a Board Certified Music Therapist who has had a private practice in Bozeman, MT since 2006. It is Trina’s goal to facilitate meaningful musical interventions with anyone she is working with.  Populations she has served include adults and children with developmental delays, hospital and hospice patients and nursing home residents. Trina’s husband Neal is a teacher and together they have two amazing children.  She loves to be outside and spread music whenever and wherever possible!  She is so excited to be part of Cottonwood Day School!

Elementary Teacher

Amanda Cooper

Amanda Cooper achieved her Bachelors Degree in Elementary Education in 1999 at the University of Montana and a Masters Degree in Differentiated Instruction from Graceland University in 2011. She has worked with children with learning and behavioral challenges in a special education setting for 13 years and previously taught 4th grade in West Yellowstone. She has a passion for helping students learn in their own unique ways and focuses on catering to varied learning styles and specialized needs. Amanda lives in Bozeman with her husband Harold and 3 delightful kids ages 9, 12, and 15. She enjoys spending time with her active family and a houseful of rowdy pets.

Instructional Aide

Paula Ream

Paula recently moved back to Bozeman after living in Germany for a few years, which is where she gained valuable experience as an Instructional Aide in a special education program working one on one with students as well as with small groups. She is originally from Germany but has previously lived in Bozeman for several years and obtained her Master’s degree in Animal and Range Science from Montana State University. She is very excited to be back in Bozeman and to join the team at Cottonwood Day School as an Instructional Aide! In her free time, she enjoys long hikes and camping trips with her husband and their Border Collie Ellie, horseback riding, climbing and all the other amazing outdoor activities the area has to offer. 

Elementary Teacher

Michelle Bjelland

I am so excited to be joining the Cottonwood team. My husband, Nathan, and I are happy to be coming back to the Bozeman area to be closer to family. I am returning to Bozeman after teaching in China for two years. I grew up in Louisiana and my family moved to Bozeman after Hurricane Katrina where I graduated from Bozeman High and found my passion for working in special education. I started my education at Baylor University in Waco, TX receiving my bachelor’s in special education. I got my first teaching position in rural Kansas where I taught for five years. During this time, I started to explore higher education and decided to pursue my master’s degree in School Counseling at Fort Hays State University in order to better meet the social/emotional needs of my students. The last two years after graduating with my master’s degree, I have been teaching in China. My husband and I went to fill a specific need there for a special education teacher for students who were new to schooling late in life and had unique needs. In my time living abroad, I have learned how much I love to explore which makes me excited to explore Montana more with the wonderful mountains that surround Bozeman. In my free time, I am usually playing games, camping, and spending time with family.

Speech Language Pathologist

Hadley Stonecipher

Hadley is the Speech Language Pathologist at Cottonwood Day School. She grew up in Bozeman, and then moved to Portland, OR to pursue her education. There she received her Master’s of Science degree in Speech and Hearing Sciences at Portland State University, specializing in bilingual speech-language pathology. Hadley interned at Oregon Health and Sciences University and Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Portland, where she treated a wide range of patients, from infants to teenagers, in the areas of language development, speech development, feeding and swallowing, augmentative and alternative communication, and social communication. She then worked for the Portland Public School District before returning to Bozeman in late 2019. Hadley is dedicated to incorporating linguistic and cultural factors into her communication therapy to increase effectiveness of communication with each individual’s social community. Hadley is nationally certified through the American Speech and Hearing Association, and licensed in the state of Montana. She is very excited to be a part of the CDS community!

Elementary Teacher

Nathan Bjelland

I am very excited and over-joyed to join Cottonwood Day School and to be back in my hometown, Bozeman. Prior to joining CDS, I was living and teaching in China with my wife Michelle for the past two years. Before moving overseas, I was a 7-12 High Incidence Special Education Teacher in Kansas where I worked in a more inclusionary setting while working on my Masters in Special Education. I love teaching because I get to know some of the most incredible students each year. As much as they learn from me, I learn just as much from them; the comradery and care we build in class is one I look forward to each and every day.

Instructional Aide

Teri Massa

Teri is excited to be in Montana and part of the Cottonwood Day School family. She was born and raised in San Diego, California, and has had a love for the outdoors all her life. Recently her family was relocated to Bozeman for her husband’s job. They both come from large Italian families so family is everything to her as are my friends. They are blessed with two incredible children, Laurence (20) and Isabella (16). They also have a very active German Short Haired Pointer, Basil. Teri graduated college from Northern Arizona where she earned a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education with a minor in Speech Pathology. She furthered her education, earning a Master’s Degree in Elementary Education from National University. She has a certificate in Special Education from the University of Notre Dame and completed a certificate of inclusion from San Diego Unified to name a few of her accomplishments. She has worked in many facets of education. The last 25 years were spent teaching in the Diocese of San Diego, the most recent 6 at a dual language school. She always knew she would be a teacher and has loved her vocation every day since the start. Education is not a job but a passion and her mission. She has a special place in her heart for students who learn differently or have learning challenges. She loves action-based learning and tapping into multi-modality learning and looks forward to this new chapter of her life.

Elementary Teacher

Tara Gray

Tara is a Montana native originally from Billings.  After moving to Bozeman, she graduated with honors earning a  BA in History, a BS in Education as well as a Masters in progress at Montana State University.  She has worked with many special education programs in the area and has a passion for helping students reach their full potential and enjoy the learning process.   Tara also serves as an elected trustee on the Monforton School Board.  In her spare time, she loves to play golf with her husband and do family research on ancestry.com. At home, she is a mom to 4 school-age daughters and has 3 dogs, 1 cat, and 7 chickens. 

Elementary Teacher

Mikenzie Trusty

Mikenzie Trusty is a recent graduate from Montana State University. During her time there, she earned her bachelor of science degree in Elementary Education K-8, along with a full endorsement in Special Education. During her free time, she enjoys embracing the great outdoors, expressing her creativity through acrylic paints, and having belly-deep laughter spurts with the people that mean the most to her. Along with the wonderful community of Cottonwood, she also has the privilege of working with those at The Springs, and the Bozeman Help Center. Her passion in life is lifting others up no matter where they’re at and accepting them for who they show up to be. Through her twenty-three years of life so far, she’s learned these are two of the best things we can do for one another. Her goal as a teacher is to support students in whichever way they need to be supported and to build upon their strengths every day. We all bring something to the table, and those are worth recognizing and celebrating. 

Office Administrator

Anna Allen

Born in Atlanta, GA, Anna has called Bozeman home on and off since 2003. After receiving a BA in Biology and Psychology from Middlebury College, Anna worked as a mental health counselor for children and adolescents. She then attended the Physician Assistant Program at Emory University. Realizing her passion for education, her path shifted to teaching; working as the Early Learning Science Department Chair at the Trinity School for 7 years, followed by a role as an Academic Resource Center Tutor at the Lovett School in Atlanta, GA. Since moving back to Bozeman in 2015, Anna has been a substitute teacher at Cottonwood Day School from its beginning and loves being a part of this special community…so much so that she will be a part-time presence in and around the school office.

Anna joyfully spends her time hiking, beekeeping, camping, yoga-ing, fishing, skiing, cooking, dancing, and exploring with her husband, two boys, and quirky Golden Retriever, Ellis.