Who We Are

Elizabeth Coffin (Founder, retired), BA Mary Washington College, English Literature, Diploma in Nursery and Primary Levels from the St. Nicholas Centre for Montessori Training, London, England; workshops in Montessori Training at Widener College, Chester, PA; National Center for Montessori Education, San Diego, CA; The Barry School, MD. In the course of working toward her BA and acquiring twelve graduate credits in Early Childhood Education, at American University in DC, she has attended Skidmore College, NY, George Washington University, DC, the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA, and VCU, Richmond, VA.


Her very first teaching post was an unexpected invitation to teach briefly at Yenching College, Nanking, China, where she and David were assigned by the State Department. This school later became a ‘sister” college to Wellesley in MA. Prior to opening Boxwood School in 1972, Elizabeth had functioned at Highland school for a full year in a dual capacity as Kindergarten and 6th grade reading teacher.


Paula Cheatwood, BA, Franklin Pierce University, Elementary and Secondary Education. Paula has worked in the outdoors and with children most of her life. After graduating from college with a degree in education and psychology, she developed and supervised the Adventure Challenge School, designed to give inner-city youth a taste of the great outdoors.


Paula has worked at the Boxwood School for nearly two decades. She began as a parent volunteer, but quickly became a staff member and has been with Boxwood ever since. In addition to being a teacher, lifeguard, and gardener, Paula also helps with administrative duties at the school.

Outside of Boxwood, Paula also works as a team-development facilitator and works with both the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts of America. She has participated in numerous mission and service trips both locally and internationally.

Her daughter, Sallie Pisch, an international photo-journalist (salliepisch.com), took most of the photos on this site. Thanks Sallie!

Mary Morran, Art Instructor, ‘Extraordinaire’ has shown us generous variety in her talents and spirit for more than fifteen years.

Sarah McCormack, NOVA, Radford, George Mason, course work in Children’s Literature and Drama, student in Early Childhood Education. Sarah completed an introductory years’ Montessori course for three to six year olds from Vancouver. Mrs. Coffin’s daughter, Sarah has grown up in the midst of Boxwood School, absorbing lessons on the benign, yet disciplined, managements of children. She has used those lessons with her own children as a Home Schooling Teacher. Math, Reading and all aspects of Practical Life, and Sewing are her specialties. After a years’ study under the direction of the American Montessori Society, she has now earned professional certification as a Montessori Primary Teacher.