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Montessori Academy's vision is that each student
will become an independent, confident, motivated learner, and a responsible community member as a result of the dynamic partnership between
students, parents, and teachers.
This partnership within the exceptional Montessori environment, while developing these characteristics, enables each student to become a life-long learner.
Lea Maitlen had her first experience with Montessori as a child, when she attended Seton Montessori in the Chicagoland area. When it came time for her to enroll her daughter in school, she turned to the method which had such an impact on her early development. Her daughter Sophia has been a student at Montessori Academy for the past three years. She holds a Bachelor of Music from the University of Colorado at Boulder and a Master of Music from Belmont University. She has been a faculty member at St. Cecilia Academy and an adjunct faculty member at Belmont University, where she taught classical voice. She completed an intensive training course this summer as part of her first step in Montessori certification. The first part of the training was led by Dr. Merrie King. She is known by many in the Montessori community and has given presentations at Montessori conferences, as well as taught graduate-level courses on Education and Montessori at Belmont University. Lea will have another intensive training session next summer, as well as research projects and weekend courses throughout the next eighteen months.
Kristen Small developed a deep love for children at a very early age. Her love soon became her passion, which caused her to begin an early career in babysitting. Kristen attended college at Oakwood University in Huntsville, Alabama where she majored in English. While attending Oakwood, she became a mentor for teenage girls through an on-campus organization called G.A.M.E. (Girls Awareness through Motivational Empowerment). This love for youth and children that became her passion, transformed into her calling. While in Huntsville, Kristen worked at two childcare facilities where she taught Toddlers, Pre-School, and School Age children. Kristen transferred her work in childcare to Miami, Florida where she continued her work as a Pre-School teacher. It was in Miami that she came in contact with the Montessori philosophy and she has been in love with this method ever since! Her training and work with Montessori education opened the door for her to move to Nashville and be apart of the Montessori Academy family. She is so excited to begin this journey for she truly believes, and her life experiences affirm, that working with children is not only her love, or merely her passion, but it is indeed her calling.
Emily Breaux has been teaching for 10 years, and has a Masters of Education, and a certification in Waldorf education. She has been teaching at Montessori Academy since 2009, and recently started Montessori training for Primary (ages 3-6), as well as infant and toddler training. She is a mother of three boys, ages 10, 9, and 6, all of whom attend Montessori Academy. She is passionate about healthy eating, gardening, yoga, Montessoir (of course!) and the study of child development. She lives in a 101 year old farmhouse where she grow an organic garden and keeps chickens for eggs.
Sara Aronson will be joining Montessori Academy as a Toddler teacher this year. She has three children who attend school a MA. Her two daughters are in LE and her son will be in the toddler program. She lives in downtown Murfreesboro with her husband and children. She plans to pursue her Masters degree and continue with her Montessori Toddler certification, whichshe began this summer in Miami during an intensive course. Her past times include learning more about cooking, Montessori philosophy, and psychology.
Deirdre McCambridge and her husband, Thomas, are brand new to the Nashville area. They moved here just this summer to be near family. She has fallen in love with the area, the people and Montessori Academy. She has a B.S. in Home Economics Education, a M.Ed. in Elementary Education and an Elementary I Montessori Certification. Deirdre has over 13 years of experience working with young children, both in Montessori and private schools. She is thrilled to be back in a Montessori Environment. "Our entire Toddler team is wonderful. I am so blessed to be part of such a dedicated and loving group of teachers."
Deirdre's interests include knitting, crocheting, listening to music, watching movies and singing. She especially enjoys the Practical 12Life Area of Montessori and brings the joyful love of learning to everything she does. She, her husband and their two dogs live in the Franklin area.
As a stay-at-home mom, she found Montessori Academy for her daughter Waverly who was a quiet child needing a calm environment in which to grow. She discovered during Waverly’s kindergarten year that the reading teacher in her daughter’s class was leaving, so she eagerly applied and was hired. She had already grown to love the Montessori philosophy of being child centered, so working in the school was amazing. Her other daughter Kalee, who was three, started at Montessori Academy for the first time. Mellynne worked on her Montessori certification during the summers of 2008 and 2009 at Montessori Educators International and received her certification during the spring of 2011. She loves working in the 3-6 year old class teaching children to love reading and books just as her family does.
Andrea Johnson began working at Montessori Academy after graduating from Overton High School in 1999. She began in the aftercare program and moved into the primary classroom after completion of her A.A. degree. She taught Practical Life in Room 4 from 2006 through spring 2011. In the fall of 2011, she joined Ms. Dickason to re-open room 1. She is a trained and accomplished Practical Life teacher and will complete her Early Childhood Montessori training during the summer of 2011. Andrea also has been the lead teacher coordinator for the summer camp program for two years.
Beh attended the University of Tennessee in Knoxville where she received a Bachelor in Early Childhood Development and a Masters in Early Childhood Education, as well as her teaching license for pre-k through 3rd grade. While she was attending UT, Ishe began working at Knoxville Montessori School as an after care teacher. It did not take long for her to fall in love with Montessori method for education. What had originally been a part-time job while she was an undergraduate, quickly became a calling. Beth ended up staying on as an after care teacher at Knoxville Montessori all the way through her undergraduate experience, and only left during graduate school when it was time for her to complete her student teaching year in a Knox county school.
She completed her student teaching internship teaching Kindergarten at Fort Craig School of Dynamic Learning in Maryville, TN with a nine week rotation teaching first grade at Christenberry Elementary, an inner-city school in Knoxville. While she did enjoy her time teaching in traditional school settings, it also reaffirmed her desire to get her Montessori teaching certification and teach in a Montessori primary class.
After completing her graduate work at UT, she began working on her Montessori certification at Belmont University in Nashville, where she earned a Masters in Teaching/Montessori Certification for Primary. She completed her internship teaching year at Knoxville Montessori School and continued teaching there as a lead teacher for an additional three years.
Before beginning her teaching career, she worked in research at Vanderbilt University for several years and as a puppeteer with Kid's on the Block for a year. She has worked at Montessori Academy since 2008.Leanna Pound was born in Memphis, Tennessee. She grew up with a sister three years her elder and a sister 16 months younger. Then, when she was 14, a baby brother was born. He thought he had 4 mothers. Around that same time her family moved to Nashville where she has lived since--with the exception of college years at Memphis State University, 2 years living in Tampa, Florida and 2 years living in Syracuse, New York.
She met her husband, Patrick, while in Tampa, Florida. They have been married 30 years. Together they have three--now grown--children. Leanna became familiar with Montessori education while in Tampa, Florida (having a nephew and a niece attending a montessori school there). Although she and Pat had no children at the time they fell in love with Montessori and hoped to be able to raise their own children through the same method someday. Their first born, Kara, began attending Montessori Academy at age four (in 1987)--their son, Casey, at age 3 (in 1989) and their third, Kelsey, at age 2 1/2 (in 1990). Leanna's favorite hobby during those years was watching anything her children enjoyed which included sports, dance, chess, friends...life in general. Now grown, the two older children are registered nurses and the third is a dance teacher. Just ask her if she's proud.Room 4
Orachon Chintanaphol has a BA in English from Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand and an MA in English from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Indiana, Pennsylvania. She holds an AMS Montessori Primary (ages 3-6) Teacher Certification from Seton Montessori Institute in Clarendon Hills, Illinois. She has taught at Montessori Academy since 2001. Orachon has been involved with Montessori education in the past 18 years as a parent and then as a teacher. She was also a field consultant for Belmont University's Montessori Teacher Training Program from fall 2008 to spring 2012.
Orachon's passion has become Montessori education since her first child started school at Seton Montessori School and has found the Montessori method to be the best practical approach in early childhood education for her own children and for the children she has taught for years at Montessori Academy. She is enjoying every day of her teaching, having the opportunity to help the children to develop to their full potential intellectually, emotionally, and socially, employing the Montessori philosophy and approach.
Amy Carlson holds a B.A. in Anthropology/Sociology from Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee and received her AMS Early Childhood Certificate form the Memphis Montessori Institute. Amy taught Ages 3-6 for five years at Lamplighter Montessori School in Cordova, Tennessee, and one year at Irvine Montessori School in Irvine, California. While Amy enjoys teaching in all areas of the classroom, her favorite subjects include practical life, language, and geography. Amy has additional experience working with children as a babysitter, nanny, and program instructor.
Tanelle Murphy is a native of Nashville who began her career as a Primary teacher at Montessori Academy in 2007. Always passionate about literature and writing, Tanelle earned a BA in English and an MAT in secondary education from the University of Memphis. Prior to teaching at Montessori Academy, Tanelle taught for nine years in the public schools, first teaching English and modern dance at Memphis’s creative and performing arts high school for three years. After moving back to Middle Tennessee in 1996, she taught K-12 English as a Second Language for six years in Sumner County. During two of those years, she also taught evening classes as an adjunct professor of ESL at Volunteer State Community College. Tanelle taught students from the ages of five to seventy years old during this time. She also trained teachers at school, district, and regional levels to help them understand how to better meet the needs of their ESL. This background in traditional education gives Tanelle a unique appreciation for the many benefits of Montessori education.
Tanelle’s interest in Montessori education began after the birth of her daughter, Kira. Kira’s remarkable early learning abilities inspired Tanelle to look beyond traditional educational approaches to find an environment where her daughter’s gifts could be nurtured. Her search brought her to Montessori Academy. She clearly remembers her tour of the school as a prospective parent, when she and her husband, Mark, walked through the classrooms of busy, calm, happy children. She thought, “This is what school is supposed to be. This is what I want for my child.” It was the answer to a question she had always felt about what was missing in traditional education. Inspired by the Montessori educational approach and philosophy, Tanelle embarked upon the path to become a Montessori teacher. She began her training the summer before she started teaching in Room 9 in 2007, and she completed her Montessori certification in Early Childhood from Montessori Educators International in 2009.
Tanelle is truly passionate about Montessori education. She believes that the Montessori classroom is the place where every child’s unique gifts can be nurtured, and every child can reach his or her full potential. She considers it a privilege to be part of these amazing children’s lives each day and says that being a Montessori teacher is the most rewarding and joyful work she has ever done.
Romella Bermillo Lee is the second from the youngest of five children, born and raised in the Philippines. She attended the University of the Philippines and graduated with a Bachelor in Secondary Education with a major in Mathematics and a minor in Filipino Language. In 1994 I she joined her family who had moved to Okinawa, Japan in the late 80’s. Mrs. Lee was first introduced to the Montessori philosophy when a friend asked her to substitute for her at East-West Montessori School in Okinawa, Japan. The school served as an alternative to the public school system for American military children and English language immersion program for young Japanese children. She was quite impressed at the success of the program despite the vast diversity of its population and she worked there until 1997.
Mrs. Lee worked at Murfreesboro Montessori before coming to Montessori Academy in 2001. She believes that Montessori Academy offers an environment that provides young children an excellent foundation for learning success and feels very fortunate that her children are getting such a valuable foundation. She enjoys her job and finds it very rewarding!
Marynet King began her teaching career at Montessori Academy in 1988 when Mrs. Eileen Bernstorf asked her if she had ever considered becoming a Montessori teacher. The more she learned about the Montessori philosophy of education, the more convinced she was that she did indeed want to become a Montessori teacher. Since that time she has taught at the Lower Elementary, Upper Elementary and Middle School levels and has had training at all levels. She holds a B.A. in Psychology from Jacksonville State University and a M.A. in Clinical Psychology from Middle Tennessee State University. She worked as a Clinical Therapist and Licensed Psychological Examiners before coming to M.A.
Her favorite pastime is spending time with her family. She enjoys traveling, gardening, and reading great literature. She and her husband, Gerald, have three children and three grandchildren. All of their children attended M.A., and their three grandchildren will also.
She feels strongly that the Montessori philosophy and approach to education is extraordinary because, “It fosters a love of learning, encourages and supports the pursuit of individual interests, and facilitates the development of talents. It celebrates diversity and instills respect for oneself, others, and the environment.”
Joyce Stewart was raised on a farm in northern Ohio and continues to enjoy the outdoor life. She received a bachelor’s degree in German from Bowling Green State University in 1971. Subsequent coursework led to working as a paraprofessional in the area of Learning Disabilities for 12 years. The love of learning brought her back to school where she finished her Masters in Education Degree at Belmont University. Two years later she began and completed Montessori training with the North Carolina Montessori Education Training Center.
This is her fifteenth year teaching in an elementary Montessori program--9 years at Hull-Jackson Montessori and 6 years at Montessori Academy. Her interests are growing things, hiking, and traveling with her husband, Glen. She and Glen have one son who lives in Seattle. She is a member of American Montessori Society, National Reading Association, Phi Delta Kappa, and Mensa.Meagan Chwirut joined the teaching staff at Montessori Academy in the fall of 2011 as Ms. Stewart's co-teacher. She has a B.S. from the University of Oregon and a Master of Education from Chaminade University in Honolulu, Hawaii. She is a certified Montessori teacher holding the Elementary I Credential (ages 6 - 9) and has been teaching since 2001. She has taught ELL, 1st - 5th grade language, math, and science, Lower Elementary multi-age Montessori, and 2nd grade. Ms. Chwirut is an energetic addition to the Lower Elementary classroom.
Lisa Quinn was born in a small town in Montana. She and her three sisters grew up on a sheep ranch that was near a very small town in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education from Montana State University in Bozeman. Mrs. Quinn took advantage of a program at this university that allowed her to complete her student teaching in Scotland and lived with her mother’s family during that semester. She and her husband lived for a short time in south Florida before relocating and settling in Nashville. Mrs. Quinn taught at a public Montessori school in Nashville and during this time she earned her Lower Elementary Montessori certification. She recently completed a Master of Education degree that focused on Montessori principles. Mrs. Quinn and her husband have two sons and two cats and spend much of their time watching their boys play sports. She loves to read and work in her garden.
Maureen Wildman first encountered "Montessori" when she read a book by Joseph C. Pearce praising the merits of Montessori education and the values it instilled in children. Ms. Wildman enrolled her daughter at the age of 4 in 1988 at Montessori Centre. She became a parent volunteer, a substitute, and to her own amazement, she began Montessori training in the summer of 1989.Ms. Wildman has a B.A. in Psychology, worked for Public Relations in New York City, worked for Adult Protective Services for the State of Tennessee, has travelled extensively, and has worked as a freelance photographer. She taught in the Primary (3-6) classroom for 10 years and has taught in the Lower Elementary (6-9) classroom for nine years. She has focused on math and ethics (classroom management) but has also taught language, history, geography, science, sociology, art, drama, public speaking, and conflict resolution.
Ms. Wildman's deep love of communication helps children, parents, and co-teachers reach understandings and she believes that a high level of respect should be demonstrated and expected in every encounter; a worthy goal that Dr. Montessori modeled. She continues teaching at Montessori Academy because her position as teacher allows her to "touch the future," her artistic side and need for order are satisfied, but mostly because she finds the children "exquisitely beautiful!"
Helena Hess is married and has lived in Tennessee since 1992. She has previously lived in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Cleveland and Dayton, Ohio, and Tokyo, Japan. Her family lives in Pennsylvania, Poland, and the Ukraine. Her hobbies include: singing, dancing, baking, cooking, gardening, and scrapbooking. Helena attended private school through 8th grade and public high school. She attended the University of Pittsburgh and graduate from Baldwin-Wallace College in Berea, Ohio with a B.S. in Education (1990), and completed School Leadership classes a Lipscomb University (2005 & 2012). She currently holds administrative and teaching licensure in the State of Tennessee in K-12 (Special Education) (1-8 Elementary/Middle School) (AMS 6-12 Grade Level). She is currently working toward Secondary I & Secondary II (Grades 7-12) at CMSTEP in Cincinnati. She studied Japanese at Inligua School of Languages in Cincinnati, AJALT in Tokyo, Japan, and has taught Japanese at Montessori Academy.
Helena is also the Director of the Upper Elementary and Middle School programs.
Elisabeth Gay first joined the teaching staff at Montessori Academy in 2000 as an Upper Elementary Teacher. After marriage, a few years, and three children later, she returned to Nashville and Montessori Academy. Almost ten years after beginning her Elementary II Montessori Training, she completed the Elementary II Training in the summer of 2011. She holds a B.A. from Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina and a state teaching certificate. Her three children are enrolled at Montessori Academy.
Herman E. Jackson holds Bacheolor's, Master's, and a doctorate degree from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville in areas of chemistry, biology, and mathematics and mathematics education. He has been teaching at Montessori Academy since 2002 in the area of mathematics and science. Prior to working at Montessori Academy he worked as an Associated Research Development Engineer in Chemical Research and Development at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Manager at AT&T Traffic Engineering, and Instructor of Mathematics at Knoxville College and the University of Tennessee. He has been an Assistant Professor of Mathematics & Adjunct Professor of Mathematics at Walters State Community College, Trevecca Nazarene Univeristy, and Nashville State Community College. His consulting work has consisted of: Exam grader for the Tennessee State Mathematics Contest held at the University of Tennessee; Guest Lecture during Metric Week at Knoxville College in Business Department - Topic: "Metric in the Business World;" VIP Host, Regional meeting of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, Louisville, Kentucy; Board of Directors, Bib Brother/Sisters of Knoxville, Tennessee; AT&T Exhibitor at the 1982 Worlds Fair, Knoxville, Tennessee; Junior Achievement Executive Advisor for AT&T; Loaned Executive, Junior Achievement of Nashville Fund Raising Drive. Dr. Jackson has presented papers at the Mathematics Association of American annual conference ("A Comparison of the Effectiveness of Three Instructional Formats in Introductory Calculus for Students from Different Ability Levels") and at the Tennessee Mathematics Teacher's Association ("Junior High School Mathematics Teaching, A Potpourri of Ideas for Teaching Strategies").
Rick Palmiter joined the Montessori Academy teaching staff in January of 2011. Rick is a versatile and multi-talented musician who began his "music" career with the Cincinnati Youth Orchestra as a Trombonist in 1969. He received his Bachelor of Music Education and Master of Music Education degrees from Peabody College of Vanderbilt University. He has been the Teacher/Director of Instrumental music at University School, Brentwood Academy, Christ Presbyterian Academy and Poplar Grove School. He has directed the Williamson County Youth Orchestra, the West Franklin Baptist Church Orchestra, and played/directed the Continental Orchestra. He is developing the band at Montessori Academy and says, "he loves teaching beginners!" He currently also teaches at Brentwood Academy as their "Lower Brass" Instructor.
Mark Woodward grew up in small town North Georgia with two loving parents, two younger sisters, and a variety of animals. He moved to Nashville in 2001 to study music at Belmont University. While at Belmont, he distinguished himself as a musician, an honors student, a cross country runner, and a lover of ultimate Frisbee. Woodward graduated in 2005 and Woodward went on tour full time with worship leader/recording artist Jeff Deyo. He made a name for himself as an energetic performer and an eager autograph signer.
During this time, Mark began teaching private music lessons. He found that he enjoyed the work, and his student base grew steadily over the next five years while he travelled with bands and did local charity work.
In 2010, Woodward began teaching Music and Drama at Montessori Academy. In his first year, he founded the Winter Revue, a variety show, presenting the best in Montessori talent. The Revue’s debut performance drew rave reviews from faculty and parents alike.
“I would have to say that my favorite thing about teaching is the variety it offers – like a good restaurant buffet. I always try a little bit of everything. The students here at Montessori are like that buffet. They all come bursting with unique talents and gifts. I spot something that I like, whether it’s a knack for writing songs or a unique stage personality, and I develop and grow it as far as it wants to go.”
This creative approach led Woodward to record a special project of student-composed music in the spring of 2011. Click here for a sample!