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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.


Toddler 1

Emily Breaux has been teaching for 11 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 11, 10, and 7,  all of whom attend Montessori Academy.  She is passionate about healthy eating, gardening, yoga, Montessori (of course!) and the study of child development.  She lives in a 101 year old farmhouse where she grows 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 Master's degree and continue with her Montessori Toddler certification, which she began this summer in Miami during an intensive course. Her past times include learning more about cooking, Montessori philosophy, and psychology.

Toddler 2

Carrie Thompson was born and raised in Maryland.  She studied elementary education and psychology at the University of Maryland, while being a single parent to her daughter, Ariana.  She earned her Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education in 2005, and began teaching for the Maryland public school system.  At that time, she started working on a master’s degree in Special Education at McDaniel College.  In December of 2011, she relocated to the Nashville area where she was first exposed to Montessori Academy through her mother Joyce Coles (an aftercare teacher at the school).  She loved the school and noticed how much Maria Montessori’s philosophy was similar to her own.  In 2012, she began working as an aftercare teacher and substitute.  In 2013, she accepted a position as a toddler teacher for the upcoming school year.  Carrie spent the summer in Miami completing her 0-3 toddler training, and is currently working towards full certification.  She is so happy and feels so blessed to be a part of the Montessori Academy family. 

Toddler 3

Lea Maitlen, a native of Chicago, first experienced Montessori as a student in the Seton Montessori program. Lea holds both a Bachelor's and Master's Degree in Music. She has taught students of many ages, ranging from preschool through the University level. When i came time for her own daughter to enter school, Lea turned to the method in which her educational foundation was laid.

As a parent, Lea has become increasingly passionate about early childhood development, which se believes is the most important period of learning in a person's life. In 2012, Lea was thrilled to have the opportunity to become a part of the Montessori Academy toddler team, and has vcompleted all coursework for the AMS 0-3 certification. This is her second year as a Toddler teacher at Montessori Academy, and she enjoys spending her days helping the children in her care discover the joys of independence and a lifetime love of learning.

Heather Corbett
was born in San Jose, California and attended a Montessori school from age 2 through age 6. She then moved to Tennessee at age 8 with her mother and father. She went to the University of Tennessee in Knoxville where she received her Bachelor’s degree in 2010, in child psychology and business. Heather’s passions are family, art, music, sports, animals, and caring for children. She began her child development career working in non-profit social work settings throughout Knoxville.  She began working in child care in an inner city school in Knoxville, working with children from age 4 through age 14. During that time she also became certified in teaching English as a second language for adolescence and adults, and received her TEFL certification in 2011. She became a member of Montessori Academy last spring and went to Miami, Florida last summer to receive her certification in Montessori education ages 0-3. She knew as she started learning about Montessori’s philosophy that it paralleled with her child development background, and the spark of autonomous caring explorative learning that was Montessori, came back into her heart.

Toddler 5

Deirdre McCambridge and her husband, Thomas, moved to the Nashville area during the summer of 2012 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."

Janene Becker coming soon.


Room 1

Amy Carlson coming soon.

Claire Buchanan began working at Montessori Academy in the fall of 2013. She completed her 3-6 Primary training this past summer through Montessori Educators International in Louisville, TN. Claire is very excited to begin her first year of teaching at Montessori Academy. She holds an Associates of Science in Teaching Degree from Pellissippi State Community College in Knoxville, TN and will complete her undergraduate degree this spring with a B.S. in Liberal Studies from MTSU.

This is Claire's fourth year in the Montessori environment. Last year she did her teaching internship at Children's House Montessori School here in Nashville, and was a teacher's assistant and after care teacher the two years before that.

She fell in love with the philosophy during her position as an after school care teacher at Knoxville Montessori School. She was studying education in college, but knew the Montessori philosophy resonated with her and she felt it was her calling to be a Montessori teacher. She is passionate about her job and feels that every child deserves this kind of education.

Room 2

Rhonda McKay was born and raised in a small farming community on the outskirts of Indianapolis, Indiana. During her undergraduate studies at the University of Alabama she directed a residential camp for children, including those with cancer and cystic fibrosis. After receiving her B.A. she became an educator and developer for the early childhood environment at McWane Science Center. Later her passion for education led her to work with children who were homeless as a coordinator of academic and behavioral services with Birmingham City Schools. Rhonda’s passion for Montessori education developed through her twin boys when they experienced a Montessori environment at 4 years of age. After her own frustrations as a parent with the public system, she moved her children back to a Montessori school.  It was during her path of obtaining a Master’s in Education when she had her “Aha!” moment and turned her focus towards becoming a Montessori educator. Rhonda holds a Master of Arts in Teaching, an AMS Early Childhood credential and a Classroom Organization and Management Program Certification (COMP)… all from Belmont University. In addition she holds a Montessori Applied to Children At-Risk (MACAR) Level I certification and Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning Training for Trainers. Rhonda has worked in the education field for over 25 years. After teaching at the Joseph S. Bruno Montessori Academy in Birmingham for 3 years, she moved to Nashville with her boys to take a 3-year appointment with Belmont University’s Montessori Teacher Education Program. Rhonda is now thrilled to be a part of the Montessori Academy family.

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 3

Beth Woodard 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 state teaching license for pre-k through 3rd grade.  While she was attending UT, she 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.  Beth continued her work as an after care teacher at Knoxville Montessori  throughout her undergraduate experience.  During graduate school, she completed her 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. 

 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 (AMS).  She completed her internship teaching year at Knoxville Montessori School and continued teaching there as a lead teacher for an additional three years.  

"The more time I have spent in a Montessori environment, the stronger my dedication has become to this philosophy of education.”

Angel Gaither is a (3-6) AMS Certified Montessori teacher with 8 years of teaching experience in private as well as public Montessori school settings.   She received her Montessori training from the South Florida Montessori Education Center and her Bachelor of Arts degree from Florida Atlantic University. She moved to the area in 2011 from Texas with her husband, Sam, and 2 wonderful children, Berkeley and Austin.
"I love being a Montessori teacher because it allows me to teach the individual child with hands on material.  I also enjoy the relationships that are built between the teachers, students and families over the years."

Room 4

Mellynne Dickason hails from Mississippi where she received her B.A. in English with a minor in French and her M.A.  in English with a TESOL Emphasis.  After having received her Master’s degree, she relocated to Chicago with her husband and lived there for nine years.  She taught a variety of English/writing courses at several Chicago area colleges and worked for 7 years at Triton College where she was a full-time English Instructor until she and her husband Joe decided to relocate to be closer to family.  They decided on a point half way between Mississippi and North Carolina and chose Nashville. 

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.

Room 5

Lisa Hill is a native of Nashville, Tennessee.  She received her B.S. in Psychology from Tennessee State University and her M.A.T. and AMS primary certification from Belmont University.  She enjoys reading, travel, and working in her garden.  She loves teaching in a Montessori classroom because it give her the freedom to follow each child's interest and watch them grow and develop over a three year period.   

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.

Vanessa Waters 
holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Troy University in Troy, Alabama.  She has been teaching for 8 years. Her love for Montessori began as a Toddler Assistant in Birmingham, Alabama. Ms. Waters attended Montessori training in 2007 in Atlanta, Georgia. Ms. Waters took her first Primary Lead teaching position in Carrollton, Georgia in 2007. After working in Georgia, she moved to Nashville in 2010 and worked at a Montessori school in Mt. Juliet. She joined the Montessori Academy staff in August 2013. Along with her Montessori teaching, Ms. Waters has taught private and group swim lessons, summer camps, and has worked extensively with Senior Living.


Room 9

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 students.  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.  She and her husband, Mark, walked through the classrooms full of busy, calm, happy children and immediately knew that this was the place for their daughter. Inspired by the Montessori educational approach, Tanelle embarked upon the path to become a Montessori teacher, completing her certification in Early Childhood from Montessori Educators International in 2009.

“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.  It is a privilege to be part of these amazing children’s lives each day. Being a Montessori teacher is the most rewarding and joyful work I’ve ever done.”

Romella (Mia) 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.

While in Okinawa, she met, and later married, Richard Lee from Nashville, TN who was stationed and serving at a U.S. Marine Corps Base. She is blessed with two wonderful boys, Ryan (12) and Reece (6).

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!

Lower Elementary

Room 10

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.”

Room 11

Meagan Chwirut Megan Chwirut is in her third year at Montessori Academy. Prior to joining the MA family, she taught in Honolulu, Hawaii, where she received her Master’s degree in Education. Megan holds the 6-9 Montessori Certification and is licensed to teach in both Hawaii and Tennessee. She is also trained in Orton-Gillingham, a language-based approach used to assist children and adults to read, spell, and write.
The Montessori classroom is a wonderful place to explore, discover, and learn. Its organic learning environment fosters individuality, creativity, and challenging work. Megan feels privileged to be a part of Montessori Academy, where she gets to interact with a diverse community of learners. Continuous self-assessment and evaluation of her own practices through reflection, research, and professional development enables Megan to serve her students to her best ability.
Outside of school, Megan values time with her family and friends. While she misses beautiful Hawaii, she and her husband, Chris, are happy to set roots in Tennessee.

Jessica Morelli Jessica Morelli grew up in Atlanta, Georgia and attended college at Samford University where she received her B.A. in English with a minor in German.  She studied education at University of Alabama at Birmingham and got her M.A. in Early Childhood and Elementary Education.  Upon completion of her Master’s degree, she taught third and fourth grade in a public school system just outside of Birmingham.  In addition, she also taught for one year in a multi-aged preschool classroom.  In the summer of 2013, her husband’s job relocated the family to Nashville.  She found Montessori Academy and is excited to be a part of such a wonderful school.  Her goal is to help foster a love of learning in every child.  She is passionate about literature and loves to find and share great books with anyone interested.  She began training for Montessori 6-12 certification before the start of school, and will continue for the next two and a half years.  She is excited to continue learning more about the Montessori Philosophy and merging it with her previous educational experiences.

Room 12

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.

Ms. Gay speaks English, French, and German, enjoys music, drama, and quilting in addition to camping, hiking, boating, and skiing.

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").

Dr. Jackson currently teaches science and math in the Upper Elementary/Middle School. Students become very inspired to progress under his leadership and facilitation.

Specials Teachers


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.

Chorus/General Music:

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!


Cheri Beckerman has been teaching at Montessori Academy since 2000. Ms. Beckerman holds a Bachelor's degree from Boston University. She maintains a private violin and viola studio, as well as running the Lower Elementary Suzuki Violin program and the Upper Elementary Strings classes. She has Suzuki training through book 6 and takes many continuing education classes. She has performed with the Memphis Symphony, the Naples Philharmonic, the Western Kentucky Symphony, and the Palm Beach Opera. She occassionally performs with the Nashville Symphony. Cheri has played on many recordings and has appeared on videos with many country and Christian artists, including Vince Gill. She has conducted the Murfreesboro Youth Symphony, the Middle Tennessee Summer Youth Orchestra, and the Williamson County String Bash. Ms. Beckerman strives to keep balance in her busy life and career, as she has a 3 year old son, Max, in room 1. "I couldn't think of doing anything else; I do what I love!"


Katherine (Kay) Mattingly has been teaching art in some form for the last 32 years. It all began when her high school art teacher recommended her to a local elementary school as an art instructor for their after school program. She took on the task and her path in art was set. At the University of Kentucky, she received a Bachelor's of Art. in K-12 Art Education. She moved to Los Angeles, California and continued her education at Loyola Marymount University receiving her Master's of Art degree in Clinical Art Therapy, Marriage, Family, and Child Counseling. For the next five years she counseled severly emotionally disturbed children and their families. It was during this time that she developed the fundamental belief that the art process lends itself naturally to therapeutic catharsis and cognitive development.

In 1994, Kay moved to Nashville and enrolled her children at Montessori Academy. She was asked to join the staff as a science teacher in Primary Room 3. She received Montessori training and taught science part-time for three years. When the position of art teacher opened, Kay moved into what she considered the "perfect" position. She has been teaching art at MA since 2004. In addition to two fabulous art shows each year that highlights work of MA students, Kay builds and designs sets for drama and musical productions at MA, has donated art work for school auctions, and teaches arts and crafts during summer camp.
Physical Education/Athletic Director

Gar Vallone is entering his first year at Montessori Academy. He holds a BA in History from UCLA where he was a Captain of the UCLA baseball team. Following college Mr. Vallone played professional baseball for the Anaheim Angels and ended his professional career as a coach for the Angels. Along with teaching Mr. Vallone is a varsity baseball coach at Ensworth High School and spends his summers as an instructor at Vanderbilt's youth baseball camps. Prior to entering the teaching profession Mr. Vallone spent twelve years in Marketing at several technology companies in California.


Julia Denison is a Nashville native and 2012 graduate of Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana, where she studied Spanish and Fine Arts. She first became interested in working with children while teaching in Trujillo, Peru. There she discovered that her creativity was a perfect complement to teaching language. Her love for the Spanish language also grew immensely during her time in South America, when she became close with her Peruvian host family and discovered a passion for using foreign language to open doors to a child’s understanding of the world. She has continued developing her language-teaching skills by tutoring EL students from a variety of countries, working primarily with Spanish-speakers in Nashville. Ms. Denison is delighted to be in her first year at Montessori Academy and greatly enjoys working with students of many different ages.

Our whole family feels at home on campus.