Presenters

This year’s presenters are looking forward to sharing their knowledge with you.

Dr. Cindy Acker

Head of School, The Child Unique & Alameda Montessori School, CA

Dr. Cindy Acker holds degrees in human development, culture and spirituality and a doctorate in educational leadership from UC Berkeley. She is former VP of the National Child Care Association and has served as …

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a public policy adviser for Montessori schools and school associations. She is a five-time award winner in areas of social justice, and has created platforms for school social justice and protocols for school re-entry post covid-19. She was trained by Ursula Thrush and is head of The Child Unique Montessori School and Montessori Elementary School in Alameda.

Kitty Bravo

Director of Teacher Education CGMS, IMC Member, FL

Kitty Bravo has been a Montessori Educator for more than 30 years, with experience as a teacher, administrator, board member, teacher educator, and  consultant. Kitty received her AMI Primary Montessori …

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Institute of Atlanta) & has a BA in Human Development from Eckerd College. In 1984, Kitty founded New Gate School, Sarasota, Florida. She served as the Director of Teacher Education for The New Gate Center for Montessori Studies for 4 years. Over the years she’s been in every possible role helping to advance Montessori education. Kitty is committed to providing support to teachers, schools & families as they strive to develop positive environments for children.

She is passionate about preserving the legacy of Maria Montessori & believes strongly in Montessori’s mission of transforming society through our children. To this end, Kitty has made teacher education her primary professional focus & is truly committed to supporting CGMS students on their important journey of becoming extraordinary Montessori teachers.

Dr. Michael Dorer

Author, Consultant,
StoryTeller, MN

Michael Dorer, (Storyteller, Author,Speaker, Consultant) is a Montessori educator, with a doctorate in Instructional Leadership, and Montessori credentials from AMI and AMS for 3-6, and 6-12. …

Dr. Ann Epstein

Assoc. Professor University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse, WI

Ann Epstein is an Associate Professor & Director of the Early Childhood – Conte Middle Childhood program at the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse in the Department of Educational Studies….

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She teaches addressing early childhood language & literacy, & Kindergarten curriculum & assessment. She also coordinates a Professional Development School field experience & supervises student teachers. Ann’s research interests include teacher perceptions of family priorities, accommodations for young children with exceptionalities, & the use of video self-modeling to assist young children with autism. Ann’s holds a BS in Communicative Disorders from Northwestern University, a Masters in Early Childhood Education from Xavier University, a doctorate in Early Childhood Special Education from the University of Maryland. Ann was a Montessori teacher with 3 – 6 year-olds before completing her doctoral studies in early childhood special education.

Renata Facciolli

Toddlers On The Hill
Washington, DC

Renata Faccioli is a recent transplant to the Toddlers on the Hill (TOTH) Montessori community in Washington, D.C., working with teachers, parents and children in Toddler and Primary environments. She has nearly …

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the music of many cultures. Frank’s ability as as a composer has allowed him to share this love for music with his peers, students, and community.

Musician: Frank is a talented instrumentalist, who plays Brazilian percussion, Afro-Cuban percussion and Trinidadian Steel Drums. Frank’s band PANdemonium, features Frank on vocals, steel drums and percussion. He writes all the music for the band, which blends musical styles like reggae, ska, soca, calypso, samba, salsa and zouk into his own unique sound. PANdemonium has recorded four CDs and has toured Japan, the Philippines, Okinawa, and the Hawaiian Islands. Frank Leto’s love for rhythms has taken him to Brazil, Puerto Rico and several trips to Cuba.

Lecturer: Frank travels the nation extensively, presenting keynote speeches and workshops at several educational conferences such as the Music Educators Association, the Association for the Education for Young Children, the Orff Schulwerk Association, and the American Montessori Society to name a few. Frank’s clinics promote his own approach to passing the gift of music on to children. Frank has presented keynotes for Montessori organizations in China, Viet Nam, and South Korea. His music for children is now available in Mandarin and Spanish.

Educator: Forty five years ago, Frank took the Montessori training and has been on staff at Montessori schools in Michigan, St. Thomas, San Francisco Bay Area, Hawaii, and New Mexico. Maria Montessori’s philosophy on education inspired Frank to develop a similar approach in music education. While in the Virgin Islands, Frank saw his first Steel Band. As an ORFF instructor, he knew instantly that these instruments would be great for elementary-aged children. For over twenty years, Frank has arranged and directed steel bands for children. His steel bands have performed in Disneyland, Disney World, Epcot Center, Universal Studios and educational
conferences across the country. Currently Frank has seven interactive multicultural CDs for children, two of which have won educational awards. His “Kids will be Kids” DVD series includes his wife Pilar leading children in dance and physical exercise. Frank’s materials have been used successfully by teachers across the country and he continues to present teacher training clinics.

Frank and wife, Pilar have two children and just announced the arrival of their fourth grandchild.

Andrew Kutt

Oneness Family School, Founding Head, IMC Board, MD

Andrew Kutt is head of Oneness-Family School, the Montessori-based, international peace academy he founded in 1988 in Bethesda, MD. He serves on the board of the International Montessori Council and …
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is a founding member of the Montessori Peace Academy, which advises schools with a peace-centered curriculum. Academics, self-discovery, and world service are integral parts of the curriculum Andrew developed at Oneness-Family School, a curriculum that is sought after and has been adopted in schools around the world. The program is recognized for its success in preparing students with the leadership skills necessary to understand and meet the challenges of the 21st-century, global society.

Andrew has spent the past 30 years in Montessori education, guided by Maria Montessori’s adage “to follow the child” in his work as teacher, administrator, trainer, and educational consultant. In addition to academics, his curriculum materials address positive discipline, conflict resolution, diversity, happiness, and other extensions to the Montessori classroom. Originally from Massachusetts, Andrew earned his B.A. from Assumption College and pursued four years of graduate studies in languages, literature, and philosophy at the University of Tubingen and the University of North Carolina before earning his Montessori teacher certification at the Institute for Advanced Montessori Studies in Maryland. He began his teaching career under the direction of the renowned Montessori educator Tim Seldin, who inspired him to found Oneness-Family School and continues to be a mentor.

Kathy Leitch

IMC Executive Dir., CGMS Infant/Toddler Program Director, FL

Kathy Leitch is the founder and head of Renaissance School in Fort Myers, Florida. She graduated from Barry University and earned her Montessori Credentials from the American Montessori Society for Infant – …

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Toddler (birth -3) and Early Childhood (3-6).

Kathy has been active in Montessori education for over 30 years. In addition to many years experience in the classroom and as Head of School, Kathy has also serves as a Montessori Teacher Trainer, International Workshop Leader, School Consultant, Board Secretary for the IMC and School Accreditation Commissioner for the IMC. Additionally, she is a certified Parenting Instructor and Stress Management Facilitator. In 2018, Kathy has been appointed Executive Director of the IMC. She brings a wonderful perspective to the position while fully understanding Tim’s vision going forward. Her organizational skills, interpersonal skills and her passion for all things Montessori make her uniquely qualified to help the organization continue fulfilling it’s mission and goals.

Frank Leto

Musician, Lecturer, Montessori Educator, NM

Frank Leto is a multi-dimensional artist who has found a balance between professional musician and professional educator. His lifelong pursuit of musical knowledge has lead him to appreciate …
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the music of many cultures. Frank’s ability as as a composer has allowed him to share this love for music with his peers, students, and community.

Musician: Frank is a talented instrumentalist, who plays Brazilian percussion, Afro-Cuban percussion and Trinidadian Steel Drums. Frank’s band PANdemonium, features Frank on vocals, steel drums and percussion. He writes all the music for the band, which blends musical styles like reggae, ska, soca, calypso, samba, salsa and zouk into his own unique sound. PANdemonium has recorded four CDs and has toured Japan, the Philippines, Okinawa, and the Hawaiian Islands. Frank Leto’s love for rhythms has taken him to Brazil, Puerto Rico and several trips to Cuba.

Lecturer: Frank travels the nation extensively, presenting keynote speeches and workshops at several educational conferences such as the Music Educators Association, the Association for the Education for Young Children, the Orff Schulwerk Association, and the American Montessori Society to name a few. Frank’s clinics promote his own approach to passing the gift of music on to children. Frank has presented keynotes for Montessori organizations in China, Viet Nam, and South Korea. His music for children is now available in Mandarin and Spanish.

Educator: Forty five years ago, Frank took the Montessori training and has been on staff at Montessori schools in Michigan, St. Thomas, San Francisco Bay Area, Hawaii, and New Mexico. Maria Montessori’s philosophy on education inspired Frank to develop a similar approach in music education. While in the Virgin Islands, Frank saw his first Steel Band. As an ORFF instructor, he knew instantly that these instruments would be great for elementary-aged children. For over twenty years, Frank has arranged and directed steel bands for children. His steel bands have performed in Disneyland, Disney World, Epcot Center, Universal Studios and educational conferences across the country. Currently Frank has seven interactive multicultural CDs for children, two of which have won educational awards. His “Kids will be Kids” DVD series includes his wife Pilar leading children in dance and physical exercise. Frank’s materials have been used successfully by teachers across the country and he continues to present teacher training clinics.

Frank and wife, Pilar, have two children and just announced the arrival of their fourth grandchild.

Sheila Linville

Founder and Executive Director – Lake Mary Montessori Academy, FL

Born in a small community in Lake Hopatcong, New Jersey, Sheila is a graduate of Centenary College, an all women’s school, where she graduated with a B.S. in Communications and Development. …

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Sheila subsequently graduated from the Orlando Montessori Teacher Education Institute then earned her Masters of Art in Teaching from Rollins College in 1998. In 2005 she graduated from The Florida Institute of Montessori Studies. Sheila is a certified teacher in both Primary and Elementary education through the American Montessori Society. Sheila’s lifelong dream was to open a school and share her passion for teaching children to become responsible, kind, passionate, and independent learners. She delights in creating a community of families. After 28 years, The school is truly her vision come true.

Christine Lowry

Consultant, Montessori
NOW, CO

With an M.Ed. in special education and a Montessori credential, and throughout her more than 30 years of experience, Christine has been committed to serving students with special needs in a …

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variety of settings. She has founded, directed, and taught in two Inclusive Montessori schools serving students with needs of behavior and learning. She has successfully guided students in every category of special needs, including sensory processing disorder, autism, attention difficulties, developmental and intellectual delays, specific learning disabilities, twice exceptional, and students experiencing trauma in Montessori classrooms, toddler- adolescent. She has supported families as they partner with the school and community professionals and resources.

Christine has developed The Montessori-Based Multi-Tiered System of Support ©, a framework consistent with Montessori philosophy and pedagogy to support All students through Tier 1- universal best practices, Tier 2- Targeted Instruction and Support, and Tier 3, Systematic Individualized Plans of Intervention.

Christine shares her education and experience with schools, and districts as they implement the Montessori- Based MTSS and provides teachers the consultation and coaching they need to support all students in a Montessori environment. She works with families of students with special needs attending Montessori schools. She offers online courses to Montessori leaders and teachers through the Montessori Foundation and is a contributing writer to Montessori Leadership magazine.

Christine is currently a graduate student at the University of Colorado-Denver in Early Childhood Inclusive Special Education, and the Coaching Academy.

 

Kathy Minardi

Executive Director,
Whole School Leadership, DC

Based in the Washington, DC area, Kathy Minardi has an extensive career as an educational leader providing guidance and training to Montessori school leaders. She is the Executive Director of Whole …

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School Leadership’s Institute, a nonprofit international organization that provides training and consulting. She contributes her expertise as a Montessorian with extensive training in transformational leadership and organizational development. Kathy has been a school leader for over 40 years, including 17 years at Aidan Montessori School, one of the oldest Montessori schools in the US. She holds a BA and MA in Education with executive certificates from Georgetown University, Harvard, Yale and MIT in areas of leadership, adult development and emotional intelligence. She holds a background in family systems theory and practices, sustainable community building practices, and is a trained peace and conflict resolution facilitator.

Kathy is a co-founder of the Prague-based Lead Montessori organization and a Margaret Wheatley Warrior for the Human Spirit. She is a sought-after speaker and workshop presenter supporting the work of child advocacy, equity and inclusion, social justice and public policy on behalf of children and families. She is a member of Whole School Leadership Institute’s core teaching faculty for the acclaimed Montessori Leadership master course “Transforming Self, Community & Society.”

Dr. Yogesh Rajkotia

ThinkWell
Washington, DC

Dr. Yogesh Rajkotia founded ThinkWell in 2011 to support human capital development around the world. Convinced that a break from the status quo of development…

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assistance was urgently needed, Dr. Rajkotia founded ThinkWell to be a disruptive, creative agent for change. As ThinkWell’s CEO, he is responsible for driving the firm’s vision, culture, strategy, and approach.

An entrepreneur at heart, Dr. Rajkotia enjoys the relentless pursuit of ideas and innovations to spark transformation in health systems. With this spirit, he has supported major health systems reforms in over 25 countries and served as an advisor to ministers and secretaries around the world. Dr. Rajkotia provided leadership to USAID’s global health systems strengthening efforts, where he oversaw the Agency’s $45 million health portfolio in Rwanda and its $125M global Health Systems 20/20 program. He has consulted for many organizations including WHO, GAVI, and World Bank.

Dr. Rajkotia is well published and is frequently asked to speak to distinguished audiences around the world. He was recognized as a Rockefeller Social Innovation Fellow in 2013. He holds a doctorate degree in health economics from Johns Hopkins University and a master’s degree in health policy from the London School of Economics.

Mary Beth Ricks

Bowman International,
IMC Accreditation Co Chair, CA

Mary Beth Ricks has been involved in both public and independent education for over 26 years as a teacher, division lead, Director of Curriculum, and Head of School. She has served the last six years …

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as the Head of School at Bowman International School in Palo Alto, Calif. and, in that time, has raised enrollment from 180 to 225 students, garnered accreditations from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) and the International Montessori Council (IMC), and brought innovative programs focused on experiential learning to the school.

She has previously taught at the Program for the Gifted at the Education Research Institute at Purdue University. Ricks received her bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education and Elementary Education from Purdue University, her Montessori training at St. Mary’s College, and completed her Head of School training from The Center for Montessori Education at the College of New Rochelle. Ricks is an active education advocate and serves as president of the Bay Area Montessori Association, Co-Chair of IMC Accreditation Commission for the IMC, and a board member for the Montessori Council of California.

Tanya Ryskind, JD

Co-Head of NewGate School, IMC School Accred. Commissioner, FL

Tanya is currently Co-Head of NewGate School, the lab school of The Montessori Foundation. Tanya has worked with the Montessori Foundation for many years and is an internationally admired leader in
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the Montessori school community. Tanya brings a broad set of experiences and skills from her years in both the legal and educational fields. Most importantly, Tanya has experience as a Montessori teacher trainer, an International Montessori consultant, motivational speaker, author, and frequent presenter at Montessori conferences around the world. She currently serves on the board of the Montessori Accreditation Council for Teacher Education (MACTE), the agency recognized by the United States Department of Education to accredit Montessori Teacher Education programs.

Tim Seldin

President Montessori Foundation and IMC, Co-Head, NewGate School, FL

Tim Seldin is the President of the Montessori Foundation and Chair of the International Montessori Council. His more than 40 years of experience in Montessori education, includes 22 years as Head of …

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the Barrie School in Silver Spring, MD. Tim was the co-founder of the Institute for Advanced Montessori Studies and the Center for Guided Montessori Studies, He currently serves as the co-Head of the New Gate School in Sarasota, FL. He earned a B.A. in History and Philosophy from Georgetown University; an M.Ed. in Educational Administration and Supervision from The American University; and his Montessori certification from the American Montessori Society. Tim is the author of several books on Montessori Education, including How to Raise An Amazing Child, The Montessori Way with Dr. Paul Epstein; Building a World-Class Montessori School; Finding the Perfect Match – Recruit and Retain Your Ideal Enrollment; Master Teachers – Model Programs; Starting a New Montessori School; Celebrations of Life; and The World in the Palm of Her Hand.

Jocelyn Swanson

Director, Montessori Secondary Education and Training, VA

Jocelyn Swanson writes:  “The best part about being a Montessori guide is the privilege of helping students in their irresistible quest to discover their potential – a journey from discovery to …

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exploration to invention. Her specialty is in language arts & history. As a Montessori parent, she watched her little school grow beyond its original Children’s House level to add an elementary program. Eventually, she agreed to become Montessori certified and open a secondary program. Her school has a thriving Middle School in the heart of Williamsburg, Virginia.

Her work in the Humanities has centered on the Socratic method of discussion, a key takeaway from my Montessori training & a philosophy that she find sessential to feeding the curiosity of the young adults I guide. She has discovered hat ] it also supports a Montessori model in her classroom. In addition to working w/young adults, she enjoys working as a guide to full-blown adult learners.

In her pre-teaching career, she ran her own marketing business, starting out first as a writer/editor. Her undergraduate degree in business & communications & subsequent master’s degree in education from Xavier University have come in handy! She live in Williamsburg, Virginia on a farm with my husband & children & a fun variety of animals who fulfill a huge role in mini-Montessori Erdkinder experiences for children in the community.”

 

Dr. Valaida Wise

Educational Consultant, Adjunct Professor, Johns Hopkins Univ., MD

Dr. Valaida L. Wise (Val) is an educational consultant and adjunct professor at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Md. An educator for more 20 years, Val received a Bachelor’s degree in developmental …

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psychology from Syracuse University, an M.A.T. in early childhood education with a Montessori emphasis from Trinity College, Washington D.C., and holds a doctorate in Educational Leadership from George Washington University. A recent Brava award winner, Val has lectured nationally and internationally, most recently on the topics of early childhood education, Montessori education, leadership and diversity. She has presented at a variety of national conferences including the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS). Val has written several articles on educational leadership in early childhood as well as Montessori Education.

Her most recent article: “A Critical Absence in the Field of Educational Administration: Framing the (Missing) Discourse of Leadership in Early Childhood” appears in the International Journal of Educational Leadership Preparation. She is a trustee on several professional and independent and charter school boards. Val is married with three children.

Jonathan Wolff

Senior Consultant / Montessori Foundation, Learning for Life;
IMC Board member, CA

Jonathan Wolff is a senior Montessori school consultant and leadership educator with the Montessori Foundation. He is also the Founder & Director of Learning for …

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Life and Montessori Leadership. Jonathon is a teacher trainer, speaker & author who infuses his work in leadership development with 30 years experience as an educator & administrator. Through the Montessori Foundation and Learning for Life, he provides retreats, workshops, consultations & coaching for parents, educators, leaders, Boards of Directors, community organizations & learning communities around the globe. The best-practice leadership retreats & workshops he leads facilitate community building, strategic planning & improved organizational effectiveness.

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