Natalie Baginski

Head of School, Toddlers on the Hill, CGMS Teacher Trainer, DC

Natalie Baginski is a Montessori Guide and Head of School at Toddlers on the Hill in Washington DC. Her passion is community and caring for Montessori parents. As someone who started working with 9-12 year olds and never dreamed of working with young children, she’s has slowly come to terms with the fact that toddlers (and their parents) are her people, and it’s through Montessori that she’s discovered the joy of childhood as well as adulthood. Natalie hopes to one day be a part of the national conversation about Montessori, specifically free early Montessori for all children. Natalie holds a B.A in Anthropology, M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction, and MA in Vedic Philosophy.

Brenda Bernstorf

Deputy Executive Director, Montessori Academy, TN

Mrs. Brenda Bernstorf Deputy Executive Director. B.S. – Music Education, Asbury University. MBA – Trevecca Nazarene University. Doctoral Student in Organizational Leadership with an emphasis in organizational development – in progress with Grand Canyon University, Phoenix Arizona

Jim Bernstorf

Executive Director / Head of School, Montessori Academy, TN

Jim’s educational background includes a Masters in educational leadership and a Doctorate in educational leadership with a dissertation focused on testing and accountability. Jim came to Montessori Academy in 2001 with an extensive background in business. That experience provided a background in sales, purchasing, accounting, operations, and sales management in five different states. He served as CFO at Montessori Academy prior to assuming the responsibilities as the educational leader in 2013. Montessori Academy in Brentwood, TN is dually accreditation through The American Montessori Society, and AdvancEd, and is one of the larger fully accredited Montessori schools in the country, with students aged infant through 8th grade. Jim has been married to Brenda for over 35 years, has two grown children, and six grandchildren. He loves sailing, boating, gardening, and enjoys playing basketball. Credentials: • B.A. – Philosophy, Asbury University, 1978 • M.Ed – Masters in Educational Leadership, Trevecca Nazarene University, 2002 • Ed.D. – Doctorate in Educational Leadership, Trevecca Nazarene University, 2006

Geoffrey Bishop

Nature’s Classroom, WI

Geoffrey Bishop hails from the bush in North West NSW, Australia. After his childhood spent on the sheep station he went to an agricultural boarding school for five years then to University in both Sydney and Melbourne where he Studied Horticulture and Landscape Architecture. For the next 10 years he traveled the world, visiting over 100 countries, where he spent most of his time trekking in rural areas, learning cultures and understanding his place in the world. In 1996 Geoffrey started Nature’s Classroom Institute Environmental Education program. NCI is a residential program serving Montessori schools in Wisconsin, Illinoi, Indiana, Texas, California and Florida. Nature’s Classroom Institute program helps students understand the natural environment, participate in ecosystem exploration and study, and work together with their peers and teachers as a community. The program serves over 4,000 students a year and includes over 90 Montessori schools. After developing a strong academic and environmental outdoor based curriculum, he formed Nature’s Classroom Institute Montessori School in 2002 that models the core philosophy of Montessori with a marriage to his environmental principles. Nature’s Classroom Institute and Montessori school is based on 140 acre property in a small rural community of Mukwonago, WI. Geoffrey’s focus over the past years has been on organics and sustainability in schools and promoting getting children back outdoors and helping adults understand the importance of instinctive play in the nature world. Geoffrey has lectured throughout Asia and across the United States, he is Chair of the Montessori Life Editorial Advisory Board for AMS and past chair of the Wisconsin Montessori Association. His works have been published in professional publications and his nature and outdoor curriculum “Montessori Science for the Elementary” is used in both public and private Montessori schools across the country.

Kitty Bravo

Director of Teacher Education CGMS, IMC Board Member, FL

Kitty Bravo: Montessori Educator for over 30 years, with experience as a teacher, administrator, board member, teacher educator, & consultant. Received her AMI Primary Montessori Certification in 1977 (Montessori 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.

Rachel Buechler

Founding Head of School, Queen City Montessori, NC

Rachel Buechler discovered Montessori while completing her BA in Education. In 2010 she began working at a Montessori School as the Lead Infant/Toddler Teacher before transitioning into the role of Assistant Director. In January 2019 she opened her own school, Queen City Montessori – a one classroom, half-day program for Toddlers. She has presented at the International Montessori Foundation Conference in Sarasota, WMA Wisconsin Montessori conference, SCMA Conference and MEPI. She got her Infant/Toddler Montessori Certification in 2012 and is currently working on her Masters of Montessori Leadership.

Mercedes Paine Castle

Head of School, Teacher Trainer, OR

Mercedes Paine Castle, Head of School of Portland Montessori Collaborative in Portland, Oregon. Founder, director, & lead guide at All Roads Learning Community from 2003-2012. She holds an M.Ed. in Educational Leadership, a B.A. in Biology & an Infant/Toddler Montessori Teaching Credential from AMS. She’s an Oregon Registry Master Trainer, an active member of the Oregon Montessori community, & served on the Oregon Montessori Association board of directors. She is currently an OMA board member-at-large. In 2012 and 2014 she was recipient of the Oregon Montessori Association Outstanding Dedication Award for her work within the state in advancing the Montessori mission. She completed the RIE Foundations course in fall, 2013. In 2014, she co-founded Heart and Hand Montessori Teacher Education Program to bring high quality Montessori teacher training/professional development to those who work with infants & toddlers. She enjoys being with her husband Ben & son. Mercedes is a singer/songwriter, enjoys playing guitar, making up/singing songs for adults as well as children. Presented at our Conference in 2015,2016, 2017.

Maria Eva Chaffin

Consultant, FL

Maria Eva Chaffin is originally from Venezuela. Now in process of completing her Doctoral in Organizational Leadership, she holds a Master of Science in Exceptional Student Education from Nova Southeastern University, a Master’s Degree in Business Education from Universidad Jose Maria Vargas (Caracas, Venezuela), a Bachelor’s in Special Education from Universidad Jose Maria Vargas as well as a Montessori Teacher Certification in Early Childhood (AMS). She has over 18 years of teaching experience, including numerous workshops & college level courses. She has been in the Montessori field for over seven years and currently works at NewGate School as a Montessori Primary Teacher. It is her great passion to work with children with special needs (behavioral challenges, on the spectrum, learning difficulties, etc.) and she wants to give them every opportunity to try to make it.

Margaret Combs

Director of Education, Spark Montessori, IL

Margaret Combs is the Director of Education at Spark Montessori School In the Lincoln Square neighborhood of Chicago, IL. She received her Montessori Early Childhood credentials from Midwest Montessori Teacher Training Center in Evanston Illinois in 2001. She holds a BFA in fine art from Southern Illinois University and a MFA in fine art from University of North Texas. She has spent the past 19 years immersed in Montessori education, serving as an Early Childhood Directress, School Administrator, Consultant and Teacher Trainer for MMTTC as well as with the Center for Guided Montessori Studies (CGMS). She has given lectures and presented at various conferences annually since 2007. She has developed a curriculum of charity and kindness that engages children in building compassion, empathy and acts of kindness and charity towards others. She has shared this curriculum with others through workshops, conference presentations and a Ted Talk in 2016 titled “Building Generation Kindness.” Margaret lives in Oak Park, IL, where she enjoys her continued passion for art, her family and a love of animals.

Susan Dendinger

Consultant, TX

Mrs. Dendinger has a professional career in Montessori leadership and education that spans over a 21-year period. She founded Pebblecreek Montessori in 2001 where she served as the Head of School for 16 years. Under her leadership, Pebblecreek received full accreditation status by the International Montessori Council and joined the elite tier of 7% of accredited Montessori schools in N. Dallas. Prior to founding Pebblecreek, Mrs. Dendinger served on the administrative team of Preston Meadows Montessori. While focusing on quality education and utilizing authentic Montessori practices, Mrs. Dendinger successfully recruited and retained the highest caliber of Montessori educators in the far North Dallas area who share her vision and belief in implementing and maintaining standards of excellence in education. She has participated in the AMS Annual Conference, the Dallas Montessori Teacher Education Program, the International Montessori Peace Conference, and the DFW Montessori Association. She recently partnered with Loyola University, Baltimore, MD to teach Mastery of Montessori Leadership online. In the summer of 2019, she will be an instructor in the AMS Leadership Credential Program in Dallas and serve as a field advisor to local schools participating in the program. Mrs. Dendinger founded Holistic Montessori Solutions in 2017 envisioning her vast experience to support and maintain excellence in Montessori education. HMS offers parent and teacher education, consulting services and other services to support Montessori schools and their leaders in any stage of their development. She is passionate about her belief in Montessori and is eager to share its success stories. Her own three sons thrived in the Montessori environment and she attributes their current and past successes to a strong Montessori foundation.

Helen DeVere

Teacher Trainer, FL

Helen DeVere has been director of the Orlando Montessori Teacher Education Institute for early childhood studies in Celebration, Florida, since 1990. She has a degree in elementary education from the University of Connecticut and a Masters in early childhood/elementary education from Antioch New England Graduate School. Helen completed her AMS early childhood training in Boston with Ann Neubert in 1982, and her AMS lower elementary training with Seacoast Center for Education, NH, in 2006. She has been a classroom teacher at both levels. Helen is founder (1985) and former director of Heritage Montessori School in Ridgecrest, CA, and co-founder (1998) and former director/classroom teacher at the Montessori School of Celebration (FL). She was also on the Board of Directors of the Montessori Accreditation Council for Teacher Education (MACTE) for 3 terms.

Michael Dorer

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. He has worked in Montessori education since 1969 with Toddlers, Children’s House, Elementary, Adolescents, and adults in Montessori teacher training. He is a frequent speaker, presenter, storyteller, and school consultant. Michael has written seven Montessori curriculum manuals, and many articles. His newest book is The Deep Well of Time: The Transformative Power of Storytelling in the Classroom, published by Parent-Child Press. Michael is retired Director of Montessori at St. Catherine University and founded the Montessori Institute at Westminster College in Utah. You can reach Michael at or 651-353-2109.

Renee duChaney Farkes

Consultant, MA

Renee DuChainey-Farkes led Kingsley Montessori in Boston, Massachusetts for 32 years before retiring. She was instrumental in growing the school from 15 preschool students to 330 students ranging from Infants and Toddlers through grade 6. Renee recently traveled over the world to connect with Montessori school leaders and is speaking nationally on her findings

Ann Epstein

Assoc Professor U of Wisconsin-LaCrosse, WI

Ann Epstein- Associate professor & director of the Early Childhood – Middle Childhood program at the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse in the Dept of Educational Studies. She teaches courses 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.

Karen Feldman


Miss Karen Elohor Feldman, B.A Economics (American University of Nigeria) Diploma, Early Child-hood course 2 1/2 – 6years (Modern Montessori International London) I have worked as a staff in Mona School from the year 2015 till date. Position held- kindergarten teacher, Assistant Accounting Officer and personal Assistant to the Headmistress, C.E.O Mona School. Mona School has been established to provide a high standard Education for children between ages 2-12 years in Sapele, Delta state Nigeria. The Montessori Method of education is used. The owner of the school is the Mona Foundation which has been established (registered) in Nigeria as a non- governmental organization to assist in the realization of peace. We believe that the key to achieving peace is the training of children to become peaceful adults in accordance with the momental words of Dr Maria Montessori “if we wish to alter the habits and customs of a country, if we wish to accentuate more vigorously, the characteristics of people, we must take as our instrument the child, for very little can be done in this direction by action upon adults. To change a generation or nation, to influence it towards either good or ill, to re-awaken religion or add culture, we must look to the child” (Education for a new world, pg23). One among the objectives of Mona Foundation is to educate parents and the general public in method of peaceful child rearing.  

Elaine Glier

CGMS Instructional Guide and Consultant for home visits and schools,  VA

Elaine Glier has 20 years’ experience working in a toddler community and directing parent/infant programs. She is now enjoying her new career providing home and school consultations, leading parent and staff workshops, and working as an instructor for The Center for Guided Montessori Studies.

Jackie Grundberg

Consultant, Instructional Guide, CGMS, TX

Jackie Grundberg has over 20 years of teaching experience. She is Montessori AMS certified Elementary I and II, earned a Masters of Education in Instructional Technology, and is WA State certified to teach middle school general studies and high school biology. Currently, she is an Instructional Guide, Field Consultant, and Practicum Advisor for the Center for Guided Montessori Studies (CGMS). She is owner of Montessori Consulting Services, where she conducts parent education workshops and private consulting. She is also owner of Backpack Sciences, a membership site with an elementary curriculum helping parents and educators implement high level, critical thinking ecology and environmental science lessons.

Tracy Hall

CGMS, Toddler Directress, Rock Prairie, WI

Tracey Hall is the Toddlers’ House Coordinator and a lead teacher for the Toddlers’ House program at Rock Prairie Montessori School in Janesville, Wisconsin. She also leads the Montessori Beginnings (infant/parent) program there. She is a Montessori Teacher Educator for both the Houston Montessori Center and the Center for Guided Montessori Studies. Tracey has a B.A. in Psychology, an A.M.S. Infant and Toddler Montessori certification, and a Capstone Certificate from the University of Wisconsin- Madison in Infant, Early Childhood and Family Mental Health. When she is home she loves to knit, read and spend time outdoors with her family and dogs.

Dorothy Harman

Directress, Milliard Public School, and author, NB

Dorothy Harman -AMS Early Childhood Montessori Credential, Montessori Consultant Faculty, College of Education, University of Nebraska-Kearney. She’s presented at: International Montessori Council/The Montessori Foundation Conference numerous times as well as AMS, & Mid-America Montessori Teacher Training Institute. She’s an Early Childhood Teacher Trainer, 2009-current. She’s been a Directress at the Millard Public Schools, Omaha, NE and trainer: PrePrimary Montessori Classroom Directress (3-6 year olds), 1999-current Montessori Para-Professional Trainer (Early Childhood), 2001-current PrePrimary Montessori Classroom Directress (3-4 year olds), 1998-1999 Montessori Para-Professional (math support- preschool to grade 5), 1997-1998. Most recently, Dorothy has written a new book and the Parent Child Press exhibit table has this on sale this weekend.

Matt Johnson

ClayMates, MA

Matt Johnson is married with two adult children and has worked with children for over 35 years as a gymnastics instructor, mentor, and advocate. As an instructor he has help students realize their physical and mental potential. As a mentor, he has supported students in building character, self-esteem and achieving personal goals. As an advocate, he has been outspoken in support of responsible coaching practices, resiliency in athletics and the idea of empowering children to be confident, competent, contributors who are self-sufficient, with skills for coping in life. Matt is a board member of SPARKindness and is the chairperson of their resilient athlete program. SPARK is a community-based organization that provides educational opportunities to families that focuses on understanding diversity, inclusion, resiliency, recognizing the difference and addressing social and emotional issues that affect families and the community. Matt also works with teens and adults as a personal trainer and life coach. Where he support clients in goal setting, recognizing their potential and helping to navigate the obstacles to success.

Michael Johnson

Montessori Guide, PA

Born in 1950, Michael Johnson attended a number of public and parochial elementary schools and an all male, religious high school. He attended two years at the University of Wisconsin and three years at Miami University, Ohio, graduating with a BS in Finance. After graduating, he took computer hardware training at IBM, Chicago. He then became a certified AMI primary head teacher, taking training at The Montessori Institute of Philadelphia in 1976.

Dana Kaminstein

Professor/Consultant, PA

Dr. Dana Kaminstein is a professor and organizational consultant. He currently has two appointments at the University of Pennsylvania, and teaches in three of its schools. He is an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Graduate School of Education, is an Affiliated Faculty in the Organizational Dynamics Program in the School of Arts and Sciences, and teaches at the School of Social Policy and Practice. He is also Co-Academic Director of the Evidence Block (research methods) in the CLO Program at the Graduate School of Education and the Co-Academic Director of the Education Research Block in the MedEd Program at the Graduate School of Education. In addition, he works part-time at The Center for Health Equity Research and Promotion (CHERP) at the Veterans Medical Center in Philadelphia as a qualitative researcher.

Maria Kaminstein

Guide, PA

Maria Kaminstein received her AMI Primary certification in Philadelphia PA in 1976, little realizing that the practices and tenets of Montessori would permeate most of the rest of her life! She began her teaching career as a 3-6 teacher at Greene Towne Montessori School in Philadelphia, interrupted it for some years of full time parenting of two boys, and returned to teach at Greene Towne again, ultimately spending 20 years in the classroom. In 2004, she began to build a Montessori consulting practice in the Philadelphia region, and over the next ten years worked as a Montessori consultant; as an AMS Montessori Teacher Educator at Chestnut Hill College in Philadelphia and at Westminster College’s Institute for Montessori Innovation in Salt Lake City; and as a conference speaker and presenter, both locally and nationally. In 2013, Maria returned to Greene Towne Montessori School, first as Acting Head of School, and then as Montessori Director/Dean of Faculty, serving in these roles until her retirement in 2017. She now spends time with her grandchildren (who, naturally, attend a Montessori school), writing, catching up on reading, volunteering at her church, and traveling with her husband. She continues to be excited about Montessori education and its potential to form the lives of children in ways that are fundamentally important to them, their families, and the world.

Lori Karmazin

Early Childhood Director / CGMS, OK

Lori Karmazin has been a 3-6 Montessori Guide since 1990 at Undercroft Montessori School in Tulsa. Her love of math led to the creation of her business, Great Extensions (, which has served the Montessori community since 1994. Lori is the Director of the Early Childhood Program and a teacher trainer for the Center for Guided Montessori Studies.

Erin Knight

Bowman Montessori, CA

Erin E. Knight is a Montessorian at heart. She began her Montessori education as a young child in a preschool that was held in her parents’ house. She started her formal teaching career after graduating from the University of the Pacific with degrees in Dance Therapy and Adaptive Physical Education. In 1994, she received her Primary Montessori certificate for ages three to six. In 2001, she earned her Director Permit from Foothill College. Erin worked in several Bay Area schools before starting at Bowman School in Palo Alto, California in 2000. She is now the Director of Bowman’s new Children’s House. Erin brings her joy of Montessori education to all the students she encounters with her 25 years of teaching experience.

Mary Knysh

Rythmic Connections, CA

Mary E Knysh is the founder of Rhythmic Connections, ( an innovative company advancing education, health, and creative development through drum circles and music improvisation. Mary is a cutting edge workshop facilitator, trainer and consultant who uses music as a means for personal and organizational transformation through creativity, leadership and non‐verbal communications. She is a professional musician; recording artist and international author. An international teacher/trainer with the Music for People organization, Mary is also an Orff Schulwerk clinician and international teaching artist.  She is endorsed by Rhythm Band Instruments and Remo corporations. Mary travels throughout the United States, Europe and Asia offering drum circle facilitator trainings, performances, and workshops.

Andrew Kutt

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 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. He’s 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 4 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 – 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.

Christine Lowry

Consultant, Montessori NOW, NC

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 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.


Dr. Fred Luskin

Stanford School of Medicine; Director Forgiveness Projects, Vaden Health Center, CA

Dr. Luskin founded and currently serves as Director of the Stanford University Forgiveness Projects. He is also Senior Consultant in Health Promotion/Wellness at the Stanford University Health Center and Department Chair in Clinical Psychology at Sofia University. At Stanford Dr. Luskin teaches classes on Positive Psychology, The Art and Science of Meditation, Forgiveness, Wellness, Flourishing and The Psychology of Storytelling to undergraduate and graduate students. He also conducts numerous workshops and staff development trainings in relationship enhancement, stress management and positive psychology through the Stanford Be Well program.


Dr. Luskin is the author of the best-selling books Forgive for Good: A Proven Prescription for Health and Happiness and Forgive for Love: The Missing Ingredient for a Healthy and Happy Relationship. His book Forgive for Good is the best-selling self-help book published on the topic of forgiveness. His research has shown that the Forgive for Good forgiveness methodology leads participants suffering from a wide range of concerns to improved physical and mental health. Dr. Luskin’s forgiveness work has been applied in veteran’s hospitals, churches, in resolving legal disputes, with cancer patients as psycho-education and in psychotherapy. He has helped people recover from the murder of their family members as a result of political violence in Northern Ireland, as an aftermath of the attacks on 911, in Sierra Leone after their civil war and in arctic Canada where native populations deal with the loss of their ancestral lands. Dr. Luskin’s work has been made into a PBS pledge drive video called Forgive for Good. He has been interviewed many hundreds of times in worldwide media on forgiveness including the New York Times, O Magazine, Today Show, Los Angeles Times, Time Magazine, Huffington Post, and CBS Morning News. He is also the author of Stress Free for Good: Ten Scientifically Proven Life Skills for Health and Happiness which emerged from his 10 years as a researcher in preventive cardiology at the Stanford University School of Medicine. His work showed the effect of enhancing stress management and positive emotion skills to help patients cope with congestive heart failure and arrhythmia. He also did some consulting work for Stanford Hospital nurses in managing their emotions. Dr. Luskin teaches stress management, emotional intelligence, and appiness skills to corporate clients throughout the United States.

Claudia Mann

Teacher and Fossilicious, CA

Claudia Mann is a teacher, and a contributor to where you can read more about how to buy fossils . Claudia and her husband own a place where you can find a unique gift ideas, classroom fossils, or something special for yourself.

Mary Ellen Maunz

Age of Montessori, CA

B.A. in Child Development, M.A. in Integrative Learning; AMI Early Childhood Certificate, PAMS Elementary 6-12 Certificate; 45 years of experience in Montessori education, as a teacher, administrator and teacher educator; Author of 2 books: Learning to Read is Child’s Play, 2001 and Nurturing Your Child’s Inner Life, 2012; International speaker and trainer, presenter on five continents, founder of training program in St. Petersburg, Russia; 10 years as a Commissioner and Member Board of Directors, Montessori Accreditation Council for Teacher Education (MACTE),; 2015 Recipient of MACTE’s Wisdom of the Elders award MACTE on-site evaluator; Hobbies include photography, travel, reading, hiking, collecting stamps and spending time with family and friends

Lorna McGrath

Montessori Family Alliance Director, IMC Accreditation Director, IMC Board, FL

Lorna is Director of Montessori Family Alliance for the Montessori Foundation and the Director of Accreditation for the International Montessori Council. She served as the Associate Head of School for NewGate School in Sarasota, FL for many years.

Lorna has 41 years of experience in the field of education, teaching children from 18 months through 6 years old and from 12 through 18 years old in both public schools and independent Montessori schools. She received her Masters Degree in Education with a concentration in Family Counseling from the University of Georgia, and her Montessori certification from the American Montessori Society.

Lorna is a Montessori teacher educator, conference presenter, and school consultant. Lorna has used her many years of experience, working with families in the educational setting, to develop programs for parents as well as teachers and children. She has spent many years as a certified instructor for the International Network for Children & Families, teaching classes in Redirecting Children’s Behavior, Redirecting for a Cooperative Classroom, Common Ground for Parents and Teens, and Parenting Instructor Network Training.

Laurie Moreno

Brookview Montessori, MI

Laurie Stockton-Moreno teaches Elementary I and serves as Middle School Curriculum Supervisor at Brookview Montessori School, in Benton Harbor, Michigan. She has a Master’s degree in Architecture, has 18 years of Montessori experience, both in the classroom and in administration, and has raised three Montessori daughters. Laurie teaches Arithmetic, Geometry, and Arts Infusion at Westminster College’s Institute for Montessori Innovation. The best reward in working with these self-directed and enthusiastic children is when they – in perfect Montessori fashion – flip the traditional flow of teaching on its head and engage me as a peer or a colleague in their own learning exploration. Words such as, “Ms. Laurie, did you know…?” or “Ms. Laurie, you have to see what we made!” are music to my ears.

Denise Monnier

Director of State Advocacy for the Montessori Public Policy Initiative, IL

Denise Monnier is the Director of State Advocacy for the Montessori Public Policy Initiative and the Executive Director of the Association of Illinois Montessori Schools. She was a Montessori child and parent, has taught in multiple schools, both AMS and AMI, and was a head of school for 7 years. Denise supports MPPI state representatives in their work to form and change public policy to support the growth of Montessori programs.

Molly Moorhead

CGMS Guide and Elementary Guide, SC

Molly Moorhead is an Elementary Guide and the Educational Coordinator at the Montessori School of Anderson in South Carolina. She began her Montessori journey in 1973 as a primary student at the Montessori School of Anderson, where she attended from ages three to eleven. Molly received her Elementary I&II credentials from AMS in 2000, (IAMS). She received a BAIS degree (elementary education/fine arts) from the University of South Carolina and went on to complete an MFA in creative writing in poetry from Queens University in Charlotte. Molly began working in Montessori classrooms as an adult in 1996. In addition to the years of experience teaching children at the elementary levels, Molly has worked as a Curriculum Coordinator, Educational Director, Instructional Guide (CGMS), Field Consultant (CGMS), Summer Instructor (CGMS), and presenter at AIMS (Association of Independent Schools of Maryland), SCMA (South Carolina Montessori Alliance), and the IMC (International Montessori Council).

Andrew Newman

Story-teller, author, Healer, CO

Andrew Newman is a therapist and founder of The Conscious Bedtime Story Club. He authors stories with heroic characters who have victories over everyday challenges, helping children learn healthy social emotional responses. Each book has a breathing practice and an activity page to foster conversation, belonging and connection between adult and child. He has been opening Speaker for Deepak Chopra, a Tedx Presenter in Findhorn, Scotland and author in residence at Bixby School in Boulder. Andrew is a graduate of Barbara Brennan School of Healing and supports parents to find their center, so that they can be more deeply present to their kids.e.

Rebecca Pelton

President Montessori Accreditation Council for Teacher Education (MACTE), VA

Dr. Rebecca Pelton is the President of the Montessori Accreditation Council for Teacher Education (MACTE). MACTE serves as the national accreditor under the USDE for Montessori teacher preparation programs within colleges and universities, free standing institutions and on-line learning. Dr. Pelton has been active in the area of teacher program accreditation for over 17 years. Prior to her work with MACTE, she served as the Vice President for Membership for the Teacher Education Accreditation Council (TEAC). Her tenure at MACTE is based on a commitment to supporting quality teacher preparation and thereby improving the educational experience for all students.

Cathie Perolman

CGMS Instructional Guide, Primary Guide and author of Dear Cathie Column for Tomorrow’s Child magazine, MD

Cathie Perolman has been involved in education for over three and a half decades. She has a BS in Early Childhood Education and a MD in Elementary Education with a concentration in Reading. She has spent time working as a reading specialist as well as teaching students preschool through college but her passion is Montessori education. She began her Montessori journey as a classroom assistant, and worked as a classroom directress, 3-6 team leader, teacher trainer and college professor.

Stephanie Pullman

Associate Director, Center for Guided Montessori Studies, and Adjunct Instructor, Child Development at Cerritos College

Stephanie has taught at the Toddler, Lower Elementary, and Upper Elementary levels in her career. She has served as a teacher trainer for five years at MWTTP, and currently serves as an adjunct instructor of Child Development at Cerritos College, Cerritos, CA. Stephanie holds a Master’s Degree in Education with a Montessori Emphasis from St. Catherine’s University, and received her AMI 6-12 Montessori credential in 1993. Located in Long Beach, California, she enjoys visiting museums, movies, yoga, and reading. In addition to her role as Elementary Level Associate Director, Stephanie has served CGMS adult learners as an online instructor, residential session instructor, field consultant, and practicum advisor.

Brynn Rangel

Board Certified Behavior Analyst, FL

Brynn Rangel is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst and mother of a former Montessori student. She has a master’s degree in business administration and spent 6 years working as the Executive Director of a non-profit school and therapeutic center for children with autism and related exceptionalities. Now, Brynn is a consultant specializing in implementing positive behavior support strategies & behavioral management systems for schools and organizations throughout Sarasota, FL.

Mary Beth Ricks

Bowman International, IMC Accreditation &  Board Member, 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 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.

David Rotberg

CGMS IG, Elementary Guide, Pines Montessori, TX

David Rotberg was a Montessori child and has been in Montessori education for over a decade. He received his Elementary credential from Michigan Montessori Teacher Education Center. David contributes articles for Tomorrow’s Child and Montessori Leadership. Currently, he is a Lower Elementary Guide at Pines Montessori School in Kingwood, Texas, a staff member for The Center for Guided Montessori Studies and a school consultant.

Tanya Ryskind

Associate Head of School, NewGate, IMC Accreditation Commissioner, FL

Dr. Tanya Ryskind has over 30 years’ experience in educational settings as a teacher, social worker, lawyer, lobbyist, university professor, administrator, motivational speaker, teacher trainer, and Montessori professional. Tanya is a MACTE/IMC and AMS certified Montessori elementary (6-12) guide with over 15 years of classroom experience. In addition to her classroom experiences, she has experience working with legislative mandates, state and national policies, procedures, and protocols affecting private, public and charter schools. Dr. Ryskind, is an accomplished motivational speaker, who has garnered acclaim for her work in North America, Europe, and Mexico.

Larry Schanker

Ed Director Brookview Montessori, MI, Musician and Composer, MI

Larry Schanker is Executive Director at Brookview Montessori School in Benton Harbor, MI, where he has also taught music for 19 years. He holds a PhD in Music Composition and teaches Arts Infusion (along with Laurie Moreno), Early Childhood music, and Lower Elementary music at the Institute for Montessori Innovation at Westminster College in Salt Lake City. Dr. Schanker has 30 years experience writing music for theatre, dance, and sketch comedy, and is an avid silent film accompanist.

Marc Seldin

Director of Operations Center for Guided Montessori Studies (CGMS), NC

Marc is the founder of Renaissance Montessori in Cary, NC and is the Director of Operations at the Center for Guided Montessori Studies, a low-residency accredited Montessori teacher training program. He attended a Montessori school through upper elementary, and has a vision that someday all children will attend Montessori schools.

Marc has held many technical and business roles in a diverse career, and holds an MBA from the University of Maryland. He currently is enrolled in a Ph.D. program in education at North Carolina State University. He is a part time computer programmer, a full time father and husband, and lives with his family, two cats and a parrot in Raleigh, NC.

Marc Seldin is the founder of Renaissance Montessori in Cary, NC and is the Director of Operations at the Center for Guided Montessori Studies, a low-residency accredited Montessori teacher training program. He attended a Montessori school through upper elementary, and has a vision that someday all children will attend Montessori schools.

Marc has held many technical and business roles in a diverse career, and holds an MBA from the University of Maryland. He currently is enrolled in a Ph.D. program in education at North Carolina State University. He is a part time computer programmer, a full time father and husband, and lives with his family, two cats and a parrot in Raleigh, NC.

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 the Barrie School in Silver Spring, MD. Tim was the co-founder of the Institute for Advanced Montessori Studies and the Center forGuided 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.  

Wendy Shenk-Evans

Head of School, DC

As a veteran Montessori school administrator and Montessori parent, Wendy has seen the transformational impact that a Montessori education can have in the lives of children. Her passion for making this invaluable educational approach accessible and available to more children inspires her public policy work with MPPI. While serving as a head of school in Washington, DC, Wendy successfully advocated for policy changes to help Montessori programs in the District flourish. She became involved in national advocacy efforts early in the life of the Montessori Public Policy Initiative, serving on and chairing the MPPI Council and overseeing MPPI’s strategic plan development. Now, as MPPI’s first Executive Director, she supports state level advocates, collaborates with leaders across the Montessori ecosystem, advocates and builds coalitions with other national education organizations, and offers trainings and workshops both domestically and internationally to prepare Montessori educators to be effective advocates.

Pam Shanks

Associate Head of School, Bowman School, CA

Pam Shanks holds a master’s degree in special education and a Montessori primary certificate. She held Kansas state licensing for early childhood, early childhood special education, and severe multiple disabilities. She was a primary guide and coordinator for the program of inclusion at Raintree Montessori School (Lawrence, KS) for 35 years. Additionally, she has served as a practicum clinical supervisor for the University of Kansas School of Education, an instructor for the University of East Carolina Deaf blind Intervener Program, and a field-based consultant for the Inclusive Network of Kansas. She has authored several articles on special education in Montessori environments and on-line modules on specialeducation topics. She is currently the Associate Head of School at Bowman, School in Palo Alto, CA.

Patty Sobelman

Head of School, Pines Montessori, TX

Head of School, Pines Montessori School, Kingwood, Texas and long time supporter of the IMC

Bobbe Spink

Founding Head of School, TN

Teacher Trainer My passion for helping children reach their full potential has been the driving force in my 47-year professional career. With an expertise in teacher training, school administration, and special needs children, my continuing objective is to support quality Montessori education in public and independent school settings and teacher training organizations.

Berenice Saint-Saens

Monti Kids, CA


Berenice Saint-Saens, was raised in Louisiana and France, and studied Russian History in University. While in college, she worked in the Ural Mountains for a Russian summer camp for orphans and underprivileged children of the region for six months. After graduating, she joined the Peace Corps and lived and served as a youth development volunteer in a rural village in Morocco for two and a half years. After returning to the United States, she recognized that her passion was working with, not only young children, but also their families and other educators. She realized the importance of a child’s first years of life, the impact it has on shaping their entire self and life, and the need to spread this knowledge to others. She then discovered Montessori, received her International Montessori teacher certification and M.e.d. and has helped guide children 0-3 years old and their families. She is also a trained Doula. Berenice now works with Monti Kids.

Jocelyn Swanson

Director, Montessori Secondary Education and Training, VA

Jocelyn Swanson– 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 exploration to invention. My specialty is in language arts & history. As a Montessori parent I watched our little school grow beyond its original Children’s House level to add an elementary program. Eventually, I agreed to become Montessori certified and open a secondary program. Our school has a thriving Middle School in the heart of Williamsburg, Virginia. My work in the Humanities has centered on the Socratic method of discussion, a key takeaway from my Montessori training & a philosophy that I find essential to feeding the curiosity of the young adults I guide. I have discovered it also supports a Montessori model in my classroom. In addition to working w/young adults, I enjoy working as a guide to full-blown adult learners. In my pre-teaching career, I ran my own marketing business, starting out first as a writer/editor. My undergraduate degree in business & communications & subsequent master’s degree in education from Xavier University have come in handy! I 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.

Margaret Whitley

Retired Head of School, Montessori Academy of London, CANADA

Margaret Whitley is an AMI elementary trained Montessori educator and leader. She has taught all levels of elementary, established the first Montessori middle school in Canada in 1988 and was head of Montessori Academy of London for 13 years, the school she went to as a child. She is presently a guest lecturer at the Toronto Montessori Institute and in the past was the Director of Accreditation for the Canadian Council of Montessori Administrators. She is the parent of Emma and Mark, who are in their twenties as very successful former Montessori students. They both attended Montessori for 12 years and openly attribute much of their success to their Montessori foundations. Margaret holds a honours degree in history and MFA in creative non-fiction writing. Margaret currently blogs for the HuffPost Canada and writes on social justice and education. She recently completed her first book, (working title) A World of Difference: How Montessori Could Change Education.

Alanea Williams

CGMS Infant/Toddler Guide, NC

Alanea Williams has a B.S. in Biology from Florida Institute of Technology and a M.S. in Fisheries from Louisiana State University. Fifteen years ago I began working with infants and toddlers at SAS Montessori School in Cary, NC. After receiving my AMS Infant/Toddler Credential, I became a lead infant teacher and held that role for 10 years. Currently I am Program Coordinator of the Infant/Toddler Center at SAS Montessori School. I am also an Infant/Toddler Instructional Guide for The Center For Guided Montessori Studies and share my passion with adult learners globally.

Ann Winkler

CGMS Elementary Program Director and Founding Directress Beach Park School, FL

Ann Winkler, Beach Park, Tampa, FL– I have been fortunate to work in Montessori education for over forty years. I began the journey when my children enrolled at the Barrie School in Maryland and when I became the Registered Nurse there! As I had the opportunity to watch and learn from many excellent teachers at Barrie, I knew I wanted to have the opportunity to develop as a Montessori Guide. My family and I also made life-long friends in those years. My family soon moved to Tampa, Florida and I was fortunate to receive Early Childhood training in Miami with Beverley McGhee. It was after my training and work experience that Ms. McGhee gave me the opportunity to work and assist in the training program. By this time, I had started Beach Park School in Tampa and as I grew along with the children, took my El 1-2 training at IAMS at Barrie. I enjoyed this experience and loved teaching at the elementary level. I spent most of my time teaching EL 2 (9-12) and continue now as Director of Education at Beach Park School in Tampa.

Val Wise

Educational Consultant and Adjunct Professor, Johns Hopkins University, 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 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 3 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 Life and Montessori Leadership. Jonathan is a Montessori 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.

Jaime Yeager

Head, Amare Montessori, TN

Jaime Yeager is currently the Head of School at Amare Montessori in Clarksville, TN. Jaime obtained both a B.S. in Early Childhood Education and Child Development as well as a M.Ed. in Special Education from Vanderbilt University. She also holds a Montessori teaching credential from Montessori Educators International (MEI). Jaime has spent 16 years teaching and directing Montessori programs in both Tennessee and Arkansas. She is also the Executive Director of the Montessori Alliance of Tennessee, a statewide advocacy group for promoting authentic Montessori programs in Tennessee.


This year we have more than 60 presenters who are looking forward to sharing their knowledge with you.

The Montessori Foundation

For conference information contact us at:
19600 E State Road 64 Bradenton, FL 34212-8921 1-800-632-4121

Email Us:

Contact Us