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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.
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.
Kristen Small developed a deep love for children at a very early age. Her love soon became her passion, which caused her to begin an early career in child care. Kristen attended college at Oakwood University in Huntsville, Alabama where she majored in English. While attending Oakwood, she became a mentor for teenage girls through an on-campus organization called G.A.M.E. (Girls Awareness through Motivational Empowerment). This love for youth and children that became her passion, transformed into her calling. While in Huntsville, Kristen worked at two childcare facilities where she taught Toddlers, Pre-School, and School Age children. Kristen transferred her work in childcare to Miami, Florida where she continued her work as a Pre-School teacher. It was in Miami that she came in contact with the Montessori philosophy and she has been in love with this method ever since! Her training and work with Montessori education opened the door for her to move to Nashville and be apart of the Montessori Academy family. Kristen will complete her certification in ages 0-3 Montessori Education this year. She is so excited to continue this journey for she truly believes, and her life experiences affirm, that working with children is not only her love, or merely her passion, but it is indeed her calling.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
Mrs. Lee worked at Murfreesboro Montessori before coming to Montessori Academy in 2001. She believes that Montessori Academy offers an environment that provides young children an excellent foundation for learning success and feels very fortunate that her children are getting such a valuable foundation. She enjoys her job and finds it very rewarding!
Marynet King began her teaching career at Montessori Academy in 1988 when Mrs. Eileen Bernstorf asked her if she had ever considered becoming a Montessori teacher. The more she learned about the Montessori philosophy of education, the more convinced she was that she did indeed want to become a Montessori teacher. Since that time she has taught at the Lower Elementary, Upper Elementary and Middle School levels and has had training at all levels. She holds a B.A. in Psychology from Jacksonville State University and a M.A. in Clinical Psychology from Middle Tennessee State University. She worked as a Clinical Therapist and Licensed Psychological Examiners before coming to M.A.
Her favorite pastime is spending time with her family. She enjoys traveling, gardening, and reading great literature. She and her husband, Gerald, have three children and three grandchildren. All of their children attended M.A., and their three grandchildren will also.
She feels strongly that the Montessori philosophy and approach to education is extraordinary because, “It fosters a love of learning, encourages and supports the pursuit of individual interests, and facilitates the development of talents. It celebrates diversity and instills respect for oneself, others, and the environment.”
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.
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.
Herman E. Jackson holds Bacheolor's, Master's, and a doctorate degree from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville in areas of chemistry, biology, and mathematics and mathematics education. He has been teaching at Montessori Academy since 2002 in the area of mathematics and science. Prior to working at Montessori Academy he worked as an Associated Research Development Engineer in Chemical Research and Development at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Manager at AT&T Traffic Engineering, and Instructor of Mathematics at Knoxville College and the University of Tennessee. He has been an Assistant Professor of Mathematics & Adjunct Professor of Mathematics at Walters State Community College, Trevecca Nazarene Univeristy, and Nashville State Community College. His consulting work has consisted of: Exam grader for the Tennessee State Mathematics Contest held at the University of Tennessee; Guest Lecture during Metric Week at Knoxville College in Business Department - Topic: "Metric in the Business World;" VIP Host, Regional meeting of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, Louisville, Kentucy; Board of Directors, Bib Brother/Sisters of Knoxville, Tennessee; AT&T Exhibitor at the 1982 Worlds Fair, Knoxville, Tennessee; Junior Achievement Executive Advisor for AT&T; Loaned Executive, Junior Achievement of Nashville Fund Raising Drive. Dr. Jackson has presented papers at the Mathematics Association of American annual conference ("A Comparison of the Effectiveness of Three Instructional Formats in Introductory Calculus for Students from Different Ability Levels") and at the Tennessee Mathematics Teacher's Association ("Junior High School Mathematics Teaching, A Potpourri of Ideas for Teaching Strategies").
Rick Palmiter joined the Montessori Academy teaching staff in January of 2011. Rick is a versatile and multi-talented musician who began his "music" career with the Cincinnati Youth Orchestra as a Trombonist in 1969. He received his Bachelor of Music Education and Master of Music Education degrees from Peabody College of Vanderbilt University. He has been the Teacher/Director of Instrumental music at University School, Brentwood Academy, Christ Presbyterian Academy and Poplar Grove School. He has directed the Williamson County Youth Orchestra, the West Franklin Baptist Church Orchestra, and played/directed the Continental Orchestra. He is developing the band at Montessori Academy and says, "he loves teaching beginners!" He currently also teaches at Brentwood Academy as their "Lower Brass" Instructor.
Mark Woodward grew up in small town North Georgia with two loving parents, two younger sisters, and a variety of animals. He moved to Nashville in 2001 to study music at Belmont University. While at Belmont, he distinguished himself as a musician, an honors student, a cross country runner, and a lover of ultimate Frisbee. Woodward graduated in 2005 and Woodward went on tour full time with worship leader/recording artist Jeff Deyo. He made a name for himself as an energetic performer and an eager autograph signer. During this time, Mark began teaching private music lessons. He found that he enjoyed the work, and his student base grew steadily over the next five years while he travelled with bands and did local charity work.
In 2010, Woodward began teaching Music and Drama at Montessori Academy. In his first year, he founded the Winter Revue, a variety show, presenting the best in Montessori talent. The Revue’s debut performance drew rave reviews from faculty and parents alike. “I would have to say that my favorite thing about teaching is the variety it offers – like a good restaurant buffet. I always try a little bit of everything. The students here at Montessori are like that buffet. They all come bursting with unique talents and gifts. I spot something that I like, whether it’s a knack for writing songs or a unique stage personality, and I develop and grow it as far as it wants to go.”
This creative approach led Woodward to record a special project of student-composed music in the spring of 2011. Click here for a sample!