The Institute of Montessori Education


Montessori New Year’s Conference

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Montessori, Mindfulness, and Neuroscience…What do they have in common and Why does it matter?

Featuring, Kathy Leitch

Utilizing Montessori pedagogy, ancient teachings and current neuroscience research Kathy will explore the impact that kindness, compassion, and inner peace have on educating world citizens in the 21stcentury. She will share how we can create a culture that transcends borders by infusing Montessori’s premise of peace and respect in every corner of our learning communitiesYou will learn why it is essential to prepare yourself and your environment to create a culture of peace. We will consider how this preparation significantly influences many identified keys to success, such as focus, self-regulation, curiosity, resilience and cooperation.  Kathy will share her passionate belief that education, far more than learning skills and content, is about the development of human potential. You will leave with a new appreciation and understanding of Montessori’s legacy of establishing peace through education! 

Kathy Leitch is the founder and head of Renaissance Montessori School. Kathy graduated from Barry University and earned her Montessori Credentials from the American Montessori Society for 0 - 3 & 3-6.  Kathy has been active in Montessori education for 40 years. She has over 15 years’ experience as a Montessori Teacher Trainer, International School Consultant and Accreditation Commission Chair.   She currently serves as the Executive Director of the International Montessori Council. Additionally, Kathy is a certified Parenting Instructor and Stress Management Facilitator. 

The Developmentally Appropriate Approach to Montessori Parents

Featuring, Martha Teien

Have you considered that Parents go through a variety of stages of growth?  Compare the first year parent of their first parent with the third year parent of a second child…  How do we support their growth and development?  This consideration can lead to a beautiful school culture.

Martha Teien serves as the President of the Board of Directors for MEPI and Board President for the Colorado Montessori Association (CMA).  She is chairman of the Advocacy Committee for CMA.  Martha is also a representative on the Montessori Public Policy Forum. She is the Founding and Executive Director of Mountain Montessori in Avon, CO that opened in 2004. She has previously directed three other Montessori schools – one with a partner, one as an individual owner and one as a non-profit organization with a parent board.  For over 20 years, Martha also continues as the lead guide in the classroom. She has a BS in Biology and an Early Childhood Directorship from the State of Colorado. Her Montessori training was completed through Montessori Educational Programs International – MEPI ( in 1995 for the 3-6 year old level. She obtained her Masters of Education in Montessori at St. Catherine University in St. Paul, MN in 2010. Martha has five of her own children ages 19-28 years old.  She enjoys running and her Peloton bike!


Featuring:Charles Terranova

Workshop Session I: Discovery of the Child

Charles will lead us in examining the best practices that support the rediscovery of the environment of the child guided by the exact and scientific guide given by our apparatus and exercises.

Workshop Session II: The Power of Observation

Charles will guide us into a more conscious form of observation for Montessori teachers and focus on getting the best of our abilities to guide our observation and our planning for helping engage children.

Charles Terranova has been active nationally and internationally as a classroom teacher, teacher educator, administrator, and speaker. Charles has worked in both independent and public Montessori schools and has consulted with a number of Boards of Trustees, Heads of Schools and teachers. He presents regularly at local and national Montessori conferences. Charles holds AMI Early Childhood and AMS Elementary I-II Certification. For the past 25 years, Charles has served as a field consultant, supervising teacher, and course instructor at Seacoast Center Montessori Teacher Education Program in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina.


Erika Ohlhaver

Workshop Session I: Normalization, Is it Still Possible?

This exhibited behavior is the ultimate aim of all Montessori classrooms, but why is it so elusive? What does it look like, sound like and feel like in today’s classrooms? Is it still attainable? This presentation will explore what we may be doing to inhibit this hallmark of Montessori classrooms, and how we can correct it.

Workshop Session II: The Changing Landscape of Education Today

What does it mean to be educated in today’s society? How do current Montessori lessons and teaching practices contribute to education today, and what should we be paying attention to? Come explore what it means to be a Montessorian in 2019.

Erika is the Curriculum Coordinator for ETC Montessori, the Educational Director for Gulf Coast Montessori Teacher Education Center, and the Chair Person for the AMS Montessori Life Magazine Editorial Advisory Board. Erika has been a Montessori teacher for over 30 years. Starting with the youngest age group, she has received three separate levels of Montessori certification (Early Childhood, Lower Elementary, and Upper Elementary). Erika, a second generation Montessori professional, has worked in both private and public school Montessori programs at all age levels.

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Julie Bragdon

Workshop Session I: Finders Keepers: Recruitment, Hiring and Mentoring

This workshop will focus on all of the different parts of the hiring process, from recruiting good candidates, hiring dos and don’ts, and important elements of the on-boarding process to ensure a successful school start. Research about the reasons behind teacher turnover will be shared so you have the data to make your own mentoring process as effective as possible. You will leave empowered with the tools to help your school be a Finder -Keeper; a school that finds and keeps good employees – from Assistants, to teachers, to members of the Administration team.

Workshop Session II: Building Positive School Climate: Mission, Stakeholders and Trust

A big part of school work is the pastoral care of the school community which includes relationship tending, communication, community care and trust building. Steven Covey wrote: “Trust is the “one thing that changes everything.” This workshop will explore how to build and maintain trust, communicate effectively, and deliver on your school promise so that staff and teams are more effective and all stakeholders, from students to parents to staff, feel valued and supported. There are many ingredients to a positive school climate and you will leave with some practical tools to help you to be successful in this sometimes-daunting task.

Julie is the Head of Montessori School of Denver in CO. She has dual Primary Montessori certifications from the Montessori Education Center of the Rockies (MECR) and Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio. Julie has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Humanities from the University of Colorado, and a Master of Education degree from Xavier University. She has served as a field consultant, supervising teacher, and course instructor at MECR. She has presented numerous times at the AMS and National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) Annual Conferences and served as an accreditation consultant for both organizations.


Karen Pontrelli

Workshop Session I: Climbing that Language Ladder

Explore ways to best serve and facilitate language development of infants and toddlers

Workshop Session II: We Can Work It Out

Explore approaches and strategies to facilitate problem-solving and conflict resolution with infants and toddlers.

Karen has been involved in Montessori education for over 30 years, teaching both children and adults in the Montessori philosophy. She holds an AMS Infant and Toddler teaching credential. Karen is the mother of three beautiful sons, Michael, Gregory & Nicholas, and her first exposure to Montessori education came through her children’s attendance in a Montessori preschool. In 1993, Karen began working as an instructor for a Montessori teacher preparation program in Philadelphia, PA and in 1998 Karen founded the Montessori Institute for Teacher Education, the first fully accredited Montessori teacher preparation program in the state of Delaware and shortly after she started The Montessori Academy of Delaware which later on joined International Montessori Schools.

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Aparna Nisankararao

Workshop: Story to STEM: Cosmic Curriculum as a Springboard to Scientific Investigation and Systems Thinking Skills

Montessori Cosmic curriculum is a holistic way of thinking that encompasses and integrates multiple layers of meaning and complex connections. How can we employ The Great Lessons as a springboard for meaningful STEM inquiry that allows students to investigate and discover interconnections to gain an appreciation of the universality of the human experience? How can we facilitate the unveiling of STEM connections by cultivating systems thinking skills in students?

Learn how to facilitate STEM explorations and encourage systems thinking skills through examples of student projects, experiments and easy to implement lesson ideas.

Aparna graduated from the University of Hyderabad in India with a Bachelor’s in Botany, Zoology, and Chemistry. She continued her education in India with obtaining a Master’s in English. Upon her arrival in the United States, she attended Oklahoma State University where she received her Master’s in Zoology. She completed her Early Childhood credential in 2007 and went on to complete her Elementary I-II credential in 2012. She is currently working towards her Secondary I-II Credential. Aparna’s classroom experience includes ten years of working as a Primary lead, Lower Elementary lead, and currently as the Upper Elementary lead at Starwood Montessori School in Frisco, Texas.


Natalie C. Flores

Workshop: Sewing with Children

Sewing provides a child with a foundation of skills ranging from direct self-care skills such as sewing on a button or mending clothing to indirect skills such as order, sequence, concentration, organization, planning, and fine motor skills. Most Montessori primary classrooms have only scratched the surface of possibilities when sewing with children. You will learn how to safely and confidently incorporate a sewing curriculum as we cover a complete range of sewing work including both classic and non-traditional pre-sewing activities, all the way through advanced sewings, such as weaving and embroidery. For each activity, you will see the supplies and materials needed, the actual sewing technique, the signs of readiness in the child, and how to present the lesson. Real-life examples of completed sewing work and photos depicting the children at work will be shown.

Natalie Flores, spent 12 years as a professional seamstress before starting a family and finding Montessori education. With an early childhood (3-6) credential from the American Montessori Society, Natalie has spent the past 6 years as Lead EC Teacher at Hawthorne Montessori School in Austin, Texas.




You will be one of the first to see this film!

In a climate of concern and criticism about American schools, INSIDE MONTESSORI shines a light on what we want in education: eager learning, creative thinking, and collaborative work. The film examines how Montessori schools nurture the imagination of children and lay a solid foundation for their success in life. And it will offer strategies for incorporating elements of Montessori philosophy into any classroom environment.You are invited to the screening of an engaging and powerful new film: the first documentary focusing on Montessori schools in the United States.

This ground-breaking film brings audiences inside public and independent Montessori schools around the United States. This documentary will inspire and expand the vision of what’s possible in education, and has the power to energize local Montessori movements and influence the education conversation for the entire nation.

INSIDE MONTESSORI is a production of Quiet Island Films Co-Director / Producers: Jan Selby & Vina Kay

2018 Montessori New Year's Conference keynote presentation

2018 Montessori New Year's Conference keynote presentation

TIME's past Montessori conference Keynote Speaker, Dr. JoAnn Deak

TIME's past Montessori conference Keynote Speaker, Dr. JoAnn Deak

Texas area Montessori teacher education program directors present community service awards to Montessori educators

Texas area Montessori teacher education program directors present community service awards to Montessori educators

TIME's past session attendees

TIME's past session attendees

Conference attendees

Conference attendees