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Karen Simon has been a Montessori classroom teacher for children ages 2 ½ to 12 for over 20 years. She was born and raised in Venezuela, South America. Karen holds a B.A. in Modern Languages (Wheaton College, 1979) and AMS credentials for early childhood and elementary I-II. Karen is a faculty member for the Orlando Montessori Teacher Education Institute.
Melissa is the program director for Sandhills Montessori Institute, which is a part of Lexington School District 4 public school system. Melissa has a great passion for Montessori and nurturing adult learners into caring, compassionate, and knowledgeable Montessorians. She was a previous board member for the South Carolina Montessori Alliance and chairperson of the conference committee. Melissa received her Montessori certification from Lander University (+30 graduate hours) and earned her MFA from Liberty University.
Katie Keller Wood is the director of Cincinnati Montessori Secondary Teacher Education Program. She holds an AMS secondary I-II credential and has taught secondary education since 2009. In 2019, Katie completed her doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Virginia. She volunteers for the American Montessori Society, including completing the AMS Ed. D. internship, hosting a webinar, and serving on AMS school accreditation teams.
Virginia holds a Master’s in Education with focus on Montessori from Loyola University in Baltimore, Maryland and a Bachelor’s Degree in History from Marquette University, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She is AMI-trained at all three levels, having earned the Assistants to Infancy Diploma from The Montessori Institute in Denver, Colorado, the Primary Diploma from the Montessori Institute of Milwaukee in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and the Elementary Diploma from the Montessori Institute of Milwaukee in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Virginia has been an Elementary guide in AMI Montessori schools in South Carolina, Colorado, Virginia and Texas. Virginia currently works as Special Projects Coordinator (Remote) at the Montessori Institute of North Texas and lives with her family in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Dr. Floyd Creech carries a wealth of knowledge regarding Montessori teacher education. He was instrumental in getting South Carolina to recognize the credential from a MACTE accredited teacher education program for licensure to teach in a public/private Montessori school. Floyd has served as the President of International Association of Montessori Educators (IAME). He is currently the director of three public early childhood centers in Florence, South Carolina, which utilize Montessori curriculum. He is recognized as a Montessori early childhood literacy specialist and a specialist in early childhood readiness assessment.
Cathy Carpenter works with the primary level at Barrie School and is an instructor at the Institute for Advanced Montessori Studies. She has early childhood and elementary I-II Montessori credentials. She has presented at many Montessori conferences, served as a verifier for both MACTE and AMS during accreditation on-site visits, and worked on AMS school accreditation teams. Cathy’s journey in Montessori education began in 1984 at Spring Valley Montessori School with Madeleine Justus and Gulsevin Kayihan. Her husband’s military career added an association with St. Nicholas (Paula Glasgow) while they were living in Germany, and the Institute for Advanced Montessori Studies in Silver Spring, Maryland. Along the way, there were teacher and consulting opportunities in Montgomery, Alabama, Gainesville, Florida, and San Antonio, Texas!
Cathy enjoys traveling with her husband of 41 years, playing her 34-string folk harp, and spending time with her Bichon Poo, Dugald.
Dr. Ashley Darcy is the director of the Montessori Teacher Education Institute of Atlanta. Ashley holds degrees from the College of William and Mary in neuroscience (B.S.) and Kennesaw State University in early childhood education (Ed.D), as well as AMS and PAMS early childhood credentials. She is a recognized instructor for Bright from the Start in the state of Georgia and enjoys working with Georgia’s Montessori advocacy group, Montessori Administrators of Georgia. Before teacher training, she worked as a primary teacher and then moved into administration as curriculum director.
Ashley loves to travel, hike, and read books.
Ellie Elzerman has been a directress for Clemson Montessori School for the past 34 years and previously served as a classroom directress for early childhood, elementary I and elementary II. Ellie was the former director of training for Montessori Teacher Training Institute of South Carolina from 1995 – 2015. In her “retirement,” Ellie is an instructor and field consultant for Montessori Education Center of the Rockies, Montessori Educational Institute of North America, and adjunct faculty and field consultant for Lander University Montessori Teacher Education Program. She has her masters in elementary education and an AMS Montessori credential in early childhood, elementary I and elementary II. She is well published and has developed and written curriculum for the teaching of Montessori teachers in preschool and elementary. Ellie is the recipient of the South Carolina Governor’s Award for outstanding contribution to the field of Montessori Education.
In her spare time, Ellie is a Master Naturalist and an expert weaver.
Dr. Mark LaCelle-Peterson serves as founding President of the Association for Advancing Quality in Educator Preparation (AAQEP), an accreditation agency founded in 2017 by professionals in the field of educator preparation to strengthen P-20 education through excellent, innovative preparation of educators. Mark has worked in accreditation for over a decade and in educator preparation since 1993, holding faculty and leadership roles in colleges and universities. He developed partnerships with urban schools, including a transition-to-teaching program for urban high-needs schools. He has taught humanities, the history of education, the foundations of education (social, cultural, and linguistic), and early medieval literature (Anglo Saxon and Old Norse). Mark’s research interests include equity in assessment, democratic teacher education, curriculum history, and program evaluation. A native of Minnesota, he holds degrees from the University of Minnesota (B.A. and M.A.) and from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education (Ed.M. and Ed.D.).
Dr. Joe Lubig is a teacher educator and Associate Dean at Northern Michigan University (NMU). He has a doctorate in Educational Leadership and Curriculum Design. He is expert in the areas of civic education and adolescent literacy with a focus on critical thinking in these two areas. His current position as a teacher educator at the graduate and undergraduate levels allows him to utilize his thirteen years of public school teaching to train teachers in the pedagogy of successful classroom practice. He consistently pairs his students’ coursework with authentic experiences through NMU’s Center for Native American Studies and the two native charter schools NMU supports. He is the recipient of several awards in recognition of his research and teaching, including the 2006 Phi Delta Kappa R. Gerald Melton Dissertation Award, two nominations for the Michigan Teacher of the Year, the 2008 Northern Michigan University Excellence in Teaching Award, several school district-wide and regional teaching awards, as well as being a 2007 Phi Delta Kappa Young Leaders Nominee. Joe is an active member in the professional organizations that support his research and teaching. Among them is the National Council for the Social Studies, National Council for the Teachers of English, American Education Research Association, American Reading Forum, and Phi Delta Kappa. His most current work revolves around accreditation and quality assurance systems and collaborating with P-12 schools to assure those systems are an ongoing component of classroom teaching.
Teresa Noble holds a Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood Education and a Master of Education in Special Education from the University of South Carolina. Her Montessori Early Childhood credential was granted by Montessori Education Programs, International. She is retired from the public schools of South Carolina, with 28 years of service. She serves as Education Director, Early Childhood Program Director, Instructor, and Supervisor for The Institute for Guided Studies, headquartered in Camden, South Carolina.
Nicole Olson currently consults for the Montessori Center of Minnesota where she previously served as an administrator for nearly 10 years. She holds a Minnesota state teaching license for K-8, received her masters of education from Loyola University in Maryland and has an AMI Diploma for the primary level ages 2.5 – 6+. She also works in several schools consulting and substituting, as well as supporting non-profits in Minneapolis and St. Paul.
Tanya L. Ryskind, J. D. began her work with children as a social worker. She later received her law degree in 1987 from Franklin Pierce Law Center and went on to work as a lawyer and lobbyist. In 1990, Tanya moved to Michigan and worked as the regional director for Western Michigan University Southwest Regional Center. This position gave her opportunities to work with public school professional development programs and distance learning courses. She also worked as an adjunct professor teaching school law and business ethics. In 1999, Tanya took a position as the upper elementary guide at her children’s Montessori school. Tanya has worked with private, public, and public charter Montessori schools. She is credentialed as a 6-12 elementary Montessori guide and has credentials from AMS and IMC. She has worked as a teacher trainer for the Polski Instytut Montessori in Warsaw, Poland.
Tanya currently works for the Center for Guided Montessori Studies (CGMS) as an instructional guide, practicum adviser, field consultant, and assistant to the director for the CGMS elementary program. She has presented numerous workshops and has provided educational consulting services throughout the United States and internationally. Since 2007, Tanya has been a commissioner on the IMC School Accreditation Committee.
She enjoys spending time with her husband, travelling, and enjoying their home on Lake Michigan.
Alyssa Schwartz joined the Cornerstone Montessori Schools in St. Paul, MN, in 2018. Alyssa serves as Head of School for Cornerstone Montessori Elementary School, a K-6 public charter school, and Cornerstone Montessori School, a program of the Montessori Center of Minnesota serving children 16 months through age 5. She is a Montessori child (18 months through 6th grade). Alyssa received her BA from Stanford University and MA from the Stanford University School of Education. She completed her AMI Primary training at the Maria Montessori Institute in London, before spending 6 years as a Children’s House guide in California. Prior to moving to Minnesota, Alyssa was the Educational Programs Director and Interim Executive Director of AMI/USA in Washington, DC. She serves as Board Secretary of the Montessori Public Policy Initiative and is chair of AMI’s Global School Accreditation committee.
Helen is currently an educator and field supervisor with Montessori Teachers College and has been since its conception in 2005. She holds Montessori diplomas at the early childhood, elementary I, and elementary II levels. Helen has taught children ages 3 to 12 years of age and was Vice Principal and Director of Admission at Bannockburn Montessori School in Toronto for over 10 years. She has served as an accreditor, evaluator, and team leader with the Canadian Council of Montessori Administrators (CCMA) since 2010. CCMA is an accrediting body that serves Montessori schools throughout Canada, using a process that is similar to the MACTE verification of quality principles and criteria.
Gulsevin Kayihan is a Montessori educator of more than 35 years of experience. She is the Academic Director of Montessori Teacher Education Program and Spring Valley Montessori, the oldest Montessori School in the State of Washington, established in 1951 by Madeleine J. Justus. Gulsevin Kayihan is the co-author of more than 20 volumes of Montessori education textbooks for Montessori teachers. She is the recipient of several awards. In addition to her service for MACTE, she serves on the Pacific NorthWest Montessori Association, Washington Federation of Independent Schools, and Spring Valley Montessori Boards. She is very involved with the education issues in Washington State. Gulsevin Kayihan studied general science at the American College for Girls and has a degree in administration from the University of Bosphorous, Istanbul. She did her graduate studies in Montessori education at the University of Puget Sound. She has taught early childhood through 8th grade.
Gulsevin loves nature, math, and science, and is an avid reader. She does consulting and gives seminars.
Gulsevin completed her second term on the MACTE Board in 2015 and continues to act as an advisor to the MACTE Board of Directors.