Karen Simon has been a Montessori classroom teacher for children aged 2 ½ to 12 for over 20 years. She was born and raised in Venezuela, South America and holds a B.A. in Modern Languages (Wheaton College, 1979) and AMS credentials for Early Childhood and Elementary I-II. She is the director of the Montessori School of Celebration, FL, where she also teaches. Karen is also a faculty member for the Orlando Montessori Teacher Education Institute and Seacoast Center for Education.
Melissa is the program director for Sandhills Montessori Institute, which is a part of Lexington School District 4 – public school system and accredited by MACTE. Melissa has a great passion for Montessori, and nurturing adult learners into caring, compassionate, and knowledgeable Montessorians. She was a previousboard member for the South Carolina Montessori Alliance and chairperson of the conference committee. Melissa received her Montessori Certification from Lander University (+30 Graduate hours), she also holds a MFA in Early Childhood from Liberty University.
Katie Keller Wood is the co-director of Cincinnati Montessori Secondary Teacher Education Program, she holds an AMS Secondary I-II credential. She is currently completing her Ed. D. in Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Virginia. She has been a Montessori secondary education teacher since 2009. She has volunteered with the American Montessori Society including completing the AMS Ed. D. internship, hosting a webinar, and serving on AMS School Accreditation Teams.
On March 2, 2015, Dr. Creech was elected to the MACTE Board of Directors to represent the Independent Affiliation not in a Consortium. We are excited to welcome Floyd to our Board as he carries a wealth of knowledge regarding Montessori teacher education. Floyd was instrumental in helping get the state of South Carolina to recognize the credential from a MACTE accredited teacher preparation program for licensure in the state to teach in a public/private Montessori school. He also served as the President of International Association of Montessori Educators, (IAME). He is currently the director of three public early childhood centers in Florence SC, which utilize Montessori curriculum. He is recognized as a Montessori Early Childhood Literacy Specialist and a Specialist in Early Childhood Readiness Assessment.
Cathy is a current Primary teacher at Barrie School and instructor at the Institute for Advanced Montessori Studies. She has Early Childhood and Elementary I-II credentials and has years of experience working in Early Childhood, Lower Elementary, and Upper Elementary classrooms. 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 in Federal Way, WA at Spring Valley Montessori School with Madeleine Justus and Gulsevin Kayihan. Her husband’s military career then added an association with St. Nicholas (Paula Gtasgow) while they were living in Germany, and then the Institute for Advanced Montessori Studies in Silver Spring, MD. Along the way, there were teacher and consulting opportunities in Montgomery, AL, Gainesville, FL, and San Antonio, TX.
In her spare time, Cathy enjoys traveling with her husband of 41 years, playing her 34-string folk harp, and spending time with her Bichon Poo, Dugald.
Ellie Elzerman, has been a directress for Clemson Montessori School for the past 34 years; she was 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, in Clemson, South Carolina from 1995 – 2015. In her “retirement” Ellie is an instructor and field consultant for Montessori Education Center of the Rockies, Boulder, CO; Montessori Educational Institute of North America, Jackson, TN; Adjunct faculty and field consultant for Lander University Montessori Teacher Education Program. Ellie has her masters in elementary education and an AMS Montessori credential in Early Childhood, Elementary I and Advanced 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.
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 public and private colleges and
universities. He developed partnerships with urban schools including a transition-to- teaching
program for urban high-needs schools. He has taught the history of education, social, cultural,
and linguistic foundations of education, humanities, and early medieval literature (Anglo Saxon
and Old Norse) and his 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 (BA and MA) and from Harvard University’s Graduate
School of Education (EdM and EdD).
Nicole Olson currently consults for the Montessori Center of Minnesota (AMI), where she previously served as 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/St. Paul.
Tanya L. Ryskind, J. D. began her work with children as a social worker. She later attended law school and received her degree in 1987 from Franklin Pierce Law Center (now the University of New Hampshire School of Law) and worked 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 she took a position as the upper elementary guide at her children’s Montessori school. Tanya’s children began their Montessori educations as Infant/Toddlers and continued all the way through, graduating from a Montessori high school.
Since 2000, 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 also 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 as well as has provided educational consulting services throughout the United States and internationally. Tanya has been a commissioner on the IMC School Accreditation Committee since its inception in 2007. In June 2018, she was invited to join the Board of Directors of MACTE.
She enjoys spending time with her husband, travelling and enjoying their home on Lake Michigan.
Helen is currently an educator and field supervisor with Montessori Teachers College (MTC) and has been since its conception in 2005. She holds Montessori diplomas at the EC, 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. Helen 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 completed her second term on the MACTE Board in 2015 and continues to act as an Advisor to the MACTE Board of Directors.
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. She currently serves on the MACTE (Montessori Accreditation Council for Teacher Education), PNMA (Pacific NorthWest Montessori Association), WFIS (Washington Federation of Independent Schools), and Spring Valley Montessori Boards. She also served on the IAME Board. 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 in Istanbul. She did her graduate studies in Montessori Education at the University of Puget Sound in Washington State. She taught at all age levels, from Early Childhood through 8th Grades. She loves Nature, Math and Science and is an avid reader. She also does consulting and gives seminars. She was recently in Istanbul presenting Sensorial Exercises and Math.