Breakout Session Information


Friday Intensive Session Information

Limited space available: first 30 to sign up for each Intensive.
Requirements: Must have three years of teaching experience and MACTE Certified at each level
$75.00 additional charge

Infant Toddler Practical Life Intensive
9:00am-3:00pm

“Practical Life as the Basis of the Infant-Toddler Curriculum ”
Presenter: Heather Harty, Cristina Sova, Candace Jackson
Target Audience: Infant Toddler
Breakout Description:
During this workshop, we will explore the reasons that practical living is the basis of the Infant-Toddler Curriculum. Through lecture and video these experienced Montessori Educators will demonstrate the profound impact “real life work” has upon children in the Montessori environment. Emphasis on “real work” and the development of practical life work with long sequences of activity will be addressed. Participants will be guided through the making of real practical life materials to take back to their classrooms.
This workshop is from 9:00 to 3:00 at Hope Montessori Educational Institute. Transportation from the Doubletree hotel will be provided. Lunch is included. Participants must have three years of teaching experience and MACTE certification at the 0-3 level is required.


About Heather Harty

Heather is the director of Little Bluestem Montessori in Monticello, Illinois. She is certified at both the 0-3 and 3-6 levels. She has a parent-infant class in her home and is the toddler environmental design instructor at Hope Montessori Educational Institute.



About Cristina Sova

Cristina is certified 0-3. She has an Infant Community at Hope Montessori Infant-Toddler Community in Creve Coeur, Missouri and is the infant environmental design instructor at Hope Montessori Educational Institute



About Candace Jackson

Candace is certified 0-3. She has a toddler classroom at Hope Montessori Infant-Toddler Community in Creve Coeur, Missouri. She is a guest speaker at Hope Montessori Educational Institute.


Early Childhood Math Intensive
9:00am-3:00pm

“The Poetry of Math Looking Beyond the Fundamental Lessons ”
Presenter: Crystal Dahlmeier
Target Audience: Early Childhood
Breakout Description:
“A mathematician, like a painter or a poet, is a maker of patterns.”*
Montessori understood that math was more than just numbers and mathematical operations. Math is the study of ideas and “arithmetic is a form of reasoning and the child is a reasoning being.” (Psychoarithmetic, xiii)
During this workshop, we will explore the math materials, examining how the materials form the basis and foundation for ever deepening understanding of the mathematical mind and how it unfolds. We will briefly examine the history of math and geometry, then dive into an in-depth examination for the materials as “materialized abstractions” and ways in which the materials, with repetition and exploration, help the child absorb impressions that provide an indirect preparation for later work in multiples, algebra, area, volume, reasoning and analysis.
“…using scientifically determined material to present the child in a clear and unmistakable manner the fundamentals that arouse rational thinking not only facilitates the learning of the arithmetic (elevating its importance), but also the development of a logic whose depth would have been thought impossible to achieve in children.” (Psychoarithmetic, xiii)
*GH Hardy, A Mathematician’s Apology


About Crystal Dahlmeier

Crystal Dahlmeier received a BS in Biology from Marietta College and a M.Ed. in Montessori Education at Xavier University. She was lead teacher/principal at Xavier University Montessori Lab School for 17 years, where she also taught both graduate and undergraduate classes in Montessori and Early Childhood Education. Crystal received National Board Certification and is a PITC Certified Infant/Toddler Trainer. She has served as the Teacher Section Chair for the American Montessori Society and has taught in Montessori Programs in Perth, Western Australia, England, Seoul, S.Korea and China. She is Program Director Emerita at the Greater Cincinnati Center for Montessori Education Teacher Education Program in northern Kentucky. She continues to teach in that program and acts as a field consultant. Ms. Dahlmeier presents workshops, is a conference presenter both nationally and internationally, and has been a keynote speaker at Montessori conferences in New Zealand, Australia and England. She has had articles published in Montessori journals and Young Children.


Saturday Breakout Session Information

Early Morning Yoga
6:15-7:15

“If we consider physical life on one side and mental life on the other, we break the cycle of relation, and the actions of man remain separated from the brain.” —Maria Montessori
Presenter: Julie Gill
Breakout Description:
Take a breath. Did you feel your lungs expand? Did you feel the movement of hair follicles inside of your nose? Were you thinking about your next task instead? Were you too busy to even take a breath?
Let’s allow ourselves a moment to unify our physical and mental lives. In this class we’ll use gentle movements to slow down and bring our full awareness into our body. No yoga experience necessary.


About Julie Gill

Julie Gill loves to aid the unfolding of human potential. She finished college with a degree in psychology and a need to understand why she’d spent the better part of 16 years sitting in a desk. After a bit of searching, she discovered Maria Montessori and is now certified in Montessori Early Childhood Education. She has been working to nurture the love of learning in every child for the past seven years and currently operates a small at-home Montessori-based daycare. Julie also spent a year at a Buddhist Retreat Center where she deepened her yoga practice and was trained to teach others. She loves to find the ways in which teaching yoga and teaching children overlap. She would like to help everyone slow down enough to appreciate every bit of this life.


Breakout Session 1
9:30-10:30

“The Rebirth of Kindness: Making the World a Better Place”
Presenter: Florence Kramer
Target Audience: Infant Toddler, Early Childhood, Parents
Breakout Description:
We will start by honoring the child 's natural tendency to feel compassion towards others and develop specific actions to cultivate a kinder classroom environment. We will discuss the role of the child, the importance of meeting their spiritual needs and how this relates to their future place in the world.


About Florence Kramer

Florence Kramer has been a Montessori educator since 1983, serving as a classroom teacher, head of school, consult, workshop presenter and teacher educator. Florence is currently Head of School at Green Tree Montessori in St Louis MO and an instructor at HMEI. Florence holds a BA from the University of Missouri and is AMS certified at both the Infant/Toddler and Early Childhood.


“Finding Balance: Infants, Parents, and Our World”
Presenters: Shannon Carr
Target Audience: Infant-Toddler, Parents
Breakout Description:
How does the infant's place society effect their ability to find balance? What does balance look like for parents, and how are the two connected? In this session we will attempt to answer these questions while creating strategies to take back to your classrooms and homes.


About Shanon Carr

Shannon's career created opportunities for her to see, support, guide, and partner with children, parents, and early childhood providers. Some organizations she as worked under include Missouri's Foster Care System, Parent As Teachers, St. Louis Community College, and some of Missouri's local training organizations. She has coached 100+ early childhood programs in St. Louis focusing on health and wellness, facilitates local racial justice programs, and in May 2017 started RISE Child, creating community with parents and their babies while facilitating regular Parent-Child Groups inspired by the Educaring® Approach.


“Helping parents “Montessori” – Bridging the Gap between School and Home”
Presenter: Jaclyn Wilson
Target Audience: Early Childhood, Parents
Breakout Description:
How often have parents asked “What should I be doing to help my child in school?” And what is the correct answer? It does not require buying Montessori materials, does not involve workbooks or academic drills. We can share the importance of independence practical life, positive discipline, and observation in a relatable, comfortable, simple way.


About Jaclyn Wilson

Jaclyn Wilson is an accountant turned Montessori Guide Inspired by her oldest child’s Montessori education, Jaclyn received her AMS training in Early Childhood at HMEI. She currently lives in Austin Texas with her husband and three children who are enrolled in Montessori programs from toddler through lower elementary. Jaclyn is passionate about parent education and building parent relationships in order to best serve the child. She has been a lead guide at Lake Hills Montessori for three years and has worked to build relationships with families that are warm and comfortable. Montessori in the home has been a major topic of interest from parents and has proved to be a great bonding point between herself and parents. With three children of her own, ages 8, 7, and 2, Jaclyn has had experience on both a personal and professional level and is still learning daily about this topic.


“Folk Peace Stories as Peace Curriculum in the Elementary Years”
Presenter: Cynthia Barraza
Target Audience: Elementary
Breakout Description:
Peace education is a key component of the elementary curriculum. In this workshop, we will explore ways to extend the Peace curriculum beyond conflict resolution. You will learn how to use Folk Peace stories, to create a Peace curriculum experience that will use extensions in every area of study: Giving the child the connection to her cosmic task.


About Cynthia Barraza

Cynthia Barraza is a dedicated Montessorian, who serves as a director at Discovery Garden Montessori. Cynthia holds AMS Early Childhood credential and CEMAC Elementary credential. Before directing Discovery Garden Montessori Cynthia taught at the Elementary level in El Paso, TX and Cd Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico for 7 years. During Cynthia's years directing Discovery Garden Montessori, she also taught in the elementary program for 3 years. Following her passion for Montessori, she served in the Board of Directors of the Montessori Administration Association from 2016-19, when the association merged with AMI/USA. In her down time, she enjoys time friends and family, a good book and travel.



“Montessori education of Muslim children: The Child’s Place in the Universe”
Presenter: Marah Zabibi
Target Audience: Infant-Toddler, Early Childhood, Parents, Elementary
Breakout Description:
Why does Montessori education and Islam concord with each other? How do Muslim children work in their Montessori classrooms? The Montessori Method molds with the Islamic view of children and their place in the world. Dr. Maria Montessori calls cosmic education the path through which children develop a global vision.


About Marah Zabibi

Marah Zabibi is the Director of Al -Salam Day School Early Childhood Center in Ballwin Missouri Marah has invested the past years of her career in teaching and supervision in the early Childhood field Her passion and commitment towards Montessori Education incited her to obtain the AMS Early Childhood Her passion and commitment towards Montessori Education incited her to obtain the AMS Early Childhood Montessori credential through Hope Montessori Educational Institute. She was able to transform Al - Salam Day School Early Childhood Center into a Montessori School.


Breakout Session 2
10:50-12:20


“Preparing Ourselves to Support Children in the Unconscious Absorbent Mind”
Presenter: Emily Breaux
Target Audience: Infant-Toddler, Parents
Breakout Description:
This presentation will focus on the first sub-plane of the Planes of Development: 0-3, which is when humans are in a period of unconscious absorption. We will explore what this looks like, and how adults can best support the child during this time of development. To understand the unconscious absorbent mind, to identify how it is different from the conscious absorbent mind, to learn Montessori philosophy including spiritual preparation of the adult, in order to best support the child during this time, to see what this looks like in a 0-3 Montessori group care environment.


About Emily Breaux

Emily Breaux ( MA Edu, AMS 0-3, MEI 3-6) has been in the field of education for years working in Primary and Toddler Montessori classrooms as well as taking on administrative roles. She is currently the Director of a Training Center near Nashville TN and an instructor I am passionate about Infant and Toddler Montessori education, and I love working to support teachers, classrooms, families, and schools.


“Mom and Montessori Educator: Guiding my children’s Discovery of their Place in the Universe”
Presenter: Birdie Pruessner
Target Audience: Infant-Toddler, Early Childhood, Parents
Breakout Description:
Being a Montessori parent is about more than enrolling your child in a Montessori school. This session, for educators, caregivers and parents, will provide information about bringing Montessori into the home in various degrees. From communication to kitchen appliances, we’ll discuss how to encourage independence and simplicity in your everyday home-life. Educators will leave with tips to share and parents will leave equipped to bring the Montessori method into their homes. The goal is for Montessori students to be met at home with similar opportunities for respect, independence, and nature experiences. Not every home needs a pink tower, but every home can honor the developmental needs of its children.


About Birdie Pruessner

After completing HMEI training, Birdie became the mother of twins and turned her home into a Montessori environment. The experience of raising children using Montessori's philosophies lead her to share the experience with others through her book, Making it Montessori, and community micro-school. Birdie has been teaching for nearly ten years and has an MBA and MEd in Early Childhood Education. She was the 2012 ABCTE Missouri Teacher of the Year, completed AMS Montessori certification in 2013 and is licensed by MODESE as a Highly Qualified Teacher in the following areas: Family and Consumer Science, Elementary Education, English Language Arts, and Early Childhood Education. Birdie's children, Ellie and Ivy(5), and Jackson(2), inspired her to use the support and training from HMEI to publish a guidebook for bringing Montessori into the home and open a micro-school.


“Slowing Down: The Importance of Nature in the Unfolding of the Human Spirit”
Presenter: Laura Landrum
Target Audience: Infant-Toddler, Early Childhood, Parents
Breakout Description:
This workshop will present current research on how nature benefits development, as well as the negative effects of technology and busy schedules It will support participants in more full - heartedly embracing outside time in the formation of the human mind and spirit Participants will leave with simple tools to get outside and slow down and a resource list.


About Laura Landrum

AMI Primary Diploma- Washington Montessori Institute, 2006; BA Spanish, Bard College 2000; EdM Language and Literacy, Harvard Graduate School of Education, 2005. Currently on sabbatical and homeschooling; organizer Mid-Missouri Montessori Teachers Group; past Lead Teacher and Site Director, The Community Montessori


“Cosmic Education in the Second Plane of Development” : (Cosmic Plan + Cosmic Task = Cosmic Education)
Presenter: Laurie Stockton-Moreno
Target Audience: Elementary
Breakout Description:
The primary goal of Cosmic Education is development of whole and integrated human beings. Additional goals include forming relationships with humanity and the environment, understanding the responsibility of humans in the harmony of all, and consciously engaging the ongoing work of evolution. This refresher presentation will expand this concept and illustrate ways in which the Cosmic Curriculum is implemented.


About Laurie Stockton-Moreno

Laurie Stockton - Moreno is Education Director and Lower Elementary teacher at Brookview Montessori School in Benton Harbor Michigan She teaches courses for the Institute for Montessori Innovation and has served as the course director for a teacher training program in Luoyang China. Laurie has given numerous presentations on curriculum integration and Arts Infusion with colleague Dr. Larry Schanker, and they teach a course by that name at Westminster College.


“Independence @ Home: Creating a Montessori Home Environment for Infants/Toddlers with Special Learning Needs”
Presenter: Dr. Patricia Picchetti
Target Audience: Infant-Toddler, Parents
Breakout Description:
For Infants/Toddlers with special learning needs, the Montessori home environment is the most important environment for early learning. The creation of a home environment which fosters independence supports the growth & development of the young child within the family. The young child becomes an integral part of the family & contributes to all aspects of family life.


About Dr. Patricia Picchetti

Director Birth-3 Program @ Children’s Montessori Language Academy & Co-Educational Director Childrens Montessori Language Academy Hinsdale, IL. Patricia Picchetti is a physician trained in Pediatrics with a special interest in Child Development. She is AMS certified in Early Childhood & Infant/Toddler levels. She has been teaching in the Montessori community for 40 yrs. She is a teacher educator/consultant/accreditor/ presenter for AMS for 40 yrs. Patricia Picchetti is currently a teacher educator for HMEI in the field of Child Development. She has worked for the Homefront Program @ Loyola University Medical School educating future physicians on the dynamics of children & families with special needs. She is a member of National Association for Down Syndrome. Research credits include epidemiological studies on SIDS Sudden Infant Death Syndrome with Loyola University Medical Center & Infant/Child Stroke Feasibility Studies with Medical Environmental Design for Rush University Medical School. Patricia is married & has 4 children & 5 grandchildren educated in Montessori schools. Her son, Michael, has Down Syndrome.


Breakout Session 3
1:30-3:00


“Executive Function: Montessori's Understanding of Providing Children the Tools for their Cosmic Unfolding”
Presenter: Marcy Bourdo
Target Audience: Infant-Toddler, Early Childhood, Parents
Breakout Description:
There are key phases in the development of executive function. One of these phases aligns with Montessori’s first plane of development. Research shows what predicts how successful a person is in life is related to executive functioning skills. Do you know what these are and do you understand how to further support their development?


About Marcy Bourdo

Marcy Bourdo works in Frisco, Texas as Education Coordinator of Starwood Schools, which serves children 3 months to 15 years. She is a Teacher Trainer for North Texas Montessori Institute. She is AMS Certified at the Infant/Toddler level and the Early Childhood level and has 20+ years of Montessori experience.


"Supporting Toddler in the Development of Independence and Self-Regulation: A Partnership Relation “
Presenter: Hui Jang and Angela Hazlewood 
Target Audience: Infant-Toddler, Parents 
Breakout Description:
Toddlerhood is that magical time when the child develops a sense of self and power yet are expected to develop self - regulation skills to help them control their behaviors emotions and bodily functions Now is when they need a co - regulator a partner who understands them and can communicate effectively while setting appropriate boundaries to create feelings of autonomy.

About Hui Jiang:
Hui Jiang has a bachelor degree in English education from Guangxi Normal University in China.
She received her M.Ed in elementary education (emphasis in early childhood) from University of St. Louis Missouri. Hui is AMS certified 0-3 through HMEI. She has a toddler classroom at Southwest Montessori Christian(SMC) in Amarillo, Texas. She is also the program coordinator of the infant toddler program in SMC. Hui loves to share diversities with her  students as well as taking them for a nature walk each day.

About Angela Hazlewood:
Angela Hazlewood received a BA from Luther College in religion and Spanish and an M.Ed in elementary education with an emphasis in early childhood education from UMSL. She began working at Hope Montessori Infant-Toddler Community in Creve Coeur, MO as a teaching assistant in 2013 and fell in love with the Montessori philosophy. She is AMS certified from 0-3 through HMEI. She enjoys spending time outside in nature with her students, as well as bringing her love of music to them through singing.  


“Montessori Outdoors: Reflections, Research, and Practical Application for Experiencing Nature In and Out of the Classroom”
Presenter: Amanda Salley and Janne Bang Guerin
Target Audience: Early Childhood, Parents
Breakout Description:
Montessori wrote: “There must be provision for the children to have contact with nature: to understand and appreciate the order, the harmony, and the beauty in nature.”, and “ All things are part of the universe and are connected with each other to form one whole unity. The idea helps the mind of the child to become focused, to stop wandering in an aimless quest for knowledge. He is satisfied having found the universal center of himself with all things.” When one thinks of a Montessori classroom, images of the Pink Tower, the Bead Cabinet, Sandpaper Letter, etc. typically come to mind. The classrooms are generally aesthetically pleasing with Montessori materials and other work made primarily from real and natural materials. The ideal three hour work period provides the environment for deep concentration and further explorations following the interests of the child. Most teachers would express that they believe in Nature, and that time in nature is important for them and their children, but it can be a struggle to successfully integrate it into the Montessori model. With Cosmic Education we are able to introduce the child to the natural world through physical experiences in nature and the sensorial learning materials it provides. This workshop will explore Montessori and Cosmic Education with a focus on the benefits, physical, cognitive and emotional, of nature to the child, teacher, classroom environment, and community through: an exploration of current research, Montessori Philosophy, personal observations, actual practice in nature, ideas for both indoor and outdoor environments, and ideas for those with limited access to a natural outdoor environment.


About Amanda Salley

Amanda has a Bachelor of Special Studies, specializing in Art, Art History, and Anthropology from Cornell College in Iowa, and a Masters of Art in Renaissance Art History from American University in Washington D.C. She has worked in a Montessori school for ten years; first as an assistant, then as the Artist-in-Residence, now as a Lead Teacher. She completed her AMS Primary Montessori Certification from Hope Montessori Educational Institute in Lake St. Louis in 2017. Amanda’s connection to nature began when she grew up hiking and camping with her family in Texas and Iowa, and has continued through her roles as teacher and mother.


About Janne Bang Guerin

Janne Bang-Guerin was introduced to Montessori through her oldest daughter, who attended Montessori school from toddler through Kindergarten. She has a Masters in Fine Art, specializing in sculpture from SUNY Purchase, New York. She obtained her AMS Primary Montessori certification from Chestnut Hill College in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 2011. Janne has been a lead Montessori teacher for seven years, but before that worked as an assistant in a Montessori classroom. Growing up in Scandinavia was integral to her passion for nature because being outside is a natural part of life there.


“Administrators/Heads of School Roundtable”

Presenter: Theresa Callahan, Dr. Nicole Evans and Dr. Lisa Small
Target Audience:Administrators, Heads of Schools
Breakout Description:
This session will provide an opportunity for Administrators/Heads of Schools to discuss current issues facing them with a panel of experienced Administrators from a variety of schools—public, private and charter. Smaller groups can be used to explore specific issues that are challenges to you. This session will be participant driven with the guidance of experienced heads.


About Theresa Callahan

Theresa is the Director of Hope Montessori Creve Coeur--a private Montessori school in suburban St. Louis


About Dr. Nicole Evans

Dr. Evans is the Head of City Garden--a Montessori Charter School in St. Louis, Missouri


About Dr. Lisa Small

Dr. Small is the Principal of Washington Montessori--a Public Montessori in St. Louis, Missouri



“The Natural Connection Between Cosmic Education and Anti-Bias/Anti-Racist Curriculum”

Presenter: Darcell Butler
Target Audience: Elementary
Breakout Description:
It is not enough for the teacher to love the child. She must first love and understand the universe. She must prepare herself,and truly work at it.” Maria Montessori Montessori environments are designed to embrace all that makes us unique and capable care-takers of our earth. In this seminar we will discuss. 1. How anti-bias/anti-racist curriculum is naturally woven into the Montessori pedagogy. 2. The use of literature in the Montessori environment. 3. Preparing ourselves for creating environments that values and embrace humanity.


About Darcell Butler

Darcell is a Montessori lower Elementary teacher at Washington Montessori School in St. Louis, Missouri. Previously, Darcell was the a lower elementary teacher and the Curriculum and Instructional Coordinator at City Garden Montessori Charter School in St. Louis, Missouri. Darcell is certified by the American Montessori Society at three levels: Early Childhood: Missouri Montessori Teacher Education Program; Elementary I: Central Ohio Montessori Education for Teachers; and Elementary II: Montessori Teacher Education Center—San Francisco Bay Area. She is certified for Montessori Teacher Coaching Training by Montessori in the Public Sector and Crossroads Antiracism Organization and Training. She has multiple awards and honors for her teaching since 1985 in elementary schools, universities and Montessori Teacher Preparation programs.


Breakout Session 4
3:20-4:50


“The Cosmic Curriculum: Assuring Critical Thinking and Deep Learning: While Managing It All”
Presenter: Claudia Mann
Target Audience: Elementary
Breakout Description:
Montessorians tout achievement of critical thinking through engagement, curiosity, and individualization, often, while challenged to manage the scope of our curriculum and assure rigorous achievement in reading, writing and mathematics. Can we be sure that children leave our classrooms with all this? Using Cosmic Education and hands-on activities, you’ll learn an approach that assures strong skills and deep thinking.


About Claudia Mann

Montessori education has been the gift of a lifetime! From my first memorable experience as a young musician sharing my flute-playing to my retirement from Head of School in 2018, I’ve seen the many benefits of Montessori in changing lives of children, young people and adults. I received Elementary I (Xavier University), Elementary II (CMTE/NY) and Secondary I (Houston Montessori Center) certifications between 1987 and 2003. My teaching career began in Cincinnati, OH and took me to a variety of places as an elementary II and secondary guide. I participated in the founding of two Montessori schools: Montessori de Santa Cruz in Tubac, AZ and Chaffee County Montessori School (now Salida Montessori Charter School) in Salida, CO. My work with Montessori teachers has included teacher training, mentoring, and coaching since 1988 and continues to this day. It brings me great joy to be able to serve teachers, administrators, schools, and parents as they strive to live the Montessori vision.