School Visits & Breakout Sessions

School Visits


Hope Montessori Creve Coeur (3-6)

Hope Montessori Infant-Toddler Community (0-3)

A Growing Place (3-6)

City Garden Charter School (0-3) (3-6)

Al Salam Day School (0-3) (3-6)

Kirkwood Children’s House (0-3) (3-6)


Breakout Session Information


Breakout Session 1
9:35-10:50

“Stepping Stones to Impulse Control: How the Montessori Approach Can Support that Journey”
Presenter: Dee Coulter
Target Audience: Parents, Infant-Toddler, Early Childhood
Breakout Description:
As children develop from birth through age 4 or 5, they learn to regulate four key switches, helping them take in the world and develop self-control. We will discover how brilliantly the Montessori approach guides them through these character building challenges.


About Dee Coulter

Dee Joy Coulter is a nationally recognized neuroscience pioneer with a master’s degree in special education from the University of Michigan and a doctorate in neurological studies and holistic education from the University of Northern Colorado. In addition to 14 years as a special education teacher and program director, she served on the faculty of Naropa University for 20 years. She is the author of the, “Original Mind”, 2014.


"Learning to Move, Moving to Learn" 
Presenters: Polly Elam, Shannon Carr
Target Audience: Parents, Infant-Toddler
Breakout Description:
Join us as we explore the power of movement through the eyes of Madga Gerber’s Educaring® Approach. We will look at the natural unfolding of the infant and discuss the physiological and psychological implications of their movements. We will also look at objects in the environment and discuss their role in the infant’s developing motor movement.


About Polly Elam

Polly studied and worked with Magda Gerber for 20 years and has been president of the RIE® Board of Directors since 2011. Polly has studied at the Pikler Institute and presented at the Pikler International Conference in 2007. Polly has worked with a variety of infant/toddler programs and has conducted seminars and training in Europe, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, and throughout the United States.


About Shannon Carr

Shannon is parent, early childhood specialist, parent-child group facilitator. She has been in the field of Early Childhood for almost 25 years. Along the way she fell in love with a way of being with children called Educaring® which includes being with children in an authentic, trusting, respectful kind of way, without judgment. She has created RISECHILD in St. Louis as an opportunity to provide strength to families during the critical early years.


“Teaching Mindfulness in a Montessori Classroom” 
Presenter: Lindsay Klasing
Target Audience: Parents, Infant-Toddler, Early Childhood
Breakout Description:
Mindfulness is the intentional practice of focusing one’s attention on what is occurring in the moment. This practice and awareness helps children to get their brains ready to learn. It helps children understand how their brain works and how they can help it to learn more. In this session participants will be presented with data and research to support the implementation of mindfulness in the classroom. Noted outcomes as well as favorite mindfulness exercises and resources will be discussed. There will be many ideas to begin a mindfulness practice in your classroom and many resources recommended to assist with this process.


About Lindsay Klasing

Lindsay has been teaching kindergarten and first grade at Chesterfield Day School for the past five years. She has been in elementary education for 13 years. Lindsay researched meditation and mindfulness in schools as part of her Montessori Training in 2013. Since this research, Lindsay has begun a personal mindfulness practice and is implementing mindfulness in her classroom. Lindsay is AMS Early Childhood Certified by HMEI. She has a BS in Elementary Education, MA in Elementary Education.


“Teaching Religion in a Montessori Classroom: Catechesis of the Good Shepard” 
Presenter: Tracey Allen et. al
Target Audience: Infant Toddler, Early Childhood, Parents
Breakout Description:
This session will help teachers develop ideas for teaching religion when you work in a religious based school. The participants will rotate through three 20 minute sessions-the mass, teaching Bible stories, teaching the seasons. The session will end with Q and A. The goal is to show teachers how religion can be a natural part of the Montessori curriculum.


About Tracey Allen et. al

Our presentation will be given by a team of Montessori teachers from Visitation Academy. All of the teachers have their AMS certification and they love teaching our little friends.


Breakout Session 2
11:10-12:25


“Grit, Gratitude, Grace and Courtesy"
Presenter: P. Donohue Shortridge
Target Audience: Infant-Toddler, Early Childhood
Breakout Description:
Are you feeling a bit burned out? Or perhaps you are annoyed by a child’s challenging behavior. Maybe you are in conflict with a colleague. And what about a tricky situation with a parent? We’ll explore ways to address various thorny issues. The emphasis will be on taking personal responsibility and renewing one’s commitment to Dr. Montessori’s insights on the transformation of the adult.


 About P. Donohue Shortridge

Donohue inspires us with Montessori’s vision of a method of education that is grounded in the deepest respect for children, an understanding of their process of self-creation, and the dispositions and spiritual preparation required of practitioners. She is a master Montessorian, whose work is transformative, inspiring, and powerful. Through consultations and professional presentations around the country, she inspires all of us to look within and to be the best person we can be in order to serve the children before us. Donohue has her M.Ed. and is Montessori certified 0-3 and 3-6.


“Cultivating the Parent Teacher Alliance in an Infant Classroom”
Presenter: Christina Sova
Target Audience: Infant-Toddler
Breakout Description:
The parent teacher relationship is an essential element in the infant classroom. Effective communication enables both the home environment and the classroom to have consistency. With the child’s development being the shared focus, the cultivation of understanding, trust and knowledge is vital. The adult learner will walk away with effective strategies in building positive parent teacher relationships including-language and vocabulary and a timeline of relationship building.


About Cristina Sova

Cristina is an infant teacher, the mother to an infant son, and has been working with families for over six years in the classroom setting. She is an adult educator and speaker on infant development and the Montessori classroom. Cristina earned her degree in Psychology from the University of Tennessee and her AMS 0-3 certification from Seton Montessori Institute.


“How Infant-Toddler Philosophy and Experience Inform My Work as an Early Childhood Educator”
Presenter: Misha Bertolino
Target Audience: Early Childhood
Breakout Description:
What do Montessori Infant-Toddler educators know that we don’t? Key elements of the Montessori 0-3 philosophy are essential to our work at the early childhood level. Come explore the fundamentals of daily observation, environmental modification, behavioral guidance and the role of independence to learn how these features benefit not only infant and toddlers, but also members of the 3-6 classroom.


About Misha Bertolino

Misha is a passionate, dual-credentialed Montessori educator with over 25 years of experience. Her background and work at the infant-toddler level provides a unique perspective into meeting the needs of the youngest members in the Montessori early childhood classroom. Misha earned her MA in Early Childhood Education from Maryville University, her AMS 0-3 credential from MECA-Seton and her 3-6 credential from MOMTEP.


“Rewiring Your Conventionally Trained Brain: How to Think Like You Were a Montessori Child”
Presenter: Julie Gill
Target Audience: Parents, Infant-Toddler, Early Childhood
Breakout Description:
Ever wish you had the benefits of a Montessori Education? Most of us were raised on extrinsic rewards. The pursuit of our main passions may have been thwarted by a simple criticism or bad grade. Come learn a few strategies to help you rewire your conventionally trained brain and reignite your passion for learning. “The real preparation for education is a study of one’s self.” Attendees will become aware of limiting thought patterns, develop a deep understanding of the benefits of a Montessori Education, and learn simple practices to adjust the manner in which they approach learning.


About Julie Gill

Julie loves to aid the unfolding of human potential. She graduated college with a need to understand why she’d spent the better part of 16 years sitting in a desk. He quest led her to Maria Montessori’s teachings where her journey in alternative education began. Julie operates a small home based Montessori program. She teaches a parent-child yoga class and is passionate about outdoors and reconnecting humans with nature. Julie has a BS in Psychology and is Montessori Certified 3-6 from Hope Montessori Educational Institute.


Breakout Session 3
1:30-2:45


“Cultivating Inner Peace”
Presenters: Susie Shelton-Dodge, Sydney Seidel
Target Audience: Parents, Infant-Toddler, Early Childhood
Breakout Description:
Come reflect on the closely related concepts of inner peace, spirituality, and mindfulness, along with Montessori’s conviction that the child’s spirit is best nourished by his environment. This workshop will highlight the importance of providing children with opportunities for silence, stillness, community, and solitude and give you the chance to explore materials and activities that cultivate inner peace in the classroom.


About Susie Shelton-Dodge

Susie is the academic director of Hope Montessori Educational Institute. She has many years of classroom teaching at both the Infant-Toddler and Early Childhood levels. She has also directed three Montessori schools during her career. Currently Susie serves AMS on the TEAC committee. Susie is AMS 0-3 and Early Childhood certified. She has a BA in Sociology from Oklahoma State University and a M.Ed. from Oklahoma City University.


About Sydney Seidel

Sydney received her AMS Early Childhood certification from Hope Montessori Educational Institute and has the joy of teaching at Hope Montessori Academy in Lake St. Louis. She is a guest lecturer and Early Language Instructor at HMEI. Sydney is passionate about peace education and had the honor of presenting on this topic with Susie at the 2017 AMS Annual Conference in San Diego. Sydney has a BA in History and a minor in English from Wheaton College.


“All Children Have Gifts: A Montessori Perspective on Infants and Toddlers with Special Learning Needs”
Presenter: Patricia Picchetti, MD
Target Audience: Parents,Infant-Toddler, Early Childhood
Breakout Description:
Each child who comes to the Montessori environment enters a unique learning experience. Our role as teachers/guides is to speak to the child through the learning experience and allow the potential of each child to be revealed. We will explore how the infant/toddler with special learning needs interacts with the environment and finds harmony in the learning expression of self.


About Patricia Picchetti, MD

Patricia has spent 38 years teaching and training medical students and future Montessori professionals. She is a former mentor in the Homefront Pediatric Program educating future physicians on the potential of children with special learning needs in the family. Pat is the mother of four and has five Montessori grandchildren. She is trained in pediatrics and is Montessori certified by AMS at the Infant-Toddler and Early Childhood levels. Currently she teaches child development at Home Montessori Educational Institute.


“Supporting Language in the First Plane of Development: The Power of Words”
Presenter: Marcy Bourdo
Target Audience: Parents, Infant-Toddler, Early Childhood
Breakout Description:
One of the most valuable ways to support the Sensitive period for Language is by utilizing your own language effectively. This requires Montessori Guides to analyze the words they use and identify common “teacher” phrases that do not align with Montessori philosophy. The goal of the workshop is to identify negative habits in our “teacher language” and support best practices in our Montessori classrooms. Attendees will learn how to develop effect communication strategies that can be applied immediately to their teaching style.


Marcy Bourdo

Marcy is the education coordinator at Starwood Montessori School and an instructor for the North Texas Montessori Institute in Frisco, Texas. She is AMS credentialed at both the Infant-Toddler and Early Childhood levels. She has a BA from University of California Irvine.


“The Everyday Wild: Building a Nature Loving Community from the Child Up”

Presenter: Lara Landrum
Target Audience: Parents, Early Childhood
Breakout Description:
Nature is all around us, even in the most concrete, urban environments. Young children love the outdoors, and all areas of their development benefit from time outside. We will explore how to provide meaningful, nature-filled daily routines and experiences. Focus will be on nature observation, journaling, and community nature collections. The presentation will cover daily routines and activities that are simple and easy to adapt to any classroom environment, regardless of outdoor space or teacher comfort.


About Lara Landrum

Lara is a passionate advocate for children’s need for natural spaces. In over a decade as a Montessori guide, she has encouraged children to see the outdoors as places of wonder and discovery. Lara has built outdoor learning spaces and incorporated nature studies into the everyday fabric of her classrooms. Lara is AMI primary certified by Washington Montessori Institute. She has a BA in Spanish from Bard College and EdM in Language and Literacy from Harvard Graduate School of Education.