Primary Community

Koalas

gigi-SGigi Papini – Associate Head of School/Lead Teacher

Ms. Gigi realized she wanted to be a Montessori teacher after witnessing the difference the Montessori Method and School in the Hills made in the life of the children she was caring for. Ms. Gigi truly believes that the freedom of movement and the opportunity the children have to work and learn through hands-on activities creates an inviting environment that allows them to develop their minds.

Ms. Gigi’s strength as a teacher is the ability to make the learning process fun, positive, and creative. She has a strong sense of community and respect for different cultures and lifestyles. She also strives in helping her students grow, develop, and learn how to be good citizens of the world.

Ms. Gigi was born and raised in Brazil. She received a Bachelor of Arts in History with a minor in Cultures from the Catholic University of Goias in 2005. She taught high school level World History for two years in Brazil before she became an au pair for a family here in Austin. She received her Montessori Primary Certification from the Montessori Teacher Education Institute in Houston, TX. Ms. Gigi hopes to go back to school to get a Masters degree in Psychology in the near future.

jess3-SJessica Wellspring- Co-Teacher/Primary Program Coordinator

Ms. Jessica believes education is the foundation to a solid and positive lifestyle. She enjoys creating a safe, fun, and encouraging environment for children to learn and grow. Her passion for inspiring and impacting the lives of the children under her care allows her to see her profession as less of a “job” and more of a journey to become a better educator. Her goal is to be a good role model for her students and to strive to influence them positively by loving and accepting them just the way they are.

Ms. Jessica is working towards finishing her degree in Early Childhood Education. She received her Primary Montessori certification from The Center of Guided Montessori Studies.

JessicaWilliams-1Jessica Williams – Co-Teacher

Ms. J has started her journey to become a Primary Montessori teacher and is thrilled to be doing so at School in the Hills. She believes in freedom of choice and allowing each child to progress at their own pace. As she grows as a teacher, she desires to be a better guide to the Koalas.

Ms. J has a Bachelor’s in Entrepreneurship, a Certificate in Patisserie and Baking, and she is also a licensed Property Tax Consultant. She received her Primary Montessori Teacher certification from the Montessori Teacher Education Institute in Houston, Texas.

 

Sparrows

Brenda Bradham – Co-Teachersith_brenda

Ms. Brenda has worked in a Montessori classroom since October 2000 when she moved to Austin from Washington State. During her years working as a Montessori assistant and lead teacher, Ms. Brenda has developed a true passion for the Montessori philosophy and enjoys sharing that passion with the children. She received her Montessori Primary Certification from the North American Montessori Center. Ms. Brenda’s mission is to support the children in becoming confident and successful learners. She is also the proud mother of two daughters Irie and Maya.

sith_ali-1Ali Olvera – Co-Teacher

Ms. Ali is a loving teacher with a great sense of humor. She received a Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education from Ashford University and completed the first summer in a 3-summer Primary Montessori training at the Montessori Institute of North Texas. Ms. Ali has 5 years of experience working in a Primary classroom.

Ms. Ali loves knowing that she can make an impact in the lives of the young children she works with. She says, “There is so much potential in children, and all they need is caring people around them and a stable and prepared environment.” She was introduced to Montessori by chance. After she started working at a Montessori school, she fell in love with this educational method. Studying Dr. Montessori’s methods and attending training sessions and workshops have really shown me how the child develops and learns and how we, as teachers, can use that to help them reach their highest potential. She believes education should be fun, hands-on, and exciting, and Montessori is all of those things. To her academics alongside character education result in a well-rounded individual, and it is her goal is to shape honest, hardworking and respectful individuals for our future generation.

Ms. Ali is an advocate for fitness and healthy living. She is currently undergoing a Crossfit kids training course.  It is important to her that children see fitness and exercise as a fun activity they look forward to. She loves witnessing children growing strong and healthy as they discover the benefits of fitness.

Kelly-1

Kelly McChesney – Assistant

Ms. Kelly is a native Austinite and truly loves being able to call this beautiful place home. She received a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from Texas Christian University. While earning her degree, Ms. Kelly took many classes focused on child development in all aspects ranging from cognitive, emotional, and physical development that helped inspire and support her passion for working with children. Although new to an assistant teaching position here at School in the Hills, Ms. Kelly has spent every summer since 2014 substituting and floating at both SitH locations and could not be happier to now have a home in the Heron classroom.

Ms. Kelly fell in love with Montessori education by observing the ways in which the Montessori method allows children to facilitate and take ownership of their own learning. The independence that Montessori offers in the classroom provides a foundation for children to take pride in their education and learning. She believes that mutual respect and compassion are fundamental to the student-teacher relationship and that these core values should be at the heart of the classroom.

 

Herons

sith_laurenLauren Bornschein – Lead Teacher

Originally from Colorado and a Northern Michigan girl at heart, Texas is the eleventh state Ms. Lauren has called home. She loves all things water recreation and is grateful to once again be in a place lush with rivers and lakes!

Ms. Lauren is an AMS and MACTE certified Early Childhood Montessori teacher. She received her training through the Institute for Montessori Innovation. She comes to School in the Hills at River Place after teaching at Montessori Community School of Salt Lake City for five years.

Ms. Lauren completed her Masters of Education-Montessori from Westminster College in 2015 and earned her Bachelor’s of Science in Human Development and Family Studies from the University of Utah. She has previously been a youth camp director and has worked with children for over a decade in a variety of areas including art and permaculture.

Montessori education supports Ms. Lauren’s belief that children are empowered when allowed independence within loving and logical boundaries. Our children are our future and Ms. Lauren is committed to guiding the children in her care toward their own best potentials socially, emotionally, and academically.

Sandra Chazelle – Assistant

Ms. Sandra is a native of France, who has lived the past 17 years in Dublin, London, and most recently Austin. She has always thrived in open, multi-cultural environments that offer something to teach and learn. She loves sharing her passion and enthusiasm for discovering the world with young children through engaging interactions that stimulate their senses as well as their imagination and creativity.

For nearly a decade, she has been an advocate for the Montessori methodology; ever since she enrolled for training in London in 2010. However, fate had other plans. When Sandra learned that she was expecting twins she put her career on pause and dedicated the following years to raising her daughters while still learning and applying the Montessori philosophy to the upbringing of her girls.

Ms. Sandra has been a private French teacher for young children for the past six years, as well as a member of the faculty at EFA (Education Française Austin) for four years. She has designed and carried out several Spring and Summer French language camps. She and her husband are raising their daughters in a tri-lingual home.

During her quiet moments, Ms. Sandra enjoys practicing yoga & meditation.

 

Elephants

Hilary Cate – Lead Teacher

Ms. Cate loves to learn and teach. In 1995, she received her Montessori training from the Houston Montessori Center. She has served as a field consultant for the Houston Montessori Center and Princeton Montessori; helping new teachers with their training. Ms. Cate also teaches Montessori and Early Childhood workshops for parents, teachers, and administrators. She is a firm believer and advocate of Montessori at home and enjoys helping parents incorporate the philosophy within their home with their children.
Ms. Cate has traveled to Tibet and China five times to teach conferences and workshops. These trips have been very rewarding and demonstrate that Montessori is universal and can be easily applied around the world. She sees education as unique to each child and wants to inspire children to learn by getting to know who they are as individuals. Because when you truly know who a child is, you can then use their interests to help them get excited to learn.

Ms. Cate also loves teaching fitness classes to adults and children, encouraging movement and exercise for children to help keep their bodies healthy and brains functioning. She teaches Zumba Kids Jr, kickboxing, and Zumba for adults.

Amanda Moriarty – Assistant

Original from New Hampshire, Ms. Amanda found her passion for working with kids after college. After going to school for video game design, she really wanted to learn how to create games that could be educational and fun for children. She thought since technology has become such an integral part of children’s lives, finding a way to make that “screen time” educational was a big part of her mission. Working with children helped her realize that she truly enjoys watching children learn and grow, and she loves being part of this process. This realization pushed her towards a career change, and now she now wants to spend more time in educational settings as well as furthering her own education.

Ms. Amanda is inspired by the independence the Montessori environment provides to children, which allows them to learn at their own pace. This is why she chose a Montessori school to start her new professional journey.

 

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