Primary Community

Giraffes –

sonja-SSonja Villalba – Lead Teacher/Primary Program Coordinator

Ms. Sonja’s positive personality shines everywhere she goes. Always looking up, Ms. Sonja is ready to accomplish any task or situation that comes her way. Ms. Sonja always knew teaching was her calling. She loves working with children in the Primary level because it allows her to experience their innocence and their pure heart. She also enjoys listening to the clever and funny things they say. Ms. Sonja was drawn to the Montessori philosophy because it gives children the freedom and opportunity to develop their fullest potential. Her pledge as an educator is to do everything within her talent and capacity to provide each child a chance to “reach for the stars.”

Ms. Sonja received her Montessori Associate Credential from the Montessori Education Center of the Rockies in Boulder, CO. Before moving to Austin, she taught at Rocky Mountain Montessori (RMM) in Dillon, CO.  She began her Montessori journey at RMM in 2007. She was Lead Teacher to ages 2 ½ – 6 years for four years. Ms. Sonja attended Angelo State University in San Angelo, TX and the University of Colorado at Denver. She is currently planning on continuing her studies at the University of Texas at Austin.

monika-1Monika Weglika – Co-Teacher

Ms. Monika holds a Master’s degree in Education of Children with Additional Needs from the Academy of Special Education in Warsaw, Poland. She has also earned a post-graduate degree in Speech and Language Therapy from the University of Warsaw. She received her Montessori teaching certifications from the Montessori Teaching Education Institute in Houston.

Texas is Ms. Monika’s third home. She is native of Poland, where she was born and brought up. She lived in Scotland for 20 years, and then moved to Austin in 2013. She has over 10 years of teaching experience. While in Scotland, Ms. Monika worked in an elementary school for children with special educational needs and found this experience very rewarding.

Ms. Monika loves the Montessori philosophy, and its individual approach to every child. She believes that focusing on each child’s needs and abilities helps them to achieve their maximum potential at their own pace. One of the aspects of teaching young children that Ms. Monika loves is their honesty and their fresh sense of observation of the world around them. One of her favorite quotes is: “Free the child’s potential and you will transform him into the world” (M. Montessori).

Ms. Monika loves Texas BBQ (her favorite place is Salt Lick), country music, and dancing. Her favorite sports to watch are tennis and figure skating.

Jana Roberson- Co-Teacher100928evg 0323

Ms. Jana holds a Primary Montessori teaching certification from the Southwestern Montessori Training Center. She has over fifteen years of experience in teaching young children.

Ms. Jana’s educational background in Early Childhood Development gives her a unique understanding of the children’s needs and allows her to build trusting relationships with her students. She also possesses a keen ability to establish positive relationships with parents. Ms. Jana strives to maintain a healthy and safe classroom environment where children can thrive and reach their potential.

 

Pandas –

Rosie-2Andrea Kang – Co-Teacher

Ms. Andrea graduated from Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois with a double degree in Education and Spanish. Shortly after graduation, she relocated to Austin to pursue a career in Spanish instruction. During this transition, she was introduced to the Montessori Method where her passion for teaching really began to flourish. She was drawn to the Montessori Method because it opened up a whole new world of personal discovery by observing the amazing potential and ownership that children have in their learning process. She then attended NEMTEC (New England Montessori Teacher Education Center) in 2012 where she earned her Montessori certification for the Primary level. Ms. Andrea also holds a Master’s degree in Spanish from Marquette University. Her future career goals include continuing to develop a better understanding of the Montessori philosophy combined with the art of language learning at an early age.

Ms. Andrea was born in Ibarra, Ecuador to Korean immigrants. Growing up in South America, she had the wonderful opportunity to be brought up with both the Korean and the Ecuadorian culture. She has since had the opportunity to experience a third culture by coming to the United States to study and work.

Rosie-1Rosie Chaves – Co-Teacher

Ms. Rosie began her Montessori journey in 2013. Due to her wonderful experience with the philosophy, she decided to pursue her Primary certification at the Montessori Teacher Education Institute in Houston, Texas (M.T.E.I). She is excited to share all of her Montessori passion with the children and her team members. “I will help to guide every child toward success and independence.”

A tangible example of what makes Ms. Rosie passionate about this educational philosophy is the early age at which children achieve a higher level of independence and self-reliance. From the beginning our students are encouraged to become resourceful and responsible for their own tasks and the environment they share with others. She loves to watch how children blossom and demonstrate so much autonomy and love for learning. Ms. Rosie believes that by creating the space for the children to safely explore their own capabilities, they are also allowed to develop self-confidence and self-reliance; and these qualities will help build their character for the rest of their lives.

Ms. Rosie was born and raised in San Jose, Costa Rica. She moved to Austin, Texas in 1996 and has been here ever since.

KerrieKerrie Van Curan – Inter

Ms. Kerrie graduated from Ashford University with a Bachelor degree in Early Childhood Education. During her time here, she learned about the Montessori Method. This method aligned with her teaching philosophy of allowing students the independence to learn through making mistakes. She believes that children learn best through exploring the world around them and being able to interact with their peers. She loves that the Montessori Method provides a way to have this interaction. Ms. Kerrie is drawn to the Primary age group because she loves to watch all that the children in this age group are able to learn and accomplish at such a young age. She loves watching the children’s maturity and leadership skills expand and improve as they also grow physically.

Ms. Kerrie was born and raised in Killeen, TX, but hopes to move to the Austin area in the near future. She is currently working on her Master’s degree in Education with a concentration in Child Development at Ashford University. She is also pursuing her Primary Montessori teaching certification through the Center of Guided Montessori Studies.

Foxes –

sith_angelicaAngelica Evans – Lead Teacher

Ms. Angelica has been working with children for over two decades and working within the Montessori community for the majority of that time. She is an AMS 3-6 and MACTE certified teacher. She received her certification from the Montessori Education Center of the Rockies. She also has a degree in Arts and Humanities from Front Range in Colorado.

Ms. Angelica’s teaching style fits with the goals of Montessori based on educating the whole child. The history of how Maria Montessori created this pedagogy based on working with children in the slums of Italy and finding that it works for all children really made an impact on her and her choice to become a Montessori teacher.

It is a beautiful gift to be able to work with children in an environment that fosters independence through love and self-acceptance. The children in her classroom work daily on Grace and Courtesy and her classroom has an organic flow of work and socialization. Ms. Angelica feels that Montessori has created a philosophy that promotes and uplifts children using a hands-on approach. She also finds ways daily in her lessons or a child’s interest that has also helped her discover ways of finding learning opportunities.

Ms. Angelica loves all that encompasses Montessori and believes science and peace are strong points in the method. She loves Botany and Zoology and is a huge advocate of bringing mindfulness into the classroom and integrating peace activities within the daily routine.

Ms. Angelica is on a life journey of learning and is honored to have the opportunity to teach children. She feels like if you come into an environment with an open heart and the drive to learn something new, this encourages others to have the same positive experience. By lifting others up and learning side by side, we can go further with our knowledge. The world is full of learning opportunities, and it is our job to help the future generations find the same passion we have for learning.

krystalle-1Krystalle Gilder – Assistant

Ms. Krystalle has over ten years of experience working with children, from infants to sixth graders. She has also worked as an after-school counselor. Being exposed to the Montessori Method while working as an assistant in a Primary classroom allowed Ms. Krystalle to truly see how a child can flourish and learn when given an environment filled with freedom and respect. She has fallen in love with the Montessori Method and cannot wait to keep learning and growing in the Montessori world. Working with children brings Ms. Krystalle so much joy and has taught her so many things, mostly how to be patient and how to stay positive at all times!

Ms. Krystalle is currently working toward a Childhood Development degree at Austin Community College. She hopes to start her Montessori teaching training in the near future.

 

Tigers –

gretchen-1Gretchen LautenschlagerLead Teacher

Ms. Gretchen believes that each child is a candle waiting to be lit. It is a teacher’s job to find out what lights each child’s flame and how to encourage that flame to always burn bright. Teaching has always been a passion of hers. Throughout her life, education and learning has always been paramount to the path she has chosen to pursue.

Music is Ms. Gretchen’s first love. She has been singing her entire life.  She has extensive experience teaching private voice and piano classes to children of all ages. She strives to use her musical knowledge and teaching skills to provide a nurturing and engaging environment where children can succeed and love learning. She’s is currently the Primary enrichment music teacher.

Ms. Gretchen’s love of music and children is perfectly combined at School in the Hills. She has been with School in the Hills from the beginning where she started as an assistant teacher then quickly moved into a co-teacher role and fell in love with this educational method.

Ms. Gretchen received a Bachelor of Science in Music from Texas State University. She has over seventeen years of experience teaching music to young children. She received her Montessori Primary Certification from Houston Montessori Center.

Wendy Villanueva – Assistantwendy-1 

Even though Ms. Wendy has always loved children it wasn’t until she became a mother herself that she realized her calling as a teacher. She has been a strong believer in the Montessori method ever since she knew of it because she highly values its respect for the natural process of growth and development it offers each individual child, the gentle way it fosters autonomy and responsibility, and the structure through which it provides for a calm, natural and harmonious environment where the child can thrive and bloom into her highest potential. In this way children develop a love of learning and exploring the world by following their innate curiosity, sense of wonder and their own rhythm, also setting a firm and positive foundation for their future academic studies, their character and life path.

Ms. Wendy was born in Mexico City where she attended a private Swiss School from Kindergarten and until High School. She studied International Business Management at Turku University of Applied Sciences in Finland, a beloved country for her where she lived for twelve years. She has experience in interpretation and translation, and working in multicultural environments while using several languages to facilitate communication between all parties. One of her deepest passions is to learn languages and getting to know and understand different cultures, people and traditions, while possibly also traveling.

Ms. Wendy is a kind and understanding teacher who has worked with children with special needs and with ages from 18 months to 8 years old. She enjoys meeting each child and each person as an individual who speaks a personal and unique “language” of her own and being able to appreciate, accept and understand them the way they are.

Ms. Wendy greatly looks forward to becoming Certified in the Montessori method because she strongly believes that we can make a significant difference in the future of the world when we lovingly invest in the well-being and optimal individual development of our children.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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