MFS’s exceptionally well-qualified and experienced teachers, trained in the Montessori Method, work to support the development of each student’s potential. In addition to doing an outstanding job in the classroom, many MFS teachers are also involved in the Montessori Teacher Training Program and work as faculty members for the American Montessori Society, the organization that certifies training programs and awards credentials to Montessori teachers who meet the highest applied standards. Additionally, MFS hires resource teachers who specialize in specific subjects such as art, movement, music, Spanish, drama, and physical education.
Head of School
Most of my life has been spent in independent schools like MFS, first as a student, then as a teacher, administrator, and trustee. I started my career as a 4th and 5th grade social studies teacher at Trevor Day School in New York City, where for 11 years I served in a variety of roles as teacher and administrator. My work at Trevor Day School helped shape my educational philosophy, which is that the role of the teacher is to construct a rich, hands-on environment where teaching is subordinate to learning and students are placed at the center of the learning activity.
For 12 years I was Middle School Director and then Assistant Head of School for Advancement at the Berkeley Carroll School in Brooklyn, NY. I later served as lower school head at Claremont Preparatory School, a start-up school in lower Manhattan. Most recently, I was interim Upper School Director at the Green Vale School in Old Brookville, NY, and then spent a year as interim Middle School Director at the Nueva School, a progressive elementary school for gifted students in Hillsborough, CA.
A graduate of Brown University with a bachelor’s in Religious Studies, I also have a master’s degree in nonprofit management from NYU’s Wagner School for Public Service. I have done extensive coursework at Teachers College, Columbia University, in Curriculum and Teaching and am working on my Montessori administrator’s credential. For 12 years I was a trustee of the Knox School in St. James, NY, and I have been active in the New York State Association of Independent Schools, as a member of numerous school evaluation teams as an instructor at the annual NYSAIS Beginning Teachers Institute. Native New Yorkers, my wife and I moved to San Francisco in 2011 to begin a new adventure on the west coast after our two grown sons had gone to college.
I am thrilled to be joining the Montessori Family School community as only its second head of school in more than 30 years. The school reflects the passion, vision, and leadership of Jane Wechsler, who founded the school in 1981 and served as its head for more than three decades.
I am committed to sustaining for a new generation the MFS philosophy of learning by doing, giving children freedom with responsibility, preparing an environment that is structured around the needs of its students, and – most important in today’s challenging world — education for peace.
Faculty and Administration
Elementary/Middle School After School Classroom
Since returning to the Bay Area, I have spent the past 5 years working with young people as a tutor, after-school activity leader, and music instructor. Working with children has been an incredibly fun, engaging and rewarding experience for me and it has been an experience that has left a strong impact on myself as well as the children that I have worked with. I am extremely excited to join the Montessori Family School community and am looking forward to building strong, meaningful relationships with students, family and teachers.
When not working with young people I spend my time playing bass in my two bands, recording and producing music for local artists, reading, camping and cooking.
Lower Elementary II Classroom
I started at MFS as a classroom aide during the 2009-2010 school year. The 2011-2012 school year was my first year working as a teacher in the Lower Elementary Two classroom. I am overjoyed to be working as teacher now. I believe in Montessori Education, because of it’s foundation in Maria Montessori’s deep respect for the significance of childhood on the development of the whole person. The idea of preparing a child for life is very important to me.
When I am not at MFS, I enjoy kayaking, river rafting, sailing, knitting, printmaking, painting, swimming, hiking, and reading.
Elementary/Middle School Art
I have been teaching art at Montessori Family School since 1995 and have enjoyed all of the aspects of my job. MFS is a community of eager learners and creative thinkers; a collection of people that challenges my skills, intellect, and imagination. They are the reason I am still excited to come to work.
I am a working artist who enjoys using a printing press, camera and sewing machine to create collages, quilts and photographs. I love to travel, go to the beach, create meals from the farmer’s market bounty and walk our dog Stella in Tilden Park. I also study Italian and love to see art in galleries, museums and studios.
Middle School Classroom
Some years later I earned a Masters of Education in Montessori Integrative Learning from Endicott College. Both my American Montessori Society Secondary I and II (Middle School and High School) Montessori Certification are from the Houston Montessori Center.
In 2009 I came to Montessori Family School to launch the Middle School. I view early adolescence as an important growth period in a young person’s evolution. One of the more powerful skills a Montessori middle school classroom can provide is the ability to demonstrate to students how to take a meta-cognitive stance on what they are doing as they move through these years of identity formation and discovery.
Dr. Montessori was a visionary and the current brain research underscores what she had already observed and published: there is a second brain explosion that occurs in early adolescence and it is a crucial time for helping to define the brain of the adult to be.
The work is enriching and challenging and so very worthwhile.
I am deeply committed to the Montessori philosophy and have found it to be in perfect alignment with my goals as a teacher and a parent. I am the proud mother of two young children; Kamala (age 8) and Bella Rose (age 4). I have been implementing Montessori ideas into my home and it has been such a delight to watch my children develop confidence, respect for others and a true love of learning.
I have found MFS to be a quality Montessori program that stimulates individual growth, cultivates independence and embraces cultural diversity. It is my goal to provide our children with a positive, inspiring vision of the world as each of their unique personalities develop.
When I am not working I enjoy spending time in nature and traveling the world with my amazing family.
Lower Elementary I Classroom
My first exposure to Montessori was as a preschool student in India. That warm experience stayed with me and inspired me to seek a Montessori school for my children and also fueled my desire to become a Montessori teacher myself.
I have been with Montessori Family School since 1985 and during that time, I launched a Primary Program and a Lower Elementary Program at MFS. I love Montessori Family School, as it’s a unique and special school. The collaboration of parents, teachers, and administration creates a wonderful learning environment for children and an exciting place for teachers to work.
I enjoy teaching Indian dance and drumming techniques. In my free time, I love creating new materials for my classroom, reading, dancing, music, traveling, and spending time with my family.
I received my BA in Linguistics at UC Berkeley, taking a particular interest in sociolinguistics and language acquisition. After graduating, an exciting job prospect led me to New York, where I worked for two years at a not-for-profit organization teaching health and mental resilience in an urban public high school. The challenges I encountered in the NYC education system only reinforced my desire to work with a more independent school of thought, one that understood social and emotional growth as something intrinsic to academic capability, not incidental to it.
After moving back to the Bay Area I was thrilled to be offered a job in the office at the Montessori Family School Berkeley Campus in July of 2011. It inspires me seeing children mentoring each other, learning to make good choices within supportive boundaries, moving freely but with purpose around their classroom, and expressing creativity through their academic work. I hope to begin a Montessori Early Childhood Education teaching credential course soon, and would love to eventually work in a MFS classroom.
In my free time I continue to take dance classes. I love cities but also love going to Point Reyes National Seashore to read and walk, cooking and eating food with friends, and I have a long-term goal to build a big wooden desk from scratch.
Early Childhood Campus Division Head
Early Childhood Campus After School Classroom and Spanish
I grew up in Southern California in a vibrant neighborhood where I was lucky enough to be surrounded by native Spanish speakers from various parts of Latin America, at school and throughout my community. I learned Spanish at an early age, which has helped me forge friendships and build relationships with countless incredible people I may otherwise not have been able to communicate with, both locally and abroad.
I spent quite a bit of time working with teenagers as a Youth Services Coordinator for the Boys and Girls Clubs of America and years working with elementary age children as a Literacy and Language Arts Instructor. As much as I loved both age groups, early childhood education is absolutely my home and my heart.
I’ve had the pleasure of being a part of a Montessori school for seven years now and currently am the After School Director and Spanish Teacher. Learning a language involves a rich cultural education and an inherent broadening of horizons. Being able to share this gift with our children gives me ineffable joy. What I love about Montessori Family School in particular is that we work together and work hard to create a close knit familial feeling in all we do.
Early Childhood Campus After School Classroom
In my senior year in high school I realized that my love for children ran deep in my soul. After taking a Psychology course that same year, I had decided that I would be working with children to help them in some way. I began working with children at the age of 17 at a private pre-school as an assistant and moved around in different private school settings. During this time I studied medical assisting and became a medical assistant for an OBGYN office where I was able to monitor babies heart beats and other amazing things. Although medical assisting was an awesome learning experience for me, I yearned to work with children again.
In my journey I was led to a Montessori school in 2004 and that is when my love and respect for Montessori began. The freedom of choice that Montessori offers to children deserves respect and serves as a gateway to helping children develop inner drive and self-discipline. Montessori inspires me in every day life and I am grateful to have come across such a beautiful way of teaching.
In my spare time some of my hobbies are spending time with my cat and two dogs, camping, Karaoke, and staging homes.
Practical Life Classroom
I chose MFS for my children as it was the opposite way of learning that I had been exposed to. My experience was rote learning as opposed to learning how to learn. MFS excels at teaching this plus children get to have concrete experiences with abstract ideas. I was so enamored with all of the materials in the classroom that I started subbing at the Berkeley campus in 2001. The following year I did my Early Childhood Montessori training at the Montessori Institute of Advanced Studies. I worked in the Aspen Classroom for 6 years and I have been the Practical Life teacher at the Berkeley Campus for the last 4 years. I am on the Board of Directors serving my second term and also serve on several school committees.
When I am not at school, I love to cook, bake and travel.
Assistant Director of Admissions and Site Administrator
Eventually it became clear that what I enjoyed most was my work in the office, supporting teachers and families. The time I spent in the classroom gave me insight into the unique experiences that children have and has assisted me in my administrative work at the Early Childhood Campus. After being a MFS staff member for so long, I am extremely pleased to say I am also a MFS parent! My son, Sean will join the Redwood classroom in September 2012.
When my son and I are not at MFS, we enjoy playing in the sun and visiting family in Santa Cruz and Mendocino.
Upper Elementary Classroom
I received a B.A. from UC Santa Cruz in Film Theory. Additionally, I completed a Single Subject Teaching degree in English at San Francisco State University. I previously taught high school English and Film Literature classes at Westmoor High in Daly City before joining MFS as an afterschool teacher and aide.
MFS and the Montessori philosophy are a perfect fit for me and I quickly realized that my endless love for and respect of children aligned with the hallmarks of Montessori Family School: nurturing each child in a safe environment in order to further their education, development, independence, and happiness.
I have been able to bring my other passions (music, film, cooking, sports) into the classroom and throughout MFS. While I love to play the guitar and write songs for my band, cook, see films and play all sports, my main focus is my wife and newborn son, Akhil Amin Humphrey.
When I left the academic world in my mid twenties I spent a few years traveling the United States and in 1988 I settled in the Bay Area, where I raised a family and home schooled my son. Since moving to the Bay Area I have worked in the Business Management arena for many years, doing everything from managing the office of a construction company and a real estate management firm, to owning my own bookkeeping business.
I joined the Montessori Family School in 2006. I enjoy the community that is present within the Montessori Family School and I love the environment that I work in. When I am not working I enjoy dancing, music of all kind, playing with my dog and traveling with my husband to explore new areas both in the US and abroad.
Lower Elementary I Classroom
I grew up in a beautiful region of southern Louisiana with a vibrant and unique culture. My parents made their children’s education a top priority and from a young age I was fortunate to attend progressive schools with wonderful teachers. I received my undergraduate degree from St. John’s College in Santa Fe – a Great Books school where all classes are discussion based and all texts examined are primary sources written by great Western thinkers. My education gave me a passion for participatory learning and direct, genuine interactions with others and the world around me. Since college I have busied myself learning what the world outside of academia had to offer. My insatiable desire to learn led me to work under a biologist at a National Wetlands Research Center, take classes in chemistry, biology, Latin American History, French and linguistics, farm for three seasons on a small organic farm, work in a film archive, apprentice with an art conservator, and return to my former school to substitute teach with children age 4-16.
Being fully aware of the impact my teachers had had on my life I realized how much I wanted to be that kind of teacher for children growing up now. I worked as a Student Aide at MFS during the 2011-2012 school year and found myself engaged and inspired by the children in Lower II every day. The Montessori Method acknowledges the natural instincts of children to actively participate in their own learning and their own lives. It strives to cultivate that instinct into habit and conscious exploration. Montessori values are the same values I have been taught my whole life and I am excited to bring my lifelong love of learning to the students of Lower I this year. In my time away from MFS I love to cook, garden, play music, paint and ride my bike around our beautiful Bay Area.
I completed my early childhood Montessori training a few years ago and I am still attending professional development workshops regularly, as well as taking college courses in order to finish my BA in psychology.
When I started working at Montessori Family School six years ago, I knew nothing of Montessori or how to run a classroom. The more experience and training I gained, the more I loved the Montessori method and the Montessori Family School. I plan to continue both teaching and
learning for the foreseeable future.
Redwood Classroom & Early Childhood Music
I love the individualized curriculum and multi-age classrooms which allow children to work at their own level, provides mentors and role models for the younger students and opportunities to be caring leaders to the older students. I enjoy having students for three years, which lets me truly get to know them and how they learn. I appreciate the Montessori world view of learning the value of all living things and different cultures, and I see how it has inspired many of our alumni to work for positive change around the world. It has inspired me to work for change as well.
Ten years ago a class meeting with my 6-9 class inspired me to become active in campaigning for candidates and causes I believe in. Hearing my students talk about their hopes and fears made me realize that helping them become amazing world citizens wasn’t enough if the world I was sending them into was in crisis. Working for change both in the classroom helping our children prepare for their world, and in the outside world preparing the world for our children, keeps me inspired and hopeful for our future.
Upper Elementary Classroom
I continue to work at MFS because I believe that Montessori provides the best opportunity for individual students to reach their potential and to thrive, both as students and as members of the broader society. I feel that the respect for students’ unique strengths that is built into Montessori education with materials designed for a wide range of learning styles, the opportunities for independence and responsibility, and the emphasis on peace education, communication skills, conflict resolution, and service learning provide the best possible foundation for children. What I love about MFS in particular, aside from the deep satisfaction of doing good work, is the opportunity to work with like-minded, hardworking teachers in an environment that fosters creative problem-solving and cooperation.
I am the seventh of eight children, and grew up on Long Island. When I’m not teaching I love spending time with my family, including my grandson, an MFS student, and my large New York tribe. I love to read, dance, Jazz, cooking, gardening, art and museums. I also enjoy visiting other countries whenever I have the opportunity.
Elementary/Middle School After School Classroom and Spanish
At age fifteen I had the experience of living with a family in Mexico for three weeks. From this flowed my desire to pursue a mastery of the Spanish language. In high school, with the support of an amazing instructor, I acquired strong foundational Spanish skills that I continued to develop at University level. While studying Spanish at UCSC, my love for language and culture led me to also learn Portuguese. My language studies have included independent travel in Costa Rica, Panama, Mexico, Colombia, Puerto Rico, and Brazil.
In 2007 I joined the MFS community as an Assistant After School Teacher. Four years ago, I took on the additional responsibility of teaching Spanish groups. I feel blessed to be a and integral part of such a supportive, and caring community for children.
Montessori Family School embodies the values of community working together to create a healthy, secure, engaging family that cultivates growth and discovery. At MFS I have found both the opportunity to teach a subject that I love, and a school in which I can share that love with the same values and principle that first led me to it.
When I’m not at MFS or exploring Latin America, I enjoy getting out into California’s wilderness, backpacking, fishing, hiking, skiing, snowboarding or just exploring open spaces.
When not teaching I work part time at UC Berkeley in the Radiology Department. In my spare time I enjoy gardening, traveling, swimming, hiking and having fun with friends.
Elementary/Middle School Music
In 1996 I left Indiana to travel the world by sailing ship, performing jazz and cabaret music in much of Asia and the South Pacific, Alaska, the Caribbean, and South America. I made landfall a year later in Chicago where I began my study of North Indian classical music and became immersed in the rich funk, soul and jazz traditions that still survive there. Following my sixth extra-long Chicago-style winter, the warm air and creative spirit of California blew in, and in 2004, I packed up and left for the West Coast.
Teaching children has always come naturally to me and I have had many young drum set students over the years, but I never expected to fall so head over heals for the kids at Montessori Family School. In 2007, I was asked to take over the music program and to get training in the Orff Shulwerk music approach. Four summers and an apprenticeship later, I can say without hesitation that Orff Shulwerk has influenced my understanding of what it means to make and teach music more than all of my other training combined. In my mind it is the Montessori approach, coded for music education.
I make my home in Alameda where I continue to teach privately. I work with around 30 drum set students each week, and teach a dozen classes (preschool through middle) at three different schools including Montessori Family School. I also perform regularly throughout the Bay area with several different projects. I continue to learn about music and myself through the children at MFS, and I am so proud of what we have accomplished together over the years.
Middle School Classroom
I started teaching at Montessori Family School during the 2010-2011 school year as a Middle School teacher. I believe that children are best served in an environment that is purposeful and peaceful; two major tenants of a Montessori education. Additionally, I love being part of a community that actively supports the needs of our students.
I spend most of my time outside of MFS going on long walks with my partner Katie and my son Amil. I also enjoy playing basketball at the YMCA in downtown Oakland.
After 30+ years of working with 3-6 year olds my sense of marvel, joy and good fortune at working in education continue. The materials are the “constants” and the children the amazing “variables” I have the honor of observing, learning from and lovingly supporting.
I enjoy working at MFS because the teachers are truly respected and supported. Thanks to the neuro-psychological brilliance of the Montessori Method I appreciate Dr. Montessori’s pedagogical insights increasingly day-by-day and semester-by-semester.
When not at work I’m enriched while working as an Ed. Therapist, giving me the one on one time necessary to help children with “trickier” processing issues. I enjoy expanding my awareness of cognitive processing via working with a leading Developmental Optometrist. I love time with my kids, walking my dog, playing guitar, singing along with anything, great conversations with friends, and taking my time to listen and re-listen to audio guides at museums.
I hold a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with minors in Sociology, Women’s Studies and Dance from the University of Memphis.
My free time is a balance of health, relaxation, creativity, and movement. I enjoy making discoveries in the garden and nature, running around playing soccer, sending letters and packages to friends and family, and making anything from scratch.
Kindergarten Transition Classroom
During my years as a member of the MFS Board of Directors the purchase of our current El Cerrito Campus was put in place. As the El Cerrito Site was being designed it was decided that a Kindergarten Transition classroom should be added to our Elementary Program. With this Kindergarten Transition class in mind I decided to take my Montessori Training, with a focus on Early Childhood, at the Montessori Teacher Education Center in Sunnyvale, CA. After completing the training in the Summer of 2005, I was then able to spend the next two years working in the Kindergarten Transition and pre-school classes at the MFS Berkeley Campus in the morning while continuing to teach PE and Afterschool at the Elementary/Middle School Campus. With the opening of the El Cerrito Campus in 2008, I turned my focus toward the development of the new Kindergarten Transition classroom.
MFS provided my children the foundation, both academically and ethically, from which they have been able to flourish as people as well as academics. When Jules, my wife of 24 years, was sick MFS showed that family was more than just part of a name. For myself Montessori Family School has been an opportunity to meet and work with many wonderfully amazing people.
Away from MFS I spend my time coaching women’s fast pitch softball at College Prep High School. I became involved in softball in 2000 when my eldest daughter Zoe (MFS graduate and current University of Chicago student/catcher) began playing. My years of baseball coaching experience helped smooth the transition to this new game. As Sadie (also an MFS graduate and soon to be Oberlin College student/pitcher) became involved in softball I found myself coaching year-round travel ball.
Upper Elementary Classroom
I love the Montessori Philosophy and Montessori Family School because it allows for children to be seen as individuals, move at their own natural pace, and feeds their curious minds in a way that is exciting and fun for them. Montessori kids love to learn and want to know more. I also love how it allows children to grow as people in a positive and respectful way.
When I am not teaching, I work part time (mostly summers) at the Oakland Coliseum, so I get to see a lot of baseball games. I also spend a lot of time with my son, who is currently a student at MFS. MFS has been a big part of my life and I am happy that it is for my son too.
Kindergarten Transition Classroom
I moved to the Bay Area in 1992, and met my future husband.
Coincidentally, he lived with his sister and nephew at the time we met, and his nephew also attended a Montessori school. I decided to pursue this Montessori idea that had peaked my interest several years earlier. I started substitute teaching at my nephew’s school and decided to take the training at the Montessori Teacher Education Center, San Francisco Bay Area. The Montessori Philosophy made so much sense to me because it had such a logical and humane approach to teaching children. Jane Wechsler, our Founding Head of School was one of my instructors, and I began working at MFS the following school year.
When it came time for my son to begin pre-school, there was never any doubt in my mind that he would attend any school other than MFS. He started at this school when he was three years old, and will be a graduate of our Middle School, Class of 2012! The same is true for my daughter, who will graduate Middle School, Class of 2015!
I am in the unique position of being able to look at MFS from the perspective of both a parent and teacher. As a parent, I believe MFS to have some of the most dedicated and caring teachers you would ever want to mentor your children. There is an intangible, over-whelming feeling that your child will be loved and taught with his/her best interest always in mind. These are the same reason I enjoy working here, and consider it an honor to be part of this incredibly dedicated team of educators and administrators.
When I am not teaching, I enjoy traveling with my family and singing with a band made-up of several other MFS moms! I so enjoy the community this school has offered; it truly is a “family” school for me.
Lower Elementary II Classroom
Drawn to the thoughtful preparation of the environment, the peaceful values of the philosophy, and the science and spirit of the approach, I immersed myself in Montessori. As a sub, intern assistant and assistant head teacher, I spent my next five years at this lovely little gem called Nia House. During this time, I left UC Berkeley to complete the 3-6 Early Childhood training at the Montessori Teacher Education Center of the San Francisco Bay Area in San Leandro.
After 3 of my student classes graduated, I became curious about what comes next in Montessori. It was at this time that a position opened up in Montessori Family School’s LE2 classroom. In 2007, I joined the LE2 teaching team. During my first year, I completed my 6-9 Lower Elementary training at the Montessori Teacher Education Center of the San Francisco Bay Area. During the next 3 years, I was a co-teacher in LE2 while I chipped away at my degree at UC Berkeley.
As of fall, 2011, I have had the pleasure of being the head teacher of Lower Elementary Two. I enjoy tailoring every year, month, and day to the child. Being a part of the MFS community of students, faculty, staff, and families, has been exceptionally enriching.
While I am not working, I am tackling stimulating subjects at Cal (I expect to complete my B.A. in Psychology in the fall of 2013), spending time with my husband Jason and my two step-children, Max and Hannah, hiking with my dog Boots, creating art, food, and community, and dancing to the music.
Director of Admissions and Communications
I started my administrative experience in the independent school world in 2004. I dabbled in some other nonprofit work but soon realized that my passion was in education. I begin working at MFS in the fall of 2009 and have loved every minute if it. I enjoy MFS for so many different reasons but primarily I like interacting with the students. MFS is such a magical place and I can really see that in the content and happy nature of the children here. Montessori education works for so many different types of learners; I love stepping into a classroom and watching a child “get” something thanks to the Montessori environment and hands-on materials.
When I am not at MFS I enjoy hanging out with my 3 (yes 3!) dogs and my husband. We all spend a lot of time in our garden, at the beach and hiking.