Staff


Administration

James M. Farwell
Head of School
jfarwell@msfortmyers.com

Mr. James grew up in Woodbury, MN attending several Montessori schools throughout childhood including Woodbury Montessori (3-4 years old), Nokomis Montessori School (Kindergarten), J.J. Hill Montessori (1st grade) and Valley Crossing Community School (5th – 6th grade).  After working in finance for several years, he found his passion of providing Montessori education.  As a lifelong learner and teacher, Mr. James has served for three years as a Sunday school teacher (1st – 3rd graders), six years as a snowboard instructor (11 – 13 year olds), one year as a teaching assistant at the University of Florida, has served as an occasional guest speaker at Florida International University several times from 2009-2013, and now works full time in education for Montessori School of Fort Myers.

James enjoys finding ways to better serve the children, families, and faculty of Montessori School of Fort Myers as Head of School.  In his free time, he enjoys working on the school facility, playing soccer, weight lifting, growing fruit trees and hot peppers, and reading.  James is semi-fluent in Spanish.

Credentials

  • Head of School at Montessori School of Fort Myers since 2013.
  • Montessori Administrator Credential – September 2016.  Seton Montessori Institute, an American Montessori Society (AMS) affiliated teacher education program.
  • B.S.B.A. in Finance and minor in Spanish – University of Florida
  • Montessori Alliance of Florida – Communications Committee Chairperson
  • Montessori Administration intensive training course – Bridges Montessori
  • Coursework in Early Childhood Education – Nova Southeast University
  • Florida Department of Children & Families – Staff Credential, Director Credential, Voluntary Prekindergarten (VPK) Director Endorsement, 40 hours of child care training, numerous continuing education courses
  • Certified Instructor of 15 Hour Redirecting Children’s Behavior Course
  • American Heart Association – Infant & Child CPR, AED, First Aid, and Blood Borne Pathogen training
  • Published contributor to Montessori Leadership magazine published by the Montessori Foundation.

Ms. Jodi
Assistant Head of School
administrator@msfortmyers.com

Ms. Jodi grew up in the Kansas City, Kansas area where she gained her Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Kansas. She began her career in Early Childhood Education while working at a Montessori school on the island of Maui, Hi. Here Jodi’s passion for the Montessori philosophy began. After returning to Kansas Jodi completed her Montessori Primary Certification training through AMS. While finishing up her certification Jodi moved into the Assistant Director position. She continued to work within Administration until taking time off to be with her newborn son.  In her free time Jodi enjoys adventures with her Fiance and their young son, cooking with her family and relaxing in the outdoors.

Credentials

  • B.A. in College of Liberal Arts and Sciences from the University of Kansas
  • MACTE-Accredited, AMS  Early Childhood (3-6 year old) teaching credential
  • Florida Department of Children and Families- Staff Credential
  • Florida Department of Children and Families- 45 hours Child Care Training
  • Certified in Redirecting Children’s Behavior course

Ms. Jane
Office Manager
officemanager@msfortmyers.com

Ms. Jane Louw was born and raised in the KwaZulu Natal midlands of South Africa.  She completed her education in South Africa and had the privilege working in the Marketing Department at Michaelhouse School.   In 2001, circumstances brought her to the USA, where she lived and worked in the greater Chicago area.  This was a life changer as her son fell in love with the USA and she now has a son and grandchildren who are American citizens, which prompted her to  return once again to the USA. Recently moving down to Florida  where the weather conditions are far more suitable to her outdoor lifestyle of cycling, swimming and hiking. 

Credentials

  • Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing, Damelin, Durban, Kwazulu Natal
  • Florida Department of Children and Families – Staff Credential (Birth through 5 years), 40 hours Child Care Training.

Primary Environments (3-6 years old)

Ms. Julie
Primary Department Lead 
Lead Teacher – Red Door Primary Environment 

Ms. Julie Heitman was born and raised in Burma (Myanmar), where she also attended college. After leaving Burma, Julie relocated Florida, where she attended Stetson University and began her career in teaching as a tennis instructor. As a tennis coach, Julie was told repeatedly by students that she needed to go into education as she was such a passionate and skilled teacher. When Julie’s first son was very young, she began teaching him to read. Julie’s son quickly learned this skill, and she was again encouraged to pursue a career in education. Ms. Julie sent her three children to a Montessori School in Port Charlotte, Florida, where she first began her experience with Montessori by volunteering in the classroom. Ms. Julie formally began her career in Montessori by becoming an assistant in a lower elementary classroom in 2003. She completed her Montessori training at the primary 3-6 year old level, and began teaching in a primary classroom in 2005 as an intern. Ms. Julie has worked as a primary lead teacher ever since, becoming more and more passionate about Montessori and imparting of love of learning on the students she has taught throughout the years. When Ms. Julie is not in the classroom, she can be found on the tennis court as an instructor or playing pickleball.

Credentials

  • Bachelor of Arts (Honors), Rangoon Arts and Science University, Burma (Myanmar)
  • Associates of Arts, Stetson University, DeLand, Florida
  • MACTE-accredited, AMS Early Childhood (3-6 years old) teaching credential, New Gate Center for Montessori Studies (June 2006)
  • United States Professional Tennis Association Certified Tennis Instructor (1998 – present)
  • Certified in Redirecting Children’s Behavior course

Ms. Lakeisha 

Morning Assistant Teacher – Red Door Primary Environment 

Ms. Lakeisha was born and raised in Jamaica where she completed her education. She has a passion for science and education. While in high school Ms. Lakeisha worked as a student-teacher designing and implementing lesson plans for a science curriculum. During this experience Ms. Lakeisha recognized the importance of early education and hands-on experiences. She is looking forward to working with young children and providing a foundation for education!

Credentials

  • Florida Department of Children and Families- 45 hours Child Care Training
  • Science Double major in Chemistry and Biology – The Mico University College, Jamaica   2012-2016
  • Humanitarianism Award, The Mico Alumni 2015
  • Female of the Faculty of Science and Technology, The Mico Alumni 2014
  • Research Poster Competition- First Place, The Mico University College 2014
  • Certified in Redirecting Children’s Behavior course

Ms. Cristina

Afternoon Assistant Teacher – Red Door Primary Environment

Ms. Cristina is a Cape Coral native. She is now attending Florida Southwestern State College working towards her Bachelors in Elementary/Early Childhood Education. She has previous experience working with child in various ages of the Early childhood age levels. She has also worked with high school aged student with special needs in the Baker Buddies Program.  She is looking forward to working with young children and within the Montessori environment!

Credentials

  • Florida Department of Children and Families- 45 hours Child Care Training- in progress
  • Fire Extinguisher trained
  • Redirecting Children’s Behavior course – in progress

Ms. Danielle
Lead Teacher – Green Door Primary Environment

Ms. Danielle is an experienced Montessorian who loves working with primary age (3-6 years old) children.  She has over eight years of experience teaching in Montessori environments and 15 years of total teaching experience.  In her free time, Ms. Danielle enjoys spending time with her three children and two grandchildren.  

Credentials

  • In progress: Primary Credential (3-6 years old), Summit Montessori Teaching Training Institute, 2018.  SMTTI is accredited by Montessori Accreditation Council for Teacher Education (MACTE) and affiliated with the American Montessori Society (AMS).
  • National Child Development Associate (CDA), Charlotte Vocational-Technical Center, 2013
  • Certificates: Montessori classroom leadership, The Montessori Foundation
  • Florida Department of Children & Families – 40 hours of child care training, numerous continuing education courses
  • Completed 15 Hour Redirecting Children’s Behavior Course
  • 2016-2017: Renaissance Montessori – primary teacher, Fort Myers, FL
  • 2014-2016: Charlotte Academy – Montessori primary assistant teacher (3-6 year old), Port Charlotte, FL
  • 2012-2013: Sequatchie Valley Head – Assistant preschool teacher, Start School 
  • 2010-2011: The Montessori School – Infant lead teacher, Chattanooga, TN 
  • 2006-2010: Charlotte Academy – Montessori primary assistant teacher (3-6 year old) & academic coordinator, Port Charlotte, FL
  • 2005-2006: Educare Learning Center – PreK4 lead teacher, Port Charlotte, FL
  • 2003-2004: Private teacher and nanny. 
  • 2001-2003: Laurel Oaks Academy – Montessori primary assistant teacher (3-6 year old), Lake Suzy, FL

Ms. Sophia
Morning Assistant Teacher – Green Door Primary Environment

Ms. Sophia was born and raised in the Philippines, where she began college. Ms. Sophia came to the United States as an exchange student, where she completed her Bachelor’s degree in entrepreneurship with a major in culinary arts. After finishing college, Sophia worked in hospitality and culinary at the Pink Shell Beach Resort and Marina. During that time, Ms. Sophia realized that her true calling was to work with children. She has since re-enrolled in school to obtain a second degree, this time in early childhood education. Ms. Sophia found the Montessori School of Fort Myers after doing research on early childhood education and methods used to encourage student independence, creativity and peace.

Credentials

  • Florida Department of Children and Families- 45 hours Child Care Training- in progress
  • Bachelor’s Degree in Entrepreneurship – Major in Culinary Arts – Miriam College – Philippines
  • Hospitality Professional Certificate – American Hospitality Academy (AHA)
  • Associates Degree in Early Childhood Education – In progress

Ms. Holly

Morning Assistant Teacher – Primary Environment

Ms. Holly was born in the Philippines  and moved to the US when she was 9 years old. She is the youngest sibling of 4 older sisters. Currently, she is working on her Masters in School Psychology. Ms. Holly has gained experience working with children after babysitting for a family for 7+ years. In her free time, Holly loves to travel, bake and spend free time with her family.

Credentials

  • A.A. from Broward College
  • B.A. in Psychology from Florida Gulf Coast University
  • CPR certified
  • Florida Department of Children and Families- 45 hours Child Care Training

Ms. Mikayla
Afternoon Assistant Teacher – Primary Environment

Ms. Mikayla is a native Southwest Floridian and she’s excited to be part of the MSFM family.  She has many different experiences with children, including 10 years as a church nursery volunteer and Sunday school teacher for 3-4 year olds, kids summer music camp leader, and a Home Depot Kids Workshop volunteer. Ms. Mikayla is currently pursuing an education in Elementary Education at Florida Southwestern State College. Ms. Mikayla hopes to one day be a first grade teacher. She loves the idea of the independence that the Montessori method provides to students and looks forward to guiding them.

Credentials

  • 10+ years of childcare experience
  • Associates Degree – Florida Southwestern State College
  • Florida Department of Children and Families- 45 hours Child Care Training
  • Certified in Redirecting Children’s Behavior course

Ms. Wendy
Afternoon Assistant Teacher – Primary Environment

Ms. Wendy comes to us from Fort Wayne, Indiana where she homeschooled her children and provided emergency Respite care for Foster children. She also has 5 years experience working in an Elementary Montessori setting with grades 4-6. Ms. Wendy is currently an elementary para-educator for the Lee County School district during the early daytime.

Credentials

  • 13+ years of childcare experience
  • 5 years within a Montessori setting
  • First Aid/CPR/Infant CPR Certification
  • Fire extinguisher trained
  • 30 hrs Child Abuse and Neglect Courses
  • Florida Department of Children and Families- 45 hours Child Care Training- in progress
  • Redirecting Children’s Behavior Certification – In progress

Toddler Environments (18 – 36 months)

Ms. Livia 

Toddler Department Lead
Lead Teacher – Toddler East Environment

Ms. Livia has been teaching since she first taught lamaze (childbirth) classes for 6 years from 1987-1993.  She got certified as a substitute teacher and teachers aide in the early 1990’s working with elementary, special needs, and high school students.  In 1991, she worked for a Head Start program working with 4 and 5 year olds.  In 1992, she started taking classes with the Florida Department of Children and Families for early childhood education.  She managed an early education childhood program  for a year before working in the classroom from 1994 – 1997 with infants, one-year-olds, three-year-olds, and after schoolers.  Since 2000, Ms. Livia has worked for the Montessori School of Fort Myers where she found a passion for the Montessori method of learning.  Two of her children graduated from Montessori School of Fort Myers one of which currently volunteers at the school in a teaching capacity.  In 2004, Ms. Livia earned her Infant/Toddler Montessori Credential from North American Montessori Center.  Ms. Livia loves spending quality time with her family and her granddaughters.  She likes reading, gardening trying new foods, and is very active with her bible classes.

Credentials

  • Infant/Toddler Credential (0-3 years old), Summit Montessori Teaching Training Institute, 2017.  SMTTI is accredited by Montessori Accreditation Council for Teacher Education (MACTE) and affiliated with the American Montessori Society (AMS).
  • North American Montessori Center – Infant/Toddler Montessori Credential, 2004
  • DCF Staff Credential
  • Hendry County School District substitute teacher and teacher’s aide
  • Florida Department of Children and Families – 40 hours of childcare training, many years of continued education
  • Attendance at numerous Montessori conferences
  • Courses on infant sign language
  • American Heart Association – Infant & Child CPR, AED, First Aid, and Blood Borne Pathogen training
  • 15 Hour Redirecting Children’s Behavior Course

Ms. Pam
Assistant Teacher -Toddler East Environment

A life-long Montessori teacher, Ms. Pam began teaching at Florence Foster Montessori School in Chicago, IL in 1986 where she taught until 1989 when she moved to Fort Myers.  Ms. Pam has taught at Montessori School of Fort Myers since 1990 as an assistant teacher and is a strong presence in the classroom.  She loves working with our children and is very skilled in keeping her classroom running in good order.

Credentials

  • Florida Department of Children and Families – 40 hours Child Care Training
  • 25+ years of Montessori teaching experience
  • 25+ years of in-service training courses in a variety of early childhood education topics
  • American Heart Association – Infant & Child CPR, AED, First Aid, and Blood Borne Pathogen training
  • 15 Hour Redirecting Children’s Behavior Course

Ms. Kara
Toddler Aftercare Assistant Teacher

Ms. Kara comes to the  Montessori School of Fort Myers with a passion for children. Before Montessori School, Ms.Kara was busy at the barn with her horse, Clyde & babysitting for many different families with children of all ages. Ms.Kara is excited to learn the Montessori method at all different levels. When Ms. Kara is not at school she can be found riding her horse at the competitive level & spending time with her family & friends.

Credentials

  • Florida Department of Children and Families – 45 hours Child Care Training – In Progress
  • CPR and First Aid Certified
  • Fire Extinguisher Trained

Ms. Bridget
Lead Teacher – Toddler West Environment

Ms. Bridget completed her B.A. in Psychology at Florida Gulf Coast University where she took a special interest in developmental psychology and various educational models.  She has worked as a nanny, a tutor, and a toddler classroom lead teacher.  She loves working with children because of their amazing capacity for learning and their endless curiosity. Ms. Bridget will complete the Montessori infant and toddler teacher training program at Summit Montessori Teacher Training Institute (SMTTI) June 2018.  Bridget is an avid reader who also enjoys cooking, kayaking, and doing yoga.

Credentials

  • Infant/Toddler Credential (0-3 years old), Summit Montessori Teaching Training Institute, anticipated graduation in summer 2018  SMTTI is accredited by Montessori Accreditation Council for Teacher Education (MACTE) and affiliated with the American Montessori Society (AMS).
  • B.A. Psychology, Florida Golf Coast University (FGCU) in Fort Myers, FL
  • 4+ years of child care experience.
  • Florida Department of Children and Families – 45 hours Child Care Training 
  • Completed 15 Hour Redirecting Children’s Behavior Course
  • Infant and Child First Aid and CPR certified
  • Redirecting Children’s Behavior Instructor 

Ms. Veronica
Aftercare Assistant Teacher – Toddler West Environment

Ms. Veronica comes to us from Ecuador. She brings with her a degree in Early Childhood Education and a Master’s Degree in Human Resources. Veronica has over 5 years experience working with children of the early childhood age up to Elementary. She is bi-lingual in Spanish and English

Credentials

  • Human Resources, Masters Degree, Universitat de Barcelona – Barcelona, Spain
  • Early Childhood Education Degree, Universidad Catolica – Guayoquil, Ecuador
  • 5+ years of child care experience.
  • Florida Department of Children and Families – 45 hours Child Care Training – in progress
  • Fire Extinguisher trained
  • Redirecting Children’s Behavior Certification – In Progress

Ms. Briana
 Lead Teacher – Toddler Far West Environment

Ms. Briana is a Early Childhood Education major at Florida Southwestern State College who hopes to one day become as Kindergarten teacher. She is excited to expand her experience in teaching at the Montessori School of Fort Myers, having previously volunteered at a daycare in Northfield, IL. 

Credentials

  • Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood Education (In progress)
  • Florida Department of Children and Families – 45 hours Child care training
  • Infant/Toddler Credential (0-3 years old), Summit Montessori Teaching Training Institute, anticipated graduation in summer 2019  SMTTI is accredited by Montessori Accreditation Council for Teacher Education (MACTE) and affiliated with the American Montessori Society (AMS).
  • Completed 15 Hour Redirecting Children’s Behavior Course
  • Infant and Child First Aid and CPR certified

Ms. Kiara

 Aftercare Assistant Teacher – Toddler Far West

Ms. Kiara comes to us from New Jersey having recently moved to Cape Coral, Fl. with her family. She has experience working in other licensed facilities with children ages infancy to 12 yrs. old. She finds a passion in working with young children, watching them grow to be happy and healthy. Kiara enjoys spending her free time volunteering with people of all ages making lasting relationships.

Credentials

  • Fire Extinguisher Trained
  • Florida Department of Children and Families- 45 hours Child Care Training – in progress
  • Redirecting Children’s Behavior Certification – In Progress

Infant Environment (6 weeks- 18 months)

Ms. Joyce 
Lead Teacher – Infant Environment

Ms. Joyce was born in raised in Sao Paulo, Brazil where she studied Bio medicine. Soon after moving to South Florida she found her love of teaching at a small Montessori school in Fort Lauderdale, Florida before joining our school in 2013. Her nurturing spirit and love of young children makes her a wonderful addition to our Infant program.

Credentials

  • Infant/Toddler Credential (0-3 years old), Summit Montessori Teaching Training Institute.  SMTTI is accredited by Montessori Accreditation Council for Teacher Education (MACTE) and affiliated with the American Montessori Society (AMS).
  • 3+ years experience in Montessori Infant environments
  • Bachelors Degree in Bio medicine from Centro Universitario de Maringa in Sao Paulo, Brazil
  • Florida Department of Children and Families – 40 hours Child Care Training
  • First Aid and CPR certified
  • Fire extinguisher trained

Ms. Melanie
Infant Morning Assistant Teacher

Ms. Melanie is excited to join Montessori School of Fort Myers as an Infant afternoon assistant teacher! She studied in Michigan prior to relocating to Cape Coral, Fl. She has previous experience working with infants and children in Michigan. In her free time, Ms. Melanie enjoys spending time with her three teenage children and her husband, boating and going to the beach.

Credentials

  • Fire Extinguisher Trained
  • Florida Department of Children and Families- 45 hours Child Care Training- in progress
  • Certified in Redirecting Children’s Behavior course

Ms. Kristen
Afternoon Assistant Teacher – Toddler West Environment

Ms. Kristen comes to us from Boca Raton, FL. where she grew up. She recently moved to Cape Coral, FL. This Spring she plans to attend FSW where she plans to major in Education. Kristen has experience working with two different families as a nanny where she gained her enjoyment in working with young children. In her spare time, Ms. Kristen likes to spend time with her family, babysit for friends and go to the beach with her boyfriend.

Credentials

  • Florida Department of Children and Families- 45 hours Child Care Training
  • Infant and Child First Aid and CPR certified
  • Certified Medical Assistant, AAMMA
  • HIPPAA, Certified
  • Redirecting Children’s Behavior Certification – In progress

Ms. Ana
 Assistant Teacher – Toddler Far West Environment

 Ms.  Ana relocated to the area from Miami to attend school at Florida Gulf Coast University, where she is currently pursuing a degree in Elementary Education. Ana brings her patience and passion for children to the classroom, and is eager to work with the MSFM Toddler class. In her free time, Ana enjoys spending time with her family and friends, walking her dogs “Ash” and “Stella” and reading.

Credentials

  • Florida Department of Children and Families – 45 hours Child Care Training
  • Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education (In progress)
  • Certified in Redirecting Children’s Behavior course

Ms. Irene
Infant Aftercare Teacher

Ms. Irene is a Fort Myers native.  She became interested in learning more about Early Childhood Education, the Montessori Philosophy in particular, after graduating from High school. She is now working towards her Bachelors Degree in Early Childhood Education. She has experience working with children ages 3 yrs and up as well as PreK after an internship at Villas Elementary School.

Credentials

  • Fire Extinguisher Trained
  • Florida Department of Children and Families- 45 hours Child Care Training
  • Pediatric CPR / First Aid / AED certified
  • Redirecting Children’s Behavior Certification – In Progress

Ms. Alison
Montessori Consultant and Substitute Teacher

IMG_4663Ms. Alison has over 40 years of Montessori experience as a teacher, Founder of the Merrimack Valley Montessori School in Salem, New Hampshire, and the Academic Dean of Greenspring Montessori School in Lutherville, Maryland. We are so excited to have such a experienced lover of Montessori to substitute.

Credentials

  • Program Coordinator for the Maryland Center for Montessori Studies in Lutherville, Maryland
  • Served as a faculty member for the teacher training center she taught Montessori Philosophy, Sensorial Studies and Parent Education.
  • First Aid and CPR Certified
  • B.A. in Classics- Elmhurst College, Elmhurst, Illinois.
  • Montessori Primary Diploma from the Midwest Montessori Teacher Training Center, Chicago Illinois
  • Early Childhood Credential (3-6 years old) -The National Montessori Teaching Certificate from the American Montessori Society.
  • Certified Instructor of 15 Hour Redirecting Children’s Behavior Course

Ms. Chelsea
Substitute Teacher

Ms. Chelsea is a Ft. Myers native and has 3+ years experience working within Early Childhood Education with 2 years of that in the Montessori Environment. She currently is attending FGCU for a Major in Elementary Education. In her free time, Ms. Chelsea enjoys spending time with her family and young son.
Credentials
  • CPR and First Aid Certification 
  • Florida Department of Children and Families- 45 hours Child Care Training
  • Fire extinguisher trained

Ms. Jade
Substitute Teacher
Ms. Jade is a Melbourne, Fl. native and is currently attending FGCU for a major in Elementary Education. She has previous experience working with children of all ages but mainly within the Early Childhood Education age group.  In her free time, Ms. Jade enjoys spending time with her family including her 4 younger siblings. She also enjoys playing Lacrosse.
Credentials
  • Florida Department of Children and Families- 45 hours Child Care Training- in progress
  • Fire extinguisher trained
Nahla Farwell
School pet, mascot, snuggler in chief, unofficial comfort/therapy animal, spirit animal, greeter, napper, etc. 

I am a French bulldog and I love making new friends!