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.

 

Natalie Carter
Assistant Head of School
administrator@msfortmyers.com

Ms. Natalie is a Fort Myers, Florida native.  She left Fort Myers to attend the University of Florida (Go Gators!) where she studied special education and early childhood education. After spending time as a kindergarten teacher and later a third grade teacher, Ms. Natalie found her way to the Montessori School of Fort Myers.  Natalie enjoys the outdoors, running, cooking, and reading.  

 

 

 

 

 

Credentials

  • M.Ed. in Early Childhood Education from the University of Florida
  • B.A. in Special Education from the University of Florida
  • Lee County Public Schools – Three years teaching kindergarten and third grade.  
  • Completed 15 Hour Redirecting Children’s Behavior Course
  • Florida Department of Children and Families – Staff Credential (Birth through 5 years), 45 hours Child Care Training.
  • American Heart Association – Infant & Child CPR, AED, First Aid, and Blood Borne Pathogen training
  • Florida Department of Children and Families – Director’s Credential

 

Bridget Beaulieu
Office Manager
officemanager@msfortmyers.com

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 – 40 hours Child Care Training (On going training)
  • Completed 15 Hour Redirecting Children’s Behavior Course
  • Infant and Child First Aid and CPR certified
  • Redirecting Children’s Behavior Instructor 

Primary Environments (3-6 years old)

Julie Heitman
Primary Department Lead beginning August 2, 2018
Lead Teacher – Red Door Primary Environment beginning August 2, 2018

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)

Lakeisha Brown
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

  • 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
  • Florida Department of Children and Families- 45 hours Child Care Training- in progress

 

Erica Pica
Aftercare Lead Teacher – Primary Environment

Pica, Erica

Ms. Erica developed her love for working with young children at a young age. She has volunteered at her church for the past seven years with children in grades kindergarten through fifth. Ms. Erica is currently pursuing an education in Early Childhood Education at Florida Southwestern State College. Her passion is to be able to help her students learn and grow to the best of their ability.

 

 

 

 

 

Credentials

  • 5+ years of childcare experience
  • Florida Department of Children and Families- on-going training
  • Completed 15 Hour Redirecting Children’s Behavior Course

Danielle Brill
Lead Teacher – Green Door Primary Environment
dbrill@msfortmyers.com

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

  • 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
  • 1999-2001: Baker Center and Meadow Elementary – Head Start PreK teacher, Port Charlotte, FL

 

Paige Hill
 Assistant Teacher – Green Door Primary Environment

Ms. Paige Hill is from Indiana and has lived in Fort Myers since 2016. She attended the University  of Southern Indiana where she obtained her Associate of Science. Paige has worked at the Y-Care as both a Counselor and Site Director. In addition, she worked at the Newburgh Child Development Center as an Assistant and then Lead Teacher caring for children ages six months to four years of age. Paige enjoys working out, going to beach, and going out to eat. She is also an animal lover who enjoys spending time with her dog, Howard and her cat, Kenny.

 

 

 

 

Credentials

  • Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant
  • Associate Degree of Science
  • currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration

Jamie Stanaland
Morning Assistant Teacher – Green Door Primary Environment 

Ms. Jamie has been teaching preschool since 2015 where she started teaching at an early learning center in Clearwater, Florida.  After moving to Fort Myers, Ms. Jamie joined our school in January 2017.  She is very passionate about teaching, nurturing, and expanding her own education in early childhood education and development.  In her free time she enjoys paddleboarding, archery, baking, and snuggling her dogs. 

 

 

 

 

Credentials

  • Florida Department of Children and Families – Staff Credential (Birth through 5 years), 40 hours Child Care Training.
  • Completed 15 Hour Redirecting Children’s Behavior Course
  • Associates Degree
  • Working on Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education at Florida Southwestern State College.
  • CPR and First Aid certified

 

Mikayla Barrs
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- on-going training

 

Toddler Environments (18 – 36 months)

 

Livia Adams
Lead Teacher – Toddler East Environment
ladams@msfortmyers.com

Livia AdamsMs. 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 granddaughter.  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
  • 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

Pam Miller
Assistant Teacher -Toddler East Environment
Pam Miller

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

 

Erica Fontanetta
Lead Teacher – Toddler West Environment
efontanetta@msfortmyers.com

IMG_1168Erica, originally from Chicago, fell in love with Montessori as a parent. After not finding a good fit working in traditional child care, she found herself very drawn to working in a Montessori classroom. She looks forward to learning more about Montessori method of education and incorporating it at home with her daughter,  Josephine. Erica enjoys cooking, crocheting, and spending time at the beach with her family.

 

 

 

 

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).
  • 5+ years of childcare experience, including a Montessori classroom
  • Florida Department of Children and Families – On-going training
  • American Heart Association – Infant & Child CPR, AED, and First Aid training
  • Completed 15 Hour Redirecting Children’s Behavior Course

 

Riley Doyle
Morning Assistant Teacher – Toddler West Environment

Riley is a native Southwest Floridian. She is currently a senior at Florida Gulf Coast University, where she is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Entrepreneurship. When she is not at school, Riley can be found coordinating weddings and events for her event planning business.

 

 

 

 

 

Credentials

  • Bachelor of Arts in Entrepreneurship – Anticipated Fall 2018
  • Florida Department of Children and Families – On-going training

 

Sophia Kraus
Substitute Teacher

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

  • 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
  • Florida Department of Children and Families- 45 hours Child Care Training- in progress

 

Briana Conway

 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 – On-going 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

 

Jessenia Ortiz
Assistant Teacher- Toddler Far West

 

 Ms. Jessie is thrilled to join the MSFM family as an afternoon assistant. Prior to coming on board at the Montessori School of Fort Myers, Jessie worked in caregiving and administration. Ms. Jessie is currently attending Florida Southwestern State College pursuing a degree in Elementary Education. She brings her friendly, positive attitude and her amazing patience to our toddler environment. In her free time, Ms. Jessie enjoys spending time with her family and friends.

Credentials

  • Florida Department of Children and Families – Ongoing Training
  • Completed 15 Hour Redirecting Children’s Behavior Course

 

Channelle Bastardo
Toddler Aftercare Assistant Teacher

Ms. Channelle comes to the Montessori School of Fort Myers with a passion for working with young children. Ms. Channelle has recently eared a Masters degree in Social Work from the University of South Florida. Ms. Channelle has vounteered with Big Brothers Big Sisters and the Urban Scholars Outreach Program in Tampa, Florida. Ms. Channelle is fluent in English and Spanish, and knows American Sign Language as well. In her time outside the classroom, Ms. Channelle enjoys drawing and painting, listening to music, and traveling.

 

 

 

 

 

Credentials

  • Masters in Social Work form the University of South Florida
  • Florida Department of Children and Families – Ongoing Training
  • Completed 15 Hour Redirecting Children’s Behavior Course
  • First Aid and CPR certified, as well as Fire extinguisher trained

 

Amandine Vati Luis
Toddler Aftercare Assistant Teacher

Ms. Amandine comes to the Montessori School of Fort Myers with a love and passion for working with young children. Before moving to Florida, Amandine spent time in Massachusetts and New York, where she worked as a medical assistant. Amandine is eager to learn more about the Montessori method at each age level while she works as a substitute teacher. When Ms. Amandine is not at school, she can be found spending time with her young daughter and volunteering in a pediatric hospital.

Credentials

  • Associates of Science – Plaza College, New York
  • Florida Department of Children and Families- 40 hours Child Care Training- in progress

 

 

Infant Environment (6 weeks- 18 months)

Joyce Farwell
Lead Teacher – Infant Environment
jmendonca@msfortmyers.com

102_1804 (2)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, as well as Fire extinguisher trained

 

Neysha Deynes Fontanez
Infant Assistant Teacher

 Ms. Neysha is excited to join the MSFM family as an infant assistant. Ms. Neysha studied in Puerto Rico prior to relocating to Florida. She has previous experience working with infants at Bright Horizons Early Learning Center in Fort Myers. She brings her bright smile and kind personality to our toddler environment. In her spare time, Ms. Neysha enjoys spending time with her family.

Credentials

  • Florida Department of Children and Families – 40 hours Child Care Training
  • Infant and Child First Aid and CPR certified
  • Completed 15 Hour Redirecting Children’s Behavior Course

 

 

Ana-Nicole Valdes
Infant Aftercare Assistant Teacher

 We are thrilled to welcome Ms. Ana to the Montessori School of Fort Myers. 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 infant class. In her free time, Ana enjoys wakeboarding, walking her dog “Ash”, and reading.

Credentials

  • Florida Department of Children and Families – 40 hours Child Care Training
  • Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education (In progress)

 

 

 

Alison Bourdelais

Substitute Teacher and Educational Consultant
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

Brittany Allen

Substitute Teacher

Ms. Brittany was born and raised in Fort Myers, FL. She is the oldest of nine children.  After graduating high school she enlisted in the U.S Army and was on active duty status for five years.  After her service Ms. Brittany began attending Florida SouthWestern pursuing a degree in Secondary Education.  She is also a children’s sports coach and runs a family construction business.  Brittany loves CrossFit, traveling, flying planes and spending time with her family. She is extremely passionate about learning and teaching, and is excited to be part of the Montessori of Fort Myers team.

Credentials

  • CPR and First Aid Certification 

 

 

 

Nina Zhang

Substitute Teacher 

Ms. Nina moved to the United States from Beijing, China, where she worked with children of all ages as an education consultant and an ESL teacher. She coordinated and chaperoned exchange programs to the United States and taught English to non-English speaking Chinese students. Nina loves learning and is passionate about sharing the joy of learning with children. In her spare time, she enjoys playing with herdog and cooking Chinese food.

 

 

Credentials

  • Master of Arts in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages
  • Bachelor of Management of International Tourism & Hospitality
  • Florida Department of Children and Families- 40 hours Child Care Training- in progress

 

 

Kate Dirrigl

Substitute Teacher


Ms. Kate’s love for teaching started in college while working with her theatre department’s Theatre For Young Audiences program, where she aided children ages 8-13 in better expressing their creativity and building self-esteem through theatre. After graduating, Kate began working for Gulfshore Playhouse in Naples, FL as a teaching artist, exposing Title I school children (kindergarten through 5th grade) in Lee and Collier county to the arts through theatre immersion. Outside of school, Kate is active in the theatre scene in downtown Fort Myers.

Credentials

  • Joined MSFM in February 2016
  • Bachelor’s of Arts in Theater Performance, Minor in English – University of Texas Rio Grande Valley in Edinburg, TX
  • 3+ years teaching experience
  • American Heart Association – Infant & Child CPR, AED, and First Aid training
  • Florida Department of Children and Families – on going training
  • Completed 15 Hour Redirecting Children’s Behavior Course

 

Trishana Hyde
Substitute Teacher

Ms. Trishana loves learning and teaching! She has worked with children of all ages as a substitute teacher, tutor, and mentor. She beleives in nurturing children so they are able to reach their full potential in their emotional, educational, and physical development. Ms. Trishana loves setting goals and working towards them. She also enjoys reading, and taking walks in nature.

Credentials

  • Associates Degree from Florida SouthWestern State College
  • B.A. Florida Gulf Coast University – In progress
  • Florida Department of Children and Families- 45 hours Child Care Training- In progress
 
 
 
 
 
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!  Come see me in the Head of School’s office!