MEET THE STAFF
Up-to-date with the needs of state and Federal mandates
Cognizant of emotional and social needs
Understanding of current brain research
"Discipline is based on pride, on meticulous attention to details, and on mutual respect and confidence. Discipline must be a habit so ingrained that it is stronger than the excitement of the goal or the fear of failure."
Erika Ohlhaver MEd. Director
Ms. Ohlhaver has been a Montessori teacher for over 38 years, and a Montessori Teacher Trainer for 24 years. Starting with the youngest age group, she has received three separate levels of Montessori certification (Early Childhood, Lower Elementary, and Upper Elementary). Ms. Ohlhaver, a second generation Montessori professional, has worked in both private and public school Montessori programs at all age levels. Since 1992, her association as a faculty member of several training centers and some of the top Montessori training programs in the nation, has afforded her the opportunity to work with many prominent people in the Montessori community. Ms. Ohlhaver has worked extensively with the development of the Montessori curricula, which is predicated on discovery learning.
Facilitating Montessori philosophy and material presentations across all age groups, (early childhood through middle school) provides Ms. Ohlhaver the opportunity to instruct many Montessori student teachers each year. In addition to her duties at the Training Centers, she has written curriculum for science, math, and geometry programs that are available and used nationwide in Montessori classrooms. As well, Ms. Ohlhaver has presented many workshops at local and regional conferences.
Dorrie Pearson MEd. Practicum Coordinator E-I and E-II
Ms. Pearson has a unique perspective on Montessori education as a Montessori child herself, Educator and Parent. She began her professional career in experiential education leading sea kayaking expeditions and teaching Wilderness Medicine, holding a BS in Forestry and an MA in Outdoor Education. In 2004 she returned to the Montessori Classroom, completing her EI-II training and an M.Ed in Montessori Integrated Learning. Ms. Pearson has taught in a 6-12 classroom, worked as an Administrator and is currently Montessori homeschooling her elementary aged children. Ms. Pearson joined GCMTEC at its inception and works as an EI-II Instructor and the Practicum Coordinator. Dorrie has worked with both lower elementary and upper elementary ages and excels not only in classroom curriculum, but also classroom management and Montessori philosophy for the elementary aged child.
La Dene Conroy
La Dene Conroy is an expert educator having served in education for over 39 years, of which 34 were in the Charleston School District in South Carolina. She hold a Montessori Administrator credential from Houston Montessori Center, as well as a Montessori certificate in Primary education from Lander University, and a Lower Elementary credential from Seacoast Training Center.
She has experience as a Montessori Specialist, Principal, Title I consultant, Language Arts specialist, and a special education teacher. She holds a degree in Special Education and has two masters degrees from the Citadel, SC in Teacher Education and Elementary Administration. La Dene has vast experience in training and working with public school teachers.
Katie McDonnell-Manson MEd.
Spanning four decades and three continents, Katie has been involved with Montessori education. She began as a Montessori child, followed by a mother, a teacher and lastly teacher trainer. In both public and private settings, she has utilized her Infant/Toddler, 3-6 and 6-9 credentials. She has presented at both national and international conferences. To GulfCoast TEP, Katie brings an international perspective of the Montessori continuum, as well as a serenading love of the practical life curriculum.
Kate became a Montessori educator after a decade working as an engineer. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering from Tulane University in 2008. Kate always knew she wanted to teach and considers herself fortunate that she discovered the Montessori pedagogy. She received her training from Gulf Coast Montessori and holds her Elementary I and II credentials. Kate teaches in Colorado and has experience teaching both Lower and Upper Elementary and has worked in both private and public settings. She uses Excel spreadsheets any chance she gets.
With over 20 years in Montessori, Krystal Perkins is honored to have served the community in her roles as private and public school teacher, public school administrator, teacher educator, and proud parent of 6.
Currently the Dean of Instruction at a public Montessori, she holds an AMS 3-6 primary credential and state certification as Principal and EC-4 Generalist. Having earned a Bachelor of Psychology and Master of Education, she is currently pursuing a PhD in Higher Education Administration. She is passionate about whole-child education that prepares each child to become a passionate, peaceful problem-solver who pursues his or her unique potential.
Lizby Dingus started her Montessori journey as a student, attending a Montessori school through 6th grade in West Texas. After graduating from Colorado College with a B.A in neuroscience, she decided to return to her roots and become a Montessori educator herself. Lizby hold an AMS credential for Montessori EI and EII, and has written published Montessori curriculum in partnership with ETC Montessori. Lizby recently graduated from the Learning and Design Master’s program at Vanderbilt University and is eager to continue improving educational experiences for Montessori students and teachers alike.
Laura Getsinger, M.A.T.
Ms. Getsinger is an Early Childhood Montessori teacher at Murray-LaSaine Montessori School in Charleston, SC. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from the University of South Carolina. After becoming a mother, Laura became fascinated with childhood development. She earned a Master of Arts degree in Teaching Early Childhood Education and has been teaching young children for 15 years. In 2014, Laura was awarded certification in teaching Early Childhood Montessori by the American Montessori Society. She joined the Gulf Coast Montessori TEC team in 2018 and thoroughly enjoys sharing the Montessori pedagogy with new teachers.
Gordon Roberson is an Upper Elementary guide at Westside Montessori School in Houston, TX. He holds a BFA in Theater and Communications from Southwestern University. As many others, he stumbled upon a Montessori school when searching for child care for his oldest child, and thus began his journey as a Montessori parent. Empowered by the independence and natural curiosity of the approach, he eventually found himself joining his children in the Montessori environment as a lower elementary lead and was given the opportunity to open a new upper elementary program. Now, Gordon finds himself at Westside Montessori where he is surrounded by a supportive and inspiring co-lead at an established and thriving community.
Amy Pontiff, has lived in Charleston since her early teenage years. She graduated from Newberry, South Carolina in 2003 with an Elementary Education degree and a minor in Theatre. She hold Montessori credentials in Early Childhood (Primary) as well as Lower Elementary. Her experience spans both levels in private and public schools. She loves to work with children in math, botany, and history.
Amy currently resides in West Ashley area in Charleston with her spouse, teenage step-son, and her cat.
Christi Wilson graduated from Texas A&M University with a degree in English and a minor in Education. She went on to earn Montessori certifications for Early Childhood, Lower Elementary, and Upper Elementary. She has taught all levels of elementary since 2005, both in northwest Arkansas and Austin, TX, and has done a lot of work with coordinating curriculum and designing parent education. Both of her two children grew up in Montessori schools. She loves peace education and social/emotional learning. Her favorite curricular area is language.
Marisol Arteaga B.A.
Marisol Arteaga is a veteran Montessorian who has been teaching in Montessori environments for over 25 years. As the mother of 3 sons who have been educated in the Montessori pedagogy she has brought her expertise to Gulf Coast Montessori (TEC). Marisol has worked at other Montessori Teacher Education Program teaching in the Upper Elementary program as math and geometry instructor. Her accomplishments include presentations at national conferences as well as curriculum writing in the math and geometry areas.
Renée Jansen M.Ed.
Ms. Jansen’s undergraduate degree is in Music Education and she has several levels of training in Kindermusik and Musikgarten. She first joined the staff of a Montessori school as their Kindermusik instructor. After observing Montessori education firsthand, she pursued Montessori training and received her American Montessori Society Elementary I & II Credential in 1996. While teaching, she completed a Masters of Education in Early Childhood Pre-K through 3 with additional graduate coursework for Grades 4-6. She is a Licensed Master Educator in Iowa, has completed Montessori Applied to Children at Risk (MACAR) Level I training, is a trained on-site verifier for the Montessori Accreditation Council for Teacher Education (MACTE), earned the National Center for Montessori in the Public Sector Coaching Certificate and has completed additional STEM graduate work.
Ms. Jansen has taught in a range of private and public Montessori schools with student populations from 30-400+ students. She has taught in Lower and Upper Elementary classrooms and has focused on professional development for teachers’ continuing education, curriculum development, and classroom organization.
Slayden Thomas is originally from Columbia, South Carolina. After graduating from the College of Charleston with a degree in Elementary Education, she discovered Montessori. Slayden was a part of the first cohort to graduate from Gulf Coast Montessori and has her certification in both Elementary I and II. She has extensive experience using the ETC Montessori curricula to meet state and national standards. She has been teaching In Elementary II level at a charter school in South Carolina.
Marielos Romero, Practicum Coordinator EC
Marielos is an experienced educator with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and a Teaching degree in Bilingual Elementary Generalist in Early Childhood -6th grade in the state of TX. She has worked as a bilingual lead teacher and mentor for more than 20 years in public schools with culturally and socio-economically diverse populations, mainly in the city of Houston, TX. In 2006, she had the opportunity to pursue her American Montessori Society Early Childhood Certification (EC 3-6) where she became one of the few bilingual Montessori educators working in the public sector in Houston. Since then, Marielos has been a passionate educator, mentor, coach and trainer who believes that Montessori education improves children’s life in the community as a whole. We are honored to have Marielos as part of the Gulf Coast Montessori Teacher Education Center an Early Childhood trainer.
Wendy Freed has been teaching in Montessori schools since 1993. She has worked in both Private and Public settings, currently a Primary lead teacher at Wilson Montessori, a public Montessori school in Houston, Texas.
She graduated with a bachelors degree in Elementary Education and Spanish from Hiram College in Ohio. She is AMS certified for 3 to 6 Montessori and has done Montessori Infant Toddler coursework at North Harris College. She has her Elementary Generalist Certification from the state of Texas with Specialization for ESL (English and Second Language) and GT (Gifted and Talented).
She has presented at PMET (Public Montessori Educators of Texas) and AMS. She has been a trainer at Gulf Coast Montessori since 2019. She graduated with a bachelors degree in Elementary Education and Spanish from Hiram College in Ohio. She is AMS certified for 3 to 6 Montessori and has done Montessori Infant Toddler coursework at North Harris College. She has her Elementary Generalist Certification from the state of Texas with Specialization for ESL (English and Second Language) and GT (Gifted and Talented).
Amanda Childers B.A.
Ms. Childers fulfills two rolls at Gulf Coast Montessori Teacher Education Center. She works to make all of the administrative tasks associated with the training center as streamlined as possible. She is the first line of contact for every Adult Learner from the first questions when they begin their application process to the time when their certificates are awarded. Ms. Childers is also our resident certified yoga instructor. Having taught yoga since 1999 in various locations as well as having operated her own yoga studio, she is tasked with keeping us from living in our heads too much!