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 MEd.
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 holds 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 master's degrees from the Citadel, SC in Teacher Education and Elementary Administration. La Dene has vast experience in training and working with public school teachers.
Beth Bonnette MEd.
Beth began her teaching career in the Houston Independent School District more than 30 years ago. She taught high school English for 15 years before becoming a Magnet Coordinator, Assistant Principal, and then Principal. As a teacher and a leader Beth has always believed that students should have ownership of their environment and their learning. In 2009 Beth was named Principal of Wilson Montessori, a public PK3 – 8th grade Montessori campus near downtown Houston. She knew that she had finally found her home and heart in Montessori philosophy.
Beth earned her AMS Administrator Credential in 2010 from Houston Montessori Center. After working at Wilson Montessori, she knows that it is possible to have a rigorous and authentic Montessori program in the public-school sector. Using Montessori philosophy as the lens for all decision making, Beth and her faculty have taken a struggling school and created a successful, thriving public Montessori program. She has presented at national, state, and local conferences to share what she has learned.
Michelle Hammons MEd.
Michelle Hammons, M.Ed. has served for the past 19 years as the Principal/Executive Director of a Public Montessori Charter School in Walnut Creek, California. The predominance of Michelle’s educational career has been involved in Montessori education in the public sector. She began this journey as a teacher in the Montessori magnet programs in Waco, Texas (Waco ISD). After teaching for six years, she entered school administration first as a Curriculum Director for the Waco Charter School and then as the Assistant Principal of a diverse public Montessori charter school in Houston, Texas. During her administrative career, she served briefly as a Field Consultant for the Houston Montessori Training Center and was adjunct faculty for the St. Mary’s Montessori Training Program in Moraga, California.
She holds a BS in Sociology, a Post Bac in Early Childhood Education, and her Master’s in Educational Leadership, all from Baylor University. She is currently a doctoral student at San Francisco State University in the Educational Leadership program with a focus on Social Justice and Equity.
Michelle has worked with the Charter School Development Center (CA) in their Leadership Bootcamp for new Charter Leaders as well as having served on the board of the national organization, the American Montessori Society. Her work in Montessori and more specifically, Montessori in the public sector, has provided her with the opportunity to present at several national conferences over the past 10 years and present the 2019 Key Note address to the Public Montessori Educators of Texas conference in Houston. Her latest workshop was examining the autonomy that charter schools provide to allow for a deeper authenticity in providing Montessori education to students.
Carrie Kries MEd.
Carrie Kries has been an educator for over 30 years, as a teacher and administrator in the public, charter and private sectors. With a Master's degree and AMS credential in school leadership, Carrie served as CEO of a Montessori charter school and spent the last 6 years as Head of School for Gladwyne Montessori, the only AMS accredited school serving infants to 6th grade on Philadelphia’s Main Line. Carrie will join the Washington Market School in NYC in July 2022 as their new Head of School.
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.
Cerise Weeks M.Ed.
Cerise is the superintendent at Corpus Christi Montessori School. She holds a B.S. in education from Corpus Christ State University, a M.S. in Education Administration from Texas A&M-CC, and AMS Montessori credentials in Elementary I-II and Administration.
Cerise loves being in nature, cooking, reading, spending time with her family and of course working with children. Her favorite quotes come from Nelson Mandela and Maya Angelou: "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." and "You are the sum total of everything you have ever seen, heard, eaten, smelled, been told, forgot - it's all there. Everything influences each of us, and because of that I try to make sure that my experiences are positive."
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 Master 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, 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. We are honored to have Marielos as part of the Gulf Coast Montessori Teacher Education Center and Early Childhood trainer.
Amanda Childers B.A.
Ms. Childers fulfills two rolls at Gulf Coast Montessori Teacher Education Center. She works to make all 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!