School Start-up Grantees
These School Start-up Grant recipients are founders of Black-led Montessori schools dedicated to providing students with holistic experiences.
Blazing Stars Montessori School
LaTania has always loved school. When she was an undergraduate at Xavier University in Cincinnati, she had her first encounter with Montessori education at the Xavier Lab School. She remembers pressing her face against the window of the observation room, trying to catch the childrens’ every movement. Since then, LaTania went on to receive her BA in Elementary Education with a focus in Montessori (Lower Elementary), and MA in Advanced Montessori Education. Later in her career, she attended Centers for Guided Montessori Studies where she completed her Upper Elementary certification. Her career has been spent in Public Montessori spaces, having taught in Ohio, North Carolina, and Florida. She is currently also an Instructional Guide at the Center for Guided Montessori Studies. LaTania is a member of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority and served on the executive board as the vice president. This year LaTania has is celebrating over 17 years of experience as a Montessorian. In her spare time she likes to ride her Harley, cooking, spending time with her 2 sons and Husband, and loving on others.
Blazing Stars Montessori School
Kameeka holds a B.B.A in Marketing and worked for almost 5 years at Morgan Stanley in New York before joining Teach for America as a 2017 corps member in Jacksonville, FL. Most recently, Kameeka has worked for 3 years in a lower elementary Montessori classroom and holds a Florida Professional Educators Teaching License with a Reading Endorsement and course work in English as a Second Language and Gifted. Outside of her time in the classroom Kameeka is a mother to a toddler and is in the first class of Teach for America Central Florida’s Alumni Educator Fellowship. In her spare time Kameeka is a photographer spending time with her son, and loves to be our in nature.
Sankofa Learning Center
Amelia Allen Sherwood is a Black queer mother, educator, and anti-bias & anti-racist organizer in New Haven, CT. She had a vision with her eyes wide open one day and it revealed an African-Centered learning space that centered Black children. It is her hope that Sankofa Learning Center will be a high-quality early childhood program that uses Montessori pedagogy as a tool, Black Homeschooling Collective, and healing hub for the community. When Amelia isn't in the classroom, you can find her out in nature with her family, dancing, writing and singing. She is a sucker for apocalyptic tv shows and a big R&B head!
Mi nombre es Karla Jessica Rodríguez Ore soy de nacionalidad Peruana, pero, vivo en Puerto Rico hace 17 años, me identifico como Black latín American. Mi bachillerato es en Administración Hotelera la cual ejercí por 5 años en mi país, al mudarme a Estados Unidos comencé con unos créditos en Inglés elemental, pero, encontré mi horizonte en Trabajo Social. Me gradué el 2019 con una Maestría en Trabajo Social Clínico y comencé a ejercer en ese mismo año en la escuela Montessori en el pueblo de Guayama. Es ahí donde me enamora la metodología y decido tomar un curso de Asistente Montessori AMI de 3 a 6, al ver la maravilla de como los niños se desarrollan, sentí que tenía que hacer un cambio social desde el nacimiento de un ser humano, así que decidí prepararme como guía de Asistente de la Infancia 0-3. Actualmente unos de mis metas es dar inicio a mi escuela Cantuta Montessori, ofreciendo un ambiente paz, armonía basado en el respeto y equidad, que los niños desde una temprana edad crezcan con una diversidad.
The Dahlia School of San Francisco
Meet Lindsey, the educational entrepreneur in the heart of San Francisco. Her mission? To bring the transformative power of Montessori education to her community in Mission Bay, California. As a parent, she realized the need for an elementary school and nurturing yet intellectually stimulating environment for her gifted African-American daughter and the diverse children and families of her community where 70% of school-aged children are low-income, which drove her to take action. Drawing on her background in business and technology, Lindsey first co-founded The Dahlia School of San Francisco Early Childhood Program. Then blossomed The Dahlia School of San Francisco Elementary. These schools have become the first Wildflower pod in San Francisco, offering authentic Montessori Spanish immersion programs, and closing the opportunity gaps. "Dahlia" is the official flower of San Francisco and was chosen as a symbol of each child's uniqueness within the vibrant city of San Francisco. Lindsey's vision also extends to creating an authentic Montessori adolescent program, empowering, seeing and challenging diverse students in a supportive and inclusive environment. Her mission's core is to create a space where black, brown, and all families trust their children's development. Lindsey dreams of San Francisco as a city that empowers young leaders, embracing diversity and fostering success for all. Beyond her work at The Dahlia School, Lindsey finds joy in Wildflower Schools' marketing circle, merging her business acumen with her passion for education. Getting to know her children even more deeply as they grow brings Lindsey profound happiness. Afro-Brazilian dance fuels her spirit. Lindsey is deeply grateful to her Teacher Leader partners, Alejandra and David, her family, friends, and generous supporters: Wildflower Schools, Black Wildflowers Fund, Silicon Schools, The San Francisco Department of Education, Vela Fund, and anonymous donors. Her 7-year-old daughter Millie and 3-year-old son Elijah are her forever inspirations. Lindsey's journey shines as a beacon of hope and love, spreading authentic Montessori education across San Francisco's vibrant landscape.
The Dahlia School of San Francisco
David Hernandez, a passionate educator and adventurer, was born on August 20, 1988, in Mexico City. With a background in Engineering and Pedagogy from Tecnológico de Toluca and Universidad Pedagógica Nacional de Mexico, respectively, he ultimately found his calling in Montessori education. Having earned diplomas from the Association of Montessori Internationale (AMI), David embarked on a rewarding career, building Montessori environments from scratch and guiding students through their Elementary years. His commitment to education is unwavering. Outside the classroom, David enjoys running, cycling, boxing, and exploring new places with his Golden Retriever, Menta. Embracing Albert Einstein's wisdom, he believes that life's balance lies in continuous movement. With a heart for giving back, David volunteers with underprivileged children and elderly individuals, creating positive change in his community. Meeting his wife, Vivi, was a pivotal moment, providing unwavering support throughout his journey. Looking ahead, David envisions establishing The Dahlia School of San Francisco Elementary and introducing a Montessori Adolescent program. His ambition includes eradicating illiteracy in the United States and pursuing a master's degree at Stanford University. David's keen observation and strategic approach define his personality. He values mutual respect, humility, and making a difference in the lives of others. In essence, David Hernandez from Mexico City is a beacon of inspiration, blending education and adventure to create a unique and impactful journey. With every step he takes, he leaves a positive mark on the lives he touches.
Sadula Rose Montessori School
Angelica’s knowledge and early Montessori experience began as a parent of a Montessori child approximately 20 years ago. This early experience eventually influenced her to transition from a career in Journalism to Montessori. Her early curiosity in Montessori philosophy led her to write more and more stories for a local newspaper to educate parents about the different educational systems available for children. She fell in love with every aspect of Montessori and wanted as many people as possible to learn about it. The memorable experiences she had with her son’s guide and research eventually lead her to a career path in Montessori. She loved how Montessori transformed her son, herself and her whole family’s perspective about developing the ‘whole child.’ Prior to working in Montessori she worked in Head Start as an Assisting/Substitute Teacher in 2002 (Buffalo, NY). In 2004, she left New York and moved to Atlanta. It is here that she got her start working in Montessori environments. She worked in various schools in Atlanta, from 2006-2010, as a Montessori Assistant. She took the Primary Training at the Montessori Institute of Atlanta now known as The Internationale Montessori Institute of Atlanta under the training of Joen Bettman and received her (AMI) Primary Certification in May 2012. In 2014, she received her Master of Education from Loyola University with an emphasis in Montessori education. Since becoming a Montessori Teacher her experience spans from being an Elementary Montessori guide, Toddler Montessori guide and Primary Guide. In 2019, she received certification to become a Laughter Yoga Facilitator/Leader in Atlanta, Ga through her trainer, Celeste Greene. Her favorite pastimes are traveling and being outdoors, gardening, crocheting, hiking, meditating, writing, and reading self-empowerment/healing books. Her future goals are: to be a part of utilizing Montessori education to be a vehicle for education reform, open up doors for school choice options for parents, to create an opportunity for Montessori schools to become an option for children regardless of their socio-economic status, write books on different Montessori subjects, and produce documentaries on Montessori and various non-fiction topics.
Sadula Rose Montessori School
Mariyama Amyai Webster, is a native of California. As a youth she was very active in her community. Her first job was that of teaching young children how to read. At that time, she was in middle school, and worked with a stalwart, Mrs. Wilkes, an African American, who developed this community program. It provided jobs for youth and gave young children a head-start before entry in schools. The focus was the teaching of phonetics, the ability to read and exhibit strong reading skills. She graduated from San Jose University and San Francisco State University, receiving a B.S., in Business, and a master’s in education. She developed a strong interest in the pedagogue of Maria Montessori, whose focus was with the under-privileged and the development of the whole child, so she pursued and completed her intensive training, at Bennet Park Montessori, in Buffalo NY. Her passion and desire are not only to work with young children but includes her lifelong dream of creating an environment that will continue to awaken the genius in every child she touches.
Montessori Credential Grantees
These Credential Grant recipients are committed to developing their skills in order to provide better outcomes for our children.
Follow the stories of our amazing grantees
Get updates on the accomplishments of the school founders and Montessori credential trainees.
Hi, My name is Ciera Quarterman. I am 28 years old and a boy mom 2x! I am a black woman raised as a christian. I am quiet but blunt and speak my mind. I tend to stay to myself often and starting to love to do things alone. My professional goal or dream is to work in a majority staffed and students school of color. I want to work around and with people that can understand me, I can relate more to, and be comfortable around. I also want to be that person that the children can relate to. It is so hard to go to a school and you look around and it is not nobody in site you can mirror. Some years ago parents and future parents were observing the school I work at and one of them said in the q&a after how come all the colored staff were the one taking the children to the bathroom. Thats when it really stuck out to me that there was no guide that was colored there was no guide that was not white. I knew right there I had to be apart of that change. Long term goals and dreams is to hopefully open up a children's house with someone or become a director of a children house.
I am a Montessori Teacher Leader, and I want to introduce Montessori Education to the broader immigrant population in Minnesota. I want a better quality of education for our youth and provide a safe and reliable Montessori Environment. I opened a Wildflower Montessori school together with my wife and her friend. We are all three trained Teacher Leaders, and I plan to have an elementary classroom added to our beautiful Acacia Montessori school. We hope that Montessori Education will equip our children for everyday life, giving them practical skills which give them purpose and enables them to be contributing members of their family, classroom, and community.
Michelle has been an educator for over 20 years. She has worked as an elementary school, middle school teacher in public schools, and with private schools, She also has over 8 years of experience as a Montessori educator. at the primary and upper elementary level She has also taught as an Associate Professor of Developmental Reading, for technical colleges. in South Carolina and New Mexico. She received her Montessori Diploma for Primary Ages 3-6 in 2010. She received an AMI Administrators Certificate in 2022, and an AMI Certificate for Montessori Elder Care Practitioner in 2020. In 2000, Mrs. Goodwin completed her Master of Science in Elementary Education and Reading from Brooklyn College (CUNY). She received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Print Journalism from Northeastern University in June 1995. Her minor was Afro-American Studies. She is thrilled to be a founding partner for Jawanza Zinnia Montessori Development center where she can fulfill her lifelong dream of creating an environment of community for primary and senior attendees. The goal of this center is to meet the needs of the community by providing exposure to a prepared environment and high quality curriculum as we care for multi-generations. "I am a lifelong learner," says Michelle. " I desire to help spark the love of learning and self-growth in every person who's life I touch." "As a former Montessori parent, I have seen the benefits of allowing the child to be in a nurtured environment where their individuality is celebrated. The seeds "planted" in my children within those environments are still germinating today. Many of the strengths and skills they demonstrate now are a direct result of having the opportunity to grow and experience at their own pace. And I have had the pleasure of utilizing the Montessori method to support my father in his last days as he struggled with Alzheimer's due to dementia. It is my passion to create the same environments for the children and seniors of my local community." Michelle is a mother, and a grandmother. She also serves on the ministry team of Bethel Revival Church, Emporia, VA. Michelle was born and raised in the Flatbush area of Brooklyn, NY.
My name is Jessica Chalmers and I am originally from Port-au-Prince Ayiti. I pursued my undergraduate and graduate studies in psychology, early childhood education, childhood education and curriculum writing. I am a multilingual educator with over a decade of teaching experience, curriculum development and leadership. I have a passion for social justice and an interest in sustainability studies. Overall, I have a deep passion and commitment to healing on a large scale. I fundamentally believe in the holistic, nurturing and universal Montessori methods. After training with the Montessori Institute of San Diego, I plan on bringing these teachings to a broader population of children. In my home country, where children don’t have access to quality education because of political and systemic oppressions, I see using the Montessori philosophy as a form of social justice. Learning how to implement the Montessori methodology will give me the tools to better support my students' overall growth. I truly feel that the Montessori method is a revolution that contributes to a movement of universal liberation by showing the way to defend and raise humanity. I believe that all students, despite their background and abilities, should have access to a holistic way of learning, one that encompasses social- emotional as well as academic growth.
My name is Michaela Johnson! I am currently in my fifth year of teaching Montessori, but my second year of teaching Upper Elementary(which I am LOVING!!). The past three years, I taught Lower Elementary. I have a BS in Psychology from Tuskegee University, MS in Child and Adolescent Psychology from SNHU and a M.A.T. in Elementary Education from Relay Graduate School of Education. I always maintain a calm and positive outlook on life while keeping a smile on my face. I love being a Montessori guide, teaching, learning, inspiring and interacting with students and their families. I enjoy being in the classroom, so my plan (as of now) is to retire as an educator.
Brandy O’Neal has fifteen years of experience teaching in Chicago Public Schools. During her tenure, she has been a classroom teacher, reading interventionist, and mentor teacher. She took a hiatus from education to become an urban farm apprentice and eventually became a farm manager at the YWCA’s first urban farm in Chicago. She enjoyed working outdoors, learning from nature, and growing some of the best vegetables she’d ever eaten in her life! However, when the pandemic hit and the school where her farm was located closed, she used the time to reassess and plan her next steps. Always the educator at heart, she yearned to work with children. So, she returned to the classroom with a renewed sense of hope and a fresh outlook. Brimming with ideas, she researched all kinds of interests, from food literacy and nature-based education to student agency and self-directed learning, and each time one name kept making an appearance—Montessori. Taking this as a sign, she enrolled in an EL I-II Montessori certification program at the Prepared Montessorian Institute, and hasn’t looked back. Her time studying the Montessori Method has strengthened her resolve to not only teach her students the fundamentals of academic subjects but also strategies to lead happier, healthier lives.
My name is Diamond Williams, a little bit about me… I am 23 years old and a little new to the Montessori community, I can across it and fell in love and now I just see myself doing this for the rest of my life. I would like to go back for the primary training once I graduate college and just keep climbing the ladder that is my dream, and I hope I’m able to fulfill it one day. My personality is very driven I would say, when I make my mind up I feel like I lock into that place and I can’t unlock until I complete my goal. That’s why I feel as though I’ll be able to keep climbing the ladder as I want too. I absolutely can’t wait to be a lead in my own classroom and see what things I can accomplish, I fully believe in myself and can’t wait for the new year to start!
I am a born and raised in Boston who is an enthusiastic teacher with passion for children’s education and hands-on experience in imparting knowledge to young learners. I would like to express my strong interest. This scholarship would help me tremendously in continuing my new career and journey as a Montessori teacher. I have started working at my new position at Roxbury Roots Montessori starting in February. Not only that, but I was working at a children's center at Northeastern University which was financially great, but it was long overdue for me to move on to something with more potential for growth. This upcoming fall school I will be doing my internship at RRM. My professional goals is to get my Montessori certification by spring 2024 and a top priority of mine while I am at Roxbury Roots is to use this opportunity to help further the Montessori pedagogy and instill a sense of pride and empowerment in all students. This is a focus on what drive me, my career as a black woman in early childhood education. I believe my purpose in life is to help my community, especially people of color in a teaching environment.
Marie St. John
I am excited and very thankful for this opportunity. A little bit about me. My name is Marie St.Jean. I was born and raised in Florida. Haitian decent fluent in Haitian Creole. I’ve been in Montessori education for seven years now . As lead teacher and as an assistant teacher for pre primary and also primary. My goal is to become a certified Montessori Teacher for the primary age classroom at international Montessori school .My personality is very outgoing land ready to explore curiosities into the world . During my spare time I spend most of it with my 10 year old son Zakhari. Riding our bikes and hanging out at the beach.
Keosha Gant is an innovative educator and mother from Chicago, Illinois. She has more than a decade of experience working with children, with her most recent role being an assistant at the Montessori primary level. She is currently finishing a Bachelor of Arts degree with a concentration in Fashion Design from Columbia College. With a passion in the arts Keosha makes use of her interest in an impactful way within the classroom. Looking to not only further her knowledge on the Montessori pedagogies but also take the necessary steps to further her career as black leadership, Keosha is currently enrolled in Southwest Institute of Montessori Studies to obtain a Montessori credential at the primary level to further make a difference in children’s lives.
My name is Hannah Boxley. I attended Montessori school at the age 2 1/2 years old up until I was in 3rd grade. I attended Marotta, Hicks and Dike Montessori. I have a bachelors degree in Business Administration from Central State University. However, I have always had the passion for education. I love working with children. I am natural at making connections with people. I enjoy helping others and work well with assisting people through challenges. I am an experienced problem solver and like to be optimistic with results. I have worked in early childhood since 2009, began teaching as a substitute teacher for Cleveland Metropolitan School District in 2014. I began my journey as a Montessori mother in 2017 and allowed both of my children to attend public Montessori. I began my Montessori training while working in my first year as a Montessori teacher at Stonebrook Montessori. While conducting my training I experienced hardships and was unable to complete my training in the time span of the program. Therefor, receiving this grant is most appreciated and much needed. I am currently working at Tremont Montessori as an assistant teacher (paraprofessional) as an opportunity to focus on completing my training. My goal is to complete my training by the fall. Gain knowledge as an assistant and prepare to teach my own class for the following school year. I also will have to obtain my Resident Educator License after obtaining my Montessori credential in order to start the 2024-2025 school year as a credentialed Montessori teacher. I plan to teach as a Montessori teacher until retirement. I also would love to support and see Cleveland have their own Montessori training center so that we can grow our Montessori educator population.
My name is Jennifer Irving, and I live in South Florida. I have a bachelor's and a master's degree in Criminology. After I finished, I realized that the type of change I wanted to make I couldn't achieve in this current environment. After having my first child and many hours of research, I jumped into the world of Montessori and have been in love ever since. I am a super curious person and love learning about any and everything that I encounter. My hobbies include drawing, painting, learning the guitar, and entertaining my two children and Goldendoodle. I've found my passion in teaching the Montessori method to eager elementary children. Professional, I want to teach lower elementary for the rest of my working years with the hopes of opening a school apart of the Wildflower Network.