FACULTY & STAFF
financial DIRECTOR
SUSAN ROTH

Susan started working at MECR in 1996 when her daughter was born.  In those early years, visitors to the MECR office might find a baby asleep under her desk as she worked.  As her family grew, so did her job at MECR as she evolved from the MECR Assistant to the MECR Financial Director.  Susan often says that working with Montessorians for her entire career has been a beautiful blessing, as Montessorians tend to walk a path of kindness and perspective and purpose.   While Susan has never taken training (she’s been a bit busy every summer for the last 25 years!), all 5 of her children have attended Montessori schools.  She fully enjoys the connections she has made with the many students and instructors who have passed through MECR and loves to imagine the light they have passed on to the world  in service to the child.

“Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.” – Buddha –

Susan took this photo of the hands of her two sons on MLK day in 2014.

TEACHING ROSTER

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Mary Broeckling

mbroeckling@mecr.edu
After earning my teaching certificate in the state of Missouri to teach Art K-12 I stumbled upon the Montessori philosophy and never looked back! This is my 18th year of teaching in a Montessori environment. I earned my IT Credential at Seton Montessori Institute just outside of Chicago in 2010. I currently am a lead guide in a Toddler classroom at the Montessori School of Denver. Last year I began as an instructor at MECR teaching Child, Family, and Community. I also started consulting with several schools around Colorado. This year I will continue as an instructor at MECR, consulting, and I will take on Field Consulting.
Bachelor's Degree in Art History, University of Missouri

Rebecca Howell

rhowell@mecr.edu
When I returned from the Peace Corps, I had trouble finding a job. I had a friend who I had served in Cote d'Ivoire with who had recently moved to Denver as well. She was working at a new Montessori School here in Denver as the Director, and hired me as an office assistant. I so enjoyed working with the children and subbing in the classrooms, and the philosophy of independence and respect resonated with me. The school was a lab school for the Montessori Institute, so I took my training and became an AMI certified Infant Toddler teacher.
Masters in Education, Loyola College in Baltimore

Melody Patton

mpatton@mecr.edu
I first discovered Montessori because of my children. I was looking for a part-time program for my 15 month old daughter and discovered a nearby Montessori school. Knowing nothing about it previously, I felt drawn to the calm, peaceful, respectful and home-like atmosphere of the Toddler environment. As a parent, I learned so much from my daughters’ teachers, and the Montessori philosophy provided a beautiful framework for parenting.
Both of my daughters attended Montessori school until they went to Kindergarten. When my youngest daughter started Kindergarten, I decided to leave my career in technology consulting and get my Montessori Infant and Toddler certification at MECR. After several years of teaching in the Toddler classroom, I returned to MECR to complete my Early Childhood training. Montessori has become my life’s passion and I love sharing it with parents and those who want to become Montessori teachers themselves.
I’ve been a supervising teacher, instructor, field consultant, level coordinator and practicum coordinator for MECR. I am the founder and Head of School at School in the Woods Montessori which serves children from birth to age 6 in Denver, Colorado.
MBA, University of Denver

Rachel Regan

rregan@mecr.edu
After a few years working in the non-profit and marketing world, I discovered Montessori! I moved to Colorado, took my Infant & Toddler training at MECR, and became a classroom teacher. A few years later, I completed the Administrator Course, and took on the Infant & Toddler Level Coordinator position at MECR. It has been a joy to work with fellow Montessorians at MECR!
BA in Communication & Women's Studies, Wesleyan College

Valene Rodriguez

vrodriguez@mecr.edu
I have always loved children so when I had the opportunity to work at a Montessori School when I was 6 months pregnant with my first child I was so excited. I was an assistant for a few years and then fell in love with the philosophy. I knew I needed to take my Montessori Training. I took my training at The Montessori Institute. I have experience working with the Nido environment and the toddler environment.
Masters Degree, Loyola University

Lisa Russell

lrussell@mecr.edu
While dealing with a severe medical condition I was not able to work full time. I had a friend who worked at a Montessori school that had infants and I asked if I could work part time for her just to give me something to do. I had been in the ECE field for many years and was over qualified to be a part time assistant but I needed something to do. I fell in love!
AA ECE, Colorado Metro State

Yvonne Bader

ybader@mecr.edu
After college I knew I wanted to help young children and families get off to a good start. When I discovered Montessori, I decided this was the way to support children and families. The consistent day-to-day engagement in the Montessori environment guided children(and their parents) to develop a wonderful foundation. Respect for the child was foremost. Children were involved in developmentally appropriate hands on activities. The children grew to be independent and self motivated. The children loved learning. The class was a community and the children gained life time skills. I was fascinated by the children's capabilities and their joy in learning. Montessori was where I wanted to be.
Bachelor of Arts (Some graduate course work), University of Colorado

Laura Baglietto

lbaglietto@mecr.edu
As a child and young adult everyone mentioned to me that my personality would fit great as a teacher. I remember having really bad experiences in school and disliking my teachers, therefore, I thought teaching would be out of the question. I tried really hard to stay away from education and I pursued other careers which did not fulfill me. After being very unhappy at my then job, and after a lot of soul searching, I finally applied to a Montessori school that was in need of an assistant. Once I observed the classroom I immediately knew that being a Montessori teacher was going to be my profession, my passion and my life.
Masters in Elementary Montessori Education, Loyola University of Maryland

Sheela Dharmarajan

sdharmarajan@mecr.edu
My Montessori journey began in a small Montessori school in India, when I was three years old. As an adult, I volunteered at a Montessori school and I have never looked back. I took my Primary Teacher Training at MECR and also have my Primary Training from AMI. I'm Birth to Three, trained from The Montessori Institute, Denver. I have been field consulting for MECR for 14 years. I teach in Denver Public Schools and have been teaching in public Montessori schools for 21 years now. I have a bachelor's degree in Accounting and Business and a masters degree in Education. In my spare time, I like to read, spend time outdoors, travel and try out new recipes.
Masters in Education, University of Phoenix

Robin Hoch

rhoch@mecr.edu
I started working at the Montessori Academy of Colorado in March of 2003 and fell in love immediately with what a beautiful way it is to teach children. I moved into a music specialty and have continued my education to merge all of my certifications in with Montessori to create a balanced, chid-centered curriculum.
Bachelor of Arts, two half completed Masters don't equal a whole, I assume :), Colorado State University

Rebecca Howell

rhowell@mecr.edu
When I returned from the Peace Corps, I had trouble finding a job. I had a friend who I had served in Cote d'Ivoire with who had recently moved to Denver as well. She was working at a new Montessori School here in Denver as the Director, and hired me as an office assistant. I so enjoyed working with the children and subbing in the classrooms, and the philosophy of independence and respect resonated with me. The school was a lab school for the Montessori Institute, so I took my training and became an AMI certified Infant Toddler teacher.
Masters in Education, Loyola College in Baltimore

Angelina Lloyd

alloyd@mecr.edu
I discovered Montessori in the spring of 2000, when my eldest child was born. Just one look at him filled me with love and devotion. I was astonished by his newness and the wonder that marked the passage of time. There was no doubt in my mind that I would do everything in my power to offer him the brightest beginning I could. I researched child development, parenting techniques and early childhood educational approaches. I quickly fell in love with the pedagogies of Montessori, Reggio-Emilia and elements of Waldorf. When I was ready to begin looking for a future preschool near the small rural farming community where I lived in Eastern Illinois I was disappointed by the lack of rich early childhood experiences I hoped for. Undeterred, I took things into my own hands and pursued my first Montessori teaching certificate with NAMPTA and opened my own Montessori farm school cooperative in the Fall of 2002. In 2005 I began a second Montessori teaching certificate with MECR and have been working with children these past 20+ years.
Masters in Educational Psychology, University of Colorado, Denver

Kay Loer

kloer@mecr.edu
My Montessori roots run deep as a Montessori child myself. I was always intrigued by various educational philosophies and found myself quickly drawn back to Montessori pedagogy. I earned my undergraduate degree in Early Childhood and Elementary Education from the University of Wisconsin La Crosse. Afterwards, I moved to Portland, Oregon to complete my Primary Montessori training at Montessori Northwest and completed my Master's of Montessori Education from Loyola College of Maryland. I am currently the Lower Division Director at the Montessori Academy of Colorado.
Master's, Loyola College of Maryland

Deborah Matyjevich

dmatyjevich@mecr.edu
Montessori pedagogy has been embedded in my life for the past 2 decades. Upon entering my first Montessori classroom, I knew I had found an educational model that was profound, comprehensive, and based on creating a better world by supporting and guiding children in a way that was holistic, academic, worldly and emotionally and developmentally up-lifting. I spent the past 18 years teaching Preschool and Kindergarten in Denver and watching the magic that comes from Montessori education. I believe that children are given the opportunity to thrive, blossom, and come into their own in the most authentic ways in Montessori classrooms.
For the past 10 years, my role has evolved from teaching full time into other roles that have allowed me to broaden my impact. I am passionate about supporting new teachers, schools, parents and families. My degree in Psychology and Sociology from Emory University in Atlanta, along with my Montessori training has laid a foundation that supports me in coaching and consulting with educators, parents, and schools.  The beautiful Colorado mountains in Estes Park originally drew me from my home in Atlanta in 1995, but it is my passion for Montessori education, my loving family, and the opportunity to make an impact in my community that has made Denver my home.
BA Psychology/Sociology, Emory University

Tori Virlee

tvirlee@mecr.edu
I have a bachelor's degree in speech, language, and hearing sciences. At the time I thought I would work with the Deaf and hard of hearing population. I accepted a job in a Montessori school as a sign language instructor. I immediately fell in love with the philosophy and approach and have been working in the Montessori world ever since! I went to training and received my early childhood credential. I have worked in the classroom as well as in administrative and student support roles. Now I enjoy sharing the philosophy and approach with adults on their own Montessori journey.
M.A. (School Psychology), University of Colorado Denver

Michelle Baker Rogers

mrogers@mecr.edu
After having been an elementary educator in public schools in Utah, Wyoming and Colorado, I was drawn to the Montessori strand in my last school in Carbondale, CO. Seeing the children work with materials in an independent fashion intrigued me and spoke deeply to both my mind and my heart. The spiritual transformation that occurs when becoming a Montessori guide has provided a renewed sense of purpose, allowing me to be a better educator, mother and human. The reverence for and the potential seen in each child continues to inspire me as a guide of both children and adults.
Bachelor of Science in Education, Weber State University

Suzanne Diekman

sdiekman@mecr.edu
I was led to Montessori during my elementary teacher training, and also in trying to find a school that matched my values for my daughters. I love the core values of Montessori as well as the hands-on approach, respect of the child, peace curriculum, and fostering of responsibility and independence. I started my Montessori career as an assistant in the primary classroom and sought my certification in elementary I, this led me further on to elementary II where I currently teach. The most important learning experiences for me are how to honor the child, trust the child, and teach the whole child. This begins with an inner transformation of the adult first! One of my favorite quotes from Maria Montessori is the following: “The first essential is that the teacher should go through an inner, spiritual preparation – cultivate certain aptitudes in the moral order. This is the most
difficult part of her training, without which all the rest is of no avail… She must study how to purify her heart and render it burning with charity towards the child. She must “put on humility.” And above all, learn how to serve. She must learn how to appreciate and gather in all those tiny and delicate manifestations of the opening life in the child’s soul. Ability to do this can only be attained through a genuine effort towards self-perfection,” (Standing, 1957, p 298).
BS in Education, Grand Canyon University

Mandi Franz

mfranz@mecr.edu
I attended a Montessori school from age 18 months through Upper Elementary. I am the teaching coach at Ross Montessori Charter School in Carbondale, CO and a MECR Elementary and Administrator course instructor. I also volunteer as a member of the AMS Teacher Education Action Commission.
Masters Degree - Montessori Leadership, Endicott College

Robin Hoch

rhoch@mecr.edu
I started working at the Montessori Academy of Colorado in March of 2003 and fell in love immediately with what a beautiful way it is to teach children. I moved into a music specialty and have continued my education to merge all of my certifications in with Montessori to create a balanced, chid-centered curriculum.
Bachelor of Arts, two half completed Masters don't equal a whole, I assume :), Colorado State University

Heather Legendre

hlegendre@mecr.edu
My Montessori journey began in 2006 when I started teaching in a lower elementary classroom at Jarrow Montessori School in Boulder. After six years at Jarrow, I chose to move into the public sector. Since 2012, I’ve been an elementary instructor at St. Vrain Community Montessori School in Longmont, Colorado. While at SVCMS, I’ve worn many hats, including LE Lead Guide, LE Level Coordinator, Visual Arts Instructor, Montessori Instructor Coach, and, most recently, Literacy Interventionist.

I received my EI Teaching Credential from MECR. My MECR teaching journey began in 2013, whereupon I took on the position of Elementary I Visual Arts and Crafts Instructor. In 2017, I expanded my role at MECR, and began teaching the EI Geometry course, in addition to continuing to teach EI Visual Arts and Crafts. I have taught at the EC level, and I have been a Field Consultant and a Supervising Teacher.

I am originally from Vermont, but have been in Colorado since 2006. I live with my wife (also a Montessori teacher), and my two sons, ages 6 and 8, in Longmont, Colorado. I have many passions, including drawing, painting, literacy, hiking, playing games, and, of course, working with six to nine year olds.
Bachelors in Sociology, Smith College

Betsy Lockhart

blockhart@mecr.edu
Betsy followed her son into Montessori when he was a toddler. Seeing how the school nurtured his independence and self-confidence opened her eyes to what a difference Montessori could make in the formation of a child. Having spent a decade working as a Geophysical Engineer, she was fascinated by the precision, beauty, and order of the classrooms (something she was unable to replicate at home!). After the birth of her daughter, she began exploring Montessori teacher training, and shortly thereafter enrolled in the very first cohort of Elementary students at MECR.

Betsy worked as a lower elementary assistant for a year and then moved to Montessori School of Evergreen, where she taught upper elementary for a decade. After a short time in the classroom, she was invited to teach earth science for the Institute for Advanced Montessori Studies in Maryland (the parent training program when MECR-Elementary began). When the E-II program started at MECR, she taught E-II Science as well as Curriculum Design/Material Making at the E-I level. After a short time, she became a Field Consultant and then the Elementary Coordinator. At various times she has taught E I-II Classroom Leadership, E-II Language, Geometry II, and Math II. Her current obsession is linking contemporary research on the neuroscience of learning to the Montessori Method.

"Our aim is not only to make the child understand, and still less to force him to memorize, but so to touch his
imagination as to enthuse him to his innermost core." Maria Montessori
BS Geophysical Engineering, Colorado School of Mines

Candace Proctor

cproctor@mecr.edu
I entered my first Montessori classroom in 1995 when I had the opportunity to observe a Toddler classroom at Riverbend Montessori in Sugar Land, Texas. At the time, I planned a career as a child care director. One hour into the observation, my career plans changed, and I never looked back. I loved everything about that beautiful environment and the other incredible Montessori classrooms in the school. When the head of school invited me to serve as a substitute in the Toddler classroom and later as an assistant in the Upper Elementary classroom, I eagerly agreed. In the following years, I explored other career paths, but every one led me back to Montessori. I've found a school home at The Montessori Academy of Arlington, where I lead the Elementary team and my Upper Elementary classroom. My son, Benjamin, will be graduating from our Upper Elementary classroom in May, and I feel grateful that he will carry the best of our Montessori school with him as he moves to middle school.
Bachelors, Texas Womans University

JEAN RASHKIN

jrashkin@mecr.edu
I saw Standings book when I was pregnant with my daughter in 1978. When we got back to the states I started a home school in Midland Texas and got EC training through Dr Wentworth at Trinity Montessori. When we moved to Houston, I got E-1 training at The Houston Montessori Center and taught at Little Red Schoolhouse for 2 years. When we moved to Maryland I spent 8 wonderful years collaborating with Kathy Schwab at Paint Branch Montessori School (Paint Branch of the Potomac). When we moved to Colorado Springs I helped out in several schools in various capacities and then helped start Rocky Mountain Montessori Academy, where I was Curriculum Director, trained new teachers, and designed parent education nights, while teaching E-1, and a few E-2 students who stayed around. In 2008, I retired from the classroom and began my journey as Instructor of the E-1 Language Curriculum at MECR. I have revised the album every year for the last 9 years.
BS, Montana State University

Janel Wade

jwade@mecr.edu
Freedom within limits defines a key component of the Montessori realm for me. I came from a public education background but I was fascinated and drawn by the choice given to children both in academics and in how they learned to behave within their environment. I started as an assistant working in ‘aftercare’ while in my last year of high school. By that time, I was hooked and just couldn’t leave this wonderful philosophy which was designed to nurture the whole child. In Montessori philosophy, I found the nurturing, guidance and choice that I myself needed as I grew to adulthood. After earning my degree, I taught both lower and upper elementary classes before eventually fostering and adopting my son. I have recently specialized in forming inclusive support strategies for unique learners in the Montessori classroom. I now enjoy sharing my passion for Montessori with adults who are new to this ‘freedom within limits’ philosophy.
Masters of Arts in Teaching, Metropolitan State University

Laura Alexander

lalexander@mecr.edu
I followed my children into Montessori. When I toured and saw the brilliance of the materials, I was hooked. That is where my journey began. I have sought to continue learning and growing in all things Montessori.
BS, University of CO, Boulder

Nikki Conyers

nconyers@mecr.edu
I was a Montessori student myself in my early childhood years and have many fond memories of loving school and learning. As a college student, I took a job as an assistant in an Elementary I classroom which led me to seek my Elementary credentials after graduating with my BA in Psychology and Communication.
Master's Degree in Education, St. Catherine University

Suzanne Diekman

sdiekman@mecr.edu
I was led to Montessori during my elementary teacher training, and also in trying to find a school that matched my values for my daughters. I love the core values of Montessori as well as the hands-on approach, respect of the child, peace curriculum, and fostering of responsibility and independence. I started my Montessori career as an assistant in the primary classroom and sought my certification in elementary I, this led me further on to elementary II where I currently teach. The most important learning experiences for me are how to honor the child, trust the child, and teach the whole child. This begins with an inner transformation of the adult first! One of my favorite quotes from Maria Montessori is the following: “The first essential is that the teacher should go through an inner, spiritual preparation – cultivate certain aptitudes in the moral order. This is the most
difficult part of her training, without which all the rest is of no avail… She must study how to purify her heart and render it burning with charity towards the child. She must “put on humility.” And above all, learn how to serve. She must learn how to appreciate and gather in all those tiny and delicate manifestations of the opening life in the child’s soul. Ability to do this can only be attained through a genuine effort towards self-perfection,” (Standing, 1957, p 298).
BS in Education, Grand Canyon University

Betsy Lockhart

blockhart@mecr.edu
Betsy followed her son into Montessori when he was a toddler. Seeing how the school nurtured his independence and self-confidence opened her eyes to what a difference Montessori could make in the formation of a child. Having spent a decade working as a Geophysical Engineer, she was fascinated by the precision, beauty, and order of the classrooms (something she was unable to replicate at home!). After the birth of her daughter, she began exploring Montessori teacher training, and shortly thereafter enrolled in the very first cohort of Elementary students at MECR.

Betsy worked as a lower elementary assistant for a year and then moved to Montessori School of Evergreen, where she taught upper elementary for a decade. After a short time in the classroom, she was invited to teach earth science for the Institute for Advanced Montessori Studies in Maryland (the parent training program when MECR-Elementary began). When the E-II program started at MECR, she taught E-II Science as well as Curriculum Design/Material Making at the E-I level. After a short time, she became a Field Consultant and then the Elementary Coordinator. At various times she has taught E I-II Classroom Leadership, E-II Language, Geometry II, and Math II. Her current obsession is linking contemporary research on the neuroscience of learning to the Montessori Method.

"Our aim is not only to make the child understand, and still less to force him to memorize, but so to touch his
imagination as to enthuse him to his innermost core." Maria Montessori
BS Geophysical Engineering, Colorado School of Mines

Janel Wade

jwade@mecr.edu
Freedom within limits defines a key component of the Montessori realm for me. I came from a public education background but I was fascinated and drawn by the choice given to children both in academics and in how they learned to behave within their environment. I started as an assistant working in ‘aftercare’ while in my last year of high school. By that time, I was hooked and just couldn’t leave this wonderful philosophy which was designed to nurture the whole child. In Montessori philosophy, I found the nurturing, guidance and choice that I myself needed as I grew to adulthood. After earning my degree, I taught both lower and upper elementary classes before eventually fostering and adopting my son. I have recently specialized in forming inclusive support strategies for unique learners in the Montessori classroom. I now enjoy sharing my passion for Montessori with adults who are new to this ‘freedom within limits’ philosophy.
Masters of Arts in Teaching, Metropolitan State University


Catherine Broughton

kbroughton@mecr.edu
I have over 38-years in teaching, including leading UK Art & Design Departments in public high schools. When I moved to Texas with my family in 1992, I found my spiritual home at our children’s Montessori school. The extremes of a demand for natural and organic perfection, set against the risk and freedom of pure play was inspiring, my work as an artist had inadvertently prepared me ontologically to be a Montessori teacher. Montessori bridges the gap between the reality of life and how to go beyond what is logical and sensible. In 2007, when I co-created Kingwood Montessori School, it was the answer to a dream.
M.Ed, TIES ENDICOTT

Mandi Franz

mfranz@mecr.edu
I attended a Montessori school from age 18 months through Upper Elementary. I am the teaching coach at Ross Montessori Charter School in Carbondale, CO and a MECR Elementary and Administrator course instructor. I also volunteer as a member of the AMS Teacher Education Action Commission.
Masters Degree - Montessori Leadership, Endicott College

Katie Torres

ktorres@mecr.edu
Founded a school for my children. Fell in love. Been HOS of St. Vrain Community Montessori School in Longmont ever since. PK-8 Charter School.
Bachelors, Northwestern University

Tori Virlee

tvirlee@mecr.edu
I have a bachelor's degree in speech, language, and hearing sciences. At the time I thought I would work with the Deaf and hard of hearing population. I accepted a job in a Montessori school as a sign language instructor. I immediately fell in love with the philosophy and approach and have been working in the Montessori world ever since! I went to training and received my early childhood credential. I have worked in the classroom as well as in administrative and student support roles. Now I enjoy sharing the philosophy and approach with adults on their own Montessori journey.
M.A. (School Psychology), University of Colorado Denver
metta_sm
Metta King
Former Student

MECR provided a transformational experience for me.  The community of engaged learners and supportive instructors helped prepare me for my career and beyond.  I can’t imagine a greater place to learn and grow as a person and educator.

Board of Directors

lorie-federman
Lorie Federman
Sensorial
Lorie Federman
Baglietto Laura
Tunisha Hairston-Brown
EC Math, EC Overview Math
Dede Beardsley
President
Linda Allred
Treasurer
Linda Gottschalk

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