The Presenters

mansheadMartha Monahan is the founder and Director of Rising Stars. Martha is also the Executive Director of Northeast Montessori Institute and has been involved in teacher training since the inception of NMI in 1984. Martha conducts Early Childhood courses in Massachusetts, and in 1999 established the first AMS affiliated certification course in mainland China, where she continues her work as a consultant and teacher trainer. Martha holds an AMI Early Childhood certificate from the Toronto Montessori Institute along with a Bachelor’s Degree in Child Development and Elementary Education and a Master’s Degree in Holistic Education. Martha currently serves on the Board of the Montessori Accreditation Council for Teacher Education (MACTE).

Misse Carolan obtained her AMI primary certification at the Montessori Institute of Atlanta in 1978. Throughout her teaching career she has introduced the Montessori philosophy into a variety of educational settings. In addition to working in preschool environments, Misse has worked as a behavior analytical technician with children with autism, and as a clinical specialist with children with behavior and emotion disorders. Misse holds a BA in psychology and a MS in Educational Psychology/Applied Behavior Analysis from the University of Southern Maine. Misse has presented at many AMS National Conferences, is a consultant with New England Early Childhood Associates (NEECA) and has proudly been an instructor and Field Supervisor with Northeast Montessori Institute since 1992. She resides in southern Maine.

Lori Churchill has been an educator since 1983. She began teaching at “Munch-Kin Montessori” before the school merged to become “Bay Farm Montessori Academy”. Lori received her Montessori Early Childhood credential from Northeast Montessori Institute in 1985. She attended Quincy College, Bridgewater State College, and Fisher College, and has experience in Child Psychology, Behavior Management, Special Needs, and Early Childhood Development. Lori has accomplished extensive studies on Hand Skill Development and Social Development specifically intended for young children. She is DEEC certified as Lead Teacher and Director II. Lori is the Level Coordinator for the Children’s House program where she mentors teachers, is a liaison between teachers and administration, collaborates with colleagues to construct vibrant Montessori classrooms and facilitates curriculum planning. Lori is also the lead teacher in the kindergarten program. Lori and her husband, Rick, have three daughters, all of whom are Montessori alumni. She enjoys nature, astronomy, the ocean, boating, and motorcycling. She also have a black lab, who accompanies her during daily walks.

Shannon Dow attended Montessori schools as a child and having growing up around her mother’s Montessori school some might say that Montessori is in Shannon’s blood. Shannon earned her BS in ECE at Endicott College and completed her 3-6 Montessori training with NMI over twenty years ago. She has taught as a head teacher of the 3 – 6 year old classroom at the Children’s Montessori Center for more than twenty years. She also serves as the school’s Curriculum and Education Coordinator, assisting with the administration and providing both staff and parent support. Shannon was fortunate to travel the world as a child. Her life’s experience is evident in her passion for sharing the world with her students in the classroom. Shannon’s personal love for the arts is apparent in the creative environment she has created within her school. Shannon lives on the North Shore with her husband and two children. She enjoys traveling, and supporting her family and community through a variety of volunteer activities.

Rachael Dunbar began her Montessori experience as a two year old Montessori child and continued this adventure throughout her Children’s House years. Throughout her life, Rachael always felt connected to the Montessori philosophy and upon graduating from high school in 1997, became an assistant toddler teacher at a small Montessori school on the South Shore of Massachusetts. Since then, Rachael graduated from Lesley University with an undergraduate degree in Human Development, and a master’s degree in Special Education. She earned her AMS Infant Toddler Montessori credential from CMTE/NY where she trained under the guidance of Ginny Varga – a pioneer in the field of Montessori Infant and Toddler education. Rachael has always been a lifelong learner and has had the pleasure to present at several Montessori conferences. Rachel joined Northeast Montessori Institute in 2015 as an Instructor and Field Supervisor. Throughout her years, Rachael’s favorite motto is “there are no mistakes in life, only lessons learned”, and she is proud to share this motto with the world.

Sister J. Leonor Esnard is the Executive Director and Internship Coordinator of the Adrian Dominican Montessori Teacher Education Institute (ADMTEI). Sister Leonor received her doctoral degree in Curriculum and Instruction with concentration in Early Childhood Education from the University of Toledo in Toledo, Ohio; her MA in Elementary Education from Siena Heights University in Adrian, Michigan; and her BA in Sociology from St. Dominic College in St. Charles, Illinois. Sister Leonor was editorial assistant for the Journal of Research in Childhood Education from 1989-1992. She holds an AMS Early Childhood Credential (1975) and has Michigan Elementary Certification (K-8). Sister Leonor was an instructor for Northeast Montessori Institute for many years, and a faculty member in the School of Education at Barry University in Miami, Florida.

Maryjane (Janey) Fryer started her career in teaching as an ESL instructor in Japan. After enjoying a few years traveling and teaching, she returned to the states to continue in the field — teaching young adults for the next 10 years. After getting her M.Ed. at Lesley University, Janey took a few years off to raise her daughter. Although her interest in nature began as a child while birding with her Mom, her passion for nature was rekindled while exploring the backyard with her own daughter. She was soon teaching backyard nature classes for families in her town, developing a variety of engaging hands-on science curriculum for ages 3-5. For the next 7 years, Janey led hikes at the Massachusetts Audubon at Broadmoor, educating the public of the history and nature of the property. Additionally, she created and taught science curriculum for scout groups, families and school groups. Eventually she found her way back to teaching preschool groups, both onsite at Broadmoor and traveling to local preschools leading an outreach program. Janey continues to be inspired by nature and to learn independently – currently she is fine tuning her ears to distinguish the local birdsongs. Janey looks forward to working as an in-house naturalist for The Riverbend School next year!

Julie Hurley has been a teacher at Bay Farm Montessori Academy since 2006. She received her Montessori certification from Northeast Montessori Institute in 2007. She went on to get her M.Ed. in Early Childhood Education from Endicott College.

Michele McKale has been a Montessori Educator since 1988. She began her career as a toddler assistant teacher and since earning her AMS Infant Toddler Montessori Certificate has steadily worked her way up to become lead toddler teacher and program coordinator at Bay Farm Montessori Academy. She has served on the Bay Farm Board of Trustees, on two strategic planning committees, on three Head of School search committees, as well as many peer committees to discuss various topics pertaining to the culture of Bay Farm. Michele has presented workshops at the annual Montessori Schools of Massachusetts conference as well as many parent and teacher education workshops at her school. Michele is a key instructor for Northeast Montessori Institute and is a staunch advocator of the Montessori education, believing that it is not just a philosophy of education, but a way of life, and a way of interacting with people of all ages and the world around us.

Linda Seeley has two great interests and commitments in her life that are second only to her family. These are her commitment to the Montessori professional field, and her dedication to and support of Peace and Earth Education. Linda is extremely active in these areas and has presented workshops to Montessori schools in both the private and public sectors. Linda has also served as Co-chair for an AMS National Conference. She is a founding instructor for Northeast Montessori Institute and teachers Practical Life, Language, Art, and Peace Education. She is also a Field Supervisor and delights in mentoring new Montessori interns. Linda has also been a founding teacher of two schools, serving children from Toddler through middle school. After over thirty years as a lead teacher in a Children’s House classroom, Linda now is a consultant for several schools where she does classroom observations, staff development, parent education and school consultations. Recently, she has done some work for Head Start. In addition, Linda is a partner in an education business called Master Class Materials. She has written and had published two books, titled: Spring Tea, a Celebration of Grace and Courtesy; and Maria Montessori, a Biography by and for Children.

Heather Vinci has been in the field of education for over 16 years, ten of those years working as a Primary Teacher at The Riverbend School, a non-profit Montessori School located in Natick, MA. Heather is a passionate advocate of sustainability in her work with young children, leading school-wide recycling, Terracycling, gardening, and composting programs, writing curriculum. She enjoys initiating outdoor nature explorations with young children and cultivating outdoor classroom areas with the help of her peace-making little people. Heather earned her undergraduate degree in Education at Central Connecticut State University and her Masters in Leadership and Policy in Early Education from Wheelock College, Boston. She received her AMS certification through Northeast Montessori Institute and Certificate of Completion from the Shelburne Farms Education for Sustainability Leadership Academy. Most recently, Heather presented at the Montessori Schools of Massachusetts conference at Dean College. Since 2014, she has directed the Riverbend Summer Camp, coordinating nature-based play for campers ages 15 months-11 years old. She lives with her husband and two young children in Hopkinton, MA, enjoying reading, heirloom gardening, visiting local farms, and cooking up garden-to-table recipes.