Our Staff

Primary Classroom-Sweetbay Magnolia  (PreK 3, PreK 4, and Kindergarten)
Photograph of Susan Stewart - Primary Education Teacher     

Susan Stewart – Sweetbay  Primary Lead Teacher 

  • Early Childhood Education Classroom Director certification from MEPI (Montessori Educational Programs International, Inc.)
  • State of Florida Professional Teacher Certification, Elementary Education Grades K-6 and Music
  • AMS Montessori Elementary I Teaching Certification from Seacoast Center for Montessori Education
  • Bachelor’s Degree in Music from Wright State University, Dayton, OH
  • DCF 40 hour Florida State Child Care training
  • Began teaching in 1990, began teaching Montessori in 1997
  • 17 years of Montessori classroom experience

Shiasta Beyers – Sweetbay Primary Teacher’s Assistant

  • CDA National Credential
  • USAF Certification of Training Modules for Toddlers
  • Operation of an Early Child Care Center
  • DCF 40 hour Florida State Child Care training
  • Special needs appropriate practices certificate
  • Infant and Toddler Appropriate Practices certificate
  • CPR and First Aid training/Adult and Pediatric
  • Florida Standards for four year olds certificate
  • Emergent Literacy for VPK instructors certificate
  • Began working with young children 2003
  • 4 years of VPK experience
  • Montessori Parent

Nicole Larson – Sweetbay Primary Teacher’s Assistant

  • Bachelor of Arts in English from Southeastern University
  • Over 3 years of experience working with children


Primary Classroom–Star Magnolia (PreK 3, PreK 4, and Kindergarten)

Christine Corrigan – Star Primary Lead Teacher

  • Early Childhood Education Classroom Director Certification from Palm Harbor Montessori Teacher Education Center (PHMTEC)
  • Master’s of Education-Teaching and Learning from Southeastern University in Lakeland, Florida
  • Bachelor of Science in Biology from Southeastern University in Lakeland, Florida
  • State of Florida Professional Teacher Certification, General Science Grades 5-9
  • DCF 40 hour Florida State Child Care training
  • First Aid/CPR Certified
  • Began teaching in 2005
  • Languages include Ilonggo, Tagalog, English, and Spanish
  • Montessori Parent

Kristy Ottesen – Star Primary Teacher’s Assistant

  • Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education from The Baptist College of Florida, Graceville, FL
  • DCF 40 hour Florida State Child Care training
  • Began working in a childcare facility 2014
  • 2 years as an Assistant Teacher/Co-Teacher in an Elementary School
  • Began working with children 2006


Lower Elementary (First, Second, and Third Grades)
Photograph of Heidi Reed – Lower Elementary Co-teacher       

Heidi Reed – Lower Elementary Co-teacher

  • AMS Montessori Elementary Teaching Certification from Seacoast Center for Montessori Education
  • State of Florida Professional Teacher Certification, Elementary Education Grades K-6
  • Bachelor’s Degree in Spanish from Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL
  • Presenter at AIMC Conference in Sarasota, Florida (2016)
  • First Aid/ CPR certified
  • Began teaching in 1997
  • Began teaching Montessori in 2005
  • Montessori Parent


Photograph of Jorge Haro – Lower Elementary Co-teacher      

Jorge Haro – Lower Elementary Co-teacher

  • International Montessori Council (IMC) Elementary Teacher Certification (6-12 year olds) from the Center for Guided Montessori Studies
  • State of Florida Professional Teacher Certification in Elementary Education Grades K-6
  • State of Florida Professional Teacher Certification in Spanish Grades K-12
  • Montessori Classroom Leadership Course completion from the Center for Guided Montessori Studies (CGMS)
  • Instructional Guide, Practicum Advisor and Field Consultant of adult Montessori learners for the center for Guided Montessori Studies
  • Presenter at AIMC Conference in Sarasota, Florida (2016)
  • Educational Preparation Institute Certification from Polk State College, Lakeland, FL
  • Began working in Montessori classroom in 2009 and lead Montessori teacher since 2013
  • Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology from University of Autonoma, Madrid, Spain
  • Bachelor’s Degree in Economics and Business from University of Autonoma, Madrid, Spain
  • Fluent in Spanish and English
  • Montessori Parent

Vanderly Arnold – Lower Elementary Teacher’s Assistant

  • Bachelors Degree in Pastoral Ministry with concentration on children
  • Licensed ordained minister and certified in pastoral counseling
  • Opened and operated two preschools and a fine arts program
  • Ran various summer camps
  • DCF 40 hour Florida State Child Care training
  • Explorations V Children’s Museum – assisted in developing educational programs
  • National Accreditation Commission Accreditor and Trainer for early childhood developmentally appropriate education and VPK – 3 years
  • Trainer for Harcourt curriculum elementary language arts program – 1 year
  • Operated a children’s home and school in Dominican Republic – 2 years
  • Developed mentoring program for 9-12 year olds
  • Developed holistic and spiritual growth program for 6-10 year olds
  • Substitute for Magnolia Montessori – 2 years
  • Homeschooled for 11 years
  • Montessori Parent


Upper Elementary (Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Grades)
Photograph of Cara Helpling – Upper Elementary Co-Teacher

Cara Helpling – Upper Elementary Co-Teacher

  • Master’s Degree in Education (Montessori Education), Xavier University, Cincinnati, OH
  • Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education, Bryan College, Dayton, TN
  • State of Florida Professional Teacher Certification, Elementary Education, Grades K-6
  • ESOL endorsed
  • AMS Elementary I Montessori credential from Florida Institute of Montessori Studies in Indian Harbour Beach, FL.
  • AMS Early Childhood Teaching Certificate (ages 3-6) from the Orlando Montessori Teacher Education Institute
  • Experience at opening two Montessori public charter schools (other than MMA)
  • Began teaching in 1997, began teaching Montessori in 2004

Julie Johnson – Upper Elementary Co-Teacher

  • Began teaching in 2008
  • University of Florida Master of Science Agriculture and Communication
  • University of Florida Bachelor of Science Agriculture Education and Communication
  • State of Florida Professional Teacher Certification
  • 3 years teaching assistant at Lakeland Montessori Middle School and one year assistant at Magnolia Montessori
  • First Aid/ CPR certified
  • Montessori Parent

Brianna Hostutler – Upper Elementary Assistant

  • Enrolled at Polk State with a focus on Accounting
  • Tutored math in High School
  • Worked as a medical clerk secretary
  • Works at Bed, Bath and Beyond
  • Trained bridal consultant and customer service rep

 

 



Art, Science and Gardening

  Photograph of Christie Lucas - Art Instructor, Garden Liaison, and Upper Elementary Assistant     

Christie Lucas – Art Instructor, Garden Liaison, and Science teacher

  • Bachelors of Art in Fine Art and Education from Flagler College, St. Augustine.
  • Currently holds a Florida Teaching Certificate in Art- Kindergarten through 12th grade.
  • Began teaching in 2000 in Art K-12, along with running various art and nature camps over the years.
  • Careers as professional muralist, designer, and photographer.
  • She is our school gardening expert, teaching students how to design and care for the garden in hopes to create a new generation of citizens who grow and cook their own food, aligning with Maria Montessori’s vision for education.
  • Montessori Parent


Physical Education

Melissa Gotauco – Physical Education Teacher

  • Bachelors in Interdisciplinary studies from Radford University, Radford VA with a concentration in Psychology and Health
  • Currently holds a Florida Teaching certificate in Physical Education and Health
  • Taught CPR
  • Began teaching in 2001
  • Head Softball Coach at Kathleen High School for 4 years
  • Head Volleyball Coach at Kathleen High School for 1 year
  • Spessard Holland Elementary 2 years
  • Magnolia Montessori Academy PE teacher since 2014
  • Montessori Parent

Music

Kevin Sumner – Music teacher

  • B.S Organization Leadership – Southeastern University
  • Began singing, playing drums, bass, piano and guitar in church setting in 2007
  • Part of a team that traveled the Southeastern U.S. to lead worship camps and conferences
  • Plays in a cover band around central Florida and records bass guitar at local studios when needed
  • Camp Counselor for WinShape Camps


Administration

 

Kate Harris – Principal

  • AMS Elementary I Montessori credential from Seacoast Center for Montessori Education, Orlando Florida
  • AMS II Montessori credential from Montessori Live, Sarasota, Florida
  • State of Florida Professional Teacher Certification, Elementary Education, Grades K-6
  • Bachelor’s degree in Human Development, Eckerd College, St. Petersburg, Florida
  • 12 years Montessori classroom experience
  • 6 years with Polk State College – Kids to College Enrichment Academy, Teacher of Lego Robotics
  • 2 years experience teaching in Fifth grade in a traditional environment
  • 5 years experience in office and construction management
  • Montessori parent and aunt 🙂


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Tammi Crotteau – Founder and Financial Director

A unique and varied background with a strong entrepreneurial side that allowed her to suggest “Let’s start a Montessori school”  
  • Currently enrolled in The Montessori School Leadership program
  • Certification in Non-violent Crisis Intervention
  • Five years as a certified instructor for Infant Swimming Resource. A program that teaches children as young as young as 6 months old to turn over and float and children as young as one year to then turn and swim, float and then swim again to the side to the pool and steps. Instructors are trained in a program developed over the last 45 years by Dr. Harvey Barnett. The program emphasizes close observation of the child, water safety, an the psychological aspects of motivation.
  • 11 years as Manager of Englund Construction, a construction company that specializes in home remodels as well as well as new construction, commercial construction and service work.
  • 17 years as Owner of Your Home Base, a property management company that handles the remodel and lease of rental properties in the Polk County area. Have managed up to 30 properties, all aspects of property management for lease and collections, remodels and clean outs and accounting functions.
  • 2 years working for Eclipse Computing, an international software company. Marketing Manager for Tokyo, Japan office. Consultants Manager for 20 consultants in Sydney Australia. Business Analyst that worked with new Sales and sales to existing customers in Sydney Australia.
  • 4 years as Partner in Wall Foss Consulting, a division of a Lakeland Accounting firm. Managed all aspects of the division: sales, marketing, purchasing, management consulting, project management, customer support and training, follow-up, design, e-commerce and employee management for a variety of software packages.
  • 1 year as a Self employed Business Analyst/Consultant working with customers of contracted software companies on-site on all aspects of business management and software installations.
  • 5 years as a Partner in MarketFacts a rep firm for software companies to outsource their sales of new markets. Advised software companies on enhancements needed to break new markets.
  • 4 years as a Senior Installation specialist for Tyler Business Systems. Sole liaison and project manager for 50+ retail operations ranging in size from 5 million to 100 million in annual sales, during a conversion period from 4 to 9 months. Also assisted in testing software, documentation, creation of training materials and sales demonstrations.
  • A.S. In accounting and computer science
  • First Aid/ CPR certified


Stephanie Hale – Executive Secretary and Terminal Operator

  • Child Care Certifications
  • 5 Years experience as a Veterinarian Technician
  • 8 Years Managerial Experience at YMCA
  • 10+ Years Childcare Experience
  • Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education (In Progress)
  • First Aid/ CPR certified
  • Montessori parent

Kim Scott – Montessori Consultant

  • Master’s Degree in Education (Montessori Education), Xavier University, Cincinnati, OH
  • American Montessori Society (AMS) Early Childhood Teaching Certificate (ages 3-6) from the Orlando Montessori Teacher Education Institute
  • Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education (special emphasis on teaching students with special needs), ESOL endorsed program, University of South Florida, Tampa
  • Began teaching in 2000, began teaching Montessori in 2006
  • Sun Coast Area Teacher Training Honors Graduate
  • Former Montessori Lead Primary (ages 3-6) Teacher
  • Former Special Education Teacher for students with specific learning and behavioral differences
  • Kindermusik trained
  • Founding Principal for Magnolia Montessori Academy
  • Parent to two children: one Montessori alumnus and one current Montessori middle-schooler