Staff & Faculty

The People Who Make It Happen

Montessori Educator Guides

The time-tested “Montessori” educational model and name is over 100 years old.  It remains a cutting-edge model of education, if fully implemented as a system.  In order to maintain our commitment to providing a superlative, fully implemented Montessori school system, Lakeland Montessori requires:

  • all lead classroom guides must hold or be enrolled to receive their Montessori credentials for the age levels they are teaching.  Separate, specific Montessori credentials are required for age 3-6, age 6-9, age 9-12, and age 12-15.  For example, a teacher that is Montessori certified for age 3-6 may not teach age 9-12 students unless they hold or are enrolled to receive the Montessori credential for that age level.
  • all lead classroom guides must hold or be enrolled to receive Montessori credentials issued by a  Montessori teacher education program that is accredited by the Montessori Accreditation Council for Teacher Education (MACTE), the American Montessori Internationale, the American Montessori Society, or the National Center for Montessori Education.
  • all lead classroom guides must have a Bachelor’s Degree.
  • all lead classroom guides must have, or be in the process of applying for, a State of Florida Teaching Certificate.
  • all classroom assistants in Primary and Elementary are required to attend the 10 week, 50 hour, Montessori Fundamentals course with the Center for Guided Montessori Studies.

Lakeland Montessori Schoolhouse MACTE Montessori Certified classroom Curriculum Coach 

Sheila Linville, Early Childhood and Elementary Montessori Coaching Consultant

  • Founder and Executive Director of Lake Mary Montessori Academy for 22 years through the present. Lake Mary Montessori Academy is a fully accredited American Montessori Society school.
  • MACTE accredited Montessori Early Childhood age 3-6 Full Certification through the Orlando Montessori Teacher Education Institute, Celebration, FL
  • MACTE accredited Montessori Elementary age 6-9 Full Certification through The Florida Institute of Montessori Studies
  • Master of Art degree in Teaching from Rollins College
  • Bachelor of Science degree in Communications and Development from Centenary College
  • Joined Lakeland Montessori Schools as the Montessori Coaching Consultant in August 2015

Early Childhood age 3-6 Willow classroom

The Willow classroom has 25 students and is guided by Ms. Disha Patel.  

Disha Patel-Lead Early Childhood Montessori Guide
 

  • MACTE accredited Montessori Early Childhood age 3-6 Full Certification through the International Montessori Council Center for Guided Montessori Studies, Sarasota, FL
  • State of Florida Professional Teacher Certification, Prekindergarten/Primary Education, age 3 – grade 3
  • Master of Education Degree in Elementary Education with a concentration in Montessori, Plymouth State University, Plymouth, NH
  • Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from the University of Chicago
  • Bilingual in English and Hindi
  • Began teaching in 2010
  • Joined Lakeland Montessori schools in 2012

Samari Simpson-Primary Assistant Teacher/Early Childhood Montessori Guide

  • MACTE accredited Montessori Early Childhood age 3-6 Full certification through the International Montessori Council Center for Guided Montessori Studies, Sarasota, FL
  • State of Florida Professional Teacher Certification, Primary Education K-3, Elementary Education K-6, Reading Education K-12 Master of Education Degree from the University of Central Florida
  • Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education from Stetson University, FL
  • Began teaching in 2000. Winston Elementary School teacher of the year in 2007, nominee in 2010
  • Joined Lakeland Montessori schools in 2015
  • Parent of one child attending Lakeland Montessori schools

Early Childhood age 3-6 Banyan classroom

The Banyan classroom has 25 students and is guided by Mrs. Mabel Garcia.  Ms Garcia is complemented by a full-time assistant that has completed the 10 week Montessori Fundamentals course with the Center for Guided Montessori Studies.

Mabel Garcia-Lead Early Childhood Montessori Guide

  • MACTE accredited Montessori Early Childhood age 3-6 Full Certification through the International Montessori Council Center for Guided Montessori Studies, Sarasota, FL
  • Fundamentals of Montessori course completion at the Center for Guided Montessori Studies, January 2013
  • State of Florida Professional Teacher Certification, Primary Education grades K-3, Elementary Education grades 1-6, ESOL endorsed
  • Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas
  • Former Dade county public schools Kindergarten teacher 1997-2004
  • Bilingual in Spanish and English
  • Began teaching in 1997
  • Joined Lakeland Montessori Schools in 2011
  • Parent of  two Lakeland Montessori students, one graduate and one current student.

Katherine Martinez-Early Childhood Assistant Teacher

  • Center for Guided Montessori Studies, 10 week Montessori Fundamentals course completion
  • State of Florida Child Development Associate Credential
  • 12 years classroom experience
  • Bilingual in Spanish and English
  • Joined Lakeland Montessori schools in 2013

Lower Elementary age 6-9 Discoverers classroom

The Lower Elementary classroom has approximately 30 students, grades 1-3, and is guided by Ms. Sandy Moss.  Ms. Moss is complemented by a full-time assistant teacher and by our Principal, Ms. Manrow. During the 2016-17 school year, Ms. Manrow will continue completion of her MACTE accredited Elementary I-II Montessori Teacher Certification. A requirement of this certification is to spend 1000 hours working in the elementary classrooms. In 2016-17, Ms. Manrow will spend approximately 500 of those hours supervising and teaching the language curriculum in our Lower Elementary classroom. 

Sandra Moss-Lead Lower Elementary Montessori Guide

  • MACTE accredited Montessori Elementary I-II (certified for all ages 6-12) Full Certification through the International Montessori Council Center for Guided Montessori Studies, Sarasota, FL
  • Swedish Montessori Institute age 6-9 Montessori Teacher Education Program completion 2001, Stockholm Sweden
  • State of Florida Professional Teacher Certification, Elementary Education grades K-6
  • Master of Education Degree in Guidance and Counseling from Antioch Graduate College, Keene, New Hampshire
  • Master’s Program, thesis with topic, “Language and Mathematics Achievement in the Multicultural Classroom” from Stockholm University, Institute of International and Comparative Education, Stockholm, Sweden
  • Bachelor’s Degree in Mathematics and Education from the University of Florida, Gainesville, FL
  • Bachelor of Fine Arts with honors from the Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, NY
  • Former elementary teacher at Lincoln Avenue Academy
  • Former elementary teacher at Johannes School of Stockholm Sweden 2000-2011
  • Former Artist/Photographer teacher in Sweden and the United States
  • Began teaching in 1986
  • Joined Lakeland Montessori Schools in 2012

Lana Smith-Upper Elementary Assistant Teacher

  • Center for Guided Montessori Studies 10 week Montessori Fundamentals course ongoing
  • Master of Arts in Curriculum and Instruction from University of Phoenix
  • Bachelor of Science Degree in Educational Studies from Warner University, Lake Wales, FL
  • Former Elementary School teacher at St. Paul’s Episcopal School
  • Former PK-3 teacher at St. Paul Lutheran School
  • Former Kids @ College Video Production Instructor, Tech Coach/Computer teacher at Brandon Academy, and Director of Middle School After Care and Summer Camp at All Saints’ Academy
  • Joined Lakeland Montessori Schools in 2016

Upper Elementary age 9-12 Explorers classroom

The Upper Elementary classroom has approximately 30 students, grades 4-6, and is guided by Mrs. Margo Frinzi .  Mrs. Frinzi  is complemented by a full-time assistant teacher.

Margo Frinzi–Lead Upper Elementary Montessori Guide
  • MACTE accredited Montessori Elementary age 6-12 Full Certification ongoing through the International Montessori Council for Guided Montessori Studies, Sarasota, FL
  • State of Florida Teacher Certification, Elementary Education, K-6, Exceptional Student Education, K-12, Gifted, grades K-12 (in process
  • Bachelor’s Degree from De Sales University, Center Valley, PA – Magna Cum Laude
  • Former elementary teacher at Highlands Grove Elementary School in Polk County
  • Joined Lakeland Montessori Schools in 2014
  • Parent of one child attending Lakeland Montessori schools
Veronica Santiago Nieves-Upper Elementary Assistant Teacher
  • Center for Guided Montessori Studies 10 week Montessori Fundamentals course ongoing
  • Bachelor’s Degree, English Elementary, Inter American University of Puerto Rico
  • Former Federal Program Coordinator for children 0-8 years.
  • Joined Lakeland Montessori Schools in 2016

Secondary age 12-15 Middle School Program

The Secondary program has approximately 60 students, grades 7 & 8, and is guided by Ms. Clarke and Mrs. DeLaCruz.  Ms. Clarke and Mrs. DeLaCruz are complemented by a full-time assistant/MACTE Montessori Intern that holds a Master of Arts Degree and is currently enrolled in a  MACTE accredited AMS Montessori Secondary I-II age 12-18 Full Certification program through the Houston Montessori Center.  

Anna Clarke-Lead Secondary Montessori Guide

  • MACTE accredited Secondary I age 12-15 Full Certification thru the American Montessori Society Houston Montessori Center, Houston, TX
  • State of Florida Professional Teacher Certification, Biology grades 6-12, Exceptional Student Education grades K-12, Middle Grades Integrated Curriculum grades 5-9
  • Bachelor’s Degree double major in Marine Biology and Zoology from Humbolt State University, Arcata, CA
  • Began teaching in 2007 and joined Lakeland Montessori Middle School in 2010

Kelly De La Cruz-Lead Secondary Montessori Guide

  • MACTE accredited Secondary I age 12-15 Full Certification thru the American Montessori Society Houston Montessori Center, Houston, TX
  • Association Montessori International Primary age 3-6 diploma
  • State of Florida Teacher Certification, Exceptional Student Education grades K-12, Middle Grades Integrated Curriculum grades 5-9
  • Master of Arts in Special Education from University of Florida, Gainesville, FL
  • Bachelor’s Degree in Liberal Arts and Sciences from University of Florida, Gainesville, FL
  • Began teaching in 1997 and joined Lakeland Montessori Middle School in 2010
  • Parent of  one child attending Lakeland Montessori schools and one Lakeland Montessori alumna

Deborah Knight-Secondary Assistant Teacher/MACTE Montessori Intern

  • Former State of Florida Teacher Certification
  • MACTE accredited Secondary I-II (ages 12-18) Full Certification ongoing thru the American Montessori Society Houston Montessori Center, Houston, TX
  • Master of Arts degree in Library and Information Sciences from University of South Florida, Tampa, FL
  • Bachelor’s Degree in Food Science and Human Nutrition with a Minor in History from University of Florida, Gainesville, FL
  • Spent five years as a Media Specialist in Dubai, United Arab Emirates
  • Began teaching in 2004
  • Joined Lakeland Montessori Schools in 2016

Administration

Laurie Harris-School Secretary

  • Former Senior Secretary for Bay Area Youth Services, Lakeland, FL 1988-2007
  • Joined Lakeland Montessori Schools in 2007
  • Grandparent of two Lakeland Montessori Schools alumni and two grandchildren currently attending

Aimee Diaz-Principal’s Secretary

  • Certified Paraprofessional, State of Florida
  • Former Parent Involvement/Title One program coordinator, Discovery Academy, Lake Alfred, FL
  • Former Community Liaison for the Department of Children and Families, New York
  • 12 years as an Administrative Assistant, New York
  • Bilingual in Spanish and English
  • Currently attending Bachelor’s Degree program in Elementary Education
  • 2 years college experience in Health Information Technology, Monroe College, New York
  • Joined Lakeland Montessori Schools in 2012
  • Parent of  two children attending Lakeland Montessori schools

Heather Manrow-Co-Head of School/Principal
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  • MACTE accredited Secondary I Administrator credential thru the American Montessori Society Houston Montessori Center, Houston, TX
  • MACTE accredited Montessori Elementary I-II (for all ages 6-12) Full Certification ongoing through the International Montessori Council Center for Guided Montessori Studies, Sarasota, FL
  • State of Florida Professional Teacher Certification, Biology grades 6-12, Middle Grades Mathematics 5-9, ESOL endorsed
  • Master of Education degree in Educational Leadership from American College of Education
  • Bachelor of Science Degree in Biology from University of South Florida
  • Teacher of the Year, Polk County Association of Charter Schools
  • Teacher of the Year, Discovery Academy of Lake Alfred
  • Began teaching in 1999 and joined Lakeland Montessori Schools as a Board Member in 2003
  • Parent of Lakeland Montessori alumna.  Mrs. Manrow’s daughter attended Lakeland Montessori schools for 9 years.  She was accepted at the International Baccalaureate Bartow high school and has chosen to attend at Polk State College Collegiate High School program.

Josie Hill- Founder of Lakeland Montessori, Co-Head of School/Director of Finance & Strategic Planning

  • Founded Lakeland Montessori Schoolhouse in 2003
  • Sole Head of School/Executive Director from 2003-2012
  • Early Childhood age 3-6 Montessori Certified thru the North American Montessori Center
  • State of Florida Advanced Director’s Credentials, VPK endorsed
  • State of Florida Professional Teacher Certification, Elementary Education grades K-6
  • Bachelor of Science Degree, Summa Cum Laude, in Psychology and Business from University of Wisconsin system
  • Extensive background in education, law, finance, business operations, and construction
  • Parent of two Lakeland Montessori alumna.  Mrs. Hill’s daughters both attended Lakeland Montessori schools, one for 9 years and one for 7 years.  Her younger daughter was accepted at the International Baccalaureate Bartow high school, and has chosen to attend Polk State College Collegiate High School program for an accelerated Bachelor’s Degree in lieu of IB.  Her older daughter graduated from Polk State College Collegiate High School with her Associate’s Degree at age 17 and is now attending the University of Florida engineering program.