Our staff consists of State certified and Montessori trained individuals who have completed an undergraduate degree in education or similar field and/or a Montessori training at an American Montessori Society approved training center. Each classroom has a Montessori trained teacher. Additionally, Durango Montessori is committed to refining and developing Montessori philosophy and methodology in the classroom. In order to do this in our remote location, DMS has local Montessori teachers who train our staff on an as needed basis so that teachers can continue to develop and refine their teaching skills and methods.
The Montessori teacher must go through a rigorous certification process to learn how to effectively use the materials. This training includes the study of full curriculums in math, geometry, language, physical science, biological science, geography, and history in their certification programs.
Upon completion of their training teachers are equipped to demonstrate:
- Effective use of Montessori materials
- Complete elementary curriculum
- Skills to provide a peaceful community in the classroom setting
- Observation and evaluation of students
For more information on Montessori teacher certification please go to the American Montessori Society (AMS) website by clicking here.
Michelle Herringer – Literacy Specialist. Michelle has a passion for education which stems from her passion for learning. She is an AMS Montessori Certified teacher, has a Masters degree in reading instruction, holds a Colorado Teaching License (for which she received the Linda Ekman Simmons Award of Excellence for Outstanding Post Baccalaureate Student in Teacher Education), and is a Certified Dyslexia Therapist. Prior to becoming the director of Durango Montessori, Michelle taught at DMS for four years. Additionally, she was a teacher in the public schools, at a community college, and at a nature education non-profit organization. In total, Ms. Michelle has been in the field of education for over 19 years. In addition to her years of teaching experience, Ms. Michelle has served on multiple boards, and has administrative experience including staff hiring, supervision, scheduling, training, grant writing, and volunteer organization and recruitment.
Michelle moved to Durango in 1994 where she met her husband Will, and together they grew into a family with their daughter Isabelle, who graduated from Durango Montessori. How does Michelle feel about being the director and a parent of a graduate of Durango Montessori? “I have an immense amount of gratitude for our school; it gave my daughter a place to truly enjoy her learning experience, enhancing her intellectual curiosity; it gave Will and I a place to entrust our daughter’s education to, and I have been provided with an outlet to creatively play a role in the education of children, in a manner that is respectful of children and their families.”
Contact Michelle: email@example.com
Mary Polino – Lead Upper El Teacher founded Durango Montessori in 2005 and has returned to DMS to lead the Upper El Classroom. Her love of Montessori began while researching alternative teaching methods, when she wandered into a Montessori school in Albuquerque, New Mexico in the early 1990’s. Mary was so impressed with what she saw there that she convinced the school director to hire her on the spot. She quickly worked through the ranks, received her American Montessori Society Upper and Lower Elementary (Elementary I & II) certifications, and a New Mexico state teaching license. She taught in Montessori schools in Albuquerque until moving to Durango. She came to Colorado equipped with a Colorado state teaching license, and during her attempt to secure a teaching position in the school district, decided that her respect for the Montessori philosophy, and the belief that it is truly an inspired way of teaching shouldn’t be lost. Durango needed a Montessori elementary school!
Durango Montessori opened its doors in 2005 with 13 students and the help of supportive families and community members. DMS has thrived under the care of the most “dedicated, loyal, and reliable group of teachers” every successful school needs. Since then the school has grown to average 45-50 students per year. This fact is a proud and collective achievement of its founder and staff.
When Mary isn’t beaming with pride over the school, she is usually beaming with pride over her family. She enjoys traipsing all over the state and country supporting both of her children and her husband in their mountain bike racing aspirations. When she is not cooking an extremely healthy, vitamin, mineral, protein-packed, carb-loaded, and perfectly balanced meal for her athletes, she is doing her own biking, hiking, Nordic skiing, and of course, reading.
Contact Mary: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ashley Hill – Upper El Teaching Assistant, holds a B.A. in American History from the University of Colorado, Boulder. Following college, her love for the American West brought her to Canyonlands National Park where she worked as an Interpretative Park Ranger. Giving campfire talks and public walks on the history, geology, flora, and fauna of the area sparked her love of teaching. She found it satisfying working as a guide and teacher for the public, and as an advocate for the preservation of the Utah desert. Ashley eventually moved on to Santa fe, to attend the New Mexico Academy of Healing Arts, and became a CMT. She moved to Durango in 1996 with her husband Todd, and had a private practice for ten years. With the arrival of two children, now ages 12 and 9, Ashley was lucky to stay home as a full time mom. She eventually joined the staff at Children’s House Montessori and worked as the school cook, and later as co-teacher in the Math and Sensorial Room. Ashley is honored to be a part of the exemplary staff and student body of Durango Montessori School. She believes in young people, and strives to nurture their potential and love of learning. When she is not in the classroom, Ashley is in the studio teaching Nia, a somatic movement practice that is similar to Montessori in its philosophy. She also adores spending time with her family and Boston Terrier Frankie, and enjoying the wonders of the outdoors.
Erin Williamson – Lower El Lead Teacher & Assistant Director, has a master’s degree in special education and is a certified elementary school teacher and Montessori school teacher. She has been a teacher for 14 years, mostly in the public schools. At the beginning of her career she became instantly intrigued and fascinated with the philosophy and teaching approach of Maria Montessori when she taught preschool at Children’s House Montessori in Durango. Since then, she has taught kindergarten, first grade, middle school (as a resource teacher) and the Affective Education program (for students with challenging behavioral and emotional needs, K-5th grade). She is thrilled to be back in a Montessori setting.
Erin believes that every child has the potential to learn, grow and be inspired. She is passionate about her role as a teacher- to be a part of a child’s learning… watching them grow and embracing their interests. Erin has lived in Durango for almost 20 years, and loves our town and community. Erin has two sons who are the love of her life, so when she is not teaching she is playing with them!She loves yoga, mountain biking, reading, painting, spending time with friends, and enjoying Durango’s backyard.
Contact Erin: email@example.com
Rebecca “Becca” Flora – Lower El Teaching Assistant, is a native to Orange County, California, born in Fountain Valley and raised in Huntington Beach until she was 8 years. She grew up in 3 different countries France, England and the US (her father’s job transferred him overseas). She returned to California to complete her BA in Human Development at California State University Long Beach. Living in Colorado as a young adult is where Rebecca began her career as an educator, initially with preschool age children at the Southern Ute Head Start. The Southern Ute Head Start is also where Rebecca developed her experience working with and implementing the Montessori teaching method. It was in this area of service that Rebecca discovered her niche and a calling to work with elementary age children. Rebecca began her Master’s in Elementary Education after a year of teaching preschool which she will complete with a teaching credential in 2019. This past year, Rebecca was the lead Kindergarten teacher at Adelphia Classical Christian Academy. She has always had a passion for the service industry whether in the field of psychology, the medical field as a Certified Nurse Aid or through education.
Rebecca is thrilled for the opportunity to move back to Durango where half of her family lives, and where she can not only pursue the career she loves but enjoy the beauty the town has to offer. Rebecca’s personal interests include spending time outdoors with her dog, Dixie, while running, hiking and camping. In her free time, Rebecca has also begun to play the guitar and hopes to continue to develop her skills.
Contact Becca: firstname.lastname@example.org