Ayize Sabater is a dynamic entrepreneur, educational researcher, author and thirty year educational visionary. He earned his doctorate at Morgan State University in 2018. Dr. Ayize has co-founded several organizations, including a Montessori Public Charter school in D.C.. He received his a 2021 Montessori Core Principle and a 2012 Orientation (formerly know as Assistant) certificate and is an honors graduate of Morehouse and Wesley. Ayize has been repeatedly featured as a Keynote speaker, has conducted presentations internationally and was a 2010 educational excellence award recipient, presented by First Lady Michelle Obama at the White House. Some of his published research articles are on: family engagement; culturally relevant pedagogy; Montessori education, especially for Black folx. Dr. Ayize has been widely featured (on TV, radio, in the NY Times, People & Emerge Magazines, Back Enterprise, etc). Ayize recently co-founded the Black Montessori Educational Fund and was appointed the 1st Black Executive Director of AMI/USA in November 2020.
AMI USA new Finance Director, Wendell Pierre, possesses years of professional experience in both for profit and non-for-profit organizations. A graduate of University of Maryland with a Bachelors in Accounting. Wendell is currently pursuing his CPA. Wendell has built and led teams responsible for nearly all key functional groups in a finance organization including: financial planning and analysis, accounting, project control, billing and collections, accounts payable, and payroll. Wendell has successfully performed responsibilities that include: closing accounting books, creating annual operating budgets, reporting results, managing corporate cash flow, refinancing corporate debt, and operating in a key role during acquisitions and developing new revenue streams.
Lynne Breitenstein-Aliberti is the Director of School and Member Operations, guiding the AMI Recognition Program and the process of Memberships for AMI/USA. With over 25 years of experience within the Montessori community, she has personally witnessed the power that Montessori education has to create a more peaceful world. In her previous roles as Events Manager for the North American Montessori Teachers Association (NAMTA), co-chair of the Ohio Montessori History Project for the Ohio Montessori Alliance (OMA), and Primary Guide at Ruffing Montessori in Cleveland Heights, Lynne has taught, developed, and facilitated Montessori programming for parents, administrators, fellow teachers and the wider educational community in addition to writing articles and historical records with a mission to further visibility of the Montessori method. She received the AMI Primary Certificate from the Ohio Montessori Training Institute under Joen Bettman, and a Masters of Education degree from the Loyola College of Baltimore.
Sarah is the Director of Communications and Digital Strategy at AMI/USA, responsible for managing the online bookstore and developing AMI/USA’s membership communications, including the e-news, journal, and directory. She also maintains the AMI/USA website and social media accounts. Prior to joining AMI/USA, she worked in communications and program development in the environmental education field. She holds a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies and lives in Alexandria, VA with her husband.
Kazi Chad Dennis is the Office Manager/Bookstore Manager at AMI/USA. Kazi holds a degree (BA) in African-American Studies from Howard University. Kazi is passionate about History and Social Justice issues. Kazi wants AMI/USA staff, membership and the greater Montessori Community to know that his job is to support them with information and books. He has been in this role since February 2022. He has been supporting the AMI/USA bookstore since December 2020.
As Director of Innovation and Advancement, Jon spearheads innovations for the advancement of AMI/USA’s mission and objectives to serve our membership and Dr. Montessori’s vision. Jon is a passionate career Montessori educator and school leader with over 30 years of experience. He holds an AMI Elementary diploma from the Washington Montessori Institute and a Masters of education from Loyola University. Over the course of his Montessori journey, Jon has served as an elementary lead guide, school administrator, board member for the Montessori Administrators Association (MAA), conference presenter and educational consultant. My life’s work has been dedicated to making a positive impact in the lives of children/youth, their families and, by extension, our larger community. I believe deeply in the power of Montessori education and am honored to serve in this new role with AMI/USA.
Janet McDonell is Pedagogical Director of Consultation and Coaching at AMI/USA. She has been Director of Primary Training at the Washington Montessori Institute since 1994, following an extensive career in Montessori schools throughout the U.S., working with children of widely varied backgrounds. Janet also holds AMI Elementary and Special Education diplomas. She is a former chair of AMI’s Training of Trainers program, a former board member of AMI/USA and has chaired AMI/USA’s Consultation Committee for the past 10 years. Janet will oversee the AMI Recognition program and other AMI/USA initiatives that support teachers and schools.
Siobhan Juanita Brown (Keesuty8ee Elm) is from Roxbury, MA and is a citizen of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe. She lives on her ancestral homelands on the southern coast of Cape Cod. She holds a BFA in Performing Arts and African American studies from Emerson College and is a graduate of the A.R.T. Institute for Advanced Theater Training at Harvard University. Siobhan received certification in the Montessori pedagogy for Primary (ages 3- 6) from the Institute for Guided Studies with Teresa Noble. She is an Artist Educator committed to nurturing children in a good way; one that inspires life experiences for the next seven generations.
Siobhan is the Co – Indigenous Solidarity & Sovereignty Officer for the board of Montessori for Social Justice. She is also Co – Chair of the Representation, Equity and Diversity team for the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival for Region 1 representing the northeast.
As a theatre artist she has worked with American Repertory Theater, the Cleveland Play House, the Acting Company, Actors’ Shakespeare Project, and the Commonwealth Shakespeare Company. She has worked extensively in arts education as the former Associate Director of Education at Citi Performing Arts Center and Director of School & Teacher Programs at Actors’ Shakespeare Project in Boston, MA. As a playwright she devised an original piece, A Piece of Silver, based on recorded conversations with her maternal and paternal grandmothers who are Mashpee Wampanoag and African American, respectively. She has worked with the Wôpanâak Language Reclamation Project as a student of the language since 2005. From 2013 to 2021 Siobhan was a language apprentice and member of the founding teaching team of Weetumuw Katnuhtôhtâkamuq, the first Wôpanâak language and culture immersion school providing academic and Indigenous education using a Montessori pedagogy for decolonization and language reclamation.
Tim is the Virutal and Hybrid Events Director at AMI/USA. He is a Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) and iis responsible for managing the various AMI/USA online and in-person conferences, educational sessions and events. He also collaborates with partners to assist in executing their events when needed. Tim attended the University of Akron and for the past 20 years, he has worked for non-profit organizations as an Events Director. He also worked closely with various organizational committees in developing educational programs for the organizations he managed.
After watching the social, emotional and academic growth of her sons during their Montessori Children’s House experiences, Sheri Bishop decided that the Montessori approach was the best way to educate her sons beyond primary school. Both of her children attended Montessori schools during most of their school careers. Though Sheri enjoyed being a pediatric healthcare provider for many years, she was so impressed with the Montessori philosophy that it prompted her to seek training as a Montessori guide and change the trajectory of her career.
Sheri has 8 years of classroom experience as a Lower Elementary guide, holds an AMI 6-12 diploma from the Montessori Institute of Atlanta, a Masters in Montessori Elementary Education from Loyola University in Baltimore, MD, and will soon complete requirements for an AMI 3-6 diploma from the Montessori Institute of North Texas.
While working, Sheri recognized that the values of justice, equality and peace so inherent in the scope of the Montessori movement, are often times not manifested in Montessori practices and policies in these spaces. She found that families in lower socio-economic groups and who are Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) are significantly underrepresented in beautiful, thriving Montessori communities. She involved herself in the Montessori for Social Justice (MSJ) organization which ignited her fervor for anti-bias, anti-racist, and social justice work with Montessorians. In 2017 she was elected to be one of the founding members of the original MSJ Board of Directors and served until 2019.
Sheri has presented numerous and various workshops for teacher in-service trainings and regional and national conferences including MSJ, the AMI Elementary Alumni Association, Montessori Institute of North Texas (MINT), and Montessori Northwest. Since the pandemic, she has adapted offerings to suit an online presentation format. In addition to AMI/USA, Sheri currently is contracted by the Montessori Institute of North Texas as an ABAR Advisor and by Norfolk Montessori School in Norfolk, VA as a consultant and advisor. Click here to request a visit from Sheri.
Jacqui Miller completed her AMI Elementary training in the early ‘90s and now approaches the work through her intersectionality as a Montessorian of Color, a public sector practitioner, a social justice advocate, and a champion of adolescents. After working with elementary children for four years, Jacqui was an adolescent guide for the next 16 years. She became a leading developer of the Adolescent Program at Arbor Montessori School and contributed to the NAMTA/AMI Orientation to Adolescent Studies for 10 years as a presenter and design coach. For the past 7 years, Jacqui has engaged in the work of adapting Montessori for transformative urban education. She currently serves the Cleveland Metropolitan School District in a new position as the Director of Montessori Programming and Operations, and previously was the Founding Principal of Stonebrook Montessori, a public charter school.
Jacqui sees herself as an educational architect, envisioning Montessori beyond its current reality and designing systemic change toward a vision. She experiences her dedication to the legacy of Maria Montessori as a responsibility to propel Montessori pedagogy toward its potential of truly serving all children. Jacqui joins the AMI/USA board embracing the opportunity to support the staff in a time of organizational change and advance the work of AMI in ways that are responsive to the US context.
Tim Nee is the Managing Director of the Montessori Training Center Northeast (MTCNE) in Hartford, CT. Tim has an undergraduate degree in Elementary Education from Indiana University of PA and did both his graduate degrees in Curriculum, Supervision and Administration from Emory University in Atlanta, GA. He was the former Assistant Executive
Director of Capitol Region Education Council (CREC) and the former principal of the highly successful CREC Montessori Magnet School in Hartford, CT. During his tenure, the school was twice selected by Magnet Schools of America (MSA) as a “School of Excellence” and named the recipient of the MSA Eugene M. Uram Award as the most outstanding Public Montessori Magnet School in the United States. He provides a variety of national consulting services through MTCNE. Tim has taught graduate courses in early childhood education as an adjunct professor as well as being a founding faculty member at the Center for Montessori Studies at the University of Hartford. He has published book chapters and articles on creating Montessori Magnet Schools and has through MTCNE developed nine current satellite AMI training center locations both nationally and internationally. He is fortunate to live part time in Spain with his husband, Bob, and loves to spend as much time as he can with his now adult children and grandchild.
KaLinda Bass-Barlow joined the AMI USA board July 1, 2018. KaLinda Bass-Barlow serves in the Kansas City Public Schools District in Kansas City, Missouri. She holds an AMI Primary Diploma, Montessori Core Principles Certificate, M.Ed. in Educational Leadership (K-12), M.Ed. in Early Childhood Education (Montessori Concentration), BA in Interdisciplinary Studies and is currently pursuing an EdD. In 2016, her career shifted from a conventional educational school leader to a Montessori school leader when she began serving as the proud principal of Harold Holliday Montessori (HHMS) – a KCPS Signature School. KaLinda is a passionate advocate for children; she understands the urgency of learning for children and does not compromise at their expense. In her short tenure as the leader of HHMS, she has worked relentlessly with stakeholders to transform Montessori practices at HHMS, where she and her team works with the mindset of Good, Better, Best to offer the children they’re privileged to serve rich Montessori experiences. KaLinda appreciates serving in the public sector and considers it an honor to be part of the public sector Montessori movement. She is married with four sons and 2 bonus daughters.
Alva Waller Dial is Chief Executive Officer of Legal Resolutions Inc. (LRI), specializing in mediation and alternative dispute resolution. Alva spent over 20 years as a lawyer in the public sector, working as a trial attorney and later as staff and managing attorney for the Office of the Monitor for Pigford v. Vilsack (D.D.C.), a class action lawsuit involving more than 22,000 African American farmers suing the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) alleging race discrimination. Currently she serves as Deputy Ombudsman for the In re Black Farmers discrimination lawsuit against USDA.
Working with claimants, class counsel, advocacy groups and other stakeholders, Alva has gained extensive experience overseeing and coordinating the implementation of consent decrees and compliance measures. In her role as Deputy Ombudsman, Alva serves as a mediator for litigants and makes recommendations to the court on issues related to the implementation of the settlement agreement.
Prior to her work on Pigford v. Vilsack and In re Black Farmers, Alva served as a public defender for the First Judicial District of Minnesota, where she handled a variety of adult criminal matters through trial and represented court–involved youth in delinquency proceedings. She also served as guardian ad litem in child protection matters where she was first appointed to oversee a family court custody case.
I received my AMI Elementary Diploma from Bergamo, Italy, in 1975 and have worked in Montessori schools ever since. 10 years teaching in Upper and Lower Elementary classrooms were followed by over 30 years of Montessori school administration in 3 public, 3 private, and 1 charter Montessori school. I have a bachelor’s degree in Education, a master’s in educational administration, an Education Specialist degree in School Administration, and Doctoral coursework in Urban Leadership and Policy Studies. My wife, Martha, and I are both lifetime members of AMI and all three of our children attended Montessori schools.
From 1988 to 2005 I helped to establish the Montessori Public Schools in Kansas City Missouri as part of the desegregation court order for that city. I also helped startup the first charter Montessori School in Fort Collins, Colorado. My experience in public, private, and charter Montessori schools has made me aware that each model has its own unique set of needs as well as commonalities that can be supported by AMI/USA.
Dallas Nelson is an Oglala Lakota from Pine Ridge, South Dakota. Dallas and his wife Emily Charging Crow-Nelson have four children and reside in the Red Cloud Community on the Pine Ridge Reservation. He currently serves as the Director of the Lakota Language & Education Initiative at the Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation on the Pine Ridge Reservation.
He holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Sociology, a Bachelor’s in American Indian Studies and a Masters in Lakota Leadership and Management. He holds his AMI Primary Guide Assistant certification and is working towards his AMI Primary Teacher Training certification. He is advocate for Indigenous Education, Language Reclamation and the ongoing movement to create systemic change within Indigenous Communities.
Michelle Becka received her Montessori Diploma from Montessori Northwest in 1997, and her MEd from Loyola University in the same year. After working with young children for 17 years in a classroom in beautiful Portland, Oregon, she entered the AMI Training of Trainers Programme. She achieved full Trainer status in 2017.
Michelle is currently an AMI Primary Director of Training at Montessori Northwest. She very much enjoys working with the adult learners in her role as a Trainer and is especially committed to continuing to learn and expand her personal understanding of what it means to be an anti-bias and anti-racist educator. As a Trainer, Michelle is dedicated to ensuring that conversations about bias, racism, identities and intersectionalities are a continual part of the student experience at MNW and hopes that the students leave with a strong understanding of how to create a culturally inclusive environment for all children and families.
Jordan Gordon joined Kansas City Public Schools (KCPS) in 2017 serving in several leadership roles; Area Supervisor, Director, Executive Director and currently, as the Chief Human Resources Officer leading the critical work of maintaining a high-capacity workforce dedicated to serving the students, families, and stakeholders of KCPS. Jordan has been featured as a keynote speaker for No Kid Hungry and facilitated several leadership development seminars for the Department of Secondary & Elementary Education and several national conferences. As a collaborative, people-oriented leader; Jordan has developed thriving partnerships in the KCPS community, focused on ensuring equitable access of resources for families and students of KCPS.
Prior to joining KCPS, Jordan honorably served in the U.S. Army and chartered a successful career, spanning over ten years leading operations, workforce strategies, capacity building and system enhancements in the corporate sector. Additionally, Jordan is a proud product of Montessori education, attending KCPS’ Harold Holliday Montessori school through the primary years to middle school (eight grade). Jordan and his wife, Monchelle, (AMI Certified Montessori Teacher) have four wonderful children who keep them moving! Jordan holds a bachelor’s degree in finance and a master’s in business administration (MBA). Jordan is also a member of the National K-12 Advisory Council, Missouri Association of School Business Officials and excited to serve on the AMI/USA Board of Directors.