Refresher Course 2018 Speakers

We are excited to announce the speakers for the 2018 Refresher Course! Learn more about our speakers below.

The 2018 Refresher Course & Workshops will take place at the Arizona Grand Resort in Phoenix, AZ. Click here to make a room reservation using the AMI group rate.

Assistants to Infancy

Screen Shot 2017-08-16 at 9.55.03 AM Maria Teresa (Chacha) Vidales is an AMI Director of Training at the Assistants to Infancy Level at the Montessori Training Centre of British Columbia. She has directed courses in Dallas, Texas, China and Australia. She also co-directed the Assistants to Infancy Course in Japan and San Diego, and collaborated with the course in Denver. Maria Teresa serves as AMI examiner, consultant, lecturer, and workshop leader. Maria Teresa also holds the AMI Primary diploma. She has operated a school in Mexico since 1989, and has been working with children close to thirty years. Chacha also served on the AMI Board of Directors. Montessori Schools San Diego


Shieldsheadshot Jennifer Shields is a director of AMI primary training for the Washington Montessori Institute at Loyola University Maryland.

Jennifer holds both the AMI Primary and Assistants to Infancy diplomas. She earned a B.A. in English Literature from Georgetown University and an M.Ed. from Cleveland State University.

Since her lucky start as an assistant in an AMI class in 1990, Jennifer has participated in the Montessori community in a variety of roles. She is an examiner and consultant for AMI. Jennifer loves observing in classrooms, coaching teachers and teacher trainees, working with parents, and spreading the insights made by Dr. Montessori to anyone willing to listen, most recently to primary teacher trainees in Geneva, Switzerland.

Jennifer delights in her three young-adult children, and in her wonderful husband. She relishes a daily ramble (especially with her German shepherd), reads novels and newspapers religiously, and cooks vegetarian meals in her free time.


image Jamie Rue is the Director of Elementary Training at Washington Montessori Institute at Loyola University Maryland. During her ten years teaching in Montessori elementary classrooms, she served as a guide for children aged 6-9, 9-12, and 6-12. She holds AMI Primary and Elementary diplomas, and earned a B.A. in English and Religion from Augustana College (Sioux Falls, S.D.) and an M.Ed. from Loyola University Maryland. Jamie currently serves as treasurer on the AMI/USA Board of Directors and is a past vice-chair/treasurer of the AMI Elementary Alumni Association. Jamie presents at workshops and conferences around the world, but is happiest when at home with her husband and two teenage daughters.


photo Maria del Coral Ruiz received her AMI primary diploma from the Centro Internazionale Maria Montessori, Perugia, Italy. She is a primary trainer, examiner and lecturer with AMI, and has over 25 years of Montessori experience as head of school in Puebla, and Monterrey, México.

She has had training responsibilities in Puebla, México, Hang Zhou, China, Houston, Texas, U.S.A, San José, Costa Rica, Quito, Ecuador, Murcia, Spain and Montpellier, France.

She spent many years working with abandoned and living in the street children in Puebla by providing Montessori experiences on different environment sets.


McAlister Head Shot Kristi McAlister is the founder and Head of School at Centennial Montessori School, an AMI environment serving children from birth to 12 years old. She holds the AMI Primary diploma from the Maria Montessori Institute in London and a Masters in Urban Education from Kings College, University of London. Kristi began her career as a researcher at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and has taught children at the Children’s House, Elementary, Middle and High School level in both traditional and Montessori settings. She has published articles in Montessori journals in the US, Australia, India, and the UK, many of which are particularly focused on Montessori Parenting.

Most importantly, Kristi is the mother of five Montessori children ranging in age from 2 years old to 15 years old. This year she happens to have one in every plane of development under 18! She was a Montessori child, and though she loves all aspects of her Montessori work from Head of School to work with AMI’s Educateurs sans Frontiers, she is particularly passionate about supporting families in their own great work of supporting the child.

Administrative (Saturday)

Kathy photo Kathy Minardi is Senior Consultant with Whole School Leadership, founded to help Montessori administrators around the world guide healthy communities of children, families and school staff.  She has forty years of experience as a Montessori school leader.  She recently retired from Aidan Montessori School in Washington, D.C., one of the oldest Montessori schools in the US.  She holds a BA from St. Olaf College, an MA from the University of Wisconsin, and holds transformational leadership and facilitation credentials from Georgetown University, Harvard University and M.I.T.  Her strong focus throughout her career has been on creating socially and emotionally healthy school communities where adult interactions are congruent with Montessori principles and the school’s mission and values.  She is a member of Margaret Wheatley’s “Warriors for the Human Spirit” and a leadership coach for school administrators through the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence at Yale University. She was a founding board member and officer for Montessori Administrators Association (MAA).  She is a trainer for NAMTA’s Whole School Management programs, teaching courses in whole school management and strategic leading and planning.