A little over 10 years ago Tony Evans had some babies and realized his career as a rock star (mostly in his own mind) was over. In his search for a new career that would allow him access to both his unique, passionate spirit and the fact that he had no interest in acting like a grown up, Tony went back to the beginning. He was a Montessori student from the age of 3, in Hamilton, and found a job as a Montessori assistant in a school on Toronto Island. One thing led to another and a few years after graduating as an Elementary guide in Bergamo, Italy, Tony was running the elementary program at Dearcroft, one of the most well established Montessori schools in Canada. Always the naive idealist, Tony determined he would start his own school built on a pure commitment to Montessori philosophy. Dundas Valley Montessori School has grown from 8 children to almost 200; from a small apartment above an abandoned greenhouse to a 28,000 square foot school on 5.2 acres of property. Though proud of his school, he recognizes that he is only responsible for creating an environment in which this school could flourish, and that the true path to the success of DVMS was created through a commitment to the Montessori fundamentals of faith, humility, diligence, community, and unconditional love.
Holly is an AMI (Association Montessori Internationale) trained Montessorian with a background in Early Childhood Education. Holly taught at two other Montessori school before coming to DVMS to start our Casa East Classroom. After 20 years in the classroom, she decided to take on the role as a DVMS School Administrator and Head of Admissions. Holly has three children of her own — all at DVMS from Casa to Strata. Holly has a passion for teaching children about healthy eating and cooking and in her spare time you can find her in her kitchen or lifting weights at the gym.
Kathleen MacKinnon is head of Elementary Administration, She attended the University of Guelph and holds a BA in Psychology. Kathleen obtained her Montessori teaching certificates for Casa, and Elementary from the Toronto Montessori Institute. Kathleen has been teaching for over 20 years in London, Oakville, and of course Dundas. In her free time… oh that’s right, she doesn’t have any because she is a busy mom of two active, little girls. Before parenthood, Kathleen enjoyed traveling around the globe as the Children’s Summer Camp Chair for Children’s International Summer Village. Now, she enjoys spending time with her family, golfing and biking. She looks forward to the time when her girls are a bit older and they can all enjoy travel adventures together.
Stef grew up in Hamilton and moved to Vancouver, where she obtained a B.Sc. at UBC in Sustainable Agriculture. Ten years later, she found her way back to Hamilton with a new appreciation for the area. Before returning, she worked as a tree-planting cook, drove through the U.S., and traveled in Central and South America, and Europe. Stef ventured into the world of Montessori after happening upon a dusty copy of Maria Montessori’s Own Handbook and reading it from start to finish in one evening. She was hooked and completed an assistant course a few months later, in 2012. After one year of working as an assistant in Thornbury, she decided to begin her teacher training. Stef was thrilled to complete her practice teaching at DVMS in Casa North with Dylan, in the winter of 2014. Now a MACTE certified Casa Guide through CMTEI (Canadian Montessori Teacher Education Institute), Stef has worked alongside Elizabeth Flenniken in Casa East and, after an extended maternity leave, has returned to take on a new role in our Learning Resource department. Stef’s baby is now a grown up member of our Toddler Community. She enjoys practicing her Spanish with those willing, math riddles, reading a good book, and cooking up a big pot of soup.
Mairi Achong is the Learning Resource Specialist at DVMS. She was bitten by the Montessori bug when her little sister, Marissa, attended a Montessori school as a child. Mairi completed her practice teaching at the Ecole Montessori International after receiving training from the Montessori Centre International, based in the UK. She taught in francophone and bilingual Montessori schools in Montreal for fourteen years, and is passionate about inclusive education.
For the last several years, Mairi has specialized in adapting the Montessori curriculum for children with learning differences. She holds MACAR (Montessori Applied to Children at Risk) training from the Shelton School in Texas, and is committed to helping each student realize his or her goals. Mairi is the mother of four children (one in each Montessori plane of development), and lives in Hamilton with her family and a multitude of cats.
Michelle is the French specialist in Upper Elementary. She is the daughter of an Anglo dad and a Québecoise-Franco mom and learned both languages from birth. A writer by trade, so far she has enjoyed a colourful career as a bilingual writer and editor at a federal government agency, a magazine editor, a freelance journalist and corporate writer, an aspiring novelist, and an occasional teacher in Hamilton-area French schools, all the while teaching piano or tutoring French on the side. She is eternally grateful to have stuck with her French and has noticed that everything sounds kinder, more polite, and sweeter in that language. She never tires of meeting people and hearing them say they are “enchanté!” (enchanted) to meet her.
Michael Rode is an assistant Montessori guide in Upper Elementary West at DVMS. Michael completed his AMI Primary training at the Foundation for Montessori Education. He also graduated from Queen’s University with an honours BA in Drama and spent several years performing the works of Shakespeare across Canada, composing music for the stage, singing (virtually) for the Queen of England, and running a theatre company in Toronto. Michael brings a strong arts background to DVMS, along with a strong commitment to authentic Montessori education.
Outside of the classroom, Michael can be found reading to his two children, playing guitar, singing and conducting with the Hamilton Choir Project, and drinking coffee.
Catherine Warne is an assistant Montessori guide in the Upper Elementary East environment. She started at DVMS in 2009 as supply staff in Casa North, and helped to establish our Casa East environment. After three years in Casa, Catherine moved into the elementary level and completed her Lower Elementary Montessori training at Toronto Montessori Institute and is currently completing her Upper Elementary training, also at TMI.
Catherine also holds a BA in Anthropology from McMaster University, was raised in Dundas, and spent her primary years at Central Park public elementary school, which is now Dundas Valley Montessori School. In her own words, “It’s weird to walk down the halls everyday and remember things about my own educational experience, like when I was in grade 4 and sick and barfed in the cloak room (don’t put that in the bio!!) but I love it.” Catherine’s children also attend DVMS.
Terrence Millie guides Upper Elementary East. He received his AMI diploma at the Elementary level from Fondazione Centro Internationale Studi Montessoriani in Bergamo, Italy. He lived in Beijing, China, for five years while teaching and administrating at The Family Learning House and Daystar Academy. Terrence and his family moved back to Canada to find a Montessori community close to home (Guelph, Ontario) where his children could grow up to reach their potential. Dundas Valley Montessori School is that place and since summer 2013 the Millie’s are happy to call Hamilton home. Dylan is working on a nickname for Terrence; please feel free to submit suggestions.
Jodi Northey is the guide in DVMS’s Lower Elementary North Montessori environment, and was formerly the assistant in Casa North. Jodi received her AMS (American Montessori Society) Montessori Casa training and her elementary training from TMI (Toronto Montessori Institute). Jodi also has an Honours B.A. in psychology and sociology from Trent University. Two of Jodi’s teaching years have been at the elementary level, so she is a well-rounded Montessorian. Her other interests include reading, sports, and running. Oh, and singing at the top of her lungs in the car by herself. Jodi lives in Burlington with her partner, two kids, and a dog. Jodi also brings some non-Montessori experience to her role as a guide: her first job was working as a clown for a flower shop. Duties entailed standing on the curb, walking back and forth down the sidewalk, dancing, and flagging down cars driving by. This was in downtown Peterborough, where she grew up, and right across from a Holiday Inn, which meant sometimes boys’ hockey teams would come for tournaments and throw snowballs at her from the other side of the street. So, she became a snowball-dodging, dancing clown.
Joanna is a Dundas native who knew from her earliest days that her career would ultimately involve two things: teaching and dance. Making this dream a reality has been her lifelong pursuit in every sense of the word. A childhood devotion to ballet flourished and evolved, and ultimately brought her to the creative pulse that is Montreal. While completing her undergraduate degree in Contemporary Dance Choreography at Concordia University, Joanna worked as a ballet teacher at a local Montessori school. Inspired by both the method and by her young students, she decided to pursue her Elementary Teachers’ Diploma at the Toronto Montessori Institute.
Since 2002, she has enjoyed the opportunity to teach at both the elementary and adolescent levels in Oakville and Hamilton. A lifelong learner, Joanna is continuing to explore new ways to teach and inspire young people; as a graduate student at Brock University, she is in the final stages of earning her Master of Education degree. As an educator, she believes that dance and the performing arts can play an important role in a young person’s development. She carried this belief forward in running a successful theatre and film summer camp that operated in Westdale for 20 years.
Joanna is a proud parent of three children, who attend DVMS’s toddler, Casa, and Elementary programmes.
Noeleen guides Lower Elementary South. After graduating from York University with a BA in History, she completed her Montessori Training with Toronto Montessori Institute, receiving her Casa, Lower, and Upper Elementary Diplomas. Of her many years in the classroom, she has spent ten on the island of Bermuda as an Elementary Director and Elementary Level Coordinator. Since returning to Halton, she has been busy spending her time reacquainting herself with the Bruce Trail, Canadian taxes, and chasing around her two daughters, who both attend DVMS.
After serving DVMS’s all-purpose sunstitute for the last few years, Christine Komarnycky is working full time as a Montessori guide in Lower Elementary South at DVMS for the 2017-2018 school year. After graduating with a BSc. in Biology from McMaster University, she returned to her love of art with studies at OCAD (Ontario College of Art and Design). After realizing that there are so many interesting things in life to discover and share, Christine completed her AMI elementary diploma from TMI (Toronto Montessori Institute). She has had 25 years of rewarding experiences at the Toddler, Casa, and Elementary levels.
Christine lives in Kitchener with her husband, two adult children that come and go, and two cats — always up to antics. She is always trying to find a spare moment to slip into her studio to play with paint and paper. She dreams of painting workshops on the sunny fields of France and Italy, and many other places.
Lisa is the French Specialist in the DVMS Casa and Casa Dei Bambini programs. Having grown up in Montreal under a bilingual roof, Lisa is thrilled to be introducing a second language into the classroom and gives daily lessons en français. Although Lisa is new to Montessori, she has benefited first hand from alternative and forward thinking education all of her life. As a youngster living in the prairies, Lisa attended a community oriented elementary school in Edmonton that prided itself on independent and adventurous learning. After moving to Montreal to embrace her Quebecois roots, Lisa enrolled in F.A.C.E., a fine arts school in the heart of downtown. Unbeknownst to the bright-eyed adolescent, high school would present amazing opportunities: producing her own live theatre and belting Mozart at the top of her lungs. After completing her Diplôme d’études Collégiales (DEC) in Professional Theatre from Dawson College, Lisa continued to create independent theatre while simultaneously traveling and working in fashion. Since moving to Ontario, Lisa has enjoyed working closely with people with special needs. From her home and in the community, Lisa always strives to facilitate both balanced and stimulating opportunities for those in her care. While she still enjoys performing, most of her free time is now spent writing and producing music. You are most likely to find her and her scraggly dog Arthur exploring the surrounding escarpment near their new home in Hamilton. Lisa knows how a passionate and supportive school setting can bestow wonder and joy upon young minds and couldn’t be happier to take part in fostering life-long learners through the amazing DVMS family.
Mary has been a part of Montessori education for over 35 years. She earned her AMI primary diploma in Toronto under the direction of Renilde Montessori and, since then, has taught at various Montessori schools throughout South-Western Ontario. In addition to teaching, Mary presents workshops, consults with Casa guides and parents, and writes about Montessori education on a regular basis. Mary served as the programme director for the Canadian Association of Montessori Teachers between 2006-2013 and, in the fall of 2014, she established a Montessori classroom in Chengdu, China. Mary is the author of Directing the Montessori Children’s House, and she is passionate about supporting Montessori guides, parents, and the Montessori community in their transformative work with children. When not commuting from Waterloo, (it’s worth the drive!), Mary loves skating, choral singing, and sleeping!
Lisa Zuraw works alongside Dylan as a Montessori guide in Casa North. At the prospect of returning to work after many years as a stay-at-home mom, Lisa knew she wanted to pursue a second career that would be aligned with her values and interest in child development. Lisa was first introduced to the Montessori philosophy when her two sons attended DVMS; she decided to attend the Foundation for Montessori Education in Toronto and earned her AMI (Association Montessori Internationale) Primary diploma in 2016. On the weekends, you are most likely to find Lisa working on her apparently never-ending list of home improvement projects. She recently learned how to use a mitre saw and install drywall while working with her partner to renovate the basement of their home in Dundas.
Dylan is a Casa-trained director from the M.A.C.T.E accredited Montessori Teachers College in Toronto. He assisted at one of the busiest and most respected schools in the GTA, Taddle Creek Montessori, before being head hunted by Tony Evans, who saw unique potential in the young squire in 2007. Dylan started at DVMS with a class of 8 children and is now the director of Casa North and its 24 students. He runs a fun afterschool music and performance program called “School of Rock,” and he still finds time to have an extra-curricular career as a recording artist. Born and raised in Hamilton, Dylan lives happily downtown and is married to DVMS’s wonderful administrator, Skye Collins. They have 2 children who are both enrolled at DVMS.
Shalyn returned from maternity leave in the fall of 2016 just in time to join Casa East (as another staff member left on a maternity leave — good baby timing) after previously working in Casa North. “Montessori was always in my blood!” said Shalyn. “I attended Casa to grade 8 at Montessori House of Children (now Montessori Academy of London), where [DVMS Upper Elementary guide] Kathleen was one of my guides.” Shalyn received her B.A. in psychology from Laurentian University in Sudbury and her AMS (American Montessori Society) Casa certification from Sheridan in 2007. She lives in Grimsby with her husband, young son, and daughter. Shalyn also plays soccer year round, and loves to crochet (orders can be placed on the playground daily).
Elizabeth had a happy childhood in Norfolk, England. As soon as she graduated from high school, not knowing what she wanted to do for a career, Elizabeth decided to travel through Europe. Upon returning to England, she answered an ad in a magazine to work as a nanny for a family in Oakville. “I was 18 when I first set foot on Canadian soil,” said Elizabeth. “I worked with a wonderful, true Canadian family who are like surrogate parents to me. However, it was when I went to visit a Montessori school that I knew I had found my life’s work. I worked as an assistant for an amazing teacher (Mary Flewelling) and was later sponsored by another wonderful Montessorian (Sue Moran) to take my Montessori training.” Elizabeth became part of an AMI Montessori training program in Cleveland, Ohio, where Hildegard Solzbacher was the head instructor. “I know I became the teacher I am today because of these wonderful people,” said Elizabeth.
Elizabeth had a dream to build her school and opened Absorbent Minds for her daughter Emily in 1994. “We built a new school in the summer of 1998, when I was pregnant with our third child,” said Elizabeth. “It was a dream come true and a fulfilling part of my life until 2013.” Former DVMS Casa East guide Holly spent the first five years of her career working with Elizabeth. Mary Flewelling also came to work with Elizabeth the first year after the 1998 school was built. DVMS Casa South guide Pat Stephens did her first observation with Elizabeth to submit her application for Montessori training. DVMS Lower Elementary and Strata Montessori French specialist Sylvia Marechal was a fantastic student teacher, reports Elizabeth. “The Montessori community is not so vast,” says Elizabeth. “The decision to close was hard and full of many reasons and emotions. However, it was the right thing to do and has brought me to DVMS where I now get to do the thing I enjoy most, and that is teach in an environment that I know has the same appreciation and respect for this beautiful Montessori philosophy.”
Serena discovered Montessori when she first moved to Dundas and stumbled upon Dundas Valley Montessori School. She was so drawn to the warmth of this little community, and to the beauty of the philosophy, that she committed herself to learning as much as she could about this method of education. Serena completed her Montessori Assistant training at the AMI Foundation for Montessori Education in Toronto. Hungry for more, Serena decided to embark on her full Montessori Teacher Training, which she completed in April 2014 at the Centre for Guided Montessori Studies. Serena is now co-teaching in Casa South with Pat. Serena previously worked as a Montessori Assistant in a Toddler classroom in Mississauga, and although she enjoyed this experience immensely, she is happy to now have a much shorter commute to school. Serena feels honoured to be working among a community of teachers who are so dedicated to creating the best environment in which a child can thrive. In Serena’s previous life (before having kids), she spent most of her time creating and performing dances. If you look closely, you may still catch her stealing moments with the children to leap among the trees.
Pat is the longest serving member of the DVMS teaching community. She has seen the school grow from six students to well over a hundred, and has packed, moved, and set up her Montessori Casa environment in three different buildings (“We’re staying put now,” says Pat). An avid gardener, Pat is the go-to person for children’s questions of “What kind of flower/leaf/seed/tree is this?” An astute and experienced Montessorian, Pat is also the go-to person for staff questions of “What should I do in this/that/or the other teaching situation?”
Kristy is the co-guide in the DVMS Toddler Community. She has fond memories of her early years as a student at Cambridge Montessori School, way back in the 70s. Once she completed her Honors BA in English Literature, she knew she was destined for some sort of career in Montessori. She attended the Foundation for Montessori Education in Toronto and attained her AMI Primary training in 1998 (where she and DVMS administrator Holly first met).
After staying home for a few years with her children, she was given the opportunity to start a Toddler Room at a local Montessori school in Waterdown. Eventually, Kristy took a tour at DVMS (at Holly’s persistence) and loved the feeling of community which was so evident in every aspect of the school.
Kristy, her husband Ben, and their four children reside in Waterdown; their children attend the Lower and Upper Elementary levels at DVMS and the adolescent program at Strata Montessori Adolescent School.
Kate Millie is a guide in the DVMS Montessori Toddler Community. Kate holds her AMI (Association Montessori Internationale) Montessori teacher certifications at the Assistants to Infancy (0-3) and Primary (3-6) age levels, as well as a Masters in Education. She has been working as an advocate for Montessori education for over a decade.
Kate spent five years living and working in Beijing, China, where she worked at two large International Montessori Schools as a Casa teacher and later as Academic Director, helping to guide and consult with teachers and administrators to better their Montessori practices. In the middle of her time in China, Kate moved to Italy for a year while her husband (DVMS Upper Elementary guide Terrence) trained at the AMI Elementary training program there. Kate spent her year in Italy as a course assistant for the Elementary program and enjoyed lots of yummy gelato and pasta.
Back in Canada, Kate was busy raising babies and running her own home Montessori program for babies and toddlers before opening the DVMS Toddler Community in 2015. Kate is thrilled to work in the same school as her husband and watch her daughters, Olive and Zada, thrive in their Montessori communities.
You’ll find Kate in the Toddler Community, smiling from ear to ear, surrounded by amazing little people.
A BA Grad from Brock University, and certified Assistant Montessori Instructor, Ally has found her niche in the Toddler Class at DVMS. Aiding in the growth and development of these little people fills her heart. Ally discovered the Montessori way of learning while nannying for a Montessori family. She continually finds herself surrounded by youth. As a professional Figure Skating coach at several clubs and Summer Camp Director, Ally gives all she can to this youthful generation.
Growing up Ally participated in many sports, most competitively figure skating. She continues to enjoy gymnastics, soccer, curling, track, hiking and water sports. Ally is a country music fan and enjoys spending weekends with friends and family at the cottage.
Annette Brunner is the Upper Elementary West guide. She has taught Montessori for over 20 years, at both the Casa and Elementary levels, receiving her training from Toronto Montessori Institute. Over the years, she has developed Montessori classrooms and programs, provided leadership to staff and support to administration. As well as teaching in Canada, in Ontario and Alberta, she has had the privilege to teach internationally, in England, China and Japan. Upon returning to Canada, Annette embarked on a Masters' program in Applied Social Research. The experience led her right back into the classroom where her passion for Montessori remains strong. While not at work, she enjoys spending time in nature with her family as well as running, swimming and biking to keep up with her son, who attends DVMS in their Lower Elementary Program.