Sarah's love of working with children has developed over the years, beginning with her Early Childhood Development studies at Santa Barbara City College and continuing with her pursuit of a Montessori Teaching Diploma for Preschool and Kindergarten from the North American Montessori Center. Joining the staff here at the Children's House in 2009, Sarah knew this was where she would like to be. A working environment with a great opportunity to help in the development of well-rounded and happy children. To not only offer instruction but also encourage children to ask questions and to be active participants in their own learning. To help in creating an environment filled with “loving, laughing and learning.” Sarah was indoctrinated into the Montessori method at an early age through her father's many stories of his youth while attending The Dalton School in New York City. “The Absorbent Mind,” by Maria Montessori was also a big influence in the way she was raised. Growing up on the Palos Verdes Peninsula in Southern California, she was exposed to a wide variety of cultural experiences and diversities.
Sarah also has a great love for animals. When attending Santa Barbara City College she was a volunteer at the Santa Barbara Zoo and once relocating to Chico, spent a great deal of time helping and learning about the animals at The Barry R. Kirshner Wildlife Foundation. Sarah is happy to share her knowledge and love of animals with her students. She often brings her animals into the classroom to introduce them to the children and discuss their characteristics. ~ "Our school is a happy place where kids are busy with ‘works' and friends,” she says. She invites prospective families to see for themselves the environment she helps provide for her students.
Amanda completed her Montessori education in Sunnyvale, California after receiving her B.A. in Liberal studies at CSU, Chico. She was lead teacher in the 1st, 2nd, 3rd combined – grade classroom at Montessori Elementary, and has over 20 years of experience in the pre and primary education of children. She believes that as a parent and teacher her job is not to control, it is to support each child and their individual needs. Her favorite quote of Doctor Montessori is “Follow the Child.” She is the proud mother of two sons and has lived happily in Chico for 33 years.
With 33 years of teaching experience, degrees in psychology and education, certification in Montessori and Waldorf methods, Charlotte Rainwater brings a long and varied background to teaching. She joined Chico Montessori Children's House as a teacher in 1980, and took the reins as owner and director in 1981. A dedicated teacher, Charlotte continually makes Chico Montessori a welcoming and friendly place for families. Charlotte was introduced to Montessori education through her undergraduate studies in psychology. An assignment in a human development course gave her an opportunity to observe a Montessori preschool classroom. “I was amazed at the calm atmosphere and the abilities of the children. I read a book about the method by Dr. Montessori, and, I was hooked!”
Charlotte continued her studies and earned a Masters of Arts degree in Education and a certificate from the Association Montessori International for ages 3-6 years, training in Dublin, Ireland. She also studied the Waldorf method, earning a certificate as a Waldorf handwork teacher. With this diverse training and exposure to different teaching methods and philosophies, Charlotte is able to see the value in various educational approaches. After her own sons, now ages 25 and 28, went through Chico Montessori, she had the experience of home-schooling for seven years. Yet she remains committed to the Montessori method. She is delighted to see young teachers coming into the field, continuing the cycle. She serves as a mentor teacher with the State of California and often gets students in the classroom as interns. “It's a joy to introduce them to the Montessori method,” she says.
After 31 years at the school, Charlotte is now teaching children of some of the children she taught in her first years. “I love to come in every day and work with the children. They are open, ready to learn and have a fresh point of view! It's fascinating to get a glimpse of the world through their eyes. I find the children's excitement about learning the most rewarding.”
A deep respect for children and children's learning drew Clara McKenzie to teach. She has worked with children of all ages, studied early childhood education at Chico State and Canada College and is raising three children of her own with her husband of 18 years. She began her career with pre-school aged children in 1990, working at a day care center in Chico. She moved to London, England, in 1991, where she studied at St. Nicholas' Training Centre for the Montessori Method of Education. During her training, she student-taught at two preschools in London and worked as an au pair for a London family with two small children.
Returning to California in 1992, she taught preschool-aged children for five years at Buttons n' Bows Montessori School in Palo Alto. After the birth of her first child, she continued to work with children, directing the Sunday school toddler program at the Vineyard of the Peninsula Church in Palo Alto until moving back to Chico in 2000. She started The Acorn Montessori School in the fall of 2001, which she ran until 2005, when her youngest child was born.
In 2008, when her youngest child was ready to begin preschool, Clara came to teach at Chico Montessori. "The Montessori method appeals to me because, as a teacher, I can create and work within an environment where children can learn at their individual pace and ability, and are encouraged to be independent, responsible, caring and cooperative," she says. "The Montessori materials in the classroom prepare children for, and motivate them toward, intellectual, physical, social, and creative learning. This is a focus on science, other cultures and countries, so that the children can grow to understand the world around them."
Diane holds an American Montessori Pre-Primary Teaching Certificate from Montessori Teacher Education Center of San Francisco and an Associates Degree in Child Development. She was first drawn to the Montessori Method when she had young children of her own and wanted to give them the best opportunities available. “The philosophy of Montessori was a match to my own desire of how to raise my children. It makes sense to show them how to do it themselves. My job as a parent was to help them become confident, capable adults. The Montessori Method is one that fosters independence, coordination, cooperation and a sense of order in children. It allows them to follow their own rhythm and get in touch with who they are. They eat when hungry, rest when tired, and generally learn to respect and listen to themselves and others.”
In the classroom, Diane enjoys the eager way young children go about discovering their environment, their love of trying new things. “They are like little sponges absorbing what's around them and have a true interest in learning for its own reward.” She finds satisfaction in creating a learning environment in the classroom, developing projects and activities. “We set up the environment to stimulate interests to keep their minds and hands busy with activities that help coordination, self-esteem, and most importantly, the pure joy of doing.”
“Our school staff has very high regard for the innate knowing of the individual,” says Diane. “We guide and have ground rules, but otherwise teach children to have self-discipline. We are respectful of the child and gain respect in return.” Diane and her husband Steve Cook live in Chico. Diane grew up here and is glad to have lots of family nearby. Her parents and one sister still live in Chico and her son, Jesse, is in the nursing program. Daughter, Micah Rose, is studying school psychology in San Diego. Her stepson, Oshan, lives in San Francisco.
Marybeth came to Chico Montessori in 2009, drawn to an environment where children are encouraged to be independent and responsible. She brings a well-rounded background to her teaching, with 10 years experience as a nanny, and studies in child development, anthropology and German at Chico State. She has traveled extensively throughout Europe – including a year as a student at the University of Heidelberg, Germany – and in Mexico.
Marybeth shares her love of the arts with her students. “I love the openness, honesty and pure joy of this age group. I enjoy creating art projects for the children that bring them joy and a sense of accomplishment,” she says. “Chico Montessori, is a loving and respectful environment where a child's natural ability to learn is supported. Children move freely through the room and choose the activities they are interested in doing.”
Her teaching style is a blend of experience and a dedication to young people. “I truly enjoy working with the children and I believe they can feel it.”
Meghan first joined Chico Montessori Children's House while a student at Butte College. Working with Charlotte Rainwater as her mentor teacher, Meghan worked at the school one afternoon each week for her observation/lab class. Immediately, Meghan felt comfortable with the Montessori teaching method. She joined the staff permanently in September 2010.
Meghan graduated with honors from Butte College with an AS degree in Early Childhood Education and an AA degree in Social and Behavioral Sciences. She completed her Montessori training with the North American Montessori Center in early 2014. In addition, Meghan has experience working with young children as a nanny in England and the United States. She has homeschooled her own daughter and was actively involved with The Home School Association of California, serving on the board of directors and volunteering in other capacities.Years of home-educating helped Meghan hone her teaching skills even before officially stepping into the classroom. She practiced an educational philosophy called unschooling. Meghan believes in allowing the child to take the lead in his or her education. “I believe my history allows me to be a relaxed and focused teacher. I am practiced in observing what children in my class are interested in, and I am able to provide opportunities to enhance and expand on those interests. My goal as a teacher is to foster a love of learning and help the children to retain their innate sense of curiosity and excitement for learning.”
Tamzin first came to Chico Montessori Children's House as a volunteer working first in Charlotte's class and then in Terri's class. She realized through volunteering how much she loved working with children and decided to take classes in Child Development and Early Childhood Education at Butte College. When an opportunity came up to be an assistant teacher here, she jumped at the chance. “I feel the Montessori Method is in alignment with my values and beliefs about educating children and how they learn best”.
She has plans to continue her education at Butte College and pursue Montessori training in the future to best serve the children in her care.