Jennifer Shields
Jennifer ShieldsDirector of 3-6 Training
Jennifer Shields is a primary trainer for the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI). She holds both the AMI Primary and Assistants to Infancy diplomas. Jennifer earned a B.A. in English Literature from Georgetown University and an M.Ed. from Cleveland State University. She worked for over fifteen years in Montessori schools as a teacher, assistant, and administrator. She is an examiner and consultant for AMI and presents at workshops and conferences locally and worldwide. Jennifer joined the Board of AMI Global in spring of 2019. Jennifer loves observing in classrooms, coaching teachers and teacher trainees, and spreading the insights made by Dr. Montessori.
Naoko Ogawa
Naoko OgawaDirector of 3-6 Training
Naoko is an experienced and innovative AMI primary trainer. She grew up in Tokyo, Japan and received her B.A. in childhood education from Tokyo Gakugei University and an M.Ed. from Loyola University Maryland. Since 2009, Naoko has trained adults in the Philippines, Japan, China, and the U.S. on assistant, foundation, and primary courses. Naoko is also an AMI/USA consultant. She lives in Baltimore with her husband, Frank.
Teng-Chien Yu
Teng-Chien YuDirector of 3-6 Training
Teng-Chien was born and raised in Taiwan. He started his professional journey as a community social worker for an orphanage in Taiwan. Teng-Chien then became an accomplished English teacher which brought him to the world of Montessori. Teaching English in Montessori schools in Taipei opened his eyes to an entirely new perspective. The experience of teaching English in Montessori schools presented Teng-Chien with a sponsorship by Ms. Lam of Taipei Montessori Kindergarten. He obtained his Assistant to Infancy Diploma with Judi Orion in Denver, Colorado; and, his Primary Diploma with Joen Bettmann in Cleveland, Ohio. During Teng-Chien’s years working with children he participated in translating courses for several age levels. Teng-Chien has worked mostly in Asia, primarily Taiwan and China. He has served as an observer and consultant in Hong Kong, Thailand, and Singapore.

In 2019 Teng-Chien became an Association of Montessori International (AMI) Primary Trainer. He started his first position as a primary trainer as the Director of Training at Train Montessori by Great Work, Inc. Teng-Chien believes fervently that being a trainer facilitates other people’s transformational journey in the Montessori training courses as well as their own, individual transformation.

Tiina Suominen
Tiina SuominenDirector of 0-3 Training
Tiina comes from Finland. She is a WMI alum. She completed Primary training with Hildegart Soltzbacher in Washington, DC, and she also trained in Denver with Judi Orion and Maria Teresa “Chacha” Vidales on the Assistant to Infancy level. Tiina is an AMI trainer on the Assistant to Infancy level and has lectured on courses in North America, Asia, and in Europe. She has been working with children ages 0-6 for more than 20 years. Tiina runs her own Montessori School, called Mammolina, in Helsinki, Finland.
Gabriela Velázquez
Gabriela VelázquezDirector of 0-3 Training
Gabriela’s Montessori journey began as a child. Her mother was a Montessori teacher, so she grew up attending Montessori schools in México. It was only natural that upon reaching adulthood that she also decided to pursue a career in Montessori education. After completing her degree in Early Childhood Education, she earned the AMI Assistants to Infancy diploma from IMMAC in Mexico City, trained by Silvia Singh C. She has worked for more than 20 years in Montessori schools in México and the United States.

Gabriela completed the demanding AMI Training of Trainers program to be named an AMI Trainer at the 0-3 level (Assistants to Infancy). She has worked on 0-3 teacher-training courses in Argentina, China, Mexico, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Taiwan, and USA. She serves as a lecturer, consultant, examiner, and Director of Training for AMI.

Allyn Travis
Allyn TravisDirector of 6-12 Training
Allyn holds AMI primary and elementary diplomas and has over 35 years teaching experience with both children and adults. She is the former Administrator and Director of Training at the Montessori Institute of Milwaukee. An AMI Elementary Teacher-Trainer, examiner, and school consultant, Allyn spent many years as a member of AMI’s Training Group, responsible for the training of new AMI teacher trainers and served as the chair of the AMI/USA board. Allyn has a B.A. in English from Michigan State University and an M.A. in Montessori education from Loyola University Maryland.
Rebecca Dallam
Rebecca DallamDirector of 6-12 Training
Rebecca has been working in Montessori environments since 1985. She holds a B.A. in English literature from Temple University, USA, with a minor in Italian literature, and an M.Ed. from Loyola University, USA, in Montessori elementary education. She holds the AMI 0-3 and 3-6 Orientation certificates, the Montessori Core Principles certificate, and 3-6 and 6-12 AMI Diplomas. Rebecca completed summer Spanish language and literature programmes at the Universidad de Granada (1990) and the Universidad de Guadalajara (1991). She is currently studying Russian through the University of Queensland.

In addition to her work at WMI, Rebecca offers modular format 6-12 courses, face-to-face and blended format Orientation Courses, as well as workshops and mentoring, through Sydney Montessori Training Centre.

Grace Lee
Grace LeeExecutive Director
Grace is fortunate to be part of the long standing DC Montessori community. She attended Georgetown University and received a B.A. in History. She completed her Primary training at WMI and received an M.Ed at Loyola University. Grace has experience as a Primary guide in both the private and public sectors in Maryland and DC. Grace transitioned out of the classroom to support Montessori guides as the Montessori Instructional Specialist in the Office of Early Childhood with the District of Columbia Public Schools. She also has experience as the former Director of Admissions and Enrollment Management at Aidan Montessori School. Grace is also an AMI/USA Primary Consultant and in the Training of Trainers Program.

Grace is passionate about all things DC and is excited to be part of a thriving community that continues to provide ever-increasing access to high-quality, authentic Montessori education across all sectors.

Lisa Sarafidis
Lisa SarafidisDirector of Programs
Lisa’s Montessori journey began nearly two decades ago as a Montessori parent. She quickly fell in love with the methodology, and proceeded to hold several Montessori administrative roles, until ultimately taking on the position of Head of School at an AMI-recognized Montessori school.

After moving on from her Head of School role, Lisa became Managing Director for a Montessori consulting group, focusing on leadership placement, leadership development, executive coaching, crisis management and school transition planning. She has also served as a Trainer and Director of Strategic Development for Whole School Leadership Institute, delivering modules on transformational leadership, community building and sustainable school cultures to Montessori school leaders.

In her pre-Montessori life, Lisa was a financial and economic policy consultant. Lisa holds an M.A. in International Finance and Business from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, a Certificate in Montessori Leadership through Loyola University’s Whole School Leadership program and a B.A. in Spanish from Grinnell College. Lisa lives in the Washington, DC area with her husband, three kids and dog, Juno.

Kim Yue
Kim YueDirector of Communications
Kim has worked in independent school communications for over eight years, where she was Communications Manager at Barrie School (Silver Spring, MD) and at Georgetown Preparatory School (North Bethesda, MD.) In her Communications roles, she held key responsibilities in creating engaging content for the website, print and digital media and social media channels. She was also part of a team that provided crucial support for fundraising and development events.

Kim was also Registrar at Georgetown Preparatory for two years, where she provided administrative and academic support to faculty and students through the Headmaster’s Office.

She holds a B.A. in English from Georgetown University and a Certificate in Asian Studies. Kim has maintained a deep and personal interest in all things Montessori ever since her two children attended a Montessori preschool.