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 loves observing in classrooms, coaching teachers and teacher trainees, and spreading the insights made by Dr. Montessori.
Naoko OgawaDirector of Primary Training
Naoko is an experienced and innovative AMI primary trainer. She grew up in Tokyo, Japan and received her BA 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 US on assistant, foundation, and primary courses. Naoko is also an AMI/USA consultant and lives in Baltimore with her husband, Frank.
Tiina SuominenDirector of 0-3 Training
Tiina Suominen 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.
Rebecca DallamDirector of 6-12 Training
AMI Elementary Trainer Rebecca Dallam 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.
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.
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 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 MA 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 BA in Spanish from Grinnell College. Lisa lives in the Washington, DC area with her husband, three kids and dog, Juno.
Samantha VejayExecutive Director
Samantha’s Montessori career began as an infant in her mother’s Primary classroom, and continued as a child in AMI Primary and Elementary environments.
Samantha has a degree in Business and Non-Profit Management, and a Masters in Education from Loyola University. She holds dual AMI diplomas from our own Washington Montessori Institute at the Primary (2004) and Elementary (2010) level. She has taught in 3-6, 6-9, and 9-12 environments. Most recently, Samantha completed the AMI Montessori Orientation to Adolescent Studies in Rydet, Sweden (2019), and also completed the 0-3 Orientation through WMI (2020).
Samantha has experience working in the classroom, leading schools, offering community workshops, working with non-profit organizations and supporting public and private educators. She is a board member for the Montessori Administrators of Georgia (MAG), and is an active participant in the Elementary Alumni Association (EAA). Samantha lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her dog, Shakespeare, and her snake, Sarah Mildred. When not immersed in Montessori, she loves to travel (6 continents and 40 countries and counting) and visit schools all over the world.
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.