Montessori Farm School values the widely varied experiences and unique talents that each member of the staff brings to the school, as much as it values the unique personalities, talents and strengths of each child.

Our teachers are trained through American Montessori Society (AMS) and Montessori Accreditation Council for Teacher Education (MACTE) certified training programs, and they are current AMS members.

TEACHERS

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Virginia Lozuke

Head of School / Lead Teacher

Virginia began teaching Montessori in 2004 when she joined the staff at her daughter’s Montessori school based on a farm in Bahama, NC. There she saw firsthand the incredible benefits of the Montessori Method in a setting that allowed children greater use of the outdoor environment to connect with nature and to do purposeful work that helped build their confidence, independence, and sense of responsibility. Virginia worked with the school’s founder, Lisa Tate, and a dedicated group of parents to create Montessori Farm School as a non-profit to serve the greater Hillsborough area in 2007.

Virginia holds a BA in Political Science from Villanova University. She received her Early Childhood Certification from the North Carolina Center for Montessori Teacher Education where she has served as a faculty member spending a portion of her summer teaching new Montessori teachers. She loves having the chance to share the science and beauty of Montessori with those who are new to the profession. Virginia’s favorite part of teaching Montessori is working with children on conflict resolution. “If we can teach children between three and six how to truly listen to each other, how to give voice to their own feelings and needs, and how to work with others to promote understanding, we will make lasting and significant contributions towards a more peaceful world.”

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Wendy Panko

Senior Assistant Teacher

Drawn to education and in particular the Montessori method, Wendy received her Early Childhood Credential from the North Carolina Center for Montessori Teacher Education. She worked in both public and private Montessori schools prior to joining the team at Montessori Farm School. She is a patient, caring individual with a desire to encourage children’s growth with her positive attitude and respect for others. Wendy currently co-teaches in a primary classroom and has been with Montessori Farm school since its opening year.

Wendy and her husband are originally from upstate New York where she earned her Bachelor’s degree in Computer and Information Science from the State University College in Potsdam, NY. During her computer career she developed educational content for a web-based chemistry course, created visual databases for a helicopter flight simulator, and wrote the user interface for a business software product. After moving to North Carolina Wendy took up pottery and is currently treasurer of the Clayworks Potter’s Guild. She uses her unique combination of talents in both technology and art for the school in many ways, including creating beautiful handmade work for the classroom. Additionally, Wendy has been integral to the development and management of this website.

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Meaghan Kachadoorian

Assistant Teacher

Meaghan joined MFS with experience as an outdoor educator and children’s mindfulness teacher. After graduating with a degree in History and Public Policy from Duke, Meaghan moved back to Durham to engage more deeply with a place that taught her so much. She also works as a writer for a Civil Rights history website, and hopes to contribute to a more grassroots way of telling history.

She is most drawn to MFS because of the intentional learning community, strong family involvement in the educational process, and space for outdoor and experiential learning. As an Assistant Teacher, Meaghan enjoys the opportunity to support children in their journeys of discovery, learning, and love for themselves and the world around them. She loves to travel, and especially enjoys social studies lessons that tell us about different people around the world.

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Olivia Singleton

Music and Movement Enrichment Teacher

Olivia finds great joy singing and dancing with children. Their energy and creativity enrich her own “inner child.” For sixteen years, Olivia taught songs to youngsters at Epworth Preschool in Durham, NC. More recently, she has been telling stories – bookended with songs, of course – through the Durham Public Library System. You can find her every summer volunteering once a week at its Read and Feed Program and during the school year on various branch library schedules like a Dr. Seuss Celebration. Once a month since Fall 2012, Olivia tells folktales to a local senior citizens’ group. In the fall of 2010, Olivia attended a Music Together™ Teacher Training Workshop. She is now a licensed teacher-director of this early childhood music program.

An international phenomenon, Music Together ™ was founded in 1987 and produces songs and techniques to encourage the experience of music at an early age. For more information on her Music Together classes, contact Olivia at Livandsing@yahoo.com or go directly to www.Musictogether.com.

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Kate Nelson

Office Manager

Kate became a part of the Montessori Farm School family when her son entered the preschool program in 2011. As a child she also attended a Montessori, and some of her fondest memories from her early years of education are from those years. When she started her family she knew she wanted to find a Montessori program for her children and was drawn to the community and curriculum at Montessori Farm School.

She holds a dual degree in Sociology and Anthropology and most recently has experience working in Administration & Operations in the restoration/construction industry. Originally from Maryland, she relocated to Chapel Hill with her husband and son in 2011. They have since expanded their family to include a daughter who is now attending the preschool program.

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CURRICULUM

Our curriculum is an authentic Montessori curriculum which is a hands-on, individualized approach that respects the student’s learning style and interests. Students receive lessons in the areas of language, math, science, geography, art, sensorial and practical life. The majority of the morning consists of uninterrupted individual work time in which children practice and master concepts and activities. This work time allows for small group lessons, individual lessons, peer collaboration, and in-depth exploration. Allowing each student to work at their best pace keeps interest high, develops concentration, and builds self-esteem. Read More About the Montessori Curriculum

Spirit of the Child

We support the development of each child’s unique spirit which guides their personality, learning styles and how they approach the world.

Peace/Earth Connection

We work to develop the students’ compassion and understanding of the connection between themselves and others by deepening their knowledge of the interdependency of the earth and all that live on it.

Geography

Students are introduced to the world map, then each continent’s countries, cultures and land forms.

Science

Children study zoology, botany and physical sciences.

Art

Children begin with the basics of tool use and care and are then able to create many projects in various mediums.

Music

Weekly music classes encourage a joyful exploration of sound, rhythm, and movement.

Practical Life

Purposeful lessons in daily living refine children’s motor and sequencing skills which prepares their minds and hands for more challenging work in math and language.

Sensorial

Essential patterning skills come from classifying and exploring relationships and sequences in materials using the five senses.

Language

Beginning with initial sounds, students move to spelling and writing lessons which then leads to reading.

Math

Montessori math materials provide concrete experiences in linear counting, working in the decimal system and performing arithmetic calculations.

Motor Development

Coordination, balance and spatial awareness provide clues to early identification of learning styles and differences.

Learning Habits

The ability to concentrate, problem solve and complete an activity are developed in early childhood and stay with the individual throughout their entire life.

MONTESSORI

Maria Montessori 1913
Education is a natural process carried out by the child and is not acquired by listening to words but by experiences in the environment
Maria Montessori

Montessori classrooms are child-focused learning environments, unlike traditional education settings. This is due to Dr. Maria Montessori’s educational philosophy, which centers around her understanding of the value of emphasizing independence, providing freedom within limits, and fostering a child’s cognitive, social, and physical development. The Montessori Farm School follows the method established by Dr. Maria Montessori because we believe the basic foundation she developed over one hundred years ago still offers children the best way to learn. Montessori discovered that children can use manipulative teaching materials to independently explore lessons presented to them. By allowing children to choose their work, they take responsibility for their own education.

Dr. Maria Montessori opened the first Children’s House in an oppressed area of Rome, Italy in 1907. Through her studies, Maria developed a method of working with and teaching children that focused more on the child and the child’s needs rather than the teacher. She prepared a childsized environment complete with all of the tools necessary for the children to care for themselves and their surroundings. She developed materials and lessons based on the interest of the children that were handson and enticing to the children. Maria not only taught traditional academics, but also basic practical life skills and social graces which prepared the children to interact successfully with the world around them. As her success stories spread, Dr. Montessori was asked to open schools in less needy areas where children thrived and excelled through her handson approach. Even after one hundred years, Montessori schools are still being opened throughout the world. Her approach to teaching has been recognized as exceptional, not experimental. Public and charter schools throughout the United States continue to adopt her methods. Children throughout cultural and economic variances are learning the basics along with world citizenship skills, practical life exercises and social graces all the way through high school levels. Dr. Maria Montessori began her approach to teaching as a way to help unreachable children but clearly all children can benefit greatly from her approach to learning. Through cultural studies and peace education Dr. Montessori believed children to be the answer to world peace. This is a common theme that runs through all Montessori schools around the world regardless of the language spoken.

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