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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Jen Wichman

Assistant Teacher

Jen is a young adult novelist with a Master of Education from Harvard University. Having worked with young people from infancy to young adulthood, Jen joined the Montessori Farm School community in 2010 when her son attended the extended-day program. She and her family were delighted by the school’s exceptional teachers, its holistic approach to early education, and its supportive community of families. She is thrilled to join the staff of Montessori Farm School as an assistant teacher.

Montessori has provided Jen with a sensible, structured, kindness-centered approach to parenting and education. Jen’s son, now twelve, believes MFS bolstered his love of learning and strengthened his ability to work independently. (It also sparked his fondness for chickens, goats, and cows.). Jen especially appreciates how Montessori Farm School encourages young people’s engagement as compassionate, thoughtful members of our families, communities, and planet.

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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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