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“The teacher, when she begins work in our schools, must have a kind of faith that the child will reveal himself through work.”

-Maria Montessori

GretchenCourage250x333Director of Education

M.A., Early Childhood Education, Goddard College 
B.A, Religion and Fine Arts, Boston University

Montessori Administrator, American Montessori Society
Early Childhood Credential, American Montessori Society

Gretchen's impressive and varied career as Montessori teacher, administrator, and consultant spans decades. "I relish combining my dedication to the Montessori curriculum, my experience with children and parents, and my coaching and mentoring of teachers to serve in a thriving school community. My style is collaborative, communicative, and supportive and I am genuinely excited to be part of a school culture with these values."
 
Her work as a mentor and coach has sparked her interest in adult development and confirmed her respect for the lifelong process of learning that characterizes Montessorians. She enjoys the sense of inquiry that naturally leads guides to observe and reflect and to ask questions, such as How did that work? Was my lesson clear? Were my words kind? What else is needed? 

She values the attention we pay to our own continued growth and how that translates so profoundly into the work we do in the classroom and our relationships with school families and colleagues.

Gretchen has had many years of experience in Montessori schools in NYC and MA. She has worked as a classroom teacher and administrator in both independent and public Montessori schools and brings a wealth of experience from these inter-connected worlds. Gretchen has served as a Children’s House and Lower Elementary Guide, Mentor, School Founder, Head of School, Teacher Trainer, and Consultant.

Gretchen earned her BA in Religion and Fine Arts at Boston University and her MA in Early Childhood Education through Goddard College, mentored by Montessori author Rosa Packard. She holds American Montessori Society credentials in Early Childhood and Montessori Administration and has completed her Elementary I coursework. She holds a MA teaching license in Early Childhood and grades K - 8. Gretchen is currently a student in the Yoga Teacher Training course at the Yoga Center Amherst.

She enjoys drumming, yoga and meditation, gardening, dancing, camping, hiking, kayaking and all things Indian, and she especially enjoys spending time with her spouse, Karen, and her grown children, Emilie and Stephen, both Montessori alums.

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Michelle RischLearning Support Guide

B.S., Sociology, James Madison University
Children's House Lead Teacher Certification, New England Montessori Teacher Education Center (NEMTEC)
E.M.T., Chabot College

Michelle has worked in education since 1992. She worked as a Children's House Assistant at Cedar Creek Montessori in Berkeley, CA for six years before joining us at Amherst Montessori School. She began her career at AMS as a Toddler Assistant in 2005. After two years in the Toddler room Michelle went for training as a Montessori Guide for the Primary ages (3-6 years). She was  the Montessori Guide in Children's House 2 from 2009-2015.

In conjunction with being a Montessori Teacher, Michelle serves as a high school field hockey coach. In her spare time Michelle enjoys spending time with her community of family, friends, and dogs. She also loves being outdoors hiking, camping, and exploring. Michelle has a love for architecture and construction and enjoys bringing that love into her classroom.