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“The child is both a hope and a promise for mankind.”

-Maria Montessori

KirstenDudkiewiczLead Guide

B.A., Psychology and Theatre, Marlboro College

Kirsten has worked with children since high school when she first trained as a YMCA counselor for Camp Nokomis on the beautiful Lake Winnipesaukee. Since then she has served several youth programs in New England such as the Boys and Girls club, Monadnock Family Service's youth program “Acting Out,” and most recently the Adolescent residential program at the Brattleboro Retreat. Her introduction to Montessori was first hand when she transferred to Hilltop Montessori School in Brattleboro for an extended three year middle school experience.

A native of Vermont, she enjoys picking apples (and baking pies of course!) taking long walks and nature swims, and campfires with friends.  She enjoys theatre, music, singing, and performs with the New England Youth Theatre Alumni Association. She also finds traveling to be very rewarding and the best learning experience. She is lucky to have visited several countries like Japan (where her Father, Step-mom and little brother live), Germany, England, and Saudi Arabia. She now lives in Hadley with her husband, Jim.

Classroom Assistant

Infant and Toddler Credential (in-progress), North East Montessori Institute, Warren, Maine
B.A., Psychology, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Katie has been caring for young children for over twenty years in day care centers and home settings, and has been implementing Dr. Montessori's method via personal research and practice for almost fifteen years. The method fit seamlessly with her focus on building a career based in peace and respect. In 2010 in an effort to expand her knowledge and reach, Katie trained with the Liddle Kidz Foundation to teach infant massage techniques to new parents. After two trips to Vietnam as a volunteer teaching infant massage to caregivers in orphanages, Katie discovered a love of working with underserved populations and returned to the United States ready to provide massage therapy to children in need. Katie relocated to Ashland, Oregon from the Boston area to complete her massage therapy education where she also trained to be a birth doula. Upon returning to Boston, Katie worked for several years providing nurturing touch and massage therapy for children in palliative and hospice care, as well as attending births as a doula. She is also a certified yoga teacher with practice teaching typically developing and differently abled children. 

After the birth of her own child, Xavi, in 2015, Katie was fortunate to be able to return to work as a nanny in Boston and Cambridge, bringing Xavi along. During that time, Katie served as a Montessori home consultant providing child care as well as environmental design and education for families interested in the Montessori method. In 2016, Katie made her Montessori education official and attended the Infant and Toddler Course through North East Montessori Institute. 

Eventually, busy city life became less appealing. In the fall of 2017 Katie and her family left Boston for Amherst. Katie is excited and inspired to be joining other Montessori professionals at AMS and to be implementing Dr. Montessori's practices as part of a team of experienced practitioners in a group care setting.  

Katie strives to create an environment where each child is a respected member of the community, and she believes that the path to cultivating peace is through empathy, kindness, and the utmost care for a developing sense of self-confidence and independence. She is passionate about supporting each child and family with regard to their individual needs in the classroom and beyond. 

In addition to her work with children, Katie enjoys volunteering, social justice work, and travel. When she's not researching conscious caregiving practices, she can be found weeding the garden, practicing yoga, or hanging out in the woods with her family and their two dogs. 

Afternoon Classroom Assistant

B.A., Women, Gender, & Sexuality Studies, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Jessamy grew up in Amherst and graduated from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst with a BA in Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies in December 2018. During her time at UMASS she was an Assistant Teacher in both a toddler classroom and a preschool classroom at the University daycare. In addition to years of babysitting and nannying experience, she has also completed Jumpstart, an Americorps program, in which she received a certification for Early Education & Care.

Jessamy believes her passion for social justice and human rights has been inspired by the experiences she has had working with children.Jessamy enjoys seeing students experience new ways of learning that inspire passion and curiosity. Exploring nature is one of her favorite ways to connect with students. She also loves to do creative arts and crafts activities with students. She values the Montessori method for respecting individual ways of learning and for creating an environment in which each child feels supported and cared for. She feels that connecting with children individually is a necessary part of helping them feel capable and inspired.            

In her free time Jessamy loves to take her dog, Coby, on hikes and runs! She also enjoys reading, writing, seeing live music and spending time with her family and friends. She is also studying for the LSAT with the hope of eventually attending Law School to continue her academic journey and nurture her passion for social justice.

Interim Classroom Assistant

B.A., Women’s Studies, Ohio State University

Certified Monitrice (Birth and Post-Partum Doula), from CHOICE, Columbus, Ohio

Jiyanna began working with children as a teenager & deeply enjoyed the little ones’ triumphs as they transcended their fears of water.  With her mom’s influential involvement with the village church, Jiyanna taught classes focused on treating others with respect, honor & compassion.

Over time Jiyanna taught self-defense & anti-bullying, women-centered ob/gyn care & childbirth education, and herb classes as well as working in home daycare, a preschool, at a nature program, nannying and at childrens camps.  She loves empowerment and nature-based education. Witnessing her daughter Emma become a compassionate & capable young adult has supported Jiyanna’s trust in the values & choices she makes in her parenting such as listening, honoring & being responsive, and choosing compassionate communication.

Jiyanna is honored to be subbing in Linden for Katie C during her maternity leave and to be involved with this holistically-supportive, peace-affirming paradigm called Amherst Montessori School.

When Jiyanna isn’t at school, you may find her singing, tending garden or wild-harvesting herbs, sharing the joys of our local plant allies, mentoring, doula-ing, organizing spaces, carpenter-ing, or traveling to foreign and sacred destinations such as India!