Journey School is an authentic Montessori experience in which exploration and discovery; critical thinking; respect and responsibility to oneself, to others and to the Earth prepares our students for a life-long educational journey. Our students experience both the prepared classroom and the natural outdoor environment, which allows them to fulfill their unique and adaptable roles as responsible and engaged citizens in the world.
Journey School offers a challenging and dynamic curriculum based on the philosophy of Dr. Maria Montessori which encourages cooperative learning as well as independent study. In addition to the classroom curriculum, Journey School offers extensive time outdoors experimenting, exploring and examining the world in which we live. Our outdoor component is heavily influenced by the writings of Richard Louv and the Wilderness Awareness School. The arts are delicately woven into both the classroom studies and the outdoor exploration, creating an integrated whole.
Beth Clayton – Head of School and Elementary Guide
Through years of leadership, observation and study in the US and abroad, Beth firmly believes that an authentic Montessori environment in a natural setting allows children to construct themselves through meaningful work choices and thoughtful challenges. Having a background in Suzuki violin and the fine arts, Beth aims to bring music, movement, art and adventure to all subject areas. After 10 years leading Journey Montessori School and over 20 years in the classroom, Beth continues to be inspired by the children and enjoy our amazing Journey community!
Beth began her Montessori journey in 1994 working with internationally respected Montessori authority and author, Paula Polk Lillard. With Paula Lillard’s support and the guidance of Margaret Elizabeth Stephenson who was trained by Maria Montessori herself (!), Beth designed and implemented the Middle School Adolescent Program for Forest Bluff School, a program that continues today.
Beth graduated from the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire with a B.S. in Biology and holds a Masters of Education from Loyola University Maryland with an emphasis in Montessori and Experiential Learning. She has an AMI Assistance to Infancy certification (ages 0-3), AMI Elementary Montessori certification (ages 6-12) as well as the AMI Montessori Orientation to Adolescent Studies (ages 12-18). Beth completed the Wilderness Awareness Art of Mentoring Course in Washington and is recognized as a Master Trainer for Early Childhood through the University of New Mexico.
Beth enjoys backpacking with her husband and two boys, reading, singing, and playing the violin.
Lara Sarris Prestinary – Admissions Director & Middle School Mentor
Ms. Lara has studied and taught on three continents obtaining baccalaureate and masters degrees in education and Spanish. She has worked as an administrator, curriculum developer, and teacher in both public and private schools through the college level. She developed an avid love of the outdoors as a child which she has carried throughout her life and incorporates into her curriculum.
“I believe it is important to guide young people in gaining self-awareness and reliance, to spark natural curiosity, and to encourage collaboration and innovation while experiencing nature and their environment. Through engaging in experiential learning opportunities and serving others, children learn the necessary skills to become good global citizens.”
Brian Wilson – Middle School Guide
Mr. Brian is originally from Jackson, Mississippi and has spent the last 22 years living and working as an educator in Brazil. He grew up in a large family of 9 siblings and was inspired to teach by his parents who were both teachers too. He is a graduate of Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee. He enjoys learning languages, woodworking, nature, science fiction, culinary arts, planting food, and talking about recipes. Mr. Brian loves the process and journey of helping students become more curious and seeing them develop far beyond a particular class or subject matter.
Myvanwy Birds – Middle School Guide
Ms. Myvanwy is originally from Ireland, grew up in Italy and moved to Highland Park, Illinois in 2016. She has been teaching for the last 24 years across Ireland, Italy, France, Russia, South Korea and the United States. Ms. Myvanwy is a graduate of the University College Cork and Sookmyung Women’s University. She speaks English, Italian and French, enjoys playing the harp and singing opera, visiting her family in Italy, spending time in nature, swimming and cooking for others. Ms. Myvanwy loves seeing her students’ passion for research, their inquisitive minds, and their excitement when they figure out how to solve a problem.
Arlette Vollrath – Primary Lead Guide
Arlette discovered her passion for Montessori education in 2005 and is continually inspired by the children she works with. She has created, revivified, and grown Montessori primary classrooms in Illinois, California, and Russia, and she created a Montessori adolescent program in Santa Monica, California. She has also mentored student teachers and trained classroom assistants. Prior to discovering Montessori education, Arlette founded and ran a community art therapy studio in Oak Park, Illinois, where she provided open studio/creative process as therapy for groups and individuals, developed an arts program for children and families through the park district of Oak Park, ran an art therapy program for the local branch of National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI), conducted a therapeutic arts program for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and provided a creative arts summer program for adolescents. Prior to creating her art therapy studio, she worked as a board-certified art therapist and licensed professional counselor on the children’s and adolescent girls’ wards at a private psychiatric hospital in Illinois.
Arlette earned the AMI primary diploma (ages 2.5 to 6) from the Montessori Institute of Milwaukee and the AMI Orientation to Adolescent Studies (ages 12 to 18) at the Hershey Montessori School in Ohio. She holds a Master of Arts in Art Therapy from St. Mary-of-the-Woods College and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Secondary Art Education from the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Arlette enjoys hiking, camping, cycling, and reading, and is an RYT-200 and Level 2 Kundalini Yoga instructor.
Tej Gaytan Legorreta – Spanish Language Teacher, Primary Assistant
Tej received her Bachelor’s Degree in Architecture from the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (UNAM) Mexico City in 1981. She received her AMI Primary Guide certification from the Centro de Estudios de Educacion Montessori, A. C. in Mexico City in 1994. She has also completed training and certification in Reiki, Hatha Yoga and Kundalini Yoga.
Her first experience working with Montessori education was at the Post Oak Montessori School in Bellaire, TX, supporting different classrooms from 0 to 12-year-old children. This work inspired her to obtain her AMI certification. Tej has over 16 years experience working in Montessori schools including six as a lead primary bilingual guide. She began with Journey as a Spanish guide in the elementary classroom.
“My son attended Post Oak Montessori from 1 1/2 years old until he was 12. That is how I started working assisting the classrooms and teaching Spanish, my son loved it and I did too. It was a priority to have him experience joy while learning, and be an adventure.”
Hannah Pardee – Elementary Guide
Hannah is a recent graduate of Colorado College, where she received a BA in Anthropology. During her senior year at CC, she enjoyed working at a daycare. This experience led her to realize that she would like to continue working with children, particularly in Montessori schools. Hannah is also passionate about environmental justice, and she enjoys the outdoors, dance, and fiber arts.
Hannah is excited to work on her AMI Montessori training this year and move into a leadership role in the classroom.
Bob Jacobs – AMGA Certified Outdoor Guide