MFC 2019
Parent/Teacher Education Days
Friday, January 25 & Saturday, January 26
at Barry University, Miami Shores
Regular Registration is open until January 18th
Speaker Announcements!
~ Ms. Judy Dempsey ~
“Becoming Montessori Ministers of Peace, Kindness and Happiness”
This presentation will focus on the key elements necessary to create a living, breathing, Montessori environment conducive to creating a more peaceful, kinder atmosphere, which ultimately results in a happier climate for everyone. The word minister in this presentation is not used in any religious sense, merely as an agent of change for good. Come ready to open your hearts and minds to transforming negative habits into positive habits. This is the true meaning of the Montessori philosophy as it refers to creating lasting peace in our communities.
Judy Dempsey has been a Montessori educator for 41 years. She has owned and operated Summit-Questa Montessori School in Davie, Florida for the past 26 years. The school serves children from the ages of 18 months through 8th grade. The beautiful 10-acre campus has native habitats, numerous gardens, a wetland preserve, a mini-barnyard, outdoor fields, a gymnasium and two pools. The school is also the site of Summit Montessori Teacher Training Institute, an accredited teacher training center affiliated with the American Montessori Society. Judy is co-director of this training center and has been instrumental in training hundreds of Montessori teachers in the state of Florida since 2003.
As an innovative educator, Judy has served on numerous educational boards in Florida. She held the position of 1st Vice President and Director of Accreditation for five years on the board of the Association of Independent Schools of Florida, a Florida state organization that accredits private schools and recognizes prominent educators. Judy was awarded the 2016-2017 Richard and Dorothy Lear Distinguished Educator of the Year- the highest honor given by the Association of Independent Schools of Florida. This award, named for the founders of the Lear School in Miami, recognizes the distinguished career of Judy Dempsey and her continuous efforts to provide a quality education to the children of South Florida.
Judy is the author of Turning Education Inside Out: Confessions of a Montessori Principal, which is now available world-wide through traditional book retailers. It was an educational bestseller on Amazon. In her informative and engaging bestseller, she details her over 40 years of experience with the Montessori philosophy as a Montessori educator, administrator, school owner, and teacher trainer. She shows the impact that the Montessori experience has on the developing child, clears up misconceptions about exactly what Montessori is, and helps prospective parents determine if Montessori is right for their child.
~ Ms. Jane Spinney ~
“Music Circle Time for your Montessori Classroom (ages 3 – 5)”
Music prepares the ear, body and mind for all future learning. SING, MOVE, LISTEN, PLAY: These are the core elements of music. By incorporating all these elements into your lesson planning, teachers lay the foundation upon which children can become musical beings and carry the love of music throughout their childhood journey and beyond.
In this session we will discuss:
  • The importance of music and movement and how children learn music – through active music-making
  • Sample songs, finger plays, movement and focused listening activities; all developmentally appropriate
  • How to become a better and more tuneful singer and sing in the vocal range of the young child
  • A proven successful sequence of activities for the perfect 30-minute music class for
ages 3 – 6
  • Equipping your classroom with appropriate instruments and props
Jane Spinney has a passion for music and young children. Miss Jane has been teaching in the private piano studio, school classroom and early childhood music studio for over 20 years. She is the owner of Miss Jane’s Music Studio in Miami Shores, Florida, where she teaches early childhood music classes, group and private piano.
Miss Jane also is the early childhood music specialist at Miami Country Day School, has taught at Miami Shores Montessori and is the Director of Children’s Music at Miami Shores Presbyterian Church. She holds Level II certification from the Early Childhood Music and Movement Association. She has led several workshops in the Miami and Orlando areas on early childhood music and beginning piano and presented at national conferences for such organizations as the Early Childhood Music & Movement Association. Miss Jane is now developing her own early childhood music curriculum that can used in the classroom and private studio settings.
~ Ms. Tabbetha Tracey & Mr. Austin Guhl ~
Montessori Learning: Importance of the Adolescent Brain
This session will explore the Third Plane of Development, which is the period lasting from approximately 12 years of age through 18, which is marked by the adolescents’ natural tendencies to be inquisitive about their place in society, pursue opportunities to contribute to society, and engage in projects where they can make a positive difference in the world. This presentation will provide attendees the opportunity to:


  • Gain a rudimentary understanding of the adolescent mind during Third Plane of Development
  • Valorization
  • What is it?
  • How is it achieved?
  • What are the recommendations?
  • How do we, as educators and parents, facilitate Valorization?
  • What does it look like in action?


Tabbetha Tracey has over 13 years experience in the education field.  She has worked both in Michigan and Florida as an instructor, a remedial literacy coordinator and an administrator. She is currently in her 2nd year at Summit-Questa Montessori School in Davie, Florida and is the Assistant to Ms. Judy Dempsey, the owner and principal. Tabbetha uses her unique skills to consult and mediate with parents and students. She attended Nova Southeastern University where she received her Doctor of Education with a concentration in Organizational Leadership and her Master of Science with a concentration in Elementary Education. Receiving both degrees with honors.  Her Bachelor of Science in Psychology was also awarded from Nova Southeastern University where she was a member of the Student Government. She is currently enrolled in the Montessori School Leadership Program at Montessori Live. Tabbetha has special training in various areas in the educational field including Applied Behavior Analysis, Effective Reading Instruction, Early Intervention, Advancement in Reading Initiative and Project Child. She is a member of the Gold Key International Honor Society and Delta Epsilon Iota. Tabbetha is a mother of four and still has room to enthusiastically embrace our Summit-Questa Montessori community.
Austin Guhl Along with having over 6 years teaching & administrative experience in the education field, Austin Guhl spent years operating in the business world as a manager of operations and a consultant.   Austin is now in his 3rd year at Summit-Questa Montessori School in Davie, Florida and is currently the Middle School Program Coordinator; Parent-Student Advisor and the health/personal world teacher for the Middle School. He graduated from Roger Williams University with a B.A. in Philosophy and a Minor in Political Science and Sociology.  Austin’s Montessori Secondary Training is currently in progress through the Cincinnati Secondary Teacher Education Program. Additionally, he is also attending Xavier University to pursue his Masters in Montessori Education.  He is a Member of the Golden Key and Pi Gamma Mu International Honor Societies. Austin wore many hats in the past as a Master Tutor and Teacher’s Assistant for the Liberal Art Dept. at Roger Williams University, a Lab Instructor at Miami Dade College and was employed in the Operations and Team Services area by the Florida Panthers Hockey club.  Austin is not only passionate about raising his own son but also being a mentor to teenagers.

~ Harvey Hallenberg ~
The First Three Minutes: The Dance of the Elementary Particles
Target Audience: Elementary I – II
During this presentation Mr. Hallenberg will describe how to make the pendant tags and the felt banners that proclaim “BIG BANG” and “TIME ZERO”. He will explain the concept of nucleosynthesis in the first three minutes of our universe, and how this differs from “stellar nucleosynthesis” that takes place in large stars continuously to this day. The basic concept of nucleosynthesis will be incorporated into a dance that would be memorable, as well as scientifically significant. Participants can repeat the dance as often as they wish to do so with different dancers. A 100-foot ribbon will be used to journey back in time to those first three minutes after Time Zero.
Harvey Hallenberg began his studies with Dr. Claude Claremont and his wife Francesca in 1963. Claude Claremont’s association with Maria Montessori began in 1913. In 1914 he became her official translator from Italian into English during her Second International training Course at the University of Rome.
Harvey Hallenberg has over 50 years of involvement in Montessori education. He was Co-Director and Co-Founder of the Institute for Advanced Montessori Studies (Elementary Level) at the Barrie School in Silver Spring, MD beginning in 1981, and is Co-founder, with wife Dr. Nancy Hallenberg, of the Claremont School in Annandale, VA in 1986. In 1992, he and his wife co-founded the Claremont Center for Advanced Montessori Studies and Claremont Montessori School in Boca Raton, Florida. Harvey “retired” from classroom teaching after 50 years in the summer of 2015.
~ Dr. Barbara Murphy & Mr. Martin Yaconis ~
Montessori on the Move, Movement as an Integral
Component of Montessori Education
Target Audience: All
In her book The Secret of Childhood, Dr. Montessori wrote that “Movement is an essential factor in intellectual growth.” In The Montessori Method, she dedicated a whole chapter to what she called “muscular education.” Today, neuroscience recognizes that movement and cognition are closely intertwined. In essence, movement matters for children’s holistic development.
In this presentation, we will revisit the concept of movement as an integral component of the Montessori method, further delving into how it can be expanded to meet the current need for increased physical activity against the backdrop of a progressively sedentary world. In this line, we will explore how to integrate needed physical activity into the classroom and independent work cycle through the “movement corner.” We will also uncover and experience, hands-on, what a physical education class following Montessori principles looks like, working on physical literacy and fundamental athletic skills within a prepared environment that prioritizes natural materials, and supported by a program that emphasizes independence, active learning, purposeful action around sensitive periods, as well as cooperation and peer-learning.
Barbara Murphy, PhD Passionate about education, Barbara holds a PhD from Northwestern University. Following her experience in academia, Barbara ventured into the corporate world, first as an account executive for a global communications agency, and subsequently as an entrepreneur. As the mother of two while living in Italy, Barbara fell in love with the Montessori philosophy. Now the co-creator of Montessori Gym, Barbara is fulfilling her dream of adding value to children’s education and wellness through innovation.
Martin Yaconis, Engr. After graduating as an Engineer from the University of Buenos Aires in Argentina, Martin has dedicated his professional career to technology applied to health, sports and rehabilitation. In this line, Martin counts with vast international experience in the areas of evaluation and physiological, biomechanical and cognitive training, collaborating across the United States, Europe and Latin America with institutions such as Olympic committees, universities, professional sports teams, high performance athletes and young players academies, as well as research and rehabilitation labs.
~ Lorena Tasker ~
Teacher’s Tools for the Soul:
Nurturing Spirituality to Model Peace in the Classroom
Target Audience:All
Have you ever wonder how Maria Montessori went from being a scientist to develop a peace curriculum that fosters the child’s spirituality? What does it take to connect with the children, parents and colleagues as human beings, not just ‘human doings”? How do we teach peace if we do not feel it? We will explore Maria Montessori spiritual influences during her early years, and then expand our set of tools to deepen on our own spirituality and model it to our students.
Lorena Tasker has served in the education field for over twenty years. She has been the Assistant Director at Miami Shores Montessori School for the past four years and has sixteen years of teaching experience. She began her career as a lower elementary teacher in Argentina and continued as an Early Childhood AMS certified lead teacher in Miami, Florida. She holds an Associate Degree in Elementary Education and a Bachelor of Science in Administration. Lorena is currently an adult educator and instructor at International Center for Montessori Studies. For the past year, she has become deeply immersed in the practice of Kundalini yoga and the teachings of Yogi Bhajan, PhD. Passionate about children and holistic education, Lorena genuinely believes in self-development as a path for mental and spiritual growth that leads to service others.
~ Renée Ibáñez ~
Celebrar y Valorar la Diversidad en el
Aula Montessori-Promoviendo una Cultura de Paz
In a global society, it is essential that parents, teachers, and students have an understanding and appreciation for different races, cultures, abilities, behaviors, beliefs, and lifestyles. As our schools and communities grow to be more diverse, it is critical that we acknowledge the different backgrounds of each other to be able to practice inclusion: Identifying and thinking through notions of unfamiliar grounds and how they affect our schools and society in general allow both students and teachers to see the classroom as an inclusive place.
The goal of this presentation is to highlight a few of the key challenges and concerns that arise when teaching diversity, specially when the children are very young and also to provide tools and illustrate ways to incorporate an understanding of diversity in the classroom and beyond.
En una sociedad global, es esencial que los padres, maestros y estudiantes comprendan y aprecien distintas razas, culturas, capacidades, comportamientos, creencias y estilos de vida. A medida que nuestras escuelas y comunidades se vuelven más diversas, es fundamental que reconozcamos los diferentes orígenes de cada uno para poder practicar la integración: El poder identificar y pensar a través de nociones desconocidas y cómo éstas afectan nuestras escuelas y a la sociedad en general permite a los estudiantes y profesores para ver el aula como un lugar incluyente.
El objetivo de esta presentación es resaltar algunos de los retos e inquietudes que surgen cuando se instruye el concepto de diversidad, especialmente cuando los niños son muy pequeños, así como proporcionar herramientas y formas de incorporar un entendimiento de la diversidad en el aula y fuera de ella.
Renee Ibanez is a certified AMS primary directress who has been working as a lead teacher for 12 years at Montessori Academy in Pembroke Pines, Florida.
Born and raised in Mexico she was always curious about other cultures and very passionate about human rights, which led her to attend Law School pursuing a career in International Relations. Always eager to incorporate the cultural aspect of faith, she completed a course in History of Religions.
When she moved to the U.S. 15 years ago, she engaged in several humanitarian causes that ranged from organizing toy and food drives to aid struggling families in Homestead, volunteering full time at meal centers, teaching English to Spanish speaking adults, and introducing Art Appreciation to Elementary children in public schools. It was then when she discovered Montessori and found her calling guiding children in the 3 to 6 classroom.
In recent times Renee has contributed to developing a program for Educate From The Heart, a non-profit corporation whose purpose is to transform children’s lives in childcare facilities at very low socioeconomic communities, starting in Colombia and expanding it to other developing countries.
Renee Ibáñez es una guía certificada de AMS que ha trabajado como maestra principal durante 12 años en Montessori Academy en Pembroke Pines, Florida.
Nacida y criada en México, siempre sintió curiosidad por otras culturas y una gran pasión por los derechos humanos, lo que la llevó a asistir a la Escuela de Derecho para seguir una carrera en Relaciones Internacionales. Siempre desde de incorporar el aspecto cultural de la fe, completó un curso de Historia de las Religiones.
Cuando se mudó a los EE. UU. Hace 15 años, participó en varias causas humanitarias que iban desde la organización de campañas de recolección de juguetes y alimentos para ayudar a las familias con dificultades económicas en Homestead, trabajando como voluntaria de tiempo completo en comedores de beneficencia, enseñando Inglés a adultos de habla hispana e introduciendo Apreciación del Arte a niños de primaria en escuelas públicas. Fue entonces cuando Renee descubrió el método Montessori y encontro su vocacion en el aula guiando niños de 3 a 6 años.
En tiempos recientes, Renée ha contribuido a desarrollar un programa Montessori con Educate From The Heart, una corporación sin fines de lucro cuyo propósito es transformar las vidas de los niños en instalaciones de cuidado infantil en comunidades en condiciones socioeconómicas muy bajas comenzando en Colombia y extendiéndose a otros países en vías de desarrollo.
~ Ms. Susan Scheibenzuber ~
Guiding Students with Handwriting Work
Explore practical techniques for guiding primary and elementary students to write in cursive and print. Look at ways to set up purposeful, self-directed work which is ever-present and sequenced. Presentation will includes samples of students work and hands on writing for participants.
Target Audience: Teachers in the 3-6 Classroom and Elementary Teachers Whose Students Need Guidance With Handwriting.
Susan Scheibenzuber taught in a primary classroom for 35 years. She started Park Montessori School in Cincinnati after getting her AMS training at Xavier University. She developed a writing program for children in 1988 called Beautiful Handwriting. She is a writing consultant to the Charleston County Public Montessori Schools. She is the owner of Laughing Star Montessori, a materials company. She is retired from teaching children!
~ Ms. Monica Gargiulo-Benitez ~
Educando a los Padres y Conectándonos con Ellos
Target Audience: All
Este taller explicará cómo crear colaboraciones cercanas y productivas con los padres por medio de varias estrategias como sesiones de orientación, noches de educación para padres, y desayunos familiares. Ustedes aprenderán a guiar a los padres hacia la mejor manera de apoyar a sus hijos y a la escuela, además animándolos a ser embajadores para el Movimiento Montessori.
This workshop will explain how to create close and productive collaborations with parents through various strategies such as orientation sessions, parent education nights, and family breakfasts. You will learn how to guide parents to the best way to support their children and the school, and encourage them to be ambassadors for the Montessori Movement.
Ms. Monica Gargiulo-Benitez has been an advocate and teacher of the Montessori philosophy for 25 years. She is the founder and director of Montessori Academy located in Pembroke Pines. FL. The school currently serves a community of over 680 families, catering to children from infants through 8th grade. Montessori Academy is accredited by the Association of Independent School of Florida and the National Council for Private Schools. Ms. Gargiulo-Benitez is also the founder and director of the Montessori Academy Training Institute; a Montessori Teacher Education Early Childhood Program accredited by MACTE and affiliated with AMS. Ms. Gargiulo-Benitez also serves as a consultant and an evaluator for the American Montessori Society, as well as for the Association of Independent Schools of Florida. Ms. Gargiulo-Benitez holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Education, and has earned her Montessori credential in Early Childhood and Infant-Toddlers from The American Montessori Society.
La Sra. Monica Gargiulo-Benitez ha sido una defensora y maestra de la filosofía Montessori durante 25 años. Ella es la fundadora y directora de la Academia Montessori ubicada en Pembroke Pines, Florida. Actualmente, la escuela atiende a una comunidad de más de 680 familias, atendiendo a niños desde bebés hasta octavo grado. Montessori Academy está acreditada por la Association of Independent School of Florida y el National Council for Private Schools. La Sra. Gargiulo-Benitez es también fundadora y directora del Instituto de Capacitación Montessori Academy; un Programa Montessori de Educación Temprana para la Educación de Maestros acreditado por MACTE y afiliado a AMS. La Sra. Gargiulo-Benitez también se desempeña como consultora y evaluadora para la American Montessori Society, así como para la Asociación de Escuelas Independientes de Florida. La Sra. Gargiulo-Benitez tiene una Licenciatura en Educación, y ha obtenido su credencial Montessori en Infancia Temprana e Infantes de la American Montessori Society.
~ Mr. Geoffrey Bishop ~
“Where the sidewalk ends
true discovery begins”
The topic Nature, as it is connected to a child’s development is a fundamental and important aspect of educating the whole child. In main stream education the natural environment is sidelined and mostly ignored as an inconsequential part of a child’s wellbeing. This could not be further from the truth, study after study has proven that a child’s connection to the natural world enhances their ability to focus, to concentrate, to create and to imagine, this connection has far reaching health benefits as well as benefits in the areas of social and emotional wellbeing as well as physical health.
This presentation will energize and revitalize the teachers desire to reconnect their children to nature, to re-embrace the natural world and to discover the importance of that connection. The presentation will highlight different activities and curriculum ideas teachers can use to reengage their children and connect them to the natural world. We will take a close look at children’s nature connections through uninterrupted outdoor time, art, silence and listening, literature and writing exercises, these will engage students in an environmental way. We will look at play and the benefits that the natural world with its loose parts, excited children to play in a focused and creative manner.
Geoffrey Bishop hails from the bush in North West NSW, Australia. After his childhood spent on the sheep station he went to an agricultural boarding school for five years then to University in both Sydney and Melbourne where he Studied Horticulture and Landscape Architecture.
For the next 10 years he traveled the world, visiting over 100 countries, where he spent most of his time trekking in rural areas, learning cultures and understanding his place in the world.
In 1996 Geoffrey started Nature’s Classroom Institute Environmental Education program. NCI is a residential program serving Montessori schools in Wisconsin, Illinoi, Indiana, Texas, California and Florida. Nature’s Classroom Institute program helps students understand the natural environment, participate in ecosystem exploration and study, and work together with their peers and teachers as a community. The program serves over 4,000 students a year and includes over 90 Montessori schools.
After developing a strong academic and environmental outdoor based curriculum, he formed Nature’s Classroom Institute Montessori School in 2002 that models the core philosophy of Montessori with a marriage to his environmental principles.
Nature’s Classroom Institute and Montessori school is based on 140 acre property in a small rural community of Mukwonago, WI. Geoffrey’s focus over the past years has been on organics and sustainability in schools and promoting getting children back outdoors and helping adults understand the importance of instinctive play in the nature world.
Geoffrey has lectured throughout Asia and across the United States, he is Chair of the Montessori Life Editorial Advisory Board for AMS and past chair of the Wisconsin Montessori Association. His works have been published in professional publications and his nature and outdoor curriculum “Montessori Science for the Elementary” is used in both public and private Montessori schools across the country.
~ Ms. Nancy Omar ~
Get a Grip!
Fine Motor Foundations- The Building Blocks to Successful Handwriting
This course aims at teaching participants the normal stages of hand development and how best to strengthen the muscles of handwriting through fine motor activities that promote an efficient grasp. Participants will also learn what is considered an efficient grasp and learn how to correct grasp patterns that are inefficient through the use of tools and activities. Furthermore, participants will learn the fundamentals of teaching handwriting. What are some tricks of the OT trade to teach successful handwriting skills.
Nancy has experience working with children diagnosed with autism, ADD, ADHD, Asperger syndrome, and other Sensory Processing Disorders. Nancy also has extensive experience with premature infants and children with physical handicaps. Regardless of their challenges, Nancy helps all the children she works with to attain the next developmental level so that they can be independent and just be kids!
As a pastime, Nancy has always had a passion for design and the arts. She combined her knowledge as an OT with the talents of a well-known designer in Miami and together they create “Sensory Smart Designs” for children with autism and other sensory disorders. They were featured two years ago on the “Today Show” during Autism week. Nancy has participated in various speaking engagements throughout her career; most notably at the SPD Foundation Symposium in 2011.
Nancy is dedicated to parent education and making knowledge available to all caretakers. She recently started a blog where she regularly posts step-by-step instructions for various therapeutic activities and fun crafts. She now has a large following and loves to keep in touch with her readers.
“I want every child to feel good about who they are. I don’t want them to feel stuck in their body and not know how to express themselves. I want them to feel that they are understood. And it doesn’t always have to be verbally. I want them to be happy and to integrate into our society”.
Nancy’s goal is to make every child comfortable and confident in the body that they have so as to learn alternate ways of expression. She teaches them skills and provides them with a sensory experience that promotes a union with the environment. She believes this is the first stepping stone to learning, creating and becoming the best they can be.
~ Ms. Melanie Binder & Ms. Elizabeth Campbell ~
A Toddler Circle Time Checklist
What do sit-upons, a battery operated candle, and a dance party have in common? Toddler circle time of course! Join Melanie and Liz as they guide you through an actual circle time while offering suggestions, tips, and song options, including lessons in grace and courtesy, mindfulness, and peace. Leave the seminar with guidelines for your own circle time and perhaps a new perspective on what to include and how to build the foundation of a circle time experience based on the Montessori principles of routine, repetition, and community.
Melanie Binder and Elizabeth Campbell are trained AMS Toddler guides from Village Training Center in Miami, Florida. Melanie and Elizabeth began working with each other 6 years ago in a toddler classroom at a small Montessori school in Key West and since then have presented at the Florida Coalition Conference for three years and were invited to present at the AMS conference in 2018. Elizabeth and Melanie are both very passionate and enthusiastic about creating wonderful experiences for the children and families that join their toddler communities.
~ Ms. Viviana Victoriano & Ms. Barbara Roatta ~
Blast Off!! Discovering Space in the 3-6 classroom
Come join us for hands on ideas on how to introduce a unit of study about space for the children in the 3-6 classroom that have a natural inclination to learn more about this topic. “What is out there?” and “How am I connected to it?” are questions that frequently arise in their inquisitive minds. This presentation will touch briefly the following topics: the Universe, Galaxies, Stars and the Solar System. It will continue with a more detailed overview of the Earth, the Sun and the Moon: how they relate to each other and what is our connection to them. We will provide the audience with ideas and materials they can use in their classrooms that can be incorporated in the areas of Language, Math, Sensorial, Art and Line Time. Children will have a blast while blasting off into space!
Viviana Victoriano has been an Assistant Directress at Alexander Montessori School for the past seven years. She holds a Bachelors Degree in Business Administration from Universidad del Pacifico in Lima, Peru and a Masters of Science in Computer Information Systems from the University of Miami. Her love for Montessori education began when her two daughters attended Alexander School from ages 2 to 11. The sense of community that her family enjoyed and the love for learning that she observed in her children motivated her to study more about this philosophy and teaching methodology. She decided to dedicate her time to the field of education and started working in Alexander School.  After a few years she enrolled in the Montessori Teacher Training Institute and obtained her American Montessori Credentials for ages 3-6. She is also a Certified Kids Yoga instructor.  Mrs. Victoriano believes it is important to provide the students access to hands-on activities/lessons that engage their interest and curiosity. In this way, the children can be active participants in the construction of their knowledge. “As Montessorians, we should strive to follow the child and incorporate in the cultural curriculum lessons that are meaningful and relevant to the students’ lives and interests. Everything else will flow naturally.”
Barbara Roatta has been an Assistant Directress at Alexander Montessori School for the past five years. She has a Bachelors of Science in Environmental Science from Florida International University. She is also AMS certified for ages 3-6 from the Montessori Teacher Training Institute . Her inspiration to pursue a career in Montessori education came from her grandmother who was a Montessori teacher in Italy in the 1930’s. She also used the Montessori method to home school her children. “Sweetness, severity, medicine, do not help if the child is mentally hungry.”
Maria Montessori p.199 Absorbent Mind.
~ Dr. Judith Migoya & Dr. Jessica Garcia ~
Psychoeducational Evaluations: A Window into Students’ Minds
Psychoeducational evaluations provide valuable information regarding developmental
and neurocognitive skills required for students to achieve success in the academic arena, as well as in their intrapersonal and interpersonal lives. This presentation will provide attendees the opportunity to:


  • Learn about the various domains assessed through the process of a
psychoeducational evaluation, and the interaction between domains (minds, hands
and hearts)
  • Gain knowledge of assessment tools and use of assessment results to identify
students’ talents and lagging skills.
  • Develop a working knowledge of strategies for supporting students’ academic and psychosocial success based on their profile of strengths and weaknesses.


Dr. Judith Migoya is a Licensed Psychologist with expertise in Neuropsychology, and co-owner of Pediatric Psychology Associates. As a neuropsychologist, her primary focus involves assessment of brain functions associated with ADHD, learning disabilities, autism spectrum disorders, developmental delays, traumatic brain injury, and other cognitive impairments. As a clinician, she also specializes in the treatment of anxiety and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, as well as developmental challenges affecting children’s social, emotional and behavioral success. Dr. Migoya graduated with a doctorate from Nova Southeastern University’s Clinical Psychology program. She completed her predoctoral internship training at UCLA’s Neuropsychiatric Institute and Hospital, followed by a two-year post-doctoral fellowship in Neuropsychology at Clinical Psychology Associates in Gainesville, Florida. Dr. Migoya is also a graduate of the International Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Foundation’s Behavior Therapy Training Institute (IOCDFBTTI) and the Pediatric Behavior Therapy Training Institute (IOCDF PBTTI). She is also a graduate of the Social Thinking® Intensive Clinical Training Program and a certified provider of the PEERS® social skills training program. In addition to her clinical work, Dr. Migoya provides doctoral supervision to advanced psychology students attending Nova Southeastern University. She is a member of the International OCD Foundation, National Academy of Neuropsychology, the American Psychological Association, and the Florida Psychological Association. She is past president (2015 & 2016) for the Miami-Dade/Monroe counties chapter of the Florida Psychological Association.
Dr. Jessica Garcia is a Pediatric Neuropsychologist at Pediatric Psychology Associates. She is Board Certified in Child and Adolescent (ABPP) Psychology and licensed in the state of Florida. Dr. Garcia completed her doctoral training in Clinical Psychology at Nova Southeastern University with a specialization in Neuropsychology. Her predoctoral internship at Jackson Memorial Hospital focused on assessment of children and adolescents with a variety of neurological disorders. Dr. Garcia completed a post-doctoral residency with Nova Southeastern University’s School Psychology Assessment and Consultation Center. Currently, her clinical work at Pediatric Psychology Associates focuses on the neuropsychological assessment of learning and attentional difficulties, autism spectrum disorders, emotional challenges, and behavioral problems in children and adolescents. Dr. Garcia works collaboratively with other treating professionals, parents, and teachers to improve children’s functioning at home and school. She is also an adjunct faculty member at Nova Southeastern University. She is a member of the Florida Psychological Association, the National Academy of Neuropsychology and the Florida Association of School Psychologists. Dr. Garcia regularly provides communityand professional presentations on a variety of specialty topics.
~ Ms. Cristina Valente ~
Open your World!
Ways to promote child literary in your Montessori Infant or Toddler Community
Come learn how to bring the past (The Library) into the future!
This workshop will look at ways to get infants/toddlers excited about reading. We will explore how to pick and choose books for a Montessori Infant or Toddler Community, along with other ideas for your classroom environment.
Cristina Valente has over two decades of experience teaching Infant/Toddlers, and has being teaching Montessori for 10 years. Cristina has opened and developed a Montessori Infant Program and a Montessori Toddler Program at two different schools in the New England area.
Montessori Credentials
AMS Birth-3 Certification from the Northeast Montessori Institute in Warren, Maine
Birth-3 Montessori Diploma from the North American Montessori Center, Vancouver BC
A.S. Child Studies from Mount Ida College Newton, Massachusetts
B.A. Human Services from University of Massachusetts at Boston
Current position
Lead PM Teacher – Burlington Montessori School – Burlington, Massachusetts
Friday’s Keynote Speaker
~ Lauren Shure, Ph.D., LMHC ~
Lauren Shure is an Associate Professor in the Counseling Program and currently serving as the MS Program Director in the Adrian Dominican School of Education at Barry University. Dr. Shure holds a B.S. in psychology, M.Ed. and Ed.S.inmarriage and family counseling, and Ph.D. in counselor education with a specialization in clinical mental health counseling from the University of Florida. Before joining the Barry Counseling Program, she planned and coordinated research and evaluation on the PBIS Indiana Project, a statewide network of culturally responsive positive behavior intervention and support programs (CR-PBIS) in K-12 schools. She is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in Florida. Her professional interests include multicultural training and supervision, as well as issues of educational equity.
CA2: Using Counseling Skills to
Create Safety and Inclusion in the Classroom
Teachers are often a first line of defense for our children’s well-being and safety. They also have a multitude of responsibilities on a day-to-day basis. As such, the CA² Model- Connect, Assess and Approach- provides a simple framework for applying basic counseling skills in the classroom in order to create a positive, safe and inclusive climate (Connect), observe changes in student behavior, demeanor, or relationships (Assess), and inquire about any observed changes to provide support and resources (Approach). This presentation will include discussion of this model and its application, as well as provide opportunities for participants to share their ideas for utilizing it in their classrooms.
Saturday’s Keynote Speaker
~ Dr. Timothy Purnell ~
Dr. Timothy Purnell is an inspirational leader, strategic planner and educator who proudly serves as the Executive Director of American Montessori Society. Striving for excellence in education has been of utmost importance to him for more than 18 years; filling roles as an educator, administrator, superintendent and now, executive director. In showcasing his devotion to the future of education, he has held numerous honors and awards throughout his career. These include, he was one of just 100 educators selected to attend President Obama’s ConnectED Initiative at the White House, he was selected as the 2016 NASS National Superintendent of the Year, honored as the 2015 Highest Rated Professor in the nation and received the “Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation School Leadership Award” (for studying public education in Italy). His passion and enthusiasm for education is palpable. Dr. Purnell holds a strong belief that children must have a voice in their own educational journey and provides advocacy for continuing the quality of Montessori education.
Using Your Montessori Voice to Build a Better World
Dr. Purnell will discuss the key elements needed to create a lasting, inspirational Montessori movement in both your community, and the world. He believes Montessorians are passionate change-makers, each fulfilling their own journey with the shared goal of a brighter tomorrow—one in which we respect and honor each and every person. He will share his thoughts and reflections on how we can stand united to amplify our voices to reach the masses and secure a humanity filled with grace and courtesy! This is our movement– a movement for a better world.
Each year at the conference, Florida Montessori educators are recognized with an Award of Honor for 25 plus Years of Experience in Montessori Education. If you know of someone who falls into this category and has not yet been recognized, we would love to honor them!
Please print and fill out the form below
and email to
Judy Dempsey at
*If you have difficulty opening the form, please contact Ananda at and one will be emailed directly to you.
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Event Presented by:
Vendors & Exhibitors
Montessori Gym
Values and Strengths Educational Services
Montessori Educativos
Natural Acorn
Laughing Star Montessori Materials
Bright Ideas in Learning
Miss Jane’s Music Studio
My Children’s Treasures
Intracoastal Audio & Music
Montessori Containers
Nature’s Classroom Institute
Summit Montessori Teacher Training Institute
Montessori Teacher Training Institute
Montessori Academy
Barry University Montessori Programs
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