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Early Childhood

ages 2 1/2 through 6 years

    Children around three move from unconscious awareness of their environment, activities and thoughts to more deliberate ones which they use to express their desires, perceptions and conscious memories.  Not only are they continuing to refine their physical movements from gross to fine motor, but they develop the ability to use their senses to build concrete understanding, as well as language to increase their receptive/expressive vocabulary. 

    As they increase their vocabulary to share their perceptions and feelings, they become more social and are able to build relationships with others.  While beginning to develop skills of appropriate interaction with others, the child at this age continues to work independently to develop mental order, concentration, and coordination to develop their self-esteem.

Oaks Montessori Teacher Education has applied for affiliation of its Early Childhood course by the American Montessori Society and been granted AMS Applicant Affiliate status.

Early Childhood Staff


Gretchen Latimer


I will be teaching Early Childhood Sensorial and Math. I have been a Montessori teacher for 17 years. I taught EC for 11 years and then went on to get my Elementary I and Il training. I currently teach in a 9 - 12 classroom, but I credit my experience teaching EC with giving me a solid foundation in Montessori education and a deeper understanding of how children learn. In my spare time, you will find me running my 2 boys, Rylee (11) and Oliver (8), to their activities, reading, or doing yoga.

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Lindsey Werner


My adventure in Montessori began at the age of 18. Since then, I have had the privilege of experiencing many different aspects of Montessori. Most of my time has been spent as a guide in Early Childhood and as a 3-6 Language, Sensorial, Cultural and Classroom Leadership Trainer for the adult learner. I have also been able to be an assistant, a director of a privately owned Montessori, a Lower Elementary Guide, a director of a privately owned Montessori Elementary School, a Montessori Coordinator in a public school setting and an owner of an in-home Montessori. For me, Montessori has become a way of living, it is a practice which keeps my mind in the present moment and supports my creativity in order to meet the needs of each child. I am honored to work with the staff at Oaks Montessori Teacher Education and will be serving as a Co-Director, an Early Childhood trainer in Language, Cultural, Classroom Leadership and Art.


Deb Cryier


A Montessori child herself, Deb Cyrier comes to the Oaks with literally a lifetime of Montessori experiences. Deb holds AMS/MACTE Early Childhood and Elementary I-II credentials in additional to a Master's Degree in Education from Xavier University with a focus in Montessori Education. She has worked extensively in public and private Montessori schools in northern IN prior to moving to Kershaw County, SC where she serves as the Head of School at the Montessori School of Camden, a MEPI accredited,  award-winning, charter program/licensed childcare center that serves Infants-Adolescents.  She served on the board of the United Montessori Schools of Indiana for nearly 10 years and co-lead the work to get the MACTE Montessori credential recognized by IN Department of Education and is now on the board of the South Carolina Montessori Alliance. She has presented at numerous state and National Montessori conferences and has served as a teacher educator and field consultant at both the Early Childhood and Elementary I levels. She holds IN and SC professional educator licenses for both teaching and administration and was recently awarded the 2023 Charter Institute at Erskine's Distinguished Administrator for Exceptional Students. Deb is married with three children, all who are/were raised as Montessori kids since birth. 

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Peter Larrow

    When I think about my over 40 years of work in Montessori education as an Early Childhood teacher and School Administrator, the statement that Maria Montessori made about not looking at her but looking toward where she is pointing – to the child, sums up my Montessori life.  I entered the Montessori field in an effort to provide the best possible learning experience for children and in the past 35 years I have been guiding Montessori teachers to focus on the child through my work as an instructor and director of numerous Teacher Education Programs.  

    I have had the privilege to serve on the MACTE Commission, Chair the AMS Teacher Education Committee, be a member of the AMS Board of Directors, and a speaker at Montessori Conferences throughout the US and Asia.  I always keep the developing student (child or adult) in mind through the decisions I make. One of the greatest compliments that I received was from an AMS Board member who stated to me “it is clear that you are an advocate for children”. 

    There is one other word that would sum up my Montessori life, FUN.  As one of the children in class asked me one day “why is it that everyone in this school, including the teachers, have fun”?  Isn’t that what life and learning should be all about?


Barb. Jens

I began my teaching career in 1978 by teaching traditional first through third grades until 1985.  I then accepted a position as a Montessori teacher for Millard Public Schools and taught lower and upper elementary multi-aged classrooms until 2011.  I have Elementary I and II AMS credentials and was an AMS teacher trainer for Mid-America Montessori Teacher Training Institute from 1995 through 2019.  I have trained teachers in Montessori Philosophy and Child Development for Infant-Toddler, Early Childhood, and Elementary courses.  I have taught Music and Movement for EC and Elementary levels and the Elementary I and II core courses of Math, Geometry, Language, Grammar, Physical Science, History, Geography, Biology, Classroom Leadership, Curriculum Design, and Practical Life.   I have taught all of the above courses in-residence, however,  since 2005 I have enjoyed converting these classes to blended models, with online components followed by in-residence follow-up.

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