Our Staff

Lisa Fenton Montessori Principal
Lisa Fenton
Principal

I am delighted to introduce myself as the Principal of Margaret River Montessori School. My husband and I and our 2 children love living in Margaret River and being a part of this brilliant community. Throughout my teaching career I have taught students ranging from Kindergarten through to Year 12 (TEE), from Methodist Ladies’ College (Claremont, Perth WA) to the remote Western Desert (Pilbara, northern WA).

Prior to beginning at MRMS I worked as an Education Consultant for the Association of Independent Schools of WA (AISWA) providing support to principals, teachers and education assistants working in the Aboriginal Independent Community Schools all over WA as well as developing and managing a portal (website) for use by the teachers and EAs in the remote schools. Outside of school I love gardening, reading and hanging out at the beach with our kids.

Emma Dennis – Administration Officer

I am excited at the opportunity to be part of a positive school environment here at Margaret River Montessori.  I place great value in small, community minded schools – having grown up in a rural setting here in the South West, and see places of quality education as an integral in developing happy, healthy individuals and communities.

I have seen rapid growth and change in the south west region from my childhood to now. Given that I am raising my 3 daughter’s here, my interest in their future and a healthy direction for our community led me to return to University as a mature age student. I am completing a Bachelor of Arts, Majoring in Anthropology, Sociology and Geography – driven by and interest in the social health and well-being of our communities.

I love living in this region and enjoying the abundant outdoor opportunities on offer – particularly surfing.  I am enjoying my involvement in Margaret River Montessori, firstly as a parent and more recently as a member of staff. The Montessori Method resonates strongly with me, and working with children and families in this setting makes for an inspiring, pleasant work place.

Jasmine Mann – Upper Primary Teacher (Casa Della Luna)

I have been a part of the Margaret River Montessori School community since 2010 when I started working as a directress in Middle Primary.  After taking time out to have two beautiful children, I returned to the school in an education support role in 2017, following an interest in students at education at risk and a passion for student centered learning.  In 2018 I moved into a leadership position as the Coordinator of Teaching and Learning which encompasses all the values that I hold dear in education, which is to support teachers and the principal to improve the well-being and educational outcomes of every child at the school. I feel very honored to have this role and to be part of a school that has strong visions and values and places student-centered learning at the heart of its pedagogy.

I try to instill a life-long love of learning in students and try to lead by example. I have a Bachelor of Science in Business Management and Economics, a Post-Graduate Degree in Broadcast Journalism, a Post-Graduate Degree in Primary Education, an International Montessori Teaching Diploma for 6-9 year olds,   I am currently undertaking a Master’s in Education Leadership.

Outside of the world of education, I am strong believer in the importance of exercise, team work and fun! I practice and am a qualified yoga instructor, I have competed internationally for Australia many times playing Underwater Hockey and was part of the teams that won gold twice at the World Underwater Hockey Championships in 2013 and 2016. I have been surfing since I was a teenager, surfing for my university and in many locations around the world.  I truly feel blessed every day to live in a part of the world with so many opportunities, an abundance of beautiful nature and people. Namaste!

Oliver Chanin (Small)

Oliver ChaninUpper Primary Teacher (Casa Del Sole)

In 2017, after years of encouraging children to follow their dreams, I took some of my own advice and emigrated from the Southwest of England to the Southwest of Australia, swapping beautiful green hills for stunning golden beaches. I feel very privileged to have set up my family home in Margaret River, which is such an impressive place with an incredibly kind and welcoming community. My wife (Abi) and our three children, Oscar (7), Barney (5) and Elsie (2) love it here as well, and to now be part of the MRMS community is a true honour. After graduating with a Bachelor of Science (2:1 with Hons) in 2007, I followed an interest in sport and took on a rugby coaching role. The experience coaching gave me a glimpse of how rewarding teaching could be and provided the impetuous to return to university to complete a Post certificate of Education (PGCE) in 2010. 9 years into my teaching career, I have gained a wealth of experience, teaching children at varying points of their own educational journeys and across a diverse range of educational settings. Like the students, I find every day is a new day of learning as I am currently in the process of completing a diploma in Montessori education. The more experience that I gain, and the more I immerse myself deeper into the Montessori method, the clearer it is to me that the Montessori philosophy and approach is absolutely the best to suit the education of the whole child.  To be able to prepare and educate a child not just for school, but for life is an incredibly powerful notion.

Jordan Bernhardt – Middle Primary Teacher (Casa Del Mare)

Having spent 6 wonderful years of my formative education at Margaret River Montessori, it seems perfect to now return as a teacher in the Middle Primary classroom – Casa Del Mare!
I am excited to share with students the Montessori philosophy that has contributed so positively to my life, instilling an insatiable passion for learning. 
Following a fun and exploratory period of international travel after leaving school, I came back to Australia and gained a Bachelor of Science in Conservation & Wildlife Biology, leading me to rewarding employment in the environmental sector. I also worked as an Outdoor Education Educator so I’m no stranger to managing packs of children in the wilderness! This was a great experience, and one that really cemented my commitment to working with children.

I completed my degree in Education in 2018, and to my absolute joy, gained a full time position at the Margaret River Montessori soon after. It’s tremendous to be in a learning environment that is so supportive for both students and teachers, and I’m thrilled to be here!

When not teaching, I love to play soccer – and I’m sure (Margaret River Mermaids) are going to win this year! I’m also a keen surfer, and amateur landscape photographer – its pretty easy to be inspired by the view in our beautiful region.

Lee-Anne French Montessori Teacher

Lee-Anne French – Middle Primary Teacher (Casa Della Stella) 

2019 will mark 20 years of my affiliation with the teachings of Dr Maria Montessori, both as an educator and parent. I love Montessori and really do believe it is as an undated and relevant pedagogy as it was over 100 years ago. It has so many aspects which are quite different to other approaches and methods, and I feel it allows the child to potentialise in his or her own way.

I first taught at our school in Middle Primary from 1999- 2003. From 2004 til 2012, I taught LOTE (Indonesian) at Geographe Primary School. I returned in 2013, because I missed teaching Montessori and I realised it is where I can have the most positive influence in my student’s education. I have worked in leadership positions at the school for 3 years in the areas of Montessori Curriculum Co-ordinator, but am happy to step back and concentrate all of my energies into my students. I am one of those fortunate ones WHO LOVE THEIR WORK 😉

I have a Bachelor of Education in Primary Education (1991) as well as a Graduate Diploma in Education Studies – Languages Other Than English (2008). However I consider my most privileged tutelage has been in my Montessori studies as offered to me by Association Montessori Internationale trained and well regarded Montessorian, Rhonda Sheehan, Principal of Beehive Montessori School. I am ever grateful for the influence of this wonderful friend and mentor.

I am also very grateful for the collaboration and knowledge sharing of my colleagues here at school. We really are lucky to have such a passionate, diligent and hardworking staff.I have been teaching since 1995, and strive to keep up to date and continually reflect on and perfect my practise.

When not at school, I will be spending time with my partner and daughter, friends and family. I like to garden, play records and guitar, paint either in watercolour of acrylic and oils, and take photographs. I also like to skate and dance. Life is GOOD!

Jan Johnson Teacher

Jan JohnsonJunior Primary Teacher (Casa Del Fiori)

Whilst completing my Early Childhood studies at Claremont Teacher’s College in the early 80’s, I was introduced to the Montessori Method of teaching through family friends who had chosen this path of education for their own children. In my last semester of studies I requested to complete my practicum at Beehive Montessori School which is where I began my Montessori career as a Teacher’s Assistant after completing college. My eyes were then opened to the potential of individual learning and not long after I travelled to Sydney and began my Association Montessori Internationale training. On completion I returned to Beehive and continued teaching for several years until the opportunity to start the Margaret River Montessori School arose. I then joined the dedicated band of parents and started the journey that continues today. I have enjoyed being a part of the school both as a teacher and a parent and have grown in many ways from this experience. I have developed a greater interest in both the Arts and the Outdoors whilst living in Margaret River and continue to enjoy the beauty of our region through walking, cycling and exploring with my family.

Raylene Field Montessori Teacher

Raylene Field Junior Primary Teacher (Casa del Cielo) and Upper Primary Sport Teacher

I have been a teacher and parent at Margaret River Montessori since Semester 2, 2009. After completing my Bachelor of Arts in Education (Physical Education and Science) and Bachelor of Education I then taught in WA and NSW.

Upon returning to WA in 2007 I became interested in Montessori Philosophy and completed my Montessori teaching studies, 3-6 years.  I enjoy teaching children in Junior Primary at our school. The excitement on a child’s face when they master a job and have success with their work is joyful. MRMS is a lovely environment for the children to learn and follow Montessori principles.

I enjoy pursuing a healthy lifestyle and love living with my family in Margaret River. We feel very fortunate to be involved with such a special school community

Sue Gaunt Montessori Teacher

Sue GauntJunior  Primary Teacher (Casa del Cielo)  

My interest in Montessori began during 1991 when my eldest son was 3 years old. Being a state teacher who had taught for 9 years at that time, I felt the need to explore other options for my children. Knowing each child is different I felt there must be more: an education that would cater for their individuality, their need to move and to explore. Following visits to various schools and much research I became totally captivated by Montessori when I visited Beehive Montessori School and met Rhonda Sheehan. So the journey began.

As one of the founding members of Margaret River Montessori School I completed 18 months training with MWEI and eventually completed a Montessori Diploma 3-6 years with AMS.

I have been with the School as a parent, council member, parents and friend’s committee member, principal and teacher. My three children attended Margaret River Montessori School and I saw Montessori ignite the flame and joy for life learning in a natural way.  Montessori became my passion: a wonderful way to learn and to live.

Karen Haslau Montessori Teacher

Karen Haslau Languages Teacher (Japanese) and Literacy & Numeracy Support 

I have been involved with the Margaret River Montessori school community for many years in varying roles. I am passionate about languages and language teaching and have been the Japanese teacher in this school since 2002. During this time I have been fortunate to develop strong relationships with all our students and their families. I love seeing the far-reaching benefits of learning a second language being realised in our students and take much pride in building enthusiasm for Japan and it’s language in my class.

Rona Mirtle Montessori Teacher

Rona MirtleArt/STEAM Teacher

I have been a teacher for seven years and have had the pleasure of spending all of this time at MRMS. I love working here as I truly believe in the Montessori way and a holistic approach to children’s learning. Other things I’m passionate about are travelling, especially with my family, hanging out on my bush block with my dogs and being inspired by my environment which informs my creativity and art

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Tony LaneMusic Teacher

I love music!  As a professional musician for over 20 years, I started teaching private music lessons in 2001.  Teaching slowly became a larger part of my life, and I completed my formal teachers training in 2009.

I feel very lucky to have the position of music teacher at Montessori, and my main focus is to pass on my love of music to the children.  This happens through listening and dancing and singing and loads of hands-on activities, making real music as individuals and groups.  The school is really supportive of the music course and I have the privilege of using a great space with plenty music instruments and other resources close at hand.

When I’m not teaching, I still play lots of music myself and can be seen performing regularly around Margaret River.

Sandi Macdonald

Sandi MacdonaldEducation Assistant

I love working with the Upper Primary students as their Education Assistant. I love working with this age group and enjoy the intellectual challenge of the older children. It has been wonderful each year to support the students and witness their growth towards            graduation.

Sue Peters

Sue PetersEducation Assistant

I have been part of the Margaret river Montessori school junior primary class for the past 7 years.  Working with the 3-6 year olds has been very rewarding for me, they have a wonderful energy and such a love of learning and are very open and honest.

I have lived in Margaret river for the past 12 years. I started as a swimming instructor then completed my certificate 3 in teacher assistant and certificate 4 in education support.

Corinna Iddon

Corinna IddonEducation Assistant

My name is Corinna Iddon and I have been working at the Margaret River Montessori School, in the JP1 classroom (3 to 6 year olds) since 1994 – yes, that is a very long time!

Why am I still here…having known nothing about Montessori when I first started, I have learned over the years to love the environment which a Montessori school creates for the child and the teaching staff and the unique experiences that the Margaret River community can offer to the school.  I also connect and admire with Maria Montessori’s philosophy and work.

Cindy HeyesCindy HeyesEducation Assistant and Middle Primary Health Teacher

While searching for an alternative education system Montessori education appealed to me for many reasons. The main reason being the Montessori method responds to the physical, cognitive, social and emotional characteristics of the child in each phase of development. When the opportunity arose to study Montessori units as part of my Bachelor of Education, I took it. Upon completing my teaching degree I was employed by the Margaret River Montessori school (1996) as their first middle primary teacher. From here I decided to continue my study of Montessori education by completing an A.M.I. Diploma in Montessori education for the junior years (3-6 training).

Since then, I have worked in both traditional and Montessori schools as a teacher and educational assistant. My time teaching and assisting in traditional educational settings has been rewarding, but I have remained convinced of the superiority of the Montessori pedagogy, curriculum and materials.

I currently work alongside the middle primary teacher as an educational assistant while being a mum of two boys. In my spare time I enjoy running, bike riding, making raw food and spending time with my family. My hope for the children at Margaret River Montessori school is for them to love learning and have genuine concern and care for one-another and their environment.

Trish Murray

Trish MurrayEducation Assistant

Originally from Ireland, I arrived in Australia and Margaret River in January 2013.  I hold a Diploma in Montessori Teaching (0-6yrs) which I obtained in Ireland where I also gained invaluable experience from Montessori pre schools. I am passionate about children and the Montessori method of education. My 3 sons attended Montessori pre schools in Ireland and we practice the Montessori philosophy in our daily lives.

I have held various roles in MRMS from relief teacher and sports teacher in Junior Primary to Education Assistant in both Junior Primary & Middle Primary.  My current role is as Education Assistant in Middle Primary and also as Teacher on a Wednesday afternoon for the 3 year olds.

Margaret River Montessori School is a great community and I am privileged to be part of it every day!  When I have spare time, I like to read, walk, play tennis or badminton.

Denise Fowler

Denise FowlerEducation Assistant and 0-3 Playgroup Facilitator

I have worked with children for nearly 20 years as a Qualified Child Care Worker and then as a Children’s Services Lecturer.  For the past 2 years I have had the pleasure of working here at MRMS as an Education Assistant in JP2.  Working alongside such inspiring teachers and fellow EA’s has enabled me to build upon my own skills and have a true appreciation of each of our children’s unique Montessori journey.

When I am not working, I love spending time with my family, quenching my thirst for knowledge with reading and studying and visiting the sights this beautiful region has to offer!

Gayna Luck

Gayna LuckEducation Assistant

In February 2010 I became a School Volunteer Mentor. This was a very rewarding role and fired me up to widen my knowledge and become more involved with the education of children.  In July 2011 I completed a full time course at Margaret River TAFE and passed Certificate III in Education Support.  In October 2011 I was fortunate enough to be offered 6 weeks as a relief EA at Montessori in JP3. This position subsequently became vacant, was advertised, I applied and the rest, as they say, is history.

I love the Montessori philosophy, it encourages and empowers children to develop respect for themselves, others and the environment and also builds a strong academic foundation for a lifetime of learning. The quote “help me to help myself” say’s it all.

Out of school: Enjoy reading, gardening, photography, films and theatre. Love all creatures, great and small and my family. Believe a smile goes a long way to brighten up someone’s day and there should be more of it!!

Hayley

 Hayley ValesiniEducation Assistant 

I have been lucky enough to call Margaret River my home for the last 16 years. Growing up and spending my childhood years in a beautiful town like this has made me feel extremely grateful and privileged.

I graduated Margaret River Senior High School in 2009, upon graduating I moved to Paris to become an au pair for two small children. Soon after moving there, I began working at The Malherbe International Montessori School, I immediately fell in love with the concept and knew it was my passion. After completing my time abroad I moved back to Western Australia and began my Children’s House Assistants course through AMI. Upon completion, I moved home to Margaret River and was lucky enough to be given a position at this school where I am so very happy with my growing role. Working alongside such inspiring children and colleagues has had an extremely positive impact on my life and I look forward to my future at this wonderful school.