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Faculty


A.S., Behavioral Science, Georgia Military College. B.S., Interdisciplinary Studies, Western Governor's University. Toddler and Primary Montessori Certifications, North American Montessori Center. Lowrer and Upper Elementary Montessori Certification, Seacoast Montessori Training Center. Teacher Certiicate PK - Sixth Grades.

Ms. DeeDee can often be found outside or reading. Her favorite part of the day is mid-morning when lessons have begun and students are focused, eager, and learning. DeeDee was drawn to Montessori while she was working in social work and referred some families to a Montessori school to help a child. Fascinated by the style of learning, she quickly secured a job as a Montessori assistant and never looked back. DeeDee is married to Mike and has a wonderful stepdaughter, Chloe. She especially enjoys the mid-morning moments in her classroom when everyone is working in harmony.

"Wisdom begins in wonder" ~Socrates


B.A., Virginia Intermont College w/ emphasis on Education, Notrh Carolina Center for Montessori Teacher Education, Lower and Upper Elementary Montessori Certification.

Debbie comes to AIMS with over 30 years of teaching experience, the last fourteen of which have been in Montessori education. Along with her degree and Montessori credentials, a portion of her experience was spent in a special education program where she worked with children with learning differences in the area of math, reading and language. Her special area of interest and continuing education is in the field of Wellness and the link between one's diet and brain health.

"The things (one) sees are not just remembered; they form a part of his soul." - Maria Montessori


Gayle Davis

Toddler East Directress

Gayle has been a part of the AIMS faculty for over three decades and recently came out of retirement to return to the classroom. She holds Early Childhood and Infant/Toddler certifications. She enjoys spending time with her family and friends. She loves to cook, sew and garden. She also enjoys volunteering with numerous community events and attending and supporting many community organizations. She has been married to her husband, Troy, for over 30 years, has three grown children and four grandchildren.


Annette Olsen

Toddler East Assistant

A.A. in IECE, University of the Virgin Islands.

Annette's favorite part of the day is storytime with the children. The montessori philosophy of respect for the whole child drew her towards Montessori.

She is married to David, and they have a rescue dog, named Jessie, and a rescue cat, named Sooty.

"We must not forget to create gaiety and mirth several times a day; happiness is our object as much, nay, more than progress, and children will not be sick if they laugh." - Edward Seguin


Sarah Mayes

Toddler East Assistant

BS, Sociology, Oklahoma State University

Sarah enjoys the morning arrival of her students and how they gather at circle time. Married to her high school best friend Brandt, she is the mother of a son who is an AIMS student.

"Be who you are and say what you feel. Because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind." - Dr. Seuss


Susie Hildebrand

Toddler West

BS, Special Education (Minor in Humanities, Indiana State University, Certification as a Deaf and Blind Facilitator and Behavior Interventionist.

Susie’s experience in education spans thirty-three years in both public and private settings. After retiring in education and moving to Amelia Island, she sought a relaxed environment in which to formally use her experience. She called AIMS and was drawn to Montessori for several reasons: the Philosophy, the Curriculum, the interview with the HOS and the welcoming impression she had of the school.

Susie is a single mom of two grown children: a daughter, Crysta Jeanette, and a son, Victor Theron; both live in Chicago. She also has two cats, Chloe and Maddie.

"Be still, and know that I am God." -Psalm 46:10


Sandra Ara

Primary East Directress

El Camino College, Early Childhood Education, Santa Monica Montessori Institute, ICS Montessori Training

Sandra appreciates the foundation that a Montessori education gives children, and she finds that it becomes a way of life for those who experience it. She loves to travel and enjoy life to the fullest. Married for 31 years, she is the mother of two children.

"The world is my classroom" - Maria Montessori


Krystal Lawnick

Primary East Assistant

Americana Prep College, currently enrolled at FSCJ

Krystal, the mother of two boys, was drawn to Montessori by the way that the respect of the child is held above all. She enjoys seeing the children in her classroom become self motivated and excited about their work.

A mind that is stretched by new experience can never go back to its old dimensions. -Oliver Wendell Holmes


Kati McClurg

Primary South Directress

BS, Early Childhood Education, University of Wisconsin, Montessori Primary Certification, Summit-Questa

A teacher with 25 years of experience in a wide variety of locales and settings, Kati loves sharing stories from Africa and Alaska and how children live and learn there. She has two daughters who attend AIMS and is excited to be a part of the Montessori community worldwide.

"Come forth into the light of things - let nature be your teacher" - J. Willam Wordsworth


Leigh Ferguson

Primary West Directress

Savannah College of Art and Design, BFA Art History

Leigh is an artist who loves to paint and enjoy the outdoors. During her six years as a Montessori teacher, she has grown to appreciate the order and reason of the prepared environment and materials, and she relishes the start of the day's morning work cycle, when students come in and independently choose their own work. She is the mother of four children aged 11 to 21.

"The greatest sign of success for a teacher is to be able to stay 'The children are now working as if I did not exist' " - Maria Montessori


Gail Aldridge

Primary West Assistant

B.A., history, University of Georgia

Gail's favorite part of the school day is the circle time that begins the first work cycle. Her children, now grown, attended AIMS and she enjoys reading, fishing, and cheering on her beloved Bulldogs.

"Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see" - Mark Twain


Joyce Kendall

Lower Elementary East Directress

B.A. in English from Florida Atlantic University, Primary Montessori Certification from MIA, Lower Elementary Montessori Certification from NCME/AMS

Upper Elementary Montessori Certification from NAMC

Joyce has been teaching for an impressive 44 years. Her inspiration for teaching Montessori comes from the respect shown to children as spiritual beings. The opportunities to learn joyfully and independently is reason enough.

Joyce has a husband of nearly 50 years, Al, who is also a Montessori teacher. Together they have three children: Justin, Morgan, and Alena, and two grandsons. They also have 2 dogs and 1 parrot.

"The Earth is one country, and mankind is its citizens." Baha'u'llah


Tania Castro

Lower Elementary East Assistant

Tania comes to AIMS from Cuba, where she earned a Bachelors Degree from ESE. She was drawn to Montessori by the peaceful learning environment and the independent way children learn. She is the mother of three children aged 14 months to 16 years old.

"All grown-ups were once children...but only a few of them remember it." - Antoine de Saint-Exupéry


Kim Philo

Lower Elementary West Assistant

BA Psychology, Florida State University

Kim formally joined the staff of AIMS in 2012 as an assistant in Lower Elementary after four years of substituting in our environment. Her favorite time of the day is at drop off and the morning work time when they are engaged in their lessons.

Kim was initially drawn to Montessori as a parent. Her children attended AIMS for a combination of sixteen years. Her appreciation of the methods and philosophy of Montessori has contributed to her joining us as a staff member.

She is married to Ron and has a son, Ryan, and a daughter, Shannon, along with their “fur child”, Maddie.

"Never, never, never give up." - Winston Churchill


Whitney Crawford

Upper Elementary Directress

B.S., evironmental science, APUS, Masters of Education, American Public University

Whitney was drawn to Montessori because of the unique philosophy of customized learning that allows each student to learn in a different way and at a different rate. She loves the exictement and focus that her students show during their work time. Her son attends AIMS and her husband serves in the Navy at the Naval Submarine Base in Kings Bay, GA.

"Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising every time we fall" - Confucius


Beth Perkins

Upper Elementary Assistant

Centenary University

Beth came to Montessori as a parent - her daughter has been at AIMS since she was a toddler (and is now in Middle School.) She previously worked with the Nassau Humane Society and the Cat Clinic of Fernandina.


Edie Blankenberg

Middle School Directress

University of Florida, BA in Education

With over 20 years of teaching experience, Edie appreciates the beautiful way in which the Montessori philosophy honors and celebrates each child. The Morning Meetings she has with her Middle School students are full of amazing conversations. Edie is married to Randy and her son Konnor is an AIMS Upper Elementary student. They share their home with two cats, a fish, a guinea pig, and a puppy.

"You are braver than your believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. - Christopher Robin (A.A. Milne)


W. Al Kendall

After School Program

B.A., Psychology, Mercer University. Masters of Education, Alabama A&M University.

Al is a forty-four veteran of the classroom. He was drawn to the Montessori Philosophy when he was the director of a Head Start Program. His desire to understand how to teach young children enticed him to seek education with the Montessori center to achieve this understanding.

His favorite part of the day is the morning work cycle. He enjoys circulating and assisting children understand their work and lessons. Al is married to Ms. Joyce, Lower Elementary Directress, and they have three adult children. They also have two dogs and three birds to complement their home.

“The earth is but one country and Mankind its citizens.” --Bahá’u’lláh


Ayisha Al Sayyad

Toddler West Directress

University of Arizona in Tucson, Emory University


Becky Hahn

Primary South Assistant


Destini Wilson

After School Program


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