2016 SCMA Conference

October 14 – October 15, 2016

Register Now!



SCMA Welcomes 2016 Conference Keynote Speaker

Dr. Linda Karges-Bone

Dr. Linda Karges-Bone will the SCMA featured Keynote Speaker on Saturday, October 15th!


South Carolina Montessori Alliance

Presents the

16th Annual SCMA Conference

The Montessori Guide: Teaching with Spirit

Please join the South Carolina Montessori Alliance for the 16h Annual SCMA Conference.  Building on the success of the previous years, the SCMA is excited to offer again this year dynamic Montessori speakers, interactive workshops and many opportunities to share ideas among colleagues.
The South Carolina Montessori Alliance is a non-profit leadership organization of individuals representing public and private schools uniting together to enhance the growth of Montessori education in South Carolina.  The SCMA Annual Conference provides an excellent forum to discuss this type of dynamic educational environmental.  It provides an opportunity for Montessori educators, administrators and anyone interested in Montessori education to collaborate and share among colleagues.
We hope you will join us this year!
A special thank you to our Premium Co-Sponsors:
AMS logo




And thank you to our Educational Sponsor:

IGS logo








SCMA Conference Welcomes

Dr. Linda Karges-Bone

as the 16th Annual Conference Keynote Speaker

Dr. Bone Bio Photo

The SCMA is delighted to welcome Dr. Linda Karges-Bone as the 2016 Conference Keynote Speaker.  Dr. Bone is a popular keynote speaker at state and national conferences, including the National Title 1 Conference (five years running) and the National Differentiated Education Conference. Dr. Karges-Bone combines humor with the latest in brain-based research to deliver uniquely entertaining, enlightening presentations. Dr. Karges-Bone is the author of 34 books on parenting and education. Her most recent book, Rich Brain, Poor Brain: Bridging Social and Synaptic Gaps in Schools, has captured the attention of educators nationwide and is a best-seller in the field. 

A Distinguished Professor of Education with 28 years of experience preparing future teachers, Dr. Karges-Bone travels nationwide and is available to speak at conferences, professional development workshops, banquets and dinners, and school events.

Picture and biographical information originated from the “Education Insite” website at http://www.educationinsite.com/


South Carolina Montessori Alliance Annual Conference

October 14 – 15, 2016

Lexington Four Early Childcare Center | Swansea, SC

Register Here! 

Questions or Inquiries please email conference@scmontesori.org






SCMA Conference Schedule & Session Descriptions


Friday, October 14th

Schedule of Events


Early Bird Registration Starts and Vendor Showcase               Starts at 4:00pm

Get an early start by using Early Bird Registration!  Register on Friday and skip the registration line on Saturday.   You will also get the opportunity to shop around with our great vendors.

Location:  Early Childhood Center

Friday Labyrinth Workshops and Learn,                                      4:15pm – 5:45pm

Make, Take, Participate Activities

Location:  Early Childhood Center

A Conversation With Montessori Heads                                  4:15pm – 5:30pm

Friday Evening Keynote:                                                                 6:00pm – 7:00pm

Dr. Janice Fletcher

Location: Early Childhood Center


Friday Sessions

FS-A: Classroom Learn, Make and Take, Participate Activities in the Arts and Math

Many music and art hands-on activities provided to participants that can be taken back to the classroom to be completed with the students.  Participants can choose to make various art projects or take the instructions to make when back in the classroom.  Music activities will be demonstrated with instructions provided for the teacher to take back to share with her students. Participants will receive instructions and have the opportunity to complete various sewing projects that can be used in the classroom.  Ideas will be provided for children from toddlers through elementary. Math games using various math skills will be prepared for attendees to try.  The activities will include games to enhance arithmetic, problem solving in math, and probability. In addition to the attendee having an opportunity to practice the game, the instructions will be provided to make the game in the classroom along with the math needed to solve the problem.  Math games will be provided for all ages.

Suggested Audience: 6-12, Middle School

Presenter:  Teena Kyer, Jody Swanigan

FS-B: 7 Circuit Classical and Timeline of Life Labyrinths

Options for walking the Classical Labyrinth will include an intrapersonal experience that offers time for reflection and goal setting, journaling activities, and group activities.  Teachers can use labyrinths in the classroom to enhance curriculum learning and encourage self-regulation.

A one-directional labyrinth that provides the walker with a walk through all the eras of time.  Fossils and artifacts along with historical information will be provided along the way.

Suggested Audience: All Ages

Presenter: Beth Langley

FS-C:  Keynote Speaker, Dr. Janice Fletcher – Teach With Spirit

Learn how to transform frustrations, limitations and burnout by fulfilling your calling.  The “Teach with Spirit” presentation shifts the lens of your purpose and guides you to increase the occasional joy-filled moments of teaching. Through hands-on exercises, research, and stories, you will recognize the potential of your influence.

Suggested Audience:  All Ages

Presenter: Dr. Janice Fletcher

FS-D: A Conversation With Montessori Directors

As Directors and Heads we often fill many roles from leadership of staff, guiding children, budgeting, hiring, parent relations, admissions and many, many more. This open forum is a chance to share ideas, experiences and success stories with each other. Please bring a prepared list of questions you would like to ask other Directors and Administrators.

Suggested Audience: Administrators

Presenter: Rachel Buechler



Saturday, October 15th

Schedule of Events


Registration & Coffee Social                                                            8:00am – 9:00am

Saturday Keynote Speaker                                                                9:00am – 10:30am

Dr. Linda Karges-Bone

Session 1                                                                                             10:45am – 12:00pm

Lunch Break                                                                                        12:00pm – 1:00pm

(lunch provided by DiPrato’s)

Session 2                                                                                             1:15pm – 2:30pm

Session 3                                                                                             2:45pm – 4:00pm

Session 4                                                                                             4:15pm – 5:30 pm

Be sure to join us for the Saturday morning keynote, followed by your choice of one of the great Workshops. Jackie Cossentino will also be presenting Sat. afternoon in an optional session, for an extra fee.


Saturday Sessions

(Full Description)                                          


Session 1 Workshops (Select1)

SS1-A: Beyond The Watching Chair

We talk a lot about positive discipline and peace talks.  It all sounds good on paper, but how do you really implement it.  Join the participants in this workshop for some hands-on experiences with helping children achieve inner discipline without riding a broom!

Suggested Audience:  Childcare, 3-9, Parents

Presenter:  Teresa Noble

SS1-B: A Conversation With Montessori Heads

As Directors and Heads we often fill many roles from leadership of staff, guiding children, budgeting, hiring, parent relations, admissions and many, many more. This open forum is a chance to share ideas, experiences and success stories with each other. Please bring a prepared list of questions you would like to ask other Directors and Administrators.

Suggested Audience: Administrators

Presenter: Karen Kuse                                                                       

SS1-C: Bibliotherapy: The Secret to Addressing Cognitive and Affective Domains

Teachers are, by definition, master storytellers. They take the curriculum, with all its twists and turns and fashion a seamless, satisfying story about learning and life. With the right training in science, geography, mathematics, and literacy, the curriculum comes to life in the hands of a skilled teacher/storyteller. But what about the “hidden curriculum”, those tacit, less tangible but no less important lessons that children need and that teachers often feel desperately ill-prepared to teach? In her best-selling book, which will be available at the conference, Dr. Bone discusses the importance of increasing vocabulary in order to bridge the 32 million word gap that impacts young children who live in poverty by using children’s books matched to specific socio-emotional needs. The unique book addresses areas of concern: attachment and growth, creativity and critical thinking, childhood challenges, bullying and friendship, social justice, family disruption, and poverty. Participants will leave with a skill set for using Bibliotherapy and immediately useful models to increase emergent literacy.

Suggested Audience:  3-12, Admin, Parents

Presenter: Dr. Linda Karges-Bones

SS1-D: Teach with Spirit: Classroom Application

Dr. Fletcher will guide you to recognize the experience of Spirit and through role modeling and shifting from left-right brain activities, she will delve deeply into the topics of Humility, Love, Wisdom from within and Service. Bring your definition of Spirit and your unique way to connect to Spirit or Mindfulness and a willingness to teach and share it with others.

Suggested Audience: Infant/Toddler, Childcare, 3-12, Admin, Parents and Teachers

Presenter: Dr. Janice Fletcher

SS1-E: Exploring the World Through Labyrinths

Labyrinths can be a fun and interesting way to explore the world.  Using provided research/resource materials (and their own digital devices if desired) participants will discover many types of labyrinths made from a wide variety of materials and used for many purpose all around the world. There will be opportunities for both individual and collaborative works to complete fact cards and create a timeline or map.  We will look at historical and contemporary labyrinths from around the globe and search for common threads in the very diverse world of labyrinths. Suggested Audience: 6-12, Middle School

Presenter: Beth Langley

SS1-F: Every Child is Special: Montessori for All Learners

This participatory workshop will focus on understanding, managing, and supporting students with special needs in the Montessori classroom. We will focus on students with sensory processing disorder and autism spectrum disorder.

Participants will learn tools, techniques, and “tricks” that will encourage the confidence that teachers can use in practical ways in their daily work with children.

Suggested Audience: All Ages, Parents

Presenter: Christine Lowry

SS1-G: Beyond Sound It Out: Helping Your Child Learn to Read

Is your child a beginning, early, or struggling reader? Do you want to better understand how you can help your child learn to read and support them at home? Do you get tired of saying “sound it out” when your child is stuck on a word?

After this workshop, teachers and parents will leave with a better understanding pf how the reading process works and have great strategies and tools to better support their child at home.

Teachers and administrators should attend to learn how to bring this parent education event to their school. The digital presentation will be shared with all attendees so that each school can replicate for their own

Suggested Audience: 3-9, Admin, Parents, Teachers

Presenter: Nikki Moody Hollander and Beth Armstrong

SS1-H: You Know More Science Than You Think

Motivational workshop that encourages staff to conduct hands-on science experiments using simple and inexpensive materials.  Use open-ended questions, and understand STEM standards, and the six basic science process skills.

Suggested Audience: All Ages, Parents

Presenter: Andrea Alexander


Session 2 Sessions (Select One)

SS2-B: Making Montessori Meaningful: A State Level Validation Project

The workshop will explain the value and benefits of a Montessori State Validation Project and how it can be a powerful tool for supporting and advocating for fully implemented Montessori education.

The Validation Project process, procedures, “the what, how, and who” will be explained as well as how to create such a project in your state and how to engage in the advocacy effort in collaboration with state agencies.

Suggested Audience: All Ages, Admin, Parents

Presenter:  Christine Lowry

SS2-C: Wacky Science on a Shoestring

Affordable ways to incorporate fun, hands-on science in the classroom or after school program using household items and dollar store finds.

Suggested Audience: Ages 6-9

Presenter: D.D. Crawford

SS2-D: Get Outside and Back to Nature!

Maria Montessori strongly felt that children were to be connected to, and care for, nature and edible garden spaces. Come explore creative ways to extend your Montessori curriculum outdoors and bring it to life. Topics will include ~ botany, entomology, geometry, vermicomposting, fruit and vegetable gardening, and nutrition.

Suggested Audience: 3-12, Admin, Parents, Teachers

Presenter:  Karen Latsbaugh

SS2-E: Children’s Literature: Chosen with Intention and Integrity Will Enlighten and Educate

We will take a closer look at how to invest and use best children’s literature in the Montessori prepared environment. Find out about professional resources available to you as a Montessori learning community to enhance service learning and/or cultural excursions, plus instructional recommendations and considerations tailored to the SC State Standards.

Suggested Audience: 6-12, Middle School, Admin, Teachers

Presenter: LaDene Conroy

SS2-F: Google Your Classroom

Participants will walk away from this session with many new free tools to innovate your classroom. Whether you have access to 1:1 or just one computer or IPad per classroom, you will find this session full of new ideas. Creation of a QR Code Montessori Scavenger Hunt, compiling a digital portfolio, using Google Forms for real time demonstration of learning and collaborating among students for projects. Tools will also focus on making electronic information accessible to students with special needs. This fast-paced session will move through many tools to give new life to all areas of the curriculum exciting and engaging. This professional development will change how you address curriculum.

Suggested Audience: 3-12, Middle School, Teachers, Admin, Parents

Presenter:  Jody Swanigan and Callie Dollahon

SS2-G: Discovering the Inner Chef: A Classroom Cooking Experience

As educators, we try to encourage nutritional snacks and healthy eating habits. This workshop will take that one step further by showing how to have students decide on a menu, what equipment will be needed, how to demonstrate safety with knives, and cooking, etc, and make one simple recipe to eat.

Suggested Audience: 6-12

Presenter: Michelle Casey

SS2-H: Take Action on Recycling and the Environment

This session will look at lessons from DHEC’s Action For A Cleaner Tomorrow, a project based SC curriculum that helps students explore their environment with hands-on lessons.

Each teacher will receive a copy of the updated “Action” notebook, which is correlated to the current SC Science Standards, along with posters and door prizes made from recycled materials.

From Science to Social Studies, to Music to Art, “Action” lends itself to a wide variety of learning opportunities for your students.

Suggested Audience: Childcare, 3-12, Middle School

Presenter: Mary Margaret Mendenall

SS2-I: Create, Design and Build…A littleBits Hands On Workshop (with a little MaKey MaKey mixed in)

Build a remote controlled car or an art machine or perhaps invent something that nobody has thought of before using littleBits snap on circuits! A Hands on workshop for anyone with a curious mind and desire to use technology as a means to foster students’ creativity, inventive spirit and collaboration in the classroom.

Suggested Audience: 6-12, MS, Parents, Teachers

Presenter: Tom Noren


Session 3 Sessions (Select One)

SS3-A: Restore the Passion in Teaching with Spirit for Social Justice: Rigor, Risks, Responsibility, Relationships and Respect

Visit this workshop to see five years of ideas developed and the expectation for teachers as professional learners continue their journey and transformation as a guide elevating their spirit and grounding their beliefs within Dr. Maria Montessori’s philosophy and methodology and constructing the framework over the three year cycle to support for student agency.

Ideas, plans, adult professional book titles, picture books and study questions using Socratic Seminar across leadership, classroom leadership, literacy (language), sharing content across teachers to lead adult conversations across schools as well as independent book studies using teacher led book groups in schools.

Monthly professional development dialogues open up opportunities for teacher networking for both guides and assistants in studying the balance necessary for constructing a student-centered framework where all decisions are made through respect and the child in mind first.

Suggested Audience: 6-12, Middle School, Admin, Teachers

Presenter: LaDene Conroy

SS3-B: Finding the Spirit of Peace Through Read Alouds, Reading Instruction and the Lost Art of Morning Meetings

This presentation will demonstrate how to teach peace throughout the day by using morning meetings, read alouds, and reading instruction. It will show the value of embedding peace lessons in ALL that we do with our children through every minute of the day. Those attending this presentation will participate in a morning meeting as if they were students in a Montessori classroom, receive a lesson in peace through a read aloud, and then discuss character traits by going back in the text and analyzing what makes that character peaceful and discussing how we can apply that to our own inner spirit of peace. A list of books that can be used to teach peace will be provided as well as several lesson plans that include morning meeting structure, peace lessons, and reading instruction lessons.

Suggested Audience: 6-12

Presenter: Ashley McDonald

SS3-C: A Montessori Beehive Classroom: On the Importance of the Prepared Environment

Noting numerous parallels between the prepared environment in the Montessori method and in beekeeping, this project identifies the current crises we are facing in both our honey bee hives and our public school classrooms.  It also demonstrates how the Montessori approach to the prepared environment can help restore health, vitality, and respect to our classrooms and beehives alike.

Suggested Audience: Infant/Toddler, Childcare, 3-12, Middle School, Admin, Parents, Teachers

Presenter: Meghan Orman

SS3-D Creating Social Change: Beginning in the Classroom and Moving Out into the World

The presentation will be about teaching social justice concepts in the upper elementary classroom. I will present about how we are teaching our students about the problems facing our world today: hunger, war, inequalities, disease, and so on. This is done with weekly lessons about tolerance and understanding of these issues. The students are challenged to learn about certain issues, research what is being done not just in the US but worldwide, and then work to create possible resolutions to these issues. Our school participates in the Montessori Model United Nations (MMUN) program, but this isn’t a requirement for the classroom lessons and experiences. The presentation will discuss how we organize our program and what the students gain from participating.

Suggested Audience: 9-12, Middle School

Presenter: Hillary Usher

SS3-E Implementing Farm-Based Occupations

This is a workshop for teachers and administrators seeking to start or expand a farm or garden program, with specific focus on designing occupations appropriate to a Secondary I and II setting.

We will discuss the pedagogical value of a curriculum based on occupations for both academic growth and the valorization of the individual. Our occupations both on the farm and off have been designed to incorporate student-led, interdisciplinary academic inquiry as well as opportunities for student leadership and ownership. We will describe the occupations that have been offered utilizing the Arthur Morgan School’s garden and livestock program as well as their learning outcomes. Some examples of internships have included Turkey Care and Harvest, Farming for Native Beneficial Insects, Herbal Remedies, Greenhouse Construction, Preservation, and Soil Stewardship.

While our perspective is that of a boarding school, many aspects of the farm program are transferable to day programs. We will share our strategies and resources for implementing a farm-based erdkinder program with limited resources, staff, and staff expertise. We will also create space for participants to share their challenges and successes with each other. The workshop will conclude with opportunity for teachers and administrators plan their own programs.

Suggested Audience: 9-12, Middle School, Admin

Presenter: Kavita Hardy and Margaret Borrego

SS3-F Writing in the Montessori Early Childhood and Elementary Classroom

Writing stimulates the left brain and transforms students’ abilities to focus. The Beautiful Handwriting Method and sequenced materials have inspired students to write with great delight for over 20 years. Come discover how to teach writing to students in their sensitive period and to those students in elementary programs who need to re-pattern basic skills. A PDF handout will be provided – either the Book Beautiful Handwriting Teacher Guide or the Montessori Writing Manual.

Suggested Audience: 3-9

Presenter: Susan Scheibenzuber

SS3-G Integrating Your 3 Year Cycle with PBL

It is difficult for Lower Elementary Teachers to cover everything in our albums and state standards. Learn planning strategies and activities that will make it easier to cover all your content. Get ideas for PBLs that integrate into our science and social studies curriculum.

Suggested Audience: 6-9

Presenter: Diana Kirk

SS3-H Biomes 101

An introduction to the idea of integrating your cultural curriculum with the study of the biomes; using the diversity of the natural world to teach geography and science together.  You can then channel the interest generated to motivate the use of language.  By looking at the parts of the biomes (the energy from the sun, soil, air, water, plants and animals), we can teach the natural cycles and the interrelationships of each element of the biome to one another and the whole.

Suggested Audience: 3-9

Presenter: Sharon Duncan


Session 4 Sessions (Select One)

SS4-A How Can Your State Department of Education Help You?

Workshop will inform teachers/administrators of ways in which the SCDE is supporting Montessori and its place within Molly Spearman’s initiative on Personalized Learning. Participants will also be asked for input on ways the agency can provide resources, etc., to assist them in their work.  To assist in identifying needs, recent data from the five-year Furman Research study will be presented as a springboard for discussion e.g., Teacher surveys, classroom observations, etc.

Suggested Audience: Admin, Teachers

Presenter: Ginny Riga

SS4-B Montessori Teacher Education: How Effective Are Our Programs in Providing Help from the Periphery?

Come participate in our session to assist in determining what Teacher Education Programs (TEP’s) are doing well and what TEP’s need to do to create a genuine learning experience.  Our goal is to collect data on the current Montessori education Programs. The data will be used to identify ways current TEP’s can better serve their clients.  What currently works and what are the golden opportunities for improvement for the current programs?  Come join us and voice your opinion and be part of this conversation. Through a series of questions and answers this session will gather information from participants about their experiences during their Montessori education. We are looking for honest opinions about the programs where they were trained. Participants at this session will be asked to sign a consent form as required by the Institutional Review Board at Lander University.  Data will be collected by participants answering questions with their cell phones using a free app. Participants will be anonymous.

Suggested Audience: Admin, Teachers

Presenter: Barbara Ervin and Chris Sacerdote

SS4-C Science on the Move

Lessons that will have the students moving and interacting with science.  Active science to learn physical science, chemistry, and botany.  Come to class ready to move. The lessons will teach about the parts of trees, parts of a cell, states of matter, and an introduction to chemistry.

Suggested Audience: 6-12, Middle School

Presenter: Teena Kyer

SS4-D Smart Moves: Why Motor Skills Matter for Academic Success

Motor Skills (gross motor, fine motor, sensory motor, and visual motor) are a robust predictor of academic success. Research has shown children with delayed motor skills have a much greater chance of struggling with academics, and children with strong motor skills perform better academically. More than ever before, typically developing children are entering school and preschool programs with underdeveloped motor systems. In fact, out of a class of 20 kindergarten students, only two may have adequate strength and balance. Lack of ‘tummy time”, “baby containers”, and electronics have significantly impacted normal child development.  In this session you will learn which motor skills children need for school, how to screen for motor delays, and practical suggestions to improve motor skills for every classroom.

Suggested Audience: Infant/Toddler, Childcare, 3-6, Parents

Presenter: Robin Pothro

SS4-E Using Children’s Literature to Teach Montessori Mathematics

As part of a grant with the SC Department of Education, staff at our school developed and field tested a set of mathematics lessons that integrate literature and real-world application skills.  The lessons were created for both Lower and Upper Elementary classrooms with differentiated tasks and materials. This presentation will share those lessons and our experiences teaching them with our students.

Suggested Audience: 6-12

Presenter: Amber Bacon and Cathy Scott

SS4-F Practical Analysis Study of an SC Early Childhood Montessori Teacher

The purpose of this presentation is to provide the SC Montessori community with the results of a study that was conducted in the Fall2015/Winter2016. The study was a collaboration between the research and early childhood Montessori Teachers (ECMTs), teacher trainers, and administrators in private and public programs across affiliations intended to define the essential tasks of a competent ECMT.  This study was intended to be a proof-of-concept for establishing the foundation of an industry certification test. Presentation will include methodology, final content outline developed, survey results, and demographics of survey respondents as well as a discussion of how to move forward with creating an industry certification program for Montessori teachers.

Suggested Audience: All Ages, Admin, Parents

Presenter: Diane Talley

SS4-G Hands On Earth Day Activities

Come and experience fun, hands on, Earth Day activities such as:

– Lorax story and follow-up activities

– Hands-on pond story about polluting our water

– Junk Day

– Earth day snacks/food

– Field trips you can take your children

– Plant a flower to take home

– Share your ideas with the group

Suggested Audience: 6-9

Presenter: Amy Binder











Presenter Bios



Beth Langley – Timeline of Life Labyrinth, Exploring the World Through Labyrinths

Executive Coordinator, Lasting Labyrinths

Institute for Guided Studies

Beth was introduced to labyrinths almost twenty years ago, and now much of her time is now spent on all things labyrinthine. Beth has a BA from Columbia College, a MEPI credential at the Primary Level, is a Veriditas trained labyrinth facilitator, and has a love of art—all things creative.  She has presented at conferences, schools, churches, and symposiums in SC, NC, FL, MO, NM and CA.  She has designed and installed over a dozen permanent labyrinths.


Teresa Noble – Beyond the Watching Chair

Education Director, Institute for Guided Studies

Teresa provides training and consultation for a number of institutions and is a product designer for Alison’s Montessori.  She presently serves on the MACTE Board of Directors.


Teena Kyer – Co-presenter, 7 Circuit Classical Labyrinth; Science on the Move

Teacher, Montessori School of Florence (SC)

Teena has been an upper elementary teacher at the Montessori School of Florence since 1999.  She has a degree in Elementary Education and learning disabilities.  Teena also is a Montessori teacher educator for the Palmetto Montessori Institute.


Jody Swanigan – Co-presenter, 7 Circuit Classical Labyrinth; Google Your Classroom

Principal, East Cooper Montessori

Jody is a Montessori teacher and leader within the Montessori community for 25 years. She is a founder of East Cooper Montessori Charter School recognized for leadership in the public Montessori sector for the past 13 years. Her love of technology in the classroom for the creative projects made her want to share with Montessorians ways to use technology in a way that is authentically within Montessori pedagogy.


Callie Dollahon – Co-presenter, Google Your Classroom

STEM Coordinator, East Cooper Montessori

Callie is a native of Tennessee, and moved to South Carolina to study Marine Science and Mathematics at the Honors College of the University of South Carolina.  For her Masters thesis, Callie spent time living in Copenhagen, Denmark, as a Fulbright Scholar, studying how Danish science teachers incorporate authentic, interdisciplinary and problem based learning in the classroom.  She moved to Mount Pleasant in 2012 to teach Marine Science at Wando High School, where she was part of a district 1:1 classroom technology pilot, and taught professional development for teachers on use of Google Apps for Education and Google Classroom as a learning platform.


Dr. Janice Fletcher – Keynote – Teach With Spirit; Teach With Spirit: Classroom Application

Owner, Optimal Wisdom Learning (OWL)

Dr. Fletcher created Optimal Wisdom Learning (OWL) from her vast experience in a wide variety of educational endeavors both public and private. She speaks and trains the message of Owl through her two books: Teach with Spirit: the teacher’s inward journey guide and Wisdom from the Inner Teacher: Turning Aha’s into Owl Moments by integrating her educational experience and spiritual seeking. She served as a teacher, community schools director, and principal in her 20 years with Cobb County Schools, and in 1996, was named the National Distinguished Principal from the state of Georgia.

While at Cobb County Schools, Dr. Fletcher spent over ten years as the producer and host of School Talk, a weekly educational program aired on local Cable TV stations. She held leadership positions with the Professional Association of Georgia Educators, Cobb County Association of Elementary Principals, Leadership Cobb, and the National Association for School Public Relations. An experienced speaker/trainer for Site-Based Planning and Partnership in Education programs, she has multiple articles published on various educational topics. Dr. Fletcher has been recognized as a finalist for the Tribute to Women in Business & Industry, a School Bell Award Winner, and was named in Atlanta’s Finest Fifty. She also served on an advisory board in Washington, D.C. for President Clinton’s America Reads program in 1996-97.

Prior to becoming the Assistant to the Superintendent of Fulton County Schools in 2001, Dr. Fletcher served for five years as a Special Consultant to the Cayman Islands Department of Education, charged with such national programs as Strategic Planning and Site-Based Management, and the creation of School Improvement Action Plans. She served as a regular keynote speaker and leadership trainer for Cayman’s public and private schools.

She also worked with the non-profits, Georgia Leadership Institute for School Improvement and KIPP Charter schools. She was a principal coach to KIPP and Charlotte Mecklenburg principals.


Rachel Buechler – A Conversation With Montessori Directors

Assistant Director, Charlotte Montessori School

Ms. Buechler is originally from Lancashire, England and now lives in Charlotte, North Carolina. She earned her BA in Education in 2009 and has her Infant/Toddler Montessori Certification.  She has taught in a Montessori classroom with Infants and Toddlers, and is currently the Assistant Director at Charlotte Montessori School.

Dr. Bone Bio Photo

Dr. Linda Karges-Bone – Keynote: Rich Brain, Poor Brain; Bibliotherapy: The Secret to Addressing Cognitive and Affective Domains

Director, Education InSite

Dr. Linda Karges-Bone, Distinguished Professor of Education at Charleston Southern University and Director of the consulting firm Education InSite is a “teachers’ teacher”. With 35 years in the field, she has taught in public and private schools, prepared future teachers at the university level, done keynotes and workshops in 38 states and written 34 books.  With years of television and radio experience and her own radio program on parenting, Dr. Bone prefers to teach with the “story method”, combining cutting edge research with a lively narrative. She earned the doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction from USC and holds current credentials in elementary, early childhood, and special education.


Christine Lowry – Every Child is Special: Montessori for All Learners; Making Montessori Meaningful: A State Level Validation Project

Principal Consultant, Montessori NOW

Christine has an M.Ed. in special education and has worked with students with special needs in the Montessori classroom for 20+ years. With her commitment to serving all children, she has developed management skills and techniques to successfully include most all students in Montessori education.


Nikki Moody Hollander – Co-Presenter Beyond Sound It Out: Helping Your Child Learn to Read

Academic Administrator, East Cooper Montessori School

Nikki Moody Hollander is a certified Lower Elementary teacher. She holds a Master’s Degree in Literacy as well as Educational Leadership and Supervision. She has served as a Montessori Assistant Principal and Principal for the past 7 years.


Beth Armstrong – Co-Presenter Beyond Sound It Out: Helping Your Child Learn to Read

Academic Administrator, East Cooper Montessori School

Beth Armstrong lives in North Charleston with her husband, Seth, 4 year old son, Thomas, toddler, Lainey, and fat English bulldog, Clay. Both kids are being raised the Montessori way! She is a native of the Bahamas, but moved to Charleston to attend College of Charleston, where she earned undergraduate degrees in Studio Art and Communications. She returned to CofC for her Master’s program in Special Education for students with emotional disabilities. Following that, she taught a self contained class for students with emotional disabilities at Stratford High School and was an educational consultant before pursuing a second Master’s degree, this time in Literacy, from the Citadel. During an observation for the program, she was introduced to the beauty of Montessori. In 2009, she joined East Cooper Montessori Charter School and is now a member of the Upper El team. Her favorite Dr. Montessori quote is, “One test of the correctness of educational procedure is the happiness of the child.”


Jackie Cossentino – Assessing Montessori Children: Measuring What Matters

Director of Research, National Center for Montessori in the Public Sector

Jackie’s Montessori career began as a parent, and quickly evolved into researcher and administrator, as well as university professor. An ethnographer by training, since 2001 she has drawn from her direct experience as head of an independent Montessori school and principal of a large, urban public Montessori school to produce an internationally recognized body of scholarship on Montessori education. Jackie’s 26 years in education have included roles as a middle and high school English teacher, an elementary school principal, a professional developer for schools, districts, and museums, and a professor of educational leadership at the University of Maryland. Currently Jackie is a Lecturer in Loyola Maryland’s Montessori Studies program. She serves on the boards of Montessori Northwest and the Montessori Charter Management Organization. She received a B.A. in History from Smith College and an M.Ed. and Ed.D. from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.


Darisa (DD) Crawford – Wacky Science on a Shoestring

Lower Elementary Lead Teacher, Hursey Elementary School

DD Crawford has been working in Montessori environments for the past 13 years, and has been teaching lower and upper elementary for the past 10 years. She enjoys testing science experiments as much, if not more than the kids, and is excited to share her ideas and discoveries.


Karen Latsbaugh – Get Outside and Back to Nature!

Founder, Cities & Shovels

Karen is an experienced Montessori educator and coordinator of children’s garden activities. She has always worked to integrate her knowledge and passion of gardening with educating children about the science, math and nature of growing their own food. She has now turned her passion and programs into her own business: Cities & Shovels. Through Cities & Shovels, she contracts with schools and organizations to create educational opportunities in outdoor learning environments, along with consulting and teacher training programs.


LaDene Conroy – Children’s Literature: Chosen with Intention and Integrity Will Enlighten and Educate; Restore the Passion in Teaching with Spirit for Social Justice: Rigor, Risks, Responsibility, Relationships and Respect

Montessori Specialist for Development, Support and Expansion, Charleston Co. School District

A 34-year veteran in education, La Dene’ Conroy, serves in her 30th year in Charleston County School District, and her last 5 years as Montessori Specialist for Development, Support and Expansion. She has served as principal by request of the district for 15 years in challenging situations, most recently as Interim Principal of Murray-LaSaine Elementary cultivating a year of culture and climate for the community in a year of transition to a newly renovated school. LaDene’ was honored in May 2015 as one of Charleston’s 50 Most Progressive people for her work and advocacy in the Montessori world and most recently she has been voted to serve on the MEPI Board (Montessori Educational Programs International). LaDene’ has recently been invited to serve on The Citadel’s Academic Advisory Board.  She continues to serve on the SC Montessori Alliance Board. LaDene’ remains a teacher of teachers always and regards that role as the most important in our schools as well as a passionate advocate for students, teachers, and parents for the Montessori philosophy and methodology to be implemented and upheld.


Michelle Casey – Discovering the Inner Chef: A Classroom Cooking Experience

Lower Elementary Classroom Director, Montessori School of Camden (SC)

Michelle holds a BA in Art and a Master’s Degree in Elementary Education. She began working at MSC in 2011 part-time as an Extended Day Assistant, and became full time Assistant in Lower Elementary in the Autumn of 2011. In February of 2013 she became Lead Teacher, which she considers both an overwhelming and amazing journey.


Mary Margaret Mendenhall – Take Action on Recycling and the Environment

Office of Recycling, SC Department of Health and Environmental Control

Mary Margaret has over 20 years teaching experience and currently works closely with DHEC’s Office of Recycling.  Prior to her current position she taught kindergarten and first grade in Rock Hill. She has a Bachelor’s in Early Childhood Education and a Master’s in Elementary Education, both from Winthrop University. Her passion is teaching recycling and environmental awareness. Her enthusiasm is evident as she teaches the DHEC curriculum Action for a Cleaner Tomorrow.


Tom Noren – Create, Design and Build…A littleBits Hands On Workshop (with a little MaKey MaKey mixed in)

Co-Owner, PLAYtek

Tom is a Musician and educator who combines art and innovative technologies through S.T.E.A.M. based learning. He pioneered the use of MaKey MaKey in area classrooms and recently became Charleston’s littleBits chapter leader. He has taught S.T.E.A.M infused classes and workshops to both teachers and students at the South Carolina Montessori Alliance and through Engaging Creative Minds at area schools. This summer Tom taught Digital Multimedia at CCSD’s “SMAART” program (students mastering the academic arts).


Ashley McDonald – Finding the Spirit of Peace Through Read Alouds, Reading Instruction and the Lost Art of Morning Meetings

Montessori Teacher, Sand Hills Elementary School Lexington (SC) 4

Ashley has been a Montessorian for the past 6 years. She received her Master’s Degree in Montessori Education from Lander University, as well as a B.A. from the University of South Carolina in Aiken in elementary education. She has taught 11 years. She loves being a Montessorian because she knows children are at the heart of what we do. Her teaching philosophy is that we can make the world a better place for our children through our children by teaching all aspects of peace including curriculum, cultural awareness, and love and acceptance.


Meghan Orman – A Montessori Beehive Classroom: On the Importance of the Prepared Environment

Lead Directress Toddler, Montessori Tides (Duval County, FL)

Meghan Orman, M.A., is a certified Montessori teacher trained in Infant/Toddler, and has over 6 years’ experience teaching in the University of North Florida’s Philosophy Department.  She has helped start two philosophy for children programs, including a program that links the University of North Florida’s Philosophy Department to local schools in order to provide philosophical education for K-12 students.  Meghan has experience teaching English abroad, and working with students with developmental disabilities at the University of North Florida here in Jacksonville.  Meghan has been studying honey bees for three years, and keeping bees at her home for nearly two years.


Hillary Usher – Creating Social Change: Beginning in the Classroom and Moving Out into the World

Upper Elementary Lead, Coastal Montessori Charter School, Georgetown SC

Hillary has been teaching in upper elementary classroom for seven years. She is originally from Michigan, but moved to South Carolina in 2012. Hillary received her Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from Eastern Michigan University in 2007 and her Montessori certification from NAMC for the upper elementary grades in 2009.


Kavita Hardy – Co-presenter Implementing Farm Based Occupations

Co-Clerk, Arthur Morgan School (NC)

Kavita Hardy graduated from Swarthmore College with a B.A. in chemistry and economics. This is her seventh year teaching at Arthur Morgan School, a Montessori-based Secondary I school in western North Carolina. She has been the farm coordinator since January 2014.


Margaret Borrego – Co-presenter Implementing Farm Based Occupations

Margaret Borrego has a B.S. Ed in Special Education from Lesley College, a M.Ed. in Curriculum from National Louis University and an Ed. D(ABD) in Ed. Leadership/Teacher Education from Teachers College, Columbia University. She completed her Early Childhood and Elementary I training at The Center for Montessori Teacher Education/North Carolina without practicum. She has taught in Early Childhood, Lower Elementary and Upper Elementary Montessori classrooms since the late 1970’s and was a Secondary I Administrator from 2009-2012. She is currently a consultant to educators with the Theorem Group.


Susan Scheibenzuber – Writing in the Montessori Early Childhood and Elementary Classroom

Owner, Laughing Star Montessori (OH)

Susan has taught Early Childhood students for 34 years. She is the owner of Laughing Star Montessori, a materials company. She is on the Executive Board of the Cincinnati Montessori Society. She started Park Montessori School in 1982.


Diana Kirk – Integrating Your 3 Year Cycle with PBL

Lead Teacher, Latta Elementary, Dillon (SC) Dist. 3

Diana has a Master’s Degree from Lander University in Lower Elementary Montessori. She has taught Lower Elementary in Latta, SC for 4 years.


Sharon Duncan – Biomes 101

Owner, Waseca Biomes

Sharon Duncan is the founder, director and lead teacher of Waseca LearningEnvironment, non-profit 501(C) 3 corporation. The school takes advantage of grants from the federal and state governments to lessen the cost of attending the private school.  In 1993, Sharon Duncan began the Waseca mail-order business with materials designed by her and Freida Hammett. As a Montessori teacher trained in both the primary and elementary curriculum, Sharon envisioned a way to use the principles of Montessori creatively in teaching geography through the study of biomes. New materials have developed out of the Waseca classrooms over the years inspired by the needs of the children and the need to create a shift in the way we view the natural world. Sharon is the artist for the biome materials and one of the founders of the preschool.


Ginny Riga – How Can Your State Department of Education Help You?

Owner and Founder, Montessori Public School Consulting, LLC

Prior to starting her own company, Montessori Public School Consulting, Ginny coordinated Montessori programs at the school, district, and state levels. Her primary role at the State Department of Education in South Carolina was to help school districts and individual schools plan and implement new Montessori programs, as well as assist in sustaining those already in place. During her four years in this role, Montessori public school programs grew from 32 to 47 schools. She is skilled in the implementation of total Montessori public schools and “school-within-a-school” Montessori programs at the levels of pre-school through middle school.


Barbara Ervin – Co-Presenter, Montessori Teacher Education: How Effective Are Our Programs in Providing Help from the Periphery?

Associate Professor of Education, Director of the Montessori Teacher Education Program, Lander University.

Barbara has a Master’s in Education from, Alabama A & M University and a Bachelor of Arts from Antioch College (1977) She is credentialed for ages 3-6 and 6-9.


Chris Sacerdote – Co-Presenter, Montessori Teacher Education: How Effective Are Our Programs in Providing Help from the Periphery?

Assistant Professor of Education, Lander University

Chris received her BS in education from Eastern Connecticut State University. Dr. Sacerdote worked as an accountant for 20 years in Insurance and banking corporations, specializing in planning and analysis of budgets. She received her M. Ed. in early childhood education from the University of Hartford. Dr. Sacerdote completed her Montessori training in Hartford, CT. She taught at Three Rivers Community College and Goodwin College while still in her classroom of three to six year olds at Windsor Montessori School. In 2006 she became head of school at Montessori School on Edgewood. In 2008 she moved to Minnesota to work at St Catherine University where she taught on the traditional and Montessori side of education curriculum. In 2012 she completed her Ed.D. from Argosy University and moved to Greenwood to work at Lander University.


Robin Pothro – Smart Moves: Why Motor Skills Matter for Academic Success

Occupational Therapist, Clarendon (SC) Dist. 2

Robin Prothro, MS, OTR/L is a Pediatric Occupational Therapist with ten years’ experience. She graduated from the Medical University of South Carolina with a Master of Science in Rehabilitation Science in Occupational Therapy. She has been a school-based occupational therapist for the past eight years, specializing in developmental delays, sensory integration, ADHD, learning disabilities, and handwriting. She has been presenting locally and nationally, for the past 8 years, on various topics such as fine motor skills, handwriting, sensory integration, and motor skills and academics. Her two daughters have attended the St. Matthias Montessori Preschool in Summerton, SC.


Amber Bacon – Co-Presenter, Using Children’s Literature to Teach Montessori Mathematics

Literacy Coach, Coastal Montessori Charter (Georgetown, SC)

Amber has always felt like a teacher. As a child in Atlanta she frequently forced her stuffed animals to sit quietly in rows as she drilled them with multiplication flash cards. Thankfully, she has learned a bit about teaching real children since then. Over the last decade Amber has worked with students in libraries, preschools, and elementary schools. She earned her master’s degree in early and elementary education in 2009. Amber has spent the last several years at Coastal Montessori Charter School, serving as a Lower Elementary teacher and now as the Literacy Coach.


Cathy Scott – Co-Presenter, Using Children’s Literature to Teach Montessori Mathematics

Program Coordinator for Elementary Education, Coastal Carolina University

Cathy Scott earned her Ph.D. in Elementary Science and Math Education from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and her Master’s degree in K-6 Science Education from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Dr. Scott spent five years teaching elementary school at the 4th, 5th, and K-5 Science levels. She currently serves at Program Coordinator for Elementary Education at Coastal Carolina University, where she also teaches elementary mathematics and science methods courses.


Diane Talley – Practical Analysis Study of an SC Early Childhood Montessori Teacher

Doctoral Candidate/Psychometrician, UNC-Chapel Hill

Diane Talley is a doctoral candidate finishing her dissertation related to Montessori teacher certification at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill. In addition, she is a psychometric consultant with Talley Consulting, LLC. Diane holds a B.A. in Art History from University of Colorado- Colorado Springs, and an M.A. in Educational Psychology, Measurement, and Evaluation from University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill. She began work in the credentialing industry developing tests for a large Information Technology company and, after attaining an M.A. with an emphasis in educational measurement, worked for 5 years as a psychometrician in the credentialing field. Diane has spent the last 4 years working on a doctorate in education with an emphasis in measurement and program evaluation. Interest in Montessori education originates with her two children who have attended both private and public Montessori schools since they were 2.

Amy Binder

Amy Binder – Hands On Earth Day Activities

Lower Elementary Lead Teacher, Montessori School of Florence (SC)

Amy graduated from Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts in 2006, before moving to South Carolina where she began teaching at the Montessori School of Florence. She is currently in her eighth year teaching Lower Elementary, and has a four year old son who also attends the school.


Andrea Alexander – You Know More Science Than You Think

Owner, Fun Science (Atlanta, GA)

Andrea is the owner of Fun Science Inc. She is a chemist and mother of two, loves showing the exciting side of science to youngsters through their natural enjoyment of science. She has been a keynote and Featured Speaker since 1993 and also a local and National consultant/Specialist.





















The SCMA has blocked a group of rooms at a discounted rate for the SCMA Conference.

Holiday Inn & Suites Columbia- Airport


10 McSwain Drive

West Columbia, S.C. 29169

The price is $109 +tax for 2 double beds

Contact Phone: 803 – 391 – 4000  Please note, this rate is not available online or using the 1800 Reservations Service.  Please contact the local hotel directly to reserve a room.


Holiday Inn & Suites Columbia-Airport to Early Childhood Center & Sandhills Elementary School
Head southwest on McSwain Dr toward Sum-Mor Dr   (0.6 mi)
Turn right onto Terrace View Dr   (240 ft)Screen Shot 2015-07-13 at 12.40.58 PM
Turn right onto Robin Crest Dr   (0.3 mi)
Turn right onto Whippoorwill Dr   (0.4mi)
Turn right onto US-378 W/Sunset Blvd  (0.2 mi)
Use the left 2 lanes to turn left to merge onto I-26 E toward Charleston  (5.3 mi)
Take exit 115 for US-21/US-176/US-321 toward Gaston/Cayce   (0.3 mi)
Turn right onto US-176 S/US-21 S/US-321 S (signs for Gaston/Swansea)   (0.3 mi)
Continue straight to stay on US-176 S/US-21 S/US-321 S  (1.3 mi)
 Continue to follow US-321  (10.1 mi)
Turn left onto Lewis Rast Rd
Destination will be on the right

Country Inn and Suites

Country Inn & Suites, Cayce, SC Hotel

2245 Airport Blvd.
Cayce, SC  29033
$95 + tax for 2 double beds
Contact Phone: 1 (803) 794-6200  Please note, this rate is not available online or using the 1800 Reservations Service.  Please contact the local hotel directly to reserve a room.
Country Inn and Suites to Lexington Four Early Childhood Center

to 14.1 mi. About 19 mins

1. Head northeast on Airport Blvd toward Tarrytown Ln 0.2 mi
2. Turn right at Tarrytown Ln (signs for I-26 E/Charleston) 315 ft
3. Merge onto I-26 E via the ramp on the left to Charleston 1.6 mi
4. Take exit 115 for US-21/US-176/US-321 toward Gaston/Cayce 0.3 mi
5. Turn right onto US-176 S/US-21 S/US-321 S (signs for Gaston/Swansea)Continue to follow US-321 S 11.7 mi
6. Turn left onto Lewis Rast RdDestination will be on the left 0.2 mi



We are looking for anyone interested in joining the SCMA Conference as a Presenter this year.  It is a wonderful opportunity to share your knowledge, expertise and experience with fellow Montessorians!


  • Expertise directly related to the conference theme.
  • If you have insights and experience in the needs and interests of Montessori teaching, curriculum, childcare, STEM,  or any other ideas that will benefit the Montessori community.

If you are interested in being considered as a presenter, please complete the Presenter Form.   As a presenter, your conference fee will be waived.

Proposal Submission is Now Closed for 2016