Our enthusiastic and nurturing classroom staff are committed to providing a safe, stimulating, and carefully prepared environment to foster your child's development and growth.
Toddler Community – Preethy Goonetilleke, teacher and Head of School for both schools
Preethy, the founder and Head of School, is one of those unique and rare Montessorians who holds all three levels of training in the Montessori Method. She received her AMI Primary (3-6) training from Colombo, Sri Lanka in 1978, her Assistants to Infancy (0-3) training from London, U.K. in 1998, and her Elementary training (6-12) in Minnesota U.S.A. in 2006. She is the Toddler Community teacher at the Plymouth school. She also has a master's degree in education.
Preethy passionately believes in the Montessori Method. She has been teaching for over 30 years and says that she hasn't found a method to beat it.
When she is not in school she loves spending time with her family. She finds time to read, entertain friends and volunteer in different programs in the community.
Her favorite quote: "Be the change you want to see in the world." – Mahatma Gandhi.
Toddler Community – Youngmi Kim, assistant
Youngmi was born and raised in Seoul, South Korea. She attended Kun-Kuk University. There she earned a bachelor of arts in arts and art history. In 1994 she moved to the United States with her daughter. She began to study English (ESL) at the University of Minnesota. In 1999, Youngmi received her Montessori Primary diploma from the Minnesota Training Center. She began working at Little Flowers Montessori School. Youngmi has a long history with Little Flowers Montessori School. Youngmi has always enjoyed working with children. She is very creative and artistic. She loves to spend her time creating arts and crafts.
Casa 1 – Staci Friedman, lead guide
Staci was born and raised in Minnesota, just blocks away from Little Flowers Montessori School. She received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin – Madison, the AMI Primary Diploma from the Montessori Training Center of Minnesota and has a master's degree in Education from Loyola College in Baltimore.
Previously, Staci lived in Chicago where she worked in event marketing/planning. Yet, she always knew that she wanted to work with children. Fulfilling a dream, Staci feels lucky to be back in Minnesota and working with children. Staci fell in love with Little Flowers Montessori School when she did her student practicum there in 2005. She then joined the Little Flowers Montessori School staff in 2006. Staci truly loves being a part of the Little Flowers Montessori community.
Staci is passionate about the Montessori philosophy and is dedicated to helping the child cultivate independence and a desire to learn. Outside of school, Staci enjoys spending time with her family including her son who was born in January 2010. She is excited to have him be a part of Montessori experience. She also likes to practice yoga, travel, and spend time with her friends.
Casa 1 - Courtney Thorson, assistant
Courtney was born and raised in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. She moved to Minnesota in 2003. She graduated from Normandale Community College in 2009 with an associate degree in liberal arts. She continues to take classes and pursue her dream to become an elementary school teacher.
In her free time she loves to read, draw, and bake. She hopes to write and illustrate her own children's book in the near future. On weekends, she sings on a worship team and serves the children as a teacher at her church. In the fall, Courtney loves to spend time with her husband hiking the Minnesota state parks.
For Courtney, there is no greater joy than to watch children learn and discover the beautiful world around them.
"We worry about what a child will become tomorrow, yet we forget that he is someone today." Stacia Tauscher
Casa 2 – Ruwani Goonetilleke, lead guide
Ruwani was born and raised in Plymouth, Minnesota. Daughter of Preethy, Montessori education has been in her life since day one. Ruwani started in the Toddler Community at Little Flowers Montessori School – St. Louis Park location and graduated after her kindergarten year.
After attending Wayzata High School, Ruwani left Minnesota to attend Santa Clara University in California where she received a bachelor's degree in finance. With the hopes of working in Minnesota, closer to her family and friends, Ruwani moved home. She was soon back at Little Flowers working as an administrator. After quickly realizing that teaching was something that she loved, Ruwani began the Primary training at the Montessori Training Center of Minnesota.
Ruwani is currently working on obtaining her master's degree in education through St. Catherine's University. In her spare time Ruwani enjoys traveling with her family, cooking and entertaining friends.
Casa 2 – Carly Eggert, assistant
Carly grew up in St. Michael, Minnesota where she currently lives now. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin – River Falls with a bachelor's degree in exercise science in 2010. Carly is passionate about health and fitness and believes strongly that taking care of all the different “healths”, physical, mental, emotional, and all others, is critical for being successful in all that one may pursue throughout life. She loves to be a part of so many young children’s lives; to witness such a strong and healthy foundation being laid for them to build on. In her free time, she enjoys cooking, running, and many other outdoor activities. Carly loves to continue to learn new things about life and feels inspired to continue to grow in many ways as she is surrounded by so much growth and learning at Little Flowers Montessori School.
Casa 3 – Brenda Hanlon, lead guide
Brenda began her Montessori Primary training in August 1998. Her previous career was working with children with developmental disabilities. She has a bachelor of arts in elementary education and a master of arts in special education both from the University of Minnesota. She has been teaching at Little Flowers Montessori School in Casa 3 since the fall of 2000. Both of her children (now ages 15 and 11) began in the Toddler Community and graduated from Little Flowers Montessori School after their kindergarten year. Brenda spends her free time with family and working on creative activities such as producing videos, taking photographs, making greeting cards, scrapbook pages and gardening.
Casa 3 – Tracy Pruitt, assistant
Tracy grew up in Racine, Wisconsin and earned a bachelor of arts in English literature and French at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. After graduating, she worked for a year as an AmeriCorps literacy volunteer at two elementary schools. Her work with children that year inspired her interest in Montessori education. She completed the AMI primary training at the Montessori Center of Minnesota and is excited to be part of the Little Flowers Montessori School community. She is currently pursuing a law degree at William Mitchell and a master's degree in education through Loyola University Maryland. In her free time, Tracy enjoys spending time with family and friends, reading, cooking, and going on walks by the lakes.
Toddler Community – Amy Gunty, teacher
Amy grew up in Phoenix, Arizona, and made the dramatic transition to Minnesota nine years ago when she came here to attend the University of St. Thomas. She graduated with a bachelor’s of arts degree in psychology in December of 2007 and then went on to obtain a master of arts degree in psychology from the University of Minnesota (in 2010). She plans to continue her education by beginning the AMI Assistants to Infancy course in the summer of 2014.
Amy started working with children 17 years ago, volunteering in the childcare center at her church as soon as she was old enough to sign up. She has cared for children ever since (as a nanny, PCA, and preschool aide, among many other roles). She has an especially deep passion for infants and toddlers as she loves to be a witness to their astounding growth and development. Amy is drawn to the Montessori Method by the inherent deep respect for the young child and the work that he or she is doing to form his or her self.
In her free time, Amy likes to be active outdoors and also takes much pleasure in reading and photography.
Toddler Community – Nicole Mastey, assistant
Nicole grew up in Becker, Minnesota. She moved to Minneapolis in 2008 when she began her collegiate studies at the University of Minnesota. Nicole was a student-athlete at the University where she received a bachelor's degree in recreation, park and leisure studies and a minor in youth studies, all while competing in basketball all four years of college. After graduation she became a full time nanny for a family she met through the University. She also teaches basketball classes at a YMCA for children ages 3-12. She loves being around children and watching them grow.
Casa 1 – Nadine Edgar, lead guide
Nadine grew up in Anoka, Minnesota (the Halloween capital of the world). Her favorite childhood memories include spending summers at her grandparents' farms and camping with her family. She attended the University of Minnesota, receiving her bachelor of arts in child psychology. During her second year in college she began working for Preethy. She has been teaching at Little Flowers Montessori for 18 years now. Nadine received her Montessori Training in Minnesota in 1995 and continued on to receive her master's degree in Montessori education from Loyola College in Baltimore, Maryland.
Nadine resides in Edina, Minnesota with her husband, two daughters and their dog, Sammy. She enjoys running and hopes to do another marathon in the near future. She also enjoys reading, gardening and taking family bike trips.
"I can honestly say I love coming to work everyday! The environments are beautiful and the staff is great. The best part is being a witness to the method and how amazing children really are. The look on their faces is timeless when they realize they are reading for the first time or counted up to a 1000 or even tied their first bow.”
Casa 1 – Jess Vetter, assistant
Casa 2 – Laura Gerhardt, lead guide
Laura was born and raised in Mequon, Wisconsin. She moved to Minnesota when she attended undergraduate college at St. Olaf College and has lived here ever since. She began her working career in business, but her love of children led her down the path of teaching. She received a master’s degree in elementary education from the University of Minnesota and has seven years of experience teaching at the preschool and kindergarten level. Laura believes in offering a child a supportive and nurturing learning environment that supports a child’s development. Through her teaching experience, she discovered her philosophy matched that of the Montessori approach and completed her Montessori Primary training at Montessori Center of Minnesota. She is looking forward to helping the children at Little Flowers Montessori develop a lifelong love of learning.
Laura lives in South Minneapolis with her husband Aaron who is also a teacher. She enjoys dance, walks around the lake, and spending time with family and friends.
Casa 2 – Heidi Christenson, assistant
Heidi was raised in Monticello, MN and spent her entire K-12 education there before graduating high school. She attended St. Cloud State University (SCSU) and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in community psychology and a minor in child and family studies. Heidi moved to St. Louis Park shortly after graduating from SCSU.
Throughout her senior year in high school, Heidi volunteered as a teacher assistant at Little Mountain Elementary School. She tutored children at multiple different elementary schools in St. Cloud throughout her college years. Last year, she completed a field experience at the SCSU daycare facility. Previously, Heidi worked at Target as a guest service team member and at the Boys and Girls Club as a youth guidance worker.
Heidi has always enjoyed working with children. She enjoys watching children grow and discover the world around them. Helping children learn something for the first time and witnessing their excitement is such a joy to experience. She likes the Montessori Method because it helps children develop independently during early childhood and children at that age are excited to learn.
During her free time, Heidi enjoys traveling, scrapbooking, spending time with family and friends and enjoying the outdoors.