St. Francis Montessori Faculty

 

Polly Christensen

Polly Christensen is the Directress of Saint Francis Montessori and a Catechist in the Level I Atrium, working with children ages 3-6 years old. Polly completed her Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) certification in 2007 and founded Saint Francis Montessori with her husband and other dedicated parents in 2009. She has three children, of whom the oldest two attend Saint Francis' Montessori and Catechesis programs. She treasures the light in the children's eyes, faces, and hearts when they are invited into the particular joy of a relationship with Jesus, the Good Shepherd, through listening to Scripture and understanding parts of the liturgy of the Mass. "Children have a unique way of living in the wonder of love that invites the adult to return to the beautiful gaze of the Trinity." Learn more about Ms. Polly here in our F.A.Q.

 

Christa Dohmen

Christa Dohmen is the Guide of Saint Francis Montessori's Primary community. Ms. Dohmen's desire to serve the child has been her prevailing philosophy as the directress of the Primary community (3 to 6 year olds) these past two years at Discovery Garden Montessori School in Springfield, MO. While she grew up in Springfield and still has family in the area, Ms. Dohmen’s career path has been a journey through various professional careers. Ms. Dohmen is trained through the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI), completing her course work for the Children’s House at the Montessori Center of Minnesota in St. Paul, Minnesota. She also holds a Master’s in Education from Loyola University Maryland. Her undergraduate work is from Florida State where she earned a B.S. in Chemical Engineering. She then worked for Eli Lilly & Co. in Indianapolis for six years in the manufacturing of human insulin. While still a chemical engineer, she was blessed to volunteer at Mother Teresa’s orphanages in Calcutta, India and Mexico City, Mexico. Her love for educating children is one of the reasons she left her chemical engineering job and moved to Rome, Italy where she completed a degree in philosophy and theology at the  Angelicum (Pontifical University of St. Thomas). It was during this time that she began learning about Dr. Maria Montessori and the principles that evolved in educating children. After studying in Rome, she returned to the United States and become a Director of Religious Education at two churches in Indiana, which included the training and experience with Level I and Level II Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. Ms. Dohmen is most excited to be a part of St. Francis Montessori and truly looks forward to serving the needs of children and helping them reach their full potential.

 

Dani Arredondo

Dani Arredondo is the elementary guide at St. Francis Montessori. She received her AMI elementary diploma in 2008 from the Washington Montessori Institute as well as her Masters in Education from Loyola University Maryland. Her undergraduate work focused primarily on media and education at the University of New Mexico, where she earned a BA in American Studies in 2003. Before coming to St. Francis, Dani guided an elementary classroom at The Duluth Montessori School in Atlanta, GA, for four years, two of which she was also head of the elementary program. She also taught language arts, humanities, and “occupations” (a project-based approach to science) at the adolescent level for one year at St. Catherine’s Montessori in Houston. She subsequently took a year off from teaching, during which she began to undergo formation for Level I Catechesis of the Good Shepherd and also began writing about the combined potential that Montessori and Catechesis of the Good Shepherd have for the Catholic Church. Having long sought after the vision that Dr. Montessori had for her method, that children educated in this way are our one hope for world peace, she was galvanized in her catechesis studies to learn that Dr. Montessori believed that by applying her method to children’s religious formation, the promise of her pedagogical approach would come to fruition. Dani is so thankful to be a part of the community at St. Francis Montessori and is eager to serve the children, their families, and the St. Francis staff in the combined efforts of all to build the kingdom of God.

 

 Adeline Fournier

Adeline Fournier is the Assistant in the SFM Primary. She is a graduate of the Sorbonne University in Paris, France and holds a license in Spanish. She worked on various occasions as a PR Communication Manager in different organizations in Paris, France. Adeline has been living in Dallas for about 6 years, but she is a French citizen and also lived for more than 20 years in 8 different countries across the world. She believes that her understanding and experience of very diverse cultures will benefit the children at St. Francis.  She feels very honored to work with children in a religious atmosphere, and her ambition is to contribute to the development of SFM and to see parents and children benefitting from its values and principles. As a newcomer to the Montessori program, Adeline wants to learn more about the method and feels blessed to be part of a very experienced and professional team.

 

Jennifer Dreisbach

Jennifer Dreisbach is currently a Catechist for the 3-6 year old, Level I Atrium. She is trained to teach Level I and Level II Catechesis of the Good Shepherd and hopes to receive Level III training soon. Jennifer has three children, one graduated from St. Francis Montessori in the spring of 2013, and the other two are future enrollees. She appreciates Catechesis of the Good Shepherd because she is able to see the fruit of the work within her own child who still attends the Level II Atrium, and Jennifer is forever amazed by the profound comments the children make regarding all of the content in the Atrium. She feels blessed to share the Atrium experience with each and every child and enjoys participating as they dig deeper into their understanding of the Good Shepherd

 

Libby Upham

Libby Upham serves as a Level I Atrium Assistant. She is a graduate of the University of Dallas, and has worked in education, either as a tutor or full time teacher, for nearly 20 years. Now a mother of 5, her children have reaped the benefits of the Montessori formation that St. Francis offers. In learning more about the Montessori Method, Libby has begun formal training in Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. One of her favorite quotes from Maria Montessori is: "It is the child who makes the man, and no man exists who was not made by the child he once was."

 

 Tamara Kuykendall

Tamara Kuykendall serves as a Level II Atrium Guide. She is a graduate of the University of Dallas with a BA in English and a Master of Theology degree. She is also certified to guide Level 1 and 2 of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. Her passion is child education, in particular the formation of children in the Catholic faith. She taught theology for 4 years on the high school and junior high level. After having children, she discovered the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd and promptly fell in love with it in the way it recognizes and fosters the religious gifts possessed by the young child. She is a mother of 4 children, 3 of whom have attended St. Francis Montessori.

 

Natalie Culp

Natalie Culp serves as a Level I Atrium Assistant. She graduated from Kenyon College with a BA is political science and later earned a Ph.D. in political philosophy from Boston College. She has four children: one who is a graduate of St. Francis and two who currently attend. Prior to staying at home with her children, she taught at the University of Houston, the University of Dallas and Richland College. Natalie first encountered the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd when her oldest child began attending Atrium and was struck by the joy her children experienced as their relationship with the Good Shepherd was cultivated and nurtured by their work in the Atrium. She is training to be a Level I Catechist.