Allison Stupka – Lead Teacher
“I was first drawn to Montessori education because of my love for hands-on learning. Dr. Maria Montessori recognized that children learn by using their hands and developed many beautiful materials that embody educational concepts. I believe that early learning with these materials leads to a strong educational foundation, and I like helping provide this experience to children in our classroom. In nearly a decade of teaching preschool I’ve witnessed many magical moments, such as a child telling me ‘I can do 3 plus 2 in my head.’ I find it rewarding to help children discover the world around them.”
Allison received her Montessori training from the Montessori Institute Northwest in Portland, Oregon and is AMI trained. She has thirteen years of experience in preschool classrooms, and taught in Montessori schools in Ann Arbor, Michigan and Seattle, Washington. Allison has a MA in Geography from Eastern Michigan University and a BA in General Studies from the University of Michigan. She lives with her husband and daughter in Ann Arbor. Allison enjoys being active outside, reading, cooking, gardening and bird watching. She likes singing with children and is always on the lookout for new songs.
Sumi Bhojani – Teacher
“I became interested in the Montessori method when my sons attended school. One day in the midst of my training, my oldest son broke a vase and instead of rushing to comment about it I sat back and observed. I felt then like my training had influenced me.”
Sumi Bhojani received her AMS diploma in 2008. She trained with Sister Leonor J Esnard at Adrian Dominican Montessori Teacher Institute. After completing her training and her internship she substitute taught at Ann Arbor Children’s House for many years and was a favorite special teacher with the children. In 2011 she and her husband started the Ann Arbor based restaurant, Hut K Chaat, where they serve delicious healthy “nutralicious” food.
Sumi lives in Ann Arbor with her husband and two sons. She enjoys reading, travelling and dancing.
Brianna Heckaman – Assistant and Program Director
“I am impressed with and drawn to the Montessori approach to education. I marvel at how children interact with the materials in our classroom. I am always amazed when a hush naturally occurs in our classroom. It is the sound of many children simultaneously concentrating!”
Brianna earned her BA in Elementary Education from Eastern Michigan University and has an Early Childhood ZS endorsement. She has worked as a professional nanny for six years. She is a ardent fan of the Montessori method and is an extremely organized person. She lives in Saline with her husband and daughter.
Maria Czarny – Assistant
Maria has been an assistant in Montessori classrooms for over ten years. She joined the staff of Ann Arbor Children’s House in the Fall of 2016. She admires how the teachers at Ann Arbor Children’s House strive to create an authentic Montessori environment. She lives in Ann Arbor with her husband and has two grown sons, one of whom was recently married.
Dr. Maria Montessori
We include Dr. Montessori’s biography with our own because we feel the guidance of her invisible hand every day, and are guided by her principles in everything we do. In the 1800s, women had few career options. Maria Montessori discovered that fact in 1884 as a 14-year-old student in Italy. When she wanted to develop her aptitude for mathematics, her parents suggested she become a teacher. “Anything but a teacher!” she said. Despite being turned away more than once, she became the first female medical student in Italy, graduating in 1896. While in medical school, Maria came across a woman begging. With her was a little girl, completely absorbed with scraps of colored paper. Despite her desperate surroundings, the girl’s focus was so intense and her contentment so obvious that Maria was changed forever. Her work at the Psychiatric Clinic at the University of Rome included children in asylums regarded as hopeless cases. Here, Dr. Montessori began her efforts to educate children, “placing human dignity within their grasp.” She noticed that they desperately wanted to hold and manipulate objects. Dr. Montessori observed the children closely, developing ideas which she tested with the scientific methods of her medical training. Their remarkable progress convinced her that these techniques would benefit all children. Her first “Casa dei Bambini” (Children’s House) opened in 1907. Despite difficult circumstances and few resources, the children thrived, drawing attention from educators in many countries. The recognition allowed Dr. Montessori to observe and work with children from all walks of life and of different nationalities, demonstrating that her methods were universal. She proved that all children, everywhere, of all talents and abilities, could benefit from her teaching methods. Dr. Montessori continued to develop her teaching materials and techniques until her death in 1952.