Meet The Montessori Faculty
Head of School & Co-Directress, Children's House
Deepa Shreekumar grew up having a diplomat father enabling her to experience varied countries and cultures. Just when she thought life was settling down, her husband, Rajesh’s job began to take them to many different countries and they moved to Milwaukee about 2 decades ago. Deepa has a Masters Degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from India and has worked in radio, made documentary films and taught film making before arriving at teaching. Her interest in Montessori began with her mother’s teaching experience as well as running a school for differently abled children in India. It resurfaced when her older son, Advik, now working on his Doctrate, attended a Montessori school. When her younger son, Arjun, now in college, started at a Children’s House, her fascination with the Montessori philosophy peaked. She completed her Early Childhood training from Seton Montessori Institute, in 2006 and began working at Nature’s Classroom Institute Montessori the same year. In order to better serve children who learn differently within a Montessori environment, she has since completed her primary certification in Montessori Applied to Children At Risk (MACAR) from The Shelton School in Dallas. Deepa has also completed her Certification in Montessori Leadership and School Administration from Seton Montessori Institute. Since 2018, Deepa has taken on the role of Head of School while still being a Directress in the Children’s House classroom. She has been a regular presenter at local, regional, national and international Montessori and Early Childhood conferences, focusing on Montessori practice, restorative justice, building community and fostering empathy in the classroom, and connecting the indoors to the outdoors. Deepa enjoys meeting people, cooking, reading and listening to music. She greatly appreciates a sense of humor and friendship especially when made in lands far away from her own.
Carrie Benzinger joined Nature’s Classroom Institute Montessori as our Office Manager in 2018. Previously she worked with client data providing service to both employer and customer in the Customs trade compliance and transportation payment industries. Carrie grew up in the Milwaukee area, is married, has 3 sons, and currently lives in the Town of Vernon, east of Mukwonago. She enjoys cooking, baking, spending time with her family dog (Chili) and is a dedicated library patron and fan of the many resources it has available to all. Carrie is interested in what Nature’s Classroom Institute and Montessori school offers students and is eager to learn much more about it.
Co-Directress, Children's House
Joey Snyder was born in Illinois and spent her early years in Ontario, Canada where she discovered her love for nature exploring the woodlands, meadows, rivers, streams, and the shores of Lake Ontario. Throughout her college years, she studied commercial arts at College of DuPage and then Southern Illinois University. She has traveled across the United States hiking, backpacking, camping and cross country cycling with a fascination for geographical and cultural history.
As a mother of five children, she began looking for a better environment and experience for learning than traditional education could provide. She discovered and fell in love with Montessori. Joey knew her children would be treated with dignity and respect and given the opportunity to learn and grow while following interests at their own pace; and most of all, develop a love for learning.
While her children began school at Montessori Academy Illinois, she completed her Montessori paraprofessional training in 1995 and worked as an Assistant Teacher. In 2008, she received her Early Childhood Certification through Seton Montessori Institute and became Lead Teacher.
A family move to Wisconsin provided an opportunity to join Nature's Classroom. She is looking forward to developing students' independence, creativity, and love and enthusiasm for learning; all within a nature-based environment and off the path learning experience. Joey enjoys cooking, loves road trips, books, and stargazing.
Assistant Teacher, Children's House
Before coming to Nature's Classroom, David lived in Europe for over six years and was a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) teacher for both children and adults in the Czech Republic, volunteered at a forest school in England, and was the English-Speaking teacher in a Montessori Children's House in the Czech Republic. David has completed the AMI Assistant Teacher Training. He had begun his AMI Primary Teacher Training in the Czech Republic when his plans had to be put on hold due to the Pandemic. He hopes to complete his training in the near future.
David loves the Montessori method and the respect it gives each child. He strongly believes in Montessori's principle that 0-6 years old was the most important time developmentally in a person's life and so feels a deep sense of responsibility working in the Children's House classroom. He is very happy to be working with the children and staff here at Nature's Classroom Institute Wisconsin, where he hopes to share his love of the outdoors and the Montessori philosophy.
Directress, Elementary Classroom
Lindsay Wurtzel grew up in South Texas. Lindsay spent a lot of time with family traveling, dancing, learning how to cook, and performing with theater groups. She received her Bachelors from The University of Texas Rio Grande with a minor in history and English. She spent time teaching in a deaf education classroom before moving to Boston to attend Hebrew College. Lindsay graduated with a Masters in Jewish Education and a certification in Jewish Special Education in 2004. Lindsay started in a Montessori primary classroom in 2005 and then moved into the Upper Elementary classroom. She completed her Lower and Upper Elementary certification through The Houston Montessori Center. Lindsay was state certified in Texas in EC-4 and EC-12 special education. She has lived in Vermont, Hawaii, Texas, Florida, and Massachusetts. Lindsay loves to learn, travel, bake, sew, create, and explore the outdoors. Lindsay She moves here with her small dog Minnie and a passion for life and new adventures.
Assistant Teacher, Elementary Classroom
Hope Havenhill graduated from University of Rochester in 2022 with Bachelor of Arts degrees in Psychology and Brain & Cognitive Sciences.
She participated on both the women’s collegiate volleyball and rowing teams during her time at school. She completed her Master’s in Human
Development at the University of Rochester’s Warner School of Education in 2023. Hope wrote her Master’s Thesis on bridging urban and rural communities together through youth nature-based mindfulness
programs. Her love for education and working with children was initially inspired through volunteering for a community organization in Rochester, NY which focused on teaching literacy and gardening
education to urban youth. Hope has worked in a variety of fields previous to joining Nature’s Classroom, notably in emergency veterinary services and in research with marmoset monkeys. Hope loves
being outdoors and desires to visit as many national parks as she can! In her free time, Hope enjoys crocheting, drawing and painting, music,
exploring new coffee shops, hiking, yoga, road biking, and rowing. She is eager to join the Elementary Montessori classroom, with a passion
to learn alongside the wonderful students she will assist in teaching!
Katelyn Bratz graduated in 2008 with a Bachelor of the Arts degree in History, as well as certificates in Classical History and European History from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Katelyn began her career working with students through environmental education. She came to Nature’s Classroom Institute and Montessori in 2008. Since then she has taken on various roles: environmental educator, environmental Education Director, history teacher, elementary assistant and for many years now our Adolescent Directress. It is during her work in our environmental program that Katelyn came to appreciate and understand the Montessori Method. Katelyn completed the AMI/NAMTA Montessori Orientation to Adolescent Studies in 2012. She has also acquired her Secondary I-II Credential from CMSTEP and a Master’s in Montessori Education from Xavier University. Since 2008, Katelyn has worked to progress and expand our Adolescent programming. She can be found regularly hiking and working at Nature’s Classroom property with her dogs, Audi and Sitka, gardening, or tending to the farm. All of which continue to be hobbies for Katelyn and a strong connection to her environmental background.
We would love you to explore the idea of working with us at our Montessori School