“The greatest sign of success for a teacher… is to be able to say,
‘The children are working now as if I did not exist.’”

– Dr. Maria Montessori

Every August, a buzz emulates from campus as staff and students return for the new school year. If your children are anything like us, they’re thrilled to return to the classroom, see old friends and make new ones, and continue their journey of self discovery and learning. 

As we embark on the 2022-2023 school, we wanted to introduce you to some new and familiar faces. Our staff are thrilled to assist your child and excited to watch them grow!

Maria Schuermann-Cole
Founder and Headmistress, Primary Directress

Maria grew up in Whitehaven and attended St. Paul Catholic where she experienced her first encounter with the Montessori Method. That impression stuck with her, and 25 years later, she opened Maria Montessori School. She has 45 years of experience in the Primary Environment.

Maria is grateful for a career that allows her to feel like she’s contributing to the betterment of the world. She believes the Montessori philosophy allows individuals to develop to one’s highest potential and builds empathy, confidence and a higher awareness of their place in the world.

Outside of school, Maria enjoys spending time with family and friends, cooking, traveling, gardening, bird watching and the outdoors. She’s looking forward to this year and is excited to rekindle past traditions at MMS. A fun fact about Maria is that her grandmother grew up in the same Italian province as Dr. Maria Montessori!

Anna Kranz
Primary Assistant

Anna was born and raised in Memphis where she attended Harding Academy and received a bachelor’s degree in human development from Christian Brothers University. As of the 2022-2023 school year, she’s spent 22 years at MMS.

Anna was introduced to the Montessori Method at five years old. Her memory of her time there is so strong, she knew she wanted her children to have the same educational experience. When she’s not at MMS, Anna enjoys spending time with family and close friends. Something you may not know about her is she has worked in every Montessori environment (except Middle School). She’s most looking forward to seeing all of the students and meeting new ones.

Danian Jerry
Math Specialist

Danian is a native of Memphis where he attended Hamilton High School and the University of Memphis. Danian began teaching in 2013 and enjoys sharing new information with students.

Danian loves the values of responsibility and community cooperation that the Montessori Method teaches. Outside of the classroom, Danian enjoys reading and writing, watching good movies and collecting music. Something you may not know about him is that he’s a huge fan of comic books, science fiction and fantasy. His favorite authors are Kurt Vonnegut, Toni Morrison, William Shakespeare, and Kate DiCamillo.

Edee Fuller
Primary Teacher

Edee’s journey with Montessori began when she first met headmistress Maria when her child was a part of the first ever toddler class at MMS. Little did she know that 19 years later, she’d be working as a guide!

Edee holds a Bachelor of Arts from The Ohio State University. She also received an Assistants to Infancy diploma from the Montessori Institute of North Texas and completed AMI primary assistant at the Houston Montessori Institute. Over the past nine years, Edee’s worked in pre-k to high school classrooms, both in Montessori and public school settings.

Edee is passionate about following her children as they learn, grow and self create. She enjoys being outdoors, volunteering and in the company of her daughter, friends, family and dogs. 

Emily Farris
Elementary Teacher

Emily is from Memphis and an alum of Maria Montessori School, where she attended from the Primary to Middle School Environment.

Emily received her AMI Elementary certification from the Montessori Center of Minnesota in 2021 and obtained a master’s degree in Montessori education from St. Catherine University in

Emily credits Montessori education for instilling a love of learning throughout her life and inspiring her to become a teacher. In her free time, she enjoys singing, reading, baking, live music, learning new artistic techniques, kayaking, motorsports and spending time outdoors. Something you may not know about her is that she lived in France for six months and has a pitbull!

Jessica Samuel
Librarian, Middle School Language Arts

Jessica grew up in Memphis, Nashville and Versailles, Kentucky, and attended University of Kentucky, MTSU and Northern Arizona University. She has 25 years of teaching experience.

Jessica admires the student-centered approach of the Montessori Method and marvels at the skills children display navigating the work cycle and resolving conflicts.

In her free time, Jessica enjoys virtual/long distance book clubs, watching scary movies with her daughter and spending time with family and her parents. Something you may not know about her is that prior to moving to Memphis, she lived and worked on the Navajo Reservation in Kayenta, Arizona. She also served two years in AmeriCorps in Nashville as a part of AmeriREADS and two years in the Peace Corps in Nambia.

Lauren Langley-Fortenot
School Nurse, Middle School Community Meal Coordinator

Lauren is a born and raised Cajun from Eunice, Louisiana. She attended LSU and graduated from Our Lady of the Lake College School of Nursing. She’s worked in trauma and pediatric ICU over the years and even trained as a cheesemonger. When the pandemic hit and students began returning to the classroom, Lauren joined the team to help the MMS community return safely.

In her free time, Lauren enjoys traveling, hiking and being outdoors with her family, running and practicing yoga, cooking and feeding family and friends, and working in her garden. A fun fact about Lauren is she married her high school sweetheart.

Lee Montgomery
Childhood Guide

Lee was born in Colorado, raised in Connecticut and moved to Memphis in 1979. She’s worked at MMS for 29 years and spent 12 of those years in the toddler environment. Both of Lee’s daughters attended MMS, and one of them is Emily Farris, our Elementary Guide!

Her passion for Montessori stemmed from her love for children. Lee finds delight in watching them learn and grow. After both her children moved on from MMS, Lee’s love for the school, children and learning method encouraged her to stay and begin working in the toddler program.

In her free time, she loves cooking, traveling to visit friends and family, and sailing. A fun fact about Lee is that she’s sailed to the furthest point in the Caribbean, the island of Anegada. When asked what she’s most excited for this school year, she said she loves the new, young energy in the school and the projects that are working to bring the MMS community together.

Mimi Trouy
Outdoor Guide

Mimi grew up in Fresno, California, and moved to Memphis where she attended University of Memphis, then named Memphis State University. She has been teaching and guiding students at MMS for 22 years.

Mimi was drawn to her career by the honesty and curiosity of children. She believes a Montessori education fosters both of these characteristics daily. In her free time, she enjoys being outside, whether that’s running, backpacking or walking her dog, Maggie Blu. A fun fact about Mimi is that she’s run a 21-miler along the Pacific Coast Highway, Highway 1.

Nellie Congdon
Lead Middle School Teacher

Nellie is from Providence, Rhode Island, and studied fine arts at Cornell University. She moved to Memphis with Teach for America and taught in Shelby County Schools until joining MMS as a middle school assistant last year.

The excitement of learning in a creative environment is what drew Nellie to the Montessori Method. She’s passionate about finding the best tools to help each student succeed and discover their own passions. Outside of MMS, she enjoys painting and drawing, walks at Shelby Farms with her dog and live music. A fun fact about Nellie is she’s on Spotify with her high school Acapella group. This year, she’s most excited to show students the new environment and watch them connect with the materials, space and curriculum she’s created.

Stephanie Cosby
Elementary Assistant

Stephanie graduated from Earlham College with a Bachelor of Arts in art and a focus in oil painting. After giving art lessons and training and working as a doula, Stephanie and her family moved to Memphis where she attended the University of Memphis for a K-12 art teaching license. She and her children joined MMS in 2014.

Stephanie was drawn to the Montessori Method by its flexibility, movement and interconnectivity. She believes the Montessori Method cultivates awareness through observation and makes time and space for truly listening. When she’s not in the classroom, Stephanie is an artist and folk herbalist and is currently studying peristeam/pelvic hydrotherapy. Something you may not know about her is she enjoys talking about and decoding dreams.

Additional staff:

  • Arneishea Owens