Our Teachers

Janice Otto

Director / Teacher / Founder

I began my teaching career working as a teacher’s assistant in a PreK-6grade Montessori School in Raleigh, NC. I was impressed by the young children’s confidence and independence in the classroom. I observed the respect and trust the teacher gave each child and the respect and trust each child displayed towards their teachers and peers. I wanted to learn more about this Montessori Method. The teacher encouraged me to take the training necessary to become a certified Montessori Teacher. And so I did!

The intense Montessori Teacher Training for 2 1/2 – 6 year olds, opened up for me a whole new way of educating the young child. It truly is as Dr Maria Montessori said: “An education for peace, an education for life”.

I moved to San Juan Island, WA in 1988, when I married my husband Larry. In 1989 I opened the Children’s House Montessori School. My husband supported all my efforts along with supplying  a lot of labor and building  the beautiful shelves that I still use today. I am honored for the continuous trust and support that the families of this community have given me for the care and education of their young children.

Emillie Novak

Montessori Teacher Intern

It is such a pleasure to be a teacher at Children’s House. I am a Montessori Intern in the second half of my first year, and I plan to complete my certification as an American Montessori Society certified teacher through the Montessori Education of the Northwest program by this coming summer.

My focus has always been to devote my life to the care of children and families. A few of my experiences include a Bachelors degree in Fine Art, followed by teaching children’s Art classes in Spokane as well as a degree in addiction counseling, working with students and families in the public schools as well as private treatment.

My interest in helping children with self-regulation led to my Feldenkrais Certification in 2015, and I worked on a part-time basis with individual sessions while completing my Masters in Organizational Leadership through June of 2018.

I have many ideas about how to enrich the lives of children through movement, Art, family education and support. I hope my experience will benefit the children who come to Children’s House Montessori School.

The role of the Montessori teacher is to observe the children’s individual needs and interests and to present the corresponding activities to them individually or in small groups. He or she is there to help when the child asks for it. The teacher makes changes and prepares the dynamic classroom environment, always following the needs of the children.

Our Students

In the Children’s House there are children between the ages of three and six years old. The different levels of maturity and learning provide a community of varied interests and abilities. In helping and sharing with the younger ones, the older children deepen their own knowledge and understanding. Together, all the children learn how to become a caring, sharing, yet quite varied community.

Their Environment

In the Children’s House everything is scaled to the size of the child. The small, light tables and chairs are easy for them to use and move when need be. Pictures are hung at the child’s eye level. The appropriately sized materials are clearly displayed on low shelves, inviting the children to interesting, orderly work.

There is a freedom of movement about the classroom. The children decide to work alone or with others. There are ground rules pertaining to safety and respect. There is “freedom within limits”, which is tied to responsibility and self-discipline.

An Average Day

The focus of our day will be on exploring the “hands-on” learning materials. The children choose the materials they wish to use from the subject areas of math, language, physical science, geography, zoology, botany, sensorial and practical life. Opportunities for art and craftwork, stories, music, dramatic play, garden work and outside playtime are available. Each child will continue his/her educational experience at their own pace. Through direct and indirect lessons, the children gain problem-solving and other social skills that build character. The Children’s House is a place where each child is respected, accepted and valued as an individual.

The educational materials are self-correcting, allowing the child the joy of discovery. The practical life science and sensorial materials, and language and math in concrete form, all assist in the children’s realization of the world around them. They choose their own activities according to their interest. Their inner developmental need for developing order, coordination, concentration and independence is fulfilled through the process of doing these activities. Thus at this age, it is the process that is so important, not the product.