About Us

Three Rivers Montessori

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Three Rivers Montessori School offers an authentic Montessori education to families living in Elk River, surrounding communities, and those living within School District 728. Montessori Philosophy and environmentalism go hand-in hand, therefore the school will align its objectives with those of Elk River as a Green Step City since 2010, and with Osprey Wilds, to instill a connection and commitment to the environment through experiential learning.

Our philosophy of education focuses on the whole child and their individual learning styles, temperament, and multiple intelligences. Our mission is to empower students to reach their full potential through authentic Montessori learning.

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The Executive Director’s Message

Executive Director

Dr. Paula Henry


I am excited to serve Three Rivers Montessori School, the students, families, staff, and community as the next Executive Director. I promise to lead with compassion, heart, and joy, continuing to support the kindness and learning that grows here. I look forward to getting to know each and every one of you. My top priority is the well-being and success of all students and families.

In my time as an educator, I have learned a lot about empathy. While I always had care and concern for children and for people in general, my time as an educator has deepened it. I am eager to help children prepare for their futures and help Three Rivers Montessori School plan for success.

I am passionate about Montessori education and I am proud to share that my three children attended Montessori school. They have wonderful memories of joyful learning, making friends, building their sense of self, and exploring new concepts. I am also passionate about shifting the paradigm for the future of learning for students, and empowering them to succeed in a world full of wonder and choices. I love observing students soar academically, and I find joy in their hopes and dreams. Professionally, I am a former superintendent for Thief River Falls School District, and Lake Park Audubon School District in Minnesota. Prior to this I served as an elementary principal in West Fargo, ND. and as principal at Madison Elementary School in St. Cloud, MN. which was also home to Guang Ming Academy, a Chinese Immersion School. Many years before this I served as a Montessori School director in Madison Wisconsin. My education includes a Doctorate in Educational Leadership, Superintendent licensure, Principal licensure, and a Masters in Curriculum and Instruction with a reading certification. I have over 30 years of experience in education and served in various roles leading teams of dedicated educators and administrators who shared a common vision of providing high quality and equitable learning opportunities for all students.

I have a depth of knowledge in district/school climate and culture, educational best practices, educational leadership, school finance, coaching, mentoring, systems change, and board and community collaboration. I love to build on people’s strengths and connect teams for collaboration. I am committed to excellence and uncompromising in my quest for quality educational opportunities for all young people. I never lose sight of students and their needs. I seek out collaborative solutions aimed at supporting parents, staff, and community. I have a tremendous sense of pride for educators and have a high degree of respect for all who work in our noble profession. I am constantly in awe of colleagues and educators as they work tirelessly to inspire and empower our students. They show up each day and give their very best to our students. I am proud to walk alongside them.

Now, I am honored and humbled to be the Executive Director of Three Rivers Montessori School. I will proudly serve students, staff, families, and the community.

Kind regards,

Dr. Paula Henry
Executive Director

About Us

What Is Three Rivers Montessori School?

Three Rivers Montessori serves Elk River, Rogers, Zimmerman, Otsego, and the surrounding Minnesota areas. It is a public tuition-free elementary school for students and parents interested in an authentic Montessori school experience.

What Is Montessori?

Montessori is based on the philosophy of education and human development. We see the child as a motivated participant in their education, learning through self-instigated actions on the environment. Because of this belief, we emphasize hands on learning, individualized lessons, and cooperative social interactions. Our curriculum is comprised of practical life, language, and mathematics. Geography, history, science, art, music, literature, and physical education are also included.


17267 Yale St. NW, Elk River, MN 55330

Three Rivers Montessori serves Elk River, Rogers, Zimmerman, Otsego, and the surrounding Minnesota areas.

TRM is a public tuition-free elementary school for students and parents interested in an authentic Montessori school experience.

Montessori Method

The Montessori Method is focused on education for the whole being. We organize our work through building educational experiences for the head, heart and hands. This means that at every level we are cultivating curiosity and offering high quality academics (head), fostering healthy social/emotional interactions (heart), and providing work that is experiential and hands-on (hands).

Essential Montessori principles call for education that brings peace to the child’s inner world, peace in their community, and an education for peace (heart) to affect the larger world. The practice of anchoring academics in meaningful work integrates concept understanding and skill-building with whole body activity (head and hand components).

Each level of the school will need to articulate the intersection of their program with these three key principles as well as those of environmental sustainability. These principles will be the foundation of annual school-wide initiatives and evaluation, as well as an organizing structure that directs and informs goal setting for each teacher.

Optimal Environment

Our goal is to provide an optimal environment that allows our students to demonstrate their true nature as motivated, respectful, and considerate individuals. Our goal is that each classroom will embrace the Montessori Philosophies and grant the freedoms of choice, movement and repetition while allowing for both the human tendencies and the sensitive periods of the student.

Empower Students

Our goal is to empower each student by offering individualized, hands-on instruction based on observation and an understanding of the child’s needs and abilities in order to encourage independent, self-driven, critical thinkers.

Engaged Citizens

Our goal is to foster a globally conscious and civically responsible student able to go forth, having met their fullest potential being ready to become an engaged citizen of the world.

We will support, educate, and continue developing our students’ natural connection and responsibility to nature through our curriculum and by our role modeling on a daily basis. Our goal is for each student to further develop a sense of respect for our planet and understand the urgency of protecting our precious resources we often take for granted. Our school will consistently bring the outside environment in and bring the classroom and learning philosophy out in order to maximize learning and discovery. The intention is to eventually occupy or renovate a physical building to be designed to minimize the barrier between the inner and outer environments. We will accomplish this by designing large, airy, naturally lit classrooms with warm inviting colors. Each classroom will include an abundance of natural artwork, adopted classroom pets and a variety of plants.

Parents as Partners

A Montessori way of life assumes a strong, triangular bond between the parents, students, and the school. We must engage parents in this awesome, life changing work by inviting them to school for philosophical and curricular presentations, discussions, board meetings, or simply to gain their parental perspective. It is essential that these relationships be based on trust and be built not only between the students and educators, but among the parents as well. To affect real success and societal change, we must all work consistently together. We aspire to have a strong parent and community volunteer based program so everyone can participate and experience the difference that Three Rivers Montessori will make in their lives.

To enhance the richness of the fully-embodied Montessori curriculum, we are excited about the educational possibilities at our doorstep. Students will have access to city services such as the historical Grain Elevator and Oliver Kelley Farm, along with the city’s trend towards a sustainability focus and implementation of environmental technologies. The students at TRM will have many opportunities to serve their community, through volunteerism at CAER, Habitat for Humanity, at the local nursing homes and assisted living community of Guardian Angels, as well as participating in neighborhood beautification efforts. A curriculum and school culture rooted deeply in sustainability, nonviolence, acceptance and respect will help children develop the skills necessary for living a peaceful life of passionate advocacy in the 21st century.

Maria Montessori’s dream was to achieve world peace through the education of children. Students with many different needs, abilities, strengths, and challenges all come together here to live in an environment of respect, mutual admiration, acceptance, patience, and understanding. When students develop this confidence in themselves and a strong sense of well-being, they are able to make great strides in their academic achievement. We hope that students will leave TRM prepared to be leaders in our world, and more importantly, advocates for all of humanity.

Our Staff

Our teachers and support staff are what make every day special for our children. Our staff are creative, understanding, and passionate. They work with families to create every child’s own success story.

+ Tami Stotler (Paraprofessional)

Tami recently joined TRM as a new paraprofessional. She has experience supporting students as a paraprofessional in local area schools.

Tami is excited to join TRM and learn how the Montessori method supports each student in their individual educational journeys.


+ Selena Vang (Paraprofessional)

Selena recently joined TRM as a new paraprofessional. She was previously working in a child care center in the metro.

Selena is excited to find a school-based setting where she can continue to support student growth.


+ Megan Kociscak (Paraprofessional)

Megan joins TRM with a background in a Montessori child care setting. She values relationships and is eager to bring her background working with children to a school setting


+ Abby Humphreys (Paraprofessional)

Abby is starting her first year with Three Rivers Montessori. She is passionate about supporting students and enjoys the challenge of working in multiple classrooms with various students.

Abby is looking forward to continuing her education and finding a career path in education. She is excited to be a part of the TRM team.


+ Breanna Cox (School Social Worker)

Breanna joins TRM with a background in supporting families and children in the central Minnesota area. She worked to obtain her school social work license through PELSB and is fully certified as a school social worker.

Breanna believes that strong connections with families and students will lead to a successful and happy school experience. We are so glad to have her with the TRM team.


+ Lydia Skadberg (E2 Teacher)

Lydia joins TRM in a new role supporting our upper elementary students as a specialist teacher this year. She specializes in providing Spanish language instruction but also provides physical education, music, and art lessons each afternoon.

As a TRM parent, teacher, and board member, she strives to continue to ensure the TRM Montessori mission and values are alive and flourishing in her classroom and in the school at large.


+ Cassie Zezulka (E1 Teacher)

Cassie Zezulka is the Cedar room’s E1 teacher. She majored in Elementary Education at Bemidji State University with a Bachelor of Science degree, received her K-6 Elementary Education License, and is actively pursuing her Montessori Certification in K-6 Elementary Education. In addition, she has invested in the preschool setting as a teacher and administrator before joining Three Rivers Montessori.

Cassie has known she would become a teacher since 1st grade when she would daydream about her future classroom. She enjoyed so many aspects of her school experiences and has a desire to help each child find their connection and witness each student’s pride as they progress into mastery of a lesson.

She is unwinding with movies, shopping, and coloring when she is not teaching. In addition, she is pursuing her mastery of cooking and baking in between taking trips up north.


+ TBD (E2 Teacher)

+ Shawna Anderson (Educational Assistant E2)

Bio Coming Soon


+ Brittany Roehl (Paraprofessional)

I am delighted to be joining the TRM team as a paraprofessional! I believe that every student
deserves the opportunity to experience a nurturing learning environment that helps them reach their full potential.   I come to TRM with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and 10+ years of
experience working with children. I am excited to use my experience to provide the students of
TRM with a passion for learning in a fun self-guided environment.


+ Sarah Roell (Administrative Assistant/Due Process Clerk)

I am so excited to be starting my second year at TRM!  I love working with our students and families. I look forward to seeing how our school and community will continue to grow together in the coming years! When I am not working I enjoy spending time with my husband and two kids, we love to playing video games together and exploring parks in the surrounding areas.


+ Kristen Ennis (Paraprofessional)

Kristen loves being part of the atmosphere and experiences that Montessori learning has to offer.
She has a degree in nursing, along with many years of experience working as a licensed childcare provider. She has a passion for working with children, and loves watching and helping them grow to their full potential.

Kristen lives in Zimmerman with her husband, three children, and their mini golden doodle – Cooper.
She enjoys watching their two boys play their favorite sport- hockey, and spending time with her daughter when she comes home to visit from college.


+ TBD (Food Service Coordinator)

Bio Coming Soon


+ Dr. Paula Henry (Executive Director)

Professionally, I am a former superintendent for Thief River Falls School District, and Lake Park Audubon School District in Minnesota. Prior to this I served as an
elementary principal in West Fargo, ND. and as principal at Madison Elementary School in St. Cloud, MN. which was also home to Guang Ming Academy, a Chinese Immersion School. Many years before this I served as a Montessori School director in Madison Wisconsin. My education includes a Doctorate in Educational Leadership, Superintendent licensure, Principal licensure, and a Masters in Curriculum and Instruction with a reading certification. I have over 30 years of experience in education and served in
various roles leading teams of dedicated educators and administrators who shared a common vision of providing high quality and equitable learning opportunities for all students.


+ Paige Lundeen (Children’s House Guide)

My name is Paige, and I wanted to let those of you whom I have not met a little about myself and share how excited I am to begin working with your children! This past December, I graduated from St. Catherine University with my Bachelor’s in Early Childhood Education and finished my Montessori certification in May. In the Montessori environment, I love creating a calm and relaxing environment for the children, and my favorite areas to work with are science and cultural studies! Outside of my career and passion, I have seven children, six boys, and one girl. We have three cats and recently added a dog named Phyllis. I enjoy CrossFit and am a huge fan of Harry Potter. I also enjoy traveling and riding our Harley in the summer or just curling up on the couch to a good book.

I am very excited for this program to start and for the children at Three Rivers Montessori to gain their education through the exploration of independence and to give space for each child to discover this. Maria Montessori wrote “that education is education to full independence” (1967, pg. 57). Please reach out if you have any questions about the program or the Montessori pedagogy.


+ Jan Creed (K1 Teacher)

Jan is the previous Owner/Director of Heritage Montessori School in Big Lake, MN. She is a certified Montessori teacher with a master’s and Ph.D. in Education. Jan brings her knowledge and years of experience into her new role as one of our K/1 Lead Teachers. We are so fortunate to have a highly qualified Montessorian helping to guide our students on their learning journey.


+ Nikki Patterson (E1 Teacher)

Nikki enjoys experiencing the Montessori method and the variety of learning materials that go along with it. She feels that they really make learning more fun.

Nikki recently completed her teaching degree program with a minor in Special Education to accompany her degree in Psychology and AA degree.

Nikki and her husband moved to Monticello in 2017 and have enjoyed getting to know the area with their little boy, Brayden. They spend a lot of time outdoors as a family.

Nikki’s favorite memories have been made camping on the weekends and she can’t wait to make many more memories with traveling and exploring.


+ Trish Gingras (Educational Assistant K1)

You may recognize Trish as she first joined our community as an Educational Assistant in the 2021-2022 school year. Trish is a Michigan native; she has a double major in political science and communications with years of experience in Montessori education. Trish has demonstrated a deep understanding and commitment to the Montessori method and educational practices during her time at TRM. She has proven that she values and respects the uniqueness of each child, is a keen observer who is knowledgeable about developmentally-appropriate behavior and practices and is aware of the children’s individual needs and interests.


+ TBD(Educational Assistant E2)

+ Ameryst Schuh (Educational Assistant E1)

Ameryst joins us as the new assistant in the Maple E1 classroom alongside Nikki Patterson. Ameryst has elemntary school experience, most recently supporting students through math and literacy intervention work. Ameryst believes relationships are what make a school thrive and she is excited to build strong relationships with the students in the Maple classroom.


+ Brittany Stroman (Behavior Interventionist)

Brittany joins TRM as a Certified Occupational Therapist (COTA) and an extensive background supporting children with various needs. She believes behavior serves a function and often sensory inputs are a key indicator of behavior. She is looking forward to lending her expertise to our staff and supporting all of our students through a hands on and kinesthetic approach.


+ Julie Grenier (Special Education Teacher)

Julie is a TRM parent and wanted to dive deeper into the support roles for TRM. She joins us as a new special education teacher.

Julie has experience in education and wants to help each child grow to their full potential. She values the Montessori approach and looks forward to learning how it integrates each day here at TRM.


+ Connie Wrightsman (Director of Operations)

Connie comes to us with a wealth of experience in office management, including the management of a large boarding school school setting, legal offices, and most recently managing a family crisis center. Connie’s focus on building systems and processes, ensuring connection and community are present within her role, and her collaborative approach to all she does are just some of the reasons the hiring committee selected Connie.


+ Chris Castagneri (Pathfinders Coordinator)

Bio Coming Soon


+ Cassie Gruber (SPED Teacher)

Cassie holds a masters degree in communicative disorders and is a previous Speech Language Pathologist. She believes in the power of the Montessori model, in that learning and education is more than just sitting in a classroom, but learning independence, time management, self-motivation, social skills, self-paced learning, and the ability for students to make more choices and have more movement during their day for a well rounded education that prepares students for life and not just academic achievement.

As a TRM parent and teacher, she strives to continue to uphold the Montessori values and provide her students with valuable instruction that will teach them skills that carry into academic achievement and success with others, as well as provide an environment that is conducive to learning, safe, and supportive for all students.

Cassie is a mom of 3 and enjoys spending time with family at their home in Corcoran and at the lake.


Experience why our children are HAPPY to learn!