Come & See The Difference
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.
The Executive Director’s Message
Welcome Three Rivers Montessori Families! Greetings Three Rivers Montessori students and families! I am so excited to partner with you and your families as we navigate the 2023-2024 school year. A little background about me. Most of my experience is in early childhood teaching preschool and kindergarten for about 10 years. I am a licensed K-12 principal in the state of Minnesota and have always tried to embed play-based learning and hands-on experiences for the students I serve. I have experience with early childhood Montessori but am excited to learn about how this translates and evolves as our students progress through their elementary years. You will find I am an open book and always accessible. I believe the family is the first teacher and we must collaborate and partner together to ensure your children thrive.
I am married to my wife Anne, who is a kindergarten teacher in the Buffalo school district. We have three daughters, Harley who is 4, and Eleanor (Elle) who is 2, and Smith who is 2 months old. We live in Dayton and I am thrilled to be serving in a school that is a part of our community. I believe in being invested in the community and serving in the places we live, this is just one small way I can do that. Thank you for welcoming me so warmly into the TRM community, I look forward to getting to know each and every one of you in the days and weeks to come.
Three Rivers Montessori welcomes students regardless of race, gender, national and ethnic origin, and is non discriminatory in all our policies. We accept children between the ages of 5 and 11 years old.
Please contact us regarding availability for your child, and to schedule your personal tour of our school. We will be happy to answer your questions and provide additional information about our educational programs.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 teachers are what make every day special for our children. Our teachers are creative, understanding, and passionate. They work with families to create every child’s own success story.
+ Anna Nation (Montessori Director of Teaching and Learning/E2 Teacher 5th to 6th Grade)
Anna holds a masters degree in education, policy, and leadership from the University of Minnesota and is currently pursuing her doctorate in the same subject. Anna trained at the Montessori Center of Minnesota as a Children’s House guide in 2016 and began working as a guide at Montessori school in Virginia following her graduation.
Anna is passionate about creating and supporting Montessori schools that are deeply embedded in the communities they serve. She is particularly passionate about sustaining Montessori in more rural settings. Both of her children have been in Montessori environments since they started school and she has had the privilege of engaging with Montessori both as a parent and an educator.
Currently Anna teaches a class on equity and inclusion in schools to undergraduate and masters students at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities and she is a member of the Board of Trustees at Sunny Hollow Montessori school. Outside of education, Anna enjoys baking bread, rowing, and spending time with her family.
+ Cassie Zezulka (E1 Teacher – 2nd to 3rd Grade)
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.
+ Katie Horner (E2 Teacher – Grade 4)
Katie enjoys connecting with students each day and works to connect with them as she provides her role of service.
+ Allison Larson (Educational Assistant E1)
+ 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.
+ Alison Belford (Special Education Teacher)
I am excited to be part of Three Rivers Montessori Charter School. My education started in the early years of my life, attending a montessori school from preschool through fourth grade. I loved working with the materials, and learning through hands-on experiences. I am excited to be on the teaching side of montessori.
I graduated from Augsburg College with my elementary education degree. I taught preschool through third grade in many types of schools (private, public, and charter). I went back to school to get my license in special education from St. Cloud State University where I received my Autism Spectrum Disorder certification. I have taught in various levels of special education the last five years.
I have two teenage boys who keep me very active. We spend a lot of time playing board games, watching movies, and just started cooking together. In my free time, I love to work in my vegetable garden, hike trails, and do stuff with my family and friends.
+ Sarah Roell (Paraprofessional)
I’m so excited to be joining the Three Rivers Montessori team! The staff and environment are very welcoming, and I can’t wait to learn more about the Montessori method!
I’ve worked as a paraprofessional in the Elk River school district and have a passion for finding unique connections with students. I am excited to learn and grow as I continue my career here at Three Rivers Montessori.
+ 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.
+ Jessica Hentig (Food Service Assistant)
Jessica joins us as our new Food Service Assistant and will run the kitchen for all meal services at TRM. Jessica has worked for the Elk River school district as a paraprofessional for over two decades.
Jessica is looking forward to a small setting where she can make connections and brighten the days of our students as they come through the lunch line.
+ Antonio Kuklok (Executive Director)
Antonio began his career teaching preschool in Sauk Rapids MN before transitioning to the kindergarten classroom at Tatanka Elementary STEM school in Buffalo MN. He holds an Early Childhood teaching license and is a licensed K-12 Principal. Antonio was quickly promoted at Tatanka to Curriculum Integration Coordinator where he developed and managed the school’s newly implemented STEM and Engineering programming.
After completing his Educational Leadership program at St. Mary’s University of Minnesota, Antonio was hired by Community School of Excellence, a Hmong language and culture school in St. Paul, as their Elementary Principal where he led educational programming for over 900 PreK through 5th-grade students. After two years in the principalship, Antonio was promoted to the role of Chief Academic Director where he developed, implemented, and managed academic and behavioral programming for over 1,400 Prek through 11th-grade students, 4 administrators, and 125 teachers and paraprofessionals.
Antonio believes that providing hands-on authentic learning experiences is a necessary shift our educational systems must make. His master’s thesis focused on embedding student-led experiences into the classroom and showed a positive impact on standardized testing when students took charge of their learning.
He believes that we are not only sending our children into a world where they will work in fields that don’t yet exist but that our children will create these new fields themselves. He believes we need to foster independence, self-determination, and grit in our young learners so they are prepared to enter a diverse and ever-changing world outside of the school walls.
+ 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 – Kindergarten to 1st Grade)
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 – 1st to 2nd Grade)
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.
+ Pearl Keene (Educational Assistant E2)
Pearl joins TRM with a background as a Montessori student. Pearl is looking forward to learning more about how the Montessori method works in a public school setting and hopes to find her path in education long term through her hands on work with students.
+ Elinor Breuer (Educational Assistant E1)
Elinor joins us as the new assistant in the Maple E1 classroom alongside Nikki Patterson. Elinor is a recent Buffalo High School graduate and looking forward to learning more about education and the opportunities the field can provide for her as she journey’s into her future.
+ 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 (Paraprofessional)
Julie is a TRM parent and wanted to dive deeper into the support roles for TRM. She joins us as anew paraprofessional.
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.
+ Emily Rossmeisl (Pathfinders Coordinator / Educational Assistant E2)
Emily is a recent graduate of Elk River Highschool. She is returning to TRM as our Pathfinders Coordinator and also supporting the kitchen and Special Education department.
Emily has a passion for helping students learn and grow and find fulfilment in her unique and various roles at TRM.
+ Cassie Gruber (SPED Teacher)
Cassie holds a masters degree in communicative disorders and 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.