Marlene Lally, Head of School

marlene-671x1024Montessori education has played a significant role in my personal and professional life for close to thirty years.  I became formally introduced to the philosophy in the early 1990’s while exploring preschool options for my twin children.  Captivated by the educational approach and intrigued by how closely it aligned with our parenting philosophy, my children began their Montessori education at three and a half years-old.  I eventually became the administrator of two Montessori schools, one of which was where my children were enrolled.  We were fortunate to continue my children’s Montessori education through the third grade.  I do believe the strong foundation in Montessori education helped shape my children into solid, compassionate, young adults who have chosen work about which they are passionate.

After being involved in the Montessori community for several years, careers opportunities lead me to explore other educational philosophies at schools such as Chestnut Hill Academy and Cristo Rey Philadelphia High School.   It was not until spring of 2016 that the chance to re-enter the Montessori community presented itself.  I have thoroughly enjoyed being back in the Montessori environment and am excited to have the good fortune to fulfill a much belated desire to further my Montessori education and earn my Masters in Education from Chestnut Hill College.  The pursuit of my certification and Masters in Education can be challenging however the course work is quite rejuvenating in a similar way in which Maria Montessori explained how children experienced work in the classroom.  “But the work is refreshing and not tiring because of the interest which one takes in all his movements” (Discovery 81).[1]

I believe, as did Maria Montessori, in order to make changes in our world and establish long lasting peace that our overall educational goals, starting with the very young, must be to develop individuals with a healthy psyche, a strong character and a solid intellectual base.  This educational approach must be accessible to all children regardless of factors such as socioeconomic status or location.  In my role as Head of School, I will continue to fulfill my vision to be an advocate and a spokesperson for the Montessori philosophy and help broaden the student base to include those who may not typically be able to afford a Montessori education.  I believe this passion for the philosophy as well as my many years of experience in various educational settings has prepared me to shepherd and grow Clementine Montessori through its adolescent years.

[1] Montessori, Maria. The Discovery of the Child. Random, 1967.

Samantha Todorovich, Assistant Administrator

Samantha Todorovich has joined the Clementine Team as our Assistant Administrator.

Sam joins the Clementine staff as a transplant from Baltimore, Maryland. She studied Hospitality Management at The Florida State University and worked as a Front Desk Agent and Sales Coordinator in hotels around Maryland. Having volunteered for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital for several years, she realized that her passion was to work for a non-profit organization. After leaving the hotel world and taking some time off to volunteer at local organizations, Sam found herself as a Development Coordinator at the Osteogenesis Imperfecta Foundation, a small non-profit based in Maryland. It was here that she was able to explore her interest in Psychology by taking courses at a local college.

Deciding to leave Maryland, Sam wanted to explore positions that encompassed her skills, passion to do good in the world and interest in Psychology. The Montessori Philosophy aligned with what she had learned in class about childhood development and Clementine was a perfect fit!

As a new resident of Philly, Sam has been enjoying exploring the city and its history. She has taken a Montessori workshop this summer and is excited to learn from the wonderful teachers and staff at Clementine!

Michelle Fox, Director of Admissions

Michelle Fox joins the Clementine staff after spending years working in marketing and product development for companies in Australia and New Zealand. Growing up in Johannesburg, South Africa, Michelle studied at the University of Cape Town before relocating to Australia with her husband, Ben. While living in Australia, Michelle enjoyed spending time outdoors, whether at the beach, bike riding, or running. She also received her instructor training in Pilates!

Michelle’s first foray into Montessori came while searching for a school for her eldest son, Oliver. As many of our families know well, the challenges of relocating and finding a school suited to her child was daunting. However, Michelle felt the warmth and welcome of Clementine refreshing. Not only did the community suit her as a parent, she also knew the school was a wonderful environment for her son to grow and thrive. Now as our Director of Admissions, Michelle strives to provide families with the same warm and welcoming approach that she experienced years ago in her school search. For Michelle, there is nothing better than finding a school that fits your child and your family!

Now with two boys at Clementine and another young son at home, Michelle balances being a staff member and an active parent in our school community. While her three boys keep her plenty busy, she also enjoys eating biltong, spending time outdoors, and seeing more of Philadelphia with her family. She occasionally pops into the classroom to share her unique experiences living in Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa; she even has her very own didgeridoo!