The mission of The Montessori Infant & Toddler School (MITS) is to provide young children with a safe, prepared environment in which they can observe, absorb, and explore at their own pace and develop movement, language, and social skills to prepare them for the next steps in their education.
EXCELLENCE IN EDUCATION
Here at the Montessori Infant & Toddler School, we believe in educating the total child. In pursuit of that goal, our students are guided to activities and lessons which stimulate the mind, body, and spirit. MITS is a non-profit, non-graded, and appropriate placement educational institution licensed by the state of Texas.
Curriculum activities include sensorial experiences and practical life skills, along with language, art, music, and directed movement activities. Lessons are designed to foster independence, self-awareness, and self-esteem at a young age, and to prepare children for their future academic and social lives.
MITS is staffed by a certified professional Montessori teacher and qualified assistant teachers who have been trained to build trusting relationships with children and to create environments which present a rich array of interactive experiences.
MITS opened its doors for the first time in October of 2017, but its parent organization, The Montessori Schools of Central Texas, has been in operation since 1982. MITS offers programs for infants, ages 6 weeks to 18 months, and toddlers, ages 18 months to 3 years. These students may then graduate to our parent school next door for children ages 3 to 6.
The Montessori School accepts children without regard to national origin, race, color, creed, or religion.
The parent school, Montessori Schools of Central Texas, was founded in 1982, by Drs. Jerry and Sherry O’Donnell, as a private nondenominational Christian school for young children. The school began in a two-car converted garage at the rear of the O’Donnell’s home in McGregor, Texas, with twelve students, Mrs. O’Donnell as teacher, and an aide. The following year, the school expanded and transferred to a new location with more space. The student body continued to grow until, in 1986, the school moved to Temple, Texas. For three years, the school was located on the grounds of Trinity Church, occupying a separate building for the last two years. In 1990, the school was moved again, to what is now the current location at 1302 S. 27th Street in Temple, in a beautiful Victorian-era house. This change allowed the school to open enrollment for three classes with three different age groups, in order to offer educational opportunities to children ages 3 to 12. In 1995, the school purchased an adjacent property and house and converted it to use as another classroom. In 2003, MSCT established a satellite campus with two primary classes (ages 3-6) in Killeen, Texas. In late 2016, the O’Donnells decided to add a new building to the Temple property and open a school for infants and toddlers. Construction began in April 2017 and the Montessori Infant & Toddler School (MITS) opened its doors in October of 2017. Between MSCT and MITS, the Temple location will offer educational programs for children from 6 weeks to 6 years old. The Killeen campus is now closed.
MITS will have its beginning from a strong foundation as MSCT will celebrate 35 years of excellence starting in the 2017-2018 school year.
- Jerry O’Donnell, PhD, Headmaster: Dr. O’Donnell’s experience in life and the work force is varied, from serving in the U.S. Army as an enlisted soldier and officer, to owning numerous businesses, acting as a professional student, and doing the work of an evangelist, pastor, and teacher. He presently serves as the President of the Board of Directors for the Montessori Schools of Central Texas and the Headmaster of the MSCT Temple Campus. Dr. O’Donnell obtained his GED while serving in the United States Army. After recognizing his need for further education, he earned seven degrees in two tracts: the world and the church. He presently holds two bachelor’s, two master’s, and three doctoral degrees. In past years, Dr. O’Donnell has been a successful psychologist in private practice, specializing in creative motivation for underachieving children. Currently, he maintains his love for education through his passionate reading of books, magazines, and research articles. Dr. O’Donnell met his wife, Sherry, in high school, and they have been married for 54 years. Together they have three children, Jheri Lynn, Jeffery, and Jennifer, and five grandchildren.
- Sherry O’Donnell, D.CE., Assistant Director: Mrs. O’Donnell is the principal founder of The Montessori Schools of Central Texas. She has worked hard to grow the school from one classroom in a two-car garage in 1982 to the present day, with an organization comprising of six classrooms across two campuses, and students ranging from ages three to twelve. Mrs. O’Donnell was awarded a Doctorate in Christian Education for her tireless efforts to develop and provide a quality early-childhood education, based on Dr. Maria Montessori’s teaching philosophy and curriculum, to children of all backgrounds. She is certified at the Primary Level (ages 3-6) by the Association Montessori International, and at the Lower Elementary Level (ages 6-9) by the American Montessori Society. Her 34 years of service in the field have allowed her to continually refine her techniques and curriculum within the Montessori philosophy, in order to connect with and teach every one of her students on an individual level. When not involved with the school, Sherry enjoys spending her leisure time with her family.
- Christina O’Donnell, Lead Teacher – Toddlers: Christina accepted a position with MITS in the spring of 2017 and attended classes at the AMS Houston Montessori Center over the summer to earn her AMS teaching credentials for the infant & toddler age groups. She is now lead teacher in the toddler classroom and also oversees the infant class curriculum. Christina has over 20 years of childcare experience in a traditional environment, through both paid employment and volunteer work, and is excited to now have the opportunity to teach using her knowledge of Montessori methods. Her inspiration to work in education comes from her mother, who she says was a wonderful role model of teaching wisdom, and from her joy in raising her own children. Christina is a proud fifth generation Beltonian, and enjoys spending time with her family, playing volleyball, listening to worship music, reading, cooking, and studying the bible with her husband, Jeff.
- Crysthal Díaz, Lead Teacher – Infants: Crysthal was born and raised in Puerto Rico, and attended Universidad Interamericana de Puerto Rico Recinto de Ponce while there. She was awarded two Bachelors: one in special education, and one in education for children from ages four to six. Crysthal was also employed at the Department of Education in Puerto Rico. In 2014, she decided to move to Texas with her husband and two children, one girl and one boy, and subsequently joined MSCT. Crysthal considers this a positive change and an excellent professional move for her career. She enjoys working with children, helping them and acting as a role model. Her hobbies include spending time with family, traveling, learning about different cultures, photography, and helping those in need. Jesus Christ is the center of her life and serving Him is her passion.
- Leilani Burgos, Assistant Teacher – Toddlers: Leilani was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, but was raised first in Germany and then Texas. After graduating from Shoemaker High School, she attended Central Texas College, where she studied pharmacy science with the goal of achieving certification as a technician. Since then, she has switched tracks and plans to become an American Sign Language interpreter for children in schools, and has gained childcare experience towards that end working in a number of daycares and teaching dance to pre-K through grade 12 students at her church. Leilani joined MSCT in September of 2017, and is excited to be involved in a more educational environment for students than what her previous daycare positions provided. She has always enjoyed working with toddlers because they make her laugh and keep her on her toes. Leilani’s hobbies include dancing in both the contemporary and aerial silks styles, spending time with her puppy, Zara, and watching addictive television.
- Kristin Reyes, Assistant Teacher – Infants: Kristin grew up in Sacramento, California and attended the American River College while there, followed by a transfer to Colorado Springs, CO. During her time in Colorado, she studied Early Childhood Education and Sociology at Grand Canyon University via distance education courses. She moved to Central Texas in August of 2017 with her husband, who is now stationed at Ft. Hood, and joined MITS in October. Kristin has previous experience working at a childcare center for children ages 6 weeks to 12 years, and has also worked with special needs students at a middle school. She loves working with children and watching them grow and develop. She plans to learn more about the childcare licensing aspects of the field here in Texas. Kristin’s hobbies include taking her dog to the lake, exercising, and cooking.
- Elena Abercrombie, Assistant Teacher – Infants: Elena was born in Melbourne, Florida and raised all over the state. She moved to Texas in 1979, and graduated from Tomball High School in 1985. In 1991, she met her husband and moved to Temple, where they have raised their four children. Elena attended the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor and graduated with a BFA in Art in 2009. She is state-certified as an art teacher and has over 20 years of experience teaching students. She considers teaching to be the most rewarding profession she knows. Her future goals include finishing her second Bachelor’s degree, this one in Early Childhood Education, and then completing a Master’s in education, followed by a Ph.D. in the same field. Elena also hopes to write a book in the future. She enjoys drawing, painting, and calligraphy, as well as ceramics and stained glass work, and has a full art studio in her garage.
- Dani Miller, Administrative Assistant: Dani joined our staff in February of 2016, and
is thrilled to be a member of our Montessori family. She is currently also a part-time student at Texas A&M University studying wildlife ecology and tourism management, and previously worked as a research assistant for the Wildlife and Conservation Policy Research Group lab on campus. She has gained experience supervising and teaching children as a volunteer assistant counselor at Cameron Park Zoo and as an intern at the Houston Zoo. Future goals include traveling to the last 22 states and 5 Canadian provinces on her list, revisiting the Australian Outback, and working in a nature tourism department for a wildlife or environmentally-based recreation organization, where she can develop and implement programs to get citizens outdoors, involved, and interested in preserving our natural resources. Her hobbies include camping and hiking, traveling, photography, reading, and studio art.