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 24 months, and toddlers, ages 24 months to 3 years. These students may then graduate to our parent school next door for children ages 3 to 10.
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 late 2016, the O’Donnell’s 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 9 years old.
MSCT will celebrate 40 years of excellence starting in the 2022-2023 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 57 years. Together they have three children, Jheri Lynn, Jeffery, and Jennifer, and five grandchildren.
- Sherry O’Donnell, D.CE.: 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 seven classrooms, three buildings, and over 100 students ranging from 6 weeks old to age ten. 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 38 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.
- Jennifer Watson, Director: Jennifer was born in Japan where her father, Dr. Jerry O’Donnell, was stationed. As the third child of the O’Donnell’s she has grown up around Montessori education and watched as the school flourished under her parent’s leadership. Jennifer has been married to Jason since 2002 and has a remarkable son, Brady, who had the privilege of attending The Montessori School from the age of 20 months through elementary. Since grading-out of The Montessori School, Brady has taken Pre-AP classes throughout middle school and plans to continue challenging himself in High School with AP classes. Jennifer has been the Director of both the Temple and Killeen campuses from 2007-2015. She left briefly to pursue her love of veterinary medicine and returned as the Director in 2020. Her leisure time is spent caring for her many animals, traveling, reading books, and the joys of being a Mom.
- Kristin Iannuccilli, Assistant Director: Kristin was born and raised in Minnesota where she met and married her high school sweetheart. For the past twenty-plus years her husband has served in the Army while Kristin has been blessed by the opportunity to dedicate most of her time to raising their two children as they’ve moved around to various duty stations. Kristin holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and has experience in education with prior service as a Teacher’s Aide in a Montessori School in Nevada and working as an elementary school substitute in Louisiana and Texas school districts. Kristin’s family has chosen to settle in Belton, Texas and they are excited about putting down roots in the community. Kristin is eager to pursue her long-term goals of furthering her involvement in Montessori Education and being a part of the administrative team at MSCT.
- Mrs. Christina O’Donnell, MITS Director: Christina joined MSCT in 2017 and earned Infant & Toddler AMS certification at The Houston Montessori Center. She has over 30 years of childcare experience in a traditional environment, and 12 years volunteering to educate families and children against domestic violence and child abuse. She is a first year member with the Exchange Club for the Belton and Temple district on the child abuse committee. Christina has been with Texas School Ready program in conjunction with the University of Texas Health and Science Institute for four years and has been awarded the Texas Rising Star for two years in a row. Now she is excited to have the opportunity to lead the Infant and Toddler programs as the Director. Christina was inspired to teach through her observations of her mother and her 2nd grade teacher. Christina is a proud fifth-generation Beltonian, and enjoys spending time with her family, six children, two stepdaughters, and seven grandchildren. For fun, Christina enjoys playing volleyball, listening to worship music, reading, cooking, and spending time with her best friend and husband, Mr. Jeffery O’Donnell.
- Tammy Clausen, Lead Teacher – Toddler: Tammy was born in Victorville, California. She is the oldest of three siblings. Her father was in the Air Force and they traveled a lot, living in Washington, Florida, Arkansas, and Germany. She graduated school in Cave City, Arkansas. Tammy is the proud mother of four boys and four grandsons. In 1998, she began working at the Cave City Public Schools as a Special Education aide for Elementary, Intermediate, and High School. She moved to Temple, Texas in 2019, and began working at a daycare. Mrs. Clausen has a mothering instinct and loves working with children, especially the toddler age group. After attending school at Grace Montessori, she graduated as a certified Infant and Toddler teacher. Tammy truly believes that God directs each of our paths and places us where we need to be. She is excited to be leading the toddler class in our Montessori school.
- Janice De Jesus Gonzalez, Intern Teacher – Toddler: Janice was originally born in Rochester, NJ but raised in Puerto Rico. She studied in the city of San Juan and graduated from the Luz America Calderon High School in 2011. Janice began studying nursing with a specialization in children, at Puerto Rico University Ana G. Mendez, and is in the process of finishing her studies here in Texas. Janice has been working with children since 2019 and she loves teaching them Spanish. Her hobbies include spending time with her family, watching mystery, drama, and action movies, cooking, and reading. She also really enjoys her work because teaching children is near and dear to her heart. Janice attended school at the Houston Montessori Center and is working toward her certification in Infants and Toddlers.
- Karla Torres, Lead Teacher – Infant II: Karla was born in Puerto Rico and enjoys teaching her students Spanish vocabulary and songs every day. Because her dad was in the military, she spent part of her childhood in Germany and Korea. She met her husband in 2013 and has three beautiful children. In 2017, Karla moved to New York and was a receptionist in a factory. Looking for more opportunities, the family decided to move to Texas in 2020 where she began a career in childcare. Since then, Karla attended Grace Montessori and graduated as a certified Infant and Toddler teacher. Karla enjoys traveling, spending time with her family, and trying new adventures.
- Katia Rosario, Assistant Teacher – Infant II: Ms. Katia Rosario was born in Puerto Rico and moved to Texas in 2013. She soon discovered teaching was her calling in 2016 and began working at a daycare. Although she found joy interacting and caring for her students, she felt like something was missing. After careful consideration, she looked into Montessori education and decided that children could benefit greater through hands-on, natural materials, developing independence, smaller group sizes, and beautiful environments. As a fluent Spanish speaker, Ms. Rosario looks forward to sharing her language gift with her students. Ms. Rosario spends as much of her spare time with her children, a boy and girl, and also enjoys the company of her friends, watching TV, and housecleaning.
- Terri Wallace, Lead/Intern Teacher – Infant I: Terri was born and raised in Central Texas. She is the oldest child in her family. She and her husband married in 2003 and have two handsome sons and a very spoiled Boston terrier. They enjoy traveling and spending time with friends and family. Terri has worked most of her adult life in Administration and Management positions but feels so blessed to have the opportunity to work with children at this stage in her career. Terri recently attended school at the Houston Montessori Center and is pursuing her certification in Infants and Toddlers.
- Tigist Mekasha, Assistant Teacher – Infant I: Tigist was born and raised in the city of Addis Ababa located in Ethiopia, where her native language is Amharic. After meeting her husband and getting married in 2005, Tigist and her family moved from Ethiopia for work in Colorado and Nevada before settling in Texas. She has a passion for children and has worked in education since 2016. She has three children of her own and loves to take walks and read in her free time.
- Sally Capeles, Assistant Teacher – Infant I: Sally was born in Caguas Puerto Rico, where she obtained her Associate’s Degree as a Dental Assistant. Upon moving to Texas, she met and married her husband, Ismael, and they have two wonderful sons. Since 2010 Sally has been very involved in her church’s youth ministry. She works as the Activity Coordinator for the church council, traveling to regional churches and conventions, and she recently earned a degree from the Biblical Institute. Sally’s devotion to her ministry with the church made her fall in love with working with children and shift her career focus to childcare. She feels gratified and blessed by her work with the infants at MSCT and loves playing a role in their growth and development. When she’s not teaching, you can find Sally spending time with her family, going to church, gardening, and playing with her dog.
- Hyegyoung Kim, Floater – Toddler II: Mrs. Hyegyoung Kim was born and raised in South Korea. She was saved in high school and became a more passionate Christian after marrying her husband. Mrs. Kim studied Early Childhood Education in college and received a Master’s degree in Education from graduate school. After college, she worked as a teacher and director at a kindergarten in South Korea for over 10 years and has been working as a teacher at a Preschool since she immigrated to America 8 years ago. She lives with her husband who is an associate professor at University of Mary Hardin-Baylor and her son and daughter live in Boston and San Antonio, respectively, for dental school. She currently attends G3 Korean Church in Killeen, where she serves as a deacon and member of the choir. Mrs. Kim sincerely hopes that God will use her and her family in the future to spread God’s word around the world with their talents.