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About Our School

At Azalea Montessori School, we believe that all children are naturally eager and inquisitive learners who thrive in a supportive and thoughtfully prepared environment. We are committed to creating meaningful experiences with nature that engage and inspire our students. Through an intentionally small school, we invite strong relationships between teacher-leaders, parents and families, and community partners.

  • Our approach is child-centered and values the development of the whole child: physical, cognitive, and socio-emotional.
     

  • Our environment is beautifully and carefully prepared with specialized Montessori materials in the areas of practical life, sensorial, language, math, and art.  Working with these sensory-motor materials develops children’s cognitive skills through direct experience.
     

  • Children are given the freedom of movement and the freedom to choose work. An uninterrupted work time allows the child to develop concentration.
     

  • Children work independently while the teacher introduces new materials and lessons through individual and small group presentations.
     

  • A focus on grace and courtesy creates a peaceful and caring community.

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Our Teacher Leaders

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Jeana
Olszewski

Founding Teacher Leader

Jeana Olszewski began her Montessori career teaching in a 3-6 classroom in Dayton Public Schools. After taking some time off to be with her four children, she returned to Montessori as a lower elementary teacher at The Good Shepherd Catholic Montessori School in Cincinnati. She spent nine years there, and three years ago moved into a Montessori curriculum specialist role for a small group of schools north of Cincinnati. She is AMS credentialed in early childhood and lower elementary, is state certified for kindergarten to third grade, and holds a Master’s Degree in education. She is passionate about Montessori education and is thrilled to be a part of the first Wildflower school in Ohio. 

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Amy
Hruschak

Teacher Leader 

Amy Hruschak began teaching Montessori in 3-6 classrooms in 2012. She has worked in private Montessori schools in the northern Cincinnati area. She has a Master's of Education in Montessori from Xavier University and is AMS credentialed for ages 3-6, as well as licensed in the state of Ohio for kindergarten to third grade. Amy was drawn to Montessori after a career in journalism that included designing pages and writing headlines for The Cincinnati Enquirer. She has a daughter at Azalea Elementary. She was thrilled to join Azalea in its third year of existence and is committed to serving our Norwood neighborhood!

Our Staff

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Souad Karaman

Lead Teacher

Souad is a Montessori teacher with decades of experience who has spent most of her career working in a Montessori school in northern Cincinnati. She leads our kindergartners in our handwriting program and afternoon enrichment activities. She has her Montessori Teaching Certification for ages 3-6 from the Greater Cincinnati Center for Montessori Education, as well as a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the New York Institute of Technology. Prior to becoming a Montessori teacher, Souad taught art to children. She loves cooking and is excited to have a kitchen in our new location for food projects with the children!

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Emma Baldwin

Assistant Teacher

Emma Baldwin grew up on a farm in Liberty, Indiana, and was homeschooled until she was a freshman in high school. She is a citizen of the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma and works as an instructor at summer language camps for children ages 6-16. Emma completed her AMS Montessori Certification at Greater Cincinnati Center for Montessori Education (GCCME). Emma started her Montessori journey at Southwest Montessori in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and has also worked at Montessori school outside Dayton. She joined Azalea in its second year and works both in the Montessori classroom and in the Azalea Grows program with Erin. Her baby girl is a future Azalea!

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Erin Lockridge

Azalea Grows Teacher

Erin has nurtured a love for the outdoors since she was a child and now finds great joy sharing this love with others through our Azalea Grows outdoor education program. She has taught nature education for 16 years, ever since she earned a Naturalist Certification at the Morton Arboretum in Illinois. When she moved to Cincinnati in 2011, she started Norwood Grows, which taught garden, culinary, art, and nature-based skills to children. She and her husband, Robert, also ran Moriah Pie for 8 years, a pay-as-you-can pizza restaurant that used only the food they grew in gardens around the neighborhood. In 2020, they opened For the Life of the World Cafe, which now serves pay-as-you-can breakfast one block from Azalea. Her two children attend Azalea.

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The child is truly a miraculous being, and this should be felt deeply by the educator.

- Dr. Maria Montessori

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