The Early Childhood Program

Teaching Fundamentals

Each Early Childhood classroom is a community of approximately 25 children and two teachers with an assistant shared between two classes. The children remain with the same teachers for three years. This means that every year, only one-third of the children will be in the learning environment for the first time. The older and more experienced children assist the teachers in caring for and helping the new children, gaining self-esteem as they become the leaders in the classroom. Over the course of the three year program, the teachers will learn each child’s strengths and goals. They monitor each student’s progress presenting sufficient challenges for each one.

Learning at an incredible rate, preschoolers are intensely interested in what the classroom environment offers. They discover from the start that learning can be fun. We give lessons to each child individually or in a small group. The child can then choose the materials to practice alone and to eventually gain mastery.

Meet Our Early Childhood Teachers!

Classroom 1

Jennifer Pope is from Birmingham, Alabama. She has been employed at JBMA since 2004. She received her bachelor’s degree in 2004 from the University of Montevallo in Family and Child Studies. She attended The Barrie School in Silver Spring, Maryland and earned her Montessori Certification for the 3-6 age group in 2006. She received her teaching certificate and Master’s Degree from UAB in 2011 in Early Childhood and Elementary Education. She and her husband have a son, Liam.

Cristina Riascos will be working in Classroom 1 with Mrs. Jennifer this year.

Classroom 2

Sarita has her Bachelor’s in Literature and Travel and Master’s in Early Childhood Education. She has been teaching in Birmingham for more than a decade where she has taught in both public and private school settings. She received her American Montessori Society Certification in Early Childhood Education from Memphis Montessori Institute. She has always enjoyed working with children and their individual needs and believes the ‘Differentiated Instruction and Assessment’ approach helps them grow to their fullest potential. She enjoys traveling and reading.

Kathy thoroughly enjoys teaching at JBMA. She grew up in Birmingham, Alabama and attended Birmingham Southern College. She received her B.A. degree in 1986 in Early Childhood Education. She is the mother of four children, all who attended JBMA. She is proud to be a part of the JBMA community and teaching young children is her passion.

Classroom 3

Citlalli Petrik holds a degree in Civil Engineering from Texas A&M University.  After a career in consulting and becoming a mother, she made a shift to teaching Spanish at Avon Montessori Academy in Avon, Ohio.  Her family moved to Alabama in 2014.  She has been a member of the faculty at JBMA since 2015 and is a MACTE Early Childhood Certificated teacher. She strongly believes in the message of peace, mindfulness and kindness Dr. Maria Montessori’s philosophy instills in children.  She and her husband, Marek, have two children Zikiel and Nayeli; as well as two dogs, two birds and a cat.  Citlalli is fluent in Spanish, speaks a little Italian and some Slovak. She enjoys practicing yoga, traveling and gardening.

Zehra Stockli will be working in Classroom 3 with Mrs. Citlalli this year. She has been a member of the JBMA community for many years and loves working with our Early Childhood students.

Classroom 4

Kim is a Montessori Certified early childhood educator that has almost 30 years of classroom experience. A long term resident of Benton Harbor, Michigan, Kim is excited to bring her many years of teaching to JBMA’s Preschool. She attended a Montessori Training Program associated with Indiana University, and gained a variety of expertise in all areas of Montessori instruction.

Andrea attended Central Michigan University and received a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology with a concentration in youth studies. She is currently training to become a Montessori Certified Teacher at Seton Montessori Institute. Andrea has been involved with Montessori Education since she was two years old. She is excited to share this wonderful philosophy with a new generation of children.