The Lower Elementary Program

Building Knowledge

In Lower Elementary, we nurture the immense potential within every child. The children discover a continuation of their learning from the Preschool level in an attractive environment with hands-on materials. The various learning styles of each individual child are met by presenting lessons both visually and orally. Lessons are repeated until concepts are fully mastered. We want every child to achieve success. For students needing extra challenge, acceleration will be provided. For students who require extra assistance, individualized instruction is provided.

When one enters the classroom, children can be observed working on many different lessons and activities. Some children may choose to work alone, while others will work in pairs or in small groups. At this level, children have weekly work plans. Throughout the course of the morning, students are encouraged  and guided to work to their potential and be self-motivated.

The lower classrooms provide a safe domain for emotional development. The most prominent aspect of a Montessori classroom is that the students are with the same teachers for a three-year cycle. This enables the child to be comfortable and confident with their teacher. An aesthetically pleasing environment is carefully arranged with special consideration given to the child’s needs. The Montessori materials are color coded to ease the memorization of concepts. Moral development is reinforced in a Montessori setting by consciously striving to promote kind and peaceful behavior.

Meet Our Lower Elementary Teachers!

Catherine McElroy

Catherine McElroy grew up in Jackson, Alabama. She has a Bachelor in Science from the University of Alabama in Childhood Development and Family Studies. In 2006, she received a Master’s degree in Early Childhood and Elementary Education and holds a teaching certificate from the State of Alabama. She has been teaching various grades from toddlers to 5th grade since 2002. She joined the faculty at JBMA in the fall of 2011. She received her Elementary I certification through the American Montessori Society in 2013. She is an avid runner and loves to be outdoors with her husband, Rob, and their dog, Carl. She has two twin girls named Cameron Ann and Sidney Bounds.

Genie Gibson

Genie began her journey into “Montessori” here at JBMA as an assistant with the Toddler class in 1997.  Through the years, she has worked in the Preschool, Upper, and Lower classrooms where she had wonderful experiences with Montessori mentors such as Ms. Margaret and Ms. Sue. She has a BS degree from the University of Montevallo in special education of the hearing impaired, plus Montessori certifications in Elementary I and II.  She fully believes in the philosophy and methods used in a Montessori environment that encourage children to become independent learners.  That is why she loves working with the students here at JBMA.  She is married and has two sons. An interesting fact about her is that she was born on Leap Year, February 29th.

Rachel Acton

Rachel Acton is a member of the Lower Elementary team! She is originally from Johnson City, TN, but has lived in Georgia and North Carolina. She has a B.S. degree in Early Childhood Education from Presbyterian College and a M.Ed. degree in Curriculum and Supervision from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Rachel also holds certification in Montessori Elementary I.  She has been teaching for 11 years. She has always been interested in science and loves to observe the “ah-ha” moments that happen when students conduct hands-on science experiments. She is thrilled to be part of the JBMA family. She has been married to her husband, Ben, for 10 years. They have a son named Nate. She enjoys reading, singing, and spending time with her family.

Sara Passino

Sara is a graduate from the University of Southern Mississippi. She has many years of experience working within the nursing field, but recently decided to make a transition to teaching. She loves to work with people, and much of her work has been managerial and care related. She has experience teaching in early childhood, and currently is working towards her Montessori Certification in Elementary I.

Naomi Breckenridge

Lower Elementary Classroom Assistant

Naomi has been a long standing member of the JBMA community. In addition to driving our bus, she works with our Lower Elementary students to help them achieve and grow. She loves being a part of this JBMA family.

Tejal Mehta

Lower Elementary Classroom Assistant

Tejal is a parent of three wonderful kids. Her two boys attend JBMA and her oldest daughter is at Indian Springs School. She loves getting to work with 1st through 3rd Grade students in Mrs. Rachel’s Classroom.

Sandy Peters

Instructional Support

Sandy has a long history of working with students in multiple academic areas. She has experience in Drama, Language Arts, Montessori Secondary Education, and Special Education. After such a fulfilling career, she is happy to find a home at JBMA.

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