The Preschool Program

Teaching Fundamentals

Each preschool 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 Preschool Teachers!

Kim Getz and Julia Gibler

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.

Julia comes from a Montessori background — her mother was her first Montessori teacher, and Montessori has always played an important role in her life. She has a Bachelors and Masters Degree in English from the University of Kentucky. She is currently in training for Montessori Early Childhood Certification. After teaching freshman composition at the University of Kentucky, she worked in Student Services for over 10 years. She and her husband, Doug, have two children at JBMA.

Sarita Nair and Kathy Jones

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.

Jennifer Pope and Citlalli Petrik

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.

Citlalli Petrik holds a degree in Civil Engineering from Texas A&M University and is currently in training for her Montessori Early Childhood Certification. After a career in consulting and becoming a mother, she made a shift to teaching Spanish at Avon Montessori Academy.  She and her family moved to Alabama from Avon, Ohio.  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; son, Zikiel, and daughter, Nayeli, as well as two dogs, two birds and a cat.  Both children attend JBMA.  Citlalli speaks Spanish, a little Italian and some Slovak. She enjoys practicing yoga, traveling (mainly to visit family in Mexico and Slovakia) and mowing the lawn.

Shweta Singh and Rachel Lathem

Shweta Singh has lived in Birmingham for 15 years. She earned her Bachelor’s in Early Childhood and Elementary Education and her Class B, P-6 undergraduate certification from The University of Alabama. She graduated with Presidential Honors. Shweta is also certified as a Montessori Early Childhood educator. Her motto is “teaching is learning”.

Rachel is an Alabama native and attended the University of Alabama at Birmingham to achieve a degree in Psychology. She then went on to the University of Montevallo to receive a Master’s Degree in Elementary Education. She is currently training to become a Montessori Certified Teacher.

Zehra Stockli

Preschool Classroom Assistant

Cristina Riascos

Preschool Classroom Assistant