North & Central America

NRC Montessori Preschool

Richmond, Virginia, USA


Program Established: June 2006

# of Children:  16     •    Ages Served:  2-5 years old

Contact Person: Salome Fernando, Co-Executive Director

Contact Information:

Immediate Needs:

  1. Donations to support operating costs.
  2. Montessori Materials – New or Used in Good Condition:
    a) Language cards and cursive moveable alphabet.
    b) Math materials – golden bead material and negative snake game.
    c) Geography – Landforms and cultural materials.
    d) Science materials, wooden trays, map stand and rug stand.
    e) Children’s music
    f) Pre-school sized Bikes and Tricycles
    g) Sand toys, balls and bean bags for outdoor play

Click HERE for donation information.

The NRC is a grassroots, non-profit organization located in the east end of Richmond, Virginia in a neighborhood called Greater Fulton Hill (GFH). The center was established to provide community members with a place to build relationships, access resources and develop skills to enhance their lives and determine the fate of their community. Truancy, poverty, gun violence, domestic violence, and substance abuse are common obstacles found in the neighborhood. In an effort to provide the youngest citizens of this community with a healthy beginning, the NRC partnered with some local Montessorians to open a Montessori preschool in June 2006. The first summer half-day “pilot program” was an overwhelming success!

The preschool is now a full-day program, 8:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m, Monday thru Friday and includes a Kindergarten group. The preschool offers a quality Montessori education on a sliding-scale basis; we believe it to be the first in the nation to do so. There are currently 16 children enrolled. The preschool is licensed by the Virginia Department of Social Services (VDSS). Montessori materials are used in the classroom, and the prepared environment is supported by two AMI-trained teachers.

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The NRC Montessori Preschool works not only to provide a high-quality education for the children, but also serves as a resource for the families. Parents and grand-parents are encouraged to come observe their child, and conferences are held at least twice a year. The program partners with United Way’s Success by Six program to provide at least two parent education nights each year. The parents of these children have been impressed and astonished to see what their children are capable of. Community members who have come to visit have been equally amazed at the level of responsibility and concentration they observe in the children. The preschool is an example of early-learning at its best. 

Otoch Paal Montessori Community Center

Akumal, Q. Roo, Mexico


Program Established: April l 2004

# of Children:  70     •    Ages Served:  18 months-6 years

Contact Person: Tita Llerandi

Contact Information:

Immediate Needs:

  1. Operating funds to support teacher salaries and classroom supplies.
  2. Funds to put a new roof on the kiosk where events are held in the strong mid-day sun.

Please send your tax deductible donation here:


Otoch Paal Montessori Community Center is a labor of love designed to educate the indigenous children from the Mayan Riviera. Otoch Paal makes it possible for families with low incomes from the community of Akumal and neighboring areas to have high quality pre-school education for children ages 18 months to 6 years. Our next goal is to add new buildings to house an elementary program with separate boys and girls bathrooms as required by the Secreteria de Educacion Publica.

The school offers an authentic Montessori education, based on the philosophy, teachings and methods of Maria Montessori. The Community Centre currently has around 60 children in four environments, one for 18 month to 3 year olds, two for 3 – 6 year olds and one for teaching English. Each environment is in the form of a circular shelter; the typical dwelling of the Mayan culture. The parents of the families meet every Sunday with a common objective: to improve the facilities and to collaborate with tasks that ensure their children will receive the very best education. The mothers keep the rooms clean and work together to make some of the materials that their children use. All of them are enthused with a spirit of hope and harmony. The marvels of nature and the warmth of the people have allowed a true Montessori community to be embraced daily.

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Since the first class opened in 2004, we have made significant advances. With the newly added facilities, we have more than doubled the number of children we serve. English classes have been added, so that with their knowledge of Spanish and Mayan, the children will be tri-lingual. We have also started classes for artistic expression and opportunities to participate in sports. The children work in an atmosphere of respect, openness and confidence in keeping with the mission of Otoch Paal Montessori Community Centre.

The Infant Room gives an opportunity for mothers to work in nearby hotels; in this way they can significantly improve the family’s finances.

The Community Centre promotes the cultural heritage of the Mayan region through teaching the language and celebrating special events at school. Children and their parents are invited to wear the traditional dress of huipiles, ternos and guyaberas. Grandmothers also are active participants on these occasions. They came to the school on the Day of the Dead to make pibes, a traditional dish of the region.

All members of the community work together with great dedication to provide the best possible environment for the families of Akumal and neighboring areas. We appreciate any support you can give us.

Liberty Children’s Home

Belize, Central America


Program Established: 2005

# of Children:  40     •    Ages Served:  Birth – 8 years old

Contact Person: Agatha Valentine, Director

Contact Information:

Immediate Needs:

  1. Financial Donations
  2. Dressing Frames
  3. Practical Life Equipment
  4. Metal Insets
  5. Color Box 1 & 2
  6. The Land and Water Globe

Contact Agatha Valentine at

Summary of Project

Liberty Foundation believes in providing an environment in which children ‘at risk’ , and those with disabilities and special needs can gain access to rehabilitation, care and the educational tools they will need to build healthy, successful lives.

The Home

Liberty Children’s Home is a purpose-built home to house and care for orphaned, abused and neglected children in Ladyville, Belize and opened in July 2005. The home has a child-centred approach influenced by the Pikler method of childcare, a well researched approach developed to prevent the damaging effects of institutionalisation on children and the Montessori philosophy of education, a method of teaching that aims for the fullest possible development of the whole child.

Liberty Community School

In October 2006 Liberty’s newly built school and learning centre opened its doors to the eagerly awaiting children of both Liberty Children’s Home and the wider community of Ladyville. Teachers, caregivers and parents have all been working together towards a common goal of providing the children with an environment where each child can develop to his/her potential.

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Every parent who has a child attending the school automatically becomes part of the Parents as Teachers (PAT) program – an outreach program providing guidance and support to families with young children. The first parent meeting was held on October 26th and almost every parent attended. This high level of interaction and co-operation between Liberty staff and parents is just what is needed to ensure the success of Liberty’s Learning Program which aims to not only provide a quality early education experience to children but to support their families with the individual challenges they face.

The Building

Belize has an unfortunate history of devastating hurricanes. The home consists of 5 monolithic domes, ecological structures which were specifically chosen due to being entirely hurricane proof.

The Children

Liberty Children’s home will initially house up to 40 orphaned, abused or neglected children predominantly between 0-5 years of age. Liberty Foundation is working closely with the Belize Human Services Department in the placement of children. The children will be cared for and bought up until their future is satisfactorily secured. From their earliest age the children will spend a lot of time in spacious well- equipped playrooms, or in the open air. Their healthy, emotional and spiritual state is achieved through close relationship with few adults. The careful attention, gentle gestures and understanding of the care provider will nurture the child’s faith in adults and develop his/her self- confidence.

Foster Care/Adoption

The Home will make efforts to place the children in families, preferably their own, or, if that is not possible, with adoptive or long-term foster parents. The home will maintain communication with and help the families even after the child’s departure.


Research work will take place at the facility conducted by the University of Belize and will be incorporated into their teacher training course. Their research will focus on child-centred learning. Staff will be responsible for making observational notes on a daily basis.

Parents As Teachers

This international program is dedicated to helping parents be their children’s best first teachers. Parents are provided with information, guidance, and assistance. Liberty Foundation is introducing this program to Belize and is working closely with the Ministry of Human Development to ensure its success.

Mi Casita Montessori

Quetzaltenango (“Xela”), Guatemala


Program Established: January 2012

# of Children:  38 (2.5-6 year olds) with 1 lead teacher and two assistants (one of whom speaks exclusively English)
21 (7-9 year olds) with one teacher and one assistant. This class also has English, as well as a Quiche teacher (the local indigenous language).

Contact Person: Shirley Lopez Yancor or Zil Jaeger

Contact Information:

Immediate Needs:

  1. Books about various academics subjects and for learning English.
  2. Scholarship funds so that we can serve more children in the community. $1000 will allow one child to engage in this beautifully prepared environment at Mi Casita for a full school year. Please consider how you or your school can help.
  3. Elementary materials.
  4. Trained volunteers who are willing to commit to at least one year assisting the program.
  5. Sponsorships for AMI training of more teachers.
  6. Funds towards building a new school as Mi Casita has now outgrown its current location.

To donate funds, please contact Zil Jaeger or Shirley Lopez Yancor directly at

We are currently working on the preliminary stages of becoming a non-profit organization in the U.S. so that we can receive tax-deductible donations. You can also take a look at the past online fundraising campaign HERE

Over the past five years, Mi Casita Montessori has grown exponentially, driven by the passion and dedication of Shirley Lopez Yancor, a Guatemalan Montessori primary directress. Mi Casita Montessori’s vision is to support the unique development of each child and to inspire life-long learners capable of realizing positive change in their society. The school is located in the mountainous highlands in Guatemala’s second largest city, Quetzaltenango or “Xela”. Mi Casita Montessori is the first Montessori program in the city led by an AMI trained teacher. The school has grown from six primary aged children in 2012 to fifty-nine children ages 2.5 to 9.

Guatemala’s long history of violence and entrenched poverty means that education, particularly early-childhood education, is unavailable to many children there. The programs that do exist often lack materials, properly trained teachers, and opportunities for children to become inspired by learning. Working under the guidelines of AMI, Mi Casita Montessori has created a safe, nurturing environment where each child is supported on his or her path to intellectual, physical and social development. More importantly, Mi Casita holds a vision of fostering peace by offering children with the tools to interact with one another with grace and respect. The school wishes to actively heal the scars left by years of civil war and political violence.