Dr. Maria Montessori was an Italian physician and educator who lived from 1870 to 1952. She had such a profound influence upon the lives of children that her ideas and principles have continued to spread throughout the world.
It has been proven that small children have a desire to learn and are capable of acquiring a great deal of knowledge. The Montessori attitude toward education stresses the sensitive periods. These are times when children are interested in acquiring a particular skill or gaining knowledge in a certain area. The teacher or "directress" directs their learning and provides the needed stimulation for the children to work with the manipulative materials provided for them. They may use them freely, work at their own pace and repeat the activity for as long as they wish.
The carefully prepared environment provides a stimulus for children to make new self-discoveries, and gain confidence, independence and a sense of order in a noncompetitive atmosphere. These are qualities that we hope will grow with the children and remain with them as they enter adulthood.
Teachers & Administrators
Gertrude A. Burr, (1942 - 2021)
Founder and President
The Bethesda Montessori School was founded by Gertrude A. Burr in 1983, and was under her direction until 2021. She not only created and ran the highly successful program for more than 39 years, but was the lead teacher in the "Gertrude A. Burr Classroom" for 38 of those years. She has been a certified teacher in the Montessori System since 1978 and holds a diploma from the Association Montessori Internationale, which she received at the Washington Montessori Institute. In addition to her dedication to teaching in the Montessori field, Mrs. Burr obtained a bachelor of music degree from the Peabody Conservatory of Music, where she pursued graduate studies. She taught vocal music for several years in public and private schools in the Washington area before founding The Bethesda Montessori School.
The school continues to operate at the highest level, in her honor, and hopes to continue providing love and care to generations of new students. Her impact on the education of thousands of children in Maryland can not be overstated.
Head of School
'Mrs. Kristie' has worked at The Bethesda Montessori School under the direction of Mrs. Gertrude Burr for over 12 years. Her own children were students in Mrs. Burr's classroom before Mrs. Kristie joined the school as an employee. She holds a MBA from the University of Maryland and an undergraduate degree from Southern Methodist University. She has worked in technology and finance, owned her own company, and raised two amazing children who continue to make she and her husband proud every day.
Mrs. Kristie loves to play tennis, hike and enjoy the outdoors on the weekends. She is an avid reader and sports fan.
Mrs. Kristie found her true passion and a life long friendship and mentor, when Mrs. Burr asked her to come to The Bethesda Montessori School. She is thrilled to continue Mrs. Burr's legacy caring for children and their families, and offering a safe and beautiful environment, in which every children can learn to thrive.
We are extremely fortunate to employ a staff of dedicated, caring professionals who have diverse cultural backgrounds. The following countries of origin are currently represented among the staff: USA, UK, France, Trinidad, Haiti, Philippines, Poland, and Jamaica.
Working in Ms. Albrecht's classroom...
Mrs. Barby Jerome - Assistant & day care staff
Ms. Angeline Bonas - Assistant & day care staff
Mrs. Yanick Louis - Assistant & day care staff
Working in Mrs. Lu's classroom...
Mrs. Cindy McIntyre-Lerch - Assistant
Ms. Barbara Pierre - Assistant & day care supervisor
Working in Mrs. Dabrowska's classroom...
Mrs. Haydee Vasquez - Assistant
Ms. Anna Houston - Assistant
Mrs. Juana Tapia - Day Care, lunch and nap time
Mrs. Marie Faissat - Art Instruction
Madame Quitterie Fialon - French Instruction
Mrs. Monica Westrick - Music Instruction
Head of School...
Mrs. Kristie Galic
In addition to having an international staff, the children and their families come to us from many different countries and continents. In 2021 we had over 35 countries represented among our student bodies. Over 60% of our children speak at least two languages. Parents are associated with the various government entities, embassies, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the Inter-American Development Bank, the National Institutes of Health, local hospitals, and several international corporations. We always welcome our friends and neighbors from around the world.
Josie Albrecht heads the largest classroom and is the Director of Educational Programs at The Bethesda Montessori School. Prior to assuming the role a lead teacher in 2018, she spent five years as co-lead teacher and kindergarten teacher with Mrs. Burr.
Ms. Albrecht graduated from Flagler College with a degree in elementary education, and completed her AMI training with a Masters in Education from the Washington Montessori Institute in 2013. She is the proud parent of her adorable dog Olive, and her guinea pig Max (who lives in her classroom here at school!) and spends her time working at a Veterinary Clinic in the summer.
Shenghui (Sippy) Lu
Our second classroom is headed by Mrs. Sippy Lu. Mrs. Lu was born in a scenic city near Hangzhou, China. She worked with children of various ages for many years, starting when she was an actress in children’s plays.
In 2019 she and her husband moved from Shanghai to Virginia to spend more time with extended family and to build their own family. At this time, Sippy started teaching Chinese Mandarin. Some of her students were part of Montessori Schools and she was amazed with their independence and focus which lead to her training and AMI teaching certification.
Mrs. Lu holds a bachelor's degree and a primary Montessori certification, and is currently seeking her second Montessori certification. She has taught toddler, primary and special needs children and is a energetic presence in the school.
Mrs. Lu believes, "When I spend time with children, it brings forth the memories of my childhood, which was a warm and happy time. The first six years of life serve as a critical foundation for development and building one’s own personality. My mission is to encourage independence, respect for the self and the community, and to creatively explore our environment."
The third classroom is guided by Mrs. Viola Dabrowska, who holds an AMS certification and a Masters in Social Science.
Ms. Viola Dabrowska has worked as a Montessori primary teacher for seven years, and prior to that, she worked in play-based preschool settings for six years. She holds a master degree from Warsaw University in Poland, where she worked as a social worker with children in an orphanage. She received her Montessori teaching certificate from Contra Costa College in California.
Mrs. Dabrowska is fluent in Polish, likes to read folk tales, and to create puppet shows. She is married and has two children.