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 her passing in 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 was a certified teacher in the Montessori System since 1978 and held 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.
Mrs. Burr loved to travel the world and share her experiences with the children under her care. She would always bring back trinkets which she shared with the children, using her experiences to enrich their knowledge of the world. She loved wonderful food, great books, adorable animals, and ice cream!
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 been a part of The Bethesda Montessori School for more than 19 years, first as Parent, then Admissions Director and now as Head of School. Her children were students in school founder Gertrude Burr's classroom, which allows her a unique perspective when introducing prospective families to BMS. She holds a MBA from the University of Maryland and an undergraduate degree from Southern Methodist University in Texas, along with several certifications in the study of Montessori and Directorship. 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, especially the beach. She is an avid reader and sports fan, and continues to chair several charitable organizations in the area, raising hundreds of thousands of dollars each year for local school children and athletics programs.
Mrs. Kristie found her true passion and a life long friendship and mentor when Gertrude 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...
Ms. Barbara Pierre - Assistant & day care supervisor
Working in Mrs. Dabrowska's classroom...
Mr. Hortence Bayiha - Assistant
Mrs. Juana Tapia - Assistant
Ms. Anna Houston - Assistant
Mrs. Juana Tapia - day care, lunch and nap time
Mrs. Marie Faissat - Art Instruction
Madame Quitterie Fialon - French Instruction
Ms. Yustina Park - Gertrude A. Burr Music Class Instructor
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 of lead teacher in 2018, she spent five years as co-lead teacher and kindergarten teacher with founder Gertrude 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.
Our second classroom is headed by Mrs. Debbie Kelsey, who has been with us for a total of 26 years! She holds an Association Montessori Internationale certification from Washington Montessori Institute and worked with our Founder, Gertrude A. Burr for many years, co-teaching the afternoon kindergarten class and developing a caring Montessori community by befriending so many of her former parents and staying in touch with her students long after they have left BMS!
Mrs. Kelsey is devoted to good health and happiness, and has completed many triathlons around the country with her family and friends.
She has two grown sons and a daughter-in-law and loves to travel!
The third classroom is guided by Mrs. Viola Dabrowska, who holds an AMS certification and a Masters in Social Science.
Mrs. 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 Masters 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.