3-day: Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday  9:00-12:00

5-day (morning only): Monday-Friday  9:00-12:00

5-day (All Day): Monday-Friday  (9:00-3:00, 9:00-4:00, or 9:00-5:30)


The Toddler Program at Montessori Children’s House of Durham is specifically designed to develop language, cognitive and motor abilities in children ages 18 months through 3 years. There is a 3-Day Option and a 5-Day Option, with both programs modeling social skills and graces, finding friendships, and instilling collaborative work while uniting the toddler’s strong sense of independence with practical success. A snapshot of our day includes running, climbing, throwing, investigating, individual and group lessons, snack time, and gathering time with songs and stories. Student-teacher ratio is typically 6:1.

Each year begins with an orientation period that allows for a smooth transition away from a primary caregiver into what is often the child’s first community of peers. The environment is rich with materials to stimulate conversation and the development of language, with manipulatives, pre-math materials, science and nature exploration, and activities for sensory exploration and gross and fine motor development. Children are introduced to art and music from various cultures and have many opportunities for creative expression. Practical life skills relate to care of self and the environment, including toilet learning. Activities often are multi-dimensional: work washing a table, for example, involves both large and fine motor skills, memory recall, logical sequencing of steps, and vocabulary building.


  • Kathleen Batson

    (3-day) Toddler Teacher

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    Kathleen Batson was hired in the spring of 2007 to begin MCHD’s first Toddler program. Prior to the birth of her son in 2004, Kathleen was the assistant teacher in the Toddler room at Montessori Community School for four years. She also ran a toddler program for a small Montessori school in Minneapolis MN, and has several years experience teaching in non-Montessori preschool environments. Kathleen has also taught environmental education courses at Prospect Park Environmental Center in Brooklyn, NY and has given both group and private art instruction to children ages 3-12. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Northland College in Ashland, Wisconsin with a self-designed major in Environmental Economics and a Visual Arts minor. Kathleen received her Montessori certificate from the Center for Montessori Teacher Education/NC. In the summer of 2014, she completed the RIE Foundations I course, furthering her Infant/Toddler training.

    Kathleen is happy to be leading the 3-day Toddler program which she feel allows children and their families to have another valuable option for balancing home and school life. It also allows her more time for her commitments as a Buddhist priest and her work related to the study and practice of Soto Zen Buddhism with her teacher and sangha. Kathleen enjoys camping and hiking with her husband and son, and is a member of the band Baron Von Rumblebuss.

  • Tina Margas

    (5-day) Toddler Teacher

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    Tina discovered her love for the Montessori philosophy and the MCHD community when her daughter
    enrolled in 2004. A stay-at- home mom at the time, she began working at MCHD as a volunteer and lunch parent, then subsequently as Director of the after-school programs from 2006-2012. Working as an assistant in the Toddler classroom for four years while pursuing a degree in Early Childhood Education solidified her passion for toddlers and ultimately led her to obtain her Infant/Toddler Montessori credential. Tina attended East Carolina University and received her degree as a Professional Massage Therapist and Natural Health Educator from Twin Lakes College of the Healing Arts in Santa Cruz, CA. She enjoys music, camping, swimming, yoga, and spending quality time with family and friends.

  • Katherine Whittaker

    (All-Day) Toddler Teacher

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    Katherine is lucky enough to be the product of a Montessori childhood – she attended a Montessori school in Wilmington, North Carolina from toddler through upper elementary. The love of learning she developed there led her to Connecticut College, where she studied in Art and Art History. After college, Katherine trained at the Primary (3-6) level at the Washington Montessori Institute. Through this program, she earned a master’s degree in early childhood education at Loyola College in Maryland, as well as Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) certification. Katherine spent the next six years directing an early childhood classroom in northern Virginia. In the summer of 2014, Katherine and her husband, Shea, moved to Raleigh, North Carolina. Katherine was thrilled to be assisting toddler classes at MCHD, where she was excited to further her learning about the first plane of development. Her experience and discoveries through that time led her to pursue her Toddler teaching certification, whereupon MCHD was excited to welcome her as a lead teacher for the inaugural All-Day Toddler class. When she is not working with children, Katherine enjoys painting, quilting, cooking, and playing with her dog, Rhubarb.

  • Leslie Roberts

    (3-day) Toddler Assistant Teacher

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    Leslie first joined the MCHD community when her daughter Livy enrolled in the Early Childhood program in 2011, but her love of Montessori and fascination with child development began in a college psychology class. Leslie went on to work as an assistant at the EC and Lower Elementary levels at Montessori schools in Georgia and Alabama. She received her B.A. in English from Rhodes College, and later channeled her lifelong love of books into earning a Master’s Degree in Library and Information Studies from the University of Alabama. Leslie worked as a children’s and young adult librarian in Alabama until the birth of her first daughter in 2008, and moved to North Carolina shortly thereafter when her husband’s medical residency brought them to Durham. A former “Army brat,” Leslie is thrilled to have put down roots in the Triangle, where she enjoys swimming, reading, music, and exploring the outdoors with her husband John, daughters Livy and Beatrice (both current MCHD students), and dog Chloe. To the classroom, she brings a strong commitment to the tenets of Montessori philosophy and delights in fostering a physical and emotional environment where each child’s unique gifts and abilities can flourish.

  • Sophia Koinis

    (5-day) Toddler Assistant Teacher

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    A native North Carolinian, Sophia is returning after living abroad for several years in Puerto Rico and throughout South America where she lived in an intentional community. She graduated from Hollins University in Roanoke, Virginia with a major in Dance. Over the years, she has worked teaching dance and yoga to children, adults and people with developmental disabilities. Upon returning stateside, she began working with elementary-aged children, loved it, and found herself drawn towards the Montessori method which captured her heart. She is thrilled to be able to delve into the philosophy of Maria Montessori and into the service of young people and their brightness. She enjoys yoga, exploring Ayurvedic cooking, going on a leisurely bike ride, being a tìa, and hiking with her dog, Cocù.

  • Christina Riley

    (All-Day, Morning) Toddler Assistant Teacher

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    After graduating from Marshall University, Christina joined her husband on a four-year adventure in Asia. There, she taught English as a Second Language to children ages 3-12 while living along the coast of South Korea. Christina was inspired by her travels throughout the continent and love of working with children. This inspiration led her to complete her Master’s in Global and International Education from Drexel University, focusing primarily on Assessments and Communicative Language learning. It was also at this time that Christina began her journey into the world of Montessori. She hasn’t looked back since. Christina and her husband moved to Durham in November 2015 to be closer to her family. When she isn’t at school, Christina is on the road traveling with her husband and taking photographs.

  • Viola Bestmann

    (All-Day, Afternoon) Toddler Assistant Teacher

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    Viola Bestmann holds a German Diploma for Movement Education with an emphasis on Health and Occupational Therapy. She is a certified Development Movement Educator and Yoga Instructor. Viola also has a background as a Visual Artist and Dance Theatre Performer.
    She has worked as an Early Childhood Educator since 1986. Here in the US she has taught at many different schools, including Durham Early School (CFS), Family Preschool and Beth El. Viola is happpy to be returning to MCHD; in the past she has worked as an Assistant in an Early Childhood Classroom. Viola feels continuously inspired by how children discover the world and the people around them with an open heart, a curious mind and a never ceasing sense of wonder.

  • Laura Jackman

    (All-Day, Afternoon) Toddler Assistant Teacher

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