MONTESSORI HOUSE BRUSSELS TEACHERS (GUIDES)
One of the many beauties of Montessori education is that it provides the child with a foundation that evolves into a life-long love of learning. What many parents do not know is that for a teacher, Montessori is a life-long learning experience. Through professional development programmes, seminars and conferences, Montessori guides are continuously expanding their knowledge and learning new ways of guiding the children in their classroom.
It is this openness to new information that creates the wonderfully supportive atmosphere in a Montessori classroom, where teachers are guides and observers who recognise that the classroom is a scientific laboratory filled with love for the child, and that learning happens through a respect for new as well as old knowledge and proven facts. As the children mature, and because of their Montessori experience, they too will be open to learning new information. They will be able to weigh up that information with an open mind and to determine whether it is fact or fantasy.
Our teachers at Montessori House Brussels are fundamental to creating the right environment for your children. Find out who they are below.
Marcel van Ratingen
Marcel van Ratingen is the director of Montessori House Brussels. He combines management of the school with teaching and is able to create learning experiences for the children, for the staff and for himself.
Marcel graduated from the Pedagogical Academy of Maastricht (The Netherlands) in 1976 as an elementary teacher. The same year he started his teaching career in a small Dutch town called Ede. He became head of a state-owned primary school in 1988, which he in time transformed into a Montesssori school. He graduated as a Montessori teacher (Casa dei Bambini and Elementary) in 1996 from the ‘Nederlandse Montessori Vereniging’.
Looking for new horizons he moved to London to gain experience in the English educational system. In 2001 he moved to Brussels, working in several Montessori schools. In 2006 he co-founded Montessori House Brussels close to the current address of the school. Seeing the need to expand, the school moved into the current building in 2016. It is with great pleasure that Marcel guides children and teachers, in order to create a wonderful environment at Montessori House Brussels.
“I don’t need to teach anything to the children; it is they who placed in a favourable environment, teach me.” Dr. M. Montessori
Amra Haseljic is from Bosnia and Herzegovina, but has spent most of her adult life in Italy. She moved to Brussels and joined our team in September 2016. After a degree in Modern Foreign Languages, she specialised in early childhood education, attending a master’s in Education at University of Roma Tre and Centre for Montessori Studies. To deepen her knowledge of Montessori education, Amra enrolled in the AMI course Montessori guide in early childhood education which she qualified from in July 2022. Amra has more than twenty years of experience in early childhood education. Her roles as a volunteer, tutor and Montessori educator have brought her into contact with a range of childcare situations and their respective demands, from caring and educating young infants in company creches to helping immigrant children suffering from leukaemia.
Amra’s accomplishments in child education have been recognised by MoMo (the Italian quarterly Montessori magazine), for which she wrote an article about her teaching, ‘Introducing cultural differences to children through a variety of Montessori activities’ (2015). As of June 2020, Amra has accepted to assist Marcel with his management tasks, thus creating a stronger ‘body’ governing the school. As well as being a teacher, Amra has been taking part in managing Montessori House Brussels, a role she enjoys very much, thus giving her colleagues and children the possibility to profit from her knowledge and broad range of experiences. She loves cooking, music, cinema and travelling.
Marion Vauclin grew up in France in a large family where she was the oldest child. She studied management at ESSEC business school and came to Belgium in 2010 to start a career in digital communications. During about 12 years spent on corporate projects she learnt a lot about herself: her passion to lead project teams, with ambition but also care and justice, and her love to see people grow and blossom in their professional environment.
Destiny made her cross Maria Montessori’s work and as from that moment, she considered a profound carrier change: to work on children’s development rather than digital platforms’ development. She is convinced that the positive impact on society will be bigger!
She joined the AMI 3-6 course that started in 2020 in Brussels at the International Montessori Training Center. Diving into Montessori’s pedagogy just reinforced her will to reorientate herself towards a Montessori guide position. She graduated in July 2022 and happily joined Montessori House Brussels in September 2022.
Marion is also a great musician, with a passion for classical music. Since the age of 6, she has been regularly involved in amateur and professional opera spectacles. But you may hear her voice in other circumstances: to celebrate life, nature, God’s love… and of course you will see her singing with the children!
Chiara Simonini was born in Italy and moved to the UK at age nine. After obtaining her Master’s degree in Development Studies at the London School of Economics in London, she moved to Bosnia and Herzegovina, where she worked for several years for an international organisation set up to oversee the post-war institutional reconstruction of the country. A highly fulfilling experience she will treasure forever.
In 2006, she moved to Brussels and chose to devote her time to raising her three children. While doing that, she nurtured her life-long interest in photography by taking a degree course in it. She also indulged her creativity in old crafts such as stained-glass window making, needle felting and crochet.
Through her children’s early school years, she experienced different education methods. Through friends, she then became acquainted with Maria Montessori’s philosophy, which really appealed to her. She thus decided to take the AMI 3-6 Assistants course in London to learn more about it. The course was an eye-opener. She was fascinated by the way Montessori’s philosophy revolved around supporting the development of independence in children. Physical independence initially, followed by independence of thought, needed to become confident, self-sufficient, and altruistic adults who are ready to give back to the world. Wanting to follow Montessori’s thought on the further development of the child, she then joined London’s AMI 6 to 12 Assistants course. Fascinated by the theory and eager to delve into the detail, she finally decided to take the full AMI 3 to 6 diploma course in Delft in 2021-2022. With that degree in hand, and armed with her love for early childhood, she now looks forward to continuing her work with our children at Montessori House Brussels.
Marie-Mai El Hadj-Rondreux
Marie-Mai El Hadj-Rondreux is of French origin and moved to Brussels in 2012. She is married and a mom of a little girl born in 2016. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English and a diploma in foreign languages (English and Spanish). She worked as a nanny in the USA for 1 year; back in Europe she worked in the tourism field. A few years later she went back to the States to volunteer for an NGO based in the Bronx and Brooklyn, New York. After that wonderful human experience, she realised she wanted to dedicate her life to children.
She discovered the Montessori pedagogy in the USA. Its respectful approach to children, the way it allows them to work freely and develop their skills and curiosity for the world autonomously immediately seduced her. She says, “Through this pedagogy we really learn to respect the pace and personality of each child and help them to gain self-esteem and confidence”.
She decided to follow the 3-6 Montessori training course at AMI centre in Paris in 2011 after which she had her first experience as a Montessori teacher in a school near Paris. She joined Montessori House Brussels in September 2012. She has been greatly enjoying working as a Montessori teacher ever since. Marie-Mai loves arts, especially drawing and painting. She enjoys travelling and is involved in a volunteering project in Africa that promotes education through arts, reading and playful activities.
Inma Prieto is from Murcia, a beautiful region of Spain. Her friends describe her as an open-minded person with a good sense of humour and a real love for travelling, reading and learning. She loves all kinds of music and cinema as well. She started working as a secretary, but soon realised that her true passion was all about children, so she decided to study as a primary music teacher at Universitad de Murcia. Afterwards she spent four years working as a nanny in London, taking care of babies and children aged 3-5, a wonderful experience! Back in Spain she worked as the director of Escuela de Musica Beethoven and also taught English in Kingsbury Academy to both children and adults.
While working as a music teacher at a bilingual school, she started her Montessori course in Madrid, where she understood that this philosophy with its unique approach really comprehends and respects children´s autonomy when set in a peaceful and balanced environment. Besides this she agrees that it is our task as guides (in Maria Montessori´s own words) “to shake up life, but to leave it free to develop”.
In her first year at Montessori House Brussels Inma took up the role as piano teacher as well as part-time class room teacher. Since September 2020 she is engaged full time as classroom teacher.
After one year, having completed her Montessori Course for Children’s House children, she was offered a position as guide in Montessori House Brussels.
Sébastien Doligé, of French nationality, has been living in Brussels since 2008. He lives with his wife and their son, who was born in 2016. After studying History and Political Science at the College of Europe, he worked for more than 10 years in the field of energy and environment within European institutions and for an international trade association. However, he gradually realised that his real interest was elsewhere, in the humanities and education.
For 3 years, he did several observation courses in nursery and primary schools to clarify his project. He was seduced by active pedagogies and the importance they attach to respecting the child’s natural rhythms. He also followed a series of short training courses, notably at Sophie Rabhi’s Children’s Farm and at the Maria Montessori Higher Institute, where in 2018 he obtained the AMI assistant diploma for the Children’s House (3-6 years). In particular Maria Montessori’s pedagogy is of great interest to him, for the importance given to the prepared environment, the observation of children, and the training of the educator.
He joins Montessori House Brussels as a guide in September 2020. He completed the AMI Teacher training for Children’s House (3-6 years) in Lyon in 2021. Sébastien is passionate about music – he is a drummer and percussionist.
Ciana Alcon Rannari
Ciana Alcon Rannari is half French, half Finnish with some Spanish origins.
Her career began with a BAFA qualification working with children from 2 to 17 years old, practising extracurricular activities thus gaining her first experiences (before and after school care, school holiday activities and summer camps).
She then travelled to Australia (2017) to improve her English working as an au pair in Brisbane, which led to the discovery of the Montessori method. While working as a Montessori assistant in several classes with children aged 6 months to 5 years, she familiarised herself with the challenges of supporting children in combined age groups. Ciana found Montessori education inspiring and relatable and realised she would like to learn more about this unique philosophy.
Keen to continue her passion she decided to study at Maria Montessori Institute London, qualifying as an AMI 3 – 6 Montessori Educator in 2020, while working as an assistant. After graduation she was able to work as the main guide in the same Montessori School.
Ciana loves working with children offering the wide diversity of the Montessori curriculum in an inviting and happy classroom.
She joined Montessori House Brussels in 2021, motivated to share her experience, while being in an international environment.
Ciana likes to spend her free time practicing yoga, ice skating, and classical and contemporary dance.
Brussels-born Françoise Ral-Kesler finished her study in psycho-pedagogy in the early eighties, after which she worked for several years in Belgian state schools. Later, combining this with working in the police force, she has raised three children. Because of her kind, gentle and caring character she was asked to look after people who were in need of care, which she did with great compassion. Throughout the years, while working in retail, Françoise enjoyed tutoring children after their school hours, and when she became part of Montessori House Brussels in 2016, she rediscovered her desire to be with children and to guide them.
It didn’t take her long to decide to follow the Montessori course for children of 3 to 6 years in Luxembourg, and she now enjoys every minute being a Montessori guide in our school. Working in an environment totally dedicated to the needs of the child and helping them to become independent human beings, is Françoise’s ultimate wish.
Bhu Venkatesan is a Paediatric Occupational Therapist, serving the school as a consultant since 2013 and offers school observations, clinical assessments, therapy, parent-teacher support and in-house workshops. She has a Masters in Occupational Therapy (with a specialization in Paediatrics) and professional certifications as Remedial Teacher for Dyslexia, Vedic maths teacher and Children’s Yoga Teacher. Apart from her private practice (Flowerpots, one of the first Sensory clinics in Brussels), she also liaises with many schools on different platforms, to help kids in their school settings. In her 15+ years of clinical experience, her core principles have always been Early intervention and Holistic therapy, where she successfully treats the ‘whole’ child!
“Paediatrics is my Passion and that’s what I invest in my occupassional therapy when I work with my kids,” says Bhu.
On 10th June 2018 Ollie Wheatenheaven was born in Argelès-sur-Mer, daughter to mother Havane and father Irwing. She is one of five puppies who grew up blissfully in the French countryside. When she was 12 weeks old, she moved to Brussels, becoming part of Marcel’s household and school. Undergoing Montessori education and otherwise she turned into a wonderful companion, respectful, always hungry and trying her best to defend her environment at home and at school. She has learned plenty of words in different languages and likes to be challenged using her incredible nose. She enjoys making her own choices (age appropriate) and receiving cuddles and careful caresses. Marcel takes her to school every day, where she spends time in his office and school garden after having greeted the children and parents during morning drop-off; adorable!