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

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 Center for Montessori Studies. 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.

Françoise Ral-Kesler

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.

Olivia Lemercier

Born in Belgium, Olivia Lemercier attended a Montessori pre-school in Namibia and later finished her schooling in South Africa. She graduated from Rhodes University with an honour’s degree in Journalism and Media Studies before moving to Warsaw, Poland where she worked for an international pre-school. This re-ignited her passion for children and their education, and she moved back to South Africa in 2012 to work as the Public Relations Officer for an NGO to enable and empower children with physical and mental disabilities. During the same period, she also set up various initiatives with overseas volunteers to help in the education sector in South African township schools.

Olivia moved to Belgium at the end of 2016, focussing on finishing off her Montessori Diploma for children between the ages of 3 to 6 through the online Montessori Institute (Montitute). At the same time, she observed and worked at a Montessori school in Tilff, Liege, and spent a week observing the Montessori method at Montessori House Brussels. These experiences convinced her that the Montessori philosophy was a beautiful, effective way to nurture the natural development of children and to create the active, responsible, and caring individuals that this world needs.

As a lover of languages, Olivia teaches English through CLL Language Centre to children, adolescents and adults part-time, joining our school in September 2017 for 2 days as a classroom teacher. In her free time, you will find her cycling to further discover her native country and spending as much time as possible basking in the sun and revelling in God’s wondrous creations.

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

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

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.

Sophie Grandin

Sophie Grandin is French and joined the team in March 2021. She holds an Early Childhood diploma and a bachelor’s degree in Cinema and Audiovisual. After a long experience in pediatric oncology, children’s homes and nurseries as an educator, she followed the 3-6 Montessori training course at the AMI center in Paris in 2015. In 2020, she became a massage instructor in a schools’ programme for children from 2 to 12, (MISA™ France) and she also attended the 6-12 assistant course in the AMI center in Montpellier, France. During the school year 2016/17, she taught in a Montessori school close to London and once back in France, she taught three years in a Montessori school in Normandy.

What motivates her is to caringly guide children to their full potential, respecting their learning schemes and personal creativity. Talking about creativity, Sophie believes what the author and former Montessori student, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, used to say about the Montessori pedagogy, “The Montessori method is the best way to raise children’s awareness to the beauty of the earth and to arouse their curiosity about the secrets of life”.

In her spare time, Sophie enjoys discovering various cultures, travelling and art. Passionate about jazz music, she is also a swing dancer. As a sea-lover, she sails and practices freediving.

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.

Bhu Venkatesan

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 Argèles-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!