The mission of The Montessori Schools of Central Texas is to provide children with the academic and social skills, as well as the moral judgment, to successfully achieve their personal goals and potential so that they may positively impact society.
EXCELLENCE IN EDUCATION
Here at the Montessori Schools of Central Texas, we believe in educating the total child. In pursuit of that goal, our students are taught lessons and given activities which stimulate the mind, body, and spirit. The Montessori School is a non-profit, non-graded, and appropriate placement educational institution licensed by the state of Texas, and is a full member of the American Montessori Society.
Curriculum activities include practical life skills and sensorial experiences, along with language, mathematics, geography, history, science, art, music, physical education, computer skills, Bible studies, and Spanish.
The Montessori School is staffed by certified professional Montessori teachers who have been trained to build trusting relationships with children and to create environments which present a rich array of interactive experiences.
In operation since 1982, The Montessori School is currently offering programs for elementary students ages 6 to 9 years, preschool children ages 3 to 6, and infants and toddlers, ages 6 weeks to 3 years.
The Montessori School accepts children without regard to national origin, race, color, creed, or religion.
The Montessori Schools of Central Texas was founded in 1982, by Drs. Jerry and Sherry O’Donnell, as a private nondenominational Christian school for young children. The school began in a two-car converted garage at the rear of the O’Donnell’s home in McGregor, Texas, with twelve students, Mrs. O’Donnell as teacher, and an aide. The following year, the school expanded and transferred to a new location with more space. The student body continued to grow until, in 1986, the school moved to Temple, Texas. For three years, the school was located on the grounds of Trinity Church, occupying a separate building for the last two years. In 1990, the school was moved again, to what is now the current location at 1302 S. 27th Street in Temple, in a beautiful Victorian-era house. This change allowed the school to open enrollment for three classes with three different age groups, in order to offer educational opportunities to children ages 3 to 12. In 1995, the school purchased an adjacent property and house and converted it to use as another classroom. In 2017, The Montessori School had a beautiful building constructed on the North side of our property to house our Montessori Infant & Toddler School.
MSCT will celebrate 40 years of excellence starting in the 2022-2023 school year.
- Jerry O’Donnell, PhD, Headmaster: Dr. O’Donnell’s experience in life and the work force is varied, from serving in the U.S. Army as an enlisted soldier and officer, to owning numerous businesses, acting as a professional student, and doing the work of an evangelist, pastor, and teacher. He presently serves as the President of the Board of Directors for the Montessori Schools of Central Texas and the Headmaster of the MSCT Temple Campus. Dr. O’Donnell obtained his GED while serving in the United States Army. After recognizing his need for further education, he earned seven degrees in two tracts: the world and the church. He presently holds two bachelor’s, two master’s, and three doctoral degrees. In past years, Dr. O’Donnell has been a successful psychologist in private practice, specializing in creative motivation for underachieving children. Currently, he maintains his love for education through his passionate reading of books, magazines, and research articles. Dr. O’Donnell met his wife, Sherry, in high school, and they have been married for 57 years. Together they have three children, Jheri Lynn, Jeffery, and Jennifer, and five grandchildren.
- Sherry O’Donnell, D.CE.: Mrs. O’Donnell is the principal founder of The Montessori Schools of Central Texas. She has worked hard to grow the school from one classroom in a two-car garage in 1982 to the present day, with an organization comprising of seven classrooms, three buildings, and over 100 students ranging from 6 weeks old to age eleven. Mrs. O’Donnell was awarded a Doctorate in Christian Education for her tireless efforts to develop and provide a quality early-childhood education, based on Dr. Maria Montessori’s teaching philosophy and curriculum, to children of all backgrounds. She is certified at the Primary Level (ages 3-6) by the Association Montessori International, and at the Lower Elementary Level (ages 6-9) by the American Montessori Society. Her 38 years of service in the field have allowed her to continually refine her techniques and curriculum within the Montessori philosophy, in order to connect with and teach every one of her students on an individual level. When not involved with the school, Sherry enjoys spending her leisure time with her family.
- Jennifer Watson, Director: Jennifer was born in Japan where her father, Dr. Jerry O’Donnell, was stationed. As the third child of the O’Donnell’s she has grown up around Montessori education and watched as the school flourished under her parent’s leadership. Jennifer has been married to Jason since 2002 and has a remarkable son, Brady, who had the privilege of attending The Montessori School from the age of 20 months through elementary. Since grading-out of The Montessori School, Brady has taken Pre-AP classes throughout middle school and plans to continue challenging himself in High School with AP classes. Jennifer has been the Director of both the Temple and Killeen campuses from 2007-2015. She left briefly to pursue her love of veterinary medicine and returned as the Director in 2020. Her leisure time is spent caring for her many animals, traveling, reading books, and the joys of being a Mom.
- Kristin Iannuccilli, Assistant Director: Kristin was born and raised in Minnesota where she met and married her high school sweetheart. For the past twenty-plus years her husband has served in the Army while Kristin has been blessed by the opportunity to dedicate most of her time to raising their two children as they’ve moved around to various duty stations. Kristin holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and has experience in education with prior service as a Teacher’s Aide in a Montessori School in Nevada and working as an elementary school substitute in Louisiana and Texas school districts. Kristin’s family has chosen to settle in Belton, Texas and they are excited about putting down roots in the community. Kristin is eager to pursue her long-term goals of furthering her involvement in Montessori Education and being a part of the administrative team at MSCT.
- Dolline Abraham, Lead Teacher – Upper Elementary: Dolline was born and raised in the city of Muscat, in the Sultanate of Oman, and then moved to India during her high school years. She went on to complete undergraduate degrees in Nutrition and Dietetics, and earned a post-graduate degree in Business Administration. She then began working as a dietitian at the Christian Medical Hospital in India. After having her two children, she decided to end her employment at the hospital in order to spend more time with her family. Through her involvement with her own children, she began teaching kindergarten, and also handled Sunday classes for the three to five-year-old age group. Three years later, God made a path for her to take the Association Montessori Internationale course. Following certification, she was employed as a Montessori directress for two years, solidifying her career in the Montessori community. When a position opened up with MSCT, Dolline made the decision to move her family to the United States, and she has been a teacher with the school since 2015, certified at the Primary, Elementary I and II levels. Her hobbies include pencil art, sewing, embroidery, and crocheting. Due to living abroad, Dolline speaks four languages: English, Tamil, Hindi, and Malayalam.
- Ashley Diaz, Assistant Teacher – Upper Elementary: Ashley Díaz López was born in Aibonito, Puerto Rico, and grew up in the town of Coamo. Mrs. Díaz comes from a loving family and was raised with strong Christian values. She is the youngest of six siblings and has ten nephews whom she loves very much. Mrs. Diaz is married to Jason Torres and they have created a beautiful family. They have a precious baby girl that goes by the name of Jaylee Isabel. She has always liked playing the role of teacher since a very young age. She has a bachelor’s degree in special education with a secondary major in Family and Consumer Sciences from the Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico. Ashley has spent her career in childcare, summer camps, tutoring programs, and preschool. She desires to be well-rounded and is thrilled to be a part of The Montessori Schools of Central Texas. It is her goal to go above and beyond to nurture your children while meeting their developmental needs. Mrs. Diaz will teach Spanish to the upper elementary students and assist with physical education.
- Monica Walker, Lead Teacher – Lower Elementary: Monica Walker grew up in Fort Worth before attending college at Tarleton State University in Stephenville, Texas, where she earned a bachelor’s degree. It was there that she became passionate about the Montessori philosophy and has now completed her American Montessori Society (AMS) certification in Elementary 1. Newly married, Monica enjoys spending time with her husband doing outdoor activities, watching movies, and working on projects in their new home together. She really likes crafting, spending time in the kitchen, and a hot cup of coffee early in the morning.
- Laura Lopez, Assistant Teacher – Lower Elementary: Laura was born in the city of Santander in the north of Spain. Her father, who is Puerto Rican, traveled to Spain for a short college trip. Little did he know that on this short trip he was going to find the love of his life, get married and have two daughters on the other side of the world. After several years their family decided to move to Puerto Rico where Laura spent most of her younger years. She had her only child, Jeremy, in 2001. Meanwhile she attended college at the University of Puerto Rico Recinto de Rio Piedras where she graduated with a bachelor’s in arts of communication. Most of her work years were in the hotel industry as a Food and Beverage manager at a Waldorf Astoria Resort. In 2017 she met her husband who is currently a United States Army soldier at Fort Hood. Inspired by her mother who was an educator for over 35 years, Laura decided to take a different career path and applied for the KISD where she worked as a 4th grade permanent substitute. She fell in love with the amazing feeling of making a difference in a child’s life. Laura had a genuine interest in Montessori’s philosophy which is why becoming a part of the MSCT family was a dream come true. Her passions are spending time with family, traveling, the ocean, animals, and outdoor activities.
- Carmen Alvarado, Lead Teacher – Primary I: Carmen was born and raised in Puerto Rico, and she also attended Universidad de Puerto Rico Recinto de Rio Piedras while there. In 1995, she married a soldier in the United States Army, and starting in 1998, they began traveling extensively within the U.S. as her husband was transferred to various bases. Carmen considers these different living experiences to have been very positive for her family, including for her two daughters. In 2006, Carmen started working with children on a professional level, and she became qualified as a Child Development Associate (CDA) in 2008. In 2011, she and her family moved to Texas, where she then joined the Montessori Schools of Central Texas as a teaching assistant. Carmen earned her credentials as an Early Childhood teacher through North American Montessori in 2013, and then achieved credentials through the American Montessori Society in the same category in 2016. She is currently a Lead Teacher of one of our Primary classes. Mrs. Alvarado is fluent in Spanish and English, speaking both languages to her students in the classroom.
- Gwen Copeland, Lead Teacher – Primary I: Gwen was born in Gatesville, Texas. Upon graduation, she moved to Austin and attended Austin Community College. She later accepted an opportunity to travel the USA as an assistant recruiter. She eventually returned to Texas and obtained her Texas Real Estate License, working for years in this industry. Later in life, she was blessed with a daughter, Vivianne. This life-changing experience altered her perspective, and she began considering other career paths. Gwen’s innate love for children and desire to be a positive influence in their lives led her here to MSCT where she began as an assistant teacher in 2021. Since then, Gwen completed her American Montessori Society (AMS) certification in Early Childhood when she attended the Houston Montessori Center last year. When she is not at work, you will find Gwen spending every moment with her daughter, usually in nature exploring the great outdoors, engaging in practical life activities, antiquing, traveling, or planning their next adventure together!
- Cristina Nacey, Intern Teacher – Primary I: Cristina began working with children at the shy age of fourteen, as an assistant teacher of her Sunday School Bible class and continued gaining experience with working with young children throughout her undergraduate degree. While having received her Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice and History from the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley in 2019, God’s continuous redirection of working with children led her to pursue further education in Montessori instruction. After becoming a mother of two girls, her love for Montessori drew even deeper and is what led her to begin her AMS Certification through June Shelton School in Dallas. She is now fervently working towards her Early Childhood certification and Master of Education in Teaching through Dallas Baptist University. In her free time, Cristina loves to spend time with her family or catch up on a good book.
- Veronica Prudencio, Lead Teacher – Primary II: Veronica was born and raised in El Salvador. In 1994, she came to the United States. In 2002 she married a soldier of the United States Army and moved to North Carolina. After having her third child Veronica decided to go back to school. She earned her GED in 2010. She continued studying in Fayetteville Community College, until her husband was transferred to Fort Hood. In 2011, she moved to Texas and the next year she started working in the Montessori School of Central Texas as a Lower Elementary teacher aid and Spanish instructor for Upper Elementary. In 2016, she received her credentials through the American Montessori Society as an Early Childhood teacher. Veronica is very passionate about teaching. She has the conviction that it is the Lord’s plan for her life. Her hobbies are gardening, sewing, crocheting, and doing crafts with her children. Proficient in Spanish and English, Mrs. Prudencio enjoys teaching her students to speak and write both languages.
- Jennifer Preciado, Intern Teacher – Primary II: Jennifer was born and raised in Beloit, Wisconsin. She is the youngest of three children. She and her husband have been together for 10 years and have two beautiful boys, who keep them quite busy. They enjoy being outdoors, traveling, and spending time with their extended family. They moved to Texas in search of better job opportunities, more advanced schools for their children, and to be closer to family. Jennifer has worked in the retail industry for over 15 years but has always had an interest in teaching. She is so grateful to start this journey with the Montessori School and is now pursuing her AMS certification in Early Childhood. Jennifer looks forward to completing her certification at the primary level and helping the children grow in all areas of the curriculum.
- Jeff O’Donnell, PE Teacher, Groundskeeper, Transportation: Jeff has been a part of The Montessori Schools of Central Texas since 2013. He started his professional life serving three years as a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne Division, where he also earned awards for physical fitness. He completed his bachelor’s degree in psychology at SHSU and studied counseling at the master’s level. During this time, he worked with children and adolescents at behavior treatment centers. In addition to being a youth counselor, he served at the facility as a lifeguard, coached athletic events, and assisted the campus’ academic teachers in various ways. Over the years, Jeff has become increasingly interested in fitness. He has competed in power lifting and body building contests, and subsequently decided to pursue a career as a personal trainer, opening his own studio. Eventually, with two daughters, and his previous work with children, he switched tracks to focus on teaching physical education to a younger audience and came to work at The Montessori Schools of Central Texas. His upcoming goal is to achieve certification in group fitness by the American College of Sports Medicine. His hobbies include singing with his worship team at his church, playing sports with his daughters, and studying nutrition and health-related subjects.