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 2003, MSCT established a satellite campus with two primary classes (ages 3-6) in Killeen, Texas. 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 39 years of excellence starting in the 2021-2022 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 six classrooms across two campuses, and students ranging from ages three to twelve. 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.
- Heather Schaefer, Assistant Teacher – Administrative Assistant: Heather Schaefer was born in Scotland but moved to Texas in 2005. She attended Baylor University and received her bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and Special Education. Her husband is a Blackhawk helicopter pilot in the U. S. Army. Being a military family, they have been around the world. Heather has worked as a third-grade teacher in South Korea, a teaching assistant at a Montessori School in Alabama, and a dance and music teacher in El Paso, Texas. Heather has two children at Montessori Schools of Central Texas and was an assistant teacher in the Primary Classroom with Mrs. Veronica Prudencio. Heather loves music, dance, and coffee. She plays a variety of instruments and enjoys sharing her talents with her students.
- Dolline Abraham, Lead Teacher – 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 for four years now. Her hobbies include pencil art, sewing, embroidery, and crocheting. Due to living abroad, Dolline speaks four languages: English, Tamil, Hindi, and Malayalam.
- 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.
- 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.
- Tabitha Gaitor, Assistant Teacher – Elementary: Tabitha was born in Florida but spent most of her childhood in Brooklyn, New York. In 2014, she moved to Round Rock, Texas and attended the University of Mary Hardin – Baylor where she earned a Bachelor’s degree in Clinical Psychology. After graduating, she worked in a behavioral health hospital for two years, learning ways to facilitate emotional wellbeing and self-regulation in young children and adolescents. Her love for children developed from spending summers volunteering at a family preschool and observing their limitless curiosity and jovial approach to life and learning. What she admires most about Montessori teaching is that it creates space for children to set standards for themselves while embracing their unique strengths and individuality. Today, Tabitha is working to complete a Master’s degree in Counseling with the hopes of working with children and teens dealing with trauma and major life changes. In her free time, she enjoys reading, writing poems, and cooking new dishes.
- Ebony Nnadozie, Assistant Teacher – Primary I: Originally born in Nigeria, Ebony now lives in Killeen, Texas and has been working in childcare for a couple of years. Her earlier experiences were spent in daycare environments where she supervised children of all ages. She appreciates the opportunity to work at the Montessori School because it has been quite rewarding, showing her how a child’s time can be best spent learning, discovering, and mastering practical life skills, like gardening, cooking, and sewing. Ebony is certified as a Nurse’s Assistant but plans to further her education in early childhood development after witnessing a better approach to teaching using Montessori philosophy. Ebony prides herself in role modelling for her students, as well as shaping their academic, social, and spiritual growth. In her spare time, Ebony enjoys reading, cooking and working out.
- Gwen Copeland, Assistant 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. 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 is an assistant teacher in our toddler classrooms. Gwen is currently studying behavior analysis through the University of Kansas. When Gwen is not at work or studying, you will find her 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!
- Ms. Cassidy Harmon, Assistant Teacher – Primary I: Cassidy was originally born in South Dakota, but grew up in Kerrville, Texas. She graduated from Tivy High School and is currently enrolled at Temple College pursuing a career in Pediatric Nursing. The past four years she has worked at The Salvation KROC Center where she was a lifeguard, a swim teacher, and helped around the facility. She loves getting to know people and has a positive attitude! Cassidy loves music, family gatherings, and Disney movies. She also enjoys adventures and has visited Mount Rushmore, Yellowstone National Park, and Enchanted Rock. Her family loves to stay active by hiking, swimming, and kayaking.
- Jennifer Preciado, Assistant 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, travelling, 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 looks forward to assisting 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.