Gabriela Sochańska, English teacher
Gabriela (33) holds a university degree in teaching and a Montessori diploma for children aged 2.5-6 years issued by the international association AMI, formed by Dr. Maria Montessori herself and still keeping the highest standards in preparation of Montessori teachers. Since 2004 until recently, she lived in London, where she worked as an au-pair at first, and then for two years as a teacher in two different AMI affiliated schools. Last year, she was the Primary lead teacher in a Montessori school in her homeland Poland.
Veronika Lněníčková (33), a teacher of the Primary class, arts and crafts
After high school Veronika spent several years in Ireland where, among other things, she helped out in a family with four small children with whom she fell in love, thanks to which she discovered that she wanted to continue working with children. After returning home she studied special pedagogy at the Jan Amos Komensky University and she worked in state and private preschools with a focus on the English language. She has an infatuation with travelling. She loves the sun, the sea, mountains and forests, the Caribbean and Iceland, where she is just fine all alone among the volcanoes and sprites. She likes music and books, mainly those from Japan as of late. She practices tai chi, plays the saxophone and the bongos. She first led an arts and crafts activity in Willowtrees and she was impressed by its "serenity, quiet and candidness.” “What fascinates me about Montessori pedagogy is how natural and universal it is, transcending geographical borders and boundaries of time, myths and preconceptions. I like the fact that it originated through the path from observing children to the creation of the education system and not the other way around."
Dijana Dimitrov, English teacher
Dijana (41) is an architect from Serbia, but lives in Prague since several years, and speaks fluent English thanks to previous international work experiences. So far she has experienced Montessori at home with her two daughters Tara (9) and Ina (5). She studies the AMI Montessori course for teaching children aged 2.5-6 years that she will finish with exams next year.
Martina Zábranská, Czech teacher
Martina (37) pursued painting and sculpturing and also dancing since her childhood, yet she studied at a business college, and worked in marketing for many years, until her two daughters Ema (7) and Anička (3) led her to find Montessori. She has joined Willowtrees as our kitchen aid last year so that she could gain practical experiences while studying the Czech Montessori diploma course which she has successfully accomplished.
Kristýna Chytráčková (25), a teacher of the Toddler class
Kristýna studied at an economic secondary school, but even before graduating she knew she was not going to be an economist, and she started to aim at working with children, which gave her a sense of enjoyment and purpose. For two years she babysat children of various ages in families. After getting her Montessori course diploma, she worked as an assistant teacher in a private Montessori school in Spořilov, where she realised that working with toddlers suited her best of all. She is interested in health food and esotericism; she loves artistic creations, books and nature, especially trees and mountains “What I like about the Montessori teaching style is the effort to truly understand the children's soul, to identify with it and also its spontaneity and thoughtfulness. I am fascinated by watching these small children during concentrated work and to be their silent guide throughout.”
Agnes Costa e Silva, English teacher
Agnes (34) is Brasilian, but lives in Prague for her third year, with her Czech husband and their two daughters Manuela (7) and Emma (3). She studied preschool teaching at the university in Sao Paulo, where later she worked for five years as a kindergarten teacher at a school using the method of constructivism that is very close to the known Step by Step method. Then she lived in the U.S. for another five years and worked as a full day nanny in two families with three little children.
Miroslav Kodym, aikido
Mirek, the father of the Willowtrees' owner, has been involved with the Japanese art of self-defence aikido for 30 years and holds the 5th dan of Aikikai (the highest “black belt” of the international association headquartered in Japan, granted in the Czech Republic). He leads two Prague aikido clubs where he works with adults and children, while simultaneously teaching in several universities. His granddaughters encouraged him to teach aikido to preschool children, since ever since they were in diapers they have been at home in his “dojo.” Thursday’s aikido with “Grandpa Bumbác,” which is primarily universal movement conditioning, is the most popular activity among our children.
Ivana Hessová, Dance
Ivana has studied pedagogic high school and than graduated at the Prague Academy of Performing Arts. Together with her daughter Anezka, she runs the dance studio Citadela in Prague 1 where she teaches dance for adults and children from 4 years-old. Ivana has been studying kathak from Indian masters since 1997 (Varanási, Kolkata, Bangalore, Delhi). She cooperates with Czech and international artists such as Amit Chatterjee, Feng-Jün Song, Shahab Tolouie, Jibendra Narayan, Gosvámí, Sandip Mallick, Jaroslav Dusek, Viliam Poltikovic or Ljuba Krbova, she performs in theaters and at festivals at home and abroad with her music and dance group Damaru, and cooperates as well with the Indian embassy. She is also co-author and actress in several puppet theatre shows for children, produces children´s programs in the theatre Strasnicke divadlo, and plays the harmonica and tenor saxophone. For more information see www.kathak.wz.cz.
Daniela Fremuntová, Yoga
Daniela studied at the University of Economics and before her sons Mikuláš (4) and Max (2) were born she worked in the financial department of an international telecommunications company and as an instructor of power yoga in her free time. During her maternity leave she co-founded two preschool centres, MC Pohádka Jesenice and RC Baráček Vestec, where she leads yoga courses and creative workshops for children and adults. She has graduated from the FISAF school of yoga and has completed many methodological seminars on exercising with children. In addition to yoga and the arts she likes to ride her bike, travel and cook.
Markéta Vrbinčíková, Music
Markéta graduated from the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague studying the flute and then she completed a year fellowship at the Guildhall School of Music and Fine Arts in London. As a member of several orchestras she has travelled around the world. She worked in a musical agency as the deputy headmistress of an internal school of music. In recent years as a music teacher she has been working mainly with children in preschools and elementary schools and she has been cooperating with the International School of Music and with the Prague British School. She specialises in teaching music on recorders and she also plays the piano and the guitar and sings with the children. She loves dancing, sports, travelling and good coffee.
Nina Kodymová (37), owner
Nina’s original profession was as a reporter. After several years in Czech and foreign media she got involved in public relations and marketing in managerial positions in telecommunications and IT. She was brought to Montessori pedagogy by her own children. “When my first daughter was born, I realised that I knew what I did not want to do in her upbringing, but I did not know how to replace that which was unwanted. Dr. Marie Montessori's legacy gave me direction in giving free upbringing a limit, in how to lead children to independence and self-confidence as well as to respect and responsibility.” During her maternity leave she took a certified PlayWisely® course, a training method created in the USA that focuses on the total development of children from birth to age 3, and she started working with children, which fascinates her and fulfils her. She is studying the Montessori diploma course. She speaks English, French and Spanish. She plays the flute, practices aikido, loves music, books, colours and nature and most of all, of course, her two daughters Ester (5) and Rebeka (2). She opened the Willowtrees preschool and nursery school together with Monika Němcová in January 2010. “Montessori pedagogy supports that which is natural in the child, giving him the opportunity to find, express and develop it in his own way. I am fascinated to be there, to observe how a great personality is born from such a small person.”