The Children’s Montessori School

Our Exceptional Educators

Mr. Thomas Blackmore with child at a whiteboard
Thomas Rhys Blackmore
Upper Elementary II


Mr. Blackmore teaches the Upper Elementary Two programme at CMS and is the school’s newest teacher. In teaching the school’s eldest students and preparing them for secondary school, he strives to instill in them accountability – personally, as peers and as community members.  His students contribute to their learning environment and to the school community as a whole in a positive manner. Mr. Blackmore says he chose CMS for its focus on the individual student.


“I hope that I am successful in ensuring that my students are comfortable and confident in being themselves. It is my goal to create a learning environment that embraces individual differences amongst my students.”


Mr. Blackmore began his teaching career in 2010 when he lived in Busan, South Korea. He first became involved within the CMS community in 2011 by volunteering as an Art Instructor. He completed his Bachelor of Education at Trent University in 2013. He holds a Bachelor of Arts from Western University and also has additional qualifications in Special Education.

Alice Bond
Alice Bond


Alice Bond is our CASA programme assistant, and joined CMS for her first role as a Registered Early Childhood Assistant. She has extensive experience, however, working with children – Ms. Bond has taught dance for more than a decade. She brings her positive attitude and her affinity for the arts to our youngest students. Ms. Bond was first introduced to CMS when she was asked to choreograph a spring recital. She says she was immediately impressed by the students’ respect for one another, for their teachers, and for their community.


“I love seeing the process children go through when they’re learning a new skill. Whether it be a new step at the dance studio, or learning how to write their own names in CASA One, it’s amazing to watch them practise and practise until the day they finally get it!”

Sarah Cook
Sarah Cook
Upper Elementary I


Mrs. Sarah Cook teaches the Upper Elementary One programme at CMS and prides herself on teaching the whole child – meeting the social, emotional and academic needs of every individual. She became a teacher to share her love of learning and, to help make a difference in the world around her. In her classroom, her students are challenged in every way, and she strives to inspire them to become contributing members of their school community and beyond.


“I use my personality to the best of my ability to help my students feel comfortable and give them kind, caring guidance. I also try to model hard work and personal growth for my students, as I’m always learning from my experiences, students and colleagues.”


Mrs. Cook has been teaching for eight years – seven of them at CMS. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Human Kinetics from University of Guelph, and attended Trent University for additional science/Forensic Science courses. Her Bachelor of Education degree is from the University of Ontario Institute of Technology and she has completed an additional Special Education course. She also holds a Paraprofessional Certificate from the Toronto Montessori Institute.

Emily Coughlin
Emily Coughlin
Lower Elementary II


Ms. Emily Coughlin is an assistant in the Lower Elementary Two classroom and the school’s supply teacher. She joined CMS for her first teaching position, having recently graduated from Trent University with Bachelor of Arts degree in history with an emphasis in teaching, and a Bachelor of Education. She was certified by the Ontario College of Teachers in 2015.


Peterborough is Ms. Coughlin’s hometown, and she says she’s thrilled to have launched her career at CMS. She says here, she has embarked on a new educational journey of her own, learning from her students, her fellow teachers and from the CMS community as a whole.


“I love being at a school where everyone knows everyone’s names.”

Mrs. Elaine Dadswell looking at a piece of paper with a child
Elaine Dadswell
Middle Elementary


Mrs. Elaine Dadswell teaches the Middle Elementary programme at CMS and in her classroom, it is well known that each and every day is an adventure. Her students never know what crazy, magical or wonderful things will unfold. She inspires her students not only to learn, but to love learning and she creates a classroom that is creative and fun – one that encourages children to challenge themselves.


“The most rewarding moments are when you witness a student mastering a lesson, or solving a problem that has been challenging. You can see their excitement and watch their confidence grow. There is nothing more incredible than watching their eyes as they figure it out, and you can see that ‘aha’ moment.”


Mrs. Dadswell joined CMS 12 years ago at the beginning of her teaching career. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and History and a Bachelor of Education in addition to having completed the Paraprofessional Certificate from the Toronto Montessori Institute.

Popo Dass
Popo Dass
Lower Elementary I


Mrs. Popo Dass teaches the Lower Elementary One programme at CMS and her daughter also attends the school. She believes that it is her job to make learning an adventure, igniting children’s curiosity and supporting them in working to their full potential. In her classroom, she encourages successful experiences and watches the children’s inner drive develop and grow. Mrs. Dass has spent her entire career teaching at CMS – and she finds it particularly rewarding to see her students learn to read their first books using montessori materials.


When students are self-motivated, there is nothing that they can’t accomplish academically.”


Mrs. Dass has been at CMS for 15 years and holds an Early Childhood Education diploma, and is a MACTE Accredited teacher with a diploma from The Canadian Montessori Teacher Education Institute.

Julie Deck
Julie Deck


Mrs. Julie Deck directs the music programme at CMS. She thrives on developing young musicians, and her commitment and dedication reaches out into our community – Ms. Deck is also the Director of the Peterborough Children’s Chorus Junior Choir. She says she has chosen to pursue her passion, and to share what she calls “light bulb” moments with the children at CMS because the school fosters an environment in which children are encouraged to explore their natural curiosity and seek answers to their questions.


Music brings expression, depth and a language beyond words. It is a discipline that takes time to evolve and it is throughout that journey that students discover things about themselves.”


Mrs. Deck has been teaching for close to a decade and holds a Bachelor of Music (Organ Performance and Theology) from the University of Toronto and a Bachelor of Education from Trent University.

Mrs. Erin Howcroft with a child making shapes
Erin Howcroft


Mrs. Erin Howcroft teaches the CASA Two programme and is also a CMS mom – two alumnae and a current Upper Elementary Two student. She also, however, refers to her students as her “children” and interacts with them accordingly, building trust and fostering strong relationships. Mrs. Howcroft creates fun for her students as she encourages them to be themselves and to explore the world around them. As a mother and an educator, she was drawn to the CMS environment for its sense of community, its positivity and its small class sizes.


“I believe that the innocence, awe and excitement that children have makes every day different, every day exciting and every day challenging.”


Mrs. Howcroft has been teaching at CMS for six years and holds an Educational Assistant diploma, and is a MACTE Accredited teacher with a diploma from The Canadian Montessori Teacher Education Institute.

Tamara Kirk with a child playing with figures
Tamara Kirk


Ms. Kirk is the CASA Two programme assistant. She strives to brighten every child’s day and her optimistic personality regularly shines through. She believes very strongly in the successes relative to the montessori method and says small class sizes and individual learning are key. Ms. Kirk can often be found leading the CASA students in science experiments, continually motivated by watching her students’ little faces light up. She describes CMS as a closely-knit community and a big, happy family.


“My most rewarding moments are when the children read their first book. The proud smiles on their faces demonstrate all their hard work. Plus, at the end of the school year, it’s always amazing to see how each child has grown academically and emotionally.”


Ms. Kirk has taught at CMS for 10 years, and holds an Educational Assistant diploma from Fleming College and has completed the Paraprofessional Certificate from the Toronto Montessori Institute.

Khrystie Rathwell
Khrystie Rathwell
Lower Elementary II


Mrs. Khrystie Rathwell teaches the Lower Elementary Two programme at CMS and is mom to two current students. She began her career nine years ago at CMS and says she hopes to never leave! In her classroom, she is particularly proud that children work at the level that best suits them. At any given time, numerous levels of mathematics and language lessons are ongoing, eliminating for students boredom or any sense of frustration. To her, montessori is the perfect educational model – one to which she was drawn as a student teacher.


“I love the light bulb moments, when something that didn’t make sense, or is brand new, all of a sudden clicks with a child. It is hard to put into words, yet fascinating to witness!”


Mrs. Rathwell has an Honours Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and English from Trent University and is a graduate of the Trent-Queen’s Concurrent Education program. She holds a Montessori Paraprofessional Certificate from the Toronto Montessori Institute, and is a MACTE Accredited teacher with a diploma from The Canadian Montessori Teacher Education Institute.

Ms. Jennifer Robbins at a door to a classroom
Jennifer Robbins


Ms. Jennifer Robbins is the CASA One programme assistant, and was drawn to the montessori classroom for its sense of wonder and calm. She contributes to this child-centered classroom, and says it’s the most rewarding profession she can imagine. She is in awe when the children in her care experience moments of discovery, reach milestones, and develop and grow as individuals. Ms. Robbins describes the CMS community like a family – a supportive environment that encourages growth and ensures that every child experiences success.


“It’s incredible to see the children become aware of the sounds in words. As they trace the sandpaper letters, and learn the sounds they make, they learn to recognize those sounds in words. The joy they express in this learning is awesome!”


Ms. Robbins has been teaching at CMS for four years. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, with an emphasis in early learning and child development from Trent University.

Mme Penny Suhr
Penny Suhr


Madame Penny Suhr directs the French programme at CMS. She joined CMS following a “wonderful” career in the public elementary school system, where she taught grades two to 10. For Mme Suhr, teaching is about strong interactions and making connections with her students. It is her role, she says, to help students develop an appreciation for another language and culture in our global village and in doing so, to have fun.


“Of course, it’s always terrific when the light goes on with a difficult concept and you can see they’ve got it, but generally, watching the students grow and blossom over time is the best. As a classroom teacher, you get to be a wee part of who they are and sometimes even, who they become.”


Mme Suhr received a Bachelor of Arts degree in French from York University and went on to London Teacher’s College after spending a year in Europe to immerse herself in the French language and culture.

Mrs. Sara White holding a child
Sara White


Mrs. Sara White teaches the CASA One programme at CMS. She strives, and find its incredibly rewarding, to establish strong attachments with the young children in her care. Self-confidence and self-esteem develop in the CASA One classroom as our youngest students make connections through the exploration of their environment. Mrs. White was first attracted to the montessori classroom because of its calm and peaceful nature and says that at CMS, there is a strong feeling of family.


I thoroughly enjoy teaching the children the montessori apparatus. The curriculum works in a sequential and holistic way, and I love sharing that with the children and their parents. Children are so capable of learning and absorbing information at such a young age – whether it is working with the sandpaper sounds to learn the phonetic alphabet or movable alphabet to build words.


Mrs. White has been teaching for 12 years and holds a diploma in Early Childhood Education and is a MACTE Accredited teacher with a diploma from The Canadian Montessori Teacher Education Institute. She is a member of the College of Early Childhood Educators.

The Connellys
The Connellys,

Jennifer Connelly, Principal

Brendan Connelly, Administrator


Principal Jennifer Connelly has been a teacher at The Children’s Montessori since it began in the basement of a church in 1997. Less than 10 years later, in 2005, she and her husband, Brendan, assumed ownership of the school. Both Jennifer and Brendan were born and raised in Peterborough and are proud to be living, working and contributing to the community they call their own. The Connelly’s daughters, Isabella and Faith attend the school, and are proud to share their parents with their more than 100 schoolmates.


The Connellys attribute the school’s vibrancy to its community – to students and their parents, staff members and teachers, who all play important roles to ensure an academic and social setting in which students are poised to prosper and succeed. Jennifer and Brendan live and lead with the school’s values of excellence, co-operation and respect.

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