Laura Burla – Executive Director, Primary Classroom Teacher:

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I have been in this wonderful field of early learning for the past 20 years, and throughout my career I have had the pleasure of meeting hundreds of amazing children and their families. I am an Early Childhood Educator III, with my Specialization in Studies in Aboriginal Child Care, and have my International Montessori Teaching Diploma through the North American Montessori Center.

I attended Red River College for both my Early Childhood Educator Degree and my Studies in Aboriginal Child Care Degree.  In 2016 I was awarded the Prime Minister's Awards Certificate of Achievement in recognition of outstanding support for excellence in early childhood education.  I now sit on the PMA Selection Committee to help evaluate and candidates for the Prime Minister's Award in Early Childhood Education, and attend the Awards Ceremony in Ottawa in spring.

I have had the opportunity to work in many types of centres over the years, including rural, inner city, and extended hours care on evenings and weekends, and have spent the past eleven years working in senior management positions.

I have always had a strong interest in the Montessori Method, and have learned about it through the years. So when the opportunity to join this wonderful program came, I was very excited to join the team!  Immersing myself in the Montessori philosophy, and seeing how it transcends into the classroom teachings, has been amazing these past four years.

My personal child care philosophy is that as educators, we need to embrace life-long learning, and constantly challenge ourselves to learn more, for that is the only way we are able to grow in our abilities. I also strongly believe in supporting each family’s own unique dynamics, and celebrating the life of each child. 

We are beyond pleased and proud to announce that our Director Laura Burla is one of the 2015 recipients of the Prime Minister's Awards for Teaching Excellence and Excellence in Early Childhood Education



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Teacher Jo

JOANNA SMITH – CCA, Primary Classroom Teacher:

Hi. My name is Joanna and I am so excited to be working at St James Montessori. My first contact with the school was when my youngest started as a student in 2014, she spent three wonderful years with SJMS (the benefits of which we see every day), and I spent a year volunteering on the board and volunteer teaching a month-long music program, I am thrilled to be a part of SJMS again. I grew up in the UK and started my post-secondary schooling at the Guildhall school of music in London before transferring to Canada to finish my degree.  I've worked in some form of education for longer than I am willing to admit but have spent the last nine years focussing on early childhood music education, originally running my own private music studio in SK before moving to Winnipeg where I've kept busy working with various Montessori schools, community organizations and teaching in the Symphony's "Sistema program". Currently, I teach toddler and preschool music two days a week at other Montessori schools and work as a facilitator for the St James Parent Child Coalition. In addition to my degree, I have training in Orff methodology, Music For Young Children®, Music Rhapsody® and have almost completed my Educational Assistant Certificate through Red River College. 



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Teacher Fabia

Fabia Rodrigues da fonseca, ECE-In-Training - Primary Teacher

My name's Fabia Fonseca and I'm very happy and excited to be part of the team at SJMS! 

I have over 15 years of experience working as an early childhood educator, pre-school educator and educational program coordinator. I am passionate about Education, children and human development. Throughout my career I have sought out opportunities for professional growth, through training and participation in volunteering. 

During my career's journey, I had the opportunity to work in public and private schools of my home country, with several socio-cultural realities that proved to be a very rich universe of possibilities for discoveries, learning and growth.

I hold a Bachelors in Education as well as a Masters Degree in Education, with an emphasis on literacy. The child's awakening to the world of writing and reading is a fascinating process that enlarges the world view of the child.

My personal philosophy is that as educators we need to keep ourselves in a permanent posture of apprentices, so that we can expand our skills and competencies to encourage each child in their development and learning process as a whole.

I am very pleased to have spent the last three years with SJMS, and cannot wait to see what the future holds!



Bob the Fish - African Cichlid (Parrot Cichlid)

It is with great sadness that we share the death of Bob, our beloved class fish.  We will miss him greatly.  We choose to keep his Bio on our website, as a tribute to all the children he helped during his time with SJMS.

Hi, i'm Bob the Fish! I'm the newest addition to the SJMS Family and was adopted from one of our enrolled families.

Having living beings is crucial in a Montessori Environment (plants, fish, flowers, pets, etc) as it provides so many opportunities for preschool children to learn how to care for them, how to provide a happy, healthy and stimulating life and how to be responsible for the life of another being, like me! All of these skills fall under the "Care of the Environment, Pets" category, from the Practical Life Learning Area.

The students are responsible for all of my care, including feeding me, cleaning my tank, and providing me with a healthy and stimulating environment. The teachers ensure all students learn the skills to carry out these tasks, and maintain records to create equal opportunities for each student to engage in these daily tasks.

I'm really excited to be part of the SJMS program! Come say Hi, I have a really fun personality!

Benny the Fish - African Cichlid (Parrot Cichlid)

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Hello!  My name is Benny, and I am a female African Cichlid (Parrot Cichlid)!  I joined the SJMS Family back in May 2017, and I am just a youngster - I was only three months old when SJMS adopted me!  But within the next few years I will grow a LOT - and be as large as Bob was!  I am starting to show my personality this summer, and I can't wait to get to know you all!


Teacher’s Responsibilities:

As the Primary Teachers, Laura, Gredy and Fabia work every day the school is in session. Susan works all sessions (classes) that children with additional support needs (and recieve the Inclusion Support Funding Program) attend.  For this 2017/18 School Year, that is all days and classes.  Laura, as Executive Director of the Program, has Administrative Responsibilities relating to the school’s operations, in addition to being a presence in the classroom.  Laura balances her time between teaching in the classroom, coaching and mentoring staff and practicum students, and running the centre administratively as Executive Director.

All of our Educators are responsible for the overall quality of programming being offered to each child, each day. The Montessori Prepared Environment is designed to create a safe, calm, and welcoming space for the children to enter into each day, and our Teachers rotate out the learning materials as the children are ready to ensure optimal learning opportunities occur. They carefully observe each child, to know when they are ready to master new skills, and when the child is ready, to teach the material to them one-on-one through demonstration.

Our Teachers are each responsible for a Primary Group of children, and plan and implement a daily Circle Time with the children in their Primary Group, wherein they learn about various topics in all areas of the children’s development – social, emotional, cognitive, and physical. You will receive the name of your child's Primary Teacher at the start of the School Year, and they will be your main contact person for your child's education and goals.  The Teachers ensure that these planned activities support the “whole child”, to ensure all areas of their development are being supported.

Circle Time is not forced upon any child who does not wish to participate; children who do not wish to join that day are welcome to read quietly in the library area until the activity is finished. As children learn best when they are actively engaged and interested, we never force any child into an activity they do not wish to perform; instead we wait until they show interest in that material, and engage them when they are ready.

We also plan special field-trips and visitors throughout the school year, which build upon what the children are currently learning about. 

There will be times where Laura, Gredy, Fabia or Susan are away (illnesses, family emergencies, etc).  If needed to fulfill ratio requirements, we call upon our list of Substitutes to fill in for that day.  All of our Substitute staff have completed Criminal Record Checks and Child Abuse Registry Checks, and have been interviewed to determine their abilities and experience with children.

Whenever possible, we try and call in substitutes that the children are familiar with, to help make them more comfortable. Families will be notified that day if a substitute was in the classroom, through a note on the Parent Bulletin Board or an email sent to families.