Our Teachers

“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I remember, show me and I learn.”

~Benjamin Franklin

Our Teachers

Maria Montessori recognized that children are not empty vessels to be filled with knowledge, but rather, intrinsically motivated beings who will naturally learn when guided within a thoughtfully prepared environment. Our teachers are specifically trained to first carefully observe children, and then to use their observations to foster connections between the children and their peers, and the children and the classroom environment. Our teachers create individualized learning plans for each child which ensure a well-rounded learning experience in every learning area: Practical Life, Sensorial, Language, Math, Art, Music, Cultural Studies, and Peace Education.

Founder & Lead Teacher

Sheila Akhavein is the founder and lead teacher at Philly Montessori, and mother to her own Montessori child, Emma. Sheila holds an M.A in developmental psychology, and an AMS teaching credential. She has over ten years of experience in the field of Montessori and early childhood education, and has served as a lead teacher, a teacher trainer, a school director of operations, and an educational consultant. She has created and presented many Montessori workshops for teachers and parents including: Montessori in the home, Montessori 101, and Peace Education. In every role she has served, Sheila has always been a passionate advocate for the children and families with whom she has had the honor to work.

As the daughter of two Montessori educators, Montessori has always been an integral part of her life. For Sheila, Montessori is not just a teaching philosophy, but a way of life. Opening a Montessori school and creating an inviting and inspiring space for young children and their parents has been a long-time dream of Sheila’s—and Philly Montessori is that dream come true!

Co-Teacher, Primary

Melissa Davis is the co-teacher in the Primary Classroom. She is originally from Louisiana where she received a Bachelor’s of Arts in Early Childhood Education from Louisiana State University. Melissa also holds an M.A in early childhood education from Southern Methodist University, an AMS teaching credential, and a state of Pennsylvania Private Academic Teaching License. Melissa has multiple years of experience working in the early childhood field. Passionate about teaching and the power of the child, Melissa has always been committed to meeting the needs of children through applying the Montessori philosophy. Her hard work and dedication has been acknowledged through multiple accolades including receiving the Outstanding Student Teacher Award, and the Top Scholarship Award as an Ignation scholar at Loyola university. Melissa always aspires to create a thriving, joyous classroom filled with children shaping their own path of development

In 2015, Melissa traveled to Reggio Emilia, Italy to learn more about the Reggio approach to learning. She enjoys drawing inspiration from multiple learning philosophies and integrating these into the Montessori classroom. We are so excited to welcome Melissa to Philadelphia, and to Philly Montessori!

Co-Teacher, Primary

Terri Hennessy, BA. Terri has been a Montessori Early Childhood educator since 2013, when she received her AMS teaching credential. A passionate Montessorian, she has taught in Montessori schools in San Francisco, New York, and Minneapolis. Terri has extensive experience working with new and young schools. While in Minnesota she worked closely with the founders of a school to open a brand new Primary classroom, and while in New York she stepped into a school during it’s third year, working hand in hand with school leadership to grow both the program and the school in Battery Park. During her time in New York she also served as a field consultant for teachers who were receiving their Montessori credential. Originally from Philadelphia, Terri is incredibly excited to be back in Philly after a long hiatus. In the interim, she has spent time living in Japan, Australia, Denmark, and China. While living abroad she taught ESL, and it was this experience that led her to start looking into different teaching methodologies and ultimately helped her to discover Maria Montessori and the Montessori Method.

While it is impossible to list all of the reasons that she is passionate about Montessori education, some of the things she finds most profound are that it is an approach to education that is grounded in peace, that it encourages independence and internal pride, and that allows for each individual child to learn in a way that is developmentally appropriate for them. Terri is excited to bring her love of teaching to Philly Montessori!

Assistant Teacher, Primary

Louise Eddowes holds three bachelors degrees in Fine Arts, Early Childhood Education, and Art Education. Originally from Lima, Peru, she has over 25 years of experience as an Art, Drama and Gross Motor Skills teacher. Over her tenure as a teacher, Louise has demonstrated great passion and leadership. In the classroom, Louise really enjoys creating opportunities for children to learn by integrating music, dance, and group games. She believes that through these collaborative experiences, children begin to strengthen their own personalities, and gain the self-confidence that is needed to be successful across all areas of life.

In her free time Louise really enjoys spending time with her two grand children, and also creating her own works of Art. Louise is also a native Spanish speaker, and will be one of our Spanish speaking teachers in the Primary classroom.

Assistant Teacher, Primary

Ana Maria Silos is an assistant teacher in the Primary Classroom, and is one of our native Spanish speaking teachers. She holds a degree in the Culinary Arts from the Art institute of Atlanta, and has completed the academic portion of her Montessori training. Ana is also mom to her three year old daughter Clara. Ana and the owner of Philly Montessori, Sheila, met in 2017 when they were both chasing their then two year old daughters around Three Bears Park. They soon found out that they had much in common- both being new mothers, originally from Atlanta, GA, and with a background in Montessori education. Ana had in fact even attended the same Montessori training program that Sheila’s mother attended over 30 years ago! Ana is an amazingly gentle, calm, and creative person who is excited about bringing her passion for cooking and experiential learning into the classroom!

Learn more about Montessori.


“Play is the work of childhood”
~ Maria Montessori