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. As a teacher-led micro-school, Philly Montessori teachers work collaboratively to create all school-wide policies and procedures which creates dynamic and responsive classrooms that meet the developing needs of the individual children that we serve.

Founder & Lead Teacher

Sheila Akhavein (she/her), 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!

Educational Director & Lead Teacher

Terri Hennessy (she/her/they/them) is Educational Director and Lead Teacher at Philly Montessori. She is a member of the founding faculty, was a lead teacher in the 3-6 class during the school’s inaugural year, and moved to the Toddler Class to support its opening the following year. Currently Terri works with both the Toddler and Primary classes at Philly Montessori. Terri has been a Montessori Early Childhood educator since 2013 when she received her AMS teaching credential, and has extensive experience working with new and young schools. 

In addition to teaching children, Terri also works with adults, both as a Teacher Educator for adults studying for their Montessori certifications, and as a consultant. Terri co-founded Blossoming Beyond the Binary, which is an organization dedicated to educating teachers and parents about gender diversity and inclusion education. Terri has presented workshops about gender education at multiple American Montessori Society conferences, as well as at conferences given by local, state run Montessori organizations across the country. As part of her gender education work Terri co-created an online class for Montessori Centre Internationale called The Inclusive Classroom: Exploring Gender and Sexuality in the Early Years. Terri has been published in Montessori Life magazine and The Montessori World Review, and consults with local Montessori and traditional preschools, presenting various professional development courses focusing on creating inclusive environments and educating about gender and sexualilty in early childhood education.


“Play is the work of childhood”
~ Maria Montessori