Our Community

The Dandelion community is a network of interactions between students, teachers, and parents. As a co-op, Dandelion has community at its very structure, and parents form the support that allows our teachers to lead the classroom and the school. As a result, you may hear the Heads of School referred to as teacher-leaders. Heads of School are co-chairs of a board comprised of teachers and parents.

Our Teachers

Micki Sausen – Head of School

Micki holds a BA in English, an MA in Education, and has been a credentialed AMS Montessori teacher since 1980. She has been a Montessori educator, leader and mentor for over forty years. In the span of her career thus far, she was chosen in a nationwide search as one one of several lead teachers to bring Montessori to the public school system to schools that were underperforming. She has been responsible for implementing learning plans in the Montessori classroom for differently abled children and, most recently, implemented and ran a Montessori program at a Head Start school in inner city Chicago. She has worked in small independent schools in Minneapolis and New York City and large urban public school districts in Milwaukee and Chicago. Her roles have been varied, from assistant teacher to lead teacher to program administrator. Throughout it all, her focus has remained steadily on the growth and empowerment of the children under her care.

Micki in classroomShe has profoundly influenced the lives of her students and their families. In the words of parents “Micki is absolutely wonderful!! She was my oldest daughter’s first Montessori teacher and I had the pleasure of spending many hours working with her as a parent volunteer and in school committees. My husband and I used to joke that she was an oracle: ever calm, incredibly insightful and wise.”

In describing her own journey, Micki says “for over 40 years I have been inspired by Montessori education. I have been the parent of children in Montessori schools, and, in a couple of years, I will be the grandparent of a Montessori child. Throughout this journey I continue to find proof that Montessori education works for children of all cultural, socioeconomic and developmental backgrounds. This is what inspires me. When I am in the classroom with children my heart is happy and my mind is stimulated.”

Lindy McGrail – Head of School

Lindy with childrenLindy McGrail attended a Montessori school as a young child and has never forgotten the joy that was present as she built the pink tower, explored the various continent maps, and made connections among all the materials and other children in her Montessori classroom. This visceral memory of her earliest learning experience is what drives her each day to help guide young children in their self-formation through a meticulously and thoughtfully prepared environment at Dandelion Montessori.

Previous to her work with Dandelion and the Wildflower Network, Lindy worked in a variety of educational settings, most recently in administration at Duke University. As an undergraduate student at Fairfield University, Lindy researched the implementation of Montessori preschools in post-Soviet educational systems to help aid the development of global citizens and critical thinkers. This in turn led to a Fulbright Scholarship in Martin, Slovakia as a guest lecturer at a secondary school, Gymnázium Viliama Paulinyho Tótha. Lindy’s love of Montessori philosophy and lifelong learning grew when she returned to the U.S. and worked at Walnut Park Montessori School in Newton, MA. She received her primary Montessori certification through the New England Montessori Teacher Education Center in 2012 under the direction of Bonnie LaMothe.

Lindy helped found and open Dandelion Montessori Coop in September 2015 and is continually inspired by the passion of those she works with to use Montessori education as a catalyst for local and global change. Her personal mission is that every person who walks in or out the doors at Dandelion is able to witness and embrace the amazing faculties of children who have an incredible amount to contribute to the world.

Sarah Falo – Lead Teacher, Extended Day

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As a Creative Arts Therapist who is dedicated to empowering children and families through a variety of strengths-based experiences, Sarah continues to inspire healthy connections through the creative process. She believes that relationship is how we heal, and grow throughout our human development.

She is a graduate of Lesley University’s Graduate School of Social Sciences with a Master’s of Art in Expressive Therapy and Mental Health Counseling. After community-based therapy work with children and families in Boston, Sarah moved to Brooklyn, NY, where she gained New York state licensure in Creative Arts Therapy. She provided a wide variety of therapeutic caregiving in NYC, including Rainbowdance and dance therapy groups for children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders, art and play therapy for at-risk Elementary school children, and arts-based groups for mommy-and-me classes. Sarah has worked with children ages 0-18, with a special focus on toddlers and preschoolers. In the past year, Montessori-based relationship building and child empowerment has been very crucial in her practice with young children.

Sarah will lead the extended day program which will be a play-based environment that incorporates music, movement, and art and is informed by the Montessori principles of understanding the uniqueness of the individual child and respectful guidance.

Nancy Turnquist – Assistant Teacher

nancypicNancy has over 20 years of teaching experience in a variety of settings both in and out of the traditional classroom with expertise in supporting students of all ages in self-directed learning. She has an undergraduate degree in English and Spanish literatures, a graduate degree in Literary Translation, and holds a Junior Intermediate II Iyengar Yoga certificate. Nancy has taught yoga locally, nationally, and internationally and served as a mentor to teacher trainees and those going up for certification.

Nancy has worked in Montessori settings since 2014 as a classroom Parent Apprentice, has completed two levels of Montessori teacher assistant training at the Northeast Montessori Institute, and continues to pursue professional development as an aspiring Montessori guide.

She is deeply invested in the children of Dandelion and was thrilled to accept the position of assistant teacher for this year. There are few things she finds as joyful and satisfying as being loving and present with children.

Our Families

classroom apprenticeship and community make up the dandelion experienceFamily involvement is essential to the success of our school and the foundation of a truly connected and nurturing community.  The classroom experience of our children, guided by our teachers, is supported by the family apprenticeship program, which is further supported by our community program.

Family Commitment

Families will participate in five classroom observations. Any family member can attend these observation sessions, which allow family members to witness the Montessori environment in action, act as a guest of their child, and practice the art of Montessori observation.

Parent education evenings with our teachers provide the opportunity for parents to deepen their understanding of Montessori philosophy and how it informs their child’s experience at school and at home. These nights have been a key community touch point for parents this year, and will continue to be structured to promote social interaction and support alongside education and guidance from our teachers.

Families may choose to commit to offering additional classroom support, serving as a Montessori apprentice to the teachers in the afternoon (1pm – 3:30pm on a specific day of the week). Apprentice shifts will be filled on an application and opt-in basis by parents who are able to commit to consistently performing as an assistant teacher as a way to reduce tuition ($50 per shift), though these funds could also be donated to the school if the family wishes.

Community Program

The Dandelion Community Program is a collection of optional events and activities scheduled throughout the year to foster connections between families, to support open communication, to nurture and celebrate our shared passion for this school, and to strengthen our sense of community. Lead by Dandelion parents, this program, comprised of optional coffee-breaks, after-school meet-ups, and potlucks, bring Dandelion families together through learning and play, providing opportunities for children and parents from different families to interact and bond with each other, and transforming our community into a big, extended family where we all care for each other.

The Community Program includes activities that invite families to support the Dandelion teachers and the school space itself, encouraging a community sense of ownership and stewardship of the school. It will include a variety of elements in an effort to appeal to a range of family interests and schedules, but be curated and focused so as not to add an overwhelming number of additional calendar events. We want to provide the clarity of an established, formal calendar of Dandelion events and activities, while leaving room for spontaneity and organic interest from community members. New ideas are always welcome!

Families are required to participate in two committees to assist in the operation of the school. Each family will have a lead position on one of their committees and supporting position on the other, and committee work will be teacher-led, designed to support the needs of the school. The expected time commitment for both committees combined is approximately 4-8 hours per month.