Meet Our Director & Staff
The Montessori Learning Center has an experienced, dedicated and professional staff. Our teachers and director are committed to making your child’s learning environment superior to other schools.
STACEY BARKER IZER
Mrs. Stacey Izer has been working at The Montessori Learning Center for over 25 years and is currently the Director of the school.
She is a long time resident of Fort Walton Beach. After graduating from Florida State University with a degree in Child Development, she returned to her hometown where she now lives with her husband Kelly, her daughter McKenzie, and son Jake.
“I believe that children learn in unique ways. I also feel to effectively teach a child we must use a 3 person approach: student, parent, and teacher. I believe that it’s my responsiblity to be honest with you about your child’s needs, and to encourage them to reach their highest potential. I am energetic and eager and look forward to working with you and your child.”
Ms. Lisa Edwards is the current Office Manager. She is an Air Force Veteran and her husband is currently serving in the Air Force and has been on active duty for 23 years. She recently moved back to the Fort Walton Beach area and hopes to retire here. She has an AA in Program Management from the Community College of the Air Force. She has two children, Natalie and Vanessa. She is one of the newest members of the Montessori Family and is very excited to be part of the team.
“No act of kindness, no matter how small is ever wasted. -Aesop”
Mrs. Ann Helton is the Assistant Director and PreK teacher for language arts and geography. She has a BA in Interdisciplinary Studies of Child and Society from the University of West Florida, with a minor in Education. She is also a certified Child Development Associate and is Montessori Certified. This is her fourth year teaching at MLC. Mrs. Ann has 24 years of experience in Early Childhood Education in both private and public schools, as well as experience in working with children with special needs. Mrs. Helton was born and raised here on the Emerald Coast. She currently lives in Destin with her husband Bret of 29 years and her dog Delilah. Mrs. Ann also has three daughters: Kaitlyn, Mary, and Trinity. She is also a “Gam Gam” to Bret, Nate, and Kymber. She loves spending time with her family, doing Hot Yoga and watching Alabama Football.
“Children may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel.”
Mrs. Eden Guy is the Pre-K assistant to Mrs. Ann. She has studied early childhood education during her time pursuing her associates degree. She has worked in the early childhood field for two years.
She has a passion for children and watching them blossom in the world around them. Mrs. Eden was born and raised in North Carolina, and moved to Florida last year. She is married with two beautiful children. She loves to spend her days with her family at the beach or reading a good book.
“Learning is a treasure that follows you forever.”
Mrs. Patel is a Pre- K 4 teacher for Math and Science. She has a Bachelor's degree in finance. She has been pursuing a Child Development Associate Degree from North West Florida University. She has 11 years of Child Care experience along with Montessori Assistant training. She is from India and they landed on this amazing and beautiful coast with her family in 2019. She currently stays in Mary Esther with husband Dhiman and her daughter Naomi and son Kahan. She loves spending time cooking, decorating her house, gardening and relaxing on the beach and long rides with her husband.
"The greatest gift we can give our children are the roots of responsibility and the wings of independence."
-Dr. Maria Montessori.
Lead Pre-K Teacher
Hello! I am Kellie Jones (Ms. Kellie), Lead Pre-K Teacher. I began my teaching career over 20 years ago as a Middle School/High School Latin Teacher. When I had my own children (now 26 and 22), I became very enthralled with the Montessori Method and thus attained my Montessori Certification in the Primary classroom. My favorite Montessori subjects are Language Arts and Geography(Culture) on which I will be focusing in my classroom. Teaching a child to read is one of my greatest passions as well as approaching the learning process with a sense of wonder and ,of course, fun! My other passions include singing/songwriting, natural health, cooking, and good humor all of which I look forward to bringing into the classroom.
> Contact Ms. Jones
I attended Martinsburg College in 2018 and in the spring of 2022 I will be continuing my education at American Military University for early childhood care and education. I have lived in the area for four years now with my five year old son and husband who is active duty in the Air Force. I grew up in Kalamazoo, Michigan. My love for children and teaching has always been a passion for me. During Covid of 2020, I received my certification for Registered Behavioral Technician because my son has level 2 ASD and I fell in love with learning about children on the spectrum. I have almost two years of experience in childhood care. A few things that I love to do would be going to the beach and laying in the sun, trips to Disney World and watching some good binge-worthy Netflix shows. In my eyes every child is different and learns differently, which to me makes helping them learn that much more fun.
"If they can't learn the way we teach, we teach the way they learn."
Kinder Lead Teacher
Mrs. Lois Peters has been teaching at the Montessori Learning Center since 2003. She is currently the Kindergarten teacher. Originally from Rome, N.Y, she and her husband, Tom, have been married for 16 years and have lived in Okaloosa County for 21 years with their 3 children. Her hobbies include reading and camping. Her philosophy of educations is simple, “Education begins at home.” She feels education is a shared responsibility of parent and teacher. She believes that every child can learn, given opportunities to use their strengths and given assistance to strengthen weakness.
“It is a true joy to get up and go to the school every day as a part of program that is so dedicated to helping each and every student to reach his or her highest potential.”
Kinder Assistant Teacher
Hi! My name is Miss Dacie. (: I am the Kindergarten Assistant Teacher. I will be teaching geography, science, and practical life. This is my 2nd year teaching at the Montessori Learning Center, but I have 8 years of experience in Early Childhood Education. I’m currently in the process of obtaining my bachelor’s degree for Elementary Education as well. I was born and raised in a small town in Illinois, and I lived in Fort Collins Colorado for around 3 years before I met my husband, Eddie. Eddie and I got stationed to Fort Walton Beach around this time, but we really enjoy it. Teaching has always been my passion and I’m very excited for this upcoming year!
Lower Elementary Teacher
I attended Kent State University and continued my education through Western Governors University for elementary education. I recently moved to the area in May 2021 from Cleveland Ohio. I have 4 years of experience in education along with 1 year of Montessori experience. Coming from a Montessori teacher mother, I grew up with the methods and materials all around me. A few of my hobbies include taking my dog Harley on adventures, going to the beach, reading, and watching movies. What I love about teaching and education is that every child possesses their own individual potential, and it is the teacher's responsibility to support, engage and encourage the child's journey.
"The whole purpose of education is to turn mirrors into windows"
Lower Elementary Teacher
Mrs. Sarah Westfall is the Math and Science teacher for lower elementary. She has her BA in Elementary Education from the University of Alabama. She has 7 years teaching experience in Florida teaching in public schools and teaching online. Mrs. Westfall is from Mobile, Alabama, but has been a resident of Santa Rosa County since 2006. She lives in Navarre with her husband, daughter and son. She has three dogs and one cat. She is also a "Lolly" to her 20 month old grandson. She loves watching her daughter cheer, son play travel baseball, spending time with her family and relaxing by the pool.
Assistant Lower Elementary Teacher
Traci Feltman is excited to join the Fort Walton Beach Montessori Learning Center. She has moved here from Crawfordville, Florida, where she worked as a paraprofessional in the ESE and behavioral modification classroom for two years. Traci loves children and has worked with them her entire life; In fact, her first job was as a nanny in New York City! She has also worked with children worldwide while being a military spouse! She has been married for 30 years, has four children, and is a proud Nana to a little princess named Ellie. At any given time, you can find her singing, reading, dancing, and spending time with family. She can’t wait to build connections with her students and help them grow through play and learning experiences.
“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.”
– Benjamin Franklin
Ms. Bethany Baldwin is the current Art Teacher and After School Care Director at Montessori Learning Center. A Fort Walton Beach native, she has been creating art with our students since 2016.
Ms. Baldwin received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Central Florida and- like Dr. Montessori- believes that “early childhood education is the key to the betterment of society.” She recognizes art as integral to the development of the whole child and as an irreplaceable tool for understanding and expressing the world around us.
“Nothing is comparable to experiencing the ‘aha’ moments of children’s discovery.”