Lower Elementary Teachers & Staff

Central Montessori Academy – Toddler, Preschool and Elementary in Northwest Cincinnati

We are an independent Montessori school nurturing and developing young scholars from toddler through sixth grade.

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Lower Elementary Teachers & Staff

Terri Cerimele-Rieger
Asteroid Room Teacher

I was blessed to join the CMA community as a parent when my son began first grade here many years ago. Happily, I joined the pre-primary staff the following year. Before CMA, I had taught a total of four years in Montessori classrooms; two at the Toddler Level (18 months – 3 years of age) and two at the Pre-Primary Level (ages 3 – 6). After joining CMA’s staff, I worked nine years in CMA’s Early Childhood classroom. I also continue to work with the Kindergarteners as an instructor for their weekly music studio. This will be my twelfth year teaching at the Lower Elementary Level. Recently, I began working as an adjunct professor in the Montessori Teaching Education program at Xavier University. I also do field consulting work for the Center for Guided Montessori Studies. I came to Montessori Education later in life, going back to school at age 41, and completing my Early Childhood certification (ages 2.5 – 6). In 2014, I completed my studies in Elementary Education and received my Montessori Elementary certification (ages 6 – 12). In all, I have worked in a Montessori environment for 24 years. In addition to my Montessori education, I have certifications in the Musikgarten Early Childhood Music and Movement programs (birth – 7 years of age). I received a B.A. from Xavier University in Theology with a minor in Music Education. My M.A. in Mental Health Counseling was conferred upon me by the University of Cincinnati. Before beginning my teaching career, I worked both as a Director of Youth Ministry (working with teens, 7th through 12th grades) and as a Hospice Grief Therapist. Those who already know me have discovered that one of my greatest passions is the performing arts, especially theater and vocal performance. I continue to perform around town as time permits. Through the support I receive from my faith, family and CMA community, I continue to find great joy and fulfillment working each day with your precious children.

Emily Casey
Asteroid Room Teacher

Hi, I’m Emily! Even as a child, I loved reading and school so finding a career in a school setting made perfect sense. I started my college degree in education but quickly switched majors after completing some field hours at a local elementary school. The children seemed uninterested in learning and the adults were obviously overwhelmed. I was beginning to think that maybe I wouldn’t have a career in a school.

Luckily, one of my assignments for college was to complete a job observation. I completed my job observation at a local Montessori school because I was looking for something local since I didn’t have a car on campus and had heard of Montessori Education in my child development classes. The first classroom I toured was a 3-6 room and I was stunned to watch the children move throughout the classroom independently, as if they were adults at work! For the next two years of my college education, I worked at this Montessori school as a Before Care Teacher and building substitute.

I completed my internship with the Healthy Connections Program at Toledo Mercy Children’s Hospital where I completed home visits with Help Me Grow, Early Head Start, and MICHV (Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting). I graduated from Bowling Green State University in 2016 with a Bachelor of Science in Human Development and Family Studies. After graduation, I was having a difficult time finding a job I truly enjoyed and I couldn’t stop thinking about those busy kids at work! My previous Head of School suggested I look into Xavier University for Montessori training.

I began my Master of Education with a focus in Montessori Education at Xavier in the Fall of 2017. As a student, I was able to work at several Cincinnati Montessori schools- including CMA! I loved learning from each school I visited. I graduated in the Spring of 2020 and I have been teaching in my own classroom for the past three years. I love Dr. Montessori’s philosophy because it focuses on creating confident and independent children. Her materials are hands-on and engaging and the focus is on creating an engaging curriculum so our children love learning and become lifelong learners.

I worked as an Assistant Teacher at CMA during Spring 2019. I primarily worked in the Toddler and Preprimary rooms, but I loved being able to sub in the elementary classrooms. My favorite thing about CMA is how the staff encourage the children to move when they need to. Movement and sensory breaks are essential to helping our children be their best selves!

Outside of school, I love exploring Cincinnati, reading my book club’s current selection, and walking in Cincinnati parks.

LaDonna Brusch
Comet Room Faculty

My name is LaDonna Brusch and my family joined the CMA family when our oldest daughter, Aria became a student here in 2003. My younger daughter, Mila joined the CMA family in 2008.

I earned my Bachelor’s in Industrial Engineering from Purdue University. Instrumental to my success in the positions that I’ve held at CMA is my background in Industrial Engineering. After graduating from Purdue University, I supervised a large metal processing operation then, I worked as a process engineer in logistics and warehousing for over 10 years. The mindset of observation and change to improve, gives me a perspective on education that would be unique in any other philosophy but fits beautifully within Montessori.

I have filled several roles at CMA. Initially, I assisted in the 3-6 classroom and directed the aftercare program. I was invited to take on the roles of teaching assistant in both lower and upper elementary. I led our Wellness classes for a short time and from 2012- 2021, I enjoyed teaching art to our elementary students.

I love to see the thoughtfulness from our children as they challenge themselves in creative, physical and social endeavors. At CMA, we are engaged in concepts and lessons that allow us to dig deep into the things that interest us most and be exposed to things that stretch beyond our personal experience. Everyday we learn how to support each other with encouragement and respect. This is why I made the decision to obtain an AMS/MACTE 6-9 Montessori credential from Xavier University and a 9-12 year old credential METTC. I will be completing my Masters of Montessori Education from Xavier in Spring 2024.

Lauren Castillo
Comet Assistant

Bio coming soon…