Our Trainers

The Australian AMI Trainers bring a wealth of knowledge and experience and have supported different Montessori courses, schools and programmes not just in Australia but throughout the Asia-Pacific Region.

SMTC Trainers

Rebecca Dallam

Rebecca’s Montessori journey began in 1985 when she accepted a job as a 3-6 classroom assistant, which led her to undertake AMI 3-6 training the following year. In 1987 she began teaching in the newly established Prince George’s Country Public Schools magnet programme in Maryland, USA, where she worked with 3-6 and eventually 6-9 children for nine years. Rebecca completed the Washington Montessori Institute’s first three-summer 6 – 12 course in 1996 and moved to Milwaukee, USA, where she worked with 9-12 children in the esteemed Milwaukee Public Schools Montessori programme.

After moving to Australia in 1998, Rebecca worked briefly in long-day care in Geelong. She moved to Sydney in 1999 and has worked at the 6-9 and 9-12 levels in several local schools. She undertook the Training of Trainers programme in 2006 and was awarded the title of AMI Trainer at the Elementary level in 2014. She is the first Australian AMI 6-12 trainer and has benefitted from the wealth of experience of many AMI trainers who shared their wisdom with her during the training process.

In 2013 Rebecca founded Cameragal Montessori School’s first primary class, which began with seven children and today encompasses a thriving 6-12 programme. It was a joy to be able to implement Cosmic Education more fully as a result of her increased understanding. She left the school in 2017 to begin working as a full-time trainer.

Rebecca holds a B.A. in English literature from Temple University, USA, with a minor in Italian literature, and an M.Ed. from Loyola University, USA, in Montessori elementary education. She holds the AMI 0-3 and 3-6 Orientation certificates, as well as the Montessori Core Principles certificate. Rebecca completed summer Spanish language and literature programmes at the Universidad de Granada (1990) and the Universidad de Guadalajara (1991). She is currently studying Russian through the University of Queensland.

Rebecca offers modular format 6-12 courses, face-to-face and blended format Orientation Courses, as well as workshops and mentoring, through Sydney Montessori Training Centre. She loves international collaboration and has worked with parents, teachers and administrators in Brazil, China, Japan, India, Indonesia, New Zealand, Portugal, Qazaqstan, Russia, Thailand and Ukraine. Rebecca is happy that we have a vibrant Montessori community among Australian independent schools and would like to be part of the change that makes 6-12 classes available to more families within the public sector.

Amy Kirkham

Amy Kirkham has worked in Early Childhood since 1988 as an Early Childhood Teacher, Play Therapist at the Royal Children’s Hospital, Montessori Directress, Lecturer, Consultant and Trainer.

Amy gained her AMI 3 to 6 Diploma in 1993 and was awarded her AMI 3 to 6 Trainers’ Certificate in 2006.  She also holds an AMI Certificate for 0 to 3, 6 to 12 and Adolescents, Montessori Core Principles and Montessori Sports.  In addition to her Montessori qualifications, Amy is a VIT registered Early Childhood Teacher and has a Bachelor of Educational Studies (Hearing Impairment) and a Master of Education from the University of Melbourne.

Amy has been the 3 to 6 AMI Director of Training in Melbourne since 2008 and worked as a member of the 3 to 6 Training Faculty on Diploma, Foundation, Certificate, Administrators and Mentor courses in China and Taiwan.  She has been an AMI examiner in Australia, China, New Zealand, Thailand and Japan.

Outside of formal training delivery, Amy has supported the construction and establishment of new Montessori centres in Melbourne and collaborated with Nienhuis on the revision and development of Montessori materials.  She was a member of the team who developed the Montessori National Curriculum which is now used in multiple countries worldwide and was one of the original members of the Australian Montessori Quality Assurance Council.  Amy has completed Mentor Training with the Victorian Institute of Teachers and the DEEWR Recognition for Prior Learning (RPL) Assessors’ Training.

Amy is actively involved in the provision of Montessori professional development, including parent and community education.  When she is not training, Amy can be found working with children and mentoring in different 3 to 6 environments.

Amy joined SMTC in 2019 as the Director of Training for the 3 – 6 Diploma and Orientation Certificate courses.

Read more on Amy

Sara Brady

Sara holds AMI Diplomas at both Assistants to Infancy (0-3) and 3-6 levels. She has a Masters in Education from Loyola College in Maryland.

Sara has worked extensively in a variety of Montessori settings: long-day care, pre-school and Montessori in the home. She has enjoyed working in Nido and Infant Communities as well as parent-infant classes. Sara lives in Sydney, Australia with her husband and three children.

Sara is qualified as an AMI Assistants to Infancy trainer and is also an examiner at this level. She conducts teacher training internationally and is currently a 0-3 Director of Training in Dallas – North Texas, China and Sydney. Sara delivers 0-3 Training for the Sydney Montessori Training Centre.

Kay Urquhart

Kay’s Montessori journey began the very day she visited a Montessori school in Sydney’s South West. As a student studying for a degree in education, she knew from that day, that a Montessori environment was a natural way for children to learn about themselves and about the world in which they live.

So, within the next few years, Kay gained her Teaching Degree from the University of New South Wales, and her AMI 3-6 Montessori Diploma from the Australian Montessori Teacher Education Foundation and began her career as a Montessori Guide. For almost 20 years she served communities in several Sydney Montessori schools, guiding children and supporting families while mentoring assistants and new guides.

In 2012 Kay joined the AMI Training of Trainers program which saw her assist the Directors of Training in AMI 3-6 courses in Sydney and the United States. She has been granted the status of Auxiliary Trainer.

As an indigenous woman, Kay is passionate about empowering teachers to invest in honouring the culture of First Nations people and incorporating the values of culture and the connections to country into Montessori environments.

Kay joined SMTC in 2021 as an Auxiliary Trainer for the 3 – 6 Diploma, Orientation Certificate and Foundation courses. She is also a qualified AMI Director of Training.

Read more on Kay

Julia Hilson

Julia’s attraction to Montessori education began when she commenced studies toward her AMI Children’s House Diploma in London in 1985.  In the years following, she has established centres and run classes in the UK and Australia.  She also completed her 6-12 Course in Bergamo, her 0-3 Course in Australia – as well as attending the inaugural Educateurs sans Frontieres gathering at Citta De Castella in 1999.  Following several visits to remote Indigenous communities she was asked by Montessori Children’s Foundation to move with her family to Thursday Island and establish the Montessori stream at Tagai State College in Torres Strait in 2009. Julia lived in this remote community for 6 years. This initiative has now grown to include two 3-6 Montessori Classes within the Tagai Primary School and five Parent/Toddler Groups on separate Islands throughout the Torres Strait.  

In early 2015 Julia began work with a remote Aboriginal Community in Cape York called Lockhart River and is still actively supporting this community.

Julia lives on the Gold Coast , QLD , Australia where she supports the Montessori programs across the Islands and Aboriginal Community in between her training commitments.

Julia also holds a Bachelor and Masters in Education and is an AMI Trainer at A-I Level and a 0-6 Montessori Consultant and International Examiner.  Julia has been Director of Training on AMI Orientation  and Diploma Courses in Australia, London, South Africa, New Zealand , The Gambia, Nigeria, Japan, Vietnam, Portugal and India. 

Her special interest lies in empowering adults from Indigenous communities and supporting all families to grow in their understanding of the importance of the first few years of life and the help needed to have a lasting impact on their children’s future.

Read more on Julia

Guest Trainers

Karen Bennetts, SMTC TrainerKaren Bennetts

Following a number of years working in large government and corporate organisations, Karen became involved with Montessori education in 1993 when her first child began in a Montessori program.  She subsequently undertook state teacher training, completed two Montessori diplomas with Montessori Institute and subsequently, the AMI Diplomas at 3-6 and 6-12 levels and the AMI Orientation to Adolescent Studies.  Karen has mostly taught 6-12 children and was the founding principal of a Montessori school just outside Melbourne for ten years.  She worked as Senior Advisor, Schools at Montessori Australia Foundation for four years.  Karen has a PhD in Montessori leadership and is a recent member of AMI’s Global Research Group.  She is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and has almost 20 years of governance experience.  Karen is currently a board member at Sydney Montessori Training Centre and Deputy Chair of Mansfield District Hospital.  In 2016, Karen was the recipient of a State Fellowship Award from the Australian Council of Educational Leaders for her contribution to the education sector.  She is an Auxiliary Trainer for the AMI School Administrators Certificate course.

Bill Conway Trainer for the AMI Montessori School Administrators Certificate at SMTCBill Conway

Bill has been involved in education for over 40 years. His first role after completing his first university degree in education was to be thrown into the deep end, taking on a head of school/teacher position in a small rural school in the US. Since this early leadership experience, he has served in a variety of different education positions teaching and principalships in both public and private schools. Bill has also worked around the world, including Colombia, New Zealand and for the past 25 years in Australia. Bill eventually found a leadership position at Montessori East, a preschool and primary school near Bondi Beach, Sydney, where he served as Principal for over 13 years, retiring in 2020. He co-authored the AMI Administrator’s Course syllabus and is currently leading the programme planning for the upcoming AMI International Montessori Congress in Bangkok Thailand.

Bill serves on the board of directors for Montessori Schools and Centres Australia (MSCA) as well as for the Montessori East Foundation. He consults with schools in Australia and Thailand, and last year in 2021, he completed a Masters in Business Empathy (an alternate MBA).

Raised in the US and Kampala, Uganda, Bill spent more than 25 years of his career as a head of school, 10 years classroom teaching and three years as a school counsellor. He has four children living around the globe and two beautiful granddaughters living in Kodiak, Alaska.

Laurie Ewert-Krocker Trainer for the SMTC AMI Montessori Introduction to Adolescents 12-18 CertificateLaurie Ewert-Krocker

Laurie Ewert-Krocker has been a presenter and Course Director for the AMI-NAMTA Orientation to Adolescent Studies and has consulted with Montessori adolescent programs around the world for 15 years.

She holds AMI diplomas at the 3-6 and 6-12 levels. Laurie was the founding head teacher of Hershey Montessori School’s Adolescent Community in 1996 and served as both Middle School Program Director and Upper School Program Director at Hershey where she worked for 28 years.

Laurie is now the Director of IMTI and frequently travels around the world to various Montessori Adolescent Programs and events as a speaker and consultant.

Alison Awes

Alison Awes is the Director of Elementary Training at the Montessori Center of Minnesota, Assoziation Montessori Schweiz, and the Co-Director of Elementary Training at the Maria Montessori Institute, London. Ms Awes holds AMI diplomas for Primary and Elementary levels, a B.A. in Art History from Smith College, a M.A. in Latin American Studies from Tulane University, and a M.Ed. in Montessori Education from Loyola University in Maryland. She has taught in both six-to-nine and nine-to-twelve classrooms. Ms Awes is an AMI examiner and consultant and has served on the boards of private and charter Montessori schools, as well as other organisations including the AMI Elementary Alumni Association. An international lecturer, she has given numerous workshops on a wide variety of topics. Ms Awes attended Montessori school until the age of twelve.

Our Trainers in Training

Suganthi Vijayakumar (Training in 6-12)

Suganthi holds AMI diplomas at both the 3-6 and the 6-12 levels. She has a masters in English language and literature, bachelors in education , diplomas in special education and teaching English. Suganthi has worked in primary and elementary classes and has 15 years of experience working with children. She started her TOT programme in 2020 and is happy to come back and serve in Australia.
Suganthi lives in Jakarta, Indonesia with her husband. She has two grown up daughters living in the USA.

Rebecca Bridge (Training in 0-3)

Rebecca is a very proud Marrawarri woman who lives and works in Brisbane. She holds a 0-3 AMI Diploma, a Diploma in Children’s Services and will be completing her Bachelor of Teaching (Early childhood) in 2022. She has 11 years of experience working in Montessori toddler environments and in 2015 had the privilege of supporting some of the Strait Start Programs in the Torres Straits. Rebecca is passionate about closing the gap for First Nations People in Australia and has been a Reconciliation Action Plan coordinator, a guest speaker at Educator Yarning circles and a Masterclass speaker for the Koori Curriculum.