Cynthia Drakos describes herself as someone who has been working with children her whole life. “Children are my inspiration….they are the embodiment of infinite possibility for all of life!” She began as a young adolescent babysitting and volunteering at her mother’s Head Start School in Cincinnati, Ohio. In her college years, while she was working towards a degree in child development, she started a preschool program for the children of college students and faculty at the University of Cincinnati. During this time, Cynthia’s mother did graduate work in Montessori education and taught at the first public Montessori school in the US (also in Cincinnati).
This sparked Cynthia’s interest in Montessori education and philosophy, and she enrolled in a Montessori training program and subsequently received her AMI Primary credential and a B.S. in Education. She has been teaching in Montessori schools at the primary and elementary levels for the past 36 years (with the exception of taking time away to have her 3 children). Cynthia is the mother of 3 adult children who all attended Montessori primary and elementary school programs. Cynthia enjoys spending time with her family, especially her first grandson who was just born in July, 2015. She loves reading, spending time in nature (hiking, camping, and traveling) and singing /reading to children.
David Drakos has over 30 years of classroom teaching experience at the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) Montessori Primary (elementary) level, having taught at the lower and upper Elementary school levels in several regions of the US, prior to joining the International Montessori School (IMS) in August 2013. David has been particularly involved in curriculum development at the upper elementary and middle school levels and, as the founding director of a northwest Montessori school, developed a middle years program that incorporated Montessori principles of participatory learning in a stimulating, inter-disciplinary academic environment. David is currently the Montessori Elementary Curriculum Director for IMS in Hong Kong. David has his AMI training at the 6 to 12 level, and holds a Masters Degree in Teaching from Emory University.
Michele Bertaux is a CPA, yoga teacher, and former Waldorf Educator. She currently works at First Financial Bank as Vice President of the Wealth Management Group. Michele completed the 300-hour yoga teacher training at World Peace Yoga in Cincinnati and a 100-hour Ayurvedic certification at Elemental Om. She is also certified as a Psych-K facilitator, and thoroughly enjoys working with people in this brain-hemisphere balancing process. Psych-K assists people to align their subconscious beliefs in ways that they consciously choose, resulting in increased accomplishment and joy; it also works to release stress, anxiety and trauma. Michele is married to mixed-media artist Bruno Zabaglio; her daughter Anna lives in Cincinnati, and her son, daughter-in-law and two grandsons live in Portland, OR.
Dr. Nayana Shah is a theoretical physicist focused on Condensed Matter Physics. Using the fundamental laws of physics, her research seeks to understand how different phases and properties of matter emerge in a collection of many particles interacting with each other under different conditions. That quest is also to identify the universalities within the diversity. Nayana has been working in the academia since receiving her PhD in physics from Rutgers University and has started and organized several forums and initiatives to build communities and also to increase scientific -enquiry, -awareness and -excitement in the society at large, especially children. After the birth of her daughter she clearly saw the amazing potential in building a thriving community to learn from and nurture the inner wisdom, peace and harmony that children naturally possess and to create an environment in which equanimity, intuition, empathy and compassion go hand-in-hand with intellectual and professional pursuits. This vision led her to be a co-founder of Heart Montessori and she subsequently serves on its Advisory Board. She is more generally interested in holistic pedagogy and learning environments that naturally bring out the interconnections and interdisciplinarity at different levels and get to the heart of sustainability.
Dr. Will Tuttle is an award-winning writer, educator, pianist, and composer, has presented widely throughout America and Europe. Author of the international best-seller, The World Peace Diet, he has also taught college courses in mythology, philosophy, humanities, comparative religion, and creativity. His Ph.D. dissertation in education from the University of California, Berkeley, focused on educating on developing intuition. A Dharma Master in the Zen tradition, he has done intensive training in Korea, and has practiced meditation and plant-based living for over 30 years. He is devoted to promoting world peace through educating compassion and spiritual awareness through writings, music, and presentations. He lives with his spouse Madeleine in a solar-powered rolling home.