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About Montessori Day School


For over 35 years, Montessori Day School has been providing quality Montessori education in the Chapel Hill community. Our experienced teachers respect the unique personality and learning style of each child and do not compare a child to norms or standards that are measured by traditional educational systems. Our philosophy encourages a child to learn in his or her own way and proceed at his or her own pace, with an unlimited curriculum, teaching self-reliance and independence, leading to more opportunities to develop abstract thinking. Our students benefit from our emphasis on and expectation of mutual respect, grace, and courtesy. Our goal at Montessori Day School is to provide a stimulating, child oriented environment where children ages 18 months to 12 years can explore, touch, and learn without limitations. The end result is to build a life-long love of learning.


Montessori Day School (MDS), Inc., was established in March 1979 by Cathy Beemer and Liz Mallett. The goals for the school were to provide a faculty operated school, a well equipped and pleasant learning environment for children, and an enriched Montessori curriculum to meet the needs of children with a wide range of abilities.

In June of 2010, the school was purchased by Melanie Vandermast, a longtime teacher at the school, and her husband David. Cathy Beemer retired in May 2010, after more than 30 years of teaching and school ownership. Shortly before retirement, Liz Mallett passed away after the same long career as teacher and co-owner of Montessori Day School.

The MDS Parent Support Group (PSG) was started in 1982 when the school moved to Weaver Dairy Road. The PSG is very active and supports several enrichment programs for the children and school.


The school moved in June 2013 to a completely renovated building at 1702 Legion Road, in Chapel Hill off of Ephesus Church Road and close to the Rams Head Plaza shopping center.



Teacher Heather Amistadi with student.

Heather Amistadi, B.A., Duke University, Economics and Political Science, J.D. University of Richmond School of Law. Certified by the American Montessori Society (AMS) for 6-9 year olds and 9-12 year olds, she received her Lower Elementary Credential and her Upper Elementary Credential from the North Carolina Center for Montessori Teacher Education (NC-CMTE). Founder of Carolina Montessorians, a community focused on promoting understanding and dialogue among Montessori educators, parents and enthusiasts. Prior to dedicating her career to inspiring children to discover joy of learning through the Montessori philosophy, Heather spent almost ten years as a real estate attorney in the corporate world. In this role, Heather spent much time in the capacity of professional educator and mentor, culminating in her realization that teaching is her true passion. In her free time, Heather enjoys outdoor activities, creative arts and music.


Teacher Melanie Vandermast with students.

Melanie Vandermast holds a B.S. in Business, with a major in Marketing from Miami University of Ohio and an A.A.S. in Merchandising from the Fashion Institute of Technology, a S.U.N.Y. school in New York City. She received her Early Childhood 3-6 Credential from the North Carolina Center of Montessori Teacher Education (NC-CMTE) in June of 2002. Melanie began teaching in 1999 when she joined Montessori Day School as MDS founder Liz Mallett's Assistant Directress. Since completing her Montessori Credential she has been a Directress at Montessori Community School of Durham and returned to Montessori Day School as Directress in 2008. Melanie has been a member of the American Montessori Society (AMS) since 2002.

Teacher Stephanie Stewart with student.

Stephanie Stewart, a native North Carolinian,  graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill with a B.A. in English and Spanish Minor. She is certified by the American Montessori Society (AMS) for 3-6 year olds and received her Early Childhood Credential from the North Carolina Center for Montessori Teacher Education (NC-CMTE). She served for a year as a tutor in the AmeriCorps Program in Seattle and has taught locally at Spence's Farm as the Garden & Livestock Manager as well as co-leading Learning Outside's Adventurers outdoor, nature-based after school club for 5-8 year olds. She is an organic gardener with a deep commitment to sustainability and the outdoors and is also an accomplished musician. Stephanie has been a member of AMS since 2012 and begins the 2013-14 school year as Directress after having been Assistant Directress.


Teacher KK with students.

KK Biggers, A native North Carolinian, KK graduated from Kenyon College in Ohio with a BA in English.  She spent her summers as Head Counselor at Camp Thunderbird, fulfilling her passion for working with children.  She has spent two years teaching in a Montessori toddler classroom and is seeking her Infant/Toddler Montessori Certification and furthering her love for the Montessori teaching philosophy.  Prior to teaching in the Montessori classroom, she had the opportunity to teach English abroad in Thailand.  In her free time,  KK enjoys singing, reading, and painting outdoors.

About Maria Montessori

Maria Montessori was an individual ahead of her time. She was born in 1870 in Ancona, Italy, to an educated but nonaffluent middle class family. She grew up in a country considered most conservative in its attitude toward women, yet even against the considerable opposition of her father and teachers, Montessori pursued a scientific education and was the first woman to become a physician in Italy. As a practicing physician associated with the University of Rome, she was a scientist, not a teacher. It is ironic that she became famous for her contributions in a field that she had rejected as the traditional refuge for women at a time when few professions were open to them other than homemaking or the convent. The Montessori method evolved almost by accident from a small experiment that Dr. Montessori carried out on the side. Her genius stems not from her teaching ability, but from her recognition of the importance of what she stumbled upon.

est. 1979

Contact Information

1702 Legion Rd
Chapel Hill NC 27517

(919) 929-3339


from Maria Montessori

Montessori education is based on the study of life. It is pure creativity, as all life is creation. Children are given the opportunity for intellectual exploration with the freedom to grow in social grace, inner discipline and joy.