Current Board

Melinda Nielsen, Chair

Melinda Nielsen has been teaching in the Montessori environment for nearly 29 years. Twenty five years ago she founded Bay Area Montessori House with Tommie Hebert and currently serves as the Curriculum Administrator. Melinda is a diploma holder at both the Primary (Washington Montessori Institute 1984) and Elementary (Montessori Institute of Milwaukee 1997) levels. She is very active in the Montessori community working on several AMI/USA committees, on- site coordinator for AMI Refresher courses and visiting schools as an AMI Consultant. As a practitioner, Melinda strongly believes in Dr. Montessori’s plan for the elementary child of Cosmic Education. She has fostered an extensive “Going Out” program along with integrating all subjects, including the arts into the classroom. In addition, Melinda served on the AMI/USA board of directors for six years. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Texas A&M University. In her spare time Melinda enjoys all kinds of fiber arts, reading, visiting art museums, ringing hand bells, archeology and exploring new environments.

Regina Sokolowski, Outreach Coordinator

Regina’s first exposure to Montessori was a Lithuanian-speaking primary classroom in the suburbs of Chicago. The peace and joy she felt in those earliest years of life inspired her to study Montessori in college and ultimately to train with J McKeever at the Montessori Institute of Atlanta. She now guides a 9-12 classroom at Forest Bluff School, just outside of Chicago. Regina is an avid yogi and certified yoga instructor and loves discovering the connections between the teachings of yoga and the Montessori philosophy.

Regina joined the board in 2018 as Outreach Coordinator.

EAA has been an incredible source of support and inspiration for her, and she is thrilled for the opportunity to share it with others.  She deeply believes in the mission of EAA and feels every member can not only benefit from, but also contribute to this fabulous and inspiring organization.


Anna Discenzo, Publications and Communications Coordinator photo-81

Anna jumped into the elementary world in 1998 with a plethora of trainers – Peter Gebhart-Seele, Jean Miller, Greg MacDonald, and Dr. Kay Baker. She joined EAA that same year and remains an active and generous member and volunteer. Anna loves photography and has shared her talents as a presenter at our summer conference. She guides a 9-12 elementary class at Arbor and is passionate about supporting Montessori in the Atlanta area and beyond.  She is looking forward to taking her 3-6 training next summer and to becoming an AMI Elementary trainer.

Anna joined the board in February 2013, becoming our publications and communications coordinator. She values our “community’s wisdom that is so generously and fully shared with one another on EAA-talk, in newsletters, and at conferences”.  Anna loves to cook with her class and invites you to send in your recipes to share in the newsletter for the pleasure and nutritious delight of all!

Amanda Cade, Membership, Archives and Secretary

Amanda grew up in southwestern Iowa and headed north to Minnesota where she lives and teaches. After finishing her training led by Phyllis Pottish-Lewis at the Montessori Center of Minnesota in 2006, Amanda began her role as a 9-12 elementary guide at Oak Hill Montessori School in Shoreview, Minnesota. She appreciates how every day is different and can include learning as varied as the children can imagine.

Amanda joined the EAA board in 2017 to help support the community that has sustained her in her work with children. She is thankful for the EAA community because it includes some of her favorite human beings. The friendships she has made through EAA are enriching, supportive, and inspiring.

Gayle Waner, Vice Chair and Treasurer

Gayle is a native of Washington state having lived in Spokane all of her life. Gayle and her husband parent a large and happy family of five and guides an early elementary class at Jefferson Montessori School, one of the Spokane public Montessori schools. Gayle gained her elementary certificate under the direction of Kay Baker and Greg MacDonald at WMI.

Gayle joined the board in February 2013 bringing her varied background in education, skills as a small business owner, as a clothing designer, and as talented Montessorian. She keeps EAA’s finances and business arranged and operating smoothly and well while serving as EAA’s vice chair and treasurer. An EAA member for the last seven years, she “values the community of EAA and the gifts each member shares at conferences and on EAA-talk”.

Rachel Eberhard, Conference Coordinator

Rachel began her Montessori journey in Cincinnati, Ohio where she attended Montessori IMG_0332
school from the age of 3 through 11. It was the fond memories of her elementary years that brought her back to Montessori as an adult. Rachel trained with Phyllis Pottish-Lewis and graduated from the Montessori Training Center of Minnesota in 2009. She currently lives in Los Angeles where she works with a vibrant class of 6-9 year olds. A tradition begun during her summer training, Rachel looks forward to sharing her Montessori-inspired cakes at the EAA Summer Conferences.