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Our Directress

what is a directress?

In traditional teaching philosophies, a teacher instructs children and imparts knowledge upon them through lessons she has created. Students access knowledge through the teacher as they progress through the curriculum she has created. The teacher sets the learning schedule and objectives.

In contrast, a Montessori directress is the link that connects the children to the environment, only serving to gently guide students through their individual learning processes. She prepares the environment with appropriate materials, but her main objective is not to instruct the way a traditional teacher would. Her goal is to serve the children by observing them and by guiding the spirit within each child through work that creates joy and focus. As a result, children are able to independently interact with materials without the direct involvement of an adult. 

Instead of the knowledge being held only within the adult, it is now within the environment, and children can freely follow their interests. This “freedom within limits” allows the directress to guide children as needed, rather than have instruction dictated by a structured curriculum.

our directress will...

  • Prepare Developmentally Appropriate Environment
  • Observe Students & Interpret Needs
  • Encourage Independence
  • Support Students and Facilitate Peaceful Learning
  • Incorporate Nature
  • Model Respect and Courteous Behavior


Our directress, Heather Estes, holds a degree in Elementary Education from The College of William and Mary. She continues her education and training on an annual basis. 

Before becoming our directress, Heather was an Ashland Community Preschool working parent and co-op member while her youngest daughter attended. She, her husband, and their three daughters live in Hanover County.