The environment must be rich in motives which lend interest to activity and invite the child to conduct his own experiences.       -- Maria Montessori
© Copyright © 2023 Northern International Montessori School

Cindi Stehr


Cindi Stehr has a track record of successful Montessori teaching and school growth, and has been actively teaching children for over 25 years. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology from the University of Mississippi and an American Montessori Society teaching credential from the National Center for Montessori Education. Cindi is the Founder and Preschool Director of Hilltop Montessori School in Mt.Laurel near Birmingham, Alabama and has served continuously on the Board of Directors since 1999. She serves the larger Montessori community as a Field consultant and Supervising Teacher not only for the personnel at Hilltop, but also for the Institute for Advanced Montessori Studies, Lamplighter Montessori School, Belmont University, The Northern International Montessori School and others. A passionate believer in the Montessori method, she believes that children learn best in mixed age communities where they can explore their environment and be continuously supported in learning by their peers and the adults in their lives. Maria Montessori said, “The education of even a small child, therefore, does not aim at preparing him for school, but for life.” Cindi sees so many benefits in Montessori education because she has seen the results- children who are independent, intrinsically motivated, confident, and competent and have a drive to achieve academically; creating a genuine love of learning that will last for a lifetime. Cindi started Hilltop as a small preschool meeting in a local church, and with her influence it has grown into a thriving community, with two toddler classes, five primary classes, two lower elementary classes, an upper elementary class and a middle school class- all meeting on a beautiful LEED rated green school campus situated on five forested acres. The campus also houses a gym, art and music studios, performance stage, science lab, teaching kitchen, wildlife sanctuary and apiary. She was a driving force behind the creation of the gardens surrounding the school that now support a Farm to Fork lunch program. As an additional part of her role at Hilltop, Cindi also teaches specialized camps in various subjects such as beekeeping, gardening, biology and other STEM subjects. In her spare time, Cindi is a certified beekeeper and runs the school apiary, as well as helping local families set up hives. She has served on boards of the Alabama Bonsai Society and the Birmingham Children's Choir. Cindi is active with Aldridge Gardens, the Birmingham Audubon Society, and teaches spin/cycling classes. She has been named as one of Birmingham’s “Top 50 over 50”. Cindi and her husband, Richard have three adult children and three grandchildren.

Dr. Variyakanon Assavawongsanon


Dr. Vari graduated from Rangsit University with a Doctorate of Education and Masters of Education in Educational Administration. She joined NIMS team after seeing how the children were encouraged to explore the environment through a wide variety of interesting learning materials, engaging activities, and the promotion of the children’s relationship between freedom and responsibility.

Cindy Richmond


Cindy Richmond has been educating students since 1986. Her extensive educational background includes a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education, Masters in Deaf Education, AMS Toddler certification, North American Montessori Preschool certification, and was Orton-Gillingham trained in 2018. She began as a short term and long term substitute teacher in public schools in Pennsylvania and Maryland, before beginning her wonderful work at the Alabama School for the Deaf’s elementary department. She worked in several nurseries with children, before moving to her current position at our sister school, Hilltop Montessori School, as a Toddler/Primary Guide from 2000 to present. She is very family focused and enjoys reading, traveling, sports, and enjoying cooking and eating great food.

Jasmine Mohprasit


Jasmine Mohprasit found her love for learning while her children attended Hilltop Montessori School. After working as a volunteer around the school children as needed, she began to substitute teach. She worked in every age group from toddlers to the 7-8th grade classroom, but she found that working with the early childhood ages were her favorite. After obtaining her Montessori 3-6 MACTE certification, she continued her professional development with 0-3 assistant, 3-6 assistant, positive discipline, and special needs in the Montessori classroom. She also has completed RIE(c) Foundations as well as finished part 1 of the Pikler Loczy approach journey.

Leah Fox

Primary Lead Teacher (Kindness Classroom)

Leah Fox received a Montessori education from ages four to thirteen. Since graduating college in 2016, she has worked overseas as a teacher for children of all ages. Her experience as a Montessori student taught her the value of strong community bonds and intellectual exploration. As a teacher she has witnessed the benefits of a Montessori education take hold in her students. Specifically, how providing a captivating environment for young children encourages concentration and helps them develop independence, self-discipline, social awareness, and a lifelong eagerness to learn.