“Our care of the child should be governed, not by the desire to make him learn things, but by the endeavor always to keep burning within him that light which is called intelligence.” Maria Montessori
“Montessori teachers are not servants of the child’s body…We must help the child to act for himself, will for himself, think for himself; this is the art of those who aspire to serve the spirit.” Maria Montessori
Geoffrey E. Bishop, hails from the bush in North West NSW, Australia. After his childhood spent on his family’s sheep station he went to an agricultural boarding school for five years, and then to University in both Sydney and Melbourne where he studied Horticulture and Landscape Architecture.
For the next 10 years he traveled the world, visiting over 80 countries, where he spent most of his time trekking in rural areas, learning cultures and understanding his place in the world.
In 1996 Geoffrey started Nature’s Classroom Institute of Wisconsin, Inc. NCI is a residential environmental education program serving schools throughout the Midwest. The Nature’s Classroom Institute program helps students understand the natural environment, participate in ecosystem exploration and study, and work together with their peers and teachers as a community. The program includes activities such as confidence-building, group challenges, historical simulations, scientific explorations, and many more hands-on academic lessons.
After developing a strong academic and environmental outdoor based curriculum, he formed Nature’s Classroom Montessori School that blends the core philosophy of Montessori with his environmental principles. The past Board Chair of the Wisconsin Association of Environmental Education (WAEE), he has been honored by WAEE as Wisconsin Non-Formal Educator of the Year.
Nature’s Classroom is on 400 acres in the small rural community of Mukwonago, Wisconsin. Geoffrey’s passionate and sustained focus over the past 15 years has been on organics and sustainability in schools while promoting getting children back outdoors and helping adults understand the importance of instinctive play in the natural world.
Carrie Benzinger joined Nature’s Classroom Institute Montessori as our Office Manager in 2018. Previously she worked with client data providing service to both employer and customer in the Customs trade compliance and transportation payment industries. Carrie grew up in the Milwaukee area, is married, has 3 sons, and currently lives in the Town of Vernon, east of Mukwonago. She enjoys cooking, baking, spending time with her family dog (Chili) and is a dedicated library patron and fan of the many resources it has available to all. Carrie is interested in what Nature’s Classroom Institute and Montessori school offers students and is eager to learn much more about it.
Deepa Shreekumar grew up having a diplomat father enabling her to experience varied countries and cultures. Just when she thought life was settling down, her husband, Rajesh’s job began to take them to many different countries and they moved to Milwaukee about 2 decades ago. Deepa has a Masters Degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from India and has worked in radio, made documentary films and taught film making before arriving at teaching. Her interest in Montessori began with her mother’s teaching experience as well as running a school for differently abled children in India. It resurfaced when her older son, Advik, now working on his Doctrate, attended a Montessori school. When her younger son, Arjun, now in college, started at a Children’s House, her fascination with the Montessori philosophy peaked. She completed her Early Childhood training from Seton Montessori Institute, in 2006 and began working at Nature’s Classroom Institute Montessori the same year. In order to better serve children who learn differently within a Montessori environment, she has since completed her primary certification in Montessori Applied to Children At Risk (MACAR) from The Shelton School in Dallas. Deepa has also completed her Certification in Montessori Leadership and School Administration from Seton Montessori Institute. Since 2018, Deepa has taken on the role of Head of School while still being a Directress in the Children’s House classroom. She has been a regular presenter at local, regional, national and international Montessori and Early Childhood conferences, focusing on Montessori practice, restorative justice, building community and fostering empathy in the classroom, and connecting the indoors to the outdoors. Deepa enjoys meeting people, cooking, reading and listening to music. She greatly appreciates a sense of humor and friendship especially when made in lands far away from her own.
Wilma Murphy married 20 years ago and moved from México to Wisconsin. She learned English as a second language. Wilma and her husband, John, have 2 children, Jenny and Tony. In 2005 she started a new experience working at Nature’s Classroom, teaching Spanish part time. Currently she is working full time in the Children’s House classroom as an assistant and teaching Spanish as well. In 2011 she took her Montessori Teacher Training at Seton Montessori Institute as a Children’s House Directress. She really enjoys teaching her culture and language to the children and also takes pleasure in learning new experiences each day.
Katelyn Bratz graduated in 2008 with a Bachelor of the Arts degree in History, as well as certificates in Classical History and European History from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Katelyn began her career working with students through environmental education. She came to Nature’s Classroom Institute and Montessori in 2008. Since then she has taken on various roles: environmental educator, environmental Education Director, history teacher, elementary assistant and for many years now our Adolescent Directress. It is during her work in our environmental program that Katelyn came to appreciate and understand the Montessori Method. Katelyn completed the AMI/NAMTA Montessori Orientation to Adolescent Studies in 2012. She has also acquired her Secondary I-II Credential from CMSTEP and a Master’s in Montessori Education from Xavier University. Since 2008, Katelyn has worked to progress and expand our Adolescent programming. She can be found regularly hiking and working at Nature’s Classroom property with her dogs, Audi and Sitka, gardening, or tending to the farm. All of which continue to be hobbies for Katelyn and a strong connection to her environmental background.