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About Northeast Iowa Montessori School

The joy of learning

Northeast Iowa Montessori School provides a nurturing environment that cultivates each child’s intellectual and creative potential while instilling a sense of individual and global responsibility.
NEIM directly follows the philosophy, principles and methods of Dr. Maria Montessori.

NEIM believes that children learn by doing. Purposeful work that is spontaneously chosen is carried out with profound satisfaction. Northeast Iowa Montessori encourages independence, respect to self and others, critical thinking, and a responsibility to the world around them.

Northeast Iowa Montessori (NEIM) is a 501c3 not-for-profit school, serving children ages 3 to 6. The curriculum follows the methods outlined by Dr. Maria Montessori, an Italian physician and anthropologist, whose theories about educational learning styles developed through decades of careful and systematic observation of children from various cultural, social, psychological backgrounds.

Our Core Values


We have a passion for the people we serve and the families we support.


We are committed to diversity in our staffing and in the communities and people that we serve.


We strive to achieve highest standards of organizational excellence through implementing best practices.


We provide creative responses to community needs.


We honor our commitments. We will not promise what we cannot deliver.


We honor people as individuals. We offer choices to the people we serve.


We will manage NEIM so that we remain financially strong with an overall fiscal strategy that supports the delivery of quality programs.

Team Work

We are committed to teamwork through building relationships, establishing partnerships and developing leadership.

Montessori Method

The Montessori Method of Education supports the child’s developmental needs for freedom within limitations.
In a carefully prepared environment the child is guaranteed exposure to materials and experiences through which to develop intelligence as well as physical and psychological abilities.

Our History

In the winter of 2002, several parents met to discuss alternative philosophies of educating children in the area. We were a group of 23 parents of infants. Committees were formed and research was done on alternative preschool environments. At a follow-up meeting, a consensus was decided that Montessori philosophy should come to Decorah families.

Faculty & Staff

Erika enjoys spending time outdoors with her partner, Carl, and energetic dog, Birdie.

Erika Kambs

Head of School
Christine particularly loves the little ones of the Children’s house: creative and lively, loving and forgiving, surprising and funny…

Christine Gowdy-Jaehnig

Lead Guide
In her free time Jenny enjoys the outdoors, helping out on her parents farm, and spending time with her husband, Shane and dog, Ava.

Jenny Lenehan

Full-time Assistant Guide
In her free time, she enjoys reading, crochet, and water aerobics.

Claire Tebbenhoff

Part-time Assistant Guide