Home / About



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 in the preschool program, and ages 6 to 10 in the elementary program. 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.

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. 

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

Since graduating from Luther College Heather lived in Washington and Virginia before moving back to Decorah.

Heather Vilardo

Lead Guide (Children's House)
Jenny enjoys spending time with her husband, Shane, and their 2 children, Jase and Justine.  She also loves spending time outdoors and helping her parents on their farm!

Jenny Lenehan

Assistant Guide (Children's House)
Claire enjoys reading, crochet, and water aerobics.

Claire Tebbenhoff

Assistant Guide (Children's House)
Christine has been with NEIM School since 2005 in a number of roles: substitute, Guide, and Lead Guide. She enjoys cycling, cross-country skiing, reading and quilting.

Christine Gowdy-Jaehnig

Assistant Guide (Children's House)
Jane enjoys gardening, reading and just being outside. You will always find an experiment (or several) in the works somewhere in Jane’s classroom.

Jane Busch

Lead Guide (Elementary)
Gabby has been supporting NEIM since 2008, in some way or another, and this year we get to welcome her as full time staff, assisting Miss Jane.

Gabby Root

Assistant Guide (Elementary)
Erin enjoys travel and has taught reading in South Korea, Thailand, and Mexico. She loves spending time with her husband, daughter, and son outside. She also enjoys yoga and learning new things.

Erin Smock

Elementary Assistant Guide & Reading Intervention Specialist (Elementary)
Faith studied Art History and Art education at Luther. Shortly after she moved to Southern California, but missed the beauty and pace of life of the Midwest. In 2021 she and her husband, David, moved back and bought a home in town, where they live with their dog Nala.

Faith Robinson

After School Care Assistant & Elementary Art Teacher (Elementary)
Rachael is actively involved in the community as a Nordic Fest board member, Rotary International member.

Rachael Buresh

Head of School