Laurie Kleen is Owner of A Growing Place and became involved with Montessori when her son was born in 1968. Laurie organized and a neighborhood Montessori-type preschool before beginning her training. She completed her Montessori training for children 3-6 years from St. Nicholas Training Center, London, England through correspondence in 1972 and for early elementary (6-9 years) in 1974. Laurie started A Growing Place in 1975.  Laurie holds the global picture for A Growing Place. Her talents recognize and acknowledge children in the spectrum of life, parents in the adventure of child raising, and the Montessori philosophy as a key to imbuing joy of learning in life. Laurie’s passion is Montessori education and the children who have and are attending AGP.

Marypat Ehlmann is Director for A Growing Place. Learning of Montessori during undergraduate studies, she received her M.Ed. in Early Childhood along with her Montessori primary (3-6 years) certification from the American Montessori Society.  She has been a lead teacher in Montessori schools in Missouri and Indiana.  Marypat sees to the details of the school’s operation. She manages the office and the particulars of our program. Marypat also keeps open communication with parents of current and prospective families.

Laura Asher attended Washington University in St. Louis, where she received her B.A. in Religious Studies.  After discovering the Montessori philosophy, she enrolled in the Missouri Montessori Teacher Education Program and earned her certification from the American Montessori Society. Laura teaches with clear intention, careful focus, and abiding patience to allow each child to blossom.  She also enjoys practicing yoga with the children.  Laura is a co-administrator at A Growing Place.

Carmen Beliz was raised in Mexico and became involved with the Montessori environment as a classroom parent volunteer. Later she took the training and became certified by the American Montessori Society. Since 2011 Carmen has been working in Montessori schools in the St. Louis area.  Carmen uses her understanding of young children to keep the classroom organized into a spacious arrangement, offering creative learning for each child in our class. She also teaches Spanish to the children.

Natasha Urban lived in Russia until her arrival in the United States in 2009. With her Master’s degree in teaching Foreign Languages, Natasha is fluent in English, Russian and German.  Natasha  brings enthusiasm and eagerness to learn more about the Montessori approach of education while sharing her energetic and creative ideas with us.  Natasha’s cordial smile bridges her connection with each child as she works one-on-one with students offering personal attention to each child.

Roxane McWilliams will again be offering a wonderful year of making music with our children!  She has a B.F.A. in Theater and an M.Ed in curriculum design.  Roxane also holds certification in Orff-Schulwerk, a philosophy of teaching music to young children through aural, verbal and kinesthetic techniques developed by Carl Orff and Gunild Keetman.


 Together we create our Montessori program keeping love and kindness as our main supports which provides a warm and encouraging environment for each child to grow.