The idea for Heartwood Montessori School began in 2013 when neighbors and Montessori parents, Sarah and Sinead, were longing for a quality Montessori program in Northeast Minneapolis. They knew of many parents (including themselves) who were driving their children out of our neighborhood to find high quality Montessori environments, and that did not feel right. Since that first idea, Sarah and Sinead took the time to thoughtfully plan out all the information they would need to start a non-profit school.
In February of 2014, Sarah and Sinead held their first informational meeting about creating a board for this new Northeast Montessori school. The founding board of Heartwood was formed by a group of passionate parents and community members. Together they logged over 3,000 hours of volunteer hours and raised over $21,000 to launch the school in September of 2015.
Our governing board is now composed of hard working, dedicated parents, community members and Montessori professionals who continue to guide the school towards the mission and vision set forth by the founding board members.
AJ NIEHAUS President
AJ has lived in the Waite Park neighborhood of Northeast Minneapolis since 2009 with her husband. They have two daughters with one attending Heartwood and one waiting to begin. AJ was drawn to a Montessori education for her children because of the freedom, creativity, independence, and ability to work at one’s level that the Montessori theory fosters. AJ owns SANscript, and automated publishing company, with her mother. She holds a BS and MFA in performance and technology, where her thesis was in wearable computing and smart fabrics. When not running after her small children or working, she loves to knit, read, and create. AJ was drawn to joining the Heartwood board because she believes Northeast needs a stellar Montessori option that is open to any child.
SAREEN DUNLEAVY KEENAN Past-President
Sareen is a resident of the Logan Park neighborhood. She currently works for the United Way and was previously a Career and Technical Education grant writer and manager for Minneapolis Community and Technical College. Sareen keeps busy with her family – husband, Brendan, and four daughters: Brigid, Aubrey, Roisin, and Johanna, plus her mother, Kate, and sister, Rachel. Sareen’s least favorite thing to do is sit on the couch with nothing to do, so she always has a full schedule. When she is not volunteering for Heartwood, you can find her volunteering for other organizations such as St. Paul Adaptive Recreation, Second Harvest Heartland, St. Paul Intercultural Institute, and the SciMathMN board of directors. She enjoys playing softball and broomball, visiting museums (or events) weekly, riding bikes, camping, cooking, gardening, canning, and brewing — all with family, of course.
JULIA KALLMES Vice President
Julia earned an Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) Certificate from the Montessori Center of Minnesota in 2014. Since then, she has worked as a guide in a Children’s House at Nokomis Montessori Magnet School in St. Paul. She feels strongly that more children and families should have access to a Montessori education. Interests include running around lakes, traveling, and spending time with her friends and family.
LIZ ANDERSON Secretary
Liz joined Heartwood’s board in the Fall of 216. She is passionate about high-quality early childhood education as a strong contributor to children’s development and as a tool for creating a more equitable and prosperous society. She thoroughly enjoys contributing her time and skills to Heartwood, which combines the evidence-based rigor of a Montessori curriculum with a warm and nurturing environment. Liz does research and evaluation at Greater Twin Cities United Way and earned her degree in Political Science from the University of Minnesota. In her free time, she enjoys cooking, practicing French, reading, biking, traveling, learning to climb rocks, and hanging out with her bunnies, Marvin and Alice.
A huge “THANK YOU” to our founding board members! Everything you see in the classroom and school community has been a product of this initial investment of time and talent. They took a dream to a reality!
Sareen Dunleavy Keenan
Jonathan Turner Bargen
Heather Vinge Hanson