Our Staff

Heather Heisig—School Director

Heather Heisig has been a part of the Charlottesville Montessori community since 2003.  She taught at Frost Montessori School for 10 years.  She also has been an instructor at the Virginia Center for Montessori Studies in Richmond.  She has a Bachelor’s Degree in English, and received her Montessori Primary level certification from the Virginia Center for Montessori Teacher Education in 2004.  Heather strongly believes that Montessori education creates excited, motivated learners who can change the world.

Joia Caldwell—Assistant Director

Joia’s love of Montessori was sparked here, at UMS, years ago, when she worked alongside Nancy as an afternoon teacher. Many years later, her daughter, Mabel, was a student in Geovanna’s classroom. She has been working and playing with young children and families for over 25 years, in Montessori and Waldorf classrooms, as a private nanny, and as the Deputy Director and Director of Operations at the Virginia Discovery Museum. For seven years, Joia ran her own bookkeeping business, serving a variety of small business and non-profit clients throughout Charlottesville. Her love of teaching remains and she is a registered Music Together teacher, and Tinkergarten leader.

Upstairs Teachers


Geovanna, a native of Peru, has worked at UMS since 1990.  She has trained with the Institute for Advanced Montessori Studies.  In addition to teaching in the Upstairs Classroom, Geovanna teaches the Extended Kindergarten and is a co-director of the UMS Summer Camp. 


Bio is pending…

Downstairs Teachers


Melanie joined the University Montessori community in 2017 having moved from Richmond, VA, where she previously worked as a primary instructor at Richmond Montessori School.   Melanie obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in English from East Carolina University, attended the Graduate Studies in American Folklore program at UNC-Chapel Hill, and later received Montessori Primary Level Teacher Certification from the Virginia Center for Montessori Teacher Education.


Monica moved to Charlottesville to join her daughter and family. She started her Montessori journey as an associate Toddler guide in Miami, FL, and ten years later, her grandchild joined UMS. He has since graduated, and we are very grateful that we get to keep Monica as part of our community.

Afternoon Teachers


Nancy rejoined the After Care program in August 2012 where she began her work at UMS in 1995.  Nancy earned her BA in French from UNC at Chapel Hill and her MA in Education from Appalachian State University.  She earned her Montessori Certification from the Virginia Center for Montessori Training and taught for twelve years in the Downstairs Classroom and in the Extended Kindergarten.


Bio is pending…


Christine and her husband moved from New Jersey to Virginia in 2016.  She is the mother of adult twin daughters. One daughter is married and lives in New Jersey, and the other lives in North Carolina. Christine discovered the Montessori Method of education to be a fascinating and effective way of teaching. She joined the the UMS family as a Substitute Teacher in 2017, bringing with her 15 years of Montessori experience working in both administration and in the classroom as an Assistant Teacher.

Friday Teacher


Beginning in August 2009, Kendra has helped to guide our Kindergarten students on Friday afternoons while the teachers plan for the week ahead.  She attended James Madison University and has previous experience in the Albemarle Public Schools.


Our Community

University Montessori School is located in Charlottesville, Virginia, home of the University of Virginia where many community members have ties. The school has a long history of serving a population that is racially, internationally, and economically diverse. It also has a long standing history of being a school where children of same sex parents are warmly welcomed.

Our school is a Board-run 501(c)3. Board members volunteer for three year terms and, along with the Director, lead the school in maintaining and instituting administrative and financial decisions that support our mission of providng a “diverse family-centered school community which embodies the best practices of Montessori education in facilitating the academic, emotional, physical and social development of each child”. We are grateful for the leadership of all of our volunteers, especially our Board members. If you are interested in serving on our Board, please speak to Heather!

UMS governing documents, conflict of interest policy, and IRS tax form 990 are available by request.

UMS does not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identification, or national ethnic origin.