Kathy Morrison

Mrs. Morrison brings a wealth of experience to Highlawn. After graduating from Shawnee Mission East, she attended the University of Kansas where she graduated with a Bachelor in Education degree with a focus on history and language arts followed by a Masters Degree in Curriculum and Instruction. Mrs. Morrison taught an elementary classroom for ten years in the Blue Valley School District. While teaching she served on the district’s technology, curriculum, and assessment committees. During this time her own three boys became students at Highlawn and she served in several volunteer roles including Board President. She began working for Renaissance Learning, an education software company, where for ten years she provided staff development seminars and consulted in schools across the country in the areas of math, reading, and standards based assessment. Mrs. Morrison joined the Highlawn team in the fall of 2006 as the Director of Highlawn.




Mrs. Rubenstein is our administrative assistant. She assists the school
director in the office accounting and day to day operations of the school.

Children's House



Patti Barackman
Classroom Directoress

Mrs. Barackman has a lifetime of experience dedicated to the well-being and development of preschool age children. In 1991, she received her AMI diploma through the Kansas City Montessori Institute, extension of St. Louis, under the instruction of Dr. Annette Haines and Connie Coburn. She spent two years as a Montessori Assistant before opening her own class at the Academy Montessori International. As she began her Montessori career she also committed her next few summers to grading Montessori albums for the up and coming Montessori teacher.

Prior to becoming certified in Montessori, for ten years she designed and implemented physical education programs for several area gymnastic clubs and preschools. This is where she found her love for Montessori. Patti is a lifelong resident of the Kansas City area. She has two grown children who attended Montessori schools and continue their love of learning.

"I am forever grateful for the opportunity to work at Highlawn. The school has a tremendous sense of community among the families and staff. After working at other schools, I love Highlawn even more. Highlawn demonstrates to me a valued commitment to Dr. Montessori's vision." Patti Barackman


  Karen Connell
Classroom Directoress

Miss Connell attended one of the original AMI Montessori Schools established in the early 1960s in Houston, Texas. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Kansas. After a lively and varied career in the Washington DC area, fond memories of her Montessori days led her back to the Montessori classroom and AMI training. She trained at the Washington Montessori Institute under the direction of Hildegard Salzabacher and Janet McDonell. Miss Connell received her AMI Primary Certification in 1995 and taught in Northern Virginia for seven years before moving to our area in July 2003 when she began her tenure as a directress at Highlawn Montessori.

"I interviewed and observed in schools over a three state area for just the right one, a Montessori environment that had a feeling of home. Highlawn was my favorite, with its cheerful classrooms, friendly staff and beautiful materials. I was thrilled to join the Highlawn staff, and after five years of working with the Highlawn families, I have not been disappointed. Highlawn is home."
Karen Connell





After graduating with a B.A. degree in Elementary Education, Mrs. Doolittle completed her Montessori training through the American Montessori International training center in St. Louis. Mrs. Doolittle was part of AMI's first satellite training class held right here at Highlawn Montessori. She gained valuable teaching experience working as a directress in the Kansas City Missouri School District at one of the three Montessori magnet schools. As one of the few public Montessori schools in the nation, Holiday Montessori became a model for modern public Montessori education. In 2004, after teaching at Holliday Montessori for 14 years, Mrs. Doolittle happily moved to Highlawn, where she is currently in her fourth year of teaching.

"I have always loved this school since I took my training here 18 years ago. Two of my own children have graduated from kindergarten here and my son Ian continues on in the elementary program. There is a wonderful sense of family in our Montessori community that I really enjoy." Nancy Doolittle






Mrs. Smith learned about the joy of Montessori education through her children who attended the Montessori lab school at Avila College under the direction of Miss Lena Wikramaratne. She decided to enter the training program at Avila and received her AMI diploma in 1984. She then taught for two years at Belmont Montessori. While teaching there, she also began working as a Parent Educator for one of the model Parents as Teachers Programs. She continued this work for five years while also teaching. She substituted at Highlawn for one year before becoming a directress in 1987. Mrs. Smith also holds a Bachelor of Liberal Arts degree from UMKC.

“I began substituting at Highlawn to help out a friend. I quickly knew I wanted to teach full time at this wonderful school and I’ve always been thankful I made that decision. I appreciate the opportunity to truly ‘follow the child’ as Dr. Montessori directed. There is such a sense of community among the staff, children, & parents.” Linda Smith






Mrs. McEachen has been working with kids for many years. A graduate of Highlawn herself, she ran her own day care before starting as a teacher assistant working with Mrs. Belz. She worked as a teacher assistant for nine years before starting her own classroom. She has been working with her current assistant for two years. Mrs. McEachen completed her AMI Montessori training at the Montessori Training Center of St. Louis.

"I have been surrounded by the Montessori way since childhood. I attended Highlawn as a child with my two brothers and my son Kai is currently a student at Highlawn. This year my mother, Diane Peugeot, is a teacher assistant in the elementary classroom. I can honestly say that Highlawn is truly a family affair!"
Ricki McEachen





  Patrica Wright
Lower Elementary Classroom Directoress

Ms. Wright began her teaching career in 1990 as a first grade teacher in a newly created computer magnet school where children enhanced their studies with the latest technological advances. After completing her Masters Degree in Education, Ms. Wright continued her studies at the Center for Contemporary Montessori. The center is part of the College of St. Catherine, Minneapolis, MN where she earned her AMS Montessori Elementary credentials for both 6-9 and 9-12 year olds. She taught lower elementary students at Holiday Montessori for six years and joined Highlawn Montessori School in 2003. Ms. Wright believes, as did Maria Montessori, that the world beyond the classroom is a key factor in teaching the elementary age child.