Welcome to South Walton Montessori Academy

Thank you for your interest in South Walton Montessori Academy.

We are located at 101 Eden Gardens Road in Point Washington, FL.  We currently have enrolled approximately 80 children between the ages of 18 months through the 8th grade.


Toddler Class:
18 months up to 3 years old.  Max of 12 students with 2 teachers.

Primary Class:
3 to 6 year olds.  Max of 30 students for 3 teachers.

Lower Elementary:
First, Second and Third Grade.  Max of 20 students for 2 teachers.

Upper Elementary:
Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Grade.  Max of 20 students for 2 teachers.

Middle School:
Seventh and Eighth Grade.  Max of 10 students for 1 teacher.


**The ages listed above for each class are APPROXIMATIONS and often vary**


We follow a similar calendar as Walton County Public Schools. 
Drop off is between 8 and 8:20.
Pick up times are as follows:

Toddler:  2:30PM  Primary: 2:45 PM       Elementary & Middle: 3:00PM

All students wear uniforms.  Khaki bottoms with Navy or Grey T-shirts or Polos.

Students bring their own lunch in accordance with our healthy food policy.

Parents are required to attend a minimum of 4 Parent Education nights throughout the year.  Parent Education nights are offered monthly in the evenings and childcare is provided for a nominal fee.   Parents are strongly encouraged to attend every meeting.  This is one of the most important things you can do to understand your investment in your child's education.

  • What Is Montessori?

    The Montessori Method of education, developed by Dr. Maria Montessori, is a child-centered educational approach based on scientific observations of children from birth to adulthood. Dr. Montessori’s Method has been time tested, with over 100 years of success in diverse cultures throughout the world.

    It is a view of the child as one who is naturally eager for knowledge and capable of initiating learning in a supportive, thoughtfully prepared learning environment. It is an approach that values the human spirit and the development of the whole child—physical, social, emotional, cognitive.


South Walton Montessori Academy Staff

Catherine Beall,
Head of School, Elementary Lead Teacher

Catherine is the Head of School as well as the Lower Elementary Teacher.  She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Louisiana State University with a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Information Technology. She worked as a Consultant in Houston, TX for Deloitte Consulting for 2 years.  While in Houston, she was introduced to the Montessori philosophy by a close friend who is a Montessori teacher.


Catherine left Deloitte after 2 years, got married and moved to Spring Hill, FL (just north of Tampa) all within 3 months. Following her dream of becoming a teacher, she obtained a Montessori teaching position at Wider Horizons School in Spring Hill – taught in both the early childhood and lower elementary classes; also taught Freshman English and instituted a Manners class for the junior high and high school students.  She moved to Panama City in August 2003 for her husband, Kevin’s, new job with hopes to find a Montessori teaching position. Upon discovery that the closest Montessori school was in Ft. Walton, she decided to start a school. She happened upon a group of parents in Rosemary Beach already trying to start a Montessori School in their community.  Everyone seemed to have the same vision for the new school, and Catherine was hired to be the Director of the South Walton Montessori Academy.


Catherine completed the academic phase of the AMS Lower Elementary credential at the Houston Montessori Center summer 2004 and received her credential upon successful completion in summer 2005. Catherine received her Masters of Education in Montessori Integrative Learning through the Houston Montessori Center and Endicott University in Boston in May 2006, with a thesis titled, “Montessori Elementary Education: Nurturing a Universe of Responsible Humans.”  This is Catherine’s nineteenth year of teaching Montessori Education.

Beth Brock
Assistant Director


Beth Brock grew up in Atlanta, GA and has enjoyed vacationing along the Emerald Coast her entire life. She attended Appalachian State University in Boone, NC, where she graduated on the Dean’s List with a BS in Early Childhood Education.  She obtained her Montessori Director/Administrator Credential through AMS in December of 2012. 

Always one for adventure, she was a White Water River Guide in college and has enjoyed extensive worldwide travel. After graduation, she was the Assistant Teacher in the Toddler and Primary classrooms at a Montessori School in Breckenridge, Colorado. Beth enjoys fishing, live music, snowboarding, and spending time on the beautiful emerald coast beaches.  Beth holds the title of Assistant Director and is the main point of contact for the school.  Beth joined SWMA in 2008.

Tammy Sumner
Toddler Lead Teacher


Tammy is the lead teacher for the Toddler Community.  She received her Montessori Infant/Toddler credential in 1997 from the Montessori Education Center of the Rockies-Pacific Northwest.  Tammy was first introduced to Montessori education when observing a Montessori Toddler classroom in Anchorage, Alaska and knew it was the teaching method that made the most sense to her.  When the opportunity presented itself to move to Seattle, Washington to take the training, Tammy packed up and moved to Seattle where she taught until 2003 when she moved to Phoenix, Arizona to teach at Khalsa Montessori School.


Although she loved the Southwest, when she got married in the summer of 2005, Tammy found herself in Sylvester, Georgia.  She spent the next few years being a full time step mom for three children.  Tammy also spent time being a volunteer for CASA, a program that is a judicial advocate for children who are in foster care.  In late 2010, Tammy found an ad for a Toddler Teacher on the AMS website, and made a call to South Walton Montessori Academy.  After observing the classroom and meeting the staff, Tammy fell in love with the school and the area, and began teaching at SWMA in February, 2011.  Tammy enjoys cooking, entertaining, and reading in her spare time.

Suzanne Courtney

Upper Elementary Lead Teacher


Suzanne moved to the area from Wilmington, NC in June of 2022.   She graduated from the University of Kentucky with a BA in Psychology and an Associates in Family studies/Child Development.  She received her Teaching Certification from the University of West Florida. After completing that program, she returned to Montessori, and now holds Certifications for both  Lower and Upper Elementary.


The 2022/23 school year will be her 10th year teaching Montessori. She has taught in all levels in both the private and public sector. Suzanne says, "Montessori is my passion, and I am pleased to continue the legacy that Dr. Montessori created with every child in mind. I enjoy exploring the academic side with students while also nurturing the whole child. Independence, intrinsic motivation and curiosity are the foundations for my learning environment."


Suzanne loves spending time exploring new areas with her cocker spaniel, Macey-Lou. She also enjoys reading, relaxing at the beach, listening to live music of all genres, and simply enjoying the wonderful things that life has to offer.  She is excited to live on the Emerald Coast, and is thrilled to be part of the SWMA team!


Charlotte Noble

Upper Elementary Assistant Teacher


Charlotte grew up in an Air Force family with frequent moves. She spent many years in England, where her mother is from, but attended DODEA and American public schools. She moved to Florida in 2015 and graduated Magna Cum Laude from Northwest Florida State College with a Bachelors of Science in Elementary Education in 2020.


She has always had an interest in the Montessori approach to education. She came to SWMA as a substitute, eager to be a part of the great things SWMA is doing for the children of our community. However, the Assistant position in the Upper El classroom happened to open up and she quickly agreed to be a full-time member of the team!

Cam Ray
Music Specialist



Cam was born and raised on Amelia Island in Northeast Florida. He attended the local Montessori school through kindergarten. Cam began piano lessons at age 6, studying classical music for 12 years, and then began studying jazz. He has scored top ratings at numerous competitions as well as received many scholarships and awards for both classical and jazz piano.


Cam graduated from the University of North Florida in 2002 with a BM Degree in Jazz Studies/Piano Performance. After college, he was the instrumental director at Christ’s Church in Jacksonville for 3 years, and following that he became a full-time music instructor/performer. Cam has been playing piano professionally for over 25 years and has been a private music teacher for over 20. He has played keyboards for numerous off-Broadway productions as well as many Big-Band Theme Cruises with the MSC line. He has had the privilege of performing with the “Queen of Soul,” Aretha Franklin as well as opening for "Earth, Wind, and Fire."


While he loves performing in a variety of settings and styles, Cam is equally as passionate for teaching and sharing the love of learning with others. He loves seeing the moment when something “clicks,” and a student understands a new concept for the first time. Cam joined SWMA in 2010.

Debbie Ward
Toddler Teacher


Debbie has been working with children for many years. After observing the Toddler environment over 15 years ago, she fell in love with the Montessori philosophy and joined the staff. Debbie graduated with honors in 1996 with an Associate of Arts degree in Elementary Education from Okaloosa Walton Community College. In the summer of 2012, she attended the Infant/Toddler teacher training at Montessori Education Center of the Rockies in Boulder, Colorado. She completed her training as an intern in the toddler class at SWMA, and is now a certified Montessori Toddler teacher. Debbie joined SWMA in 2005.

Kelly Robertson
Lead Teacher Middle School

Kelly grew up in New Jersey and relocated to Florida in 2011. As an only child, her parents kept her active and engaged with traveling/camping, music (playing instruments, singing), sports (swimming, skiing, soccer), and volunteer work. Kelly is an avid world traveler and has visited more than 30 countries and continues her love for the great outdoors!


Kelly received her undergraduate degree (B.A.) in Theology from Northpoint College and her graduate degree (M.Ed.) in Education from Regent University. Upon her arrival in Florida, Kelly took an aide position in a Montessori school and immediately went to training as she fell in love with the Montessori philosophy/methods. Kelly received her Secondary I and II credential through AMS and the Houston Montessori Center in June 2012.


Kelly joined the SWMA team in 2013. This will be her 11th year teaching in a Montessori school, and 15th year teaching overall.



Jailene de la Cruz
Primary Lead Teacher


Jailene was born and raised in Miami, Florida and came from a Spanish speaking home. She first fell in love with Montessori when her daughter was 6 months old back in 2017. After learning more about Montessori, she started implementing the philosophy at home and loved seeing how well it was working with her daughter.  She is currently pursuing her degree in lower elementary education. Jailene joined the team of Primary teachers at SWMA in January of 2021.


In her free time, she is usually in Dominican Republic or Puerto Rico. Jailene loves spending time with her family, outdoors, and traveling.


Emily Turner
Lower Elementary Intern Assistant


Emily Turner is a Florida native who was born and raised in Panama City. Emily is currently pursuing her degree in early childhood education, and has worked in many traditional schools over the years.

She was introduced to Montessori in 2018 and fell in love with the philosophy.

Emily started off as a substitute teacher at SWMA before accepting a full time position as the Assistant Teacher in the Lower Elementary class. She is also the PE Teacher for the Elementary Students. This will be her fourth full year in the Lower Elementary class.



April Marcell
Primary Assistant Teacher


April Marcell grew up in Gainesville, FL where she attended Santa Fe College after receiving a (GS) Scholarship in Early Childhood Development. There she received an Associates of Arts degree in Sociology and Photography. While attending SFC she worked with children at the elementary school level with ages ranging from 4-10 years old. She later transferred to the University of North Florida in Jacksonville. After her first year attending, she felt the need to follow her heart and become a stay-at-home mom to her daughter for the next 11 years. While at home with her daughter, she explored her passion for the Montessori philosophy/teachings and was greatly impressed with her daughter’s progression and development.


Once returning back to the workforce, she

couldn’t deny her passion for children and decided to work with infants and toddlers at The Preschool at Point Washington and local child care facilities. After several years of implementing many of the Montessori methods, she decided she needed to follow the path before her and learn more about the Montessori Philosophy.


Now, she’s growing her love and education in the Montessori philosophy and has become a full time Primary Teacher’s Assistant here at South Walton Montessori Academy. She’s extremely excited to help little ones conquer their individual milestones and discover their unique capabilities in their years here at SWMA.


She’s lived all over Florida but has been in Santa Rosa Beach for 8 years. She’s a lover of art, animals, laughter, plants/gardening, everything beach, and the outdoors.



Nicolly Bento
Primary Assistant Teacher


Nicolly grew up in South Walton, where she attended South Walton High School.  She heard about Montessori from a friend, and started off as a substitute teacher at SMWA.  She quickly fell in love with the philosophy and curriculum, so when she was offered the full time Assistant position in the Primary class, she happily accepted.

In addition to being the Assistant in Primary, Nicolly is also enrolled at Gulf Coast State College where she is majoring in psychology.

She loves traveling, going to concerts, and spending her summers and breaks in Brazil with family!





Contact Us

South Walton Montessori Academy Inc.

101 Eden Gardens Rd

Santa Rosa Beach, FL 32459

850-231-5955 phone


license # CO1WA0015