Rooted Life Montessori Education Rooted Life Montessori Education

Rooted Life Montessori's Teachers

Rooted Life Montessori is a small private school designed for all children to fully reach their potential. By creating a prepared environment and prepared staff for both the gifted and learning different child, RLM stands prepared to provide each child with a daily opportunity to match and expand their own educational experience. Our teachers bring a variety of expertise to Rooted Life Montessori. Below you will find our teacher bio's where you can learn more about our teachers.

De Ann

De Ann Mitchell - Director

De Ann Mitchell is a registered nurse educator who recently retired as director of a nursing program. She also worked many years as a school nurse and has a love for children, education and the Montessori method. She is the mother of five and “Grand” to nine. She is also retired from the Navy Nurse Corps. Her administrative experience can hopefully be of help to the Rooted Life School owners and staff. She is very excited to be a part of the team.

Charissa Dugan

Charissa Dugan - Admin

Jessa Cox

Jessa Cox - Admin Assistant

Hello! My name is Jessa Cox. I am a homeschool mom of 2, and a proud fire wife! I have been homeschooling for 3 years now. I have a great passion for kiddos and helping them to love learning in new and creative ways. My husband and I have been a host family for SafeFamilies of DFW for 2years now and hosted 5 children over that time. We love kids! I love to be organized and to be a muse and jump start ideas for people to run with! I can be a great “starter” or catalyst for change with my ideas and I love to give those ideas to people and let them make it their own, which is why I enjoy being the admin assistant here at RLM!

Diane Valettuto

Edna Diane Valettuto - Elementary Lead

Mrs. Diane began teaching in 1969 and retired from Daggett Montessori in Ft. Worth in 2013. She holds 3 AMS teaching credentials: Primary(3-6) from Southwestern Training Center, Elementary I(6-9) from Paulik Training Center, and Elementary II (9-12) from Houston Montessori Center. In addition, Mrs. Diane holds a teacher trainer credential from Southwestern Training Center and has been training Montessori teachers for 25 years.

Mrs. Diane has 36 combined years of experience teaching ages 3-12 in a Montessori classroom setting, and an additional 13 years of experience teaching in the Texas public school system. She holds a Texas Teaching Certificate for ages K-8th as well as a certificate for Gifted and Talented training.

When Mrs. Diane is not in the classroom she loves spending time with her three children and her granddaughter, Stella. Her hobbies include reading and gardening, and she is passionate about teaching children to garden!

Rani Lollis

Rani Lollis - Elementary Assistant / RBT

Kathy Machalica

Kathy Machalica - Owner / Primary Lead

Kathy Machalica received her Associates of Arts in 2010 while pursuing her degree in teaching. It was during this training to become a traditional teacher that Kathy found Montessori. The gentle discipline, the open-ended learning, the child-led teaching, and the peaceful classroom so captivated Kathy’s heart that it completely changed her path of education. Kathy received her AMS Montessori Early Childhood certification from Shelton Montessori in Dallas, Tx. Through this program, she will also pursue and finish her Bachelor’s in teaching, summer 2019.

Kathy and her husband have 4 children ages 3-12. When their 3rd child was born in 2012, they realized the very challenging, confusing, and beautiful path a learning different child will take. It was through this journey within her own family, and the families she connected along that way that Rooted Life Montessori was conceived, grown and now fully born. Clara’s needs drove Kathy to further pursue purposeful education for the learning different child. She is now pursuing her RBT (Registered Behavioral Technician) certification through the Behavior Analyst Certification Board and being trained as an Academic Language Therapist through Shelton Montessori’s SEE program and ALTA (Academic Language Therapist Association). When Kathy is not creating yet another Montessori material, she enjoys learning more about essential oils, her second love. Kathy is a DoTerra wellness advocate and enjoys keeping her kids healthy through the power of prayer, rest and essential oils.

Katherine Lawhon

Katherine Lawhon - Primary Assistant

Katherine Lawhon is the assistant to Kathy Machalica. She has experience working with mentally and physically challenged individuals in both job and residential environments. She assisted with activities of daily living and trained these individuals to perform as independently as possible in both settings. She first discovered her love for working with children when she volunteered working with small children at the day care where her own children attended. After discovering Montessori, she wanted to learn more in hopes of helping not only her own children to overcome obstacles in their education but also to assist any child to achieve a greater education. When Katherine is not devoting her time to education, she enjoys working on her family’s large peach orchard, hiking with her daughter and assisting her son in Taekwondo. She has a passion for reading and writing short stories and plays. Her patience and calm nature quickly draw children to her.

Shelley Kellam

Shelley Kellam - Elementary Theater Arts Director

Shelley Kellam has had a lifelong love of the arts and studied throughout childhood and beyond. She was involved with the Puppetry Festival at Hip Pocket Theater, World Theater Day Parade in Dallas, and a school Readers’ Theater performance of Where The Wild Things Are. As a teacher in private schools, she has directed various performances including videos, Mardi Gras parades, Chinese New Year, enactments of favorite stories and child-led plays. She has served as an adult mentor for Destination Imagination. Currently she teaches Theater Arts for children at Arts Fifth Avenue, and a percussion group at a local private school. Shelley loves the magic that happens when children perform!

Katrina Elsea

Katrina Elsea - Preschool Fine Arts Teacher

Katrina Elsea has been involved in music and dance all her life. She has had 9 years of piano lessons, 17 years of dance, and has sung in choir practically since birth. Katrina has taught Music for Little Mozarts (a preschool music program), children's choir, creative movement, crafts, and preschool Sunday School. She has a bachelor’s degree in math and studio art and a master’s in theology. She lives in Burleson with her pastor husband and two sons.


Amanda Steinc - After School Care / IM Therapist

Amanda started with Rooted Life Montessori in March of 2017, working with the Primary students. She enjoyed 2 Montessori trainings in group time lessons along with the practical life area of the classroom. Amanda has been inspired by Montessori's philosophy, progression of materials and gentle spirit. She moved into a daycare environment specializing in toddlers & infants, working in 2 daycares over the span of 1.5 years. Amanda observed that the daycare environment was not supporting the care of the individual child in helping each child reach their full potential. After seeing children struggling with sensory overload, she knew it was time to be part of a bigger solution. Coming back to Rooted Life Montessori was a dream that quickly became a reality! She's now trained as an IM therapist, and spends her days with the Primary students assisting them during transitions, lunch, and recess. She enjoys creating art, music, and dance lessons during after school care and focuses her lessons on helping the children with their fine and gross motor development she has learned is so important through IM training. She is currently working on RBT training and hopes to take Montessori EC training in the near future!

American Montessori Society Link