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 sixteenth 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.

Erica Wirka
Primary Assistant Teacher

Erica was born in Fort Walton Beach, FL but started moving around soon after wherever the Air Force sent her family. She has lived all over the U.S. and even Guam.  After graduating with a BA in Speech Communication from Valdosta State University in 2012, she found herself back on the Emerald Coast. Erica has absolutely fallen in love with the Montessori way/philosophy and is currently working on her Early Childhood Montessori certification.


Erica welcomed her first baby girl into the world this year and loves spending time with her family.  She enjoys being outside, and trying to garden and cook.  She loves the ocean, scuba diving, and music.


Lauren Peebles

Lead Teacher Primary Class


Lauren Peebles continues to fall in love with the Montessori method of teaching and the joy she sees from the children in her classroom.. She pursued her Primary Teaching Certificate from the Midwest Montessori Teacher Training Center in Chicago, Illinois in 2010. She completed her internship in 2012 and has been leading a Montessori classroom for ten years. In addition, Lauren spends her extra time working with families in Costa Rica to learn all the beauty of the Montessori way. In her free time, Lauren enjoys traveling, surfing, creating, painting, & cooking!

Cam Ray
Upper Elementary Teacher Assistant, 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 25 years and has been a private music teacher for 19. 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 and began his Upper Elementary Montessori training in 2017. This year marks his second year as the Upper Elementary Lead teacher.

Debbie Ward
Toddler Teacher


Debbie has been working with children for many years. After observing the Toddler environment 14 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. This will be her 15th year with SWMA.

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 9th year teaching in a Montessori school, and 13th year teaching overall.



Cynthia Mendez
Upper Elementary Assistant


Cynthia was raised in Georgia in a Spanish speaking home.  Her family is originally from Uruguay and she is a first generation American.


She received her Bachelors degree from Georgia State University in Atlanta in 2006 with a major in Psychology and a minor in Sociology.


After graduating, she moved to the beach.  She came to SWMA in 2008 as the Spanish teacher.  She quickly moved into the Assistant position in the Primary classroom.  In 2011, she received her Montessori Certification and became the Lead teacher for the Primary classroom from 2011 until 2015.


In 2015, she left SWMA to travel.  She lived in Puerto Rico for 6 months and traveled cross country in a tiny RV with her husband and dogs.


We are happy to welcome Cynthia back to SWMA!  She is now the Spanish teacher for all students, and she is now the Assistant in the Upper Elementary classroom.  She missed her friends at SWMA and is excited to be back and working with kids.


Emily Turner
Lower Elementary 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 traditional schools for the last few years.

She was introduced to Montessori last year and just fell in love with the philosophy.

Emily was a sub here at SWMA for the 2018/19 school year before accepting a full time position in Lower El.




Contact Us

South Walton Montessori Academy Inc.

101 Eden Gardens Rd

Santa Rosa Beach, FL 32459

850-231-5955 phone


license # CO1WA0015