We are located in a bright, modern, airy building in Live Oak, Santa Cruz - take the Soquel Ave exit off Highway 1

Midtown Montessori was the first Green Business Certified preschool in California.

We maintain regular communication with parents by sharing photos and lesson updates using brightwheel

Parents receive a weekly newsletter from our headteacher, Joe, with a summary of the week and information about upcoming activities and events.

Parent participation is always encouraged - we love you to share cultural celebrations, interests/hobbies and work specialisms with the children at circle time. Participation is welcome but by no means mandatory.

We hold Open Houses throughout the year. These are an opportunity for you to experience life in the classroom through your child's eyes.

We go on field trips around the county - for example to Live Earth Farm in Fall and the Seymour Marine Discovery Center in Spring.

We have a close partnership with the Chrysalis Center Autism Program - our neighboring school. We provide inclusion opportunities for their preschoolers and this is a hugely valuable and treasured relationship for both schools.

We provide scholarships and are enrolled in a voucher program to widen our reach in the community.


Hey, I’m Joachim (most people call me Joe). I began working at Midtown Montessori in 2016. I am a certified Montessori Primary teacher through CGMS. Having gone to a Montessori School in grades 1-4, I have been familiar with the guiding principles of Montessori for most of my life and now am so fortunate to be part of educating others from this place. A place where the children comfort each other and have the confidence to communicate their needs and learn new skills. A place where the teachers really see each child and respect them for who they are, just as they are. 

meet the  


Joachim williams - Head Teacher




Donna Cherie - founder

I opened Midtown Montessori in 2008 after working in nonprofit and early childhood education for years. I have a deep affection for children and parents alike (I’m a mother to three and Nana to 6). There is an intense need in our society for people to feel fully seen for who they are and feel connection. The best and most profound place to nourish this is in the first 6 years of life (it’s documented that our sense of self develops is in these precious years; this often gets overlooked). I created a school to be a container for this precious time. The amazing team of teachers cherish and charm your child into becoming the best version of themselves. 

Coming from a long line of teachers on both sides of the family, education has always played a big role in my life. I enjoy learning and am continually amazed with how fascinating the world around us is. My own kids thrived in a Montessori environment that encouraged their curiosity and it seems quite natural that I fell in love with Montessori and became a teacher myself as a result of their experience. I’ve been a Montessori guide now for over 10 years - I love getting to share my passion for learning and science with children, and hopefully sparking the next generation of curious minds.

Credentialed by AMS in 2014 as a primary level guide.
BA in Biology from UC Berkeley

Kalai - montessori teacher

vanessa - assistant teacher

cynthia - assistant teacher

Kellie - assistant teacher

I've been working as an Assistant Teacher since 2022 and landed happily at Midtown Montessori in August 2023. With an AA in Psychology, I've got some extra tricks up my sleeve for helping kids grow to be independent and kind. I myself love to create art, and I love witnessing creative sparks in little minds. It's so fulfilling to provide them with the tools to explore their creativity, adding an extra layer of joy to our shared learning adventure. It's a joy to be part of their journey! 

I began my journey working with children when I was in an internship called Watsonville Wetlands Watch, a program teaching preservation and care for native habitats and Watsonville’s local wildlife. The program focused on inquiry based teaching for children from kindergarten to sixth grade. One of their main objectives was to foster a love for nature through exploration of our local habitats and nature activities. I then took classes in Early Childhood Education and gained experience in the Cabrillo practicum class before joining Midtown as an Assistant Teacher.

I have a passion for guiding all children as they reach their full potential in the many learning opportunities they will encounter in the environment around them. Observing each child in a Montessori classroom has come with remarkable moments where I can see them take leaps to explore, to build independence, and to learn from any challenge that may arise. 

Sarah evatt - enrollment

Born and raised in the UK, I taught Kindergarten in London before moving to California in 2015. I joined Midtown as an Assistant Teacher in 2016 and have remained a part of the Midtown family ever since - and they really are family! I am a Mum to three and my two eldest both went to Midtown, so when there was an opporunity to help with enrollment and the general running of the school, I jumped at it. And now I get to talk about how wonderful Midtown is every day! 

Post Graduate Certificate in Education, LSBU
BA American and Canadian Studies, University of Birmingham & UC Berkeley

Midtown Montessori has created a stimulating and peaceful environment where we have watched our two daughters grow, explore, learn, and thrive! There is such beauty and thought in each lesson that is taught, and so much love and care is given to each young person. I feel tremendous gratitude that my daughters can spend/have spent this formative time in their development in the warm and nurturing community of Midtown Montessori. We love the community feel, the care for Earth and all her creatures, and the empathy and compassion that is modeled by all. Thank you!!

We love the community feel!

-Martita Emde