Both of my daughters have attended VDA since kindergarten, so I have had the pleasure of enjoying this amazing school both as a teacher and as a parent.”

Lori Beach

Montessori K-1
VDA Teacher since 2003

Tell me a little about your personal and educational background.
I’m an only child and I grew up in St. Louis, MO. I attended public school from kindergarten through 12th grade. I graduated from the University of Missouri St. Louis with a B.S. in Early Childhood Education (birth to grade 3).

When and why did you decide to become a teacher?
I don't know exactly when I decided to become a teacher. It almost seems like it was never a question. I babysat as soon as I was old enough and I was a nanny all through college. I remember at a very young age hearing my dad comment to someone, "She has always loved kids." Teaching was just the natural thing for me.

Why did you decide to specialize in Montessori education?
Right after I graduated, I was hired as a kindergarten teacher at an inner city public school in St. Louis. In spite of my training, I walked into the classroom on the first day and thought to myself, “I have no idea how to teach these kids to read.” I had been a nanny for a family who sent their kids to a prestigious private school that used the Montessori method through first grade. They had been telling me about this method and I decided to observe a class in action. I couldn't believe how well the kids in K-1 could read. I assumed it was a school for gifted kids and that they were just smarter, but I was wrong—it was built seamlessly into the Montessori curriculum. As it turned out, this school also housed a reputable AMS Montessori teacher-training program where a lucky few could intern after their training. I was one of the lucky few.

What brought you to VanDamme Academy?
When we moved to California, I started looking for teaching positions at local Montessori schools. I interviewed at several schools, two of which offered me the job over the phone solely because of whom I had trained under in St. Louis. I accepted a position at a school where Lisa VanDamme was also working, before she started her own school. She and I had a great appreciation for each other as educators and as friends, and when she left to open her own school, I told her to call me as soon as she had a K-1 classroom. Four years later, she did! I have been working with her ever since.

What do you like to do in your free time?
I love to eat! I look forward to it and seem to plan my life around it. I enjoy searching out new recipes, shopping and cooking, and dining out with friends and family. (I asked my daughters what I like to do in my free time and they said, “Eat.”)

Do you have children of your own?
I have two daughters. Bianca, 20, is currently studying Theatre Performance at Chapman University, and Talia, 17, attends Mission Viejo High School and plans to study engineering in college. Both attended VDA from kindergarten to 8th grade, so I have had the pleasure of enjoying this amazing school both as a teacher and as a parent.