Meet Janis Coffey

Meet the team behind MSCA! Get acquainted with our board directors and staff who make it all happen behind the scenes. Discover what drives their passion for MSCA and their vision for its future.

"Montessori, in essence, is a method of a collection of evidence-based teaching strategies and knowledge derived from cognitive and developmental psychology."

Chair of MSCA (as of 25th May 2023!)

Current working position: 
Principal of North-Eastern Montessori School in Melbourne, Victoria.

Tell us about your Montessori background:
In 2020, I completed the 12-18 Adolescent Orientation Course. While I didn’t start out as a Montessori teacher, I have always been aligned with the Montessori philosophy; I spent several years working with schools all around Australia and the Asia-Pacific, training teachers on the neuroscience of positive emotions and their impacts on learning, the psychology of flow, the research behind relationships, including attachment theory. I was always interested in the dynamics that created a healthy school environment where children could flourish. Lo and behold, I found that when I found Montessori.

What do you love about Montessori? 
That it is the Science of Education. Montessori, in essence, is a method of a collection of evidence-based teaching strategies and knowledge derived from cognitive and developmental psychology.

What are your hopes for MSCA?
To support the scalability of Montessori education in Australia, at all levels, across all sectors, and to protect the authenticity of Montessori’s work, which includes the emerging research that will continue to inform how children and adolescents learn best.

What is your favourite Montessori quote and why? 
“The greatest gift we can give our children are the wings of independence and the roots of responsibility.”

It’s a simple quote, but it speaks to who I am as a teacher. I have always worked in my classroom to develop a community; one that cares for one another, as well as our environment, recognises and respects our various differences, and one where we laugh and learn together. Creating these micro-communities in our schools will hopefully reflect how our students interact with their world beyond the confines of the classroom. This responsibility of treating others as they wish to be treated gives our children the groundedness in what it means to be a citizen of the world. That’s the ‘roots’ part of the quote. 

The first part, ‘the wings of independence’, well, this is what we want for all of our children. We want to give them the skills they need to be independent in their world, the opportunity to give things a go, and the courage to try something new, fail, and then try again. That is resilience. We prepare them in all domains of their development: cognitive, emotional, and social. This education for life enables our students to thrive in any environment because they have learned what it means to be independent.

About Janis.

Janis has been the Principal of North-Eastern Montessori School since 2019. She has over 10 years’ experience in various leadership roles in independent schools, including being Head of Middle School, Head of Teaching & Learning and Associate Director of Geelong Grammar’s Institute of Positive Education.  Janis is also a certified Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction (MBSR) facilitator and has spent a large part of her career promoting mental health for young people, serving on the Board for the Positive Education Schools Association from 2016 – 2019. Originally from Philadelphia, Janis has lived in Australia for more than 19 years. She has a teenage daughter and enjoys writing, cooking, yoga, and anything to do with the arts!