Staff Profiles


Director of Education & Lead Teacher

Colette Toquigne

Colette joins the Roots Montessori team with 15 years experience teaching in an upper elementary classroom. She holds an AMS certification Level I & Level II for ages 6-12. In addition, Colette has a Bachelor of Science degree in Human Resources from Oakland University where she practiced business for over 10 years, before leaving to follow her dream of becoming a teacher.

Colette loves spending time with family! Most of her free time is spent at the barn with her daughter, Sydney who rides an adorable pony named Abby. Her family also enjoys camping in the state parks and spending time at their cabin near Walloon Lake, Michigan – which offers a wonderful escape from life’s fast pace.

What Colette loves most about being a Montessori teacher is that no child is ever left behind. Teachers have the opportunity to work one-on-one with students in small groups and older students will often be found assisting the younger students. Excellent role-modeling occurs on a regular basis, laying the foundation for kindness, helpfulness and leadership.

What Colette enjoys most at Roots is being able to share God’s love in the classroom through community based outreach projects, while also building an authentic Montessori program where life-long learners are born.

Elementary Assistant

Katie Nolan

Katie graduated from Hope College with a Bachelor’s in English, minor in Psychology, and a Secondary Education endorsement. Working with children of all ages has always been a passion for her. She taught middle school language arts for five years before staying at home with her young daughter.

The Montessori approach has inspired Katie to step back into the classroom because of its high standards of intellectual and social development for children. She is excited about joining the community of curious, lifelong learners at Roots.

Lower Elementary Specialist

Dana Benedetto

Dana’s love of the Montessori method came about after learning of Dr. Montessori’s work with special needs children in a psychology class. After receiving her BA in Special Education from Eastern Michigan University, she earned her Montessori certification for Lower Elementary through Xavier University. She worked for two years at a Montessori school in the downriver area before stopping to raise six children; she then returned to the Montessori classroom for the last 15 years, where she has acquired an additional Montessori elementary experience.

Dana believes one of the gifts Dr. Montessori gave us was to connect the God of the universe with His creation. Dana enjoys using the natural world, the hands-on materials and other resources to classify, calculate and make sense of mathematics, geometry, physical science, geography, grammar, writing, history, zoology and botany. This allows her the opportunity to teach respect for ourselves, for others and for our world based on God’s love for each of us. “The Montessori curriculum allows us to include all aspects of our world and every week I find myself excited about something new I’ve learned!”


Head of School

Danae Durling

Danae holds a Bachelors degree from Cornerstone University, with a Language Arts Major and an Early Childhood endorsement. She taught Kindergarten for 6 years then following her time in the classroom, she started and grew the Day Camp program for SpringHill Camps. Most recently, she has been the Children’s Ministry Director at Trinity Church in Plymouth, Michigan.

Her passion for creating moments for kids to understand themselves and grow in character and knowledge has been a part of her classrooms, camp experience and teaching environments. Whether she is with kids in Plymouth, Haiti or Detroit she believes that all kids regardless of circumstances should have access to healthy environments that allow them to grow and flourish.

What Danae is most excited about at Roots is watching all kids thrive in a learning environment that allows them to grow at their pace, work in community and see all the different ways the Christian faith connects to the world around them.

Executive Director

Deborah Bartlett

Deb is the Founder of Roots Montessori and serves as the Executive Director. She started her career working in social services and ultimately obtained her Masters of Social Work (MSW) from the University of Michigan. After years of counseling children and families, she had a family of her own and opted to stay home to care for the needs of her family. While maintaining her license and continuing on in volunteer capacities, she was given a passion for how education can change the life of an individual. This passion is what led her to establish Roots Montessori and continues to drive her to create a healthy learning environment that children can grow and thrive in.

Office Manager

Dawn Nowicki


Physical Education Teacher

Corey Walsh

Corey holds a BAS from Eastern Michigan University and is certified K-12 in Physical Education and Health Education. He has spent the last 5 years teaching PE at various Montessori and Public schools in the Metro Detroit Area. Corey enjoys coaching soccer, playing guitar, trumpet, being active, Notre Dame Football, and anything outdoors.

Music Teacher

Yvonne Alaniva

Yvonne holds a bachelors degree in engineering from the University of Michigan and a masters degree in business administration from Lawrence Technological University. She spent 11 years in engineering at Ford Motor Company before electing to stay home to raise her family. Yvonne directed the band program at St. Peter’s Lutheran School in Plymouth for 15 years which brought to light a passion for sharing and creating music with the young. What delights Yvonne about Roots is the prospect of how high students can reach together & individually in this nurturing, educational environment. As a Plymouth resident she also welcomes its positive addition to the community as evidence of God’s love.

Art Program

Imagine That! Art Studio