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Our Stories

WayMaker Academy was founded by two amazing women who have gone through so much with their own children and found success in Montessori education. They know what it feels like to watch a child struggle through an education system that doesn’t work for them, and they want to share their stories with you.

Richelle’s Story:

Growing up, I enjoyed school for the social aspect of seeing my friends, partaking in sports, and participating in extracurricular activities. When I became a mom, I wanted my children to love school for all the same reasons, but I also wanted them to have a love for learning. I love to learn, but I was very rarely taught in a way that ignited a fire in me to learn more. I credit a huge portion of my success to my own mom who always supported my adventures, my dreams, and never doubted that I could accomplish anything. I want to be that mom to my children. To make this happen, I knew my children had to be in an educational setting that allowed them to be outside-of-the-box thinkers and support their individual needs.

Richelle’s Qualifications:
  • Working towards completion of M.A. – Multisensory Education
  •  S.E.E. (Sequential English Education) -Teaching Level Certification
  • S.E.E. (Sequential English Education) -Therapy Level (Completion 2021)
  • International Multisensory Structured Language Education Council (IMSLEC) certified program
  • Early Reading – The Gateway to Learning
  • MACAR: Montessori Applied to Children At Risk Certification
  • Trained/Certified in handwriting
  • Formation Course Certified Level 1
  • Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Psychology
  • Industrial/Organizational Psychology Specialization
  • Master of Science in Professional Leadership
  • Training and Development Specialization
  • Bachelor of Science, Hospitality Management
  • Minor in Business Administration

This is when Montessori came into my life.         

I enrolled my children into Montessori programs when they became the appropriate age, and even though I loved Montessori, I still felt something was missing. The missing piece was the Christian belief. When I was growing up, school taught you one thing, and Sunday school taught you another. This was not the approach I wanted for my children. My oldest became friends with a girl in his class, and as I got to know the family, we realized we had very similar goals. We decided to homeschool them in my basement.

Since it’s not very big, we did the best we could to create a Montessori environment that met all of their needs. As we taught our children in our basement, I realized that some things were not coming as easy as I thought they should for my kids. Through lots of tears and bad days it came to light that my children had learning differences. The more I learned about learning differences, the more I realized that a lot of the characteristics described myself. I decided to get myself tested and to no surprise I was diagnosed with dyslexia as well as ADHD.

The day I got this diagnosis was like a weight was lifted off my shoulders; it provided me with an understanding of why I saw the world the way I do and that there is a way to help others who also suffer from this same thing. I consider this a blessing for both me and my children.

Growing-up with an undiagnosed learning difference caused me to create my own mechanisms and techniques to aid myself in learning new material as well as what I needed to stay focused on. I believe with all my heart, that if it wasn’t for the unwavering support from my own mom and her belief in me, I would not have been able to accomplish all the things I have. I work every day to be that mom for my children. The more aware I become of how many others have struggled, or are currently struggling, makes me want to be that person for others, not just my own children.

Tawnya Dilling’s Story:

It was because of my daughter that I began my Montessori journey. I began learning about the Montessori method of education when my daughter was two years old.  I started taking a class to learn about Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. As I learned about the religious education method rooted in the Montessori philosophy, I became very intrigued and wanted to learn more about Dr. Montessori and the educational method she created. After completing a CGS course, I volunteered in an atrium, and the more I was immersed the more I wanted to know about not only CGS but also Montessori Education.

When my daughter turned three, we set up a small Montessori learning environment in our basement. A few families had joined us, and we had a friend who was Montessori trained lead our lessons. At that time, I was just an aid that helped and did what I was told. As I watched this environment come to life, I just knew it was the best fit for my daughter.

Fast forward a few years, and my daughter was ready for first grade. We sent her to a private traditional style school to begin her formal schooling. It didn’t go as we had hoped. She became discouraged with reading, because it was all based on external rewards versus the intrinsic motivation that she had been used to. Math also became a struggle once timed tests were introduced, and my daughter caved under all the pressure that she found herself under. She was used to learning for the pure joy of learning, and all of a sudden, she was thrown into a traditional setting that wasn’t a good fit with her learning style.

As a result, we switched my daughter back to a Montessori school, and I decided to go back to school and obtain my Montessori AMS teaching certification. This was quite the undertaking as I went to school and worked to complete my practicum. While my husband and I loved the Montessori method, we hated knowing that the Montessori school was not a Christian school. However, despite the switch, our daughter was still struggling with reading and math. At this point, we were puzzled, because we weren’t seeing much improvement. At the end of that year, we decided it was time to make another change.

We decided to make the switch to homeschooling, and over the following years, we finally figured out why there was so much struggle in our daughter’s educational journey. It was a true relief for us. At this point, I had obtained a full Montessori Certification, and I was learning how to meet my daughter at her educational level and discover her learning style.

I have gone through countless hours of training and conferences to know what exactly exists in the educational world. It is my passion to help expand the way children learn and make learning an enjoyable process in which that process is just as important as the product. This type of intrinsic motivation along with meeting my daughter at her emotional, spiritual, and educational level has made all the difference for her.

Along the journey, I learned about the Sequential English Education (SEE) program which is a research-based reading program that teaches reading, writing, and spelling. This really has made all the difference in turning things around for my daughter because she learns the English language in a systematic and sequential way. In conjunction, the Montessori math teaching from contract to abstract and meeting the child at their level in the learning process has been a true game changer for my daughter. It has truly made learning enjoyable again.

The best part of all of this is that we didn’t have to put our Christian faith aside. Rather, we were able to embrace learning in a Christ centered environment! As a parent this has made all the difference. I can educate my daughter in a Christ-centered environment with the best materials I could possibly find to help her. Now my daughter, a once struggling learner, became encouraged in a Christ centered environment where she could go from wilting to thriving all through means of intrinsic motivation, finding and teaching to her learning style, and having amazing educational programs to support her learning style. Because of this, it has become my passion to help expand the way children learn and to make learning an enjoyable process in which the process is just as important as the product.

As we began our homeschool journey, God sent to us an amazing Christ centered family to share this journey with us. We’ve tread these waters together beginning as two homeschool moms and learning the ropes, and we’re now competent educators who are helping our children thrive. We decided to open our doors and invite others to join us on this journey. Thus, the WayMaker Academy was created to help those who learn differently have a joy for learning and a love for Christ!

Tawnya’s Qualifications:
  • B.A. – Psychology
  • Montessori Live Teacher Education Program
  • American Montessori Society (AMS)
  • Teacher Level Trained/Certified
  • Teacher Level Trained/Certified
  • International Multisensory Structured Language Education Council (IMSLEC) certified program
  • Working towards completion of M.A. – Multisensory Education
  • Certified (Levels One and Two)
  • Trained/Certified in handwriting