The Montessori Toddler Program


A child at twelve months is just beginning to experience the world. In the next year, he or she will probably begin to walk and run, talk in simple sentences, feed him or herself, and many other milestones. The one’s classroom at Alegria Montessori has been designed by our Montessori trained teachers to present your young toddler with a safe, engaging, and loving space in which to explore, gain confidence, and practice independence. We offer a language-rich environment that respects the autonomy and individuality of each child in our care. Sensory experimentation and movement are encouraged, with a toddler-friendly outdoor playground and garden.


Between the ages of 24 months and 3 years of age, your child develops explosively – body control (running, jumping, and dancing), fine motor control (tweezing, spooning, pouring, and grasping), language development (speaking in sentences and paragraphs, telling and listening to stories, and singing), and socially and emotionally (beginning to make friends and learn social graces). Your two year old is busy! Our Montessori trained teachers offer a sensory and language-rich environment that paves the way for future successes. We offer many practical life skills to a child of this age, which hones motor control and independence. At Alegria Montessori School, we have prepared a safe, friendly, and ordered classroom for your child to practice these skills and build concentration, independence, and confidence.

Toddler Faculty:

Carolina Elizalde

Toddler Teacher: One-Year Olds

Carolina joined Alegria in August of 2021. She attended a Montessori school from ages 3-8 herself, and has a deep appreciation for the lifelong love of learning and exploration that her Montessori foundation instilled. She received her BSBA in Managing for Sustainability from Bucknell University in Pennsylvania and has explored several career fields since! Carolina has over 15 years of experience working with young children in a number of settings, including camps, sports, and nannying. While she loves children of all ages, toddlers hold a special place in her heart. She is thrilled to turn her passion into a career! 

Michele Haynes

Toddler Teaching Assistant: One-Year Olds

Michele was born in Ohio. Her family moved to Florida when she was in fifth grade. Her happy place remains her grandfather’s farm in Ohio, which she visits annually. Michele was and is an RN. Her nursing vocation guided her to caring for cancer patients and later developing and running Infection Control programs for six area hospitals. Michele has a home in Clearwater with her husband, and is mother to two, and Grammy to six. Her granddaughter introduced her to Alegria. Michele loves assisting in the one year old classroom.

Grace Lewis

Toddler Teacher: Two-Year Olds

Grace was born in the Netherlands while her parents were on sabbatical, a trip that originally meant to last half a year that was extended several times. Grace moved back to the United States when she was 8 years old. She spent her childhood in the New Jersey countryside (yes, it exists) which was followed by 4 years at Grinnell, a small liberal arts college in Iowa. There she learned how to hug trees and love mathematics. Grace rounded out her education in New York studying ethics and graphic design at Union and Parsons respectively. Two children later, Grace fell in love with Montessori education and began working at their school: Alegria. She earned her Infant/Toddler Montessori Teaching Credential from the Center for Montessori Teacher Education in North Carolina in 2019. A lover of clean lines, Grace enjoys creating materials for her classroom where she spends her days learning lessons in kindness, honesty, and mindfulness from the toddlers she spends her time with.

Umekua Carty

Toddler Teacher: Two-Year Olds

Umekua Carty graduated from Boca Ciega with honors in 2010 and graduated from St Petersburg College in 2014. She began working at Alegria in the summer of 2012. Over the years, Umekua has worked with students at every level from Lower Elementary to one-year olds. For the past three years Umekua has worked with the two-year olds. In the afternoons, she oversees the aftercare program and assists with scheduling and other administrative duties. In her free time Umekua enjoys spending time at the beach, listening to music, and reading.

Carrie Smith

Toddler Teacher: Two-Year Olds

Carrie has been at Alegria since 2010. She started as an intern, observing and substituting in all the classrooms. In 2013 Carrie earned her Infant/Toddler Montessori Teaching Credential from Palm Harbor Montessori Teacher Education Center. She has been a lead toddler teacher for 9 years. Carrie and Soha have been working together since Carrie became the lead. They make a wonderful team! A native of Saint Petersburg, FL, Carrie has a son in our Elementary program and a son in the Ones class. Her eldest has been attending Alegria since he was a toddler!

Soha Abdelhamed

Soha Abdelhamed

Toddler Teaching Assistant: Two-Year Olds

Soha joined Alegria in 2013. Soha was born and raised in Egypt, where she worked as a nurse fro 15 years, before moving to the United States in 2009. Soha has been working with Carrie in one of the toddler classrooms for 9 years. She has been referred to as the “child whisperer” on campus, all of the children love Soha so much!