Our Teaching

Tina Veltri - Academic Director

I have a unique perspective of education because I was not trained to be a public school teacher. I was trained to follow the child and help the whole child which includes all aspects of him/her. I learned individual education where each child gets what he/she needs. Where learning is natural and learning standards are not something to be checked off and assessed, but constantly part of the learning process without the child feeling pressure. I “test” what a child knows through questioning and conversation and observation which shows me what they already know (prior knowledge) and allows me to build on that. It’s a natural process. Children work at their own pace and learning is fun and stress free. The classroom is its own community and the school is the larger community. All working together.

Until moving to Florida I was never called a teacher. I am a Montessori Directress which is something entirely different. I really didn’t know or understand the difference until I moved to Florida and slowly over time it became clear. Montessori classrooms are known as the environment, which we take special care to prepare for our students. A Directress is a person who is an excellent observer and knows how to observe students in order to get them to reach their highest potential. Our environments are child-centered, not teacher-centered, because the children are the important ones in the environment. We prepare our environment (classroom) and everything in it to entice the child to explore and follow their interests. We work on responsibility within our classroom community, our school community, and the community at large. We believe school and family are just as important and we must be a team. We have classrooms of different age groups so as to give students the opportunity to help other students which empowers them. The goal is a love of learning and independence. We use work plans and journals and self-reflect. We have meetings with our students individually on their progress and goals. We empower students, teach and model problem-solving, help students to set individual goals, learn organization skills, ignite a passion for research and growth within themselves toward independence. That is the ultimate goal. When a student is able to set their goals, work at their own pace, explore what interests them, and is capable of doing so without a “teacher” standing in front of them giving them all the directions, they have reached independence. We pose higher order questions and invite students to ask questions. These questions become “mini researches” for the students who can explore the answers and present and teach the class what they have learned.      

At Shining Starr Learning Academy, we welcome students with Dyslexia. Unlike the “normal” learner, dyslexics think in pictures not words, so they need a lot of activity with learning vocabulary with pictures or objects which we do in Montessori. If they don't have pictures, the student has little or partial understanding . Dyslexics also use different parts of their brain which makes their learning / retrieval of information slower and their memory is often affected.      

Ms. Veltri has a Master of Education in  Elementary Education. specializing in Montessori Education from Loyola College. She also completed training programs at the Midwest Montessori Training Center and the Montessori Institute of Milwaukee where Dr. Maria Montessori began and her family continues to train educators in the Montessori Method. 

Ms. Veltri brings 20 years of Montessori teaching experience to the classroom.

Grading and Assessing

Shining Starr Learning Academy will focus its assessment of students on formative assessment, which means to evaluate students on the work they do at school for the sole purpose of improving their learning.  Letter grades will not be assigned until high school (when grades are required).  We will provide parents with reports on their child’s progress on a regular basis, though we encourage parents to be involved in their child’s education so that they can see for themselves the progress their child is making.  

Homework - NONE

Research has shown that homework does not increase achievement in any significant way and in many situations decreases it.  It also causes anxiety in students and disrupts home life.  Therefore, homework will not be assigned to students with the exception, possibly, of activities in which the whole family can be included.  We do encourage students to read each day at home, but we will not require a reading log.  We also encourage students to discuss what they are reading in class.Projects will be completed in school. Students will work individually and in groups on projects that include researching, writing, and making displays and computer presentations.  

Gifted Students

Yes, since we are a hands-on interactive learning environment and each student is assessed individually, your gifted student may excel faster in our environment than in a regular classroom setting.

Our Teaching Philosophy

At Shining Starr Learning Academy, the teaching philosophy is one of active learning.  Students, especially those who have learning and processing difficulties, need to be more involved with their own learning.  In reality, all students benefit from a hands-on, interactive approach to education.  In math, for example, students will explore ideas so that they can get a better foundation of the concepts.  Watching a teacher “do problems” and then trying the same type of “problems” over and over does not lead to students’ deeper understanding (and retention) of the concepts.  Exploring and “doing math” lead to better learning over time.Reading and writing are foremost among the skills students must learn in school.  At SSLA, we strive to bring students’ own interests into the classroom so that they are motivated to learn.  To this end, we will use the applied literacy (or content literacy) approach in which students will explore topics within the broader scope of the content and produce their own works of writing and other products to demonstrate their knowledge.  Social studies and language arts, for example, will be closely tied to each other so that students can learn content within the various fields of social studies (history, geography, civics, etc.) while developing their writing skills.We also believe that students need to have “down” time during the day, but we intend to use the time we have with them wisely by incorporating a variety of productive activities into the day, including art, music, “brain games,” yoga, and outdoor play.  The activities will vary by age and will change throughout the school year to allow all students to experience these types of activities.  Students will get a chance to cook in our  working kitchen.  We will also include keyboarding and other computer skills in the curriculum.   

Learn more about the Whole Child education

Whole Child Education


 Montessori Education https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3NGRpzQ9vCE


Montessori 4 year old https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=09Y-huCMjIc


Montessori Lower Elementary 6-9 yrs old https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tgF4M_A58Mg


Montessori Upper Elementary 9-12  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=txW_e40qGUs


Montessori Philosophy of the Ehttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IbKMR7fLqI0lementary Years