4953 Russell Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55410, US





About Us


  • Zen Montessori is a year round collaborative learning community rooted in authentic Montessori principles. We believe that when free, the potential of the human spirit is unlimited. We empower children to be knowledgeable and responsible contributors to the global community.   
  • Our mission is to nurture in each child the passion to embrace all of life with respect and love; to inspire the joyful discovery of self and a passion for independent thinking; to allow each child to develop the skills necessary for active and intelligent exploration, creative thinking and a life-long love of learning.  
  • Our Suzuki violin program nurtures great spirits and inspires a deep love and appreciation of music.​

Zen in Montessori


The word ‘Zen’ is the Japanese attempt at pronouncing the Chinese word ‘Chan’, which in turn is the Chinese attempt at pronouncing the Sanskrit word ‘Dhyana’, which translates as ‘meditation’. 


Simplicity is often associated with Zen. Zen is simply "being present here and now", which is not always easy in life. Fortunately, children have this ability from birth.

Our vision at Zen Montessori is to create a happy and diverse environment providing children the ability to be present and grow their intellect here and now.  


Suzuki Violin

The children have a unique opportunity to participate in our Suzuki Violin program.  The children are free to choose a violin lesson at any time throughout the morning work cycle.  The violin teacher spends most of her morning in our music room adjacent to the classroom.  At the beginning of the school year we introduce a concept of planning and encourage the children to arrange their day accordingly to make sure they have a chance to practice.  Eventually a child is expected to make an independent choice to practice violin.  The lessons are given to a small group and/or individually.  It encourages learning and desire to share music with friends!     

The Suzuki approach to music is absolutely compatible with the Montessori approach to education.  Just as Dr. Montessori had discovered that by creating the right environment, she could achieve startling results with children, Shinichi Suzuki discovered, by observation and extraordinary insight, that even tone-deaf children could achieve a high level of musical ability.  




daily Schedule


8-9             Before Care/Outdoor Play

9-12            Morning Work Cycle

12                Half Day Dismissal/Lunch

12:30-3:30  Art, Outdoor Play, Story time, Naps

Monthly Tuition


Morning Work Cycle: 9 am - noon $600
   + Suzuki Violin $150

School Day: 9 am - 3:30 pm $1050

    + Suzuki Violin $150 

Before Care: 8 am - 9 am $100

Welcome to our Blog

Time flies when spent with children. We enjoy looking at photos and admiring how beautiful and inspiring they are. We hope you enjoy it too! 

Blog/Photos Click Here

About Us

Natalya Kolpashchikova


After spending years in a Montessori environment I was inspired to create an environment of my own!


I am originally from Yoshkar-Ola, Russia, where I attended Mari-El State University 1998 -2001 studying linguistics and business.  I came to the University of Minnesota in 2002, which lead me to a career in the business world.  Allowing me to travel the world, meet many interesting people and most importantly learn about myself.  In my spare time I started teaching science enrichment classes through the "Mad Science" organization at several schools in metro area (Kenwood Elementary, Bryn Mawr Elementary, Our Lady of Grace and Northrop Urban Environmental).  I wanted to see if I would like it and it turned out that I loved it!  

I found my passion was working with children.  I feel fortunate to have found an assistant position at a neighborhood Montessori school.  I had the pleasure of working with an AMI trained guide, Mary Gazca who has 17 years of experience.  She patiently mentored me through observing and assessing children’s individual interests and abilities in order to provide an environment that stimulates and challenges them to learn.  I fell in love with Montessori philosophy and enhanced my studies by taking the Association Montessori Internationale Primary Course in 2011-2012.  

Ruth Bergman


Violinist Ruth Bergman is a dedicated teacher and a seasoned performer. With over ten years of teaching experience, she has held positions on the faculty of nationally respected Suzuki programs, including the Hartt Community Division in Hartford and the MacPhail Center for Music. Ruth has also taught as a guest at Western Springs School of Talent Education and the Augsburg College Suzuki Talent Education. She is an active member of the Suzuki Association of the Americas (SAA). Ruth holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Violin Performance and a Master of Music degree in Violin Performance and Suzuki Pedagogy from The Hartt School, with additional collegiate studies at Lawrence University. She has long-term violin pedagogy training with Teri Einfeldt and Suzuki Early Childhood training with Sharon Jones. Other influences on Ruth’s teaching include Diane Slone, Melinda Daetsch, and Kathy Wood.

A passionate advocate for Suzuki Early Childhood Education (SECE), Ruth is gaining a strong reputation for her work with the youngest students in the Suzuki community. Ruth has undertaken three levels of SECE training, has taught Suzuki baby classes in several programs, and now has also experienced these classes from the parent perspective. She deeply believes in the mission of the class to teach musical, language, and other life skills through the creation of a positive, nurturing environment. Ruth enjoys applying aspects of the SECE curriculum to her work with very young instrumental students.

As a performer, Ruth has a diverse experience, ranging from symphony orchestras to musical theater. She especially enjoys collaborating as a chamber musician. She has performed with the Hartford Symphony, Eastern Connecticut Symphony, Fox Valley Symphony, the Bishop String Quartet, and Rhymes with Opera, among many other ensembles. In 2012, Ruth and her sister, cellist Leah Bergman, toured five States, giving eight recitals across New England and the Midwest. Her primary teachers have been Katie Lansdale, Anton Miller, and Allen Ohmes.

Ruth lives in Minneapolis, MN with her husband, and their baby daughter. She enjoys mini golf, cooking, board games, and spending time outside.



Meredith Vaughan


Meredith Vaughan is a Twin Cities based violinist and teacher. She is on the faculty of St. Joseph’s School of Music as a violin, viola, and Suzuki Early Childhood Education teacher. In addition to her teaching, Meredith performs actively in a variety of ensembles throughout the Twin Cities and beyond. She holds a Bachelor’s of Music in Violin Performance from Vanderbilt University and a Master’s of Music in Violin Performance from the University of Minnesota. She completed long-term training in Every Child Can! and books 1-4 with Carol Smith, and long-term training covering books 1-10 and a Suzuki Practicum course with Mark Bjork. She has also completed Stage 1, 2, and 3 of Suzuki Early Childhood Education training with Sharon Jones at the American Suzuki Institute. 

Meredith is currently serving as Volunteer Coordinator for the Suzuki Association of Minnesota’s (SAM) statewide Graduation program and previously served as Secretary on the SAM board of directors for four years. She has been a judge for the Twin Cities-based Thursday Musical Competition for young artists and a clinician for the Southeastern Minnesota Suzuki Association’s Gasshuku Workshop. 

You can read more about Meredith’s teaching, performing, and other work at meredithviolin.com.


About Us

Kari Maxwell


Kari is our art teacher! With over thirteen years of experience as a Children's House Guide, she offer a diverse curriculum that naturally incorporates much of the Montessori philosophy and methods.

Check out

http://createeverydayclassroom.blogspot.com for more info. about camps and classes.

Kari is also an artist. Regardless of subject, I continue to find that my work is a reflection of where I have been or a hint of where I may be going. I work intuitively. With proper rest, solitude, meditation, affirmation and what seems like millions of collages, doodles, paintings and photographs gone to waste, a new body of work is born. 

My most successful paintings occur when I lose all inhibitions and make a mess. I honor the days of creative freedom, when what is "wasted" is just as important as what remains. My challenge as an artist is to trust that this is part of my process, creating another layer of the story.

I try to allow the painting to lead the way. For me, this is when I become one with the process, and the painting takes on its own expression. When a painting is complete, it reveals an answer to a question or confirms a recent emotional or spiritual understanding or growth within myself.

Kari Maxwell is a self taught artist who lives and works out of her studio in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She is represented by the Chait Galleries downtown in Iowa City, IA, the Fanny Garver Gallery in Madison, WI and The Grand Hand in St. Paul, MN.


Kayt Joyce


Kayt is our art teacher too! And she is also the owner and lead “problem solver” at Kayt Joyce Design + Print, a creativity driven design + print studio whose mission is to simplify brand execution for creatives and businesses through unified marketing design, printed collateral and a little bit of SWAG. With majors in both photography and design, she has always had a passion for creativity through composition. Kayt has been designing and managing her own business for over 18 years. Along that journey she has had the opportunity to experience adventures in a wide range of specialties, including holding a title as a Creative Director for a custom promotional and retail product company, working directly with the Olympics on both a US National and International levels, Major Cruise Lines, the US National Park Systems and Sandals Resorts. 

With a strong passion for simplicity and supporting small businesses, Kayt is all about the #locallove. She enjoys actively supporting various non-profit organizations through design, marketing, hands-on community work and animal rescue. In addition to being a collaborative member in her local creative community. Spending time outdoors with her family helps to keep her grounded and fuel her inspiration.

Kayt believes strongly in the importance of art and art education in the lives of students and all people. As creativity is an integral part of our world, no matter what the application. The creative process is encountered on a daily basis and can be seen in all aspects of life. Erin and Kayt have been partnering up via VIVA MUSICA to teach art classes in a variety of settings: public schools, retirement homes, and community education. 


Caryn Bittinger


Caryn is our dance/movement educator! Caryn started creative movement dance classes at 2 years old. Dance always brought a joy and a connection to others for Caryn. When she was old enough, she began to assist her dance teachers and as she entered college she sought out a minor in Dance Education. During her college years, she began to explore Dance/movement Therapy.  In 2001, she attended a summer on the Duke campus at the American Dance Festival, where she learned from world renowned facilitators of Liz Lerman Dance Exchange. This solidified her love of bringing movement to a broader range of populations. Moving and exploring concepts to create stories through movement left Caryn in awe and ignited a desire to make this her life's work. From that point on, Caryn continued to immerse her self in ways to bring "dance" to various populations and learn as much as she could. Throughout the past 20 years, she has learned, interned, volunteered, and worked in a variety of settings: Karios Dance Theatre -  Elderly; Abbott NorthWestern Behavioral Health Unit - Adults who exhibit mental health disorders; University of River Falls, WI - received BS in Sociology & minor in Dance Education; Hawn Foundation workshop - Mindfulness for Children; Education in Dance & The Related Arts of New York City - early childhood movement classes; 14th St Y of New York City - creative movement class 5-8 year olds; HeadStart of Anoka/Ramsey County - 3-5 year olds; 92nd St Y of New York City Intensive Workshop with Dianne Duggan - Dance for Students with Special Needs; Intensive Workshop in San Francisco; Young Dance Outreach - Boys & Girls Club of Minneapolis, Highland Friendship Club, Bridgeview - middle school & high school students with disabilities, Hennepin County Juvenile Detention Homeschool, Wilder Preschool; S.T.E.P.S. Outreach - Touchstone Mental Health Facility, In 2009, Caryn received her Masters in Arts from Columbia College Chicago, and she is currently a registered Dance/movement Therapist, (R-DMT).

Through all these experiences, Caryn learned that there is no movement too small or big. Movement can be on or off rhythm, with hesitation or confidence. Everything is part of the dance. Simply showing up - whether to participate or observe - becomes a part of the story.  


About Us



Coming soon! Jocelyn is a trained Montessori teacher, Suzuki trained violin player and the kindest person I know.

Erin Braid


Erin is our substitute art teacher. And she is also  the Founder of Viva Musica, a non-profit organization dedicated to restoring music and art education. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Global Studies with an emphasis on Human Rights and non-profit organizations from the University of Minnesota and recently earned a Master of Arts Degree from St. Mary’s University in Arts and Cultural Non-profit Management. Erin and Kayt have been partnering up to teach art classes in a variety of settings: public schools, retirement homes, community education. Erin is also the owner of Bela & Company, a real estate company and is also a certified personal trainer. Erin is passionate for education as it instills philosophies and evokes discussion.




Application Process: schedule a visit + fill out the application 

Zen Application 1 (pdf)


Contact Us

Zen Montessori

4953 Russell Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55410, US

(612) 226-7690 zenmontessori@gmail.com or natalya@zenmontessori.com

Get in Touch!


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