​Julie Macdonald

Lower Elementary Teacher

Where did you grow up?

I was born in Madera, California. Our family has been in Madera for generations. I came to Napa 25 years ago with my husband. He is a chef and there was more work here than Sonora, California where we lived at the time.


What were your dreams as a child?

I always loved nature and all animals, so I dreamed of living in a natural setting. I dreamed of being an artist.


Where were you educated?

I attended Madera High School. After graduation I took a General Studies Degree course at Fresno State, but soon learned that it was not for me. After a year I transferred to Colombia College, Colombia, California to the Culinary Arts program. Having enjoyed teaching immensely as a high school teacher’s assistant, I soon changed majors to the Teacher Assistant course. Soon after graduation I got married and we started a family right away. I had the great fortune to be able to be a stay home Mom for my 2 children. When they went to elementary school I volunteered often in the classroom. I was so inspired that I enrolled at Sacramento State University for a BA in Liberal Studies. I received my Teaching Credential, but felt that the Public School system was too scripted. It was then that Montessori came into the picture as I subbed at The Young School, an independent Montessori Elementary school in St. Helena, California.


How did you learn about the Montessori philosophy?

Subbing at the Young School I fell in love with the Montessori philosophy. Then I answered an advertisement for an assistant in the Lower Elementary classroom at Sunrise Montessori, and was smitten! I enrolled in the Montessori Teacher Education Center in San Leandro/Sunnyvale and completed my Elementary training. I am a perpetual student and have done multiple professional development courses, including Positive Discipline, Non-Violent Communication and Mindfulness trainings.


How long have you worked at Sunrise?

I have worked at Sunrise for a total of 5 years


Which age groups have you worked with at Sunrise?

I have worked in the lower and upper elementary classrooms.


Where else have you worked?

I worked at Sonoma Charter School for 12 years.


What excites you about the Montessori philosophy?

I love the focus on respect for the individual child and where they are academically, socially, emotionally and physically and fostering their development from there.


What is the essence of the Montessori philosophy for you?

The attention on the human potential that we all have – our place within the larger community and the world at large and molding the two together in a way that makes sense locally and globally.


What do you love to do outside of school?

I enjoy being in nature; back packing, running and hiking. I love to go to the beach. It gives me great pleasure taking care of animals. And I always love being with family.