Spotlight on Janis Koenders, Principal ­­- Kendalwood Montessori & Elementary School

Janis Koenders has been passionate about working with children all her life. She began as the resident babysitter in her neighborhood, where local parents came to rely on her and her wonderful way with their families. Janis began to think that her future might involve working with children.

Upon high school graduation from Rosedale Heights School of the Arts, Janis began the Early Childhood Education program at George Brown College as an initial foundation for her post-secondary studies. As she approached completion of the ECE program, she was unsure of her next academic step but one thing was certain – her career would center on child development.

Janis’ passion for children was met with good fortune in an exciting opportunity at a Montessori school in Port Perry. Janis accepted her first formal role as the afterschool program teacher and she was soon promoted to a full time position. She had found her calling and knew that her future would be in Montessori education.

I vividly remember my first visit into the classroom. I recall two clear thoughts racing through my mind:

I had spent my life underestimating children and just how much they are capable of, and; I simply had to learn more about the Montessori program that helped children to flourish like this!

– Janis Koenders

After becoming immersed in Montessori through her first teaching position, Janis went on to complete her Montessori Diploma program focused on Infant and Toddler education at Toronto Montessori Institute. Upon graduation, we were fortunate to meet with Janis and quickly offered her a teaching position. She has since worked closely with our students as a Teacher in quite a few Kendalwood classrooms and acted as our Office Administrator. Most recently, Janis has taken on the role of Principal as we couldn’t be happier to have her in this Leadership role.

In Her Own Words

We sat down with Janis to ask her a few questions about her thoughts on Montessori, and more specifically, life at Kendalwood. Here’s what she had to say:

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Janis Koenders, Principal

Why do you think parents should choose a Montessori education for their child(ren)? In Montessori, we view our role as educators to be the child’s “aid to life”; always working at their pace and their developmental capabilities. Providing children with an individualized education allows them to take control of their educational destiny!

In society, we place so much pressure on post-secondary education. And while I agree to its importance, I also feel we often overlook the most crucial time in a child’s life. It is frequently noted how important the early years are for child development and I believe Montessori provides the best head start for life-long learning.

What differentiates Kendalwood from other Durham Region Montessori schools? Kendalwood Montessori goes beyond the education of children. We pride ourselves on engaging families through curriculum nights, parent information sessions, school-wide events and social networking. We are a school community; a family and I love that!

What is the best part of your day as principal of KMS? Every morning I am greeted with excited handshakes by the children of Kendalwood that enter the school ready to start their day. As I walk through the classrooms I can see the joy when they are given a new lesson. I can sense the pride as they persevere through a challenging piece of work. I can feel the encouragement as they help a classmate. That excitement, that joy, that pride and that encouragement renews my faith in Montessori every single day and I am truly honoured to witness it.

Nicole Tal, Head of Elementary

“Janis is not only a supportive principal and colleague, but she continuously shows us that coming to work everyday is a joy by the smile on her face.  She reflects a grateful and joyous attitude towards students, parents, and teachers creating an environment we are happy to be a part of everyday.  As a teacher, administrative support is so important, and Janis has that for us in spades.  She is consistently present and helpful, and ready to step in whenever a helping hand is required.”


Lisa Jobe, Owner/Director 

“It has been great to have Janis lead the school this year as Principal. Her approachable style and friendliness are key to maintaining, as well as enhancing, Kendalwood’s family-focused culture. Janis ensures that our school operates to a very high standard, above what is required for Provincial Licensing or our CCMA Accreditation.  Janis is very well organized and tackles every situation with dedication and focus, leading our staff with one clear goal – inspiring our students to love to learn. Kevin and I look forward to working with Janis in the years to come.”