Our Work

The Montessori Ukraine United Foundation was established following wide-ranging discussions on the most effective way of supporting Montessori education in Ukraine at a time of war and with the hope of contributing to rebuilding in the future.  The inaugural Board was established with a membership that ensured experience of governance and Foundation management under a Chair with a personal understanding of the community and its most pressing needs.  Participation in the Board will develop in response to changing circumstances in the country and with a commitment to building a broader alliance.  The Board will operate in a way that recognizes, respects and complements the actions of many other agencies and individuals working to maintain education for children under the extreme and challenging conditions in Ukraine.

Yuliia Timoshevska

While studying Psychology during her university years, Yuliia realized that most adult problems originate in childhood. This discovery shifted her focus from adults to young children and eventually to early childhood psychology. Yuliia took the Assistance to Infancy course with Patricia Wallner and graduated in 2012 as the first AMI diploma holder in Ukraine. The same year she opened an AMI Montessori 0-6 school in Odesa that remains the only AMI school in Ukraine. In 2014, she established the AMI Ukraine Affiliate and started discussions about the possibility of opening an AMI Training Centre to prepare Montessori teachers to work with children of different age groups.

In 2021, Yuliia established the Montessori Institute of Odesa and launched the first AMI Primary Course. The same year she was included in TOP-20 list of successful women according to the International Club of Successful Women Rating, having received an award for significant results in creating a unique brand as a new standard of quality. Yuliia is currently finishing the second part of the Training of Trainers programme, a process she began in 2018.

Yuliia is also interested in child development studies and recent research in neuroscience, as well as in learning new languages.

Maria Taranenko

Maria graduated from Odesa National Academy with a Master of Law and started her professional career in business. She has been the CEO of several successful companies, and alongside her private sector activities has always maintained an interest in child development and psychology. She is the co-Founder of three AMI Montessori organizations: the First Odesa Montessori School, the AMI Affiliate in Ukraine, and Montessori Institute of Odesa.

Tetiana Vakulenko

Tetiana’s work experience is closely connected to education. Since 2022, she has led a charitable organization aiming to support primary schools. Since 2008, she has served as Director of the Ukrainian Montessori Centre, the first and the largest Montessori organization in Ukraine providing specialized Montessori training to school teachers. The Centre has maintained a long-standing relationship with the Princeton Centre for Teacher Education, a world-class Montessori teacher training centre founded in 1989, from which many Ukrainian trainers have received their education. The Ukraine Montessori Center is in the process of receiving international accreditation from the Montessori Accreditation Council for Teacher Education (MACTE), and Tetiana is a powerful advocate for the important role it will play in rebuilding primary education in Ukraine after the war.

Maryna Shevchenko

Marina’s interest in childhood as the cradle of humanity started when she had been a student at the medical university. In the course of her studies, Marina was majoring in paediatrics and later with the birth of her youngest daughter she got interested in pedagogy. Perhaps by accident or maybe not the Montessori method that has captured all her attention in the last 17 years appeared in her life. At first, Marina started the 0-6 program which later developed and became a 0 to 18 school.
Marina holds an AMI Montessori Primary diploma and AMI Assistant 12-18 Certificate. At the moment she is a student in an AMI Elementary diploma course. Besides she is taking a basic course in psychology for education in the direction of transactional analysis. All the years of her work and training have been devoted to the in-depth study of the phenomenon of childhood.
Marina pays a lot of attention to educational activities among adults. For 10 years now, as part of the work of the Interregional Information Montessori Center, Marina and her team have been holding annual meetings that provide a great opportunity for Ukrainian Montessori teachers to share experiences and support each other. IIMC conducts regular training programs to make the Montessori method accessible to a wider audience of interested people. IIMC has put a lot of effort to ensure awareness of the Montessori method among the general public, teachers and parents in Ukraine.

Henk Franken

Henk is the founding director (2009) of The Raincoat Consultancy, specialising in public/private sector partnership brokering, strategy development and capacity building. He was the Chief Executive Officer of UNICEF in The Netherlands from 1999 to 2009. He also served as Director of Corporate Planning Monitoring and Evaluation/Program Quality at PLAN International, HQ England, which organization he also served in South America, Kenya, and Zimbabwe. Henk served on the board of AMI until April 2022. Henk graduated with honours in Sociology from Groningen University.

André Roberfroid

André was UNICEF’s Deputy Executive Director for the programme and strategic planning, in charge of developing the overall UNICEF strategies in the field of child health, education, nutrition and child protection until his retirement in 2003. His past work involved work for children in Congo, Gabon, the Central African Republic, Equatorial Guinea, and Cameroon. In 1984 he became a senior planning officer in the UNICEF regional office for the Middle East and North Africa and advised governments on policies for children in all countries of the Middle East (from Morocco to Iran). André was President of AMI from 2005 to 2014. André Roberfroid has been committed to child rights for most of his life, having worked for UNICEF for more than 30 years, which then led him to connect with AMI and the global Montessori community. Often referred to as a child rights militant, André also contributed to the Convention on the Rights of the Child. 

Nico Vasseur

Nico joined AMI as Chief of Staff in 2017. Before joining AMI he was a naval officer in the Royal Netherlands Navy for 38 years where he commanded several ships and flotillas. The Navy has taken him all over the world. He has seen both incredible wealth and deprivation.  All too often it is the children who suffer most. Nico truly believes that education lies at the heart of creating a better world and every child should have the right to education and the freedom to develop to their fullest potential. As Treasurer he supports MUU’s initiatives by monitoring progress, ensuring follow-up, staying connected to teams, and alerting the Board to progress or problems. Nico holds a Master of Arts in history from the University of Amsterdam.