Fishtown Montessori is Growing!

Our Second Location Opened in the Fall of 2022

We are pleased to announce that Fishtown Montessori has opened a second location at 1212 Marlborough St., offering even more children the opportunity to thrive in an environment specially designed around how they naturally learn.

  • Over 7,000 sq.ft. of naturally curated outdoor space 
  • Excellent teacher: child ratios 
  • Toddlers ages 18 months through 3 years old 
  • Primary Classes ages 3 – 6 years old 
  • Qualified teachers with Montessori training

Enrolling Now

Our Programs

Our programs are designed to provide children the most ideal environment in which to grow and thrive while offering parents extended hours that fit their busy schedules.

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Toddler Classroom

Your child will grow more rapidly between birth and age three than any other time in their life. In our joyful and loving Montessori toddler classroom curiosity, creativity and confidence are nurtured and the inner drive for understanding becomes a love of learning that will last a lifetime.
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Primary Classrooms

Your child will receive a learning experience designed specifically to help them reach their full potential. Our focus on intellectual, social, and physical development is manifest in this hands-on approach to learning.
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The ``Kindergarten`` Year

During the first two years in our primary Montessori classroom children learn enough concentration and coordination to become independent in their actions and thoughts. In their third year, (traditionally referred to as Kindergarten), children apply these skills and take their learning to a level of mastery previously not attained.
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Extended Care Programs

The extended care program gives children time to play freely and choose between a multitude of open-ended materials such as dramatic play items, blocks and art materials. They may use the time to work on any of their Montessori projects, spend time in our outdoor play area or may have the opportunity to visit the local park (if pick-up schedules permit).
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Submit an Application

Get on the waitlist sooner than later, or check out a virtual tour first.


Attend a Virtual Tour

See for yourself why our students are so successful. You can attend before applying.


Visit in Person

Bring your child in for a private tour, a required part of the admissions process.


Finalize Enrollment

Families are invited to enroll on a rolling basis when space permits. Waitlists are common so act fast.

About Us

Fishtown Montessori was founded by a lifelong educator who brings a wealth of knowledge about early childhood development, teaching, learning, curriculum and educational administration to our center.

Fishtown Montessori is locally owned and operated and was founded in 2017 to provide children in the neighborhood with the highest quality early learning environment possible. Our authentic Montessori program follows the guiding principles of the American Montessori Society, which we have been a member of since our inception.

Our Mission is to nurture the curiosity and wonder that inspires learning so that children develop a deep understanding of the foundational skills essential to fulfilling their human potential. We are guided by the following principles: Joy of learning, Respect for and preservation of natural development, cultivating Peace through learning about culture and humanity, and Authenticity in our Montessori programming.

Along with providing an incredibly rich learning environment, Fishtown Montessori is also geared toward providing consistency to working families and is conveniently located in the heart of Fishtown. We run on a typical school year calendar, with dynamic summer programs offered to provide full year care. Our authentic Montessori toddler program serves children 24-35 months old and our two mixed-age primary preschool classrooms are for children ages three through six.

The Curriculum at Fishtown Montessori

Montessori education is a scientific, research-based approach to teaching and learning developed by the Italian scientist and doctor, Maria Montessori over one hundred years ago. Traditional Montessori Curriculum includes practical life, sensorial, language, math, and culture (history, science, geography, art, and cultural studies). Trained Montessori teachers carefully prepare their classrooms with special materials designed to give children hands-on experiences from which they learn. Children in these multi-age classrooms have long uninterrupted periods of work time where they direct their own learning experiences based on their interests and their internal drive for mastery.

COVID-19 Health & Safety

Safety, before everything else, is the most important part of childcare and we take this responsibility very seriously at Fishtown Montessori.

The Fishtown Montessori COVID Policy has become obsolete but, if needed, will return in the future. We are now exclusively following the Philadelphia Department of Public Health (PDPH) COVID guidance.

More on Montessori

We love the Montessori approach to learning in early childhood because we believe it is the most supportive of a child’s natural drive to fulfill their curiosity through exploring the environment. Children love to challenge themselves. We invite children to find their next challenge and master it at their own pace, based on their own interests and curiosities. Fishtown Montessori values, trusts and cultivates this intrinsic motivation in hopes that our students will bring it well into their future to enjoy a lifetime of joyful learning.

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Interested in finding out more about Fishtown Montessori?

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Contact us here with questions about our programs, admissions, inquiries about career opportunities, or for any other reason.

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Denise Spetrino

Founder, Head of School, Admissions Director

Denise Spetrino fulfilled a lifelong dream in 2017 when she founded Fishtown Montessori. Denise has been working with children and their families her whole professional life and has earned a BA in Early Childhood and Elementary Education from Temple University and an MS in Teaching, Learning and Curriculum and Educational Administration from Drexel University. Denise is a certified K-6 elementary teacher, a certified principal in the state of Pennsylvania, and has completed some coursework in Montessori education. Denise worked as a first, then fifth grade teacher in Philadelphia for nine years prior to opening Fishtown Montessori. Denise has lived in the 19125 zip code since 2006 and currently resides in East Kensington with her family. She loves camping and biking and spending time with her family and friends.
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Lauren Stenberg

Director, Curriculum Coordinator

Lauren has known she would pursue a career in early childhood education for most of her life—she’s been a “kid person” since she was a kid. Her professional journey working with children began when she spent four years teaching English as a Second Language at a preschool in Milan, Italy. Through meaningful, art-intensive interactions with her students, she came to understand the power of progressive, child-guided, and engaging early education. Upon returning to Philadelphia, Lauren earned both her Bachelor’s in Psychology from Temple University and Master’s in Education in Child and Adolescent Development. She has worked with children in a wide range of settings, most recently, she has served as the Director of the after school ASPire Program at Germantown Friends School in Philadelphia.

Lauren is a native of South Jersey, and now resides in the Fairmount neighborhood of Philadelphia with her husband and her baby boy Sebastian. In her free time, she loves creating, singing, exploring nature, and indulging in gourmet cheese.

Lead Teachers

Erica Eidelson

Erica Eidelson

Lead Primary Teacher

Erica earned a Bachelor’s in Psychology and a Masters in Elementary Education from Saint Joseph’s University. Erica is a certified K-6 elementary teacher, is a certified Wilson instructor and has completed her Early Childhood (Primary) Montessori training with the North American Montessori Center. Ms. Erica is originally from New York where her family owns a learning center where she had tutored children since the age of ten. She watched so many children excel in school and grow into confident learners that she quickly realized that she wanted to be a teacher. Through her extensive experience she understands that students learn best through exploration and are capable of so much when given the freedom to discover and make choices. Erica lives just outside of Philadelphia and has been singing in an acapella choir for many years, she always enjoys incorporating music and creativity into the classroom.
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Katie Locke

Lead Toddler Teacher

Katie (she/her pronoun) believes that working with children is a radical calling. Her passions lie in advocating the power of play, respect for ages zero to three, and teaching emotional intelligence. For the past 10 years, Katie has worked with children in various capacities, including CHOP’s Art Therapy department, and the nonprofit sector for under-represented populations. She is currently completing her Infant/Toddler Montessori certification at Princeton Center for Teacher Education. With a background in Fine Arts, Katie holds a BFA from Moore College of Art and Design, and an MFA from the University of Pennsylvania. She enjoys Philadelphia’s vibrant theater community, book discussions, and tea.
Payal Shah

Payal Shah

Lead Primary Teacher

Payal Shah comes from an extensive background in Montessori education and early childhood development with about 14 years of experience. She earned her formal degree in early childhood development from Adrian Montessori Academy in Michigan. Payal says, “As a child brings out a parent in a person, the children of my classroom brought out the teacher in me.”

Payal is dedicated to bringing out the best in your child, endeavoring to help your child find their passion, enabling them to dream big, and creatively engage them in its pursuit by providing them an environment for their overall holistic development as visioned by Maria Montessori.

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307 E. Girard Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19125

Business Hours

Mon – Fri: 8:30am – 6:00pm
Sat & Sun: Closed