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Flowers on Wood

About Us


7:30-5:30 M-F


1130 W Marquette St.
Appleton, WI



Fox Valley Montessori Academy, Inc does not and shall not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion (creed), gender, gender expression, age, national origin (ancestry), disability, marital status, sexual orientation, or military status, in any of its activities or operations. These activities include, but are not limited to, acceptance and dismissal of students, hiring and firing of staff, selection of volunteers and vendors, and provision of services. We are committed to providing an inclusive and welcoming environment for all members of our staff, our students and their families, volunteers, subcontractors, vendors, and clients.

Fox Valley Montessori Academy, Inc is an equal opportunity employer. We will not discriminate and will take affirmative action measures to ensure against discrimination in employment, recruitment, advertisements for employment, compensation, termination, upgrading, promotions, and other conditions of employment against any employee or job applicant on the bases of race, color, gender, national origin, age, religion, creed, disability, veteran's status, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression

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Our Mission Statement

 Fox Valley Montessori Academy Inc will strive to provide the highest quality care and educational experience that promotes and enhances development of the whole child. Our focus includes physical, emotional and social wellness. We use the 5 Montessori Principles of Respect for the Child, The Absorbent Mind, Sensitive Periods, The Prepared Environment, and AutoEducation.


We couple the Montessori Principles of Education with the high touch and sensitivity of empathetic parenting principles that include concepts of stay-listening, setting reasonable expectations based on child development and individual development, and compassionate guidance without punishment. At FVMA we are committed to furthering each child’s physical health through natural outdoor play, peace practices, safe and natural learning materials, and high quality, fresh home-made foods. We partner with each parent to consider their child as an individual, and work together to achieve secure adult attachments, friendships with their peers and wellness through their education. 


Our Philosophy

The philosophy of Fox Valley Montessori Academy is based on the Montessori Method which strongly indicates children learn and develop most effectively through active exploration, involvement and manipulation of their environment. Through this dynamic process, children construct knowledge of the world that makes sense in ways they can understand. The child's development of knowledge of the social world and strategies for interacting with peers and adults is also an important part of learning during the early childhood years. We believe that access to the outdoors, imaginative play, aesthetic environments, screen-free, and organic, fresh and home-made food supports complete wellness in a child, and allows them to learn and flourish.

Children learn best in a warm, supportive, safe atmosphere in which individual and cultural differences are valued. Classroom activities are planned to support the learning process and address each child's physical, social, emotional, cognitive and creative development. Many activites are open-ended and focus on the child's process, without an end product. They foster self-learning, problem solving, and creativity in children. 


Nicole Swanson, Owner

My name is Nicole, and I am grateful for your interest in joining our school. I am a former elementary educator, who has a passion for education, working with children, entrepreneurship, and travel. I have a Bachelor's degree in Elementary Education and Early Childhood Education and a Masters in English Literature. During my first years as an educator, I taught in an inner-city school in Tennessee for 3 years teaching 4th and 5th grade and then taught Kindergarten for K12 Academy. As I made my way back to Wisconsin, I rejoined my family business and managed one of our small businesses for the past 7 years. It has always been a dream of mine to start a school someday that would provide a less standardized, more authentic way to educate our youth. In 2020 I opened Natural Learners Community- a learning center for homeschool enrichment. As I searched for a new location for our learning center, I came across the existing FVMA. In 2022, I took over as the new owner of the school. I look forward to our exciting future at FVMA enhancing the programs offered to our students and expanding the school.


Shelby Steffens, Director

My name is Shelby, and I have always had a passion for Early Education and Child Development. I moved to Appleton in 2011 to be near family, which eventually led me to FVMA in 2016. I began as an assistant teacher, working in every class. After one year, I stepped into the lead position in the Nest, and completed my Infant/Toddler Montessori Education Certification. Soon after that, I was able to utilize my previous management experience from the restaurant industry, and took over as Director. I have been loving this position since.  In 2021, I also took on the in-house chef position and now create healthy and exciting meals for our children. I feel so very lucky to be a part of our student's lives, and to have the opportunity to follow my passion and love what I do every day. 

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