About Us

Kelly De La Cruz


Kelly De La Cruz began teaching in 1998. She has significant experience with 15 years of teaching at all educational levels from preschool through higher education. Kelly has a B.A. in Communication Processes and Disorders and a Masters of Education in Special Education from the University of Florida.


Kelly holds Primary Montessori certification from Association Montessori Internationale and Secondary I Montessori certification from American Montessori Society. She holds Florida teacher certification in Middle Grades Integrated Curriculum 5-9, PreKindergarten-3rd grade Primary Education, English for Speakers of Other Languages and Exceptional Student Education K-12. She is also certified as a Speech Language Pathology Assistant. Kelly has worked as the lead teacher in self contained and inclusive Special Education settings and within Montessori Primary and Secondary Settings. She assisted in launching Lakeland Montessori Middle School where she later served as co-lead on the secondary curriculum team developing and presenting high fidelity Montessori secondary curriculum. She taught internationally at Escuela de las Americas in El Tigre, Venezuela. She was an adjunct professor of Early Childhood Education at Polk State College, and she has presented on numerous topics at national Montessori conferences.  


Kelly, her husband, Milton, and their two children, Sophia and Nicholas, moved to Lakeland in 2005. Her passion for Montessori and dual language education grew from her desire to provide her own children with a bilingual Montessori education. Now that her children are in high school, she wants to expand opportunities for other families in Polk County to access this innovative and supportive approach to education.

Mission Statement

The mission of Mi Escuela Montessori is to provide an equitable two-way, dual language Montessori education to students from diverse backgrounds in Preschool through 8th grade.

Through the prepared Montessori environment, we aim to nurture our students’ independence; curiosity; and respect for self, the community, and the environment, while providing a strong academic foundation for students to speak, read, write, and think in both English and Spanish.

Vision Statement

Mi Escuela Montessori aims to be an exemplar of two-way, dual language Montessori learning as our diverse community of learners develop biliteracy and bilingualism in English and Spanish. In the process of nurturing our students in their educational journey, we aim to strengthen relationships with families and the community in which we serve.

Our graduates are independent, self-motivated, academically prepared, globally aware, creative and critical thinking citizens who are able to resolve conflict peacefully and who share a love of learning and an appreciation for cultural differences.

Our Philosophy and Core Values

At Mi Escuela Montessori, we deeply respect each child, and we believe that all children have a right to receive an education that is challenging and supportive of their developmental, emotional, linguistic and cultural needs. We focus not only on providing a rigorous curriculum which will facilitate the development of bilingualism and biliteracy, but also on guiding the development of what we call “the whole child”.
In order for students to develop their whole selves, it is essential for our school to dedicate time and resources to building a safe, positive and supportive school family and to assisting children in developing their social-emotional skills, creativity, independence and respect for oneself, others, and the environment. In order to accomplish our mission and realize our vision, we commit to the following tenets of Montessori and dual language philosophy
  • A belief that children naturally love to learn and are intrinsically motivated to work.
  • An acknowledgement of the importance of freedom of movement, autonomy and choice.
  • An affirmation of the importance of mutual respect between teachers, parents, administration and students.
  • A responsibility for preparing an environment that meets the needs of our students.
  • A commitment to support children at their independent instructional levels.
  • An assertion that social learning drives intelligence and that all people need to feel included and accepted.
  • An understanding that all behavior, even inappropriate behavior, stems from a need to communicate.
  • A recognition of the similarities among all people which leads to understanding and peace.
  • An insistence on equity for underserved populations.
  • A dedication to environmental stewardship and democratic participation.


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