Bruce Russell

Bruce Russell has 30 years experience as an educator in both leadership and teaching roles across three continents. He lived and worked in London for 21 years, spending the first 12 teaching year 5 and 6 students. He moved on to become Deputy Principal at St Stephen's Church of England Primary School. Bruce spent the last four years in London as Principal of St Paul's Church of England Primary School before returning home to Australia, where his teaching career began in inner-city schools such as Redfern Primary and Eskinvile Primary. Bruce got his teaching degree at Sydney Kuring-gai College Advanced Education now Lindfield Learning Village, he went on to get his Masters in Education.

From the Principal.

"Above all else we respect the innate, individual capability of each child to learn." 

Bruce Russell, Principal, Montessori East


Montessori East has recently celebrated its 40th year offering quality education to a diverse Eastern Suburbs community. We pride ourselves in being one of Sydney's most well-established Montessori schools, ready to embrace further development through our Future Proof Project

You'll find Montessori East is a happy place where students are living the ways of a functioning society – following the principles of social cohesion, creative problem solving, collaboration, strong personal values and a deep sense of purpose in the world. 

Children thrive within a nurturing environment made up of inclusive multi-age classroom communities rich in learning. We are blessed with a team of highly skilled educators dedicated to the full development of the children under their care.

Years of experience have shown us that parents are the first educators and are an integral part of the school's united approach – to nurture a community environment that properly supports children from an early age to adulthood.

I invite you to visit Montessori East, question us, and find out for yourself. I look forward to meeting you and your family. 

Our vision.

The Future Proof Project.
Your child will help shape the world.

We believe a school has a responsibility to look beyond the day your child leaves us. To this end Montessori East devised The Future Proof Project so every graduate might work towards a more kindhearted, sustainable and peaceful world. To expedite this we are expanding our services to reach more families and establish a broader school program.

By 2024 this will include a new flagship school for 0 – 18 years, including a high school, community education hub and teacher training facility. It will not only be a centre of excellence but also a replicable future school model, with a curriculum and educational approach we are freely prepared to share.

For more information please see our Prospectus 2020

Donate to our vision 


Dr Maria Montessori

Dr. Maria Montessori

Our founder.

"An education capable of saving humanity is
no small undertaking." 

Dr. Maria Montessori.


Born in 1870, Dr. Maria Montessori graduated from medical school in 1896 as one of the first female physicians. Based on scientific observations of children from birth to adulthood, Dr. Maria developed an innovative educational approach that builds on the way children naturally learn and nurtures intellectual and emotional development.

During her lifetime Dr. Maria was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize three times. Her legacy continues ever more strongly and pertinently.

Today, Montessori East is one of over 150 Montessori schools in Australia, and part of one of the single largest education systems in the world with over 22,000 schools in 117 countries.

Our values.

A Montessori education.

The values we instil are interwoven into the school culture and curriculum and are designed to endure through adulthood.






Learn more

Equal emphasis is on cognitive learning, creativity, communication and social and emotional development.



Learn more

Respect the dignity for the innate capabilities of each and every child.



Learn more

Through choice comes self determination, a will to learn and responsibility.



Learn more

Strong partnerships between the family and the school are central.

Discovery and curiosity

Discovery and curiosity

Learn more

Curiosity and exploration are given due time and space.



Learn more

Independence thrives when individuals are given appropriate freedoms and responsibilities.



Learn more

Teachers and students are encouraged to strive to do, and to be their best.



Learn more

Care and compassion lead to an aspiration to serve others, and gives the child a sense of purpose, direction, achievement and happiness.

The curriculum.

The Montessori East curriculum is based on the highest standard Montessori program which is internationally recognised. It fulfils all syllabus requirements from the NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA). The Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) recognises the Montessori National Curriculum as an alternative national curriculum. Children may sit for NAPLAN tests in year 3 and year 5.

School history.

School History and Accreditation.​​


Montessori East started in 1978 as a pre-school in a church hall in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs. As demand grew the school opened a primary school. In 2001 the two schools moved to Wellington St, Bondi, where the school is located today. The KIN Parent Child Education Centre was established in 2018 as part of its outreach to bring a Montessori education to the wider community.

Montessori East is registered by the Montessori Quality Assurance Program (MQAP).  The school is currently seeking global accreditation through AMI (Association Montessori Internationale)


Montessori East is run by the Eastern Suburbs Montessori Association (ESMA), a not-for-profit company. The members of ESMA are the parents of the school. The ESMA Board of Directors oversees the management and operation of the school and supports the Principal in the school’s growth and development. For more detail please see our Annual Report.

Meet the board.

The Hofman family.


Sara Hofman

BA Law (Hons), AICD

"My children benefit from the unique education provided by Montessori East which has proven to be responsive to their individual personalities, needs and interests and supportive of our whole family. As a Director of the Board I am fortunate to be able to assist the school to expand its impact.”

Sara has worked as a commercial lawyer, specialising in intellectual property for 15 years. She worked in law firms in Sydney and London and in-house at the University of Sydney. Sara and her husband’s four children attend Montessori East and are enrolled in the KIN 0-3 program, Cycles 1 and 2 classrooms. 

The Kaye family.

Vice President

Zina Kaye

MBA (Exec), BA (Hons) in Fine Arts

“I joined the board because I am a lifelong learner and I enjoy a challenge. It's a great fit for me because my family has benefited first hand from being at the school and it feels good to give back to our community with impact.”

Zina is the Managing Director of media agency Holly. She has over 20 years experience in IT, arts and entertainment, education, government, banking and publishing in the UK and Australia. Zina is a pioneer in new media and her story has been collected by the National Library. Zina's passions include education and closing the finance gap for women. She is currently on the UNSW Alumni Awards Committee.

Peng Ly Family


Peng Ly

B.Com (Hons), LLB

“Joining the board has provided me with the opportunity to give back to the school. Since our kids started at the school, I’ve learned more about Montessori and believe the Montessori approach provides a wonderful learning environment that fosters independence and sparks curious minds. I’m appreciative of the opportunity to support our community in maintaining the unique education opportunity that Montessori East provides.”

Peng has worked in corporate advisory for over 18 years specialising in advising governments, corporates, private equity and institutional clients on major transactions. He is currently establishing a new boutique corporate advisory firm, having previously worked with various global investment banks within their M&A advisory divisions including Investec, Goldman Sachs and Citi. Peng and his partner Emily have two children at Montessori East.

The Freeman family.


Phil Freeman


"I see the Montessori East Board as an extension of the wonderful and diverse Montessori East community of families and friends. I've enjoyed bringing my background in strategy and environmental not-for-profits to the Board, and taking the opportunity both to learn and contribute to the school's progress."

Since 2012 Phil has worked for WWF (the World Wide Fund for Nature), where he brings together his formal education in environmental law and visual arts. Through his work Phil has come to appreciate how much education is the cornerstone of positive change. Phil and his partner Kristina have two children at Montessori East.

The Yeo family.


Suan Yeo

BSc. in Business Administration

"The Montessori culture fosters a sense of independent, self-directed learning, and I have witnessed the tremendous personal growth of my two children; starting out as shy toddlers to the confident tweens they are today. I like that ME has a very collaborative relationship with parents, alumni and the surrounding Bondi community.”

After stints in the US, Europe and Asia, Suan moved to Australia in 2008 to head up Google’s Enterprise SMB business for Asia-Pacific. Six years ago, he took on the challenge of starting the education business unit for the region. This has proved to be his most challenging yet rewarding effort to date. Google has been his home for the last 16 years, working in 7 offices, 5 countries and 3 product teams. Suan resides in Sydney with his wife and two children both currently at Montessori East.



Elizabeth Cundari

BA Biology, MBA, GAICD

“Joining the ME board has been a wonderful opportunity to combine my passion for the school and my professional interests in general management, strategy and brand development.  In a board capacity, I have gained an even deeper appreciation for the ME staff and management team who have demonstrated tremendous creativity, perseverance and open-mindedness to their roles."

Elizabeth and her husband moved from New York City in 2012 where she worked as a management consultant in the healthcare industry and later the chief of staff in a multi-billion dollar healthcare services organisation.  Since moving to Sydney, Elizabeth has founded a consultancy.  She is a Montessori alumnus and daughter of a Montessori educator and quite eagerly found Montessori East for her two daughters who have been part of the community since birth.


By purchasing the 40th anniversary book you support the scholarship fund. Send us an email if you'd like a copy!

ME Foundation.

A better future through Montessori education.

The ME Foundation was established in 2011 to support the sustainability of Montessori East by fostering a strong and connected community and to support the growth of the school through fundraising.
The Foundation holds an annual community and gift-giving event. At these events the community, alumni and alumni parents and grandparents come together to celebrate school milestones and reunite with old and new friends. 

The Future Proof Project is a joint project between the ME Foundation and Montessori East. The Foundation’s role is to assist in raising money through the capital appeal for the new school.

Maintaining socio-economic diversity and keeping the community together when families meet difficult times is a big part of the Foundation’s strategy and one in which it strives to support annually by raising money for the Scholarship Fund. Donations are tax deductible.

Contact us if you'd like to make a donation.


Meet the Foundation board.

Nick Tobias


Nick Tobias

B.Arch (hons) UNSW AIA

“Education is the key to a better future, a future that is sustainable, creative, empathetic, open-minded and compassionate. We are blessed to have the Montessori pedagogy that has been tried, tested and born fruit for over 100 years." 

Nick Tobias founded award winning architecture and interior design firm Tobias Partners about 20 years ago. Keen to contribute to discourse beyond practice he has served as a judge, juror, panellist, expert witness, speaker and TV host. He is a committed philanthropist and is a director of Museum of Contemporary Art Australia and Art Month Sydney. Nick has two sons at Montessori East and is very passionate about the school and the future of bringing its best practice model to the world. Nick leads the capital appeal team for the school and is the chair of the ME Foundation.

Simon Bassett


Simon Bassett

B. Ed (Bachelor of Education)

“I feel very motivated to be able to contribute to the Montessori Foundation through my experience as an executive and banker. My dream is to help secure Montessori East's financial future."

Simon Bassett has 35 years’ experience in Financial Markets with various Commercial and Investments Banks in Australia and overseas. In a variety of roles he headed up trading, sales, research business functions. He was Global Head of Capital Markets for Westpac Banking Corporation based in Sydney. His last role in banking was in the digital area of financial markets at NAB. He now works in a family business as the practice manager for Lighthouse Child and Adolescent Psychology based in Double Bay. He has three children who all went to Montessori East from 1996 to 2006. In his spare time he loves to coach Touch Football and coached the Australian under 18 girls side to a Youth World Cup gold medal in Malaysia in August 2018.

Sandra Fairfax


Sandra Fairfax

AMusA Cert.III Audio

“I believe the Montessori method is essential for our young people. It is a proven method for producing upstanding and educated individuals with a moral and social intelligence which is more relevant today in our fast-paced society than when it was created by Maria Montessori over 100 years ago. Given a chance to implement the Future Proof Project Montessori East School will have a positive and lasting effect on the direction of our education system and be able to provide guidance and direction for the less fortunate schools with the Open Source Platform integrated in its strategy.”

Sandra is a musician and DJ. Her background is in IT, radio, graphic design and managing electronic music events. She studied piano at the Conservatorium of Music, Adelaide, has a diploma in audio engineering and bachelors in business & marketing. Sandra has three children. Two daughters are at Montessori East and her son is now in high school. While bringing up her family Sandra is furthering her studies in piano and music composition. She is a great believer in Montessori education. The guidance of the teaching method has greatly supported her children’s learning and understanding of the world around them. The close knit and supportive community also makes this education system a learning experience for life that she would like to be made available to every child to the end of their secondary schooling.

Peter Shorthouse


Peter Shorthouse

BSc Chem Eng (Birmingham University), ACA (ICAEW, Arthur Andersen)

“I believe that ME has proven its business model as a leader in Australian Montessori pedagogy and it is time that Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs has a permanent high-performing Montessori school. I expect and hope the ME Foundation is able to effectively support this ambition.”

Peter Shorthouse, originally English, has been living in Australia for 20 years. He and Victoria have one daughter, Emily, who attended ME from 2007-2013. Peter was ME’s School Council Treasurer from 2007-2013 and has been an MEF Director since 2014. Peter joined and remains on the MEF Board because he truly understands the impact of Montessori education and sees it in his daughter’s ongoing maturity. He would like to help ensure that there is a permanent future for the school and more broadly for Montessori education in Australia. Peter is a Senior Partner with Crestone Wealth Management, and previous careers include chartered accountancy, management consulting and investment banking.

Andi Breslin


Andi Breslin

BSc (Hons) in Business Management

Andi is a strategist and transformations leader with a passion for the future of work and innovation in education. Andi has extensive experience in both for-profit and not-for-profit sectors.  Andi is currently a Head of People Operations at Atlassian and a Chair of Atlassian's Sydney Foundation Council whose goal is to bring 21st century skills to disadvantaged youth globally. She brings and fosters an innovative mindset, collaborative and agile approach to all aspects of her work and life. Andi is a founder of the Atlassian Future Teams program which brings innovation to classrooms across Australia.

Felicity Jensen


Felicity Jensen

MA Comm, BA (Music)

Felicity has had a long association with Montessori East as a parent of four past students including one of the school’s first seven primary pupils and first school graduates. Felicity has served on the Montessori East School Council and was responsible for the growth of the ME Alumni program from 2013-2016. With years of experience in the nonprofit sector, Felicity is recognised for her commitment to fostering connections within her community and is particularly interested in transformative education, environmental sustainability and a thriving performing arts sector. Felicity is an academic at UNSW Business School, in the Centre for Social Impact and School of Management.

Go to Top