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Our History

Old Peachtree Montessori was founded in 1993 in a restored Victorian farmhouse off of Old Peachtree Road in Dacula.

History Old Peachtree Montessori School

In 1996, OPMS moved to the present location on Hills Shop Road in Auburn, Georgia. In 1999, Gus and Todd Garcia, the co-owners, initiated the first expansion of the campus, with the primary building for ages 3-6.

The yellow brick, which is on the facing of the original main building, was painstakingly removed from the old garage and became the face of this building. The classrooms were built with respect to the integrity of the original home. Wooden floors and beaded-board ceilings were installed.

As OPMS continued to expand its student population and enrichment programs, additional classroom space became a necessity. In early 2001, a new building was constructed with custom interior upgrades. Extra care was taken to make sure the exterior of the building blended with the existing buildings and the surroundings of the OPMS campus. It was completed in September 2001, and is currently occupied by the lower and upper elementary students. It was at this time that Todd Garcia joined the school, eventually becoming co-owner in 2007.

We have taken every step to provide a beautiful environment at Old Peachtree Montessori, in line with Maria Montessori's vision of Casa dei Bambini. We have invested in an environment for your child that is rich in character and history, in order that we may nurture and educate the leaders of tomorrow.

History of the Old Peachtree Montessori Main School House

In 1919, Jackson Longstreet Sims and his wife, Sallie Ambrose Sims, built the house in which our school now resides. The Sims' are the great-great grandparents of David, Daniel, and Mary Katherine Crooke, former students of Old Peachtree Montessori. J.L. Sims was a successful farmer and businessman and the property was part of several large farms that Sims owned and operated. The lumber for the house and floors was harvested from a lumber farm owned by Mr. Sims.

The yellow brick was purchased in Cincinnati, Ohio for five cents per brick. Older local residents and friends of the Sims' refer to the house as the "The Yellow Brick House." The house had hot and cold running water, as well as two indoor bathrooms, which was considered extravagant in 1919! The hand- painted Italian ceramic tiles, located in three rooms in the house were purchased at the Merchandise Mart in Chicago. The original roof was tin, and the green terra cotta roof was added in the 1920s. Mr. Sims moved the original tin roof to the Elisha Winn house on Dacula Road, which he also owned. The Sims family later sold the Elisha Winn house to the Gwinnett Historic Society.

The sinks in the house are the right height for children because Sallie Sims was only four feet-eleven inches tall. The kitchen is in its original form, using pieces of furniture to store utensils rather than cabinets. The back porch, originally a screened porch, was used for some food storage and a back entrance to the house.
The Yellow Brick House was completed in 1920. The Crooke children’s great-grandfather, and Suzanne Sims-Crooke’s grandfather, Olyn Sims, was ten years old when the Sims occupied the house. He was the youngest of ten children and grew up in the Yellow Brick House. Olyn Sims wrote "1920" on the front steps when they were poured and this inscription can still be seen today. He graduated from Winder High School in 1929, and Suzanne still wears his class ring. Olyn Sims left Barrow County to attend college and seminary. He was a minister for over 40 years.

The Sims family owned the house until the mid 1960s when it was sold to the Elliot family. In 1991, Suzanne’s brother David Sims, and his wife Sabrina purchased the house. They renovated and restored the interior of the house over the next five years. They sold the house to Old Peachtree in the summer of 1996.


Our Staff Gus Garcia – Owner/Business Director “Mr. Gus, Mr. Gus!!” is what you will often hear the children calling out as they see him on campus, always eager to show him all the new things they have learned that day. Mr. Gus always makes time to listen to their excited stories about volcanoes, interactions with the animals, and hearing about the wonderful things they are growing in the garden. He has dedicated himself to continuously provide for and improve our wonderful campus, while making sure all day to day operational needs are met. During the early hours you can find him in the office working diligently, while in the afternoon he enjoys his time with the students leading our aftercare program, laughing with them about the fun things they encountered in their day as well as providing a sense of comfort. Just like much of our staff, he also has had children and grandchildren attend the school, therefore he understands firsthand what parents’ experience. Mr. Gus has spent many successful years in the corporate business world, and has decided to dedicate his experience and knowledge to providing a safe and nurturing environment for the children at Old Peachtree Montessori. Katherine Thilo-Director of Education at Old Peachtree Montessori School Katherine has been a shining star with Old Peachtree since 1995. She holds a BA in Education, Child Psychology and a International teaching degree from the Association Montessori International (AMI). Katherine has extensive experience as a dedicated educator and administrator. She is a strong anchor for all things Montessori on our campus, and carefully oversees classroom lessons ensuring Montessori Principles are being followed. Having had her own daughter educated on our campus she has the ability to speak with parents not only as an educator but also a parent. She places strong emphasis on getting to know each child along with their families in order to truly serve as a guiding light along their educational journey.

Ms Gabriela Talpes-Elementary Teacher

Gabriela like no other has a strong ability to understand each child’s development, empowering them to pursue their talents while also strengthening areas they may have lacked confidence in. With love, guidance, and enthusiasm she has every child reach their greatest potential. She instills a confidence and passion of learning, that has a lifelong impact. We are happy to have had Gabriela with Old Peachtree Montessori school since 2012. Before sharing her talent with us, she taught at the Montessori school of Douglasville and The Montessori school of Covington. She holds both an American Montessori Society (AMS) degree and an International Montessori degree (NAMTA) along with a BA in general studies and Psychology. Both her Primary aged children attend the school as well.

Ms Emanuella –Primary Teacher

Emanuella began with Old Peachtree as an assistant educator after many years working with children in a variety of settings. It did not take long for her to see the positive effects that the Montessori method had not only on the class but also herself, she studied early childhood education at Georgia Gwinnett College, she has also received her Association Montessori International (AMI) degree. Emanuella has been a wonderful addition to our school since the first day she stepped foot onto our campus. Parents have not stopped singing her praises ever since she has joined. She has a lasting effect on each of her students that will have a lifelong impact on their journey through their educational path.

Ms. Sonya

Sonya is our lead teacher for our toddler Preprimary classroom which includes ages 18 months-3 years, having attended the Association Montessori International training, before that she has also spent 2 years with our Primary Students as a teacher’s assistant. When it comes to our little Montessori toddlers we understand this is often the first time they are introduced to a classroom setting and change can be quite difficult, thanks to Ms. Sonya this transition is not as difficult as many parents perceive. She has a heart of gold and patience of a saint, each child no matter their need has found strong comfort in Ms. Sonya. She allows each to explore their own abilities and creates a strong sense of independence in the child. She has the ability to navigate through their individual development and needs, even with their limited communication abilities. Each and every day her classroom amazes us with their abilities and eagerness to learn more.

Ms. Lois

Our most precious classroom is lead by the wonderful Ms. Lois, her educational background includes a degree in early childhood development in combination with extensive experience with special needs children. She is currently pursuing her Masters in Applied Behavior Analysis. Almost as impressive as her education is her family which includes 9 siblings, making it safe to say she has spent her whole life around children of various ages and development stages. The positive impact her family and education has had on her is evident in her nurturing personality. She embraces each infant with the upmost care and consideration. She spends her days singing and reading, allowing them to reach their maximum language development. As the infant seeks mobility, she is right by their side helping them to explore the wonderful Montessori classroom in which they find themselves. Unlike a more traditional setting which provides swings and bouncers, she allows the infant to practice their new found skills through natural movement and exploration. With a 1 to 3, teacher student ration any parent can rest easy knowing their child gets individual and prompt attention.