Lisl Friday (She/Her)

Founder & Head of School
I am proud to welcome all of you to Athena Montessori Academy. In 2006 what was only a dream has evolved into an incredible community of dedicated teachers, staff, and families supporting our vision to make the world a better place by serving and guiding the children in a loving, inclusive, nurturing, diverse, stimulating, equitable, toxic-free, fun, and joyful environment. I work hard every day to cultivate a community that is welcoming and inclusive of all its members. 

In my role as Owner and Director of Athena, I am committed to taking excellent care of all of my staff, children, and families. I am committed to the ongoing education and training of our teaching staff, so that we may be leaders in our profession, and serve the children and families to the best of our ability. While always honoring the beauty of the core of Montessori—its method, materials, training, and curriculum—my goal is for us to expand our knowledge and practice to include the benefits and practical applications we have gained from modern studies and research in psychology, neuropsychology and science. My current professional passions include clean living and detoxifying children’s environments; brain research; gender fluidity and trans identity; the Nurtured Heart Approach to raising children; physical education and its connection to sensory integration and processing; and the study and application of principles of justice, equity, inclusion, and belonging to educational environments. 

I was born and raised in Austin and attended Athena Montessori School in Tarrytown in the early ‘70s. Memories of the place we affectionately called “Leo’s school” helped to shape my vision for what has become Athena Montessori Academy. My school is not affiliated with my alma mater in any way other than the name “Athena,” which was gifted to me by Leo’s family to honor the memory of the original school.

Young children, sports, and Montessori education have been the prominent themes in my life for as long as I can remember. I have been a camp counselor, nanny, gymnastics coach, ballet teacher, kickboxing teacher, swim instructor, and horseback instructor to young children. I have also taught in Montessori schools in New Mexico and California, and held the role of Assistant Director at the Montessori Discovery School in Santa Fe. I have a degree in Psychology from the University of California at Santa Cruz and a Master’s in Education from the University of Texas at Austin.

When not working I spend time with my amazing child, Joie, from whom I learn every day. I enjoy running, hiking the Greenbelt, surfing, swimming, snowboarding, horseback riding, road and mountain bike riding, practicing yoga, dabbling in commercial acting, enjoying good food and wine, and spending time with family and friends.

I look forward to getting to know all of you during your tenure at Athena. It takes all of us to create a community, so thank you for your contribution. You can always reach out to me directly at