The Michael Olaf Montessori Company & Family

Ursula, Michael, and Narda, at Ursula's wedding, fall 2006
Susan and Jim, at home, Thanksgiving, 2008

In 1983 two teenage girls, with a level of confidence and initiative that surprised even their parents, started a tiny shop to provide high-quality toys and books for children because they could not find anYthing good enough in the whole San Francisco Bay Area for their new baby brother. They named it after the inspiration for the project, Michael Olaf. Today this project serves homes and schools in countries all over the world.

Their product choices help parents and teachers as they sort out what is "essential" in the educational or home environment and what is overkill in toys and materials, dissipating the child's creative energy.  Customers are urged to make or to find the suggested materials in their own community, and to order from Michael Olaf what they cannot otherwise provide.

Michael Olaf is a small family business run by a special group of people. Everyone you may communicate with at Michael Olaf is dedicated to making a personal contribution to helping others, to "making a difference."

Today Ursula is a full time parent of two young children, spreading the Montessori 0-3 work in Portland, Oregon, Michael is a lawyer and musician, and Narda, also trained Montessori 0-12, is working as a a medical officer for the Peace Corps in Senegal, West Africa.


Jim & Susan Stephenson are carrying on the work their children began. Today, Jim keeps the small Michael Olaf Company functioning, and Susan who had already traveled in 20 countries before becoming a parent continues her work exploring cultures and working as a Montessori lecturer, writer, and teacher course examiner. Her books can be found here: MONTESSORI BOOKS

Jim and Susan are involved with professional and volunteer work in several countries. They also used Montessori ideas to education their children at different periods of their lives. Here is the story of Michael's HOMESCHOOLING EXPERIENCE.

The Stephensons are not doing this alone. They have been constantly encouraged and supported over the years by teachers, administrators, parents, and by the letters of thanks from many customers who have seen joy and a love of learning brought into the lives of children through this work. They have been informed, and inspired by personal contact with, and lectures by such great educators as Ashley Montagu, Benjamin Spock, Lee Salk, Fred Rogers, Shinnichi Suzuki, Howard Gardner, and Jonathan Kozol. And they are very grateful to be in a position to share they are learn with others.

Jim and Susan Stephenson and everyone at Michael Olaf

All three

Narda Sheerman, Ursula Melvin, Michael Olaf Stephenson, in 2014



65 Ericson Court, #1, Arcata, California 95521

Susan's Education and Art Pages: SUSAN