Our Team


Mirani Smith

Executive Director


MEd, Loyola University Maryland
BA, University of Sri Lanka School of Music
AMI Primary Diploma, Sri Lanka
AMI Primary Auxiliary Trainer

Mirani Smith is executive director at the Houston Montessori Institute. Mirani also serves as the Early Childhood director at The Post Oak School. She earned the AMI Primary diploma in her native Sri Lanka and holds a MEd from Loyola University in Maryland. She has taught in Montessori schools since 1978 and joined The Post Oak School in 1992 as a Primary guide. Outside of her professional work, Mirani enjoys raising butterflies and spending time with her grandchildren.



Polli Soholt

Director of Training

Polli Soholt has an AMI 3-6 Montessori Diploma and worked at a Californian Montessori school for 40 years, as a guide, then owner/administrator. After becoming a trainer, she has given courses in Switzerland, Australia, and the United States. She is currently giving a course in Milpitas, California, for Montessori Northwest. In addition, Polli is an AMI examiner and an AMI-USA consultant, and has contributed to the NAMTA journal and AMI-USA newsletter on several occasions. She joined HMI in 2018 as the director of training for the Class of 2021.


Amy Kirchner

Office Assistant


BA, The University of Oklahoma

Amy Kirchner is a native Chicagoan, but has lived in Houston for many years and has also spent time and worked in Oklahoma, California, France, and Belgium. Prior to her staying home to raise her son, she worked extensively in human resources, technical recruiting, customer service, and marketing in manufacturing and the oil and gas industry. She is active within her neighborhood, her son’s boy scout troop, and supports the fine arts in Houston.

Amy holds a BA in journalism and mass communication from The University of Oklahoma and hopes her education will assist both HMI and The Post Oak School. Amy enjoys college football, live music of all kinds, and supports her son’s passion for music and his rock band that includes other Post Oak students. Her son is now a student at Post Oak's High School. She has two crazy dogs that keep her on her toes at all times.


Miriam Winton



MS, Florida International University
BA, University of Florida
AMI Primary Diploma, Austin, TX

Miriam Winton was born and raised in Miami, Florida. She received her BA in education from the University of Florida, and earned her MEd from Florida International University. Miriam began her teaching career in public schools and was first introduced to Montessori education when she came to The Post Oak School as a substitute teacher in 1997. Miriam worked as an assistant at the Primary level for two years while taking her Montessori teacher’s training and received her AMI Primary diploma in August 2000. Miriam was a Primary teacher for 16 years and also directed The Post Oak School's summer program since 2003. In 2016, she began her new role as auxiliary programs director. Miriam enjoys traveling, cooking, and reading about nutrition and health in her free time. She is also an enthusiastic Houston Dynamo soccer fan.