LePort School Solana Beach Staff

School Administration

Shawn Edwards

Head of School

Shawn Edwards comes to us with a B.A. in Psychology and Human Services, her AMI, elementary Montessori training and certification, and a positive parenting certification from the Positive Discipline organization. She began her Montessori career at the Post Oak School in Houston, Texas. In 2006, she moved to Chicago to lead the Alcuin Montessori School and for the past four years she has been the Executive Director of Community Montessori School in Georgetown, Texas. Ms. Edwards has also served as a consultant to various schools and organizations across the country. Ms. Edwards is currently pursuing a doctorate degree in transformative coaching and leadership from the Wright Graduate University in Chicago. She has been involved in various leadership trainings including school leadership courses offered through Independent School Management and the National Association of Independent Schools.

Ms. Edwards has been married for 25 years and has three grown children (who all attended Montessori programs). She is a proud grandmother of a one-year-old who also attends a Montessori School. When she is not working or studying, she enjoys hiking, camping, reading, writing, participating in and training for adventure runs and spending time with family.

Angela Kabel

Business Manager

Angela Kabel earned a B.A. in Anthropology from Western Michigan University where she graduated cum laude. She later went on to earn a M.A. in Education from Loyola College of Maryland and in 2008 received her AMI Primary Diploma from the Montessori Institute of San Diego. Ms. Kabel spent two years as a head primary guide at Kinderhouse Montessori School and since 2010 and has been a head primary guide at Lifetime Montessori School in Santa Luz, CA. There she created and directed a 3rd year outings program, organized a book club that focused on core Montessori principles, and presented parent education workshops for both enrolled and prospective parents. We look forward to the calm, centered energy that Ms. Kabel brings to LePort Solana Beach.

Sandy Marlor

Administrative Support

Originally from the United Kingdom, Sandy Marlor obtained a Higher National Diploma in Business Studies before traveling extensively and embracing different cultures of the world. Mrs. Marlor settled in San Diego to be near her family after the birth of her twins. Extensive research brought her to the conclusion that she wanted a Montessori education for her children, and she then found the wonderful Fallbrook Montessori School, where for 10 years she was the Administrative Assistant.

This role brought great happiness as she deepened her knowledge of Montessori and watched her own children blossom into curious, confident beings. Mrs. Marlor worked at Santa Fe Montessori School as an Administrative Assistant and is excited to continue her love of the Montessori school environment with LePort. Outside of work, she enjoys art galleries, all outdoor activities, and spending time with her family.

Carmela Peccin

Administrative Support

Carmela Peccin earned a B.A. in Social Communication with an emphasis in Public Relations in Porto Alegre, Brazil. Before moving to San Diego in 2013, Carmela also lived in England and in Germany. She has worked in customer service for over 8 years in a variety of settings. After studying Expressive Arts Therapy at San Diego University for Integrative Studies, she decided to pursue a career in education. In her spare time, Carmela likes to play volleyball, surf, bake cakes, and go to concerts.

Infant

Carelia Altamirano

Head Montessori Teacher (Infant), Spanish Immersion

Mrs. Altamirano earned her AMI Diploma in 1998 in Perugia, Italy and her BA in Special Education from UEEP (Universidad Estatal de Estudios Pedagogicos), Mexico. After working with children in the Primary sector, Carelia decided to study Infant Community Training in San Diego to continue her learning with child development. Prior to joining LePort, Mrs. Altamirano worked as a toddler teacher in the beautiful city of Pasadena. She enjoys working with toddlers most and admits, “I love how children in this age group explore and I enjoy seeing the look on their face when they discover something new!” In her spare time, Carelia loves spending time with her family. She also enjoys the outdoors, photography, painting and yoga.

Lorena Lagarda

Junior Montessori Teacher

Lorena Lagarda is native to Sonora, Mexico. She earned her Early Childhood Credential in 1995 . Before meeting the Montessori philosophy she spent 12 years working as a nurse in pediatrics. As a nurse, she not only applied the medical treatment required, but also read stories, and played games , puzzles, and crafts with the children.

After learning of the Montessori philosophy, Ms. Lorena received training as a Guide in the Centro de Entrenamiento Sierra Madre, in Monterrey NL, Mexico. Since then, he has worked for over 14 years for AMI schools in Guadalajara and Tijuana, Mexico, as Toddler Teacher. She currently lives every day thankful for this philosophy of life that she believes is much needed by humanity.

Johanna Del Castillo

Assistant Teacher, Spanish Immersion

Ms. Johanna Del Castillo has over ten years of experience working in the human and child development field. Prior to joining LePort, she worked as an Assistant Teacher in 2004 and became a lead teacher for a preschool class in 2005. She has worked with infants, toddlers, and children in the primary setting and has enjoyed working in a Montessori environment. She is currently going to school to receive her A.A in human and child development at Santa Ana College. We are thrilled to have Johanna join our Spectrum South campus!

Laurie Baldwin

Assistant Teacher

Laurie Baldwin has lived her whole life in San Diego County and has taught and worked with children for the past 25 years. She received her B.A. in Psychology and studied Early Childhood Education as well. Ms. Baldwin taught in traditional preschools for years until discovering the beauty of the Montessori method. Since then, she has been an assistant in Montessori classrooms for ten years.
Ms. Baldwin has always had a desire to work with children and be a positive influence in their lives. She also has a passion for animals, cooking, reading, and the outdoors.

Toddler

Carolina Beltran

Head Montessori Teacher (Toddler)

Ms. Carolina Beltran was born in San Diego, California but grew up in Tijuana, Mexico. She became interested in the Montessori method when her sister attended the Montessori Institute of San Diego, and subsequently started working as a substitute teacher. Ms. Beltran's love for working with children led her to eventually earn her AMS and AMI diplomas. She has over six years of experience working as a lead teacher in both the toddler and primary classrooms. In her spare time, Ms. Beltran likes to go to the movies and loves to travel.

Valerie Golden

Assistant Teacher

Valerie Golden was born and raised in sunny San Diego and received her Extended Childhood Education from Penn Foster College. She has extensive training in Toddler and Infant Education. Ms. Golden started her teaching career in an elementary school specializing in Special Education. After 15 years, she made the decision to pursue a career in a Montessori school where she was a Toddler Care Teacher. Prior to joining LePort, she was a valued staff member at Santa Fe Montessori.
Ms. Golden’s passion for the growth and development of children is apparent through her positive work with her students. Outside of the classroom, Ms. Golden loves spending time with her two beautiful children.

Michele de la Cruz

Assistant Teacher

Ms. Michele de la Cruz graduated from San Diego State University where she received her B.A. in English Literature. Ms. de la Cruz worked for 14 years in the health care industry as a liaison to clinicians and medical groups. She first became associated with Montessori in 2001 when she enrolled her eldest son in a Montessori preschool. She immediately fell in love with the Montessori philosophy, materials, and environment, volunteering regularly as a room mom and PTA member. Ms. de la Cruz began working in the Montessori community in 2005. She has led a Kindergarten class and has been working as an Assistant Teacher since 2007.

In her spare time, Ms. de la Cruz enjoys reading, taking Tae Kwon Do with her boys and other moms, gardening, and dancing.

Melissa Rojano

Head Montessori Teacher (Toddler)

Melissa Rojano was born in San Diego but lived the first 15 years of her life in Tijuana, Mexico, returning San Diego at the age of 15. Ms. Melissa studied to become a veterinary assistant and worked for a year in that capacity, but then realized that it wouldn't fulfill her for life. She went back to school after an aunt turned her on to Montessori. After observing at a Montessori school, she immediately fell in love. She was captivated by the experience, the peaceful environment, the lovely children, the beautiful materials and the calm guidance given to the children.

Ms. Rojano has a two year old daughter and is thrilled to have her attending our Solana Beach campus with her. When she isn’t teaching or spending time with her daughter, Ms. Rojano also enjoys watching movies, going for walks, and exercising.

Monica Revilla

Assistant Teacher

Ms. Revilla was born in Obregón, Sonora, Mexico. She holds a bachelor's degree in Educational Psychology from the University of Sonora in Hermosillo, Mexico. Additionally, she studied Child Development at Southwestern College. She enjoys math and history. For the past 22 years, she worked as a Head or Assistant Teacher guiding children the ages of infant to 4th grade. For the majority of this time, she taught at a private school implementing the Pierre Faure philosophy in Mexico. She taught up to 26 native Spanish-speaking students, including students with special needs. Prior to coming to LePort, Ms. Revilla was a Montessori Assistant Spanish Teacher working with toddlers and primary-aged students.

Faride Assad

Head Montessori Teacher (Toddler)

Originally from the beautiful city of San Diego, Ms. Assad completed her Associates Degree in Child Development from Southwestern College, Chula Vista in 2011. Prior to joining LePort, she worked as an Accounting Clerk for Brink’s Incorporated for over 6 years. Ms. Assad also worked as an Assistant Teacher at San Ysidro Child Care Center as well as a Montessori School in Chula Vista with children aged two to five. Ms. Assad is extremely passionate about childhood education and says, “We are the key to their success in life.” Outside of work, she enjoys arts, crafts and outdoor activities such as bike riding.

Jennifer Castro

Assistant Teacher

Ms. Jennifer Castro was born and raised in San Diego. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Educational Sciences, and a specialization in Early Childhood Learning and Development, from the University of California, Irvine. Ms. Castro’s love for education was ignited in middle school, by her English teacher who incorporated art projects into every lesson plan and story they read. Despite having been a Biology major for 2 years, her love and passion for education and children guided her down the path to becoming an educator. During her senior year of college, she worked as a tutor for a duel-immersion classroom at Ralph A. Gates Elementary School in Lake Forest. Outside of work, Ms. Castro enjoys spending time with her dog, family, and friends, especially if it involves being out in nature. Her other hobbies include reading a book over a nice cup of coffee, doing arts and crafts, and dancing.

Celia Arroyo

Assistant Teacher

Originally from Mexicali, B.C. México, Ms. Celia obtained her bachelor's degree in accounting in 1997. Upon seeing her three children grow up, she discovered a deep passion for contributing to children's development. She decided to return to school and obtain her Associate Teacher Certificate at Southwestern College in Chula Vista, California. Prior to joining LePort Montessori, Ms. Celia worked with children at a private school in the San Diego area. She also had the privilege of participating in a government program for special needs children. Ms. Celia's favorite part about working with children is watching them play, grow, and learn on a daily basis.

Outside of work, Ms. Celia loves spending time with her husband and her children. Her hobbies include hiking, running, and participating in other outdoor activities.

Primary

Margaret Gisonni

Head Montessori Teacher (Primary)

Mrs. Margaret Gisonni has both a BA and Masters in Education, along with her AMI Primary diploma, and five years of Montessori teaching experience. Mrs. Gisonni began her teaching career in New York in a traditional setting, but felt unfulfilled by the lack of creative freedom given to teachers and the effect this had on the students. While seeking out other approaches to education, she discovered the Montessori philosophy.

Mrs. Gisonni's Montessori career began at a local Montessori school where she honed her craft and deepened her knowledge of the methodology. After five years of teaching, she gave birth to her daughter and began to research and study Montessori on the infant and toddler levels. Her daughter, Willow, will be going to school for the first time and joining Mrs. Gisonni at LePort.

Pollyanna Appel

Assistant Teacher

Ms. Pollyanna has been involved with the Montessori community since 1993, when she received her Montessori Education Teaching Certificate. Over the years she has worked at five different Montessori schools as a teacher's aide as well as a Head Teacher. Her focus is to create a classroom environment that provides positive reinforcement in a supportive atmosphere. Outside of work, Ms. Pollyanna enjoys spending time with her family.

Natalia Aja Maza

Head Montessori Teacher (Primary)

Originally from Santander, Spain, Natalia Aja Maza spent 10 years living in Marseille, France. She earned her M.A. in Spanish Language and Literature as well as a M.A. in French Language and Literature. Ms. Aja Maza completed her AMI training for the Primary level in Paris and taught in Montessori schools in Paris, Mexico and San Diego before joining LePort School.
She is multi-lingual, well-traveled and brings with her a contagious sense of upbeat energy and enthusiasm for child development and the Montessori practice. Outside of the classroom, she enjoys yoga and dance, as well as reading.
We are confident that parents, children and peers will love her and learn from her making her a great addition to the Solana Beach campus.

Sok Lim Than

Assistant Teacher

Ms. Sok Lim comes from Cambodia where she worked as a nursery teacher for 5 years at Seametry Children's Village which is an integrated bilingual school.

Ms. Sok Lim holds Bachelor?s Degrees in both Business Administration and Education from Cambodia College. Her heart has always been in working with children so she came to the United States in 2013 to study and obtain her Primary Guide Training at the Montessori Institute of San Diego. Sok Lim fell in love with America and Montessori education so she decided to stay. She worked as an teacher assistant for 14 months before happily joining Le Port in August 2015 where she likes to sing to the children.

In her free time, Sok Lim loves to cook Cambodian food, work in her small garden, spend time with friends, travel, go to the beach, practice yoga, and participate in Cambodian dances and cultural events whenever possible.

Veronica Martinez-Nonorgues

Head Montessori Teacher (Primary)

Veronica Martinez-Nonorgues is originally from Guadalajara, Mexico and earned her B.A. in Early Childhood Education from Universidad Autonoma de Guadalajara. After working in the field for several years, Ms. Martinez-Nonorgues was introduced to Montessori by chance. Since then she has been “in love” with the Montessori philosophy.
She earned her first Primary Montessori training in Perugia, Italy and later continued her education and AMI Toddler and Primary trainings at the Montessori Institute of San Diego. Immediately after, Ms. Martinez-Nonorgues earned her M.A. in Education at Loyola University. Prior to joining LePort, she worked for 5 years as both a Montessori Toddler teacher and in a Montessori Primary classroom. Ms. Martinez-Nonorgues has been working as an AMI, lead teacher at Santa Fe Montessori and will continue her great work in the classroom that she currently leads. Ms. Martinez-Nonorgues enjoys salsa dancing, traveling, exploring new local places, taking walks with her husband and outdoor activities.

Corina Tellez

Head Montessori Teacher (Primary), Spanish Immersion

Corina Tellez was born in San Diego, California and grew up in Tijuana, Mexico. Living in both Mexico and the U.S has allowed her to become fluent in the Spanish and English language. Prior to joining LePort, she studied psychology at the University of Baja California. Always having that love and patience for children, and after working in a traditional school in Tijuana, she decided to pursue Montessori education.
Ms. Tellez received her AMI Montessori training at the Montessori Institute of San Diego and obtained her Diploma as Primary Guide in 2002. Ever since then, she has been teaching in both English and Spanish Montessori environments (including a period of time at Santa Fe Montessori). Ms. Tellez cultivates the Montessori philosophy both at work and at home with her young son. Outside of work, she enjoys the beach, sunsets and everything the California lifestyle has to offer.
Ms. Tellez will be transferring to the Solana Beach from our Huntington Harbor campus, and notes that the opportunity of growth and a new learning experience is what brought her to LePort originally.

Maritza Lopez

Assistant Teacher

Bio coming soon.

Mayra Salvador

Assistant Teacher

Ms. Mayra was born in Mexico City and raised in San Diego, California. She earned her bachelor's degree in Applied Behavioral Science and a minor in Child Development. She has always been passionate about child development and psychology. Ms. Mayra has been working with children for the past ten years. Her goal is to help children reach their milestones and be a part of their development. In addition to English, Ms. Mayra also speaks fluent Spanish. During her free time, she loves spending time with her son and family. She loves the beach and music!

Lower Elementary

Chris Deery

Head Montessori Teacher (Lower Elementary)

Chris Deery was born and raised in Australia. He earned his B.A, with a major in Philosophy, from the University of Queensland, his Graduate Diploma in Education from Monash University, and his AMI elementary Diploma from the Montessori Institute of San Diego. Mr. Deery began his Montessori career as an assistant in both primary and elementary environments before taking on his own lower elementary classroom in Sydney. His favorite moments in the classroom are observing great-work and peer lessons.

When not in the classroom he enjoys reading, exploring the local area, and swimming in the ocean. We are excited about the knowledge, warmth, and leadership Mr. Deery will bring to the Lower Elementary class.

Sandra Hernandez Aguirre

Elementary Spanish Teacher

Mrs. Sandra Hernandez Aguirre received her bachelor’s degree in Applied Sciences from San Diego State University. She is fluently bilingual in Spanish and English as she was raised both in San Diego and Mexico City. She is very happy to be part of the talented team of teachers at LePort Montessori Solana Beach and to be leading the Spanish immersion program. Outside from teaching, Mrs. Sandra enjoys spending quality time with her wonderful husband and lovely daughter. She loves cooking, reading a good book, and painting.

Upper Elementary & Junior High

Pilar Bewley

Head Montessori Teacher (Upper Elementary)

Ms. Pilar Bewley is a former Montessori child who grew up in Mexico City and San Diego, CA. She studied Hotel Management in Switzerland, worked as a bilingual trainer and recruiter for Hyatt Hotels in Florida, and then launched a successful destination wedding planning company in Baja, Mexico.

Ms. Pilar has always been drawn to the human aspect of her work: mainly, she wanted to understand what motivates people to reach their full potential. This prompted her to return to her Montessori roots. She completed the Primary AMI diploma in San Diego (2008), a M.Ed. in Montessori Education from Loyola University in Maryland (2009), and the Elementary AMI diploma in Bergamo, Italy (2011). She has worked as a Head Guide in bilingual AMI 3-6 and 6-9 classrooms, translated Elementary materials for LePort, and writes for several online and print publications in support of Montessori education.

Ms. Pilar loves hiking with her husband and discovering life anew through the eyes of her two children. In her brief moments of solitude, she enjoys reading human development books and writing about the challenges and joys of Montessori parenting.

Additional Staff

Sheila Merz

Assistant Teacher

Ms. Sheila Merz is a native born Californian who moved to the San Diego area when she was in high school. She studied child development and believes that every incident holds an opportunity for learning. One of the many rewards of working with children, for her, is being able to experience and share in that process along with her students. Ms. Sheila has fifteen years of experience in the preschool field. She has always been interested in the Montessori philosophy and is excited to be part of such a thriving environment at LePort.

Ms. Merz has two adult daughters and one in high school. Spare time is often spent with her girls or outdoors; camping, hiking, and at the beach. Ms. Sheila also enjoys reading and helping in the community.