We Share a Passion For Education, A Commitment To Teach Knowledge For Life—And To Live What We Preach
Our leadership team is a diverse group of people who came together at LePort in the pursuit of a common goal: developing and delivering a great educational experience for children, one that teaches Knowledge for Life.
Our shared ideas about education motivate us to get up every morning excited about the day’s work ahead. These shared ideas form the foundation for a spirit of camaraderie, a culture of learning, and a joyful dedication to achievement that touches every aspect of LePort Schools. They are:
- A deep conviction that a great education is crucially important in shaping a young person’s life, and that offering such an education is a noble and personally meaningful charge.
- A commitment to a unique educational approach that doesn’t fall into the trap of teaching either content or method, but delivers on both—an approach that equips each child with Knowledge for Life, and prepares him in his whole being for the adventure that lies ahead.
- Passionate Professionalism in our work—a dedication to becoming the best we can be, as people and as professionals. We live the mastery mindset we want to instill in our students. We love asking why, over and over again, until we get answers. And we love being challenged, by each other and by our community of students and parents, to always improve.
Peter LePort, MD
Founder & Chairman of the Board of Directors
Dr. LePort is a general surgeon in private practice in Orange County, California. He received his M.D. degree and surgical training in Brooklyn, New York at Downstate Medical College, where he was an Assistant Professor of Surgery for two years prior to moving to California. He is a member of the Faculty of the American College of Surgeons, and the American Society of Bariatric Surgeons. While in medical school, Dr. LePort became interested in childhood education. He studied the writings of Dr. Maria Montessori and educated his children by the Montessori Method until they completed fourth grade. He helped develop an Upper Elementary Program for his children through the rest of their education.
LePort Schools is the culmination of Dr. LePort’s efforts to provide children with a superior education, one in which they develop strong basic skills, master challenging content, and learn to think independently. From a small homeschool with three students, LePort Schools has grown to five locations in Orange County that now caters to almost 500 students. Dr. LePort’s dedicated team of administrators, teachers, and educational experts have worked together to develop and deliver an exceptional curriculum in a stimulating, nurturing environment, earning LePort Schools its reputation as a superior place of learning.
Chief Executive Officer
Mr. Girn earned his B.S. with honors from the University of Toronto, his early education certification from Vanguard University, and his Association Montessori Internationale primary level training from Dr. Silvia Dubovoy of the Montessori Institute of San Diego.
Mr. Girn joined LePort’s fledgling upper elementary and junior high program in 2003, and spent the next five years teaching and designing the first draft of LePort’s math and science curriculum. Over this period, he found himself increasingly involved in projects and responsibilities across the organization. In 2008, Mr. Girn formally accepted the role of LePort’s strategic director, and with it the mandate to create and implement a vision of a growing network of schools embodying LePort’s Knowledge for Life approach.
In 2010, now with an intimate knowledge of LePort’s curriculum, pedagogy, business practices, and strategic needs, Mr. Girn was promoted to the position of Chief Executive Officer. In his first three years on the job, he restructured the organizational hierarchy of the company, built an exceptional executive team, developed the company’s growth strategy, and instilled in LePort a mania for both pedagogical rigor and excellent customer service–while almost tripling the size of the organization. Mr. Girn’s goal over the coming years is to develop a scalable prototype for LePort’s curriculum, pedagogy, and business model, starting from its Montessori infant care programs and eventually going through high school—and in so doing, laying the groundwork necessary to bring LePort’s exceptional education to as many children as possible.
Monica N. LePort
Vice President of Operations
Since joining LePort Schools in 2000, Ms. LePort has been managing the operations of all the campuses. Her duties include human resources, facility management, liaising with parents, and daily operations. With her supportive leadership style and commitment to excellence, Ms. LePort has helped LePort Schools become one of the leading educational institutions in Orange County.
Ms. LePort’s enthusiasm for education and life in general has created a safe and caring environment where parents are pleased with their children’s learning and social development. This environment also makes for a satisfying workplace for our teachers, who are committed to both LePort Schools and the Montessori philosophy.
Vice President of Development
Mr. Barnett received his B.A. in Political Science from the University of Toronto in 2003. Before joining the LePort team, he was a Senior Executive at a Property Management and Development firm for over six years. Currently, Mr. Barnett oversees facility improvements and business expansion at LePort Schools. He is proud to be a part of bringing LePort’s unparalleled education to increasing numbers of children.
Vice President of Academics
Mrs. Journo received her Honors B.A. and B.Ed. from York University, her Honors Specialist Certification in the Teaching of English from the University of Toronto, and her AMI Primary Diploma from the Montessori Institute of San Diego. Before joining LePort Schools in 2003, Mrs. Journo worked as an administrator and teacher of English and history at private schools in Toronto, Canada, where she specialized in writing curriculum, leading teacher training workshops and creating classroom resources. As Vice President of Academics, Mrs. Journo focuses on curriculum development and implementation for all of our schools, and oversees the schools’ academic staff.
Vice President of Strategy & Outreach
Ms. Larson holds an undergraduate degree in business from the Koblenz School of Corporate Management in Germany, and an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin. She was an Associate Partner at McKinsey & Company, the international management consulting firm, and held senior positions in Marketing and Sales for two airplane manufacturers.
Ms. Larson discovered Maria Montessori’s ideas while in college, and decided back then to have her children attend Montessori schools. Over the years, as she learned more, her interest in the Montessori method only deepened. When her daughter started attending preschool, her discussions with other parents led her to discover that few others shared her appreciation of Montessori’s value—even at a Montessori School! As a result, she developed a deep passion for educating parents about the tremendous benefits that a proper Montessori education offers to young children.
In early 2010, Ms. Larson’s interest in education led her to discover LePort Schools, and she was impressed with the consistently high quality of their Montessori programs. When the opportunity arose, she took on the project of guiding the organization’s development of its new website. In the process, she became fascinated by LePort’s innovative approach to elementary education and pedagogy.
Today, Ms. Larson is responsible for overseeing and coordinating LePort’s parent education, outreach, and development programs. She is excited to help LePort share the value of its quality educational programs with a broader audience, in Orange County and beyond.
General Counsel & Vice President of Human Resources
Rebecca Girn has been around Montessori schools since she was a child. She attended various East Coast Montessori schools through eighth grade. Later, while studying at the University of Chicago, she worked in several Montessori environments, both as an administrator and as a classroom assistant. Rebecca went on to earn her J.D. from the UCLA School of Law, serving as an Articles Editor for the UCLA Law Review and earning a specialization in Business Law. She started her career practicing labor and employment law with a major law firm, but jumped at the opportunity to return to the Montessori world by joining LePort Schools. Rebecca loves the challenge of applying her skills and experience to the task of helping LePort achieve its worthy educational mission. In her spare time, Rebecca enjoys cooking, theater, and exploring Orange County–she still marvels at the glorious California weather, compared with the snowstorms of the East Coast and Chicago!
Jane Erickson, Ph.D.
Executive Director, Upper Elementary and Junior High
Dr. Erickson received her B.S. in Psychology from the University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign) and her Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology from Yale University. During her study of cognitive development, Dr. Erickson had the opportunity to work with hundreds of children at a number of different elementary schools. She has lectured and published on issues in Developmental Psychology and has been sought after as an education consultant by well-recognized companies, including Hit Entertainment (creators of Dora the Explorer). In addition, she has received awards for her college-level teaching, including the prestigious Prize Teaching Award from Yale University.
Dr. Erickson oversees LePort’s Upper Elementary and Junior High programs, and is particularly focused on systematizing and codifying the different elements that make the program so uniquely effective. She is thrilled to be part of LePort’s talented team, and can think of nothing more rewarding than creating an educational system that enables children to gain a lasting understanding and deep appreciation for the world, as well as the confidence to pursue and succeed at any endeavor they choose for their future.
Senior Montessori Coordinator
Mrs. Lockitch has been fortunate to have the opportunity to teach children from ages two through fourteen in a variety of settings. In 1995, she earned her Honors B.A. in Philosophy from the University of British Columbia, and, soon after, her AMI Primary diploma. After several years of leading a Primary class, Mrs. Lockitch earned her AMI Elementary diploma as well as her Masters of Education. Thereafter, she taught in both Montessori and private schools, guiding children and developing curriculum in a range of subject areas.
In 2005, Mrs. Lockitch stepped away from classroom teaching so that she could devote time to her own young children. During this period, she remained active as an educator through tutoring, consulting, and publishing a parenting newsletter that applied Montessori ideas to the home setting.
As LePort’s Montessori Curriculum Coordinator since 2010, Mrs. Lockitch guides curriculum projects, develops parent education materials, and works with the Montessori staff at all campuses to help make LePort an outstanding school.
Mrs. Greaux was first introduced to Maria Montessori’s method in college while assisting an AMI teacher in a lower elementary classroom. Throughout her college career, Mrs. Greaux continued to work as an assistant at both the primary and elementary levels. Inspired and curious she then became motivated to pursue her certification. Mrs. Greaux received her AMI Primary Diploma from the Montessori Education Center of Arizona in 1999. She also holds a B.S. in Speech and Language Pathology from Arizona State University.
Mrs. Greaux possesses a deep admiration and appreciation for the Montessori Method, believing that it is very fulfilling to help children develop, acquire knowledge, and build character.
Alexandra Moffitt, M.Ed.
A Montessorian from the start, Alexandra Moffitt has been indirectly preparing for her career at LePort since 1984! Born and raised in San Diego as the eldest of four, she received her primary and lower elementary education at Scripps Montessori School and attended the School of Creative & Performing Arts for upper elementary through high school. Ms. Moffitt received her Honors Bachelor of Arts degree in English with an emphasis in Global Studies, and a minor in Music and Leadership Certification from the University of California, Santa Barbara. She earned her AMI Montessori diploma studying the entire first plane of development, from birth through six years, from the Montessori Institute of San Diego, and was a member of the inaugural class of students to earn an M.Ed. specializing in Montessori education from the University of San Diego.
Before joining LePort Schools in 2013, Ms. Moffitt travelled internationally as a Montessori consultant, worked as a Head Toddler Teacher, and was a nanny for 15 years, guiding infants and young children in their development into healthy, independent individuals. She thrives in outdoor environments, enjoys organic gardening and cooking, and sings diverse styles of music.
Development Project Manager
Tiffany Reyes received her B.A. in International Business, with a language concentration in Spanish and a minor in Latin American Studies, from California State University, Fullerton. She has worked in the operations of several small businesses in the Orange County area and brings to LePort Schools a vast array of business experience. Tiffany is actively involved in her own children’s education. She has a passion for childhood learning and development. She has spent many years volunteering and working with preschool and school age children. Tiffany lives near the beach, and she enjoys running, music, dancing and yoga. She especially enjoys supporting and following her children’s sports and activities.
Development Project Manager
Mr. Soares joined LePort Schools to take an active role in the development and construction of new LePort Montessori campuses throughout California. He earned his Architectural Degree from the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology in Calgary, Canada, as well as his B.A. in Communication Studies from the University of Calgary. Prior to joining LePort Schools, Elston started his career working for various Architecture firms in a design capacity, with experience in residential, commercial, healthcare, and educational projects. More recently his roles have been focused on project management; overseeing design and construction projects to ensure project goals are met with the highest standards. Elston is very excited to be part of LePort Schools and to help provide high quality Montessori educational facilities for children.
Development Project Manager
Alan Limon is committed to growing and improving the LePort campuses as a Development Project Manager. He earned his B.S. in Business Administration, with a concentration in Finance, from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. After completing his studies, Alan returned to his hometown in Orange County to focus on a career as project manager for an asset management firm. His experience includes construction coordination, property management, and real estate consulting for educational, corporate, and non-profit clients. Alan found that his work with educational clients proved most rewarding as his efforts in improving the learning environment directly benefited students.
When away from work, Alan takes advantage of the Southern California weather by playing golf, grilling up lunch for friends and exploring new places with his wife and son.
Project Manager – Brooklyn, NY
Mr. Puzycki earned a BA in International Relations from Boston University and an MBA in Finance & Economics from New York University’s Stern School of Business. He spent more than six years on Wall Street, most recently in equity research at CLSA Americas. Before joining LePort, Ryan worked at HSBC Securities, Dresdner Kleinwort, and the finance department of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Outside of work, Ryan enjoys traveling, cooking, reading and spending quality time with family and friends.
Darshee Shah, CPA
Ms. Darshee Shah joined LePort Schools with over eight years of experience in public accounting, specializing in taxation and audit. In 2001, Darshee received her B.A. from the University of Mumbai, India with a dual-major in taxation and accounting. She stayed in India for her initial professional experience, then later moved to California, where she earned her CPA license, and continued to expand her range of expertise in taxation and other areas of accounting.
When Ms. Shah decided to make a career change to private accounting, she was thrilled to discover LePort Schools. Here, she is able to apply the full range of her skills in providing critical financial services and guidance to an incredible network of schools.
When away from work, Darshee loves spending time with friends and family, cooking, and traveling with her husband, Vishal, a Manager at Deloitte Consulting.
Tien Nguyen graduated from California State University Fullerton, where she majored in Computer Information Systems. Ms. Nguyen has experience in bookkeeping, payroll, accounting, database design, systems design, and website design.
Here at LePort, Ms. Nguyen is responsible for accounts payable, accounts receivable, and other financial transactions activities. She works closely with our Financial Management personnel in helping to provide critical financial services. Ms. Nguyen is honored to be working with LePort Schools.
In her free time, Ms. Nguyen enjoys spending time with her family, traveling, reading, and teaching.
Human Resources Coordinator
Audrey Kelly had the good fortune to be introduced to Montessori as a child through her mother’s small school in the Chicago suburbs. Later, her family relocated to sunny Southern California, where Audrey attained her B.S. in Business Administration at CSU, San Marcos. She had the opportunity to manage operations in a variety of industries including film and live event production, investment banking and real estate development. The common thread throughout every industry was her thrill at connecting dots and finding solutions. Additionally, she loves interacting with people and enjoys the human element in a corporate structure. She is delighted to be a part of the Human Resources team, as she is able combine the best of both worlds.
Audrey joined LePort in July 2012, after actively pursuing an employment opportunity that would be fulfilling to her and her family. She sought out the school for open positions and was excited to bring her journey full circle back to Montessori. She is also elated that her own children are able to share the LePort experience as students. In her free time, Audrey enjoys spending time with her family and friends and experiencing all that California has to offer. She loves to “get off the beaten path” and loves a good planned…or spontaneous…adventure!
Human Resources Coordinator
Selese Gonzales received her B.A. in Communications from California State University, Fullerton. Before joining LePort, she worked as a Manager in the Center for Communications Excellence at Riverside City College. Her education and previous work experience have allowed her to become proficient in the areas of marketing, advertising, public speaking, writing, and event planning. Along with her diverse educational background, Selese brings with her an innovative mindset and a “whatever it takes” attitude.
Like most native Southern Californians, Selese takes full advantage of her close proximity to the beach and enjoys any outdoor activity. She has a unique passion for health, fitness and most of all, her family.
Operations Coordinator & Outreach Liaison
Before having children, Judi worked as a publication coordinator and in the field of public relations. Long interested in early education, Judi entered Vanguard University to obtain her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology (emphasis in Human Development) in 2000, graduating in 2001. Still dissatisfied with the developmental philosophies she had learned in college, she began to study different methods of education—when she discovered the Montessori method. Judi joined LePort Schools in 2003, with the purchase of our Irvine (Lake) campus.
After witnessing firsthand the benefits of a Montessori education for her daughter, Judi began to realize what a tremendous opportunity the philosophy offered. She transferred to the Mission Viejo campus in 2007, working in the Administrative Offices.
Judi enjoys spending time with her husband of 15 years, Bob, and her daughters (both LePort students)! She can most often be found riding her bike, reading, camping, shopping, or shuttling her children to a variety of activities. Judi is also a Girl Scout leader, and coordinates several activities throughout the year to support the U.S. Marines serving around the world.
Ms. Alexandria Rowe received her B.A. in Business Administration with concentrations in both Marketing and Entertainment & Tourism Management from California State University, Fullerton. Upon graduating in 2009, she spent time searching for her calling, eagerly awaiting the right opportunity. During that time, she embarked on a trip to India and mentored a group of high school girls. Through these life-changing opportunities, she gained the desire for a meaningful career, and was thrilled when the opportunity arose to work for LePort Schools. In her free time, Alex enjoys reading, traveling, and spending time with her family.
Before joining LePort Schools, Peter worked for a national restaurant company as an Operations and Marketing Administrator. His education and background is in business, but he admires the Montessori philosophy. When not working, Peter enjoys spending time with his wife, trying new restaurants or watching movies. He also loves playing and watching sports with his childhood friends. Peter is honored to be working with LePort Schools.
Campus Systems Specialist
Maris Mendes has a background in operations and business management. She worked for Starbucks Coffee Company for about 7 years, taking on various leadership roles within the organization. In addition to her business experience, Maris has a background in education, with a Bachelor’s Degree from California State University Long Beach in English Education (emphasis in Literature). Maris first discovered LePort through her husband (a Language Arts Teacher at LePort) and two children (who attend LePort’s Spanish immersion Montessori program). When an opportunity arose, she was thrilled to find the perfect marriage of her skills and passion in her role with LePort Schools.
Graphic & Web Designer
Mr. Pattee received a B.A. in Computer Science / Information Systems from the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth, MN. Before joining LePort, he was the Marketing Manager for 130-year-old company Duluth Pack, where he honed his ecommerce, online and print marketing skills. At LePort, Mr. Pattee works closely with the Vice President of Outreach to execute a broad range of efforts, both online and offline, all aimed at educating parents about the unique education offered by LePort Schools.
Mr. Pattee is uniquely qualified for this role. He was fortunate to have personally experienced the benefits of a Montessori education in elementary and middle school, and has been deeply immersed in the world of education throughout his life, as his immediate family includes two college professors and three teachers.
Mr. Pattee is excited to apply his marketing skills to enable more families to discover the high quality education available at LePort Schools. He’s looking forward to California winters in the 60’s, golfing year round, and being able to spend time at the beach with his wife.
Outreach & Operations Coordinator
Originally from Ohio, Ms. Jacquelyn Schwam has spent most of her career in the Montessori world. She worked for several years with the North American Montessori Teachers’ Association (NAMTA), a Montessori teachers’ organization affiliated with the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI). With NAMTA, Ms. Schwam planned national conferences and events for Montessori teachers. She also coordinated the travel and display of a touring exhibit, showcasing 100 years of Montessori education around the world. More recently before joining LePort Schools, Ms. Schwam worked for four years as the Administrator of the Montessori Institute of San Diego, both in the Institute’s AMI-affiliated Teacher Training Center, and in its model Children’s House. Ms. Schwam brings to LePort a wealth of knowledge and experience, both about the Montessori method and about school administration. She earned her B.S. in Journalism Ohio University.
Parent & Child Coordinator
Ms. Carlin received her B.A. in Political Science from the University of Alaska Anchorage in 1988 and her Infant/Toddler American Montessori Society Teaching Credential from the Montessori Education Center of the Rockies & University of Colorado in 1995. In 2010, she earned her Child Development Site Supervisor Permit from the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing. Ms. Carlin has extensive experience with the Montessori Method, with children of all ages, particularly infants & toddlers, and especially with parents of very young children. Prior to joining LePort Schools, Kirsten created Montessori infant & toddler learning environments in Alaska & Arizona before running her own First 5 CA grant-funded Montessori program in her home for children infant-primary (0-6). A parent of two girls who attended Montessori school before coming to Leport, Ms. Carlin is a strong proponent of the Montessori Method and enjoys sharing her love of early childhood with parents.
Information Technology Coordinator
Ms. Elizabeth Fontana received a B.S. in Computer Science/Information Systems from Centre Technological University in Venezuela 1997, and has been in the Information Technology field ever since. Ms. Fontana also has both personal and professional connections with Montessori education! As the mother of three, Ms. Fontana discovered the Montessori method when she was researching educational options for her children. She fell in love with the idea of a rich academic program leading to independent children with strong problem solving skills and joyous engagement in the daily experience of learning. Since then, Ms. Fontana has done everything in her power to educate her three children in the best available Montessori programs. It was this desire which led her to an IT position with a group of three Montessori schools in Ohio, and then, when she and her family moved back to Southern California, it led her in turn to LePort Schools! In 2011, Ms. Fontana accepted a position with LePort Schools, and the next day enrolled her three children at LePort’s Huntington Beach campus!
On the personal side, Ms. Fontana grew up in a multilingual home, learned four languages, and married her lifelong sweetheart. She loves spending time with her family. She also loves golf, and has been playing since she was nine years old. As a teenager, she represented her country on the national golf team, bringing home a first place trophy!
Educational Technology Coordinator
Chris Alexander has spent years working in various roles within in the tech industry, including as a web designer and developer, with a particular emphasis on User Experience design. Before joining LePort, he was the Creative Director for the eCommerce firm EYEMAGINE Technology, where he has shepherded the design of a range of large-scale projects, including the 2013 Webby Award Honoree site braven.com.
Chris has a particular passion for what Steve Jobs once called “the intersection of technology and liberal arts,” that magical crossroads where technology can really make lives easier — and help students learn better. He’s thrilled to be at LePort, where his mission is to find, create, and implement technologies that furnish student learning, empower teachers, and streamline administrative process.
He received his B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College, where he studied writing and film, and holds a Masters in Film Scoring from New York University.
Mr. Harris graduated with distinction from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2011, earning a Bachelors of Science degree in Molecular Biology. Before joining the LePort team in 2013, Max worked as a lab technician in Shelby O’Connor’s group at UW-Madison, where he contributed to research on acute-phase CD8 T cell responses to SIV, a virus closely related to HIV. In addition to his research, Mr. Harris successfully developed bioinformatics software.
Max particularly loves California’s amazing weather. When he’s not at work, you will most likely find him blasting down the road somewhere in a convertible.