School Administration

Courtney Zollinger

Head of School

Pittsburgh native Courtney Zollinger holds a B.A. in English and Public Relations from West Virginia University. As a former member of the Pride of West Virginia Marching Band, she plays the alto saxophone and piano.

Courtney started her professional career as a brand manager for a motocross enthusiast publication before becoming the marketing director for the premiere professional motocross racing series. After successfully growing the motocross brand, Courtney moved to California to begin a small digital marketing firm servicing a variety of clients ranging from academic institutions to the most-funded Kickstarter campaign of all time. Courtney is thrilled to apply her marketing and outreach background to spread the LePort Montessori curriculum and educational experience.

In her free time, Courtney enjoys practicing yoga, staying active through hiking and jogging along the beach, learning new recipes and cooking techniques, as well as spending time with her family and Himalayan cat, Sherpa.

Claire O'Neill

Assistant Head of School

Ms. Claire O’Neill was born and raised in Providence, Rhode Island. Her mother founded the Montessori school she attended as a child, and she has always felt happy and inspired in a Montessori classroom. She completed her American Montessori Society Early Childhood training (ages 3-6) while studying at Rhode Island School of Design. Claire taught in a primary classroom for four years, where she incorporated her textiles and art education background into the curriculum. After pursuing her Master of Arts in Montessori education from St. Catherine University, Claire had her first experience with an administrative role, and she especially enjoyed meeting with new parents.

Most recently, Claire completed her Master of Education at Teachers College. She also returned to teaching while working as an Admissions Coordinator. In her free time, Claire loves to travel, cook, and spend time in her studio space, where she knits and paints.

Joey Casey

Business Manager

Mr. Casey is an art educator, textile artist, and fashion designer based in New York City. For the past three years he has been leading a textile art after school program in New York. He has also been an art specialist instructor at many summer camps, developing dynamic lesson plans and spreading creative confidence. After studying fashion design at Parsons School of Design, Mr. Casey went on to work for many young designer collections. He teachers adult art, textile art, and garment construction throughout New York.

Mr. Casey is so excited to apply his skill set and experiences to the after school program at LePort Montessori Cobble Hill!

Niki Batista

Administrative Support

Ms. Batista studied in both the United States and the Dominican Republic and is fluent in both English and Spanish. Before joining LePort, she worked as a caregiver in daycare and preschool settings, working with both infants and toddlers. She is pursuing her bachelor's degree in Early Childhood Education. Ms. Batista is very excited about her work at LePort because she gains new experiences everyday.

Infant

Dora Rapien

Head Montessori Teacher (Infant)

Mrs. Dora Rapien was born and raised in Lima, Peru. She obtained her English teaching degree from the North American Peruvian Institute, and later received her Early Childhood Education degree from the Pestalozzi Institute. Mrs. Rapien worked as an Elementary and Primary School Assistant Teacher for three years. During this time, she also taught as an English teacher for elementary, high school, and for adults.

Her passion for early childhood education and her love of travel led her to pursue a career with Carnival Cruises Lines as part of the youth program on board. For ten years, Mrs. Rapien worked with the children, starting as a Camp Carnival staff member and later as an Assistant Youth Director, then a Youth Director, where she ran the youth programs on multiple ships. While working for Carnival, she circumnavigated the globe from Alaska to the Straits of Magellan, gaining a wealth of experience from many cultures around the world.

After Carnival, she joined LePort Irvine Spectrum in California, where she worked with infants and toddlers for the past three years. During this time, she fell in love with the Montessori pedagogy, and updated her early childhood development skills by becoming re-certified in Early Childhood Development through Laguna Tech College. Mrs. Rapien is the proud mother of two boys, who currently attend LePort Cobble Hill.

Monaisha Williams

Head Montessori Teacher (Infant)

Ms. Monaisha Williams was born and raised in New York City and is currently pursuing her degree in Human Development. Previously, Ms. Williams worked with children of all ages in a number of preschools and charter schools throughout the city. Patience, diligence, and nurture are important to her as she serves the needs of the classroom. Ms. Williams is very excited to provide rich educational experiences to the students of LePort Montessori. In her spare time, she enjoys taking dance classes, painting, and coaching her own team of dancers.

Judy Wang

Assistant Teacher

Ms. Judy Wang is a native New Yorker who has worked with infants and toddlers on the autism spectrum for over 5 years. She holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from New York University and a master’s degree from the Reading Specialist Program at Teachers College, and has tutored young children throughout her life. She became interested in the Montessori method after watching a video about the "Nido" on LePort Montessori's website and is very excited to be part of the LePort team to contribute in the upper infant classroom. Her hobbies include singing musical theater and reading classic and children’s literature.

Toddler

Jessica Ayala

Head Montessori Teacher (Toddler)

Originally from Los Angeles, Ms. Jessica started her teaching career as a swim instructor and coach for children in her community. Moving to New York solidified her calling as an educator. With a background in art, a love for nature, animals, and travel, Ms. Jessica brings her knowledge of her experiences as a tool for educating her students in the classroom. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband, and in her free time she enjoys doing ceramics.

Stephanie Marquez

Head Montessori Teacher (Toddler)

Ms. Stephanie Marquez was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. She received her bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Brooklyn College. After graduating, Ms. Marquez worked as both a teaching assistant and head teacher for a preschool program in Park Slope, Brooklyn, designed to facilitate child and caregiver separation. She has also worked as a high school cheerleading coach as well as a behavioral therapist for children with developmental disorders. Starting in 2016, Ms. Marquez was a classroom assistant. She is in the process of obtaining her Master of Science, in Early Childhood Education from Brooklyn College. Ms. Marquez is currently pursuing her MACTE Montessori training at the Center for Guided Montessori Studies. In her free time, Ms. Marquez enjoys running, reading, watching scary movies, exploring new restaurants, and spending time with friends and family.

Shvonne Heyward

Assistant Teacher

Ms. Heyward has worked with children for over 25 years. As an assistant teacher at various preschools and daycare facilities throughout New York City, she passionately cares for each one of her students. Ms. Heyward has returned to school to complete her Bachelors in Early Childhood education after the encouragement from her son. With her own grandchildren and children, Ms. Heyward’s care, knowledge and skills make her an amazing asset to the Cobble Hill team!

Lily Donate

Head Montessori Teacher (Toddler)

Mrs. Lily Donate grew up in France where she obtained her master's degree in Education Sciences. Her desire to explore different cultures and pursue her passion for Montessori led her to London where she received the Assistants to Infancy training (AMI ages 0-3) under the direction of the incredible Dr. Montanaro. After ten years in London, she wanted to continue to explore the world further and move to New York City. In her spare time, Mrs. Donate loves cooking, going to the cinema and theatre, and most importantly, going for walks to explore new places.

Sherlys Cervantes

Assistant Teacher

Ms. Sherlys was born in Venezuela and grew up in Queens, NY. She has her undergraduate degree in Early Childhood Education from La Guardia Community College and is continuing her education to obtain her master’s degree. As a volunteer at a church after school program, she was exposed to a Montessori program and fell in love. She started working in a Montessori classroom six years ago and would love to obtain her Montessori certification one day. On the weekends, Ms. Sherlys can be found in the park listening to music with her dog, Dex.

Silvia Ramirez

Head Montessori Teacher (Toddler), Spanish Immersion

Ms. Rodriguez was born in Granada, Spain. She is excited to be at LePort because she is very passionate about the Montessori pedagogy and truly believes in the philosophy. She has a degree in English education from the Faculty of Education Sciences in Granada. Ms. Rodriguez earned her Montessori AMI 0-3 credential and is currently pursuing her AMI 3-6 credential. Prior to joining LePort, she worked as an infant guide at the Montessori Village in Madrid, Spain.

Carolina Cedeno

Assistant Teacher, Spanish Immersion

Carolina Cedeno joined our teaching team this summer, and will be joining our Toddler Spanish classroom as an Assistant Teacher. Ms. Cedeno was born in Ecuador and moved to Queens, New York when she was nine years old. Ms. Cedeno recently moved to Brooklyn and received her associates degree in Early Childhood Education from La Guardia Community College. Immediately after graduation, she began working as a substitute teacher at a Montessori school in Manhattan. She quickly fell in love with the Montessori theory! In 2009 she worked as an assistant teacher for six years. Most recently Ms. Cedeno has been a Spanish teacher for Toddler and Primary classrooms. Her goal is to obtain her Montessori teacher training. During her free time, she loves to go to the park with her children and have picnics during the summer.

Primary

Nancy Cho

Head Montessori Teacher (Primary)

Ms. Cho is originally from Boston Massachusetts where she earned her bachelor's degree in Sociology and Criminal Justice. She has many years of experience working with children of all ages. Since moving to California, Ms Cho encountered the Montessori method and was intrigued by the philosophy and pedagogy. After working many years for LePort, Ms. Cho decided to take the step and finally get her AMI diploma from the Montessori Institute of San Diego.

Gina Hicks

Assistant Teacher

Ms. Gina Hicks was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. She studied early childhood education at Touro College and has over 20 years of experience in early childhood education. She also has her Child Day Care certificate from the Professional Career Development Institute. Ms. Gina has always had a passion and desire to work with and help develop children of all ages. She looks forward to applying her experiences and knowledge to the children in her classroom. During her downtime, Ms. Gina enjoys spending time with her family, working as a nail technician, cooking, reading, bowling, and running.

Catherine Ravenell

Assistant Teacher

Catherine Ravenell joined our Montessori team as an Assistant Teacher in January 2018. She was raised in Brooklyn and begin working with children in high school, volunteering at her local community center assisting children with homework and computer skills. She received her bachelor degree from Lehman College, majoring in nutrition, dietetics, and food. Catherine has a lot of experience with children, in many different roles. She has worked as a nanny, after-school teacher, summer camp counselor and most recently as a substitute teacher. In her spare time, she enjoys yoga and learning more about photography.

Nazneen Khetani

Head Montessori Teacher (Primary)

Nazneen Khetani moved to NewYork from the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia. She has many years of experience as a Lead teacher, organizing parent education and family events. She received her bachelor’s degree from Osmania University, her AMI Montessori diploma from the International Montessori Training Institute, and her master’s degree in Montessori Education from Loyola University. Ms. Khetani has a dedicated background in volunteering and is committed to educational causes. She started her career as a personal tutor, and is a passionate volunteer, working with organizations advocating against child labor. She served on the board of organizations which developed youth and sports programs for different age groups. Ms. Khetani facilitated many parent education events, focusing on positive parenting for birth to age six. She also organized many events, such as fitness classes, yoga, and camp trips for families. Ms. Khetani comes to us from Lilburn Montessori in Georgia, where she was Head Teacher for three years. She is a henna artist and enjoys cooking in her free time.

Roxi Muthana

Assistant Teacher

Ms. Muthana was born and raised in Brooklyn. She is pursuing her degree in Early Childhood at City College and has an extensive background working with both typical and special needs
children of all ages in public and private settings. LePort allows her to use the skills of individualized education that she honed working with special needs children. In her spare time, she enjoys shopping and spending time with loved ones.

Ginny de la Macorra

Head Montessori Teacher (Primary)

After 10 years of being a teacher in the public schools of Mexico, Ms. De la Macorra knew that she needed to find a more efficient method to support her students. She earned a scholarship to complete her Montessori training in Santiago de Compostela, Spain and obtained her AMI 3-6 Primary diploma. Immediately Ms. De la Macorra fell in love with the method and decided to turn it into her passion to help children and improve the education system in Mexico. Born and raised in Mexico by a mother who is a teacher and a father who is passionate about astronomy, she feels very lucky and able to be the Head Teacher in LePort Montessori Cobble Hill's Primary Spanish Immersion classroom. Ms. De la Macorra is passionate about observing the stars, cooking, and playing sports.

Adriane Velasquez

Assistant Teacher

Ms. Adriane Velasquez is a longtime piano player and is finishing her studies at the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music. She has performed and studied a vast array of performing arts concentrations, and has worked with all ages and walks of life. Her main focus and passion consist of exposing the youth to the arts. She is excited to apply her skill set to her role with LePort Montessori.

Tanya Fong

Assistant Teacher

Ms. Fong was born in Venezuela and raised in Yonkers, New York. She was exposed to the Montessori philosophy three years ago and she fell in love with it! Ms. Fong started working with children when she was eighteen years old, with a non-profit as a tutor. Ever since then she has not been able to work in another field and she is excited to have the opportunity to teach as her career. Ms. Fong is currently in school, where she is studying to obtain her Early Childhood Education Degree. Her goal is become Montessori Certified and be able to expand her teaching experiences with young children.

Additional Staff

Laurel Haflin

Assistant Teacher

Bio coming soon.

Laura Ramirez-Etanislao

Assistant Teacher

Bio coming soon.

Linka Preus

After School Program Coordinator

Ms. Linka Preus was born and raised in Binghamton, NY and graduated from Cornell University with a degree in linguistics and cognitive science. As an undergrad, she worked in a developmental psycholinguistic lab studying social and language growth in toddlers and infants. After traveling throughout Europe and exploring interests such as baking, woodworking, and gardening, she worked at a small preschool in Ithaca, NY for two years. She recently moved to New York City and is very happy to have found LePort, as the Montessori philosophy strongly resonates with her own views on the development of preschoolers and all people. In her spare time, Ms. Preus takes trapeze classes and makes short stop motion movies.

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