School Administration

Fatima Asghar

Head of School

Mrs. Asghar has been working in Montessori classrooms in some capacity since 1989. She was immediately drawn to Maria Montessori’s ideas after she first observed a Montessori environment-she was amazed at the level of concentration and independent work displayed by the children. Mrs Asghar quickly came to appreciate the uniqueness of the Montessori Method, and to believe deeply in the difference that it can make in the lives of children. In 1997, Mrs. Asghar received her AMI Diploma in her then hometown of Hyderabad, India. After moving to the United States, she taught for two years in a Montessori school in College Station, Texas. She then moved to California in 2000 to join LePort’s Huntington Beach campus team as a Head Primary Teacher. In 2008, Mrs. Asghar was promoted to the position of Montessori liaison. While continuing to teach a full class, in her new capacity she also took on the role of offering teachers both administrative and academic support. Over time, her quiet leadership and genuine dedication to students and staff earned her the deep respect of teachers, parents and management. In 2010, Mrs. Asghar was offered, and heartfully accepted, the position of Head of School at LePort School Huntington Harbor. As the Head of School, Mrs. Asghar oversees all operations, and ensures that each student at the school receives the highest quality Montessori education. In her spare time, Mrs. Asghar enjoys playing basketball and tennis with her family, cooking, sewing, and decorating.

Cindy Hume

Assistant to the Head of School

Mrs. Cindy Hume was born in Southern California. At the age of 9, her family moved overseas to the Philippines, where she lived until she graduated from high school. Mrs. Hume has worked with children of all ages for many years. She first began teaching in a Sunday school setting, and since then she has worked for Orange County's "Inside the Outdoors" program as an instructor, teaching nature and science. She also worked with elementary-aged students in private school settings. However, it wasn't until the birth of her daughter when Mrs. Hume's interest in younger children really began to take shape. As she watched her own daughter's development, she realized the importance of fostering a child's growth and development from the very beginning. She pursued the Assistants to Infancy training, and in August 2014, she earned her AMI diploma for ages 0-3 years old from the Montessori Institute of San Diego.

Mrs. Hume joined LePort Montessori in September 2010 as an Assistant Teacher, then became a Head Teacher in August 2013, and is now the Assistant to the Head of School. Mrs. Hume's daughter, Kelsie, and sons, Caden and Titus, attend LePort Huntington Harbor.

Kristy Gump

Director of Admissions and Parent Experience

Mrs. Kristy Gump is originally from a small town in the Sierra foothills and moved to Los Angeles to attend Loyola Marymount University. After receiving her B.A. in English, she worked with the Long Beach Opera and the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra in development and administrative capacities, before shifting her focus to education. She held management positions with The Oaks School in Hollywood and New City Public Schools in Long Beach. While at New City, Kristy helped manage the creation of the New City School Farm — one of her most valued accomplishments. Kristy is an Orange County Master Gardener and loves learning about edible landscaping and native gardens. She enjoys cooking for her husband and shopping at the local farmer’s market during the weekend. She is thrilled to be part of LePort Schools and to help support our team of wonderful teachers who in turn help our students acquire the essential knowledge, thinking skills, and strength of character required to flourish as joyous children today.

Lillie MacDonald

Administrative Support

Ms. Lillie MacDonald was born and raised in Huntington Beach, California. She received her bachelor’s degree from California State University, Long Beach in anthropology and worked at a preschool as the teacher’s aide for two-year-olds. While working there, she completed 15 units in Early Childhood Development from Santa Ana College. She then moved to Georgia where she worked in the library at an elementary school. After a year and a half, she moved back to California to be closer to her friends and family, and also for the weather. Ms. Lillie's passion in administration and her love of working in a school setting led her to pursue an administrative support role at LePort. In her spare time, Ms. Lillie loves going to Disneyland, taking her dogs to the beach, seeing the latest movies, and spending time with her family and friends.

Tiffany Yonekura

Business Manager

Ms. Tiffany Yonekura has always had a passion for child development. Her passion led her to devote her career to childhood education. She began her education at Golden West Community College, and eventually went on to study Child and Adolescent Development at California State University, Fullerton. She completed her education with a teaching credential and master’s degree in education from Hope International University. In addition to child development, Ms. Tiffany enjoys spending time with her family and sharing her love of reading with her children.


Megan Raymond

Head Montessori Teacher (Infant)

Ms. Megan Raymond has been working with children since 2001 and she loves the experience. Ms. Raymond earned her A.A. in Human Development from Santa Ana College in 2006. For five years, she worked for Orange Unified School District’s afterschool program. Ms. Raymond then became an Infant/Toddler Teacher at a special needs facility for seven years, where she was nominated for Down Syndrome Association of Orange County’s Educator of the Year Award in 2011. Ms. Raymond enjoys living in Old Towne Orange, catching a good band live, and spending time with friends and family.

Nancy Tapia

Assistant Teacher

Ms. Tapia joined LePort in September of 2012. She has earned her B.A. in Communicative Disorders, an assistant’s License in Speech Therapy, an A.S. in Early Childhood Education, and an A.A. in General Education. Ms. Tapia has worked as a Head Toddler Teacher and Infant Teacher in addition to working in the public school district with Elementary students. Although she loves working with children of all ages, she especially enjoys working with infants, watching them develop news skills. Ms. Tapia has enjoyed traveling throughout the world, giving her wonderful experiences and knowledge that has helped her learn about many different cultures. In her free time, she loves spending time with her family and friends, going to church, reading, and exploring the outdoors.

Alexis Waters

Assistant Teacher

Ms. Alexis Waters is an Orange County native and has lived in Huntington Beach most of her life. She studied Early Childhood Education at Laguna Technical College. Ms. Waters has worked with children for the past seven years as a Teacher’s Assistant and a Nanny before she joined LePort team. She is excited for the upcoming years and new experiences at LePort. Ms. Waters enjoys the beach, bike riding and spending time with her family.

Amanda Cueva

Assistant Teacher

Ms. Amanda Cueva was certified in psychology and infant education in her home country, Peru. She has been working as an Assistant Teacher for 5 years. She is a proud grandmother to 2 little boys and 1 little girl.

Diana Reynolds

Head Montessori Teacher (Infant)

Mrs. Diana Reynolds was born and raised in Granada Meta, Colombia before moving to California at the end of 2009. She attended Manuela Beltran University and Cerritos College and currently resides in Lakewood. She is the mother of one child and has been married to her husband since 2010. Mrs. Reynolds loves going to the beach, listening to music, dancing salsa, and shopping.

Vivian Palmer

Assistant Teacher

Ms. Palmer completed her early childhood education units and associates degree from Fullerton College. Additionally, she has completed classes at California State University, Fullerton. Prior to joining LePort, Ms. Palmer worked with children for over 30 years. She enjoys working with children and is inspired by their willingness to learn and explore new experiences. Ms. Palmer has two grown daughters and one grandson. In her spare time she enjoys reading mystery and science fiction novels, gardening, and cooking.

Leticia Guerrero

Assistant Teacher

Ms. Leticia Guerrero grew up in Huntington Beach, California, where she continues to reside today. She obtained her AA degree from Golden West College in 2007. A few years after, she attended Orange Coast College where she took Early Childhood Education classes. Ms. Guerrero plans to return to school in the near future to earn her BA degree in Child Psychology. Her passion to pursue her dream does not only come from a want to help others, her childhood dream, and her work experience with children, but also from having three beautiful children of her own, two girls and one boy. Ms. Guerrero enjoys being outdoors with her family, going to family events, dancing, playing volleyball and basketball, baking, and spending as much time as possible with her children.

Karla Mata

Assistant Teacher

Ms. Karla was born and raised in Orange County. She's known that she wanted to work with children since she was in the second grade. She received her Associate of Science degree in Early Childhood Education from Fullerton College and is continuing her education in Childhood and Adolescent Education at California State University, Fullerton. Ms. Karla has worked at the Anaheim YMCA for over 3 years prior to joining LePort Montessori. Apart from working with children, Ms. Karla enjoys hiking with her fiancé and dog Toto, cooking, and spending time with friends and family.

Emmy Zappa

Head Montessori Teacher (Infant)

Ms. Emmy Zappa is originally from Sebastopol in Sonoma County, California. Growing up, Ms. Zappa was very active in Girl Scouts, and often volunteered her time to assist younger troop members. She was also active in sports, volunteered as a referee at children’s soccer games, and played competitive volleyball, continuing on to the collegiate level at Santa Rosa Junior College. At Santa Rosa, she earned an Associate of Arts degree in both psychology and social & behavioral sciences. She also attained her Skills Certificate in Child Development: Associate Teacher. Ms. Zappa started working with young toddlers while she was still attending Santa Rosa, working as the lead teacher in a classroom for two-year-olds. Later, she also worked with the 3-6 age group, but her interest always gravitated towards younger children. Most recently before joining LePort, Ms. Zappa worked as the lead teacher in a Montessori infant program, where she provided a safe and welcoming environment for both children and parents, planned developmentally-appropriate activities and exploration, and maximized learning opportunities to feed the curiosity of the young children under her care.

Ms. Zappa is also passionate about continuing her own education and professional growth. She is currently working toward a bachelor’s degree at California State University Long Beach (with a double major in Family Life Education and Early Childhood Development). Ms. Zappa completed her AMI Montessori teacher training for the 0 to 3 age group at the Montessori Institute of San Diego. She is always looking for opportunities to improve, whether it be through self-reflection, through her interactions with children, families, and fellow educators, or through courses, workshops, and readings. Ms. Zappa believes that it is critical to respect the dignity and unique personality of each individual child and family.

Christle Fells

Assistant Teacher

Ms. Christle Fells was born and raised in Los Angeles, California, and currently lives in Long Beach. She has worked with infants and toddlers for 10 years and completed the Los Angeles Southwest College Child Development program with her Associate Teacher Infant & Toddler Certificate. Before joining LePort in August 2016, she worked as a day care provider and substitute teacher. Ms. Fells has a 14-year-old daughter, and she enjoys baking!

Daisy Briseno

Assistant Teacher

Ms. Briseno received her associate and bachelor's degree in Liberal Studies with an emphasis in Elementary education. While working with elementary school students she believes she can make a difference by teaching students to love learning and exploring new ideas. Ms. Briseno continues to pursue her education to further her ability to provide a safe and fun environment where children can learn to enjoy education. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, taking road trips, reading, and discovering California history.


Katelyn Hattery

Head Montessori Teacher (Toddler)

Ms. Katelyn Hattery received her early childhood education from the University of California — Irvine. She joined LePort Schools in 2009, and quickly impressed her colleagues with her exceptional talent for working with toddlers. So much so, in fact, that in 2011, LePort Schools sponsored her for the AMI Assistants to Infancy training in San Diego. Ms. Hattery says about her work, “I just love working with this age group! Toddlers remind me of the beauty of the simple things in life, because they are so fascinated by simple things. Something as small as blowing bubbles fills them with delight!” In her personal life, Ms. Hattery enjoys travelling and combing Southern California for antiques. She also enjoys the outdoors, whether it is hiking, rollerblading, or walking her dogs. She loves animals, and currently has a household of 1 rat, 2 dogs, and 4 cats!

Daniela Hoyle

Assistant Teacher

Ms. Hoyle graduated from Florida State University in 2004 with a degree in journalism. While traveling and pursuing her journalism career, she discovered that one of her biggest passions was teaching. To support her extensive international travel, Ms. Hoyle began teaching both English and Spanish to children aged 4-12 and fell in love! After ten years of teaching internationally, she decided to return to the United States to focus more intensely on her teaching career.

She hopes to earn her Early Childhood Development degree so that she can continue to grow as both a teacher and mother. She finds children to be both fascinating and inspiring. She loves how their minds develop so rapidly and takes pride in her role as a guide in assisting children in developing their minds and becoming better human beings. Ms. Hoyle enjoys reading about the development of the child's mind and the many ways in which they learn.

Alma Arzate

Head Montessori Teacher (Toddler)

Alma Arzate joined us in 2012 and is excited about becoming a valuable addition here at LePort Schools. Ms. Arzate has gained experience by volunteering as a Child Life Specialist from 2010 through 2012 at Miller Children’s Hospital at Long Beach Memorial Hospital. There she had the opportunity to interact with infants through adolescents. She also earned her certificate of completion in Careers with Children, which involved an additional year of experience at the LBCC Children’s Center. Ms. Arzate completed her AMI Montessori teacher training for the 0 to 3 age group at the Montessori Institute of San Diego. In her spare time, she loves spending time with her fiancée, creating personalized jewelry, cooking, and enjoys meditating every morning.

Mariana Aguliar

Assistant Teacher

A Southern California native, Ms. Mariana Aguliar received her B.A. in Child and Adolescent Development from the California State University, Fullerton. Prior to joining LePort, she worked at IvyCrest Montessori Private School for two years and the Child Development Center located at the Santa Ana Community College campus for six months. Ms. Aguliar comes from a large extended family, so working with children is naturally her calling. She expects to receive a teaching credential in special education and continue her education to pursue a master's degree. Outside of the classroom, Ms. Aguliar enjoys reading, shopping, spending time with her family, and traveling to new places.

Lisa Hawkins

Head Montessori Teacher (Toddler)

Ms. Lisa Hawkins is a mother of three who recently relocated to Southern California from Flagstaff, Arizona. Ms. Lisa received her AMI diploma in 2008 from the Montessori Institute in Denver, Colorado and worked at a Montessori school in Flagstaff for ten years where she worked with toddlers and infants. She has accumulated over 120 credit hours at Northern Arizona University in the fields of psychology and sociology. She has a passion for children and their learning, and loves that young children take nothing for granted and live each day with excitement and wonder about their environment. Ms. Lisa enjoys being outside hiking, biking, swimming, playing sports, reading, and going on all kinds of adventures with her family.

Sumayya Sheikh

Assistant Teacher

Ms. Sumayya is a compassionate and well-educated native of Pakistan. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Education from the University of Allama Iqbal in Islamabad, Pakistan. Additionally, she earned her master’s degree in English Literature from the University of Punjab, Pakistan. Prior to joining LePort, she worked as a teacher for 12 years. Ms. Sumayya believes that teaching is a sacred profession, and that it enhances the purity of mind, an honesty of your inner self. She is a mother of two young children and is very excited to join the LePort team!

Shumaila Syed

Assistant Teacher

Mrs. Shumaila Syed moved to the United States in 2004 from Pakistan. She has four children of her own and enjoys working with children of all ages. Ms. Syed holds a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and completed her Early Childhood Education units through Orange Coast College and Penn Foster University. She is also continuing to attend courses for exceptional children. Ms. Syed started working for LePort Montessori in June 2018 and fell in love with the Montessori method and plans to pursue her AMI training. In her spare time, Ms. Syed enjoys cooking, scrapbooking, painting, or a few other creative outlets.

Veronica Jaramillo

Head Montessori Teacher (Toddler)

Ms. Jaramillo was born and raised in Southern California. She has worked in the preschool setting since 1999. She holds a Montessori A to I Diploma (ages birth through 3) from the Montessori Institute of San Diego. In addition, Ms. Jaramillo has completed numerous early childhood education courses and continues to expand on her knowledge by participating in various courses and seminars.

Ms. Jaramillo has worked as a Head Toddler Teacher, Program Specialist, and School Site Director. She is a dedicated teacher who loves and respects the children. She is supportive of each child’s unique individuality and delights in watching their independence and love of learning grow.

Rebeca Jimenez

Assistant Teacher

Ms. Rebeca Jimenez has worked in the child development field for many years. She has completed more than 25 units in child development. In 1998, she received a certificate as a preschool director and was a preschool director for 5 years. She enjoys teaching children and seeing their growth academically. She is very excited to be part of LePort Schools.

Veronica Rodriquez

Assistant Teacher

Mrs. Rodriguez was born in Sonora, Mexico, and moved to California with her family when she was six months old. As a child, Mrs. Rodriguez enjoyed pretending to be a teacher and also was a babysitter for many years. When her daughter started preschool, Mrs. Rodriguez volunteered, and she loved seeing the children grow and observing their interactions in mixed age classrooms. Mrs. Rodriguez completed her Early Childhood Education units at San Bernardino Valley College and began working as a teacher assistant. In her spare time, Mrs. Rodriguez enjoys spending time with her husband and her children.

Reham Adly

Head Montessori Teacher (Toddler)

Mrs. Reham Adly was born and raised in Egypt. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Applied Arts. Mrs. Adly had always been interested in child development and after graduation, she began designing children’s furniture. However, after getting married and having her first child, she decided she wanted to share her passion for art with children. So, in addition to her interior design work, she worked as an art teacher for five years, teaching children how to paint and draw. When she moved to the United States, she completed her child development classes and worked as a Teacher’s Assistant at the LA Mission College Child Development Center. Mrs. Adly enjoys spending time with her two daughters and husband. She loves drawing and photography. In addition to English, Mrs. Adly is also fluent in Arabic.

Bailey Padilla

Assistant Teacher

Ms. Bailey Padilla is from Flagstaff, Arizona and moved to Huntington Beach three years ago. She completed her Early Childhood Education units through Theoria Technical College. Ms. Padilla enjoys working with children and believes that while we can teach them a lot, they can also teach us so much!

Kari Gallo

Head Montessori Teacher (Toddler), Spanish Immersion

Ms. Kari Gallo was born in Mexico City, Mexico. At the age of 3, her life changed forever when her parents decided to move to California. Ms. Gallo realized she wanted to teach at an early age. When she was a child, she enjoyed pretending she was a teacher and mimicking what she had seen her teachers do!

Ms. Gallo attended the Orange County Regional Occupational Program (ROP) where she received her Infant/Toddler Assistant certificate. From that time on, she knew that she wanted to pursue her passion in working with children. Ms. Gallo found an even deeper passion, especially for the Montessori philosophy, once she started working at LePort. She is very intrigued by the Montessori methodology. Each day she looks forward to learning something new and incorporating the philosophy into her work, as well as with her own children. Both her son and her daughter attend the LePort Huntington Harbor campus. Ms. Gallo has completed her AMI Assistants to Infancy training at the Montessori Institute of San Diego. In her spare time, she loves to spend time with her children and go to Disneyland.

Estefani Lara

Assistant Teacher, Spanish Immersion

Ms. Estefani Lara was born in Mexico and came to the United States when she was 5 years old. She grew up in Long Beach, California, where she attended Long Beach City College. While attending, Ms. Lara worked in their Child Development Center and obtained her Child Development Teaching Permit. She has always enjoyed being around and working with children. Outside of the classroom, Ms. Lara enjoys spending time with her family and dogs, watching movies, listening to music, and traveling to new places.


Maria Ferdinandus

Head Montessori Teacher (Primary)

Maria Ferdinandus is a qualified AMI Montessori teacher with 23 years of experience. She completed her Early Childhood Education units at UCLA and holds a diploma in both Montessori and Child Psychology. Ms. Maria Ferdinandus absolutely loves working with children and in her free time can be found exploring the outdoors and enjoying art, one of her many talents and passions.

Pamela Wiggins

Assistant Teacher

Mrs. Wiggins has been working in the field of education since 1997, and has been a member of LePort Schools since 2008. She has an AA degree in Business, and is working to earn her BA in Education. Mrs. Wiggins lives in Huntington Beach with her husband, son, and step-daughter.

Carol Perez

Head Montessori Teacher (Primary)

Mrs. Perez is happy to bring her Montessori journey full circle with her return to LePort Montessori as a Primary Head Teacher. She comes to us with 25 years of Head Teacher’s experience. She always planned to work with young children and received her AS degree in Early Childhood Education from Rio Hondo College in Whittier, California. She took her first position as an Assistant Teacher, working with children in a Montessori school in 1987. It was during this time that she became very interested in the Montessori method. As she worked in the environment and started to develop her understanding of the foundations of the philosophy, ​she decided to fine-tune her specialization and enrolled in the Montessori ​Institute of Los Angeles ​teacher training course and received her AMI diploma in 1993​. She began working for the Montessori Children’s Center in Fountain Valley, which ​became LePort's first campus in 2000. Mrs. Perez is looking forward to being back at LePort Huntington Harbor.​ In her spare time, Mrs. Perez is an avid runner and enjoys hiking and bike riding with her husband and friends.

Lubna Mahmud

Assistant Teacher

Mrs. Mahmud earned a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and began a career in education as a high school instructor in Pakistan. She moved to the United States in 1983 where she raised a family of four children. Mrs. Mahmud developed a passion for teaching younger children while completing an Early Childhood Education certification from Orange Coast College. She joined LePort Montessori in October 2016 as a floater Assistant Teacher and appreciated the vibrant culture of encouraging students to reach as high as possible academically and to think independently. In her free time, Mrs. Mahmud enjoys cooking, traveling, and hiking.

Pooja Puthran

Head Montessori Teacher (Primary)

Ms. Pooja earned her B.A. in Economics from Mumbai University in India. Following graduation, she took on several corporate roles that leveraged her degree in Economics. During those years, she also actively worked with children as a volunteer teacher focused on fostering moral education in children. Ms. Pooja completed her Montessori training and is inspired by the method's emphasis on independence and self-motivated learning. Outside of work, Ms. Pooja enjoys spending time with family and friends as well as volunteering in the community.

Tabby Malek

Assistant Teacher

Mrs. Tabassum Malek was born and raised in India. After marriage, she lived in the United Kingdom before moving to the United States. Mrs. Malek brings to LePort years of childcare experience, most recently working with infants through preschoolers in the Plano Independent School District’s Employee Child Care Program in Plano, Texas. She earned her Early Childhood Education units at Laguna Technical College and is very excited to join the LePort family.

Jillian Wright

Head Montessori Teacher (Primary)

Ms. Jillian Wright received her B.A. in Sociology from The College of Wooster in Ohio. Her mother was an AMI-trained guide, and as a child during her primary years she attended two Montessori schools in Texas. Once reconnected with Montessori philosophy as an adult, she pursued her master’s in Montessori Education from The University of San Diego as well as her AMI 0-3 and Primary diplomas through the Montessori Institute of San Diego. Through these trainings Ms. Wright has become a strong supporter of the Montessori approach to education. She enjoys sharing her knowledge and passion for the Montessori method. Mrs. Wright is excited to continue collaborate with the talented team of teachers at LePort Schools as they continue to support and create quality personalized educational programs for each child. In her free time, Ms. Wright appreciates skiing, the outdoors, and photography.

Inoka Jayasuriya

Assistant Teacher

Ms. Jayasuriya was educated in Sri Lanka and moved to California in 2012. Since 2012, she has been teaching at Montessori schools and completing her Early Childhood Education courses. She is the mother of two girls and enjoys spending as much time as possible with them. She also enjoys shopping and connecting with friends on Facebook. She loves meeting new people and finding new and fun things to do!

Shirley Checa

Head Montessori Teacher (Primary), Spanish Immersion

Ms. Shirley Checa-Veron travels to us all the way from Toronto! She graduated from the Early Childhood Education program at George Brown College and immediately began working at a Montessori home school where she was initially introduced to the Montessori Method. Prior to joining LePort, Ms. Shirley worked in the Casa and Toddler classroom as an assistant at Grand Avenue Montessori School for two years. In 2014, she decided to venture off in order to pursue the Primary Montessori program at the Foundation for Montessori Education in Toronto. In addition to teaching, Ms. Shirley enjoys photography, playing or watching soccer, and exploring new cities. 

Elva Penaloza

Assistant Teacher, Spanish Immersion

Ms. Elva Aurora Penaloza was born in the city of Santa Ana, California. She graduated in 2014 from the California State University, Fullerton, with a degree in Human Services and a concentration in Child Development. She comes from a very united family, and with four brothers, she quickly learned the responsibilities of taking care of her youngest brothers and helping around the household at a young age. She learned that to achieve one's goals and dreams, one must work hard and have patience.

Ms. Penaloza is the mother of 6-year-old twins, a son named Angel and a daughter named Aurora, and enjoys spending time with her family. Some of her favorite hobbies include gardening, baking, cooking, listening to music, camping, and swimming. On her days off, she loves to go to Disneyland. Ms. Penaloza is bilingual in Spanish.

Angelica Nava

Head Montessori Teacher (Primary), Spanish Immersion

Ms. Angelica Nava was born and raised in California. She graduated from California State University, Fullerton with a bachelor’s degree in Child and Adolescent Development. Ms. Nava worked at a licensed preschool/daycare for five and a half years before exploring educational techniques outside traditional conventions. It is then that she became interested in the Montessori approach to teaching. She is amazed at the things children are capable of doing at such a young age with the proper guidance. She believes there is nothing more rewarding than working with children and being a part of their everyday learning.

In her free time, Ms. Nava enjoys reading and walking her two dogs. She loves spending time with friends and family, especially with her seven nieces and nephews.

Glendy Gomez

Assistant Teacher, Spanish Immersion

Ms. Glendy Gomez has worked in early childhood education since 2010. Before joining LePort Montessori, Ms. Gomez worked at Santa Ana College, Centennial Child Development Center, and Hands Together. She joined the LePort team in November 2016, and graduated with her AA in Child Development in December 2016. In her free time, Ms. Gomez enjoys riding her bike to the beach, watching Netflix, and traveling on road trips.


Shaillina Dhanani

Head Montessori Teacher (Elementary)

Ms. Dhanani’s love of teaching first began in 2001 when she did volunteer work in her local community in India. After graduating from Mata Gujri Girls College RDV University with a B.A., Ms. Dhanani went on to work professionally for the Aga Khan Development Network, an international organization dedicated to furthering human progress in the world.

Ms. Dhanani’s passion for teaching eventually led her to an exploration of Montessori ideas. She completed her AMI Primary Montessori training in 2006 from the Montessori Research and Training Centre in Hyderabad, India. She then went on to pursue a Montessori Elementary training certification and graduated from the AMI Montessori Institute of Milwaukee, WI in 2007. During this time, Ms. Dhanani spent considerable time in both Primary and Lower Elementary classrooms. After graduating, she worked at an acclaimed Montessori school in Texas as an elementary teacher.

Ms. Dhanani was then honored to be a part of the Montessori Model Program (2009) at the United Nations, where she motivated elementary students and facilitated their active participation in the program. Upon completing this program, she moved to California in 2009 and taught in a Lower Elementary classroom at LePort Montessori Westpark. When the opportunity arose to return to the Primary classroom, Ms. Dhanani was thrilled to accept. She focused her attention on 3- to 6-year-olds, who were her first educational interest, and enjoyed applying all of her experiences to her work with her students.

In 2015, after five years of working in LePort's Primary classrooms, Ms. Dhanani returned to teaching elementary students and is now teaching at LePort Huntington Harbor.

Dakota Bizoti

Assistant Teacher

Mr. Dakota Bizoti recently relocated to Huntington Beach from beautiful Flagstaff, AZ. He graduated one year early in high school and enrolled in college courses shortly after. Mr. Dakota worked at another Montessori school for a year working with children 3-12 years old. He worked in the classrooms and organized aftercare activities. His mom is a current Montessori teacher for ages 0-3 at the Huntington Harbor campus. He grew up in a Montessori home and has helped out in Montessori schools since he was very young. Mr. Dakota is also the older brother of two much younger siblings who are ages six and two - they currently attend a Montessori school.

Mr. Dakota plans to continue taking college courses to further his education and has the goal of becoming a Montessori teacher. Other than being in the classroom, Mr. Dakota likes to play baseball and disk golf, go the beach, and cook and spend time with his family.

Jose De Jesus

Head Montessori Teacher (Elementary), Spanish Bilingual

Mr. Jose De Jesus was born and raised in Michigan and graduated with a BA in sociology. In 2002, he began working with at-risk teenagers at Michigan State University and for several years afterwards in Chicago, as he saw a great need for mentors for future generations. A friend suggested he look into becoming a Montessori teacher, and upon researching Dr. Montessori’s method, he felt it was exactly where the traditional school system was failing. Mr. De Jesus graduated from the Elementary training course at the Montessori Institute of Milwaukee in 2010, and he and his supportive wife moved to California, where he began working for LePort Montessori as a Lower Elementary teacher. After the birth of his second daughter, Mr. De Jesus made the difficult decision to stay at home with his daughters, putting his teaching career on hold. Mr. De Jesus is incredibly proud to return to LePort Huntington Harbor to continue the important work of guiding Elementary students as they explore our amazing world!

Mar Aguirre Palacio

Head Montessori Teacher (Elementary), Spanish Bilingual

Mrs. Mar Aguirre Palacio was born and raised in Spain. She holds two bachelor’s degrees in education, one for Infant (0-6 years) and one for Primary (6-12 years). Over the last 10 years, Mrs. Palacio has been working with children of different ages. In 2011, she moved to London to continue improving her English, and began working in a Montessori environment where she discovered her passion. Mrs. Palacio worked in a Montessori environment for 4 years, and during this time, she earned her AMI 3-6 Diploma through the Montessori Institute of London. Mrs. Palacio is very happy to be part of LePort Montessori’s Lower Elementary Bilingual classroom. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling and discovering new places around the world. She also likes long walks on the beach and salsa dancing.

Serenity Fisher

Head Montessori Teacher (Elementary)

Mrs. Fisher grew up in Orange County and received her B.S. and Multiple Subject Teaching Credentials from California State University, Fullerton. Her previous teaching assignments have included elementary classes in both private and public schools, as well as pre-algebra through Algebra II in a junior high setting.

Mrs. Fisher’s extensive background in mathematics has offered excellent preparation for teaching the enriched curriculum LePort Schools offers our students. She strives to utilize her creativity in the classroom, so that each and every child becomes curious and confident in the field of mathematics. Outside of the classroom, she enjoys traveling with her husband, spending time with her family, and relaxing by the beach.

Maria Anderson

Head Montessori Teacher (Elementary)

Ms. Maria Anderson’s childhood was split between the cultures of Tokyo, Japan and the East Coast of the United States. After spending her tween and teenage years in Virginia, she pursued a BA in political science at Gakushuin University in Tokyo. She enjoyed life in the corporate world as a simultaneous interpreter, yet she could not shake off the peaceful scene of a Montessori classroom that a friend shared in a video. With a leap of faith, she crossed the ocean and took up training at the Washington Montessori Institute. There​,​ she obtained a master’s degree in education at Loyola College in Maryland and became certified as a Montessori Elementary teacher.

Ms. Maria served as a ​L​​​​​ower ​E​lementary ​Head T​eacher for a number of years at a well-established Montessori school. In 2015​, she joined ​LePort ​Montessori. It is also her joy to see her own children blossom at LePort. In her spare time, she enjoys swimming, jogging, and hiking with her family.

Additional Staff

Leland Bourdages

Assistant Teacher

Ms. Bourdages has enjoyed working in the field of childcare with children ages infant to thirteen years old since 1998. Prior to joining LePort, she assisted at various preschool and child development centers in the San Fernando Valley and Long Beach areas. While working at the Isabel Patterson Center at Cal State Long Beach, she attended teacher training retreats geared to educate staff in conflict resolution skills in order to foster independence, critical thinking and social development within children. Upon receiving her bachelor’s degree in 2004, she began working as a lead elementary art teacher at Montessori on the Lake in Lake Forest, CA. Ms. Bourdages greatly enjoys working with infants because of the emphasis on experiential and sensorial learning.

Angela Yamamoto

Assistant Teacher

Ms. Angela completed her Early Childhood Education studies at Santa Ana College. Prior to joining LePort, Ms. Angela worked in childcare for many years at the Lindbergh Child Development Center in Costa Mesa. In her spare time, Ms. Angela enjoys walking on the beach and watching action movies.

Taraneh Massoumi

Assistant Teacher

Mrs. Tara Massoumi has been working with different age groups of children from preschool to primary and high school since 1983. She has a Master's degree in Ancient Cultures and Languages and a Bachelor's degree in English Literature. She also has an Associate degree in primary school education. She received her Early Childhood Education certificate from North Orange County Community College. In her free time, Mrs. Tara loves spending time with her family, doing yoga, swimming, and reading.

Cristina Mayorazgo

Assistant Teacher

Cristina Mayorazgo was born and raised in Santa Ana, California. She graduated from Godinez Fundamental High School and attended Santa Ana College. During her time at Santa Ana College, Ms. Mayorazgo has completed over 30 Early Childhood Education units and will soon be completing her Associate's Degree. Before working for LePort, Ms. Mayorazgo worked as a substitute preschool teacher. In her spare time, Ms. Mayorazgo enjoys reading books.

Mabel Martinez

Assistant Teacher

Ms. Mabel Martinez was born and raised in Mexico, and she moved to California when she was 9 years old. While taking classes to complete her American Sign Language certification, Ms Martinez was enrolled in a Child Development course. Knowing it would be helpful to her mother’s daycare, Ms. Martinez signed up for more Child Development classes. In her coursework, she learned about the Montessori Method and fell in love with it. She is thrilled to be working at LePort Huntington Harbor and to be part of assisting the children here. In her spare time, Ms. Martinez enjoys relaxing by reading, dancing, and hanging out with her friends.
Brittney Rojo

Brittney Rojo

Assistant Teacher

Mrs. Brittney Rojo was born and raised in Buena Park, California. She always knew she wanted to work with children and completed her Early Childhood Education units at Fullerton College and Laguna Tech. Mrs. Rojo’s first introduction to the Montessori philosophy was in 2007 when she began working for a school in Fullerton. She instantly fell in love with the Montessori method. Mrs. Rojo enjoys watching the children grow and seeing the interactions in mixed age classroom. Mrs. Rojo’s daughter also attends the Huntington Harbor campus, and she is very excited to watch her own daughter now grow in our Montessori program. In her spare time, Mrs. Rojo enjoys spending time with her husband and her daughter, and enjoys going to the movies, reading, and scrapbooking.

Lauri Federwitz

Assistant Teacher

Bio coming soon.

Alexandra Kahm

Assistant Teacher

Ms. Kahm graduated from the California State University, Long Beach with a degree in Communications. She partnered her degree in communications with her love for animals and lived in South Africa for three months educating the public about cheetah conservation. After returning home and resuming her nanny position, she realized she wanted to pursue a career in early education. She has become very interested in child development and has been taking classes at Long Beach City College. Ms. Kahm looks forward to beginning her teaching career at LePort.

Mary Boatman

Outdoor Education Teacher

Mary Boatman has been teaching for 26 years. She started her teaching career as a substitute teacher for Orange County Unified School, and has also worked as a Preschool teacher. During this time Ms Boatman also gained experience as a personal trainer. She now devotes her teaching time to physical education.

In her free time, Ms Boatman enjoys playing sports and working out. She supports the Lakers whenever she can and also enjoys gourmet cooking.

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