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LePort Montessori Irvine Spectrum Staff

Spectrum North and Spectrum South Campuses

School Administration

Krista Bartolome

Head of School

Ms. Krista Bartolome is an experienced educational administrator, passionate Montessorian, and first and foremost--a parent. Driven by her strong desire to see children and adults reach their fullest potential, she takes pride in providing the best education possible to the families under her care.

In her free time, Ms. Krista enjoys walking around town with her husband, two young children, and dog Annie; immersing herself in a mystery novel; window shopping for her plant collection, and indulging in new local eateries (recommendations always welcome!).

Karyn Gharib

Business Manager

Karyn holds a Master of Arts degree in German from the University of Oregon, and has over 15 years of experience teaching in English as a Second Language and early childhood classrooms. She also served as Head of School at Montessori preschools in the Atlanta and Portland metropolitan areas for over a decade.

Karyn became intrigued by the Montessori method during her undergraduate studies in education. She maintains a deep interest for this unique approach due to its profound respect for each child’s individuality, careful nurturing of each child’s curiosity, and on-going encouragement allowing each child to reach his/her greatest potential. She joined LePort in 2014, and is thrilled to be taking part in the invaluable work being done to guide children’s learning and development from infancy all the way through middle school.

In her free time, Karyn enjoys spending time with family, movies, music, cooking, and exploring the gorgeous natural surroundings in Orange County.

Jen Greaux

Administrative Support

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.

Ana Rivas

Head of School

Ms. Ana is an educational entrepreneur, homeschooling parent, and lifelong learner. Her experience working with children dates back to her teenage years when she took an opportunity to assist in a home daycare. From that moment, she was inspired to guide young children--particularly toddlers. Her determination for understanding their psychology and behavior led her to fill positions such as Director of Curriculum, Assistant Director, Montessori Specialist, "Parent and Child" Instructor, and Head Teacher in various educational settings. Ana has experience coaching teachers at schools on the east and west coast. She has served as an advisor and guest lecturer for training centers and schools in China and the Philippines, furthering the impact of Montessori education worldwide. Ana received a Montessori Assistants to Infancy Diploma from the Montessori Institute of San Diego. She is an alumna at the University of Hartford and is currently in the midst of Primary training at the Montessori Training Center of Northeast.

When she's not immersed in Montessori, Ana enjoys spending time with her family, exploring nature, and creating art. Ms. Ana believes education happens at every moment and in many forms. She is honored to support LePort's Montessori team as they aim to provide quality education for children across the nation.

When Ms. Ana meets a new student, she frequently recalls a quote by Dr. Maria Montessori: “It is the child who makes the man, and no man exists who was not made by the child he once was.”

Wendy DeCosta

Business Manager

A native of Orange County, California, Mrs. Wendy DeCosta began her career with LePort Montessori in 2013 as the Administrative Director for the Huntington Harbor campus, bringing a new level of excellence and service to our cherished families and staff. In 2015, Mrs. DeCosta took an opportunity to join the team at LePort Orchard Hills and serve as Administrative Director of this young and vibrant campus. With her expertise, professionalism, and warm, caring personality, Mrs. DeCosta is a true asset to the Orchard Hills students, families and staff.

Prior to joining LePort, Mrs. DeCosta operated her own successful, licensed, in-home family day care for 2 years, offering high quality, nurturing care for a number of wonderful children, including those with special needs. As any of the parents she has worked with will attest, Mrs. DeCosta’s caring warmth, compassion, and love for children is a true gift. This, coupled with her rich palette of business management and operational experience from the spa/salon and apparel industries, makes Mrs. DeCosta uniquely suited to foster the continued success and growth of our Orchard Hills campus and offer her wholehearted support to all LePort students and their families.

In her free time, Mrs. DeCosta enjoys spending time with her husband of 18 years and their two children, as well as camping, hiking, running, and spending long days at the beach.

Infant

Jennifer Lee

Assistant Teacher

Bio coming soon.

Jodie Bato

Head Montessori Teacher (Infant)

Ms. Jodie Bato was born and raised in southern California. Her love for children and passion for education have set her on a path towards a degree in Early Childhood Education. Before joining LePort, Ms. Jodie spent time volunteering at the UCI Medical Center in their Child Life Volunteer program where she provided support services for children and their families to ease their feelings of discomfort and fear brought on by hospitalizations. In her spare time, Ms. Jodie enjoys spending time with family and friends and learning new skills.

Lilia Lemus

Assistant Teacher

Ms. Lilia Lemus was born in Mexico and raised in California. She received her Associate’s Degree in Arts from Santa Ana College and is currently working on her bachelor's degree at California State University, Long Beach. Ms. Lemus has worked with children for over 10 years from infants to five-year-olds. Prior to joining LePort Montessori, she worked at a Montessori school in Lake Forest. From an early age, she volunteered at Pio Pico Elementary School, where she herself attended school. She recently got married in May 2017. She loves hiking and drawing. In addition to English, she is also fluent in Spanish.

Brenda Chavez

Head Montessori Teacher (Infant)

Ms. Brenda was born in Guatemala and moved to the United States when she was a young child. At an early age, she helped take care of her siblings, and from that time forward she set her sights on a career in early childhood education. Before starting with LePort, Ms. Brenda worked as a nanny for nearly two years. She later enrolled in the child development program at Cerritos College, earning an associate degree in Early Childhood Development. She went on to earn her AMI Montessori Diploma at the Montessori Institute of San Diego in 2018.

Fariba Bavafa

Assistant Teacher

Ms. Fariba Bavafa has 20 years of background in Agricultural Research. After immigrating to the United States with her family, her love for children inspired her to pursue a certificate of Early Childhood Development from Irvine Valley College. She had a wonderful experience volunteering at IVC's Child Development Center. She is blessed with this great opportunity to work at LePort Montessori. Ms. Fariba loves to see independence in children, and also loves to work with children in all ages especially infants.

In her free time, Ms. Fariba enjoys meditation, reading, traveling, and spending time with her husband and her two wonderful sons.

Amber Sherwin

Assistant Teacher

Bio coming soon.

Toddler

Samantha Peraza

Assistant Teacher

Bio coming soon.

Priya Rajkumar

Head Montessori Teacher (Toddler)

Ms. Priya Rajkumar received her AMI Montessori training at the Montessori Institute of San Diego and her Early Childhood Education units at Irvine Valley College in 2014. She earned her Bachelor's degree in Food Science and Nutrition at SNDT University in India. She is a mother of two young children and understands the impression that quality early childhood education can make in a child's life, boosting their confidence and encouraging them to learn. She volunteered at her child's Early Childhood Learning Center and continues to volunteer at Alderwood Elementary in Irvine. Ms. Priya is very passionate about working with young children, helping them learn while encouraging their natural curiosity. She unwinds by listening to music, reading or playing board games with her children.

Kareen Espinoza

Assistant Teacher

Bio coming soon.

Jamie Kim

Head Montessori Teacher (Toddler)

Ms. Jamie Kim earned her B.A. in Mathematics for Secondary Education from San Diego State University in 2007. Her plan had been to pursue a teaching credential to become a Mathematics teacher, but this plan changed when she had her own children, and realized her love and fascination for the very beginning stages of child development. Ms. Kim learned about the Montessori method from a family member, and was immediately interested. She researched more and more, and ultimately decided to pursue a career in Montessori education. Ms. Kim earned her AMI Assistants to Infancy Diploma from the Montessori Institute of San Diego. She lives with her husband and her two young children in Orange County, where she and her family enjoy spending time at beaches, parks, and libraries.

Lisa Burt

Assistant Teacher

Ms. Lisa is a life-long resident of California. After raising three children and volunteering in many of their activities, she decided to pursue her interest in assisting in the education of young children. She is excited to able to contribute her knowledge to LePort Montessori. In her spare time Ms. Lisa Likes spending her time with family, cooking, gardening, and just being outdoors.

Emilia Guimaraes Ribeiro

Assistant Teacher

Bio coming soon.

Ivette De Haro

Head Montessori Teacher (Toddler), Spanish Immersion

Ms. Ivette De Haro was raised in South Orange County. She attended Saddleback College where she completed her A.A. in Liberal Studies. While attending college, her primary focus was on Childhood Development. Her love for children has also inspired her to pursue a Certificate in Early Childhood Development. She worked as a nanny for several years, and during this time she was exposed to the Montessori method through the children for whom she cared. Ms. De Haro’s greatest joy is helping children explore. She completed her Montessori Diploma at the Montessori Institute of San Diego.

Maria Villegas

Assistant Teacher, Spanish Immersion

Mrs. Maria Villegas is a mother of three children, one son and two daughters. She comes from a traditional Mexican family, from a little state in Mexico called Morelos. Her first language was Spanish but she developed an interest in English and worked toward bilingualism. She is currently enrolled at Santa Ana College, taking child development classes to get her Associates Degree. Prior to taking child development courses, she received her nurse assistant license where she worked as a certified nurse for an Alzheimer facility for 14 years. Although she was happy with her position, her true passion is working with children. In her free time she enjoys spending time with her husband, three children and her dog.

Kindergarten / Preschool

Pilar Costello

Head Montessori Teacher (Primary)

Mrs. Pilar Costello was born and raised in Lima, Peru. She earned her B.S. in Accounting from Ricardo Palma University, and specializations in Management and Finances from ESAN Graduate School of Business. Mrs. Costello worked for over ten years in the business field until she relocated to United States.

Mrs. Costello became interested in the Education field and the Montessori philosophy through a friend who is a Montessori teacher. She earned her Early Childhood Education credits from Saddleback College and joined LePort in 2014. She completed her AMI Montessori Diploma at the Montessori Institute of San Diego in 2019. In her free time, Mrs. Costello enjoys spending time with her husband and her dog.

Emma Jones

Head Montessori Teacher (Primary)

Ms. Emma earned her B.A. in Marketing from the University of Thailand, and received her primary diploma from MISD. She has worked with children from 3 to 6 years old for over a decade. Ms. Emma has traveled abroad throughout the Middle East and Southeast Asia, and volunteered at the United Nations Organization. She enjoys learning about different cultures and has studied many languages including French, Japanese, Turkish and Arabic, in addition to her native Farsi. Ms. Emma has a son and husband that make her life colorful, and she enjoys skydiving, biking, skiing and writing in her free time.

Claudia Alberson

Assistant Teacher

Before starting at LePort, Ms. Claudia worked in the retail and customer service fields. She has an associate degree in Humanities and Communications from Santa Ana College. While completing her AA degree, Ms. Claudia took several early childhood education courses and developed a passion for working with children. She is continuing her studies, working towards her goal of a bachelor's degree in Childhood Development. In her spare time, Ms. Claudia enjoys reading books and learning new things, such as American Sign Language.

Roohi Qadeer

Head Montessori Teacher (Primary)

Ms. Roohi has a bachelor degree in Education and a master degree in English Literature. Ms. Roohi completed her Montessori Primary training through the Association Montessori Internationale. In addition, she has also taken a variety of early childhood courses, supervision and administration units, and supervision of adults in early childhood programs courses. Ms. Roohi has more than 18 years of experience in Montessori education, both as a Head Teacher in Toddler and Primary programs and as the former director of a Kindergarten program. Ms. Roohi volunteered as the treasurer, vice president, and auditor in the PTA at her son's elementary school. Her passion is derived from the love of watching children develop and grow into capable and independent individuals.

In her leisure time, she enjoys traveling, cooking, and of course, spending time with her husband and my son.

Perla Alvarez

Assistant Teacher

Bio coming soon.

Angela Naito

Head Montessori Teacher (Primary)

Mrs. Naito grew up in Toronto, Canada before coming to California for high school. She received her B.A. degree in liberal studies (education) from the California State University Fullerton in 2007, and a multiple subject credential from the same university in 2008. Mrs. Naito has always had a passion for working with children. She has been a tutor of children with special needs, and discovered how she could meet the unique and individual needs of all children through the Montessori approach.

Mrs. Naito started with LePort as a Primary Assistant Teacher at the Woodbridge campus. She knew early on that she wanted to lead her own classroom, so she completed the Association Montessori Internationale Primary training at Montessori Institute of San Diego in June 2015. Mrs. Naito transitioned into the position of Primary Junior Teacher in fall 2015, then enthusiastically accepted the opportunity to take on the role of Primary Head Teacher at the Spectrum South campus in April 2016.

Mrs. Naito is happily married to her wonderful husband, Brian, and recently gave birth to third child. She is very industrious with all crafts and creative endeavors, from film editing to knitting baby blankets.

Maday Bello Martinez

Junior Montessori Teacher

Ms. Maday Martinez was born and raised in Veracruz, Mexico. She received her Bachelor's Degree in Early Childhood Education from Tamaulipas, Mexico. Her experience with Montessori began as an assistant teacher with infants. Falling in love with the philosophy, she decided to pursue her passion of working with young children, and started taking a certification on Leadership and Overview of Montessori at Early Childhood Level Montessori Fundamentals in The Center for Guided Montessori Studies institution. Inspired to keep learning, she received her second certification in Adventure in the Arts. She is pursuing a certification in Montessori Primary and for Assistant Teacher for Elementary levels by AMI Stoppani Institute.

She is very enthusiastic to be part of the Montessori philosophy and provide enrichment in our Spanish immersion program at LePort Montessori.

Neda Farabi

Head Montessori Teacher (Primary)

Ms. Neda Farabi was born in Iran and received a master's degree in Educational Psychology from BIHE. She then became a professor in the Psychology Department there, teaching several courses in preschool education. In addition, Ms. Neda worked for five years in a child development center in Tehran, serving as an educational director and counselor for children with learning disorders before she and her family relocated to the United States in 2013. Ms. Neda started working at the LePort Spectrum North campus in 2014, and from that time set her sights on completing the Montessori Primary training. She obtained her Association Montessori Internationale Primary 3- to 6-year diploma through the Montessori Institute of San Diego in May 2017. Ms. Neda has two wonderful children and a loving husband who have all been very supportive of her. Her personal interests include hiking, reading and memorizing poems, reading books, playing guitar, watching movies, and various social activities.

Daniela Becerra

Head Montessori Teacher (Primary), Spanish Immersion

Ms. Daniela Becerra completed her AMI Montessori Primary training at the Instituto Paolini de Puebla A.C. center in Puebla, Mexico. She has a bachelor’s degree in Education from Universidad Iberoamericana in Torreón, Mexico. After her Montessori training, she was the lead teacher for three years at Montessori Kali school’s Primary class in Los Cabos, Mexico. She is excited to be a part of the LePort community and to provide enrichment in our Spanish Immersion program.

Adriana Ramirez

Assistant Teacher, Spanish Immersion

Adriana Ramirez holds a bachelor's degree in Liberal Arts from California State University, Fullerton. Before transferring to Cal State Fullerton, Adriana attended Santa Ana College. During that time, she worked as an assistant manager at a restaurant in Lake Forest. After nearly 5 years on the management team, she decided to pursue her passion of working with young children, and accepted a position as an assistant teacher and inclusions aide at the YMCA. Adriana is always excited to see her students and assist their ongoing learning, because she believes that learning should be fun. Adriana is a fluent speaker of both English and Spanish. In her free time, she enjoys reading novels, listening to music, and visiting museums. Once in awhile she gets inspired by the sunset or the clouds, and practices her talent as an artist. Overall, Adriana strives to be happy and is always enthusiastic about learning something new.

Gabriela Del Valle

Head Montessori Teacher (Primary), Spanish Immersion

Ms. Gabriela Del Valle grew up in Mexico, and received her Bachelor of Science Degree in 2002 from the National Polytechnic Institute in Mexico City. She has always been passionate about languages, travel, and different cultures, and so she chose to pursue training as a second language teacher (she received her Second Language Certification from the University of California, Irvine in 2008). As for Montessori, the Montessori Method has been a part of Ms. Del Valle’s life from the time she was a child. She grew up in a family that valued the Montessori Method, having witnessed its wonderful outcomes over the course of two generations. So, when it came time to send her own oldest son to school, Ms. Del Valle chose to enroll him in a Montessori preschool. Over the course of his first year in school, she was newly amazed by his happiness and growth in the program. Thereafter, she eagerly enrolled herself in the AMI Montessori training program. Ms. Del Valle is a native Spanish speaker whose own children are bilingual, and she deeply believes in the value of a language immersion program to achieve bilingualism from an early age. She is thrilled to have found the combination of both Montessori and language immersion education at LePort Montessori.

Frida Yeo

Head Montessori Teacher (Primary), Spanish Immersion

Frida Yeo has her bachelor's degree in Economics and Management from the University Of Surabaya, Indonesia. She got married and moved to the United States with her husband and gave birth to two beautiful girls. After volunteering at her children's school, she became interested in working with children, and went on to earn her Advanced Early Childhood Certificate from the University Of California, Los Angeles and her AMI Diploma at the Montessori Institute of San Diego. Frida is Montessori Primary trained.

Frida worked one year at First Methodist Church Preschool in Santa Monica and three years at Clover Elementary School in Los Angeles as an Instructional Assistant. She likes to spend time with her family in her free time. She enjoys traveling and cooking with her children.

Elementary

Rachel Jasko

Head Montessori Teacher (Elementary)

Ms. Rachel Jasko grew up in Pennsylvania and earned her Elementary Education degree at Susquehanna University. She started her teaching career at international schools teaching 1st and 2nd grade in Japan, China and Thailand. In between one of her international experiences, Ms. Rachel was an assistant teacher at a Montessori school in Pittsburgh. After that year, she knew the Montessori world was where she wanted to be!

Ms. Rachel then moved to California, continued to work as an assistant teacher at various Montessori schools and completed her AMI Elementary Montessori training in San Diego in 2020. In her free time, Ms. Rachel likes going to the beach, hiking, dancing and attending live music events.

Afsaneh Namiranian

Assistant Teacher

Bio coming soon.

Lorine Dapic

Head Montessori Teacher (Elementary)

Mrs. Dapic was born in Brazil, with strong influences from her Italian and Spanish family. These frequent interactions with languages and cultures inspired her to attain a bachelor’s degree in German Literature. She had previous professional and personal experience in the field of education, but it wasn’t until motherhood that she discovered her true calling. Prior to joining LePort, she volunteered for two different schools in Southern California. She believes there is always something new we can learn from children. In her free time, Mrs. Dapic enjoys reading, exploring the world with her children, and spending time with friends.

Leila Naeemi

Assistant Teacher

Bio coming soon.

Lisa Kingman

Head Montessori Teacher (Elementary)

Ms. Lisa Kingman's passion for Montessori education started as an undergrad while attending the University of Alaska in Fairbanks, Alaska, where she earned a B.Ed. followed by an AMI Montessori Primary Diploma at the Maria Montessori Institute London UK, and later an AMS Level 1 Elementary Credential at the Houston Montessori Center in Houston, Texas. Ms. Kingman enjoys working as part of the talented team of teachers at LePort Montessori to support and create quality personalized educational programs for each child. In her free time, Ms. Kingman appreciates hiking, the outdoors, and photography.

Isabel Jacobs

Head Montessori Teacher (Elementary)

Ms. Isabel Jacobs grew up in Los Angeles, California. From a young age, she knew she wanted to teach and incorporate music wherever she landed. She made a decision to get her Bachelors of Music in Music education from the University of Redlands. Shortly after, she learned about Maria Montessori and fell in love with the philosophy. She got a job as a lower elementary guide and found that while she loved the younger group of kids, teaching upper elementary was her true calling.

In her free time, she enjoys playing in string quartets, spending time with her family and cooking. She is excited to share her knowledge on music!

Middle School

Cassandra Kolacinski

Head Montessori Teacher (Middle School)

Mrs. Kolacinski was born and raised in Orange County. She received her B.A. degree from the University of California-Irvine in Psychology and Social Behavior. After working for a year for a sales and marketing company, she decided to go back to school to pursue her true passion of teaching. She went back to the University of California-Irvine and graduated with her M.A in Teaching, along with a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential. She later added a Single Subject Mathematics Credential.

Mrs. Kolacinski has taught Math 6, Pre-Algebra and Algebra 1 in San Diego County and Los Angeles County, she is ecstatic to have returned to her native Orange County! She is very excited to be working at LePort and truly believes in their teaching principles and approach. Mrs. Kolacinski hopes to create a love and excitement for learning in her students, by making learning meaningful, relevant and enjoyable!

Outside of the classroom, she enjoys traveling, trying new things and spending time with her husband and dog, Layla.

Cindy Tabin

Head Montessori Teacher (Middle School)

Mrs. Cindy Tabin received her bachelor’s degree in Liberal Studies from the University of California, Riverside and her Multiple Subject Teaching Credential from California State University, Fullerton. Mrs. Tabin has worked with children for many years, both in and out of the classroom. Prior to joining LePort Montessori, Mrs.Tabin taught fifth grade, conducted private tutoring for a variety of ages, and managed a Mathnasium math learning center. She has been fortunate to have had opportunities to teach students with a range of different ability levels, from gifted students to students with special needs, and is keenly aware of the need to individualize to a student’s particular skill level. Mrs. Tabin also believes in the importance of connecting personally with her students, mentoring them to grow as responsible and successful citizens. Outside of work, she enjoys spending time with her husband, family, friends, and cat. She loves to play sports--on any given day of the week, chances are you’ll find her at one of the many parks in Orange County, playing softball!

Additional Staff

Gabriela Espinoza

Assistant Teacher

Bio coming soon.

Maryam Derakhshanian

Assistant Teacher

Bio coming soon.

Nilab Popal

Assistant Teacher

Mrs. Nilab Popal graduated from California State University Northridge with a B.A. in Linguistics and a minor in English as a Second Language. She was born and raised in Germany and moved to California as an adult. Originally from a large Afghan family, Mrs. Popal’s bubbly personality and experience in customer service come in handy when working with the children. She is multilingual in German, Farsi, Dari and English and believes in the importance of a good education. Her goal has always been to work in a school environment. She is fascinated with how children develop language skills. She enjoys connecting multiple languages and their commonalities to her life. Her name, Nilab, means “Blue Water” in Farsi.

Diana Gonzalez

Assistant Teacher

Bio coming soon.

Amanda Shamsnia

Assistant Teacher

Bio coming soon.

Maria Esquivel

Assistant Teacher

Bio coming soon.
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Joyce So

Joyce So

Assistant Teacher

Bio coming soon.

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