LePort Montessori Irvine Spectrum Staff

Spectrum North and Spectrum South Campuses

School Administration

Katherine Yang

Head of School

Mrs. Katherine Yang learned of LePort Montessori while researching schools for her daughter and was excited to find an opportunity that combined her varied interests and experience. In the fall of 2014, she led the launch of LePort's very first Montessori Mandarin Immersion program and campus in Irvine. Mrs. Yang received her B.A. in Sociology and Music Performance from the University of California, Irvine and her M.A. in Arts Administration from New York University. Prior to joining LePort, she worked in the field of performing arts administration and previously served as the Director of Education and Community Programs for Pacific Chorale, where she worked with local colleges, high schools and elementary schools to launch new education and outreach initiatives for students. Before pursuing her graduate education, Ms. Yang spent time as a foreign student in Beijing, China. While in Beijing, she studied Mandarin at Beijing Normal University, took a few Chinese cultural courses at Peking University and also taught English through music and movement to local preschool students. In addition to her graduate studies in music and arts management, Mrs. Yang also worked with after-school Mandarin Chinese language programs in both California and New York.

Throughout her years at LePort, Mrs. Yang has learned so much from our community of LePort Montessori educators and tries her best to incorporate the philosophy in all aspects of life. Outside of work, Katherine is a mother of three (all who attend LePort!), and also enjoys traveling, attending classical orchestral concerts and occasionally playing rock drums!

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.

Donna Koontz

Education Director

Ms. Donna Koontz brings over 35 years of experience in the field of education, specifically Montessori. From sharing music in infant classrooms, to integrating the philosophy in memory care with elders, her love of Montessori education knows no bounds.

While pursuing a degree in Elementary Ed./Learning and Behavioral Disorders, a chance encounter at a Montessori school led to a summer job as an assistant and the rest is history. Ms. Koontz completed her AMI training in London, England and went on to teach at the primary and lower elementary levels and honed her leadership skills while directing several Montessori Schools in Los Angeles. Ms. Koontz also brings over 20 years of parent education and staff development experience to LePort and a deep joy of building community within a school.

Ms. Koontz spends much of her free time playing guitar and singing with her husband, continuing to seek adventure locally and abroad, and spending time with her daughter, who is a former Montessori child and living in San Francisco.

Ayanthi Ratnayake

Head of School

Ms. Ayanthi Ratnayake was born and raised in St. Paul, Minnesota. Her first experience with Montessori came as a child. She attended the same school where her mother taught primary children. She remembers some of her favorite Montessori materials from childhood: the color boxes and dressing frames. In hindsight, she believes that her experience as a Montessori child has led her to be more flexible in thought and more accepting of others.

Ms. Ayanthi completed her B.A. in psychology and worked at a Montessori school and a traditional preschool for over seven years. She completed her AMI Diploma at the Montessori Institute of San Diego. In conjunction with her diploma, she earned a master's degree in education from Loyola University Maryland. She feels strongly that the Montessori approach provides a holistic approach towards learning. She loves that each day of working with young children brings new experiences and growth over time.

Outside of teaching, Ms. Ayanthi enjoys traveling and learning about different cultures, trying new restaurants, listening to music, shopping, and last but not least, spending time with family and friends.

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.


Stacey Dee

Head Montessori Teacher (Infant)

Ms. Stacey Dee’s love for teaching began during her senior year of high school while assisting in a toddler classroom and teaching gymnastics. She attended California State University, San Marcos and received a B.A. in Liberal Studies and a minor in Spanish. She received her Early Childhood Teaching Certificate from Riverside Community College in 2008, and completed her AMI Montessori teacher training for the 0 to 3 age group at the Montessori Institute of San Diego. Ms. Dee joined LePort in the fall of 2009. She studied the Montessori philosophy under the direction of Ms. Amy Kwong, the Head of School at LePort Irvine Orchard Hills. Ms. Dee finds the “Ah-ha!” moment the most rewarding part of teaching. She loves to see children master the materials and take pride in their work. In her spare time, Ms. Dee loves spending time with her daughter, who is also a LePort student.

Dunia Dawood

Assistant Teacher

Mrs. Dawood graduated cum laude from Irvine Valley College and holds an Associates of Science Degree in Child Development. Additionally, she earned a certificate in Child Development. Mrs. Dawood has a great passion for working with children and is committed to assisting them in their growth and development. She has worked and volunteered at various schools, assisting children from infants to age 12. Outside of the classroom, Mrs. Dawood enjoys reading and spending time with her family.

Pinar Uludag

Assistant Teacher

Bio coming soon.

Jaya Bhandaram

Assistant Teacher

Mrs. Jaya Bhandaram grew up in India where she earned her B.S in Education and attained her M.S. in Biological Sciences. She has a passion for working with young children and has been in the educational field since 1988. For 10 years, she was a science teacher for all age groups. In 1999, she relocated to the U.S. where she pursued her CBEST credentials and worked at the ABC Unified School District, as well as the Placentia Yorba Linda Unified School District. She went on to complete her Early Childhood Education certificate from North Orange County Community College and then began her Montessori career in Southern California. She joined LePort in 2012 and could not be happier. Her favorite things about being with the children are their innocent smiles and the pride they have when learning new things. When not in the classroom, Mrs. Bhandaram enjoys cooking, listening to music and spending time with her husband and two daughters.

Jodie Bato

Junior Montessori Teacher

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.

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.

Amber Sherwin

Assistant Teacher

Bio coming soon.


Diana Reynolds

Head Montessori Teacher (Toddler)

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.

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.

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.

Ana Marques

Head Montessori Teacher (Toddler)

Mrs. Ana Marques is originally from Brazil, where she worked as an administrator at private schools for many years. After immigrating to the United States with her family, Mrs. Marques focused her career more directly on childcare, working for private preschools, raising her own son, volunteering at his school, and nannying. She studied child development at Saddleback College and Laguna Technical College, and hopes to earn her master’s degree in this area. In her spare time, Mrs. Marques enjoys cooking, reading, and doing outdoor activities with her husband and her son. Ms. Marques completed her AMI Montessori teacher training for the 0 to 3 age group at the Montessori Institute of San Diego.

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.

Laleh Jamali

Assistant Teacher

Ms. Laleh Jamali grew up in Iran and moved to California in 2004 with her family. Ms. Laleh earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Applied Chemistry from AZAD University in Tehran, Iran.

Ms. Laleh was first introduced to LePort when she decided to enroll her youngest daughter in the Primary program at the Westpark campus in Irvine. From the time her daughter started attending LePort, Ms. Laleh developed a passion for the Montessori philosophy and for working with children at LePort. She then decided to go back to school to earn her Early Childhood Education Certificate so she could achieve her goal. Ms. Laleh joined the Orchard Hills campus at the start of the 2015 school year.

In her spare time, Ms. Laleh enjoys spending time with her husband and their two daughters. They enjoy going to the movies, parks, and the beach with their close friends.

Ifra Khoso

Head Montessori Teacher (Primary)

Ms. Ifra Khoso has a passion for learning about human growth and development. After Ms. Khoso earned her Bachelor’s degree in Education, she worked as a teacher and stumbled upon the writings of Maria Montessori, which immediately caught her interest. She enrolled and completed her AMI Primary Diploma and has subsequently worked as a Head Teacher in Montessori schools in Southern California for the last 16 years. The mother of two Montessori children, now in middle school and high school, she has enjoyed seeing the incredible development and progress that children make in Montessori environments. Aside from her passion for working with children, she also enjoys extreme sports such as sky diving, bungee jumping, and mud runs. In her spare time she enjoys writing, cooking, modeling for causes, traveling, being a health/workout nut, and watching cricket and football.

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.

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.

Mayday Bello

Assistant Teacher

Bio coming soon.

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.

Frida Yeo

Junior Montessori Teacher

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.

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.


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.

Cassandra Kolacinski

Montessori Elementary Math and Science Specialist

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.

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.

Elizabeth Lyons

Head Montessori Teacher (Elementary)

Ms. Elizabeth Lyons has been involved in education for many years. In high school, Ms. Lyons was inspired by the way her English teacher opened her mind to new ideas. She also admired the way he made the classroom feel like a safe place to learn and discuss freely. Prior to joining LePort, she volunteered at after school programs and summer camps. Upon receiving her bachelor's degree in Communication Studies from San Francisco State University, she worked as a tutor which eventually inspired her to pursue a career in education. Ms. Lyons decided to continue her education through UCLA Extension and received her Early Childhood Education Certification. She traveled to Bergamo, Italy to complete her AMI Montessori Elementary training in 2017. In her spare time, Ms. Lyons enjoys being outdoors whether it is hiking, swimming in the ocean, or practicing yoga in the park.

Gabriela Kenney

Head Montessori Teacher (Elementary)

Ms. Kenney received her bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Vanguard University in Costa Mesa. Additionally, she was a member of the women’s soccer team for four years. Ms. Kenney has always had a passion for children and particularly enjoys helping them succeed in every aspect of their lives. Prior to joining LePort, she coached high school soccer and worked in the behavioral health field as a behavior coach. Ms. Kenney worked with children who suffered from severe behavioral and/or mental health issues and ultimately assisted with the overall improvement in their day-to-day lives. In her free time, Ms. Kenney enjoys playing soccer, making crafts, spending time with her friends and family, as well as watching her nephew grow from day to day.

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.

Middle School

Steven Sarwine

Head Montessori Teacher (Middle School)

Mr. Sarwine earned his B.A. from California State University, Fullerton, where he studied English. He found his passion for education during his early years working for summer camps and after school programs. This passion blossomed after teaching in both large and small classroom settings. He formed a strong affinity towards history through his years of teaching multiple levels, reading profusely, and even traveling to various destinations around the world. 

In Mr. Sarwine’s spare time, he would most likely be found with his nose in a book, camping with friends or family, walking his dog, or cheering on his favorite team, the LAA Angels. 

Additional Staff

Manoha Ratnayake

Junior Montessori Teacher

Ms. Mano moved to the United States in 1979 after completing her AMI training in Sri Lanka. She moved to Minnesota and has over 40 years of experience working with children as a lead teacher and director in Montessori schools as well as traditional preschools. After spending decades in Minnesota, she and her family moved to California due to the warmer weather. She obtained her ECE credits shortly after moving to CA and has been working in Montessori schools ever since.

Ms. Mano believes that every day is a new day and is full of potential. She loves the energy that young children bring. She believes in the Montessori principle: "show me how to do it for myself," and enjoys seeing this come to life in the classroom.

When not at work, Ms. Mano enjoys spending time with her family, going to the beach, going to plays, gardening, meditating, and exercising. A fun fact about Ms. Mano is that her daughter is also a Montessori teacher and works at LePort Montessori Carlsbad Village!

Claudia Alberson

Assistant Teacher

Ms. Claudia Alberson joined the LePort Spectrum South team in March 2016. 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.

Mojgan Hosseintehrani

Assistant Teacher

Ms. Mojgan “Morgan” Hosseintehrani was born and raised in Tehran, Iran. From a very young age, she has had a passion for drawing and painting. She had the honor of participating in classes with the most famous Iranian painter and held various art exhibitions. Ms. Morgan had a dream of pursuing art professionally, but her love for children led her to start working as a preschool art teacher while studying at university. Ms. Morgan received her Bachelor of Arts degree in English Language and Literature in Iran.

After moving to the United States, she enrolled in a local college where she completed her AA degree in Child Development. Ms. Morgan joined LePort in 2017, after receiving her Early Childhood Education proficiency certificate. In addition, she fulfilled the requirements to obtain a California Family Child Care Home License as well as her California teaching credential in 2020.
Ms. Morgan loves sharing her passion for art with children. She enjoys creating art and crafts and cooking nutritious recipes with them. In her spare time, she finds pleasure in studying, painting, and spending time with her daughter and husband.

Anabella Wulff-Rinden

Assistant Teacher

Anabella Wulff-Rinden was born in Caracas, Venezuela, and graduated with a Bachelor in Education in Valencia, Venezuela in 1978. She also completed 12 units of ECE at the Laguna Technical College in Pomona in 2019. Anabella has over twenty years as an educator, and experience at the Elementary, Middle, and High school levels. She came to the US in 2003 after working for 15 years in ECA, an International American school in Caracas Venezuela. She finds her work as a teaching assistant extremely gratifying and has much to offer in a classroom setting.

Anabella has two sons, one stepdaughter, one stepson, and two grandchildren. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, biking, kayaking, pickleball, tennis, and going for long walks by the beach.

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.

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.

Diana Gonzalez

Assistant Teacher

Bio coming soon.

Amanda Shamsnia

Assistant Teacher

Bio coming soon.

Samantha Peraza

Assistant Teacher

Bio coming soon.

Maria Esquivel

Assistant Teacher

Bio coming soon.

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.

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