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LePort Montessori Encinitas Staff

School Administration

Tiffany Scalas

Head of School

Ms. Tiffany Scalas completed her Bachelors of Arts and Sciences at the University of Colorado at Boulder, where she also received her elementary teaching certification. It was in Boulder during her final teaching practicum where she was first introduced to Montessori education. Tiffany had the opportunity to teach upper elementary at a public Montessori school and was in awe of how practical the Montessori philosophy made learning for the children. She then observed Primary aged children and decided to complete her AMI Primary teaching certification at the Montessori Institute of San Diego, where she also completed most of her Masters in Education through Loyola University Maryland. She was given the opportunity as the head teacher of a Primary classroom at the Montessori Institute of San Diego's Children's House, where she taught for three years, and assisted in Primary student exams at the training center. She then left to have a child of her own and has raised her daughter in a Montessori home environment, as well as worked as an administrator of all the weekly children's ministries at North Coast Calvary Chapel in Carlsbad. Tiffany brought her Montessori knowledge, experience, and warmth to LePort Montessori Encinitas, initially as the Assistant Head of School and now as Head of School.

As Tiffany is originally from Colorado, she loves the outdoors and can be found hiking, skiing, running and exploring nature any chance she gets. She also grew up with an Italian heritage and enjoys cooking homemade Italian recipes that her great-grandmother created in Sicily from the early 1900s.

Bronson Dunayevich

Administrative Support

Mr. Bronson has experience in a variety of fields, such as food service, security, and administration, but has particularly enjoyed his work in child development, which led him to obtain his ECE units from Palomar College. His interest in early childhood education began when he started substitute teaching at a preschool in Escondido. Over time, Mr. Bronson had the opportunity to substitute teach in a variety of school settings throughout San Diego county. He enjoys interacting with the children and being able to influence their lives in a positive way. Mr. Bronson spent some time substitute teaching at LePort Encinitas, was very impressed with the Montessori approach to education. In his off time, Mr. Bronson enjoys coordinating events for a fantasy card game. Mr. Bronson also enjoys spending time with friends.

Audrey Prisk

Business Manager

Miss Audrey Prisk received her Bachelor of Arts in Modern Dance from Point Park University in Pittsburgh, PA and spent time performing around the country before settling into a career in management, most recently with BHLDN by Anthropologie. Audrey is passionate about personal development, growth, and fulfilling the responsibility that is nurturing our younger generation to become the greatest versions of themselves. With an extensive family history in education, Audrey is well-versed in the importance of the child/teacher relationship and has spent time substitute teaching in San Diego County, but fell in love with the Montessori philosophy the first moment she stepped foot in a LePort classroom. She is currently studying to receive her Early Childhood Education credits.

Audrey loves being active outdoors and is most typically found with a friend or four biking, surfing, eating Handel's ice cream, and enjoying all that North County has to offer.

Infant

Laura Garcia

Head Montessori Teacher (Infant)

Laura Garcia received her Assistants to Infancy Association Montessori International certification from the Montessori Institute of San Diego in 2018. Prior to her training, she received a Bachelor's degree in Psychology from the University of Baja California. She has been working with children for multiple years, including work at a children's hospital called Hospital Infintil de las Californias.

In Ms. Laura's spare time she enjoys hiking, taking road trips, and doing yoga.

Ivonne Aguilar-Corona

Junior Montessori Teacher

Ms. Ivonne Aguilar, originally from Chula Vista, California, grew up in Tijuana, Mexico. She obtained her B.A. in Preschool Education from Escuela Normal Particular "Colegio Ensenada.” She is excited to be a part of the LePort family and combine her passion for working with children with her experience and expertise in education. In her free time, she enjoys exercising, going to the beach, and spending time with friends and family.

Areli Ramirez

Junior Montessori Teacher

Ms. Areli Ramirez was born in Mexico, and has lived in San Diego since she was 5 years old. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Development with an emphasis in Children's Services from California State University, San Marcos. Ms. Areli earned child development units at Mira Costa College, where she obtained two AA degrees in Human Development and Behavioral Science. She has worked and volunteered at several child care centers, in both home-based care environments and in licensed preschool settings. She loves working at LePort, and has especially enjoyed learning about the Montessori philosophy and how it applies to infants and toddlers. In addition, Ms. Areli works part time with children and adults with special needs. During her free time, she enjoys going to the beach, watching movies, and spending time with family and friends

Nicole Anderson

Assistant Teacher

Ms. Nicole Anderson is an experienced early childhood educator with a passion for knowledge and growth. Her first experience with Montessori teachings happened to be with LePort as a substitute teacher where she fell in love with the program and faculty. Ms. Nicole has been working with children for 10 years and completed her early childhood education at Palomar College.

Ms. Nicole began her career as a nanny but eventually felt at home in the preschool setting. She understands the importance of early brain development and finds joy in being a positive and encouraging role model to many. In her free time, she enjoys nature, reading, art, and music with her husband and daughter.

Toddler

Sonia Villegas

Head Montessori Teacher (Toddler)

Ms. Sonia Villegas earned her Primary (ages 3-6) certification and bachelor’s degree in Arts of Montessori Education in Mexicali, Mexico. She also earned her Assistants to Infancy (ages 0-3) certification from the Montessori Institute of San Diego.

Ms. Sonia worked with Primary levels in Mexicali and Calexico before relocating to San Diego. Currently Ms. Sonia enjoys working with toddlers. Outside of school, Ms. Sonia enjoys outdoor activities and taking dance classes.

Briana Gatson

Assistant Teacher, Spanish Bilingual

Ms. Briana Gatson was born and raised in California. She has had the honor and privilege of caring for children in licensed care settings for over 5 years. Ms. Briana received her ECE units from Mira Costa College. She has been a part of the Toddler classroom, and has been delighted and fascinated by the Montessori approach. Ms. Briana enjoys photography, sightseeing, and reading. In addition, she highly values her family time, and enjoys spending her days with her three children.

Primary

Lisa Reynolds

Head Montessori Teacher (Primary)

Ms. Lisa Reynolds has worked for LePort Encinitas since October 2017, when she was hired as an Assistant Teacher and After Care Coordinator. Her strong work ethic, dedication, and commitment to the Montessori philosophy made her the ideal candidate when a Head Teacher position came available the following school year.

Before she found Montessori, Ms. Lisa worked as an ESL instructor in Shenzhen, China for four years, with children ages 3 to 17. Prior to her work in China, she taught ESL for 18 months in Yonago, Japan. She moved back to America in 2016 to train as a Montessori Primary teacher at the Montessori Institute of San Diego. She is excited to share her Montessori training, as well as her experience abroad, with her students. Outside of work, Ms. Lisa enjoys running, reading, drinking coffee, and of course, spending time with loved ones.

Sylvia Velazquez

Assistant Teacher

Ms. Sylvia has been working with children of all ages for over 10 years. She received her ECE units from San Diego City college, where she also obtained a Medical Assistant certification. Ms. Sylvia has worked in licensed preschool settings, and also has operated her own in-home daycare. Ms. Sylvia loves to sing, paint, and craft. In addition, she enjoys going to the movies, and going camping with her husband. In the afternoons, you can often find Ms. Sylvia reading aloud to a captivated audience of preschoolers, who are enchanted by her storytelling skills.

Ely Heredia

Head Montessori Teacher (Primary), Spanish Immersion

Mrs. Ely lives in Chula Vista CA. She grew up in Tijuana B. C., where she studied at a private college and obtained a B.S. in Early Childhood Education. After graduation she began to work in a Montessori school, and it is there where she began to have an interest to learn more about Montessori education.

Ms. Ely eventually moved to Chula Vista, and began the teacher certification program where she obtained a diploma from the American Montessori Society for teaching children 2 1/2- 6 years. She has several years of experience working as a Head Teacher, both in Tijuana and in the United States.

Ms. Ely decided to be a teacher when she was very young. She even attended a Montessori school during her preschool years, and she retains very beautiful memories of her preschool teachers. She loves animals, shopping, visiting cultural and historical places, and going to museums. She likes going to the gym and swimming, enjoys going to the beach and playing with her puppies. She loves to travel and spend time with family.

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!

Additional Staff

Maggie Sanfilippo

Assistant Teacher

Ms. Maggie Sanfilippo received her A.A. degree in Early Childhood Education from Eastern Arizona College. Ms. Maggie has a wealth of experience working with young children, and has been an assistant teacher in licensed preschool programs for 11 years. Ms. Maggie has had the opportunity to work in a variety of settings, and has had the pleasure of working with diverse groups of children from a variety of cultures and backgrounds. Her favorite part of being a teacher is watching the children develop and thrive. When Ms. Maggie is not working, she loves to go hiking, hang out at the beach, and watch movies. She also enjoys spending time with her wonderful fiance and stepson.

Madeline Masters

Assistant Teacher

Ms. Madeline Masters found a passion working with children at a young age. She started as a babysitter in fourth grade. Later, she became a nanny where she first learned about the Montessori approach. Ms. Madeline has also worked at various childcare centers, as a tutor, and as a Spanish translator. She studied early childhood education and received a bachelor’s degree in Spanish, as well as a bachelor’s degree in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) from the University of Northern Iowa. Ms. Madeline obtained her Early Childhood Education units at MiraCosta College. She grew up in Iowa, lived in Chile for two months, and moved to California over a year ago. In her free time she enjoys traveling, riding her bike by the beach, running, studying Spanish, writing, baking, and swimming.

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