LePort School Solana Beach Staff

School Administration

Shawn Edwards

Head of School

Shawn Edwards received her B.A. in Psychology and Human Services, her AMI Elementary Montessori training and certification, her M.A. in Transformational Coaching and Leadership, and is a Positive Discipline Parenting coach and trainer. She began her Montessori career at the Post Oak School in Houston, Texas. In 2006, she moved to Chicago to lead the Alcuin Montessori School, followed by a transfer back to Texas as the Executive Director of the Community Montessori School in Georgetown, Texas. Ms. Edwards has also served as a consultant to various schools and organizations across the country. Ms. Edwards is currently pursuing a doctorate degree in transformative coaching and leadership from the Wright Graduate University in Chicago. She has been involved in various leadership trainings including school leadership courses offered through Independent School Management and the National Association of Independent Schools.

Ms. Edwards has been married for over 25 years, has three grown children (all who attended Montessori programs), and is a proud grandmother of a Montessori child. When she is not working or studying, she enjoys hiking, camping, reading, writing, participating in and training for adventure runs, and spending time with family.

Angela Kabel

Director of Admissions and Parent Experience

Angela Kabel earned a B.A. in Anthropology from Western Michigan University where she graduated cum laude. She later went on to earn a M.A. in Education from Loyola College of Maryland and in 2008 received her AMI Primary Diploma from the Montessori Institute of San Diego. Ms. Kabel spent two years as a Head Primary Guide at Kinderhouse Montessori School and also served as a Head Primary Guide at Lifetime Montessori School in San Diego. There she created and directed a 3rd year outings program, organized a book club that focused on core Montessori principles, and presented parent education workshops for both enrolled and prospective parents. We look forward to the calm, centered energy that Ms. Kabel brings to LePort Montessori Solana Beach.

Sandy Marlor

Business Manager

Originally from the United Kingdom, Mrs. Sandy Marlor obtained a Higher National Diploma in Business Studies before traveling extensively and embracing different cultures of the world. Mrs. Marlor settled in San Diego to be near her family after the birth of her twins. Extensive research brought her to the conclusion that she wanted a Montessori education for her children, and she then found the wonderful Fallbrook Montessori School, where for 10 years she was the administrative assistant.

This role brought great happiness as she deepened her knowledge of Montessori and watched her own children blossom into curious, confident beings. Mrs. Marlor worked at Santa Fe Montessori School as an administrative assistant and is excited to continue her love of the Montessori school environment with LePort. Outside of work, she enjoys art galleries, all outdoor activities, and spending time with her family.

Carmela Peccin

Administrative Support

Ms. Carmela Peccin earned a B.A. in Social Communication with an emphasis in Public Relations in Porto Alegre, Brazil. Before moving to San Diego in 2013, Ms. Carmela lived in England and Germany. She has worked in customer service for over 8 years in a variety of settings. After studying Expressive Arts Therapy at San Diego University for Integrative Studies, she decided to pursue a career in education. In her spare time, Ms. Carmela likes to play volleyball, surf, bake cakes, and go to concerts.

Infant

Carelia Altamirano

Head Montessori Teacher (Infant), Spanish Immersion

Mrs. Altamirano earned her AMI Diploma in 1998 in Perugia, Italy and her BA in Special Education from UEEP (Universidad Estatal de Estudios Pedagogicos), Mexico. After working with children in the Primary sector, Mrs. Altamirano decided to study Infant Community Training in San Diego to continue her learning with child development. Prior to joining LePort, Mrs. Altamirano worked as a toddler teacher in the beautiful city of Pasadena. She enjoys working with toddlers most and loves how children in this age group explore. She enjoys seeing the look on their faces when they discover something new. In her spare time, Mrs. Altamirano loves spending time with her family. She also enjoys the outdoors, photography, painting, and yoga.

Laurie Baldwin

Assistant Teacher

Ms. Laurie Baldwin has lived her whole life in San Diego County and has taught and worked with children for the past 25 years. She received her B.A. in Psychology and studied Early Childhood Education as well. Ms. Baldwin taught in traditional preschools for years until discovering the beauty of the Montessori method. Since then, she has been an assistant in Montessori classrooms for ten years.

Ms. Baldwin has always had a desire to work with children and be a positive influence in their lives. She also has a passion for animals, cooking, reading, and the outdoors.

Monica Bejarano

Assistant Teacher

Monica is from Colombia. She has a BA in Pedagogy and a BS in Business Administration. She specialized in teaching reading and writing, showing excellent results by earning a level 7 on the National scale. Monica then opened her own private school which went from K through 10th grade. Maria Montessori’s philosophy was implemented in her curriculum and it was so successful it gained recognition on local television.

Monica loves to teach. She enjoys books, music, exploring nature, arts, and crafts. Her passion is water sports. The ocean and the sun are the best therapy for her. Now, she is so happy working at LePort Montessori where the students, parents, and staff are making her days special.

Toddler

Carolina Beltran

Head Montessori Teacher (Toddler)

Ms. Carolina Beltran was born in San Diego, California but grew up in Tijuana, Mexico. She became interested in the Montessori method when her sister attended the Montessori Institute of San Diego, and subsequently started working as a substitute teacher. Ms. Beltran's love for working with children led her to eventually earn her AMS and AMI diplomas. She has over six years of experience working as a Lead Teacher in both the toddler and primary classrooms. In her spare time, Ms. Beltran likes to go to the movies and loves to travel.

Valerie Golden

Assistant Teacher

Ms. Valerie Golden was born and raised in sunny San Diego and is a graduate from The Montessori Institute in San Diego, an AMI accredited school. Ms. Golden received her Early Childhood Education units from Penn Foster College and started her teaching career in an elementary school specializing in special education. After 15 years, she made the decision to pursue a career in a Montessori school where she was a toddler after-care teacher. Prior to joining LePort, she was a valued staff member at Santa Fe Montessori.

Ms. Golden’s passion for the growth and development of children is apparent through her positive work with the students. Outside of the classroom, Ms. Golden loves spending time with her two beautiful children.

Melissa Rojano

Head Montessori Teacher (Toddler)

Ms. Melissa Rojano was born in San Diego but lived the first 15 years of her life in Tijuana, Mexico, returning to San Diego at the age of 15. Ms. Melissa studied to become a veterinary assistant and worked for a year in that capacity, but then realized that it wouldn't fulfill her for life. She went back to school after her aunt turned her direction to Montessori. After observing at a Montessori school, she immediately fell in love. She was captivated by the experience, the peaceful environment, the lovely children, the beautiful materials, and the calm guidance given to the children.

Ms. Rojano has a two-year-old daughter and is thrilled to have her attending LePort Solana Beach with her. When she isn’t teaching or spending time with her daughter, Ms. Rojano also enjoys watching movies, going for walks, and exercising.

Monica Revilla

Assistant Teacher

Ms. Revilla was born in Obregón, Sonora, Mexico. She holds a bachelor's degree in Educational Psychology from the University of Sonora in Hermosillo, Mexico. Additionally, she studied Child Development at Southwestern College. She enjoys math and history. For the past 22 years, she worked as a Head or Assistant Teacher guiding children the ages of infant to 4th grade. For the majority of this time, she taught at a private school implementing the Pierre Faure philosophy in Mexico. She taught up to 26 native Spanish-speaking students, including students with special needs. Prior to coming to LePort, Ms. Revilla was a Montessori Assistant Spanish Teacher working with toddlers and primary-aged students.

Faride Assad

Head Montessori Teacher (Toddler)

Originally from the beautiful city of San Diego, Ms. Assad completed her Associates Degree in Child Development from Southwestern College, Chula Vista in 2011. Prior to joining LePort, she worked as an Accounting Clerk for Brink’s Incorporated for over 6 years. Ms. Assad also worked as an Assistant Teacher at San Ysidro Child Care Center as well as a Montessori School in Chula Vista with children aged two to five. Ms. Assad is extremely passionate about childhood education and says, “We are the key to their success in life.” Outside of work, she enjoys arts, crafts and outdoor activities such as bike riding.

Primary

Margaret Gisonni

Head Montessori Teacher (Primary)

Mrs. Margaret Gisonni has both a BA and Masters in Education, along with her AMI Primary diploma, and five years of Montessori teaching experience. Mrs. Gisonni began her teaching career in New York in a traditional setting, but felt unfulfilled by the lack of creative freedom given to teachers and the effect this had on the students. While seeking out other approaches to education, she discovered the Montessori philosophy.

Mrs. Gisonni's Montessori career began at a local Montessori school where she honed her craft and deepened her knowledge of the methodology. After five years of teaching, she gave birth to her daughter and began to research and study Montessori on the infant and toddler levels. Her daughter, Willow, will be going to school for the first time and joining Mrs. Gisonni at LePort.

Natalia Aja Maza

Head Montessori Teacher (Primary)

Originally from Santander, Spain, Natalia Aja Maza spent 10 years living in Marseille, France. She earned her M.A. in Spanish Language and Literature as well as a M.A. in French Language and Literature. Ms. Aja Maza completed her AMI training for the Primary level in Paris and taught in Montessori schools in Paris, Mexico and San Diego before joining LePort School.
She is multi-lingual, well-traveled and brings with her a contagious sense of upbeat energy and enthusiasm for child development and the Montessori practice. Outside of the classroom, she enjoys yoga and dance, as well as reading.
We are confident that parents, children and peers will love her and learn from her making her a great addition to the Solana Beach campus.

Sok Lim Than

Assistant Teacher

Ms. Sok Lim comes from Cambodia where she worked as a nursery teacher for 5 years at Seametry Children's Village which is an integrated bilingual school.

Ms. Sok Lim holds Bachelor?s Degrees in both Business Administration and Education from Cambodia College. Her heart has always been in working with children so she came to the United States in 2013 to study and obtain her Primary Guide Training at the Montessori Institute of San Diego. Sok Lim fell in love with America and Montessori education so she decided to stay. She worked as an teacher assistant for 14 months before happily joining Le Port in August 2015 where she likes to sing to the children.

In her free time, Sok Lim loves to cook Cambodian food, work in her small garden, spend time with friends, travel, go to the beach, practice yoga, and participate in Cambodian dances and cultural events whenever possible.

Ana Mora

Head Montessori Teacher (Primary)

Ms. Mora earned her bachelor’s degree in Spanish Literature and Recreation System Management from San Diego State University. After graduating, she discovered her passion for the Montessori Method when she started to work in a Montessori school in San Diego as a Spanish head teacher. She pursued her AMI diploma at the Montessori Institute of San Diego and completed her studies in May 2013. In 2014, she became a mother of an incredible boy and finds it fascinating raising a Montessori child following the Montessori method at home and school. Ms. Mora’s son, Jacob, attends our Encinitas school.

Outside the classroom Ms. Mora loves to read great literature and enjoys movies and music. She appreciates all kinds of arts from literature to culinary arts. Also, yoga and mediation are part of her life and children sometimes will be experiencing some yoga poses.

Michele de la Cruz

Assistant Teacher

Ms. Michele de la Cruz graduated from San Diego State University where she received her B.A. in English Literature. Ms. de la Cruz worked for 14 years in the health care industry as a liaison to clinicians and medical groups. She first became associated with Montessori in 2001 when she enrolled her eldest son in a Montessori preschool. She immediately fell in love with the Montessori philosophy, materials, and environment, volunteering regularly as a room mom and PTA member. Ms. de la Cruz began working in the Montessori community in 2005. She has led a Kindergarten class and has been working as an Assistant Teacher since 2007.

In her spare time, Ms. de la Cruz enjoys reading, taking Tae Kwon Do with her boys and other moms, gardening, and dancing.

Michelle Aguiniga

Head Montessori Teacher (Primary), Spanish Immersion

Ms. Michelle Aguiniga was born and raised in Tijuana, Mexico. She finished her Montessori training in 2002, and started a classroom for children of all abilities. Over the years, she has worked with the parents and other non-profit organizations to empower the community, and she has given lectures in Mexico about Maria Montessori and how the Montessori curriculum can help a child's development and prepare them for a traditional classroom. She also has helped introduce interpreters (both sign language and Spanish) into the classrooms.

Ms. Aguiniga’s love of learning and interest in cultural diversity were part of her decision to come to LePort, where she is a part of the Spanish Immersion program, along with the opportunity to experience the diversity here in America. Ms. Aguiniga would love to see her students become fluent in Spanish, and she looks forward to sharing old traditions and songs that share values and respect for others. In her free time, Ms. Aguiniga loves new experiences and food, and she enjoys spending time with her family and being outdoors. She has a son, Antonio, and a daughter, Aranza, who both live in Tijuana and attend the university there.

Mayra Salvador

Assistant Teacher

Ms. Mayra was born in Mexico City and raised in San Diego, California. She earned her bachelor's degree in Applied Behavioral Science and a minor in Child Development. She has always been passionate about child development and psychology. Ms. Mayra has been working with children for the past ten years. Her goal is to help children reach their milestones and be a part of their development. In addition to English, Ms. Mayra also speaks fluent Spanish. During her free time, she loves spending time with her son and family. She loves the beach and music!

Denise Diaz

Assistant Teacher

Ms. Denise was born in San Diego California. She completed child development units at southwestern college, and since then she always knew that she has a strong passion for educating children. Ms. Denise discovered the Montessori philosophy when she started working at a home daycare which was practicing the Montessori method. While attending college she fell in love with the Montessori method, and she earned her AMS diploma for children ages 3 to 6. Ms. Denise has 6 years of teaching experience. Starting in her family’s daycare facility, then on to a Montessori school in La Jolla as a teacher’s assistant, Ms. Denise is very happy to be part of LePort Montessori and continue to dedicate all her enthusiasm to children’s education.

Elementary

Pilar Bewley

Head Montessori Teacher (Elementary)

Ms. Pilar Bewley is a former Montessori child who grew up in Mexico City and San Diego, CA. She studied Hotel Management in Switzerland, worked as a bilingual trainer and recruiter for Hyatt Hotels in Florida, and then launched a successful destination wedding planning company in Baja, Mexico.

Ms. Pilar has always been drawn to the human aspect of her work: mainly, she wanted to understand what motivates people to reach their full potential. This prompted her to return to her Montessori roots. She completed the Primary AMI diploma in San Diego (2008), a M.Ed. in Montessori Education from Loyola University in Maryland (2009), and the Elementary AMI diploma in Bergamo, Italy (2011). She has worked as a Head Guide in bilingual AMI 3-6 and 6-9 classrooms, translated Elementary materials for LePort, and writes for several online and print publications in support of Montessori education.

Ms. Pilar loves hiking with her husband and discovering life anew through the eyes of her two children. In her brief moments of solitude, she enjoys reading human development books and writing about the challenges and joys of Montessori parenting.

Kait DeGrazia

Junior Montessori Teacher

Ms. Kait DeGrazia started her work with children 12 years ago working in a preschool in Orange County with pre-k and kindergarten students. She left the preschool to complete her BA in marketing management from Menlo College. After college, Ms. Kait worked in sales and marketing for four years before missing the joys of working with children. She received her AMS E1 Credential from The Montessori Center for Teacher Education in San Diego. She worked at the Maria Montessori school for 3 years before starting her career at LePort. 

Additional Staff

Giovanna Mawhinney

Assistant Teacher

Ms. Giovanna Mawhinney was born in San Diego and grew up in Tijuana. After obtaining certifications in the food industry and real estate, she spent over a decade working in these industries. Then an opportunity presented itself for Giovanna to work and collaborate with children, and that is where she found her true passion which is to help children learn and grow. Outside of work, Giovanna likes to salsa dance and hike.

Kacie How

Assistant Teacher

Ms. Kacie How was born in La Jolla, CA but grew up in Temecula, CA. She is earning her bachelor’s degree in Educational Studies with a minor in Deaf Studies from Grand Canyon University. Ms. Kacie is fluent in ASL (American Sign Language) and loves sharing the knowledge when she is working with children. She developed a passion for teaching and learning with kids while working as a nanny. She is on the path towards expanding her education as a Montessori teacher and is proud to be part of LePort Solana Beach! Outside of school, Ms. Kacie enjoys reading, traveling, and relaxing at the beach with her husband.

Crystal Taitague

Assistant Teacher

Ms. Crystal Taitague graduated from San Diego State University with a degree in Liberal Studies. Ms. Taitague has been working with children for several years. Starting as an aide in primary classrooms, she then became a camp counselor oversees and an after-school program leader. With a love for travel and personal growth, she moved to Japan to teach English. Ms. Taitague is excited and passionate about Montessori philosophy. She enjoys the outdoors, traveling, and new experiences.

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