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.

Alma Paola

Junior Montessori Teacher

Ms. Paola has earned two AMI Diplomas: Assistants to Infancy 0-3 and Primary 3-6 in 2010 from the Montessori Institute of San Diego. She is currently studying Interior Design at the Design Institute of San Diego. Her work with children began at a YMCA as a leader in an After-School Program. She helped children with their homework and organized fun activities such as sports and painting. Ms. Paola has been working for 8 years in a Montessori environment; first as an Assistant Teacher in a Primary classroom and was then promoted to the position of Toddler Lead Guide. Ms. Paola is also a Yoga instructor for infants and young children. Her passion is to encourage children to love to learn and be the best they can be, simply because children are the future. She enjoys spending time traveling around the world getting to know more about different cultures and peaceful living spaces. Ms. Paola enjoys spending time with her family and loves outdoor activities, especially hiking and camping.

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.

Tanni Chakraborty

Assistant Teacher

Ms. Tanni Chakraborty received her Bachelor of Education and Master of Education from the Institute of Education, University of Dhaka, Bangladesh. She is very passionate about her role as an educator. After graduation, she worked as the First Assistant Coordinator of a school designed to introduce cultural elements to city children in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh. She moved to San Diego in 2014 and has a daughter. She got involved in early childhood education in early 2018 and joined LePort in May 2018. Currently she is pursuing her AMI Diploma at Montessori Institute of San Diego. 

She is trained in semi-classical Indian music from Chhayanaut Music School, Dhaka, and has performed in many national concerts.

Toddler

Valerie Golden

Head Montessori Teacher (Toddler)

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 and her AMI Training Assistant to Infancy from the Montessori Institute of San Diego in 2017. 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 success in the children's life.” Outside of work, she enjoys arts, crafts and spending time with her family, especially her “petson” Biggie.

Yanneth Jimenez

Assistant Teacher, Spanish Immersion

Ms. Jimenez was born and raised in Mexico, she completed her Law BA degree from the University of Baja California (UABC). She chose this path because of her love of others and passion defending the rights of people. Ms. Jimenez also worked as a teacher in Mexico. During this time, she enjoyed being part of the children’s educational development. Ms. Jimenez grew up in a family of teachers and they inspired her to continue the legacy of helping children to be successful in life. Ms. Jimenez moved to San Diego in 2013 and is currently in the process of obtaining her associate degree in Early Childhood Development from South Western Collage. She loves the opportunity to help a developing child grow in the early stage of life.

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.

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.

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.

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!

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.

Yuliya Naumkina

Head Montessori Teacher (Primary)

Yuliya was born in Russia. She graduated from the Ufa University of Art and received an MA in Drama. After college she moved to the USA - first New York City, then Anchorage, Alaska. Ms. Yuliya was introduced to Montessori through her daughter, as she was neither satisfied with the education she was getting nor with her own job. Therefore, when she learned of the Montessori method, she changed both her daughter’s schooling and her own career. Since receiving her AMI Primary diploma 13 years ago she has been working with children as a Montessori Guide in the United States, Nepal and Thailand. Having had the privilege of observing children in different classrooms and different cultures she truly believes that Montessori education can bring peace to our world. In her free time My. Yuliya likes to spend time with her two amazing children, walking, reading, singing, laughing, traveling and exploring the world.

Giovanna Mawhinney

Junior Montessori 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.

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.

Eva Gomez

Junior Montessori Teacher

Ms. Eva Gomez was born and raised in San Diego, California. Being part of a large family granted her ample experience and passion for taking care of children. She became interested in Montessori and obtained her AMI diploma in 2018 from the Montessori Institute of San Diego, and subsequently joined the LePort team as teacher assistant. Ms. Gomez enjoys everyday to its fullest because, “If you love what you do, you will never work another day in your life”. In her spare time, she loves spending time with family and friends, eating and traveling.

Elementary

Ivonne Sanchez Alpizar

Head Montessori Teacher (Elementary)

Ivonne C. Sanchez Alpizar, received her B.Sc. in Chemical Engineering, received a Masters Degree in Human Development, and her AMI Infant Community Training (A to I Certified) and AMI Elementary Montessori Training, both certificates from the Montessori Institute of San Diego. Ivonne has been involved in various human development and educational trainings, and has undertaken the Comprehensive Orton-Gillingham Training from IMSE.

Ms. Sanchez discovered her passion in the field of Education thirty years ago, when she started tutoring young minds on the subjects of chemistry and math as a way to help them with a smooth transition from elementary to middle school. She then decided to continue on this field, pursuing areas of study that would help her develop lead children/young adolescents into discovering and bringing out their inner potential, parallel on working to become a better version of herself. One of her triggers is seeing the spark in children’s eyes when they make hose connections in their brains that lets them know they’ve got it!

Ivonne has a passion for education and takes joy on the surroundings of this field. Also enjoys spending time in nature, studying, training, hiking, running, listening to music, and exploring life
with her husband and three children.

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. 

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.

Additional Staff

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.

Amanda Verga

Assistant Teacher

Bio coming soon.
Nunno Pacano

Nunno Pacano

Physical Education Teacher

Mr. Nunno Pacano is a graduate of Alliant International University where he studied Early Childhood Education with a concentration in motor development. He dedicated six years in the field of athletics as a sports specific trainer, coach of after school programs, and leading the Albion Soccer Club. Mr. Nunno finds joy in observing a child’s growth in the areas of balance and coordination, as well as supporting their overall physical development. Mr. Nunno also leads the physical education program within the Elementary program, where he teaches a variety of sports as well as provides education on healthy routines that can be used by students inside and outside the classroom.

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