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Staff Bios – EC

Laura Baglietto
As a child and young adult everyone mentioned to me that my personality would fit great as a teacher. I remember having really bad experiences in school and disliking my teachers, therefore, I thought teaching would be out of the question. I tried really hard to stay away from education and I pursued other careers which did not fulfill me. After being very unhappy at my then job, and after a lot of soul searching, I finally applied to a Montessori school that was in need of an assistant. Once I observed the classroom I immediately knew that being a Montessori teacher was going to be my profession, my passion and my life.
Masters in Elementary Montessori Education, Loyola University of Maryland

Sheela Dharmarajan
My Montessori journey began in a small Montessori school in India, when I was three years old. As an adult, I volunteered at a Montessori school and I have never looked back. I took my Primary Teacher Training at MECR and also have my Primary Training from AMI. I'm Birth to Three, trained from The Montessori Institute, Denver. I have been field consulting for MECR for 14 years. I teach in Denver Public Schools and have been teaching in public Montessori schools for 21 years now. I have a bachelor's degree in Accounting and Business and a masters degree in Education. In my spare time, I like to read, spend time outdoors, travel and try out new recipes.
Masters in Education, University of Phoenix

Tunisha Hairston-Brown
I am a Montessori Public school educator - Reading Interventionist, Instructional Coach, and Teacher Leader at Lincoln Elementary (Denver Public Schools), an Assistant instructor for - EC Reading Certificate Program through AMS, MECR EC Math Instructor, Board President, and member of the Equity Committee. I hold an EC AMS Credential.

As a young mother, I was drawn to Dr. Montessori’s scientific approach - her study of children and creating materials to support the learning and growth of those children - rather than coming up with a theory and fitting it to the children... I chose Montessori for my family as an education model and as a way of living. I wanted to support them in becoming global citizens using their gifts and talents and knowing who they are - all while being seen, heard, and understood.

I have a passion for DEI/ABAR work - I am focused on working towards a Montessori Collective Community where Black Indigenous People of Color (BIPOC) are seen, known, understood, and where feeling safe is the norm and feeling othered is an anomaly.
BA, Computer Science/Mathematics and Psychology with an emphasis in Mental Health, Doane College

Robin Hoch
I started working at the Montessori Academy of Colorado in March of 2003 and fell in love immediately with what a beautiful way it is to teach children. I moved into a music specialty and have continued my education to merge all of my certifications in with Montessori to create a balanced, chid-centered curriculum.
Bachelor of Arts, two half completed Masters don't equal a whole, I assume :), Colorado State University

Rebecca Howell
When I returned from the Peace Corps, I had trouble finding a job. I had a friend who I had served in Cote d'Ivoire with who had recently moved to Denver as well. She was working at a new Montessori School here in Denver as the Director, and hired me as an office assistant. I so enjoyed working with the children and subbing in the classrooms, and the philosophy of independence and respect resonated with me. The school was a lab school for the Montessori Institute, so I took my training and became an AMI certified Infant Toddler teacher.
Masters in Education, Loyola College in Baltimore

Jessica LeBlanc
I began teaching Kindergarten in a traditional classroom in 2006. Kindergarten is such a magical age of discovery and learning! Then, after my first child was born, I observed in a Montessori classroom--I remember being amazed at the level of independence even the youngest children showed. I pursued my training at MECR and began to appreciate all that this philosophy has to offer to children. I taught for three years at Valdez Elementary in Denver before moving to Steamboat Springs. I was a founding teacher at the Steamboat Montessori Charter School and continue to teach there now, 7 years later.
I love teaching Practical Life at MECR! My work with adults inspires my teaching of children. And my work with children helps me to connect with the adult learners as they learn about day to day practices in the Montessori environment.
MECR is a place where I feel surrounded by people who share the same passion for educating the whole child in a Montessori environment. It is where we teach and we learn from each other how best to serve children. It is a place of shared wisdom, kindness and respect for one another—the same ideals we want to share with children.
M Ed in Early Childhood & Elementary Education, Antioch University

Angelina Lloyd
I discovered Montessori in the spring of 2000, when my eldest child was born. Just one look at him filled me with love and devotion. I was astonished by his newness and the wonder that marked the passage of time. There was no doubt in my mind that I would do everything in my power to offer him the brightest beginning I could. I researched child development, parenting techniques and early childhood educational approaches. I quickly fell in love with the pedagogies of Montessori, Reggio-Emilia and elements of Waldorf. When I was ready to begin looking for a future preschool near the small rural farming community where I lived in Eastern Illinois I was disappointed by the lack of rich early childhood experiences I hoped for. Undeterred, I took things into my own hands and pursued my first Montessori teaching certificate with NAMPTA and opened my own Montessori farm school cooperative in the Fall of 2002. In 2005 I began a second Montessori teaching certificate with MECR and have been working with children these past 20+ years.
Masters in Educational Psychology, University of Colorado, Denver

Kay Loer
My Montessori roots run deep as a Montessori child myself. I was always intrigued by various educational philosophies and found myself quickly drawn back to Montessori pedagogy. I earned my undergraduate degree in Early Childhood and Elementary Education from the University of Wisconsin La Crosse. Afterwards, I moved to Portland, Oregon to complete my Primary Montessori training at Montessori Northwest and completed my Master's of Montessori Education from Loyola College of Maryland. I am currently the Lower Division Director at the Montessori Academy of Colorado.
Master's, Loyola College of Maryland

Deborah Matyjevich
Montessori pedagogy has been embedded in my life for the past 2 decades. Upon entering my first Montessori classroom, I knew I had found an educational model that was profound, comprehensive, and based on creating a better world by supporting and guiding children in a way that was holistic, academic, worldly and emotionally and developmentally up-lifting. I spent the past 18 years teaching Preschool and Kindergarten in Denver and watching the magic that comes from Montessori education. I believe that children are given the opportunity to thrive, blossom, and come into their own in the most authentic ways in Montessori classrooms.
For the past 10 years, my role has evolved from teaching full time into other roles that have allowed me to broaden my impact. I am passionate about supporting new teachers, schools, parents and families. My degree in Psychology and Sociology from Emory University in Atlanta, along with my Montessori training has laid a foundation that supports me in coaching and consulting with educators, parents, and schools.  The beautiful Colorado mountains in Estes Park originally drew me from my home in Atlanta in 1995, but it is my passion for Montessori education, my loving family, and the opportunity to make an impact in my community that has made Denver my home.
BA Psychology/Sociology, Emory University

Tori Virlee
I have a bachelor's degree in speech, language, and hearing sciences. At the time I thought I would work with the Deaf and hard of hearing population. I accepted a job in a Montessori school as a sign language instructor. I immediately fell in love with the philosophy and approach and have been working in the Montessori world ever since! I went to training and received my early childhood credential. I have worked in the classroom as well as in administrative and student support roles. Now I enjoy sharing the philosophy and approach with adults on their own Montessori journey.
M.A. (School Psychology), University of Colorado Denver