Faculty and Staff

Toddler

Nicole Barba

Nicole Barba

Toddler Teacher, Sassafras Class

Nicole first became interested in Montessori education while studying developmental psychology and neuropsychology in college. She recognized Montessori's method as a practical application for all the theory and science she had learned. Nicole started teaching as an educational assistant for Norwalk Community College, but soon found her way to the practice of Montessori education. In spring 2011, she became a substitute teacher for The Montessori School in Wilton, CT. The following fall, Nicole started as a teacher's assistant for the school's full day bilingual toddler program. By her third year, she started taking courses to become a Toddler teacher. She also helped in an early morning program for Primary and Elementary children, as well as coaching Elementary soccer and running club teams. In Fall 2015, Nicole opened up the second Toddler classroom at the school as the lead teacher. Nicole recently finished a Master's program in Education, with a Montessori concentration.

Montessori education has become a passion to Nicole's family, too; her sister followed her to the world of Montessori practice, finding common ground with her own collegiate studies and also becoming a substitute at the same school where Nicole first taught.

Nicole has a passion for the outdoors, and loves to go hiking and snowboarding as well as playing soccer. She also loves to cook, bake, and craft, and especially enjoys sewing and scrapbooking.

Tatiana Barnes

Tatiana Barnes

Toddler Assistant, Sassafras Class and Event Coordinator

Tati, as she likes to be called, is a Toddler Assistant in Sassafras Class and Aidan's Event Coordinator (ensuring that each Aidan is set up perfectly). She has also served as Aidan's Substitute for Assistants (stepping in when colleagues are absent or taking breaks) in the past. In these roles, she has gotten to know a broad swath of the school community, both in and outside the classroom. Before coming to Aidan, Tati taught Spanish from Pre-K to 8th grade at Annunciation Catholic School.

Tati is from Caracas, Venezuela. She is married and has four children (three of whom have attended Aidan - so far). She loves spending time with her family, traveling and has a passion for baking.

Lakmali Cooray

Lakmali Cooray

ASP Assistant and Toddler Assistant, Mountain Silverbell Class

Mali came to Aidan as a Toddler Assistant in 2008. Prior to arriving at Aidan, she worked with Chevy Chase Baptist Church Children’s Center as teacher aide for two years and also dedicated time to raising her children. Prior to moving to the US in 2004, she studied both drafting and education, and worked as draftsman and teacher.

Mali grew up in Colombo, Sri Lanka. She currently lives in Rockville, MD, with her husband, teenage daughter, and son. Apart from interacting with children, she enjoys gardening, reading, and traveling.

Nirmala Tennekoon

Nirmala Tennekoon

ASP Assistant and Toddler Assistant, Sassafras Class

Nirmala started her career working with children as a primary teacher in Sri Lanka from 2003 to 2004. She is returning to Aidan as a Toddler Assistant for the 2016-17 school year. Previously, Nirmala served Aidan as Program Coordinator for the Before & After School Program (B/ASP) from 2005 to 2011 and as a Primary Assistant from 2013 to 2014.

Nirmala's two daughters, Kalani and Bavya, attend Aidan. She loves water color painting and creating enticing mobiles!

Iris Williams

Iris Williams

Toddler Teacher, Mountain Silverbell Class

In 1999, Iris started teaching Toddlers at Aidan, taking a pause from 2001-2009 to care for her own child before resuming her role in 2009. Her road to becoming a Montessori teacher was serendipitous. After seven years of working at Mercedes Benz in Bremen, Germany, Iris decided to take the opportunity to move to Alexandria, Virginia, to care for two children who were attending a Montessori School and to learn to speak English as well as possible. After observing in the Montessori School of Alexandria, she was so in awe of the way of relating to children and of teaching that she was inspired to earn her Primary training in 1988. After working with 3-6 year-olds for five years, she earned her AMI Assistants to Infancy (or Infant/Toddler) training in 1993. Aidan Montessori School was Iris's unofficial practicum as she worked as an occasional substitute in Primary and Toddler.

Iris's family has been immersed in the "Montessori way of life," as Iris calls it, for decades. Her husband, Bob Williams, was a Montessori Primary, Lower, and Upper Elementary teacher and an AMS Montessori Trainer for math and geometry. Their son, James (now a teenager), was a Montessori child from Primary through Middle School - and is now attending Duke Ellington School of the Arts in DC in part because of the deep love of music imparted by his father and years of Montessori education. Iris has been deeply moved by Dr. Montessori's dedication to children, which has inspired her to keep learning and working with children. Besides her love for all matters Montessori, she has been part of the Institute for Advancement of Service in Alexandria, Virginia, where she has studied, practiced, and taught leadership courses and cooperative work groups. She also enjoys reading, spending time in nature, cooking, meditation, and spending time with family and friends.


Primary

Claudia Caihuara

Claudia Caihuara

Primary Teacher, Mulberry Class

Claudia entered the Montessori world in the summer of 2007 at Arlington Montessori House. While there, she served in multiple assistant roles, earning her AMI certification as an assistant prior to becoming a lead teacher in a Montessori summer program in 2015-16.

Though Claudia has lived in the US since 1997, when her parents relocated here with her and her two older brothers, Claudia was born and raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She is a fluent speaker of both English and Spanish.

Outside of the classroom, Claudia enjoys making Montessori materials, drawing, and dancing.

Teri Eckel

Teri Eckel

Primary Teacher, Redbud Class

As an Early Childhood Educator at Aidan Montessori School, Teri Eckel guides young children to reach their fullest potential intellectually, emotionally, socially, physically, and spiritually. Teri is a dedicated, nurturing, and collaborative educator with over a decade of teaching experience and who is committed to identifying and supporting each child’s distinct learning style, interest, and potential. Teri is masterful at building strong parent-teacher-child partnerships that lead to rewarding school experiences. She is passionate about creating and maintaining a safe, loving, and supportive learning environment where all children learn, grow, and thrive.

Prior to teaching, Teri spent a decade working for The Cronkite Ward Company producing quality educational television programming for The Discovery Channel, The Learning Channel, and Public Television. This invaluable experience took her all over the world, exposing her to different people, cultures, and customs, and teaching her the importance of education and further developing her compassion toward humanity.

Teri resides in Alexandria, VA, where she enjoys spending time with her husband and twin boys, who are Aidan alumni. She enjoys traveling, gardening, riding bikes and practicing peace.

Monserrat Hernandez

Monserrat Hernandez

Primary Teacher, Dogwood Class

Monserrat's passion for Montessori education has taken her around the world - a couple times - and she has almost four decades of Montessori teaching experience. She worked in Montessori schools in the Philippines for four years prior to coming to the US to pursue her Montessori training. Prior to coming to Aidan, she taught at The Beddow School in Maryland for two years and The International Montessori School in Manila, Philippines for one year. After taking a one-year break from teaching, she decided that she missed the classroom and worked at Alexandria Montessori for two years and then at Henson Valley Montessori School for six. She has been at Aidan since 1993.

Monserrat enjoys reading fiction. She loves going to the National Gallery of Art to see exhibits and visiting art museums in other cities and countries she visits. She also enjoys going to the beach, decorative painting on wood furniture (which she has studied at length), and spending time with family and friends on weekends. Aside form English, she also speaks Tagalog, Ilocano (a Filipino dialect) and Spanish.

Zinat Khraishah

Zinat Khraishah

Primary Assistant, Persimmon Class

Zinat started her career at Aidan in 2004 by spending nine years as a Lower Elementary Classroom Assistant. She expanded her role at the school in 2009, when she joined the After School Program (ASP) staff. She also spent one year as a Toddler Assistant and is now a Primary Assistant - a role for which she recently earned AMI certification. Her career in education began in her hometown of Ramallah, where she co-founded a private preschool and worked there as a teacher and administrator. After moving to the US, she worked for several years as an Educational Aid at Hearst Elementary and as a Primary Assistant at Franklin Montessori School. She has also completed Montessori workshops on a variety of topics including music and parent education.

Zinat is a native of Palestine and a native Arabic speaker. She enjoys working in her community garden, reading, cooking and traveling. Her daughter, Janine, is an honors graduate of Brown University and recently completed an MBA at Harvard University. Her son, Omar, is an honors graduate of the Schreyer Honors College at Penn State University.

Lanka Mudannayake

Lanka Mudannayake

Primary Assistant, Mulberry Class

Lanka Mudannayake grew up in Sri Lanka and the United States. Lanka received a GCE(A/L) Bachelor of Dance at the University of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka, and an AA in Child Education Development from Montgomery College. She has worked at Apple Montessori School and for the Embassy Suites Hotel in Chevy Chase. She speaks Sinhala and English. Lanka also enjoys dancing, reading books, and interacting with children. She and her husband have a daughter, Maheesha, and a son, Parami, who attends Aidan.

Sudharshini Perera

Sudharshini Perera

Primary Assistant, Redbud Class

Sue joined Aidan Montessori in 2004 as a Primary Assistant. At the start of her working life, Sue obtained a diploma in secretarial studies and worked as an administrative assistant for two multi-national companies. While working, inspired by her passion for uplifting children, she obtained her two diplomas from Colombo Montessori Teacher Training Center. She then accepted an appointment with The Footsteps Montessori School as a teacher in Kandy, Sri Lanka, where she worked for two years. She has also earned an AMI Assistant’s Certificate in the US.

Sue grew up in a coastal town in Sri Lanka and is fluent in Sinhala (or Sinhalese, as it is open known to English speakers). She is is a skilled seamstress and enjoys teaching others how to sew (for which some of our Discovery students thank her!). She loves taking her sons camping to teach them about outdoor living and scavenging. She also enjoys cooking, gardening, and traveling.

Mila Rey

Mila Rey

Primary Assistant, Dogwood Class

Mila Rey came to Aidan as a parent in 1995 and joined the staff in 1997. She grew up in the Philippines, and received a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Far Eastern University in Manila. She speaks Tagalog, likes cooking, and enjoys reading. Her daughter, Kristine, graduated from Aidan in 2004.

Autumn Wilson

Autumn Wilson

Primary Teacher, Persimmon Class

Autumn spent over 10 years teaching yoga to children and families before becoming a Montessori teacher. She also has a background in music and theatre, including having taken the Music Together teacher training. Autumn most recently taught in a public charter Montessori school in DC.

All four of Autumn's children have attended Montessori school beginning at the age of 3. Autumn is fluent in French, having studied during undergrad in Nice, France and having completed her AMI Montessori training in Paris. She enjoys yoga, theatre, music, reading, biking, and hiking.

Elementary

Shirley Cogasi

Shirley Cogasi

Lower Elementary Assistant, Magnolia Class

Shirley Cogasi came to Aidan in 1999. She received her B.S. In Education from Baguio Central University, Philippines. She worked in St. Francis Day School (now St. Andrew’s Lower School) in Potomac, MD, as a music support person and in the enrichment program. Recently, she received an AMI Assistants Course Certificate from Washington Montessori Institute at Loyola College. She also works part time at Bartholomew Assisted Living in Maryland as a Medication Technician.

John Feeley

John Feeley

Lower Elementary Teacher, Red Oak Class
John Feeley is a native of this city. He earned his B.A. (1976) and Master’s degree (1978) in Speech Pathology from the Catholic University of America. While working for the DC Public Schools, he took advantage of their Montessori retooling program and received his certification from the Washington Montessori Institute (1996: Elementary). He went on to earn his doctorate in Education, concentrating on literacy and curriculum, from the George Washington University in 1999. He has maintained his certification as a Speech Language Pathologist. He is a permanent deacon in the Archdiocese of Washington and an Advisory Neighborhood commissioner in the Michigan Park neighborhood of Washington. He has enjoyed teaching at Loyola University of Maryland as part of the Montessori Summer Training Institute. Dr. Feeley has worked at the Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. Institute, the DC Public Schools and Prince George's County Public Montessori programs. In fall of 2016, he acted as the Interim Upper Elementary Teacher at Aidan.

Dr. Feeley’s late wife, Helen Young, was a writer and editor in the Mayor’s office and a managing editor for the Northeast Star. He and his wife had no children. He has been fortunate to work with children from many area schools and summer camp programs over the years, including Green Acres, the George Washington University Aftercare program at Beauvoir, Robert Goddard Chess Club and Camp Maria Retreat Center. He has been a Cub Scout den and Pack leader, as well as charter representative for Pack 98 for many years. He has twenty nieces and nephews and five great-nieces and nephews and many godchildren. He is the co-author of Brookland (2012) from Arcadia Publishing and enjoys investigating neighborhood history.
Julia Isaza

Julia Isaza

Upper Elementary Teacher, Sweetgum Class
Alden Kendall

Alden Kendall

Upper Elementary Assistant, Sweet Gum Class

Alden joined Aidan's Upper Elementary team in January, 2018. After spending two years as a Primary Montessori Guide in Bethesda, he came to Aidan as Director of the After School Program (or ASP, as we usually call it), in which capacity he served Aidan from 2013-2018. In summer of 2017, Alden pursued AMI Adolescent program training, to enrich what he can offer Aidan's students. His love for spending time outdoors, together with his Montessori perspective, inform a lot of how ASP students spend their time - and why they so love the program.

Alden grew up all over the United States. He enjoys working with his hands. He spends much of his free time either in his woodshop, making odds and ends as well as customized Montessori materials, gardening, building, or outdoors, where he likes hiking, camping, and generally enjoying the natural world.

Emily Navarro

Emily Navarro

Literacy Specialist, Sweet Gum Class

Before joining the Aidan faculty, Emily most recently worked in student engagement at 826 Boston, a youth writing center. Prior to that, she served as a middle and high school English teacher for five years. In addition her other formal education, Emily spent a summer at Middlebury College's Bread Loaf School of English.

Outside Aidan, Emily most enjoys spending time with her family and exploring new places--especially while hiking or biking. She is looking forward to exploring the DC area.

Grace Pasco

Grace Pasco

Lower Elementary Teacher, Magnolia Class
Coming Soon!

Specialty

Eva Esparza

Eva Esparza

Music and Drama Teacher

In 2004, Eva created Aidan's Music Program, which combines choral lessons with general theory instruction and incorporates individual lessons during Montessori work cycles. During her time at Aidan she completed a graduate degree in theatre education, and as a result of that work, has designed music lessons that incorporate drama games and skills. She loves collaborating with colleagues to bring more arts integration into Aidan's classrooms. Before coming to Aidan, Eva taught Spanish and Drama at the Thornton Friends School in Silver Spring as well as English as a Second Language at Carlos Rosario International Public Charter School in DC. She has also worked as an apprentice costume designer at the Olney Theater Center.

Eva is passionate about making the arts accessible and enjoyable to all Aidan students. She enjoys playing the piano, yoga, tennis, and directing Aidan's Spring Musical (another tradition she started here, which incorporates all Elementary students as cast). She and her husband Ryan have three young children, Nora, Ellsworth and John, and she has been an Aidan parent for nine years.

Jill Hayward

Jill Hayward

Assistant Chinese Teacher

Jill is a Native Mandarin speaker, who comes to Aidan with experience both in international business and as a language tutor to English-speaking students. Prior to moving to the United States, Jill grew up in Taiwan. From 2010-16, she worked as a private Mandarin tutor in and around Clarksville and Columbia, Maryland. Prior to that, she worked in Taipei and Vienna as an international business trade exhibition coordinator for a Moscow-based company that served Europe and Dubai. She started her career with the Taiwanese Tourism Bureau as a tour manager in the 1998.

When Jill isn't at work, she enjoys cooking, watching movies, listening to music, and salsa dancing.

Elizabeth Henke

Elizabeth Henke

Substitute for Lead Faculty

Elizabeth Henke has served at Aidan as a Substitute for Lead Faculty, an Upper Elementary teacher, a Lower Elementary teacher, and as peace educator. After her undergraduate education, Elizabeth taught studio art at Kodaikanal International School in Tamil Nadu, India. After earning her AMI Elementary Diploma, she went on to pioneer the Upper Elementary program at Brilliant Star Montessori School on the South Pacific Island of Saipan for two years. She then taught humanities and ethics and directed community partnerships at Montessori High School at University Circle in Cleveland, Ohio for two years prior to earning her Masters. Upon returning from UPEACE, she co-founded the Montessori Institute for the Science of Peace, which provides key tools and experiences for Montessori adolescents to become peacebuilders.

Elizabeth herself is a product of Montessori education from Children's House through 8th grade. It was while she was attending Milwaukee Montessori School, at age 10, that she chose to become a Montessori teacher. Outside of Montessori, she enjoys dance parties with her two sons, creating their home with her husband, cooking, baking, laughing, hiking, singing, painting, reading, and many other gerunds.

Andrew Hurwitz

Andrew Hurwitz

Learning Support Specialist

Andy joined Aidan in this new position for the 2017-18 School Year. He works with teachers and parents to identify children who have learning challenges that can be helped with resources. Andrew observes in classrooms, meets with teachers and parents, and helps parents connect with resources for their children. Andrew also continues the school Tutor's work of providing direct support to children by way of tutoring, but his scope is more far reaching.

Prior to coming to Aidan, Andy served in a similar capacity at schools in Atlanta and Seattle. This year is his fifth working as a special education teacher and learning specialist. He has worked in many different kinds of special education teaching formats - including resource, inclusion, co-teacher, and autism/behavior self-contained - including one Montessori-inspired resource room as a student teacher. He also served as an Americorps member for two years in Washington state.

Andy has enjoyed time volunteering with therapy dogs at animal shelters. He's also having fun enjoying the greater DC area, taking classes through REI, traveling (he wants to go to Iceland and Chile soon!), paddle boarding, people watching, petting dogs, and contemplating getting a dalmatian (complete with frequent pro/con lists).

Phillip Katinas

Phillip Katinas

Director of Auxiliary Programs

Phillip is Aidan's Director of Auxiliary Services, a new position established for the 2018-19 school year. Phillip’s work in education began at the Sheridan School in DC, where he served as camp teacher at their Creative Arts and Summer Adventure Camp (CASA) while home from college during the summer. After several years as camp teacher, Phillip accepted a full-time role as the Program Manager for CASA and was ultimately promoted to the Assistant Director of Auxiliary Programs at Sheridan. As Sheridan's Assistant Director of Auxiliary Programs, Philip oversaw all after school and summer programs. He brings a wealth of knowledge to his new role at Aidan.

Phillip and his family are DC-natives and all still reside in the area. Phillip loves playing sports, especially ice hockey. He also enjoys exploring the great outdoors, biking, camping, and hiking. Philip spends his free time training his two Newfoundland dogs, who not only love to swim but are water-rescue certified.

Jessica Kwerel

Jessica Kwerel

School Counselor

Jessica has served as School Counselor at Aidan since 2009, supporting the social and emotional needs of students and their families. In addition to her education and counseling certifications, she has a background in ropes course facilitation, team building, and outdoor experiential education working with children, adolescents, and adults. As a member of the WAISC (Washington Area Independent School Counselor) group, Jessica participates in monthly meetings with other area independent school counselors to collaborate and share in current school counseling trends and topics relevant to the Aidan school community. Jessica holds professional memberships with the American School Counseling Association, the American Counseling Association, and the DC Mental Health Association. She has served as a volunteer counselor with Whitman-Walker clinic and the Wendt Center for Loss and Healing, and has volunteered with Capital Caring Hospice. Jessica is also passionate about animal-assisted therapy.

Jessica's mother, Linda Feldman, was Aidan’s librarian for 13 years. Jessica is an avid outdoor enthusiast and enjoys hiking and biking with her husband. They love going on adventures with their three beloved rescue dogs, Buford, Sam, and Tilly, as well as spending time with their toddler nieces.

Natalia Lopez

Natalia Lopez

Spanish Teacher

Natalia López first came to Aidan in 1989, left in 1998, and returned in 2002. She grew up in Cochabamba, Bolivia, where she received a B.S. in Elementary Education from Normal de Maestros Manuel A. Villarreal-Cochabamba. She worked for eight years as an elementary teacher at Instituto Americano at Cochabamba, Bolivia. At that time she worked with Christian Children’s Fund with children from different backgrounds. She also works as a Spanish Language and Culture teacher at the International Monetary Fund and as a Spanish Professor at Georgetown University. Natalia also speaks Portuguese. She enjoys reading; spending time with her grandchildren Diego, Daniella, Camilla and Derek; traveling; and meeting new people.

Minfang Maguire

Minfang Maguire

Mandarin Chinese Teacher

Fanfan is also known as Zou lao shi (“Teacher Zou”) to students. She is a native Chinese speaker who grew up in Taipei, Taiwan. After years working as a magazine editor in Taiwan, Fanfan put her French degree to work and studied cultural mediation in France. She also worked as an artist’s assistant and a docent at Palais de Tokyo in Paris. After Paris, Fanfan worked not only as a trilingual translator and a design journalist, but also an English and French teacher in Taiwan. Her varied, firsthand experiences around the world have lead Fanfan to believe in the Montessori method. She would like to pass on the passion for learning and worldly curiosity she gained in her own studies to her students. To that end, she strives to create a class environment that encourages students to apply their own interests as avenues for learning Chinese.

Margaret Skor

Margaret Skor

Art Teacher

Margaret joined Aidan as Art Teacher in 2017, in a convergence of her professional background in both art and childcare. She began her art career as a photographer and documentary filmmaker. Much of her work involved kids, schools, and nonprofits that work with children. She transitioned to working with children full-time as a nanny and found that she loved working one-on-one with young children and helping them to cultivate their self-expression and curiosity. She has also worked as a creator of group events, parties, and art workshops for children for 15 years.

Despite her newness to teaching here, Margaret has been a part of the Aidan community as a caregiver for two Aidan students for six years. She enjoyed getting involved in their Aidan classrooms and getting to know Aidan's community and the Montessori method. She also loves continuing to learn by taking advantage of all the museums and cultural events DC has to offer. You can find her taking photographs, reading, booking, crafting new projects, or just walking in the city in her free time.

Nell Stewart

Nell Stewart

Librarian

Nell started her library career with many years' experience working in academic and research libraries. She more recently became interested in school libraries, and so started taking courses in School Library Media and working as a substitute librarian and teacher in independent and public schools in the DC area. She served as a parent volunteer in Sidwell Friends' Lower School Library for several years, and has also volunteered at Little Falls Library, a branch of the Montgomery County Public Library system.

Nell loves to read, especially with her book club, of which she has been a member for 15 years. She also enjoys biking, swimming, gardening, baking, and spending time with her son and daughter.

Jordyn Walker

Jordyn Walker

Substitute for Assistants

Jordyn joined Aidan as a Toddler Assistant in Fall 2017 after doing extraordinary work with our Summer Camp as Head of Athletics and Morning Care. Prior to working at Aidan, she interned at Somerset County's Judy Center, which works with children and families aged 0-5 to make sure children are socially, emotionally, and academically ready for kindergarten. She also interned at Beaver Run Elementary as a social worker and helped developed 504 plans and had a caseload of students from kindergarten through grade 2. Jordyn's electives for social work and her minor in psychology focused on classes that involved child development and child welfare. She has also worked at camps for the last 7 summers in leadership positions. Jordyn spent her high school volunteer hours working with middle school students and helped toput on and prepare students for a benefit concert at the Filmore in Silver Spring.

Jordyn played soccer as a child until her junior year of high school, when she switched her focus to volunteering with kids. She gained over 400 community service hours at Roberto Clemente Middle School, where she found her passion for working with children in the community and making a difference. Jordyn was also a member of the sorority Phi Mu and spent a lot of her college experience giving back to the community, including being a captain for the sorority's Relay for Life team.

Before and After-School Programs & Discovery

Lakmali Cooray

Lakmali Cooray

ASP Assistant and Toddler Assistant, Mountain Silverbell Class

Mali came to Aidan as a Toddler Assistant in 2008. Prior to arriving at Aidan, she worked with Chevy Chase Baptist Church Children’s Center as teacher aide for two years and also dedicated time to raising her children. Prior to moving to the US in 2004, she studied both drafting and education, and worked as draftsman and teacher.

Mali grew up in Colombo, Sri Lanka. She currently lives in Rockville, MD, with her husband, teenage daughter, and son. Apart from interacting with children, she enjoys gardening, reading, and traveling.

Phillip Katinas

Phillip Katinas

Director of Auxiliary Programs

Phillip is Aidan's Director of Auxiliary Services, a new position established for the 2018-19 school year. Phillip’s work in education began at the Sheridan School in DC, where he served as camp teacher at their Creative Arts and Summer Adventure Camp (CASA) while home from college during the summer. After several years as camp teacher, Phillip accepted a full-time role as the Program Manager for CASA and was ultimately promoted to the Assistant Director of Auxiliary Programs at Sheridan. As Sheridan's Assistant Director of Auxiliary Programs, Philip oversaw all after school and summer programs. He brings a wealth of knowledge to his new role at Aidan.

Phillip and his family are DC-natives and all still reside in the area. Phillip loves playing sports, especially ice hockey. He also enjoys exploring the great outdoors, biking, camping, and hiking. Philip spends his free time training his two Newfoundland dogs, who not only love to swim but are water-rescue certified.

Nirmala Tennekoon

Nirmala Tennekoon

ASP Assistant and Toddler Assistant, Sassafras Class

Nirmala started her career working with children as a primary teacher in Sri Lanka from 2003 to 2004. She is returning to Aidan as a Toddler Assistant for the 2016-17 school year. Previously, Nirmala served Aidan as Program Coordinator for the Before & After School Program (B/ASP) from 2005 to 2011 and as a Primary Assistant from 2013 to 2014.

Nirmala's two daughters, Kalani and Bavya, attend Aidan. She loves water color painting and creating enticing mobiles!

Administration

Tatiana Barnes

Tatiana Barnes

Toddler Assistant, Sassafras Class and Event Coordinator

Tati, as she likes to be called, is a Toddler Assistant in Sassafras Class and Aidan's Event Coordinator (ensuring that each Aidan is set up perfectly). She has also served as Aidan's Substitute for Assistants (stepping in when colleagues are absent or taking breaks) in the past. In these roles, she has gotten to know a broad swath of the school community, both in and outside the classroom. Before coming to Aidan, Tati taught Spanish from Pre-K to 8th grade at Annunciation Catholic School.

Tati is from Caracas, Venezuela. She is married and has four children (three of whom have attended Aidan - so far). She loves spending time with her family, traveling and has a passion for baking.

Lan Bui

Lan Bui

Chief Financial Officer
Coming Soon!
Kevin Clark

Kevin Clark

Head of School

Kevin is a passionate educator whose leadership approach is deeply rooted in the global, collaborative, and facilitative nature of the Montessori pedagogy. He has more than 25 years of teaching and administrative experience, including eleven as a Head of Montessori schools. Prior to coming to Aidan, Kevin served as Head at Bay Farm Montessori Academy and Amherst Montessori School, both in Massachusetts. He also served as the President of the Montessori Schools of Massachusetts, an organization serving nearly 100 New England schools.

Kevin’s passion for education developed while in the Peace Corps, training teachers in Pakistan and teaching in Namibia. He went on to devote two years to English and Arabic studies at the American University in Cairo, deeply reflecting upon the processes of learning and teaching, while earning a master’s degree. Following his time in Egypt, Kevin taught at the British Council in Berlin, Germany, before returning to the US to direct multiple international student programs, including the English Language Center at Northeastern University. Appointed Assistant Head of a Montessori school in 2004, Kevin – a new father at the time – was instantly enlightened to a philosophy of learning that, in his words, was life changing.

In addition to his professional ties to Montessori, Kevin and his wife are the parents of three Montessori-educated children.

Ashley Espiritu

Ashley Espiritu

Media Designer and Publication Assistant
Coming soon!
Linda Fincham

Linda Fincham

Office Manager

Linda, born and raised in Maryland, attended Washington Bible College where she earned her B.A. in Education. After graduation, Linda was a Kindergarten teacher until the birth of her son. Rejoining the work force in 1988, she was offered a position as a Children’s Library Associate for Prince Georges County, Maryland, where she enjoyed planning story times for local schools until the birth of her daughter in 1991. After raising her daughter, Linda became the office manager for a computer company for six years but was anxious to return to work in an academic environment. From 2002-2013, she worked as an administrative assistant for the Speech-Language Department of The Lab School of Washington.

Linda enjoys spending time with her two grown children, Tim and Rachel, and she is very active in her church. On the weekends, Linda loves to dog sit and discover walking trails, and can often be found her with her nose in a good book.

Zelalem Geberu

Zelalem Geberu

Senior Accountant

Zelalem grew up in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. She has an associate degree in Banking and Finance and B.S. in Accounting. She worked as an Accountant for Bank of Abyssinia in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for four years. She also served as a Head Teller for Bank of America in Takoma Park before she joined Aidan, where she served as Staff Accountant until 2017, when she was promoted to Senior Accountant.

She lives in Clarksburg, MD with her husband Samuel and her beautiful daughter Beza who attends Aidan. She likes swimming, jogging, and reading.

Jacqueline Gibson-Barrow

Jacqueline Gibson-Barrow

Receptionist

Jacqueline Gibson-Barrow grew up in Barbados, where she studied accounting, and moved to the United States in 1985. She received her childcare certification from Montgomery College. Before joining Aidan, she worked as a nanny for eight years. She also works at the Arcola Health and Rehab Center (Nursing Home) part time. Jackie is a member of the Barbados National Association and is always ready to volunteer with the Aidan Parent Association.

She enjoys all kinds of craft and meeting people. Jackie has been married to her wonderful husband, Earl, for 25 years. They have an older son, Emerson, and a daughter, Lisa-Anne, (Aidan Class of 2009) Holton-Arms class of 2015. Lisa-Anne is currently attending San Diego State University on a Track and Field scholarship.

Alex Kranzlin

Alex Kranzlin

Buildings and Grounds Coordinator

Alex joined Aidan in this new position for the 2017-18 school year. Alex is on site three hours a day, five days a week and as needed above and beyond that. In addition to handling the school's day-to-day needs and working on improvement projects, Alex is also capable of building Montessori shelves and some materials. Alex also coordinates our outside vendors for projects in his area. From landscaping to installation art, we can all raise our expectations for the Aidan environment with his help this year.

Alex most recently worked at The Montessori School in Wilton, CT, where he held a similar position for two years. There, he also coached soccer, running club, and a summer sports camp. Prior to that, Alex worked for a private general contractor from 2004-2014.

Alex has a long history with Montessori schools. His grandmother started a Montessori school in Virginia, and his parents served on boards of Montessori schools for most of his childhood. He attended a Montessori school himself for Primary through Middle School and went on to high school at the prestigious Kent School, a preparatory school in New England. Alex loves motorcycles, cars, and the great outdoors.

Grace Lee

Grace Lee

Director of Admissions

Grace is an AMI Primary-trained guide and has worked in both independent and public Montessori schools. Prior to joining Aidan as Director of Admissions in 2016, she served as the Montessori Instructional Specialist for DCPS supporting all Primary programs and collaborating with Central Office to maintain and align Montessori standards and practices. She has also served as co-leader of the DC Montessori Coalition since 2013. She is also an AMI Primary Consultant, one of a small number of people rigorously trained and certified to assist Montessori schools in perfecting their craft as practitioners of the Montessori method.

Grace loves DC - and she especially loves that it is a unique hotbed of Montessori programs that creates amazing, high quality access to Montessori education across the private, public, and charter sectors. She also enjoys photography, especially of children and food (and sometimes helps document life at Aidan due to her talent behind the camera).

Denise Merkel

Denise Merkel

Director of Education

Denise enthusiastically returned to Aidan for the 2017-18 School Year as its Director of Education. During her tenure at Aidan, Denise has served as Director of the After School Program for 15 years, a Toddler Guide for 23 years, and the Coordinator of APF for the last 13 years. Denise has worked in the field of education for over four decades. In addition to her work at Aidan, she has taught third and seventh grade, been a reading resource and substitute teacher as well as a private tutor, and even served as Administrative Head of Christian Family Montessori School in DC. She has been a frequent guest lecturer at the Washington Montessori Institute at Loyola University, and has been invited to speak to parents at several local Montessori schools.

Denise grew up in suburban Washington, DC. She is the single parent of three grown children, each of whom attended Montessori schools. She enjoys gardening, baking, reading, de-cluttering, following her favorite sports teams, and listening to music.

Jimi Purse

Jimi Purse

Chief of Operations

Jimi joins Aidan in this new position for the 2017-18 School Year. He will be responsible for operations, project management and the Upper School (Lower and Upper Elementary). Jimi will be often seen in the elementary classrooms, providing support to teachers. He will also "lead from the middle" in the many collaborative projects that we have planned for the coming year. He will review operations, both large and small and help implement any necessary changes. Jimi has been working in Montessori education for ten years, most recently as a Head of School at Montessori Family School in Berkeley, California.

Cassie Sherman-Marks

Cassie Sherman-Marks

Director of Communications & Marketing

Cassie has a passion for helping good and unique schools reach and resonate with people. Prior to working at Aidan, Cassie served as the Director of Marketing & Communications at Greenspring Montessori School in Baltimore - a school with a remarkably similar history to Aidan's. Before that, she worked for Shimer, a small liberal arts college in Chicago, where she oversaw recruitment communications and held just about every role in the Office of Admission, including Interim Director (twice). Cassie became fascinated with unconventional pedagogies during her Great Books-based undergraduate experience, and has dedicated her career to serving schools that take different approaches to education.

Cassie lives in Baltimore with her spouse Martin and their two-year-old Sam, who has a Montessori nursery. She loves reading books ranging from the diversionary to the profound, hiking and biking in the large wilderness park in her backyard, and seeing what her garden can grow.