Faculty and Staff

Toddler

Nicole Barba

Nicole Barba

Interim Toddler Teacher for Ms. Manuel's 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. Currently, Nicole is finishing 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.

Lakmali Cooray

Lakmali Cooray

Toddler Assistant to Ms. Williams and ASP Assistant

Lakmali (Mali) Cooray grew up in Colombo, Sri Lanka. She received her diploma in Drafting from the Sri Lanka Technical College and a diploma in Primary School Teaching from the Sri Lanka Syane College of Education. Lakmali served as draftsman and teacher before she left Sri Lanka in 2004, and dedicated her time to raising her children. She worked with Chevy Chase Baptist Church Children’s Center as teacher aide for two years.

She currently lives in Rockville, MD, with her husband, young daughter, and son. Apart from interacting with children, she enjoys gardening, reading, and traveling.

Eva Esparza

Eva Esparza

Music Teacher & Toddler Assistant to Ms. Williams

Eva created Aidan's music program in 2004. Eva is also a Level 1 certified Orff-Schulwerk music teacher from George Mason University. Before coming to Aidan, she taught Spanish and Drama at the Thornton Friends School in Silver Spring, MD and taught ESL (English as a Second Language) at Carlos Rosario International Public Charter School in Washington D.C. She has also worked as an apprentice costume designer at the Olney Theater Center.

Eva enjoys playing the piano, yoga, tennis, and directing the Spring musical at Aidan. She and her husband Ryan have three young children, Nora, Ellsworth and John.

Zinat Khraishah

Zinat Khraishah

Toddler Assistant to Ms. Manuel & ASP Assistant

Zinat, a native of Palestine, started her career at Aidan 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. 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. In the summer of 2016, Zinat completed the Washington Montessori Institute’s AMI Primary Assistant’s Certification training at Loyola University, and she has completed Montessori workshops on a variety of topics including Assistant’s Training, music, and parent education. Zinat is a native Arabic speaker who enjoys gardening, reading, cooking and traveling. Her daughter, Janine, is an honors graduate of Brown University and is working on her MBA at Harvard University. Her son, Omar, is an honors graduate of the Schreyer Honors College at Penn State University.

Allison Manuel

Allison Manuel

Toddler Teacher

Allison Manuel grew up in North Carolina. She graduated from Appalachian State University with a B.A. in Psychology and Cultural Anthropology in 2004 and completed her M. Ed (Montessori) from Loyola in 2011. She has worked with various youth development programs in DC including For Love of Children (FLOC) and has served as in a variety of outdoor education roles. She is currently working to become a RIE associate and loves facilitating parent/infant classes and working with parents. Allison has a diploma in AMI Assistance to Infancy 0-3 years and is a certified yoga instructor. She lives in Takoma DC and loves playing outside and spending time with her family.

Nirmala Tennekoon

Nirmala Tennekoon

Toddler Assistant to Ms. Manuel & ASP Assistant

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

Iris Williams first worked for Aidan as a substitute teacher in the 1990's and was hired as a toddler guide in 1999. She left when her son was born in 2001 and returned to care for toddlers in 2009. She received her degree in Business Administration in Bremen, Germany (where she was born and spent her first 26 years) and worked for Mercedes-Benz for seven years. After she came to the United States in 1986, she met her husband Bob, a Montessori Elementary teacher in Alexandria. She took the AMI Primary (3 - 6) training in 1989 in Washington, DC, and the AMI Assistance to Infancy (0 - 3) training in 1993 in Denver, CO. Iris enjoys learning about children, watching her son grow into a teenager, the human psyche and practicing meditation.

Primary

Claudia Caihuara

Claudia Caihuara

Primary Teacher

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

Teri grew up on the gulf coast of Florida, then moved to Washington, DC to attend college where she earned a B.A. in Speech Communications from George Mason University. After graduation, Teri spent a decade traveling the world producing television for The Discovery Channel, TLC and Public Television. In 2003, after having twin boys, she attended Loyola University Maryland where she earned a Master of Education and her AMI Primary Diploma from the Washington Montessori Institute.

Teri and her husband live in Alexandria, VA with their two sons, who graduated from Aidan in 2016.

Monserrat Hernandez

Monserrat Hernandez

Primary Teacher

Monserrat completed her Primary, Montessori training at the Washington Montessori Institute in 1981. She, has worked in Montessori schools in the Philippines and in the Washington, area for 15 years before joining Aidan. She grew up in Quezon City, Philippines and graduated from the University of the Philippines with a, BSHE major in Family Life and Child Development. She enjoys reading, yoga, traveling, decorative painting and spending time with friends and, family, particularly, her new grandchild, Marlowe. Aside form English, she also speaks Tagalog, Ilocano (a Filipino dialect) and Spanish.

Lanka Mudannayake

Lanka Mudannayake

Primary Assistant to Ms. Caihuara

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.

Caroline Parrish

Caroline Parrish

Primary Assistant to Ms. Wilson

Caroline comes to Aidan as an Assistant after having served in the same role at two other Montessori schools. Her interest in working in a Montessori school was sparked by personal experience; Caroline herself attended a Montessori school from ages 2 to 11.

When she's not working, Caroline enjoys slacklining, yoga, hiking, and painting.

Sudharshini Perera

Sudharshini Perera

Primary Assistant to Ms. Eckel & ASP Assistant

Sudharshini (Sue) Perera grew up in a coastal town in Sri Lanka. She obtained a diploma in secretarial studies and worked as an administrative assistant for two multi-national companies. While working, she obtained diplomas in Montessori Education (2002) and Child Psychology (2000) from the Colombo Montessori Teacher Training Center. She then accepted an appointment with The Footsteps Montessori as a teacher in Kandy, Sri Lanka. She obtained an AMI Assistant’s Certificate in 2008. She is fluent in Sinhala, the native language of Sri Lanka. She enjoys being with her two boys, cooking, gardening, and traveling.

Mila Rey

Mila Rey

Primary Assistant to Ms. Hernández & After School Program Staff

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

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. Autumn is thrilled to be joining the Aidan community as a teacher and a parent this year!

Elementary

Shirley Cogasi

Shirley Cogasi

Lower Elementary Assistant to Ms. Majeed

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.

Elizabeth Henke

Elizabeth Henke

Upper Elementary Teacher
Elizabeth Henke has served at Aidan as the Upper Elementary teacher, a Lower Elementary teacher, the Elementary substitute, and as peace educator. She attended St. Olaf College, where she triple majored in studio art, peace studies, and education. After graduating, she taught studio art at Kodaikanal International School in Tamil Nadu, India. Later, she obtained the AMI Elementary Diploma at Fondazione Centro Internazionale Studi Montessoriani (FCISM) in Bergamo, Italy, and went on to pioneer the Upper Elementary program at Brilliant Star Montessori School on the South Pacific Island of Saipan for two years. She taught in the humanities department at Montessori High School at University Circle in Cleveland, Ohio for two years prior to receiving her Masters in Peace Education from the United Nations mandated University for Peace in Costa Rica in June, 2012. Upon returning from UPEACE, she co-founded the Montessori Institute for the Science of Peace. Elizabeth enjoys hiking, cooking, reading, playing cards and board games, travel, languages and spending time with her family. Elizabeth loves participating in the Aidan community not only as a teacher, but also as a parent; her son, Andreu, sings everyday on their walk to Ms. William's Toddler community.

Elizabeth is looking forward to returning to teach Upper Elementary in January 2017, following maternity leave and the birth of her second son, Pau.
Zahra Majeed

Zahra Majeed

Lower Elementary Teacher

Zahra looks forward each year at Aidan to helping students develop character, community, cosmic purpose, and other foundations of peace. She fell in love with Montessori education as a Primary student in Colombo, Sri Lanka and felt compelled to become an educator when volunteering with children in inner-city Columbus, Ohio. After studying economics at the Ohio State University, she lived across the United States, teaching and developing education and human capital programs with Teach For America, New Sector, The New Teacher Project, and Education Pioneers. Experiences with a variety of programs confirmed her deep interest in Montessori education. She completed her AMI Elementary diploma from the Washington Montessori Institute and is now working towards her MS in Educational Studies at Johns Hopkins University. Zahra lives in Maryland with her husband and enjoys cooking, traveling, and studying world cultures and history.

Joy Messick

Joy Messick

Lower Elementary Assistant to Ms. Russell

Joy Messick received her AMI Elementary diploma from Montessori Northwest and her Masters degree in Education from Loyola University. Prior to discovering Montessori she worked in New York and Atlanta as a photographer. She earned her Bachelors degree in Telecommunications and Film from The University of Alabama, and a Photography certificate from The Creative Circus. She enjoys photography, music, reading, knitting, gardening, and hiking.

Emily Navarro

Emily Navarro

Upper Elementary Assistant

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.

Camille Russell

Camille Russell

Lower Elementary Teacher

Cammy grew up in Delaware and graduated from the University of Delaware with a degree in Biology and Anthropology. Shortly after graduation, she discovered Montessori education and became certified as a 6-12 Elementary Teacher through the Institute for Advanced Montessori Studies. For nine years, Cammy taught Lower Elementary in Delaware and then at the Montessori School of Northern Virginia. In 2013, Cammy and her 2 daughters joined the Aidan community. She has served as an Elementary Assistant and long-term substitute, and is very excited to take on the role of Lead Elementary Teacher. She enjoys handcrafts, reading, and spending time outdoors with her family.

Specialty

Tatiana Barnes

Tatiana Barnes

Event Coordinator & Substitute for Assistants

Tati is from Caracas, Venezuela. She has a BA in Business and Administration from the Andrés Bello Catholic University. She is married and has three children, Mia, Tee and Beau. Mia and Tee both attended Aidan.Before coming to Aidan, she was teaching Spanish, Pre-K to 8th grade at Annunciation Catholic School. She loves spending time with her family, traveling and has a passion for baking.

Susanna Barton-Smith

Susanna Barton-Smith

Assistant Physical Education Teacher & ASP Assistant

Prior to joining the Aidan family, Susanna worked as a director for several youth and teens Therapeutic Recreation Programs for The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (MNCPPC). She also worked at Results Gym in Capital Hill for several years, where she taught Intense Group Fitness classes, Kids' Mania Fitness classes, and Kids' Rock Wall. The year before she came to Aidan, Susanna enjoyed teaching gymnastics classes for children with The Little Gym as a Lead Instructor. Even in college, Susanna was already working on coordinating annual physical education events for local elementary schools.

Susanna's family is originally from Kingston, Jamaica. She loves and has competed in several sports throughout her life including basketball, volleyball, soccer, flag football, and cross country/track and field - in which she competed at the collegiate level. Susanna enjoys traveling, dancing, music, action movies, and board games. She also recently began playing drums, which she is surprised and delighted to find that she's good at.

Eva Esparza

Eva Esparza

Music Teacher & Toddler Assistant to Ms. Williams

Eva created Aidan's music program in 2004. Eva is also a Level 1 certified Orff-Schulwerk music teacher from George Mason University. Before coming to Aidan, she taught Spanish and Drama at the Thornton Friends School in Silver Spring, MD and taught ESL (English as a Second Language) at Carlos Rosario International Public Charter School in Washington D.C. She has also worked as an apprentice costume designer at the Olney Theater Center.

Eva enjoys playing the piano, yoga, tennis, and directing the Spring musical at Aidan. She and her husband Ryan have three young children, Nora, Ellsworth and John.

John Feeley

John Feeley

Substitute for Teachers
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.
Jill Hayward

Jill Hayward

Assistant Mandarin 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.

Ami Jenkins

Ami Jenkins

Art Teacher

Ami comes to Aidan mid-year in 2016 as our new Art Teacher. Prior to working at Aidan, she taught studio art and sculpture to middle and high school students. In addition to her extensive academic qualifications for the post, Ami brings experience gained while volunteering with Portland Childrens's Museum, where she had the opportunity to learn about the Reggio Emilia philosophy as it applies to art education from toddler through elementary aged students.

Ami is married and has a 15 year old daughter. As an artist, she works with clay. She and her family enjoy spending time hiking with their dogs and kayaking.

Joanna Kendrick

Joanna Kendrick

Director of Tutoring Programs

Joanna was born in Charleroi, PA. She earned a B.A. in Biology from the Franciscan University of Steubenville. She received her Montessori certifications from the Washington Montessori Institute (1973: Primary, 1987: Elementary), and helped start Christian Family Montessori where her children attended school. After 34 years as a classroom teacher, last 16 years at Aidan, Jo came out of the classroom to work tutoring children. She holds a graduate level certificate from Trinity University’s Education for Parish Service program and is a member of AMI-EAA (Elementary Alumni Association). Mrs. Kendrick has worked in both the Milwaukee and Prince George's County Public Montessori Magnet programs.

Jo has also trained in Early Stages Assessment through the DC Public Schools, where she learned to identify the needs of students from 6 months to 5 years of age.

Mrs. Kendrick is one of seven girls. She has three children, four grandsons and a granddaughter. She enjoys scrap-booking, reading, dancing, handcrafts of all kinds, and being a grandmother. She has some proficiency in American Sign Language.

Jessica Kwerel

Jessica Kwerel

School Counselor

Jessica received her B.A. from Mary Washington College and her M.S. in Counseling from the University of Wyoming. Jessica is a Nationally Certified Counselor and a Licensed Graduate Professional Counselor with a background in ropes course facilitation, team building, and outdoor experiential education. 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.

Jessica's mother, Linda Feldman, was Aidan’s librarian for 13 years. Jessica is an avid outdoor enthusiast and is also active in the DC area rowing community. She loves spending time with her fiancé and their three rescue dogs.

Bryan Librizzi

Bryan Librizzi

Physical Education Teacher (Discovery and Summer Programs)

Bryan has been in Elementary and Middle School education since he was 20 years old, and enjoys going to work every day. He has held various teaching and administrative positions in schools around the US. He began teaching in 2001 at Alimacani Elementary School in DC Public Schools, first Physical Education and then 2nd grade. In 2003, he moved to Jacksonville Country Day School and taught Pre-K to 6 Physical Education and Swimming. In 2010, he completed a principalship at Ribault High School in DCPS. In 2010/2011, he taught 5th & 6th grade Math and Science for DCPS before moving to New Hampshire to be a Dean at Hampshire Country School. In 2011/2012 SY, Bryan returned to D.C to work at Janney Elementary School. While at Janney, Bryan served as a non-traditional Assistant Principal, Executive Director of Janney After Care, Director of Operations for Janney After School Programs, Director of Activities, and Director of Early Childhood Movement. This year, in addition to working at Aidan,Bryan is a morning administrator at Brookland Middle School.

Bryan's interest in athletics started early. In high school, he played football, wrestles, and ran track. In college, he played football.

Bryan, along with his mother, father, older brother, and sister, grew up in Central Florida. He comes from a very large Italian family, mostly situated in South Florida. His older brother is a priest in Orlando, and his sister works for the National Engineer's Association here in Washington, D.C. Bryan's mother and father are living the retirement dream in Florida. His father is a four-time retired middle school English teacher and his mother has worked in and around finance. He is pleased to report that he still sees them often; they split their time between here and Orlando, taking care of their two Westie puppies, dancing, and holding hands when they walk down the street. In his free time, Bryan enjoys reading (especially sci fi and fantasy), playing co-ed competitive sports, outdoor hiking and trail running, deep wilderness camping, playing video games, & going to the gym. On weekends, he relaxes and hikes with friends and attends church every Sunday.


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.

Lydia Mosher

Lydia Mosher

Cultural Arts Teacher

Lydia Mosher grew up in Detroit, MI, in a family with three generations of teachers. After receiving a B.S. in Botany and Education from Howard University, she taught Junior High science for four years at a DC public school. She trained at Washington Montessori Institute (Primary: 1968, Elementary: 1977). She was one of the founding teachers at New City Montessori and did Montessori consultation and album reading when her two sons were young before joining Evergreen Montessori where she taught for 20 years and was Head of School for seven. Outside of school hours, she has taught yoga, pottery, and cooking, all of which are activities she still loves. She also enjoys ancient history, reading, canoeing, t'ai chi, and making artist books. She and her husband have two sons, Sham and Ram, and three grandchildren—Priya, Kano, and Zadie.

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.

Before and After-School Programs & Discovery

Lakmali Cooray

Lakmali Cooray

Toddler Assistant to Ms. Williams and ASP Assistant

Lakmali (Mali) Cooray grew up in Colombo, Sri Lanka. She received her diploma in Drafting from the Sri Lanka Technical College and a diploma in Primary School Teaching from the Sri Lanka Syane College of Education. Lakmali served as draftsman and teacher before she left Sri Lanka in 2004, and dedicated her time to raising her children. She worked with Chevy Chase Baptist Church Children’s Center as teacher aide for two years.

She currently lives in Rockville, MD, with her husband, young daughter, and son. Apart from interacting with children, she enjoys gardening, reading, and traveling.

Alden Kendall

Alden Kendall

Director of After School Programs

Alden grew up all over the United States. He attended the Rochester Institute of Technology, obtaining a B.F.A. in Film, before pursuing an AMI Primary Certification from the Montessori Institute Northwest in Portland, Oregon and a Master’s degree in Early Childhood Education from the Loyola University of Baltimore. After spending two years as a Primary guide in Bethesda, Maryland, he joined the team at Aidan. He spends much of his free time either in his woodshop, making odds and ends as well as customized Montessori materials, or outdoors, hiking, camping, and generally enjoying the natural world.

Zinat Khraishah

Zinat Khraishah

Toddler Assistant to Ms. Manuel & ASP Assistant

Zinat, a native of Palestine, started her career at Aidan 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. 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. In the summer of 2016, Zinat completed the Washington Montessori Institute’s AMI Primary Assistant’s Certification training at Loyola University, and she has completed Montessori workshops on a variety of topics including Assistant’s Training, music, and parent education. Zinat is a native Arabic speaker who enjoys gardening, reading, cooking and traveling. Her daughter, Janine, is an honors graduate of Brown University and is working on her MBA at Harvard University. Her son, Omar, is an honors graduate of the Schreyer Honors College at Penn State University.

Bryan Librizzi

Bryan Librizzi

Physical Education Teacher (Discovery and Summer Programs)

Bryan has been in Elementary and Middle School education since he was 20 years old, and enjoys going to work every day. He has held various teaching and administrative positions in schools around the US. He began teaching in 2001 at Alimacani Elementary School in DC Public Schools, first Physical Education and then 2nd grade. In 2003, he moved to Jacksonville Country Day School and taught Pre-K to 6 Physical Education and Swimming. In 2010, he completed a principalship at Ribault High School in DCPS. In 2010/2011, he taught 5th & 6th grade Math and Science for DCPS before moving to New Hampshire to be a Dean at Hampshire Country School. In 2011/2012 SY, Bryan returned to D.C to work at Janney Elementary School. While at Janney, Bryan served as a non-traditional Assistant Principal, Executive Director of Janney After Care, Director of Operations for Janney After School Programs, Director of Activities, and Director of Early Childhood Movement. This year, in addition to working at Aidan,Bryan is a morning administrator at Brookland Middle School.

Bryan's interest in athletics started early. In high school, he played football, wrestles, and ran track. In college, he played football.

Bryan, along with his mother, father, older brother, and sister, grew up in Central Florida. He comes from a very large Italian family, mostly situated in South Florida. His older brother is a priest in Orlando, and his sister works for the National Engineer's Association here in Washington, D.C. Bryan's mother and father are living the retirement dream in Florida. His father is a four-time retired middle school English teacher and his mother has worked in and around finance. He is pleased to report that he still sees them often; they split their time between here and Orlando, taking care of their two Westie puppies, dancing, and holding hands when they walk down the street. In his free time, Bryan enjoys reading (especially sci fi and fantasy), playing co-ed competitive sports, outdoor hiking and trail running, deep wilderness camping, playing video games, & going to the gym. On weekends, he relaxes and hikes with friends and attends church every Sunday.


Sudharshini Perera

Sudharshini Perera

Primary Assistant to Ms. Eckel & ASP Assistant

Sudharshini (Sue) Perera grew up in a coastal town in Sri Lanka. She obtained a diploma in secretarial studies and worked as an administrative assistant for two multi-national companies. While working, she obtained diplomas in Montessori Education (2002) and Child Psychology (2000) from the Colombo Montessori Teacher Training Center. She then accepted an appointment with The Footsteps Montessori as a teacher in Kandy, Sri Lanka. She obtained an AMI Assistant’s Certificate in 2008. She is fluent in Sinhala, the native language of Sri Lanka. She enjoys being with her two boys, cooking, gardening, and traveling.

Mila Rey

Mila Rey

Primary Assistant to Ms. Hernández & After School Program Staff

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.

Nirmala Tennekoon

Nirmala Tennekoon

Toddler Assistant to Ms. Manuel & ASP Assistant

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

Jessica Allen Young

Jessica Allen Young

Director of Advancement

Jessica Allen Young is a native Washingtonian who originally came to Aidan to work in the classroom. Working with children has always been a passion for Jessica. After years in the classroom, Jessica transitioned to first assisting and now leading the school's Advancement efforts. Her long history with the Aidan community makes her a wonderful fit for this role.

Jessica has three sons, two of whom are alums of Aidan. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, reading, and exploring the world through her sons’ eyes.

Alfreda Antonucci

Alfreda Antonucci

Admissions Associate

Alfreda Antonucci grew up in Aliquippa, Pennsylvania. She has a B.A. in Sociology from Wheeling Jesuit University and studied developmental psychology at West Virginia University. She received her AMI Primary Diploma in 1974 from Washington Montessori Institute. Prior to coming to Aidan, she had 14 years of teaching experience in DC, MD, and VA. Alfreda worked as Album Reader, Practical Assistant, and Director of Admissions/Registrar for the Washington Montessori Institute. She also worked for 10 years with the DC Government, as legislative analyst in the Executive Office of the Mayor and for the Metropolitan Police Department. She belongs to St. Peter’s Catholic Church on Capitol Hill and enjoys yoga and being part of a book club.

Tatiana Barnes

Tatiana Barnes

Event Coordinator & Substitute for Assistants

Tati is from Caracas, Venezuela. She has a BA in Business and Administration from the Andrés Bello Catholic University. She is married and has three children, Mia, Tee and Beau. Mia and Tee both attended Aidan.Before coming to Aidan, she was teaching Spanish, Pre-K to 8th grade at Annunciation Catholic School. She loves spending time with her family, traveling and has a passion for baking.

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.

Nichole David

Nichole David

Director of Toddler & Primary Programs

Nicky was born and grew up in St. Louis, Missouri. She received her B.A. in Women’s Studies and French from the University of Kansas. After moving to Washington, DC, she took an administrative position at the Washington Montessori Institute. In 1998, she received her AMI Primary Diploma from WMI and an M.Ed. from Loyola College. She spent eight years working at Mater Amoris Montessori School in Ashton, MD, a recognized AMI school. While there, she taught for four years before the birth of her daughter. Then, she became an administrator, assisting the school in its day-to-day operations.

She lives in Takoma Park, MD, with her husband, Aaron, an architect in Georgetown. Her daughter, Sylvia, graduated from Aidan in 2014 and attends Hershey Montessori Farm School in Ohio.

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

Staff 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.

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

School Office Assistant

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.

Christine Kranz Smith

Christine Kranz Smith

Associate Head of School

Chris Kranz Smith came to Aidan as a parent in 1990 and joined the staff in 1991. She grew up in Kankakee, Illinois. She has been involved in Montessori education for over 30 years as a Primary teacher, Elementary teacher, and administrator. After graduating from Purdue University cum laude with a B.S. in Child Development, she completed her AMS Primary Montessori training at The Midwest Montessori Teacher Training Center in Chicago, IL. She began her Montessori teaching career at the Montessori School of Champaign-Urbana in Champaign, IL, followed by a move to Washington, DC where she taught Primary, Elementary, and served as Division Head at the Barrie School. She received her AMS Elementary diploma in 1984. Chris is a member of the Montessori Administrators Association, the DC Montessori Coalition, and participates in the FolioCollaborative, a community formed to enrich the professional development process for faculty and staff.

Chris, along with her husband Jim, enjoy entertaining family and friends, traveling, and the great outdoors. Their two children, Danny, an attorney in D.C. and Molly, a PhD candidate at Johns Hopkins, both attended Aidan Montessori School.

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, Grace 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 is also co-leader of the DC Montessori Coalition. Grace received her BA in History at Georgetown University, and her Masters in Education and AMI Primary Diploma from the Washington Montessori Institute at Loyola University. Grace is widely known in the Washington DC metro area for her advocacy for children and for organizational leadership. She enjoys playing volleyball, exploring new and old hidden gems in the city, and photography.

Denise Merkel

Denise Merkel

Aidan Program for Families Coordinator

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 12 years. She grew up in suburban Washington, DC, and graduated from the University of Maryland with a B.S. in Education. She received her M.Ed. in Reading from Bowie State University and her AMI Primary Diploma from the Washington Montessori Institute. She has worked in the field of education for over four decades: in addition to her work at Aidan, she's 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. 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.

Carmelita Sangalang

Carmelita Sangalang

Chief Financial Officer

Prior to becoming Aidan's CFO in 2017, Carmelita was the school's Controller for eight years. Prior to coming to Aidan, Carmelita was a Controller of a large organization and licensed CPA in the State of Maryland. She received her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of the Philippines and her Master’s degree from the University of Maryland. Carmelita and her husband, Efren, also an accountant, do salsa dancing while brewing coffee in the morning. Currently, she and her husband are into yoga and they both enjoy shavasana.

Tam Scribner

Tam Scribner

Graphic Designer

Tam Scribner was born in Thailand and moved to DC in 1976. She graduated from the Duke Ellington School of the Arts. She earned a B.F.A. from the Corcoran College of Art and Design then received a Master’s degree from NYU. Tam has produced both print and web design for a variety of clients, including MOMA, Morgan Stanley, and the Smithsonian. She has taught classes at NYU and Apple Computer.

Cassie Sherman-Marks

Cassie Sherman-Marks

Director of Communications & Marketing

Cassie has a passion for helping good and unique models of education 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 husband and infant son, 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.

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