Leta Koerber

Ms. Koerber was born in Seattle, Washington to the proud parents of Mary and Johnny Anderson of Hot Springs and Hope, Arkansas. She grew up in Monterey, California near the beach. In 1971 Leta’s family relocated to Berkeley, California where Leta enjoyed taking care of her three younger siblings. Leta graduated from Golden Gate Academy and moved to Riverside, California and attended Riverside Medical School; after a year she realized that this was not the direction she wanted to go. Leta graduated from Contra Costa Collage in San Pablo, California persuing a degree in Early Childhood Education. In 1989 Leta started searching for a job closer to home. She feels blessed to be a part of the Grand Lake Montessori community. After working in the afternoon program and assisting Ms. Campbell in the toddler classroom, she realized that furthering her education in Montessori would be a good idea. She started taking classes at Contra Costa College through Fountainhead Montessori School. Following, supporting, having fun, and being a true advocate for the child is what Leta believes helps children develop fully. She enjoys all types of music, singing, dancing outdoor adventures and being in the Juniper classroom, which keeps her young and her brain sharp.

Theresa Lin

Ms. Lin is originally from Kaohsiung, Taiwan. After graduating from college in Taiwan with a diploma in Nursing, she discovered Maria Montessori’s philosophy while babysitting for neighborhood children who attended a Montessori preschool. She decided to travel to the United States to pursue a Master’s degree in Montessori Education and received Early Childhood Teaching Credentials from the American Montessori Society (AMS) through Saint Mary’s College of California. She has been a Mandarin Montessori teacher in bilingual schools, in various classrooms from age two to twelve years old, in and around the East Bay for 12 years. She joined GLM in 2014. Her inspiration for teaching is that it’s like planting a little seed and nurturing it with peace and love, so that she can help make a more beautiful world. In her spare time she enjoys Zen meditation, cleaning, studying and eating nutritious food, also dining, shopping and traveling with friends.

Jonathan Gordillo

Mr. Gordillo was born in California and is a proud Oakland native. He is currently attending Cal State East Bay to earn his B.A. in Liberal Studies (multi-subject) in hopes of becoming an educator for future generations. His interest in working with children began in 2013 when he volunteered for a non-profit organization as a reading tutor in several elementary schools in East Oakland. The organization focused on closing the literacy gap in underserved schools. In 2016 he began working for that same non-profit as a tier two-literacy interventionist. He discovered GLM through a substitute agency he was working for. It was here that he was introduced to the Montessori philosophy, which resonated with him. He very much liked that the philosophy deepens one’s understanding of the potential of children and their unique abilities to transform the world. When he is not at GLM, he enjoys going on long hikes, playing the piano, writing scores, live music and spending time with family and friends.

Liz Niehaus

Liz Niehaus

Liz is a lifelong educator who is in her second year at Grand Lake Montessori. After years of teaching using traditional methods in public charter schools, Liz is thrilled to have found her home in the Montessori method and community. She was originally drawn to the Montessori method for the way it permits children to unfold along a natural course of development and make discoveries for themselves. Liz views her role in Montessori education is to honor and value each child for exactly who they are, and guide them towards an even better version of themselves.

Liz’s current, urgent projects for self-development include growing as: an educator and human with an active anti-racist practice, a steward of the land she inhabits, and a student of indigenous life ways past and present. She has a special passion for quality children’s literature, and her affinity for hiking, biking, crafting, baking, and gardening often show up in Jacaranda community life. Liz earned her B.A. from Dartmouth College, M.Ed from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and AMI Primary Montessori certificate from Montessori Northwest.

Milvia Ricci

Milvia Ricci was born in Lima, Peru to a family of Italian immigrants. She attended the Spanish/German bilingual Santa Ursula School and The British Academy, where she obtained a bilingual secretarial degree. At The Pacifico University, she majored in international trade, finance and administration, working thereafter as an executive assistant for multinational companies. She moved to San Francisco in the year 2000. She now resides in the East Bay with her daughter Michela. After enrolling Michela in a Montessori program Milvia grew interested in early childhood education and the Montessori Method. She obtained the American Montessori Society early childhood teacher certificate from the San Francisco Bay Area Montessori Teacher Education Center in San Leandro before working at the Berkeley Montessori School. Milvia comes to GLM following seven years at the Applegarden Montessori School in Montclair. Milvia enjoys children and treasures time spent with her family and friends.

Eileen Galindo

Ms. Galindo was born in Lima, Peru. She came to the U.S. as a teenager and has lived in the Bay Area (Daly City, San Francisco and currently in Alameda) ever since. She obtained her B.A in Psychology from San Francisco State University. Her original career plan was to get her Marriage and Family Therapist license but after having her daughter Kylie in 2010, she discovered a passion for early child development. She worked as an Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) instructor for children on the autism spectrum. While volunteering for her daughter’s preschool, she decided to go back to school and earn her credits for her ECE Site Supervisor Permit. She completed her practicum at a Spanish Immersion preschool in San Francisco. Currently, Eileen is completing her AMI Primary training at Montessori Northwest as well as her Masters in Education at Whitworth University. She is honored to be part of the GLM community and hopes to nurture each child’s uniqueness and encourage their independence during their important formative years. During her free time, Eileen enjoys reading, going to the movies, theater and musicals, listening to true crime podcasts and enjoying time with her family.

Deserae Bright

Ms. Bright was born and raised in Oakland. She loves her hometown and appreciates all of the diversity of people living within it. She has a twin brother and was raised in a diverse family with a host of cousins, aunties and uncles. Her interest in working with children began when she was in high school and was involved in a program called the Future Teachers Academy, as well as through time spent taking care of her younger cousins, nieces and nephews. She began working at Grand Lake Montessori in 2001. During her time at GLM she has earned her AMI Montessori Primary teaching credential. She strongly believes that children should have fun while learning. Her goal is to help them develop a love of learning, so that they continue to pursue their passions and interests throughout life. Her own passions include music, dance and a new-found love for theatrical arts.

Somsy Phonexaysitthidet

Ms. Phonexaysitthidet (PON-SE-SIT-TI-DAY) was born in Laungprabang, Laos and came to the United States in 1980. She graduated from high school in 1984 at Fremont High. In 1985 she began working at a public elementary school as a Laotian bilingual support teacher and stayed until 2003. While in the service of public education, she went back to college for five years to study liberal arts. In mid 2003 she was introduced to Montessori and impressed with the philosophy, she decided to take the Montessori training at the Montessori Teacher Education Center in San Leandro. She then worked at Rising Starr Montessori school for seven years years, before joining GLM in 2011. She has been living in Oakland for three decades and married for thirty three years to a wonderful husband who served in the social services in Oakland. It is an honor for her to support and teach within the GLM community. In her spare time she enjoys working out at the gym and cooking healthy food from scratch.

Ling Xiang

Ms. Xiang was born in GuangXi, China. She relocated to the US with her family when she was a teenager. She graduated from San Francisco State University with a B.A. degree in Child and Adolescent Development. She has also received her A.M.S. (American Montessori Society) credential through Saint Mary’s College and is trained in Montessori to teach Primary (3-6 years). She taught at a bilingual Montessori school for the past five years before joining GLM. In her free time, Ling enjoys hiking and spending time with her friends and family.