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.

Jonathan Gordillo

Mr. Gordillo was born in California and is a proud Oakland native. He hold’s a BA in Liberal Studies (multi-subject) from Cal State East Bay as well as a Primary Montessori Teaching Diploma from Montessori Northwest. Mr. Gordillo’s 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.

Karen Johnson

Born in Southern California, Ms. Johnson moved to the Bay Area to complete her education at St. Mary’s College, and become an early childhood educator in 2000. She joined GLM as an assistant teacher in August 2023, and is thrilled to celebrate the joy that her students ignite while exploring their environment and the Montessori method. When not being inspired by children and her team of co-teachers. She is an art and yoga specialist for Girl Scout volunteers, yoga studios, and in the GLM aftercare program. She loves to dance, scrapbook, go on hikes and dress up as famous artists like Georgia O’Keefe, Frida Kahlo and Yayoi Kusama.

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.

Vincent LaRocca

Vincent LaRocca grew up in California between Los Angeles and Riverside. He moved to the Bay Area after graduating from high school. Vincent attended Merritt college in the Fall of 2018, where he took his courses in early childhood development and earned his Assistant Teacher certificate. His observations in early childhood education environments taught him that children are inherent learners, as they naturally explore their surroundings. Subsequently, he became enamored with the very curious nature and love that children have for learning. It was then he decided to begin his journey in the Montessori practice of child development. Vincent joined GLM in July, 2018. He is inspired by children’s potential and wants to be a model support for them on their journey of life. Vincent enjoys listening to music, stand up comedy, hiking and exploring the Bay Area, and finding new spots to eat delicious food.

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.

Djamila Guendoud

Djamila was born and raised in Algeria, North Africa. She grew up in a large family with many siblings. After receiving her BS degree from the University of Law and Administration in Algeria 2005, she moved to the States along with her husband. Right after moving to California she started attending college where she changed programs many times until she found out about child development and she never looked back. She graduated with an AA degree in child development from Merritt College. The thought of getting this degree came right after giving birth to her two children, who are pre-teens now. She worked as an interpreter at schools and children’s clinics to help Arabic and French parents who spoke little to no English. She joined GLM through an agency where she worked as a substitute teacher. She enjoys working with children as this offers her an opportunity to connect with them, help them reach their potential, and guide them towards meaningful growth. Cooking is her passion as it brings back her childhood memories and connects her with her country of origin and its traditional dishes. But the most important thing for her is spending time with her husband and kids.

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.

Danielle Kilpatrick

Ms. Kilpatrick holds a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy with a minor in Theater Arts from Rutgers University, and is currently pursuing a Masters degree in Early Childhood Education at Pacific Oaks College. Ms. Kilpatrick was born in Ventura, California but grew up in Florida and New Jersey. She has always been passionate about working with children and from a young age knew she wanted to teach. As an educator, she has had the opportunity to teach different age groups; including high school, elementary, and preschool. Ms. Kilpatrick truly believes children, especially little ones, learn best by doing. They exude joy when they get to use their imagination to express themselves and explore their natural curiosity. In her free time you can find Ms. Kilpatrick reading books on her kindle, traveling, listening to music, or spending time with family and friends.