Nicolette Cerniglia was born in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. She moved to California when she was in elementary school and has just recently relocated to the Bay Area. Through her work in doing art with children while in college, she fostered a curiosity and passion for education for primary aged children. Nicolette also was a Montessori student as a child and has always believed in the beautiful philosophy. After getting her BFA from Sacramento State University, she further cultivated her early childhood studies. She has been exploring the Montessori philosophy and has gained experience by working in other Montessori schools. Some of Nicolette’s hobbies include transforming art from recycled items, keeping up with her bonus son, and spending time with her family and her dogs.
Ms. Clark was born in Denver, Colorado and was raised on the east coast in Alabama and Maryland. She comes from a very large, close-knit family and has more than a dozen nieces and nephews who sparked her love of children. She received her bachelor’s degree in sociology with a psychology minor from Brigham Young University in Utah, and she moved to the Bay Area in 2012. In San Francisco, she worked with elementary-aged children for over 3 years and gained experience with preschoolers at Friends of Potrero Hill Preschool. She comes to Grand Lake Montessori after working for a year as an Assistant Teacher in a primary-age classroom at LePort Montessori Preschool in Emeryville. Ms. Clark believes strongly in the Montessori philosophy of allowing children the freedom to explore and learn independently and at their own pace. She has a particular interest in art, stories, film, and geography. She also loves music and plays piano in her spare time.
Ms. DeSio was born in the Northern Central Valley and was raised in Sacramento. As a young child, she attended a Montessori school in Davis. She received a Bachelor’s in Humanities from The Evergreen State College in Washington State. While working on her degree, she had the opportunity to work in education in various capacities, including as a paraprofessional educator, a tutor, and as a research assistant. Ms. DeSio moved to the Bay Area after completing her degree in 2015, and worked for a number of years as a Behavioral Therapist. It was during this time that she rediscovered Montessori and began to develop a passion for Early Childhood Education. She began teaching preschool in 2017 and she joined GLM in 2018. Ms. DeSio believes the child to be a capable and competent agent in their own learning and enjoys facilitating their growth. Outside of work, she enjoys spending time at home cooking, reading, making electronic music, and cuddling with her cat. She also enjoys getting out into nature for hiking and swimming.
Ms. Dormon grew up in Seattle, where she discovered early the joys of working with children through many happy hours of babysitting a young cousin. Ms. Dormon moved to the Bay Area as a young adult, where she attended college while working as a nanny. She earned a B.A. from UC Berkeley, and afterward obtained a Master’s in Library and Information Science from San Jose State University. After numerous years of working in the corporate world, Ms. Dormon decided to change course. She took a job with a social services agency that provides support for children with developmental disabilities. In this role Ms. Dormon came upon the wonders of Montessori education. She was immediately struck by how right it felt, and soon afterward earned a diploma from the North American Montessori Center. In her work with children, Ms. Dormon strives to foster a sense of awe about the world, as well as a strong sense of security. She is thrilled to be a part of the amazing school community at GLM. In her free time, Ms. Dormon loves to read, eat out at the many fabulous Bay Area restaurants, hike, and spend time with her family.
Wolfgang was born and raised in Augsburg, a city in the South of Germany. After enjoying the close proximity of the Alps for years and travelling to many countries of Europe, he visited California for the first time in 1996. In May 2000 he moved to the San Francisco Bay Area. Wolfgang holds a M.S. in Computer Science & Theoretical Medicine from the Technical University of Munich.
After working as a software engineer in the Silicon Valley for several years, he changed his career and received his AMI Montessori diploma from the Montessori Teacher Training Center of Northern California in Mountain View in 2006. After some years as a teacher in the classroom, he switched over to take on more administrative work, bringing together his knowledge of Montessori and an extensive computer background. In 2017 he started teaching beginner’s robotics classes for elementary.
In his free time he loves playing the Australian didgeridoo and lately a new invention called RAV drum. He is committed to the spiritual path of the Diamond Approach and is one of the very few certified facilitators for Walking-In-Your-Shoes® (www.walking-in-your-shoes.us) in the Bay Area (www.wiys-institute.com).
Ms. Foster is a California native from San Jose. She attended UC Berkeley for her undergraduate degree and quickly found herself in love with the East Bay. She started babysitting at the age of 13 and continued through university. This piqued her interest in child development and education. Inspired by her aunt who herself is a Montessori educator, Ms. Foster decided to attend her Montessori AMI 0-3 training in London after completing her university studies. This is her first year working at GLM, and she is looking forward to putting her Montessori training into practice. She is inspired by the idea that each day is new and presents different opportunities for growth, something she strives to embrace in and out of the classroom. Outside of work she enjoys sewing, going to the farmers market, wandering Berkeley Bowl, cooking vegan food, and finding new ways to lower her impact on this planet.
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.
Ms. Owens was born and raised in Columbia, Mississippi. She grew up with five brothers and one sister. After graduating high school, she moved to California where she then attended Heald College to study business. Her first place of employment was a part-time teaching position in a toddler classroom at Grand Lake Montessori. It is here that she developed a love and passion for working with children. She very much enjoyed supporting the development of the toddlers and noticed that they could do many things on their own. Teaching at Grand Lake has inspired Ms. Owens to take many child development courses, including some in Montessori. She has also received an Administrative Director’s certificate and a Home Child Care certificate. Ms. Owens has been a teacher in many classrooms at Grand Lake Montessori for over thirty years. Ms.Owens believes strongly in bringing creativity to all aspects of education and also strives to uphold the school’s mission in her everyday work, which is to “Help make childhood a journey, not a race.” She loves to travel throughout the U.S., spending as much time as possible with her family in Mississippi. In her spare time she enjoys doing yoga, listening to music, and loves eating different varieties of food.
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 Freemont 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.
Ms. Santiago comes from Jalisco, Mexico. She has been living in the United States since 1990 and teaching since 2002. She’s mom to five children, ages 33 through 40, and lots of grandchildren. She attended the American College and obtained an Early Childhood Education Certificate. She likes reading, dancing and playing with her grandchildren. She is happy to have the opportunity to share her Mexican heritage and her native language of Spanish with the children at GLM. She is very grateful to be part of the school community and hopes she is helping the children become good human beings who are learning to be kind.