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.

Cristina Graham

Ms. Graham was born in Monterey Park, California and moved to the Central Valley as a young child where she had the pleasure of growing up.  Ms. Graham particularly enjoys the scenery on GLM’s campus as her grandfather owned a farm where she spent many days picking whatever fruit she wanted.  Ms. Graham holds a B.A. in Liberal Studies from St.Mary’s College where she also received her Montessori Certification in 1997. After the birth of her second son in 1999, she became a stay-at-home mom for nine years. She joined GLM in October of 2008.  Ms.Graham likes to say “it is a wonderful feeling to help share in the lives of tomorrow’s leaders.” Ms. Graham loves nurturing the Child’s world view as it is beautiful and a reminder to her of what unconditional love truly is. She has three sons as well as a dog named Lola.  Outside of her work at GLM, Ms. Graham, also trains adults to be Montessori teachers at EMBT in Concord, CA. In her free time she enjoys sewing, crafting, dancing, and relaxing in her backyard with family and friends.

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.

Kerry Mehling

Kerry Mehling is from Utah and moved to California 26 years ago. She has a BFA in dance performance, an MFA in choreography, and her AMS Early Childhood Credential. She had been teaching dance to all age groups for 20+ years and found herself humbled and inspired by young children daily. She began her Montessori journey after learning of Maria Montessor’s Philosophy while discussing the state of  american education with a Montessorian. Finding a teaching method that catered to each child’s way of learning, which started with teaching independence, was just what Ms. Mehling was looking for. She  retired from dance and began her studies in the Montessori Method in 2015. Ms. Mehling now shares all the passion she once threw into her performance career with her Montessori students. She feels the  breakneck speed at which children develop and learn when actively participating in their education is an exciting process to engage in and observe. Ms. Mehling feels fortunate to have found her way to The Montessori Method. She sees it as a crucial key in unlocking endless possibilities for these children who are learning to be contributing members of their local society and our greater world society; they are our future leaders. How they are led now is of the greatest importance. Ms. Mehling is so excited to have joined GLM in the summer of 2023! It is exciting to be in a community of well-established  Montessorians! When not being inspired by children, she enjoys dancing, hiking, and biking through Northern California’s beauty. She is also an animal advocate that focuses on rescuing cats.

Alicia Cooper

Ms. Cooper began her journey in education over 25 years ago through volunteerism.  The process of learning and early development quickly became a passion and she obtained her BA in Early Childhood Education Program Administration.  Since then, she has served as a Teacher in multiple age groups as well as an Administrator.  Her career path has led her to work with Preschools and Elementary Schools, in the public, parochial, and private sectors.  Along her journey, she has built several pilot programs for non-profit organizations as well as client-based programs.  Ms. Cooper has additional experience in Regional Education Management and Educational Consulting with licensed programs.  She takes great pride in building communities and providing a quality experience for the children and families in the schools she serves.  In her spare time, Ms. Cooper enjoys the beach, spending time with loved ones, movies, culinary experiences,  and traveling.

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.

Ruth Cardenas

Ms. Cardenas was born, raised, and currently resides in Oakland, California with her three daughters. She holds a Bachelors of Science with a focus in Education. Ms. Cardenas is thrilled to be returning to the GLM community after a decade.  Her previous professional experience includes  employment with an early literacy non-profit organization in the Bay Area; where Ms. Cardenas worked with multiple Early Education classrooms, and families promoting the importance of reading, talking and singing with the goal of promoting a love for reading and closing the education achievement gap. Ms. Cardenas strongly believes that early childhood experiences are crucial to building a healthy foundational core that sets students up for a lifetime of success and happiness, and is looking forward to growing and learning together with her students. In her spare time Ms. Cardenas loves to cook, laugh, listen to music and spend time at home with her three daughters.

Mary Aima

Mrs. Aima was born in St. Louis, Missouri and grew up in the small town of Webster Groves with her parents, four sisters and a brother. During her summers she and her family enjoyed traveling throughout the United States. She studied psychology while working at a deaf institute as a house mother for four years. She then traveled to Haiti to volunteer for three years at an orphanage, where she was the Activity Director. It was there that she met her husband and later they moved to California. She joined the GLM community in 1991 and has been working as one of our toddler teachers for the past twenty-nine years. During this time she has studied early childhood education and took administration classes to become a Site Supervisor. For twenty of those years she designed and sewed costumes for the GLM Performing Arts Camp, hosted by GLM every summer. She holds a AMI diploma from the Montessori Institute of the Northwest for the infant & toddler level. One of her favorite things about working with the toddlers is supporting them in their independence and watching them explore and discover things for the first time. She also values her role of supporting and collaborating with parents for the well-being of their children. Her daughter attended GLM through elementary. Outside of school she enjoys cooking, cake decorating, sewing and swimming.

Ying Tien

Mrs. Tien was born in Vietnam and moved with her family to China. She came to the United States in January 2006. She did not speak any English upon her arrival, but began taking classes. She joined GLM in 2008 as a support teacher in the Mulberry classroom, where she is still teaching! She believes that working at GLM is a great place for her to better her English and learn Montessori philosophy: learning from the parents and community, learning from colleagues, and especially learning from the children. Children have taught her to open her mind and her heart to joy. Ms. Tien feels blessed to be a part of the GLM community, and she has completed Montessori Assistant training for both primary and toddler courses. Her goal is to help children become confident, independent learners and she believes learning should be fun. She enjoys shopping and cooking for her family in her spare time.  

Miguel Vazquez