Staff

The staff at Bellevue Montessori School is made up of dedicated individuals from a broad range of educational and professional backgrounds. Our ten lead teachers are devoted Montessorians who hold 4-year college degrees and training credentials from MACTE-accredited teacher training programs (Montessori Accreditation Council for Teacher Education).  Likewise, the majority of our support staff has either completed or is in the process of completing their MACTE-accredited training. Our five specialists bring their expertise and excitement to each and every classroom. The diversity, experience and dedication of our staff contributes to making Bellevue Montessori School a strong community where children flourish.

Please Select:

Aparna Chintala Room 1 Head Teacher

I completed my Montessori training in 2004 and interned for a year at Bellevue Montessori School and taught science for two years. I then worked as a head teacher at Marymoor Montessori before accepting a head teaching position at Bellevue Montessori School where I am now in my eighth year as a head teacher. I hold a Master of Science in Child Development from Madras University. Teaching children is a joyful, rewarding and humbling experience. I am really lucky that I have found what I truly love. In addition to teaching, I enjoy gardening, reading, watching movies and cooking.

Renuka Hallikeri Room 2 Head Teacher

Born in India, the beautiful Pacific Northwest has been my home for the last 15 years. Having completed my Masters in Business Administration from Seattle University, I worked a corporate job for about a year before I took a break to nurture my new born. My daughter’s journey through Montessori education inspired me to pursue a certification in early childhood education from MACTE. This would be my fifth year as a Montessori teacher, three of them as a lead teacher. The best part of being a teacher is having the opportunity to learn something new from the children everyday and being able to be a part of their world of wonder and curiosity. I live in Sammamish with my husband, daughter and very energetic dog. I love to dabble in baking, reading and enjoy a good run when I’m not busy teaching or managing our home.

Jennifer Giambrone Room 3 Head Teacher

My experience with Montessori began in my own childhood where I attended Montessori schools in the area from kindergarten through the sixth grade.  After studying child development at Ohio State University, I moved back to Washington to be close to family and began working as an assistant at a Montessori school. I knew right away that Montessori was where I was meant to be and I completed my teacher certification the following year. I found a home at Bellevue Montessori School where I taught for several years until the birth of my daughter. I stayed home with her until she was of preschool age, then returned (with her) to Bellevue Montessori School working half days first as an Associate Teacher, then as the Center Court teacher. This year, as she enters kindergarten, I am thrilled to return to the classroom as a Head Montessori Teacher.

Amy Swanson Room 4 Head Teacher

In 1997 I began work working at Bellevue Montessori School. I graduated from Western Washington University where I majored in English literature and minored in child psychology. I later received my Montessori certification while interning at Bellevue Montessori School. My life away from school consists of my wonderful husband and our two beautiful daughters. When I'm not teaching your children, I am busy at home being a mom: cleaning, making dinner, helping with homework and enjoying my family. I have also discovered hot yoga to relax and loving running and taking walks.

Sharon Kim Room 5 Head Teacher

I was born, raised and educated in the Seattle area. After graduating from the University of Washington I completed my Montessori certification and internship in 2009 and accepted a head teaching position at Bellevue Montessori School.  I look forward to coming to work every day. I enjoy shopping, spending time with friends and family, and am thankful for everything I have.

Marnie Stromseth Room 6 Head Teacher

I've been teaching a primary classroom at Bellevue Montessori School. I have a Montessori certification for primary and lower elementary and a Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood Education. I support the Montessori philosophy that nurtures the child's whole development: cognitive, social, emotional, physical and inner spirit. Both of my boys attended Bellevue Montessori School from preschool through third grade. My sons are currently in high school which keeps my husband and I busy at home. I enjoy spending time with my family, working with children in the classroom, gardening and yard work. I like learning and sharing my knowledge about the natural world - geology, zoology and botany. 

Mona Srikanth Room 7 Head Teacher

I grew up in Mumbai, India where I earned my Bachelor of Architecture degree. I then moved to the United States where I earned a Master of Landscape Architecture from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. My two daughters attended Montessori schools which led me to my career in Montessori education. I received my American Montessori Society Early Childhood teaching credential through the Montessori Center for Teacher Education. In my spare time I love to read and garden. I have been a part of Bellevue Montessori School as a former parent and now a head teacher. I live in Bellevue with my husband and two daughters.

Maria Bollman Morning Activity Club Teacher and Associate Teacher

I have worked at Bellevue Montessori School since 1985 and feel truly blessed to be part of such a wonderful school. I was born in Greece and immigrated to the United States with my daughter in 1972. After receiving my Montessori training in 1986 I became a teacher at Bellevue Montessori School and have been here ever since, enjoying what every day brings. I love my job and working with children. All three of my grandchildren attended Bellevue Montessori School.  When I am not at school, I love cooking, walking, my church, and visiting with friends.

Preethi Balasubramanyam Room 1 Associate Teacher

After completing American Montessori Society training from the Montessori Center for Teacher Education, I began working at Bellevue Montessori School since 2006. I like working at Bellevue Montessori School because of the wonderful environment and professional, friendly staff. I live in Redmond with my husband and daughter. I hold a Bachelor of Arts in Fashion Design from Bangalore, India where I worked as a fashion designer for 3 years. I enjoy working for one of the most reputable Montessori schools on the Eastside.

Nivya Natarajan Room 2 Associate Teacher

I grew up in southern India, where I received my Bachelor’s degree in Engineering. After moving to Seattle, I completed my Montessori training in Early Childhood from Montessori Center for Teacher Education. Along with the training I did my internship at Bellevue Montessori School and received the opportunity to continue as an Associate Teacher. I live in Bellevue with my husband and son who attends Bellevue Montessori School, so my relationship with BMS is both as a parent and a teacher. When I’m not teaching, I love spending time with my family, baking, and exploring the beautiful Pacific Northwest.

Amy Bao Zhang Room 3 Associate Teacher

I am a certified International  Montessori Teacher licensed in the state of Washington. I have been with the Bellevue Montessori School since May 2019, serving as a full time Associate Teacher. My previous experience includes a year with the Alpha Montessori School located in Shoreline, Washington where I worked as an intern teacher. My qualifications include an Associate’s Degree in Early Childhood Education and I am a Certified Montessori Teacher. I developed my passion for teaching while studying childhood education, and believe that children are the future and learning is the key to a bright and successful future. My personal interests include cooking and healthy eating, drawing, art, music, and fitness.

Eunjoo Kim Room 4 Associate Teacher

I came from Seoul, South Korea and eventually moved to the Bellevue area where I live with my husband and two children. I have my Bachelor of Arts degree in Applied Statistics and a Masters degree in East Asian Studies. I started to pursue my career as a teacher after my two children entered high school. I received my American Montessori Society Early Childhood teaching certification and then started working at Bellevue Montessori School in 2016. I find it so rewarding in working with a culturally diverse group of children and in helping them grow in their own individual and unique way. I enjoy weekend outdoor activities and listening to music.

Sarita Sunkari Room 5 Associate Teacher

Education has always been a huge part of my life. From when I was a small child to when I was getting a bachelors in physics, I have always had a fascination with learning. My love for education began in India and grew to new heights when I came to America. My first experience with a Montessori school was around 2010 when my son first went to one. It was obvious that after his experience with Montessori, he had developed into a strong, intelligent, and determined individual. It was this that inspired me to pursue teaching. Now, a little over ten years later, I have received a certification in early childhood education from MACTE. This is my first year as an Associate Teacher for Bellevue Montessori and I am ecstatic to aid these wonderful children in their growth as students and individuals.

In my free time, I enjoy doing charity work such as; organizing food drives, running clothes drives, and more. Additionally, I love to spend quality family time with my husband and two sons. On an ordinary Saturday night, you may find me watching a movie with my family or cooking family dinner.

Swati Siotia Room 7 Associate Teacher

I graduated from the University of Arts in London with a Masters degree in textile design. While interning at Bellevue Montessori School, I completed my Montessori training in 2015 and have been a Montessori teacher for over 3 years. I love the Montessori method because it is an education for independence and preparing children not just for school but for life after school. Outside of work I love spending time with my husband and son. We enjoy being outdoors and playing board games. You will often find me in the gym working out as being healthy is a priority in our family.

Kim Torres Elementary Program Coordinator

I was born in Puerto Rico, but lived in Fayetteville, Arkansas for 16 years prior to moving to Seattle in 2017. It isn't as big of a jump as most people think it is -- I also grew up in New York City, so I'm used to bigger cities! I have my Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology and Criminal Justice. I also have my American Montessori Society Lower and Upper Elementary certification and have taught at both the Lower and Upper Elementary levels. I love to learn about everything from cultural traditions to fossilized evidence of creatures past. I also love going on weekend travel adventures and trying new foods.

Alison Hutley Lower Elementary Head Teacher

One of the aspects of education I am most passionate about is valuing the individual identities of our students, no matter their age. Watching a child gain confidence through independence, become a self-motivated learner, and a compassionate citizen are the most rewarding things a teacher can hope to see. I feel so lucky to be a part of my students’ and their families lives, and to help them see the potential that they each have. After moving around the United States, I grew up mostly in the Boise, Idaho area and began working in Montessori schools in 2007. I received a Primary (3-6) AMI diploma from the Maria Montessori Institute in London, England and an Elementary (6-12) AMI diploma from the Centro Internazionale Studi Montessoriani in Bergamo, Italy. I've spent time in both Primary and Elementary environments, and in private and public Montessori programs. I believe in building a strong community with the students as well as with families. When I'm not in the classroom, I enjoy crafting, cooking, hiking, and am working to complete a Bachelor's degree in Elementary Education.

Marissa Roecks Upper Elementary Head Teacher

Salutations! I love connecting students to the outdoors, creating specialized environments for various critters and anything even remotely theatrical or artistic. A lifelong Montessorian, I had the honor of attending Montessori from two and a half through 9th grade. I graduated from Seattle Academy of Arts and Sciences with High Honors and volunteered with Montessori students ranging from toddler to middle school before heading to college. I was inspired at an early age by the incredible influence OT/Speech therapies had on my younger brother’s life and it is my goal to support all learning styles in my practice. With a particular focus on learning differences, I completed my Bachelor’s degree in Psychology with a double minor in Education and Biology a year early so I could attain an Early Childhood Montessori teaching certification. A certified orienteering instructor and athlete, I continued guiding youth in outdoor explorations and championships while eventually growing into the role of head of school at a Seattle Montessori program. I also attained a Music Together Credential and Positive Discipline Certification. I worked as a Montessori admissions director for a year before I had an opportunity to earn Lower and Upper Elementary Montessori Credentials (in progress).

David Repyak Lower Elementary Head Teacher

Originally from Gloucester, Ma, I have been inspired by the natural world. I believe in growing a community of compassionate, ethical citizens and leaders through guiding life-long learning and self-discipline. With a love of humanity, I've  traveled extensively throughout Europe, and have acute interest in geology, science, gardening, reading, and Pacific Northwest history. I enjoy making artwork that lifts the spirit, mountain bike riding with my son, Luca, and hiking and skiing in the mountains. I have earned a Lower Elementary credential from AMS, a K-8 WA state teaching certificate from UW/Bothell, and a BFA from Syracuse University, London Center, where I studied Advertising Communications. I have been teaching in both lower and upper elementary Montessori environments since 2013. I’m passionate about guiding curious minds, loving hearts and creative imaginations of children. I enjoy crafting authentic learning experiences when designing and implementing integrated curriculum.

Koji Tsutsumi Primary Room 1 Co-Head Teacher

I was born in Nagoya, Japan and moved to America when I was little. I grew up in Federal Way until I was 8 and then moved to various places in Washington. I hold an Associates degree in Early Childhood Education as well as a Montessori Certificate for teaching children ages 2 1/2 to 6 years old from the Montessori Center for Teacher Education. Previously, I was part of the Boys and Girls Club for 5 years. During my time there, children would tell me how much they disliked school. I was always unsure of how to build that love of learning with children until I toured a primary Montessori school and watched it in action. I love to hear about each child's perspective on the world because I truly believe each child sees life differently. In the Montessori environment, we give each child support and help them to build the tools they need to pursue their own interests.

Elia Martinez Primary Room 1 Head Teacher

I am from Honduras, Central America. My passion for teaching comes from my mother who is a teacher as well. I finished my university studies in the Universidad Pedagogica Nacional Francisco Morazan, Honduras as a Kindergarten Teacher. I have experience with Elementary levels both in English and Spanish. I moved to the US in 2015 and started to work in Bellevue Montessori School as an assistant to upper elementary. In 2018 I earned the Montessori Certificate in Early Childhood and interned at Bellevue Montessori School. This year I became a co-teacher. I truly love children and have passion to guide them trough their learning process. I believe in respect, hard work, honesty and love. Some of my hobbies are dancing, working out, searching for information to update myself and spend time with my child.

Kailey Lee Primary Room 2 Head Teacher

I majored in journalism and broadcasting at Gwangju University and worked as a TV reporter in South Korea. I have worked for five years as an assistant director in an academic institute when my daughter attended preschool. After moving to the United States, I completed my montessori certification and interned at Bellevue Montessori School in 2009. I returned to Bellevue Montessori School as an associate teacher in 2014. I have an Early Childhood Education certificate and I am currently studying for another degree of Early Childhood Education at Bellevue College. I absolutely love children and I want to guide children to a bright and healthy future. I enjoy spending time with my family, hiking, and traveling. I am really enjoying working as a head teacher at the Rossano campus!  

Jennifer Hamilton Primary Room 3 Head Teacher

I am a teacher, mother and nature enthusiast. I am a certified AMS Montessori teacher with 6 years classroom experience. Originally from Chicago, I received a B.A. in Arts Management from Columbia College Chicago. It was after the birth of my daughter that I left the corporate setting and began a new career pathway in early childhood education. I believe that every child is unique. My goal is to help your child develop skills that promote independence, peaceful interactions and ignite the spark of curiosity in the world around them. Outside of the classroom, I enjoy spending time with my husband, daughter and two dogs. My passion is being outdoors and spending as much time as possible hiking, backpacking and climbing mountains.  

Madhavi Koppula Primary Room 2 Associate Teacher

I completed my Master of Arts from Nagarjuna University in India and my P.G. diploma for computer courses in Hyderabad, India. I then worked as a volunteer for the Bellevue Public School district which inspired me to pursue a teaching career. Since 2015 I have been working at Bellevue Montessori School and have received my American Montessori Society certificate. I enjoy working with children and watching them thrive in the Montessori environment. Bellevue is my home and being with my husband, twin sons, and daughter are the delight of my life. My hobbies are specialty embroidery design, cooking, reading and shopping.

Gladys Lo Primary Room 3 Associate Teacher

Before entering the Montessori world, I was a children's teacher in ballet and contemporary dancing for eight years. Somewhere along the way I became interested in broadening my scope in the area of childhood development and I began working as an assistant teacher at a Montessori school. Currently I am a certified Montessori teacher with AMS and I love incorporating lots of movements into my lessons with the children. In my spare time I enjoy experiencing all the great natural attractions this area has to offer.

Krithika Rangan Toddler Program Director

My Montessori Journey began with the birth of my daughter 10 years ago and from then I have devoted most of my time in the pursuit of working with children and parents, both as the Business Director of my own school and also as a Primary Montessori Lead Teacher. I graduated from the University of Madras, India with a Management Degree and worked in the Media and Advertising Industry prior to my Calling to the field of Montessori. After a few years of Corporate Experience and volunteering and observing children in my daughter’s Montessori Toddler Classroom, I pushed myself to start my own school where I was the Director and Head Curriculum Coordinator for 4 years. It was during this time that I took up a tryst to balance home and business and went back to school to receive my Association Montessori Internationale Primary certification and also do an Entrepreneurial Program for Women with the Indian School of Business. I then had the opportunity to work as a Montessori Lead Teacher in a Primary classroom for a year before moving to the US. A year of sabbatical helped me and my family to settle down in the new place and with the birth of my son and observing him grow up I could not stop myself from doing the Infancy & Toddler Training with Association Montessori Internationale, wherein I cherished every moment of the training. Right out of my training, I am all excited and thrilled to be working with toddlers in such a wonderful Montessori Environment. I also volunteer at the Northshore School District as part of the Dyslexia Committee working towards arriving at a draft for the K – 6 schools. I am a positivist, trained Reiki Professional, Indian Classical Dancer, an occasional blogger and love cooking and nature walks. As a parent myself, I believe that children who are treated with dignity and understood by adults in the environment, blossom to be more responsible and independent young adults who have the power to change the course of the world and I am fortunate to work with parents in this mission.

Eileen Ventura Montessori Guide

I grew up in a large family in MI. I attended the University of Michigan where I met my husband. We moved to Washington, California, Alabama and then back to Washington. I have one son who graduated from UW and now works in Seattle. I worked for 6 years in a primary classroom, and I'm currently  enrolled in the MEIPN infant/toddler training course to graduate in the fall. I’m looking forward to working with toddlers and their eager, absorbent minds. I enjoy gardening and various crafts, such as making cards and jewelry.

Loriah Challman Montessori Guide

I have been working at  Bellevue Montessori School since 2013 and have loved working with the primary and elementary students.  I am excited to take on a new role as a Montessori toddler guide. In spring 2018 I completed the classroom training at the Montessori Education Institute of the Pacific Northwest at the infant/toddler level.  I’m currently in the practicum phase and looking forward to graduating with a Montessori infant/toddler credential in fall of  2019.

Ellie Jones Montessori Guide

Growing up in Washington, I graduated from Juanita High School in Kirkland, and went on to attend Xavier University in Ohio. In 2013 I transferred back to WA, to finish up a degree in Computer Science. I have been working in a Montessori environment for 3 years, but have been working with children for 10 years in total including a Toddler environment. Since 2017,  I have enjoyed working at  Bellevue Montessori School with the primary students.  I am excited to take on a new role as a Montessori toddler guide. Last Spring,  I completed the classroom training at the Montessori Education Institute of the Pacific Northwest at the infant/toddler level.  I’m currently in the practicum phase and looking forward to graduating with a Montessori infant/toddler credential in spring 2019.  In my spare time I love to read, cook and bake, and dabble in photography.

Susan K. Locke, M.Ed. Director

For the past 21 years, I have dedicated my life to the Montessori method of education both as a Primary Montessori Guide and a Head of School. As a graduate of the University of Washington and former television producer, I found my life’s work during my search for the perfect school for my daughter Kristine. Upon entering a Montessori classroom, I saw my daughter feel right at home in the beautiful and peaceful environment where students had the freedom to choose their own activities. I was struck by the respect that was shown the children and immediately knew that I wanted to be a Montessori teacher. I went back to school and received my Association Montessori Internationale Primary certification from the Montessori Institute Northwest as well as my Masters in Education from Loyola University in Maryland. I then taught in the Seattle area for 4 years before opening Mercer Island Montessori where I was the Director and Head Montessori Teacher. For twelve years, I ran my own school before becoming the Head of School at the LePort Schools Westpark campus in Irvine, CA. I enjoyed the challenge of leading a larger school with students 18 months to 9 years of age and a diverse team of employees. I am excited to be bringing these skills and experience to my role as Director of such a prestigious institution as Bellevue Montessori School. I love being back in the Pacific Northwest close to my family and the forested hiking trails I have enjoyed since my youth.

Monica Lalanne Primary Education Director

I have been a Montessori teacher, parent, and administrator since 1993 when I took my first Montessori Course. I earned my Association Montessori International certificate in 1995. Having earned my degree in Italian studies from Santa Clara University, I am fascinated with everything Italian, even early childhood education. My passion for Italy propelled me to study and live there for extended periods. As a new parent searching for infant care, I found Montessori Education and it became a life-long vocation. One of my happiest moments was being able to visit Dr. Montessori's first school in Rome, and experience the roots of Montessori early education. My husband and I have two grown sons. Having recently relocated from Santa Cruz, California I enjoy living in Seattle and exploring the surrounding areas.

Alisa Kohnfelder Front Desk Administrator

I graduated from the University of Washington with a bachelor's degree in Early Childhood Family Studies in 2016, and went straight to being a preschool teacher! I have always loved working with children; their lack of filter is such a cool insight into the human mind (and is always so entertaining), and after 3 years of being a teacher I found that I have a natural love for everything administrative-related. I have a background of working with Guide Dogs for the Blind, non-profit organizations in the Seattle area, as well as local elementary schools. I currently live in the West Seattle area with a cat and a dog that do not get along, and love to try new foods in the Seattle area with friends, as well as go bouldering at local gyms. I am beyond excited for my new beginnings with the Bellevue Montessori community, and am looking forward to my time here.

Julie Anderson Office Administrator

Previous to my last three years of working at a nearby private school where I was the Office Manager, I spent several years on an adventure in Costa Rica where I volunteered in a well-known animal shelter.  From Costa Rica, I returned to Seattle to be closer to my family of two children and five grandchildren.  In my working career I also spent many years in commercial property management and in the customer service industry. I am a published author and currently working on a new children’s book. My heart has led me to many wonderful opportunities to also live in India, New York, and California during my lifetime.  I am a native of Washington and a WSU graduate, with my BA in Childhood Education. My great love of children led to four years working as a foster care parent to ten challenged foster teens along with raising my own two teens. I am passionate about life and love to be with my family, friends, and two rescue kitties – Topaz and Sampson. My philosophy is to do things that make you happy and I so enjoy keeping my grand-daughter age 9 on weekends, walking, traveling, writing, and being a researcher of universal knowledge…..along with being part of the fantastic team here at BMS to help our little ones become even greater than they already are!  

Ali Parks HR and Office Administrator

Having grown up in Redmond, with my family close by,  there is no place I would rather be! I started working at Bellevue Montessori School in 2017. I learn something new every day working at Bellevue Montessori that I take home to help me be a better parent to my three children, Julianna, Jameson, & Adrienne.  I feel very fortunate to work in my dream environment alongside other staff that truly care about children uniquely as they are. In my spare time, I enjoy the outdoors and taking my children on new adventures.

Christine Reid Learning Specialist

I attended Western Washington University, majoring in history/social studies. I currently hold a Washington State teaching certificate for social studies and language arts in secondary education. Previous to teaching at Bellevue Montessori school, I taught middle and high school social studies. I also have experience in special education, tutoring, and several years as a Montessori assistant teacher. My diverse experience in teaching developed my appreciation for education that embraces the individuality of each child. When I am not teaching, I enjoy paddleboarding, hiking and traveling.

Kari Hailey Music Specialist at the Main Campus and Rossano Campus

I graduated with a degree in music, focusing on vocal performance and music education from the University of Washington. I am trained in Musicgarten, a Montessori based music program. My music classes weave a broad background of drama, world, classical and folk music into the curriculum. With great joy, I have been teaching music to children for nine years. In addition to teaching music, I assist with special education reading programs in public school, am an elementary art docent, storyteller, vocal performer and fiber artist. I have two boys, now eight and eleven, who attended Montessori preschool and early elementary.

Elia Martinez Early Childhood/Kindergarten Spanish Specialist at the Main and Rossano Campuses

A native of Honduras, my passion for teaching comes from my mother who is a teacher as well. I finished my university studies in the Universidad Pedagogica Nacional Francisco Morazan, Honduras as a Kindergarten Teacher. I also have experience with Elementary levels both in English and Spanish. I moved to the US in 2015 and started to work at Bellevue Montessori School.  My interest in Montessori grew and so I attended the Montessori Center for Teacher Education and became a certified Montessori Teacher. I love to share my culture and language with the children.

Toni Carter Spanish Specialist at the Main and Rosanno Campuses

I was born in Venezuela, raised in Guatemala, and attended school in Panama, Costa Rica, Colombia and Venezuela. I teach children Spanish through activities, games, songs, reading and writing in Spanish, and culture from Latin America and Spain. In addition to teaching at Bellevue Montessori School I have taught Spanish at Seattle Pacific University, Bellevue College, Bennett Elementary and PACCAR Corp.

Shalonia Rosen Drama Specialist at the Rosanno Campus

Having graduated from the University of Idaho with my BFA in Theatre and Film, I have sought out many opportunities to engage in arts education. In addition for adding to the community at Bellevue Montessori I am a teaching artist for Seattle Children's Theatre, Seattle Repertory Theater and the Bellevue Youth Theatre. I am also a candidate for an M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Idaho. I love working with children and helping them explore arts education and all that it has to offer for self growth and understanding, creativity, community and dedication. I consider myself incredibly lucky to get to share my passion with so many amazing young people. In my spare time I am also a professional actor, I love to go hiking, eat delicious food and spend time with my three year old cat, Lago.