Moraga Staff

Debra
Director

Debra rejoins the Growing Light Team after a 15 year teaching career at Head Royce School in Oakland. Debra began teaching over 20 years ago and helped open the GLMS Oakland campus. Debra has her Masters in Early Childhood Education and Montessori Teaching Credential from St. Mary’s College and a BA in English from the University of Michigan. Debra is passionate about hiking, biking and all things outdoors. Her son, Gabe (7th grader) attended GLMS as a preschool student and loves volunteering with the preschoolers!

Gigi
Teacher

Hello everyone,
My name is Ghizal and I prefer to be called Gigi.
I was born in the very beautiful city of Kabul, Afghanistan. At a very early age, I migrated with my family to yet another marvelous city, Paris, France where I grew up and graduated from high school. I then went to college and started an internship in the Afghan Consulate in the magnificent city of New York, US. I got married in California and raised two amazing children who are now 21 and 16. I picked up life where I had left it after 17 years and went back to school in 2016. I earned a bachelor’s degree in Liberal Studies with emphasis in Multiple Subject Teaching from CSU East Bay in 2021 and applied for the Master Program, Early Childhood Development at the same University. I consider myself a citizen of the world. I am fluent in three languages and having experienced so many different cultures has shaped me into a very open-minded and receptive person. I love to cook, bake, read Rumi poetry, and walk. I collect vintage jewelry. I am passionate about working with children. It is my greatest honor and pleasure to join the amazing team of Growing Light Montessori, where teachers work in collaboration to create a safe, welcoming, and inclusive learning environment for all children.

Ivette
Teacher

Hello everyone! My name is Ivette and I was born and raised in Los Angeles. I attended California State University, Los Angeles and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Urban Learning option Special Education. I have been in the early childhood field for about 8 years and have had the opportunity to work as an Aide and Lead Teacher for early intervention and mainstream schools in elementary and Preschool. In my free time, I enjoy hiking, exploring new places/foods and love traveling whenever the opportunity arises.

Jeanette
Teacher

Greetings! My name is Jeannette Rose and I have been working with young children since 2004. It has been a great source of joy in my life! Supporting their growth and development is an honor and I approach it with great love and attention. I have two children of my own, Miles, who is 17, and Roxy who is twelve. We love to hike, play board games, and visit museums. I also love graphic design, photography, astrology, and sci-fi! I am currently starting up a succulent and crystal business with a friend and have decided to continue teaching part-time. It’s exciting to be at Growing Light and I look forward to getting to know the community.

 

Jessica

I’m so excited to watch your children grow into the people they are meant to be and help guide them along the way. My love for children dates back to being a child myself and seeing their minds at work is one of my greatest pleasures.

I’m a wife, a mother of two children (3 and 9) and two labs. I enjoy exploring nature, hiking, writing, and I love animals!

I cannot wait to meet your children and looking forward to a wonderful school year.

Omar
Afternoon Teacher

Omar joined Growing Montessori at the end of 2021 just in time to open up the Moraga Campus
in 2022. Omar is bilingual in Spanish and English, and holds a bachelor’s degree in Child and
Adolescent Development. With a professional background in childcare, coaching and program
development, Omar’s passion lies in making education engaging and fun for all children. Omar
is currently a graduate student at Saint Mary’s college of California awaiting to earn his Master’s
degree in counseling. When Omar is not in class teaching children he enjoys playing soccer,
hanging out with his dog, Kia, and working out.

Rebecca
Head Teacher

I am so delighted to join Growing Light Montessori for this new school year. My name is
Rebecca. I just arrived in the Bay Area this month from Nashville,
Tennessee. I was lucky enough to spend the majority of my childhood education in
Montessori—from age two to middle school—and it nurtured my curiosity and
encouraged me to find my own unique interests. Following high school as a creative
writing major at Interlochen Arts Academy, I spent a year volunteering at the Association
for des Quartiers IDMAJ in Morocco where I taught English as a second language to
children in the slums of Casablanca. I then returned to work at Abintra Montessori
school in Nashville as an assistant guide in the primary classroom and a helper to
children with special needs. Since 2016, I’ve worked at One Tree Tutorial Enrichment, a
unique program that blended a homeschool experience Monday’s and Friday’s with
in-person Montessori education Tuesday through Thursday. In addition to lessons in the
sensorial and practical life areas, I presented art instruction to both primary and
elementary students. I believe strongly that everyone is an artist, and I love to combine
my interests in cultural studies with my passion for art. I will be pursuing formal
Montessori education this summer and look forward to continuing to learn and receive
my certification. I can’t wait to meet you and your children.

Sequoia
Afternoon Teacher

Hello! My name is Sequoia, I also go by Quoia with the kids. I grew up on the Big Island of Hawaii and in Berkeley. I love to do lessons on the ocean and other aspects of Hawaii. I am a long time Growing Light teacher. Starting at the Oakland campus for many years and then the Lafayette campus where I finished my Montessori Teacher Training. I’m very passionate about teaching young children and love spending my days experiencing the joy’s children exude while exploring their worlds. I also love to spend time teaching the children about gardening, music & movement, along with art activities that cultivate children’s artistic side. Tea times are one of my many joys to experience with children, it allows them to practice grace & courtesy. I am so happy to be a part of the Moraga Growing Light and to have the opportunity to spend time with your lovely children.

Susan
Head Teacher

Hello and welcome to a new exciting school year at Growing Light Montessori. My name
is Susan, and I am thrilled to be your child’s teacher. I have been a Montessorian
for the past 25 years, receiving my bachelors in early childhood education and
Montessori studies from California State University Hayward. To increase my knowledge
on human behaviors, I attended John F. Kennedy University where I received my
Masters and Doctorate in Psychology. My interest in Montessori education began when
I enrolled my son in a Montessori school many years ago. The more I studied Maria
Montessori’s philosophy, the more I was convinced that this was the job for me. I have
always believed that children need to be given the opportunity to learn by trial and error
using their senses and imagination in order to gain confidence. Montessori philosophy
focuses on “follow the child.” This method allows children to choose their jobs, learning
them through trial and error as well as respecting their peers’ jobs through learning of
the boundaries. Montessori curriculum allows children to express their opinions through
telling stories and public speaking to name a few. My focus is going to be on helping
each child in addition to learning their math, science and language, to also gain
confidence and independence.

Xio
Teacher

Hello! My name is Xiomara or Xio to the children. I grew up in the Bay Area in a Mexican American household. This will be my fourth year teaching and working in a Montessori school and I am very passionate about Maria Montessori’s philosophy and work as I grew up attending Montessori schools myself.
I am excited to be bringing new Spanish, art, and science projects to the table as well as a love for meditation and yoga. Some fun facts you may not know about me are that I used to train in the martial art of Kung Fu as well as teach it, and I enjoy rescuing and fostering animals of all shapes and sizes when they are in need.
In my free time I love singing, writing poetry, trying out new recipes and spending time with my dog named Noodle and close friends and family . I look forward to building strong relationships with all of the students and their wonderful families at the moraga campus.

Zhanna
Afternoon Teacher

My name is Zhanna. I live in Oakland, Ca and I recently graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a degree in Early Childhood Education. I was born in Uralsk, Kazakhstan and came to the U.S. at the age of 4. I went to Montessori school myself and grew up in Oakland. This type of educational approach worked for me when I was younger as I learned to adapt to the English language and American culture. I started working with children as a teenager and have loved it ever since. It is a passion of mine to watch children grow as they explore the many resources a classroom can offer. Outside of the classroom, I love to hike, play sports, cuddle with my dogs and hang out with friends!