Moraga Staff


Cecilia” Ceci” was Born in Mexico and her first language is Spanish. She has been part of the Growing Light family for 15 years, and has worked at several different GLMS campuses. She is excited to now be part of the beautiful, Moraga campus team.

Claudia was born and raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She has been working with children for 20 years. Claudia holds a BA in Foreign Languages and Literature from the University of Delaware. After graduation, she obtained her teaching credential in English as a Second Language and worked in two public schools in Delaware. After moving to New Jersey, Claudia taught Spanish in a fully immersed Spanish preschool. She moved to California in 2010 and decided to start her own Spanish program for kids that she named “Arroz Con Leche”. She taught Spanish for 8 years in afterschool programs and a preschool in Moraga. During this time, she fell in love all over again with the preschoolers. In 2018 she started working at Mulberry Tree Preschool in Moraga and went back to school to take classes in Early Childhood Education. In September 2023, she will start her Montessori teacher training. Claudia is honored to join the Growing Light family and work with your beautiful children! She lives in Moraga and is a proud mom: her daughter Sofia is a junior in Campolindo and her son Santiago is a senior at UC Davis. In her free time, she loves spending time with her children, going to the beach and doing yoga.

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!


Ghizal “Gigi” was born in the very beautiful city of Kabul, Afghanistan. At a very early age, she immigrated with her family to yet another marvelous city, Paris, France where she grew up and graduated from high school. Gigi then went to college and started an internship in the Afghan Consulate in the magnificent city of New York, US. She got married in California and raised two amazing children who are now 21 and 16. In 2016 she picked up life where she had left it 17 years prior, and went back to school in 2016 earning a bachelor’s degree in Liberal Studies with an emphasis in Multiple Subject Teaching from CSU East Bay in 2021 and applied for the Master’s Program in Early Childhood Development at the same University.

Gigi considers herself a citizen of the world. She is fluent in three languages and  her experience with so many different cultures has shaped her into a very open-minded and receptive person. Gigi loves to cook, bake, read Rumi poetry,  walk and collect vintage jewelry.

Gigi is passionate about working with children and it is her 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 was born and raised in Los Angeles, CA.  She attended California State University, Los Angeles and graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Urban Learning with a focus in Special Education. Ivette has been working in early childhood education for over 8 years and has had the opportunity to work as an Aide and Lead Teacher for early intervention and mainstream schools in elementary and Preschool settings. In her free time, Ivette enjoys hiking, exploring new places/foods, and traveling whenever the opportunity arises.

Assistant Teacher

Lesley was born and raised in Oakland and currently lives in the East Bay. She is very passionate about teaching young children. She has always been interested in working at GLMS since she was 16 as her mom also works here! She has always looked up to her mom and it has always been a dream of her’s to follow her mom’d footsteps and also become a teacher. Now that she is working at GLMS, she can’t wait for the day that she gets to be with her own class. It’s really exciting for her to be working with children. She always loves watching out for them and guiding them through everyday tasks. She is so happy to get to learn more about herself and especially loves learning from other teachers that have more experience than her.



Lupita was born in Oakland California and speaks English and Spanish. She has been working with children for over 5 years, and has been with GLMS since August of 2017. Lupita loves doing sensorial activities with children, arts and crafts, and dancing. In her free Lupita enjoys going to parks to hike, and spending time at the beach.


Michelle was born and raised in the Bay Area and currently resides in the East Bay with her family. She has a deep love and understanding of the Montessori methodology and philosophy, and has been a teacher of early childhood for 22 years. Her two daughters attend Montessori school, now, in 7th and 4th grades though they began their Montessori education as infants.

Michelle has experience of teaching in Montessori classrooms which began in 2003 and ranged from infant/toddler classes up to kindergarten enrichment programs specializing in the kindergarten or 3rd year. She has extensive experiences in leading the primary programs and curriculum development with her teaching teams with high emphasis on Practical Life and social-emotional development. She earned her Associate Early Childhood Montessori credential from MTEC in 2010 and continues her love of learning through workshops, conferences and training that benefit her classrooms and coworkers.

Michelle loves music, being outdoors and spending time with her friends and family.

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 pursuing a Master’s degree in counseling. When Omar is not in class he enjoys playing soccer,
hanging out with his dog, Kia, and working out.

Head Teacher

Rebecca is new to the Bay Area having recently moved from Nashville, Tennessee. She was lucky enough to spend the majority of her childhood education in
Montessori—from age two to middle school—and it nurtured her curiosity and
encouraged her to find her own unique interests.

Following high school as a creative writing major at Interlochen Arts Academy, Rebecca spent a year volunteering at the Association for des Quartiers IDMAJ in Morocco where she taught English as a second language to children in the slums of Casablanca. Rebecca 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, Rebecca has worked at One Tree Tutorial Enrichment, a unique program that blended a homeschool experience Monday’s and Friday’s within-person Montessori education Tuesday through Thursday. In addition to lessons in the sensorial and practical life areas, Rebecca presented art instruction to both primary and
elementary students. Rebecca believes strongly that everyone is an artist, and loves to combine her interests in cultural studies with her passion for art. Rebecca is looking forward to meeting your children and is thrilled to be part of the Growing Light Montessori School Team.


Afternoon Teacher

Sequoia grew up on the Big Island of Hawaii as well as Berkeley, and loves incorporating  lessons on the ocean and other aspects of Hawaii into the classroom curriculum.  She is a long time Growing Light teacher who worked at GLMS Oakland followed by GLMS Lafayette where she finished her Montessori Teacher Training.

Sequoia is very passionate about teaching young children and loves spending her days experiencing the joy children exude while exploring their worlds. Sequoia also enjoys spending time teaching the children about gardening, music & movement, along with art activities that cultivate their creative side. Sequoia is happy to be a part of the GLMS Moraga Team and have the opportunity to spend time with your lovely children.

Head Teacher

Susan, is thrilled to be your child’s teacher. She has been a Montessorian
for the past 25 years, receiving her Bachelors in Early Childhood Education and
Montessori studies from California State University Hayward. To increase her knowledge
on human behaviors, she attended John F. Kennedy University where she received her
Masters and Doctorate in Psychology. Susan’s interest in Montessori education began when
she enrolled her son in a Montessori school many years ago. The more she studied Maria
Montessori’s philosophy, the more she was convinced that this was the job for her.

Susan has 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, learn
through trial and error, and respect heir peers’ jobs through the learning of
boundaries. Susan’s focus in the classroom, in addition to academics, is helping each child gain confidence and independence.


Xiomara or Xio to the children, grew up in the Bay Area in a Mexican American household. This will be her fourth year teaching and working in a Montessori school. Xio is very passionate about Maria Montessori’s philosophy and work as she grew up attending Montessori schools.

Xio enjoys teaching Spanish, Art, and Science  to her students as well as sharing her love for meditation and yoga.  Fun facts about Xio include that she used to train in the martial art of Kung Fu as well as teach it, and she enjoys rescuing and fostering animals of all shapes and sizes when they are in need.

In her free time Xio loves singing, writing poetry, trying out new recipes and spending time with her dog, Noodle, and close friends and family . Xio looks forward to building strong relationships with all of her students and their wonderful families at GLMS Moraga.

Afternoon Teacher

Zhanna was born in Uralsk, Kazakhstan and came to the U.S. at the age of 4 where she began attending a local Oakland Montessori School.  She is passionate about the Montessori educational approach as she feels it helped her as a child  learn and adapt to the English language and American culture.

Zhanna is is a recent graduate from Ohio Wesleyan University holding a degree in Early Childhood Education. She began working with children as a teenager and have loved it ever since. Zhanna is passionate about watching children grow as they explore the many resources a classroom has to offer. Outside of the classroom, Zhanna loves to hike, play sports, cuddle with her dogs and hang out with friends!