Zeda’s love of teaching began in 2002 when she traveled to China to teach English. While there she realized that the energy and potential of children stirred a passion in her unlike any other. With this excitement, she went on to teach abroad in Venezuela and Italy. Zeda learned that a global perspective only enhances our empathy and understanding of the world, and she loves to bring this into the classroom to share with her students.
After her experiences teaching abroad, Zeda decided to make teaching her full-time career. She moved to Chicago and earned a master's degree in education with a specialization in Special Education. She taught in public schools for five years until she had the opportunity to teach in a public Montessori program, where she first discovered the wonder of this beautiful method. The experience of seeing and feeling a Montessori classroom environment stuck with her, so Zeda went on to earn her AMI Elementary Certification. She has been teaching in Montessori elementary classrooms for the last four years, at Near North Montessori in Chicago and most recently at the Renaissance School in Oakland.
Zeda could not be more excited to be the founding teacher at Mission Montessori. She brings with her a passion for Montessori philosophy, travel, nature, and building community among parents, students, and school staff.
ASSISTANT TO THE TEACHER AND SPANISH EDUCATIONAL DESIGN
Paula has been teaching and designing curriculum in diverse educational environments around the world for over eight years. Her passion for education, language and cultural immersion began at home in Toronto, Canada. With a Peruvian mother and Uruguayan father she also spent a large part of her childhood in South America. In addition to being a native Spanish speaker, she attended a Canadian French immersion school.
Paula's love of teaching began in high school, when she worked part-time as a youth dance instructor. Paula has a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from York University, where she also completed a Masters of Education with a specialization in Literacy and Language, making her uniquely qualified to design the Spanish program for Mission Montessori.
She is very excited to be a founding member of an authentic Montessori school and looks forward to bringing her passion for culture, music (she plays the ukulele!), food and travel to the classroom.
PRIMARY TEACHER AND CONSULTANT
Nancy received her Montessori primary training and began teaching in 1971 in Washington, DC. She moved to Chicago in 1978, where she raised her family and taught at The Ancona School and Flossmoor Montessori School. For the past 13 years, she has taught and tutored students at Santa Cruz Montessori, where she has also spent her summers developing a “Get Ready, Get Set, Go!” program for children moving up from primary to elementary level.
Nancy travels each week between Santa Cruz and San Francisco, where she loves spending time with her family. Her grand-daughter will be attending Mission Montessori this year. Nancy is as excited as her granddaughter to join everyone at Mission Montessori two days each week. She is committed to helping establish a strong bridge for the newest, youngest students entering Mission Montessori’s elementary classes. She is also honored to contribute to Maria Montessori’s lifelong work to create world peace and understanding through education.
Juan Diego Salinas Juárez
SPANISH IMMERSION LEAD TEACHER
Diego was born and raised in Michoacán, Mexico. After moving to California, he later earned his bachelor's in Political Economy at the University of California, Berkeley. Diego’s love of teaching began as a college student at UC Berkeley where he tutored and mentored elementary aged children in a bilingual program.
After graduating, he knew he wanted to continue working in education and joined Teach For America. He completed his training in Los Angeles where he taught 7th grade English. Diego then started working at a Montessori School in Oakland as a Spanish teacher. At the same time, he worked as a 5th and 6th grade math teacher at a traditional elementary public school in Richmond, California. Experiencing the differences between a Montessori environment and a traditional environment, he fell in love with the Montessori pedagogy. So, he went on to earn his AMI Elementary Certification in San Diego. He has been teaching at a Montessori elementary classroom in Spanish for the last five years where he also had the opportunity to work with Zeda. They are excited to work together again.
Diego is currently completing his master’s in Elementary Education with a Montessori Concentration from Hartford University. He is very happy to be joining the Mission Montessori team and is excited to be able to share his love for Montessori education, Spanish, culture, and sports.
Maria Gali Cabana
ASSISTANT TO THE TEACHER - SPANISH IMMERSION
Maria was born in Barcelona, Spain, where she studied Primary Education and Education Psychology. She comes from a family of teachers and pedagogues involved in the progressive education movement. Her great grandfather, Alexandre Galí, worked with Maria Montessori while she lived in Barcelona and promoted the creation of active and innovative schools around Catalonia. Maria went to a school based on Alexandre Galí and Maria Montessori’s principles and wanted to become a teacher since she was young.
She was a Teacher Assistant in a Spanish Immersion School in Minneapolis before working for seven years in Barcelona. Maria has been teaching children from 5 to 11 years old and has created programs and projects, taking into account both the challenges of today's society and children’s individual needs.
Maria is looking forward to being part of the Mission Montessori team and helping us grow our quality education while using her diverse passions.