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Zeda Suswal

FOUNDING TEACHER

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 (including Near North Montessori and the Renaissance School) for the last six years.

Zeda could not be happier 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. 


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Paula Luman

Literacy teacher

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 in English Literature from York University, where she also completed a Masters of Education with a specialization in Literacy and Language.

She is happy 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.


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Bridget Petracci

Elementary Assistant Teacher

Bridget has a degree in Early Childhood with an emphasis on Inclusive Education, as well as a degree in Spanish Expression and Comprehension from the Nazareth College in Rochester, NY. While at Nazareth College, she had the opportunity to study at a university in Spain for a year and then complete her student teaching at The Nelson Mandela International School in Berlin, Germany.

In addition to working at Mission Montessori, Bridget is earning her graduate degree in TESOL from The University of San Francisco. Bridget is excited to using the philosophies of Maria Montessori to inspire a love for learning in our students and foster an environment that values growth and self-improvement.



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Juan Diego Salinas Juárez

SPANISH IMMERSION LEAD TEACHER

Diego was born and raised in Michoacán, Mexico. After moving to California, he earned his Bachelor's in Political Economy at the University of California, Berkeley. Diego’s love of teaching began 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 seventh grade English. Diego then started working as a Spanish teacher at a Montessori school in Oakland. At the same time, he worked as a fifth and sixth grade math teacher at a traditional elementary public school in Richmond. Experiencing the differences between a Montessori environment and a traditional environment, he fell in love with Montessori pedagogy and went on to earn his AMI Elementary Certification in San Diego. For five years, Diego taught in Spanish at a Montessori elementary setting, where he also had the opportunity to work with Zeda before joining Mission Montessori in 2018.

Diego is currently completing his master’s in Elementary Education with a Montessori Concentration from Hartford University. He is very happy to be on the Mission team and is excited to be able to share his love for Montessori education, Spanish, culture, and sports.


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Maria Galí Cabana

literacy teacher and spanish curriculum design

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. 

Maria was a teaching assistant in a Spanish immersion school in Minneapolis before working for seven years in Barcelona. Maria has taught children ages five to 11 and enjoys created programs and projects that take into account both the challenges of today's society and children’s individual needs. 

Maria is thrilled to be part of the Mission Montessori team and help us grow our quality education while using her diverse passions.