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Ruth Fernández

Lead Montessori Teacher (Toddler Spanish immersion)

Ruth, the fourth child of five sisters and brothers is originally from Extremadura, Spain. She was the first in her family to complete a university education, receiving her bachelor’s degree in early childhood education in 2014 and, in the summer of 2015, beginning her master’s in Montessori Pedagogy (0-6 years old).

In the summer of 2016, she received her 3-6 years old Montessori Guide diploma from the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) and, most recently, obtained her Infant/Toddler AMI diploma at the University of Vic, Cataluña. She loves being in a Spanish immersion classroom and as a foreigner she feels a lot of empathy and truly understands  what it takes to learn a new language.

Ruth enjoys running, listening to music, and spending time with her husband and young daughter who also attends Mission Montessori. Her family also loves learning how to implement Montessori at home.


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Cecilia Lara

Assistant Teacher, Spanish Immersion

Cecilia emigrated from Mexico to the United States with her mother and brother when she was 11-years-old and has been living in San Francisco ever since. She loves being around children and has long known that she wanted to be a preschool teacher.

Cecilia started working with children as a babysitter and is currently attending City College of San Francisco. She will soon complete her associate degree and plans to continue her education at a four-year university to complete her bachelor’s degree in childhood development.

In her free time, Cecilia enjoys spending time with her family and going to the movies.


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Fany Orellana

Assistant Teacher, Spanish Immersion

Fany was born in Honduras, a small country in Central America and is the mother of three wonderful children. Her youngest son, Mateo, attends Mission Montessori. Fany went to City College of San Francisco to obtain her certification on Child Development and is continuing her education to complete her associate degree in teaching.

Prior to joining Mission Montessori, Fany was a private nanny for three years. This experience of working closely with a family, helped her to gain a valuable perspective in child care. She loves working with children because of the impact she gets to make on a child’s life and because of the way children teach you everyday about the world.


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Jocelyn Miller

Lead Montessori Teacher (Toddler)

Jocelyn was born and raised in Southern California. She moved to San Francisco to attend San Francisco State University where she earned her B.A. in psychology, along with a minor in special education with an emphasis in behavioral neuroscience.

Prior to joining Mission, Jocelyn worked as a nanny for two wonderful toddlers. Early childhood education has always been a strong interest for Jocelyn, she started as an assistant at our school, earned her Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) diploma from Montessori Northwest and her master’s degree in Montessori education and loves her work as a lead teacher in our toddler program.  

Outside of the classroom, Jocelyn enjoys hiking, Bikram yoga, and spending time with family and friends.


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Devon Franke

Assistant Teacher

Devon’s interest in early childhood development started at a young age. Starting in 3rd grade, Devon created a business called The Mother’s Little Helper that offered family friends curated activity “packages” to use during play dates. Since then, she has worked privately for families across the United States, helped open a nursery school in Oregon, and taught first grade at her alma mater in Hawai’i. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Oregon, with a concentration in pediatric nutritional literacy and health education policy for the 0-6 age range. She has lived abroad in New Zealand and the South of France, and spends most of her free time gardening, developing recipes, writing restaurant reviews and working on her upcoming children’s cookbook.


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Claire Wen

Assistant Teacher

Claire was born and raised in China, where she worked with young children for three years and taught at the elementary level for three years. After moving to the United States, she continued working in the early childhood profession and is now studying at City College of San Francisco in pursuit of her AA degree in child development.

Prior to joining Mission Montessori, Claire worked with young children in a Mandarin immersion preschool in San Francisco for more than four years. She loves supporting children because they bring her happiness! She also enjoys being witness to the moments of imagination and creation that children often demonstrate.

In her free time, she likes to enjoy friends and family and counts traveling as a favorite activity.


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Nicki Brown

Lead Montessori Teacher (Toddler)

Nicki knew from an early age that she wanted to be in the education field, thanks to the wonderful examples she saw in several of her childhood teachers. She attended San Francisco State University where she majored in kinesiology, with a concentration in physical education.

Nicki has been an educator working in preschools since 2002 and has found she has a real passion for working with toddlers and implementing the Montessori curriculum to empower her young students. She has been part of our team since we opened in 2015 and has her Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) diploma from Montessori Northwest.  

In addition to teaching, Nicki enjoys watching sports and writing children's books.


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Nancy Tran

Assistant Teacher

Nancy attended the University of California, Davis where she studied English and education. During her undergraduate education, she volunteered as a camp counselor, mentor, tutor, teacher's aid, and reading specialist.

These experiences enabled Nancy to work with children of various ages, and she began to realize how formative the early years of development truly are. This realization inspired her to begin working with infants and toddlers, and she's loved working with the Mission community where she can do just that!

In her free time, Nancy loves to read science fiction, travel, camp, and cook.


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Yongmei Li

Assistant Teacher

Ms. Li has an AA teacher's permit from the State of California. She currently has 35 early childhood education units and received a Certificate of Excellence in the infant/toddler community from San Francisco City College. Prior to joining Mission Montessori, she worked in a family child care setting for many years.

Ms. Li is fluent in Mandarin and Cantonese. She enjoys reading and playing badminton in her spare time. She loves her work at Mission Montessori and having the opportunity to work with such a dedicated group of educators.  


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Elizabeth Verdin

Lead Montessori Teacher (Toddler)

Prior to joining Mission Montessori, Elizabeth spent five years working in an intimate family daycare with children ranging from 4 months to 8 years old. Through that experience she found she had a passion for teaching younger children. For her, it was a beautiful experience to have children that she taught and cared for from infancy to kindergarten.

Elizabeth has taken many courses in early childhood education and will be completing her Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) diploma. She loves learning and plans to continue her education to become the most caring, understanding, and knowledgeable teacher that she can be for the children in her care.


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Monica Rai Chamlagai

Assistant Teacher

Monica was born in Nepal, spent her high school years in India, and earned her BA in sociology from Tribhuvan University, Nepal. In Nepal, she worked for more than seven years in a non-profit organization as a communications coordinator. She has always loved to play with technology which led her to complete her Master’s of Science in information technology.

Monica chose to be a teacher simply because she loves being with children. She is amazed by what children can do and feels she learns just as much from them as they do from her.

Monica has a 10-year-old daughter and finds that working with children reminds her warmly of those early years of her daughter's life. She is delighted to be a part of the Mission community!


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Daw San Myint

Assistant Teacher

San was born and raised in Burma, where she obtained a B.S in Mathematics and worked as a private math tutor for 20 years. She tutored children of all ages and math tutoring was a passion. After immigrating to the United States, San worked at Everett Middle School as an after school teacher. She decided to expand her knowledge by attending City College of San Francisco and working at Mission Montessori with toddlers. San’s love for education and learning are what keep her committed to a teaching career.

In her free time, San loves to cook Burmese food such as Coconut Noodle Soup and Fish Noodle Soup (which is her favorite dish). She also loves comedies and spending time with her family.


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Stephanie Gonzalez

Lead Montessori Teacher (Toddler)

Stephanie has her bachelor’s degree in sociology from from San Francisco State University and her Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) diploma from Montessori Northwest. She first began to work with children as a camp counselor in-training, where she learned the importance of creating a safe and happy environment for young children. Subsequently, she worked as a program leader in after-school programs located in the Mission and Bayview. Constantly creating excitement through learning, Stephanie enjoyed fostering strong relationship with the students and their families.

Stephanie has now been teaching in a Montessori setting since 2015 and enjoys it because of it's holistic approach which encourages independence and truly helps each child reach their full potential.

In her free time, Stephanie enjoys exploring art galleries, live music, hiking, and spending time with her loved ones.


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Zizi Elhamaky

Assistant Teacher

Zizi was raised in both San Francisco and Egypt and as a result, she is bilingual, speaking fluently in both Arabic and English. She received her AA in early childhood development from City College. She loves learning about child development and plans to continue her studies to deepen her understanding of the fascinating world of children.

Zizi believes that all children deserve a secure and loving environment. She feels that working with children is fun and is continually amazed by their uniqueness, each one growing and learning differently. Zizi feels grateful and excited to be working at Mission Montessori!

In her spare time, Zizi loves hanging out with friends and family, cooking, watching movies and, of course, shopping.