Elizabeth Verdin


Prior to joining Mission Montessori, Elizabeth spent five years working in an intimate family daycare with children ranging from 4 months to 8 years in age. Through that experience, she found she had a passion for teaching younger children. She loves the journey of teaching and caring for children 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.


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.


Fany Orellana

Assistant Teacher, Spanish Immersion

Fany was born in Honduras 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 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 children teach you every day about the world.


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 AMI diploma from Montessori Northwest and her master’s degree in Montessori education, and now 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.


Devon Franke

Assistant Teacher

Devon’s interest in early childhood development started at a young age. In third grade, Devon created a business called The Mother’s Little Helper, which 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 zero to six age range.

Devon 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.


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

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

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Melanie Itokazu

Assistant Teacher

Melanie was born and raised in San Francisco. She earned her Bachelor’s in Theater Arts and Dance and has always been interested in child development. Before joining Mission Montessori, she worked at a summer camp, helping kids develop new skills in the creative arts. She enjoys being part of a collaborative team and helping each child discover their artistic side, as she is loves doing with Mission Montessori.

In her free time, Melanie loves to travel, act, and dance.


Yongmei Li

Assistant Teacher

Yongmei has an AA teacher's permit from the State of California. She 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.

She loves her work at Mission Montessori and having the opportunity to work with such a dedicated group of educators.  

Yongmei is fluent in Mandarin and Cantonese. She enjoys reading and playing badminton in her spare time.


Stephanie Gonzalez

Lead Montessori Teacher (Toddler)

Stephanie has her Bachelor’s 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, which taught her 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 its holistic approach, which encourages independence and 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.


Zizi Elhamaky

Assistant Teacher

Zizi was raised in both San Francisco and Egypt and speaks fluent 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, the way each one grows and learns 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.

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Camilla Estrada

Assistant Teacher

Camilla came to the Bay Area with several years of experience working in professional childcare and Montessori schools as an assistant teacher. She is fluent in both Spanish and English, as her parents are originally from Colombia. Camilla holds a Bachelor’s in Sociology and Journalism from Georgia State University. She plans to continue her education by earning a Master’s in Education and getting certified in Montessori.

Camilla is delighted to be at Mission Montessori, where she finds joy in being a part of her students’ successes, from helping them master a practical life work to hearing a child answer questions in foreign languages.

In her free time, she loves watching children flourish into positive members of society.

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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, for 20 years, worked as a private math tutor for children of all ages. 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 is committed to a life in education.

In her free time, San loves to cook Burmese food such as coconut noodle soup and fish noodle soup (her favorite dish!). She also loves comedies and spending time with her family.