Faculty

Administration

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Nicole Champoux

Head of School

As the child of a Montessori teacher and the parent of a Montessori child, Nicole has experienced firsthand the incredible impact that a high quality Montessori education can have in the life of a child. With a Master of Education in Montessori Integrative Education and a Bachelor of Arts from Georgetown University, she brings to Arbor a deep commitment to creating a school community where children thrive, families feel welcome, and teachers are inspired. Nicole holds three teaching credentials from the American Montessori Society, at the 3-6, 6-9, and 9-12 levels. An award-winning Montessori educator with over 20 years in the classroom, Nicole was voted the region's Best Teacher 2019 by the readers of 425 Magazine. She also received the Unsung Heroes Award from ING in 2009, in recognition of her innovations as a teacher of science. In her spare time, she teaches for the American Montessori Society, presents at national conferences, and loves to travel. Nicole lives in Sammamish with her wife, Amy, their teenager, and two small dogs

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Melissa Laight

Assistant Head of School and Admissions Director

A native Eastsider and former Montessori child, Melissa is a passionate advocate of the Montessori Method. With a Master’s Degree in Integrative Education from TIES and a Bachelor's Degree in theater from Cornish College of the Arts, Melissa has spent the last 20+ years working with children in public and private schools as well as in the non-profit sector. A published author, trainer and presenter, she has toured nationally presenting at conferences on parent engagement in schools. Receiving her Montessori Certificate in 2009, she is a certified Master Teacher at the Primary Level, and is also certified in Love and Logic and Positive Discipline, as well as being a facilitator of Positive Discipline's Empowering People in the Workplace. Melissa is the recipient of the AMS 2021 Montessori Innovator Award. During her acting career, Melissa was a regular on Seattle stages as well as on film, appearing in short films and as Orlando Bloom’s sailing double in the blockbuster movie Pirates of the Caribbean. In her spare time, Melissa is known to fire cannons from the main deck of our state’s tallship The Lady Washington, where she has been a member of their crew since she was 15 years old. She is married to a fellow crewmate and current faculty member Nigel Laight, and has two children.

Riddhi Dave

Early Childhood Director

Bio coming soon

Sarah Starkey

Business Manager

Bio Coming Soon

Anna Prashanth

Administrative Associate

Bio Coming Soon

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Sean O’Brien

Executive Director

Sean was one of the first students when Arbor began back in 1993, and worked as an after school assistant throughout high school. Sean returned to Arbor in 2010 first as an Early Childhood Teacher, then as Early Childhood Coordinator, and was the Head of School from January of 2013 through January of 2022.

Sean holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration Entrepreneurial Studies from Hawaii Pacific University. His Montessori Credentials include a Early Childhood Certificate (3-6) in 2009 from the National Center for Montessori Education, and most recently an Administrator Credential from the American Montessori Society in 2013.

Sean and his wife Monica have two wonderful boys, James and Shane, who are now students at Arbor. His Golden Retriever Finn also loves any chance to play at school or swim in any body of water.

Sean is always happy to speak with anyone about the benefits of Montessori Education and what makes Arbor Montessori a unique and successful educational experience from infancy through 6th grade.

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Mary O'Brien

Founding Director

Bio Coming Soon

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Infant and Toddler

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Zeynep Anil

Holly Lead

Zeynep holds a BA in International Relations from Ohio State University and has taught English as a Foreign Language for six years abroad. She attained her Infant and Toddler Montessori Credential through MEIPN, and has also done trainings in Toddler Development and Supporting Children with Special Needs. She loves working with children, and discovered Montessori when she had her daughter who joined Arbor in 2015. Zeynep joined Arbor in 2016, and truly loves being a part of this community and helping young minds grow in their own unique ways. Originally from Turkey, Zeynep enjoys travelling, reading, taking long walks, yoga and cooking.

Cynthia Delgadillo-Ornelas

Aspen Lead

Cynthia is a native of Mexico, where she began her work with children as a social worker in a high school in her hometown. After settling here in Sammamish, she joined Arbor in 2021. The thing that she loves most about our community is that Arbor Montessori feels like one big family where everyone is welcome. She is a mother to a current Arbor Student, and has two awesome bulldogs. In her spare time, you can find her in the garden or dancing!

Katy Pawlick

Aspen Assistant

Bio Coming Soon

Anna Wu

Aspen Assistant

Bio Coming Soon

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Mei Gazit

Aspen Assistant

Mei comes to us from Israel and began working at Arbor during the summer of 2017. Since then she has spent time with infants, toddlers and primary students. She enjoys helping in different classrooms and getting to know all the students here at Arbor. Currently you can find her in the Aspen classroom working with the toddlers.

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Anita Sunil

Holly Assistant

Anita has been a part of the Arbor community since 2008. It has been amazing to her to get to see the children grow over the years.

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Primary

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Bhavani Balasubramanian

Magnolia Lead

Bhavani joined the Arbor Montessori community as a parent in 2011 and as a lead teacher in 2018. With a master’s degree in Computer Science, she spent a few years working in the technology industry before taking time off to be with her children. Her love for Montessori philosophy was ignited when her children started their education at Arbor Montessori. She earned her American Montessori Society Early Childhood credential from The Montessori Center for Teacher Education in Bellevue, Washington in 2014, and knew she wanted to become a teacher. As a lead teacher in the Magnolia classroom, her goal is to help children develop self-confidence in their ability to succeed socially, emotionally, and academically. It is her firm belief that each child is uniquely gifted with superpowers, which can be ignited through love and care.

Bhavani currently lives in Sammamish with her Husband, Son, and daughter both in high school. In her free time, she enjoys singing, walking around gorgeous trails in Pacific Norwest, yoga, reading, and spending time with her family.

Samanda Soto De Valente

Magnolia Assistant

Bio Coming Soon

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Tia Samsi

Magnolia Assistant

Tia is originally from Indonesia, and has been a part of the Arbor Community since 2018. She started as an Assistant Teacher in the Infant and Toddler Program, and learned so much from the children. This has fueled her passion for the Montessori Philosophy and to learn more from other Programs. Loving the 3-6 year olds, she has shifted to the Primary Program as an Assistant Teacher. Tia holds a certificate through the Central Guided Montessori Studies on the overview of the Infant Toddler Level and has completed her Assistant Teacher Training through Montessori Education Institute of the Pacific Northwest. Tia's other passion is Pottery, and she currently manages her own studio.

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Vanita Gupta

Juniper Lead

Vanita joined the Arbor community in 2017 as an assistant teacher, and is currently working as the lead teacher in the Juniper classroom. During the pandemic, she lead the Arbor online primary program through which she became more confident each day and incorporated several ways to make Montessori online possible. Vanita is grateful to be part of such a supportive community. She first fell in love with the Montessori approach when she saw her children learning and growing through this unique method. She admires how the Montessori Method allows children to be independent, learn at their own pace and discover their capabilities.

Vanita grew up in New Delhi and obtained a Master’s degree in Business administration and Finance from Delhi University, India. She completed her internship at Arbor and earned her Early Childhood Credential from the Montessori Center of Teacher Education, Bellevue in 2020. Attending the AMS conference every year and participating in different workshops helped her grow her passion for teaching and understanding the child. She currently lives in Sammamish with his husband and two children. When she is not at school, she enjoys cooking yummy food, reading books, and exploring the outdoors with her family.

Eva Lin

Juniper Assistant

Bio Coming Soon

Manpreet Kaur

Juniper Assistant

Bio Coming Soon

Esmeralda Napalan

Esme Napalan

Juniper Assistant

Esme grew up from the Philippines and moved to the U.S. in 2001. She currently lives in Issaquah with her husband Michael and has a daughter Ava who is now in University. Her love of working with children brought her to became an active parent-volunteer ever since her daughter attended Montessori. Seeing the amazing human she has become drove Esme to be part of the school that helped her daughter and other children cultivate their love and passion for learning, and joined Arbor in 2016. Esme holds her Early Childhood Short Certificate and has completed her Montessori Assistant Training at MEIPN. When she is not surrounded by her wonderful students, she enjoys spending time with her family, playing table tennis, shopping, dining out, and walking her two dogs Shaggy and Fluffy. She also has a passion for aquaponics and is an aquarium hobbyist.

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Eileen Egger

Chestnut Lead

Eileen began her Montessori education as an Assistant in 2001 after having obtained her Bachelors of Science in El.Ed from Miami University and few years as a nanny in Chicago. The Montessori philosophy of honoring the spirit of the child while fostering social, emotional and academic development immediately captivated her. She now holds her M.ED in Montessori Integrative Learning from Endicott College. Eileen joined the Arbor Montessori School community in 2006 as an intern in MEIPN's Early Childhood AMS certification program. She spent nine years as lead teacher in the Maple classroom before transitioning into the Administration as the Early Childhood Coordinator. After supporting the Program through Covid, Elieen missed the students and teaching and is now back full time as a lead teacher in the Chestnut Classroom. Her enthusiasm for the Montessori method has been regularly refreshed by participation in nine national conferences and more recently as a field consultant for the MEIPN internship program. Eileen is also an Instructor for MEIPN, teaching Physical Science. In her personal time, you can find her exploring the PNW trails and has a passion for gardening.

Ren Wu

Chestnut Assistant

Bio Coming Soon

Rocio Martinez Williams

Chestnut Assistant

Rocio holds a BS in Business Administration and a Communication Arts Minor from Bellevue University. Her previous experience is in retail and claims management before taking time off to spend with her children. She came across Montessori in 2014 when she was expecting her first child and was looking at childcare options. Intrigued by the Montessori Method, she took a deep dive into learning and applying Montessori principles at home with her children. Along with Montessori principles, conscious and respectful parenting, REI parenting and positive discipline have all informed her parenting style. Her curiosity to learn more about the Montessori Method in a classroom setting and her desire for her children to experience a Montessori education, led her to Arbor. In November 2021, Rocio joined Arbor as an Assistant Teacher and in October 2022, she completed MEIPN’s Montessori Assistant Teacher training. In her personal time, she enjoys long nature walks, practicing yoga, gardening, reading, traveling, and most of all, she loves spending quality time with her family.

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Ashley Wyrwinsky

Maple Lead

Ashley joined the Arbor Montessori School community in 2014 as an assistant teacher. In 2017 she completed her AMS Primary training at Chestnut Montessori in Bellevue with her certification in Early childhood, and also holds a Washington state certificate in Early childhood Ed. She also holds her certification in teaching children's yoga. As the lead teacher in the Maple classroom, it is her passion to prepare an environment that is diverse with children's natural curiosity about the world. Preparing and fostering a safe and loving space provides each child with a community for the joy of learning together.

In her free time, Ashley enjoys yoga, reading, and spending time watching her children in their sports. Her family enjoys skiing, traveling, hiking, and their playful pup Ace!

Sarah Hooper

Maple Assistant & Aftercare Team Lead

Sarah started here at Arbor in 2022, and has brought a wealth of childcare experience to our community, and currently oversees our Primary Aftercare Program. She has always worked with children in some capacity. She started off nannying as a teenager while growing up in Carnation, and has worked in local childcare centers over the last three years. Sarah has enjoyed discovering Montessori, and loves how welcoming the staff, community and environment are here at Arbor. Sarah has three brothers and one sister, and loves camping, hiking road trips and fishing.

Marinela Mihai

Maple Assistant

Bio Coming Soon

Saadhvi Ram

After Care Staff

Bio Coming Soon

Frances Addison

After Care Staff

Bio Coming Soon

Heather Dansberger

Float Staff

Bio Coming Soon

Heather Lee

Float Staff

Bio Coming Soon

Rohini Pushkarna

Float Staff

Bio coming soon

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Nigel Laight

Float Staff

Nigel is a native of England, and began working at Arbor in 2022. He loves the hands on learning and interaction that Montessori provides its students. Nigel holds his Assistant Teacher Training from Montessori Education Institute of the Pacific Northwest. He has spent many years working with children in different capacities in childcare settings as well as hands on education on Tallships teaching ship and sailor history. Most notably, Nigel spent years touring around England as Pirate Nige teaching the history of Piracy to English schools. Nigel is also a distance hiker, completing the Camino de Santiago multiple times. A published author, Nigel spent his time in lockdown during Covid drafting and publishing his two novels "Dandy: A Higher State of Nonchalance" and "Flickflouder". He is currently working on his third book in his free time, which also includes traveling with his wife, watching movies and exploring art galleries. Nigel has two step sons and a dog named George.

Shubh Chawla

Substitute/Reading Specialist

Bio Coming Soon

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Lower Elementary

Shawn Harrity

Madrona Lead

Shawn has been working with children his entire life. Growing up on the east coast, Shawn worked at camps as a teen counselor. After graduating from Mount Saint Mary’s University with a double major in English and secondary education, he started teaching third grade in Chicago, and later, middle school English and Social Studies. After getting married, he began teaching lower elementary at a Maryland-area Montessori school. After receiving his lower elementary training from the Institute for Advanced Montessori Studies, Shawn moved to Washington State with his wife and two children, leading Elementary classrooms and developing Montessori outdoor curriculum for local schools. In his spare time Shawn loves to read, hike and play music.

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Kari Ramadori

Willow Lead

Kari returned to Arbor in 2022 after formerly working as our on-site Librarian. A PNW native, Kari has two children and three cats, and has also been a rancher where she had llamas, alpacas, cows, goats, hens, horses and more. Kari has extensive experience working with both children and adults working at daycares, teaching at the college level, as well as English in Japan. She holds her MA in Early Childhood, State Early Childhood Certification, MS in K-8 with a Library and Science endorsement, as well as her Elementary Montessori Certification through Montessori Education Institute of the Pacific Northwest. Her favorite thing about Montessori is that it empowers children to become the future we always say they are. Montessori gives them the critical thinking skills and personal empowerment to do big things! In her spare time, you can catch her reading, and geeking out over science and pop culture.

Suparna Ray

Madrona Assistant

Bio Coming Soon

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Katrina Muser

Madrona Assistant

Katrina came to Arbor in 2021. A former professional ballet dancer and yoga instructor, Katrina graduated from the SSCC Culinary Arts Program in 2007. She also holds her 300 hour Yoga Teacher Training Certificate. With a thirst for travel, Katrina has lived on four of the seven continents, in Switzerland, Peru, Thailand and the United States. What drew her to Montessori is how the philosophy focuses on the whole human-being and is tailored for individuality. In her free time, you can find her on the forest trails, cooking, snowboarding, doing art, yoga, or relaxing.

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Upper Elementary

Laura Balcom

Cedar Co-Lead

Laura came to Arbor in 2020-21 as one of our online elementary co-teachers. Prior to Arbor, she was the Upper Elementary Montessori teacher in the Bremerton School District, and has also taught at two private Montessori schools in Bellevue and in long-term substitute positions in Seattle Public Schools. Prior to teaching, Laura was a software engineer specializing in natural language processing (getting a computer to parse and extract information from natural languages, such as English or Spanish), and also an ordained Christian minister. She fell serendipitously into Montessori teaching when her family moved to the Puget Sound area.

Laura holds an undergraduate degree in Biology from Bryn Mawr College, a Master’s degree in Computer Science from Arizona State University, a Master of Divinity from Boston University, a Montessori Elementary credential, and post-baccalaureate teaching credential from Western Governors University, and is currently working on her Montessori Inclusion Endorsement.

She resides in Port Orchard on the Kitsap Peninsula with her husband and adult son, and makes the trek to the Eastside on weekdays. She enjoys gardening, singing in a choir, playing guitar, piano, and Middle Eastern percussion, knitting and crochet, writing songs and poetry, working various kinds of puzzles, walking, hiking, and traveling.

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Andon Dansberger

Cedar Co-Lead

Andon has been attached to Arbor since 2020, where he led our Online Elementary Classroom during Covid. This year he has moved onto campus to co-lead our Upper Elementary classroom. Andon holds a BA in History with a Minor in Religious Studies from Stetson University, an MA in Montessori Ed. from Loyola University Maryland, an MA in teaching English as a second Language (TESOL) from the University of Central Florida, as well as a Certificate of English Language Teaching to Adults (CELTA) from Cambridge University. Andon spent 8 years teaching English as a Second Language in China, Vietnam and Saudi Arabia before making the leap to Montessori Education. He loves the respect for children that Montessori and Arbor provide. Andon has lived in 8 countries over 2 continents, and has explored over 20 more. In his spare time he loves roleplaying games, travel, his cat Mojo and exploring new things with his wife Heather.

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Specialists

Raquel Tovar Abad

Spanish Specialist

Bio Coming Soon

Amy Roberts

Music Specialist

Bio Coming Soon

Romana Manguane

PE Specialist

Bio Coming Soon

Katy Pawlick

Horticulture Specialist

Bio Coming Soon

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Stephanie Lamb

Librarian and Reading Specialist

Stephanie joined the Arbor community in 2016 as the reading specialist. She began her career as a Montessori teacher in 1994 in the California Bay Area. After graduating from College of Notre Dame with a Masters in Education, her desire was to help children learn how to read, which is now her passion. She holds a certificate specializing in helping dyslexic children received from the Academy of Orton-Gillingham. It was through this certificate she found immense joy working with children with learning difficulties. When not at work, she enjoys walking her dog, McDuff, and spending time with her family.

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Meghan Sullivan

Student Success Coach

Meghan Sullivan started at Arbor in 2021 as our Student Success Coach. She is available to students, parents and teachers to discuss challenges in the classroom, on the playground and/or at home. She spent 13 years as a Children's Counselor at Betty Ford Center before she joined our team. She completed her B.A. at Wheaton College in Massachusetts and earned her Masters of Education with a focus in Equity and Social Justice from San Francisco State University. Meghan has 3 kids of her own at home and enjoys reading when she has a quiet minute.

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