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
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.
Early Childhood Director
Bio coming soon
Bio Coming Soon
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.
Bio Coming Soon
Infant and Toddler
Zeynep holds a BA in International Relations from Ohio State University and has taught English as a Foreign Language for eight years abroad. She loves working with children, and discovered Montessori when she had her daughter who has been a student at Arbor since 2015. She is deeply grateful to be a part of the Arbor community as both parent and a teacher. In her free time she enjoys travelling, reading, taking long walks and spending time with her husband and daughter.
Bio Coming Soon
I began working at Arbor during the summer of 2017. Since then I have spent time with infants, toddlers and primary students. I enjoying helping in different classrooms and getting to know all the students here at Arbor.
I have enjoyed being part of the Arbor community since 2008. It is amazing to see the children grow over the years.
Bhavani is thrilled to be a part of the Arbor community as the lead teacher in the Magnolia class. A former Arbor Parent she has fond memories of both her children's time here at Arbor. She has been working in Montessori classrooms since 2013 and completed my Early Childhood credential in 2014.
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.
I grew up from the Philippines and moved to the U.S. in 2001 and lived in Issaquah with my husband Mikey and my daughter Ava.
I love working with children so I became an active parent-volunteer ever since my daughter attended Montessori. As my daughter grew, I realized that having Montessori as her foundation for learning really helped her social and mental development. She loves learning and excels in Math and Science and is now in the National Junior Honor Society in middle school. That’s when I decided to be part of Arbor Montessori that helps children cultivate their love and passion for learning.
When I’m not surrounded by my wonderful Arbor children, I enjoy spending time with my family attending swim meets, playing table tennis, shopping, dining out, and walking my two dogs Shaggy and Fluffy.
I began my Montessori education as an Assistant in 2001 after having obtained my 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 me. I joined the Arbor Montessori School community in 2006 as an intern in MEIPN's Early Childhood AMS certification program. I transitioned into the Early Childhood Coordinator position after nine years as lead teacher in the Maple classroom. My 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. In my personal time, I enjoy exploring the PNW trails. I look forward to continuing to support and strengthen the entire Arbor community through collegial communication and collaborative efforts.
Ashley joined the Arbor Montessori School community in 2014 as an assistant teacher. In 2017 she completed my AMS Primary training at Chestnut Montessori in Bellevue with certification in Early childhood, and also holds a Washington state certificate in Early childhood Ed. She recently received her certification in teaching children's yoga. As the lead teacher in the Maple classroom, it her my 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 our playful pup Ace!
After Care Staff
After Care Staff
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.
Katrina has always been interested in the Montessori philosophy, and like many others who work here, wished she had a Montessori upbringing!
She has lived most of her childhood here in the Issaquah/Sammamish area and recently moved back after 9 years of working in Switzerland and traveling abroad. As a first generation American, getting to know her parents' different cultures was and is important to her. She has visited 23 countries, on 5 continents, and spent roughly 14 months backpacking/volunteering. Katrina loves immersing herself in different cultures, and witnessing a different way of being.
Katrina hopes to bring her vast travel experiences to her students and strives to genuinely connect with each student, and their unique way of experiencing and learning.
I came to Arbor in 2020-21 as one of the online elementary co-teachers. Prior to Arbor, I was the Upper Elementary Montessori teacher in the Bremerton School District. I have also taught at two private Montessori schools in Bellevue and in long-term substitute positions in Seattle Public Schools.
Prior to teaching, I 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. I fell serendipitously into Montessori teaching when my family moved to the Puget Sound area, just as an earthquake and the dot com crash knocked the wind out of the sails of my previous careers, but I soon discovered that teaching is my true love, and I see preparation for teaching in all of my previous experiences.
I am also highly prepared academically, with 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. I love school and learning a broad variety of academic subjects, and it is my joy and privilege to help children love school, as well.
I live in Port Orchard on the Kitsap Peninsula with my husband and adult son, and will be staying in Bellevue during teaching weeks. I enjoy 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.
Librarian and Reading Specialist
I joined the Arbor community in 2016, as the reading specialist. I started my career as a Montessori teacher in 1994 in the California Bay Area. After graduating from College of Notre Dame with a Masters in Education, my desire was to help children learn how to read, which is now a passion. Most especially, working with students who have reading difficulties provides me with the most satisfaction. I hold a certificate specializing in helping dyslexic children received from the Academy of Orton-Gillingham. When not at work, I enjoy walking my dog, McDuff, and spending time with my family.
Raquel Tovar Abad