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Faculty

  • Sowing the Seeds of Organic Learning

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JCMSOG is dedicated to providing an authentic Montessori environment for its children and families. To do this, we search for and invest in individuals that have demonstrated a commitment to the Montessori system of education. Meet our wonderful JCMSOG staff:

Administration

Ash Punjani, Head of School

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Ash holds a Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Education from the University of North Texas and a Masters of Education in Philosophy and Education from Teacher’s College – Columbia University in New York. She is a certified at the elementary school level for grades 1-8 and has over 20 years of teaching and school administration experience. A long-deferred dream was achieved when she became the Head of Schools at JCMSOG in 2013. ashraf-meherali-punjani-family-img

 

Ash was born in Mumbai and belongs to a family of entrepreneurs. She immigrated to the US in 1989 to pursue higher education and became passionate about the field of education through voluntary service as a teacher in her house of prayer religious education program. Ash moved to Atlanta after her marriage in 2002 and continues to serve actively in the community in education and youth development. She currently resides in Johns Creek with her husband, Akbar, and her son, Kayden, a graduate of JCMSOG who is now 8 years old and a second-grader at Johns Creek Elementary. Ash loves to cook and often brings our teachers delectable dishes for our monthly luncheons!

Favorite Montessori quote: “Establishing peace is the work of education.”

Debra Markham, Director

Debra’s childhood was spent mostly in Europe before her family settled in Georgia when she was eleven. She earned a BA in Elementary Education from Augusta University and taught 7th and 4th grades in an inner city school for 3 years before moving to Atlanta in 1982.

 

She taught a 1st/2nd grade combination, a 3rd/4th grade combination and Kindergarten at the Suzuki School before becoming an Assistant Director in 1986 and then Head of Schools in 2005 for what had evolved into the three Suzuki campuses. She also worked with the Suzuki staff in the opening of the Montessori Teacher Education Institute here in Atlanta; this training center is accredited by both MACTE (Montessori Accreditation Council for Teacher Education) and AMS (American Montessori Society).

 

Like many JCMSOG teachers, Debra was trained as a Montessorian by Dr. Feland Meadows, the Goizueta Endowed Chair of Early Childhood at Kennesaw State University, in 2007 and received her 2.5-6 year-old credential from the Pan American Montessori Society in 2013. She also completed one year of PAMS Infant/Toddler training at Kennesaw and received the Birth to Three credential from the American Montessori Society in the spring of 2016.

 

She lives in Marietta with her husband; her daughter (also a Montessori teacher) and her husband live nearby with their three-year old daughter, who is currently enrolled in the Honesty Community. Her passions are teaching, gardening, cooking and books and she is thrilled to be able to share all of these with your children!

“When a child is given a little leeway, he will at once shout, “I want to do it!” But in our schools, which have an environment adapted to the children’s needs, they say, ‘Help me to do it alone.’”

Lauren Martin, Assistant Director

Lauren holds a BS in Psychology from Kennesaw State University and received her 2.5-6 year-old Montessori certification from the Pan American Montessori Society (PAMS) under Dr. Feland Meadows in 2012. She began working in a Montessori environment in the Waseca Learning Environment as an assistant teacher while an early childhood college student. She taught in several Montessori schools in the Atlanta metro area before joining JCMSOG as the Assistant Director. Lauren is also the Course/Program assistant for PAMS.

 

Lauren prizes the Montessori system of education for everything it gives to our children: independence, the respectful manner in which adults and children work together and the peacefulness that is woven throughout the entire curriculum. She lives in Marietta with her husband, her three-year old daughter (who is in the Love community) and two dogs and a rabbit. When time allows, she enjoys hiking, kayaking, and camping with her family – anything that allows them to be outside in nature together!

“A child is both a hope and a promise for mankind.”

Joy Community

Silvia Torres

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Silvia, who was born in Tamaulipas, Mexico, moved to the United Sates in 2008. She completed her degree in Pedagogy (the theory and practice of teaching) in Mexico where she attended the Cultural Univeritario in Juarez and has finished the first half of the PAMS 2.5-6 course at Kennesaw State University. She taught at the middle school level in Mexico as part of her professional practice and also was a teacher of religious education in Tennessee before relocating to Atlanta in 2008.

 

Silvia began working with our youngest students in the Joy community in 2016 and was instrumental in establishing the environment during the classroom’s first year. She is especially interested in helping our babies achieve their first level of independence, moving, eating and saying their words.

 

Silvia lives in in Johns Creek with her husband Omar, her son who is 18 years old and in his first year at Cornell and her daughter, who is 16 and beginning her junior year at Northview High School.

Stella Ifeadike

Stella joined the JCMSOG community this year and is the teaching assistant in Joy. She is originally from Nigeria and has lived in Johns Creek for over 20 years. Stella is the mother of three daughters: her oldest is a registrar of international students at Butler College in Indiana, her second born is a Harvard graduate now at Georgetown studying law, and her youngest is entering her junior year at Washington University.

 

Stella earned a BS in Politico Science at the University of Sokoto in Nigeria then married, immigrated to the US in 1990 and became a stay-at-home mom. She has taught as a substitute teacher in several traditional schools and also volunteers at Peachtree Corners Baptist Church each Sunday in the church nursery.

 

Stella’s hobbies include travelling, reading, cooking and volunteering and she is very excited to have found Montessori, believing it to be the best way to show young children how to become creative, independent leaders.

Respect Community

Florjana Rama-Shala

Florjana was born in Kosovo and immigrated to the USA in 2011. After finishing high school, she majored in education as she taught for four years in a public preschool in Pristina, Kosovo. Florjana received her CDA (Child Development Associate) certification in 2016 and will receive her AMI Infant/Toddler certification in November of this year.

 

Florjana has taught at the International Montessori Academy and Meadowbrook Montessori as both an assistant and as a teacher before joining JCMSOG in the spring of this year.

 

She lives in Grayson with her husband and since her passion is sharing a love for the diverse cultures of the world, she loves to travel. Florjana is looking forward to seeing how much her young students grow this year!

“Children are human beings to whom respect is due, superior to us by reason of their innocence and of the greater possibilities of their future.”

Vidhya Subramanian

Vidhya holds both a BA and a Masters in Economics from Kundarai Naachiyaar College and Annamalai University, respectively. Her oldest daughter is a former Montessori student and Vidhya volunteered at Shaker Elementary and Rivertrail Elementary Middle School before joining the Respect classroom as an assistant this past fall.

Never help a child with a task at which he feels he can succeed.

Ashley Seibert

Ashley joined JCMSOG this past spring with over 6 years teaching as a Montessori assistant at Vickery Montessori. She plans to obtain her Infant/Toddler Montessori credential in the next few years and very much enjoys learning from Miss Florjana and the Respect children! Ashley also has lots of experience as the mother of a daughter, (now in the Love community) who was a toddler only a short time ago!

“Of all things love is the most potent.”

Peace Community

Ji You

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Ji was born in South Korea and spent much of her younger childhood there. When she was ten, her family immigrated to Atlanta and so she considers Atlanta her home.

 

Ji holds BA in Early Childhood Education, Birth through Kindergarten, with a concentration in Montessori Education from Kennesaw State University. She holds a MACTE-accredited Pan American Montessori Society Teaching Certificate and a GA State Teaching Certificate, both for children from Birth through Kindergarten. Ji joined our school in 2016 and has made her PrePrimary classroom an amazing place.

 

Ji’s approach provides a balance of gentleness and firmness, giving children freedom coupled with boundaries. The Montessori Method best matches her own philosophy of teaching – children learn best through purposeful work, having large uninterrupted blocks of time to explore and discover on their own, with windows of opportunity for times of specialized learning unique to each child.

 

Ji lives in Suwanee with her husband, and her newborn daughter, who will join us in the infant classroom in September.

“The essence of independence is to be able to do something for one’s self. Adults work to finish a task, but the child works in order to grow, and is working to create the adult, the person that is to be. Such experience is not just play… it is work he must do in order to grow up.”

Anu Rawat

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Anu was born in Delhi, India and earned her Bachelor & Masters degrees in Commerce & Education before coming to the USA. While in India, she gained eight years of valuable teaching experience in an elementary school setting. Anu taught in a Montessori school in Cleveland, Ohio for two years which was her first exposure to the Montessori system of education. She quickly fell in love with the philosophy and the approaches used in letting the child develop his/her innate capabilities. She loves the fact that Montessori classrooms are not run by the teachers alone. Students are taught to manage their own community and develop leadership skills and independence.

 

Anu left teaching when her son was born in 2013, but after moving to Johns Creek with her family, she sought an authentic Montessori school for him because she knew he would flourish in its prepared environment.

 

Anu joined JCMSOG in August 2016 and is a vital member of the PrePrimary team. Her knowledge of Montessori and her experience as a teacher and a mother help us provide a true Montessori environment for the development of young minds.

 

Anu loves to garden and to cook (she makes roti each week for her students!) for her husband Ajit and her son Vihaan, who is a third year student in the Love Community.

“The education of even a small child, therefore, does not aim at preparing him for school, but for life.”

Love Community

Zoe Ammatuna

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Zoe was born in Atlanta and raised in Marietta, where she now lives with her three-year old daughter (who is in the Honesty community) and her husband. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, museums, and exploring Historic Marietta Square!

 

Zoe is completing her degree in Early Childhood education at Kennesaw State University and holds a Montessori teaching certificate from the Pan-American Montessori Society for ages 2.5 – 6 years. Zoe has taught as both an assistant and a Lead guide for the past eight years in several Montessori schools, joining Johns Creek Montessori in 2015.

 

Zoe loves to help children see the connections between language, math and science and the world around them, believing that children learn best when concepts and skills are presented in a context that is familiar to them. She is particularly passionate about the Peace Curriculum, believing strongly in Dr. Montessori’s assertion that children are the hope and promise of mankind.

 

In her classroom, she helps facilitate the Primary child’s growing ability to resolve conflict in a respectful, empathetic way as he learns to honor his needs and feelings while also considering those of his peers. Zoe is very proud of her children’s accomplishments in this area, and you will often see her friends offering a tissue or glass of water to a classmate who is upset!

“When children come into contact with nature, they reveal their strength.”

Subha Thangaswami

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Subha was born and raised in Tamilnadu, India and graduated from Bharathiyar University with a BS in Textile Technology. She began to substitute in her son’s Montessori classroom because he wasn’t bringing any papers home and she was curious about what he was learning. She was so impressed with what she saw in the children that she asked his teacher question after question; the teacher encouraged Subha to observe several times in the classroom. That was an eye opener for her and Subha taught in a Montessori environment for a number of years, deciding to complete her AMI Primary training. She received her 3-6 year teacher certification at Navadisha Montessori Institute, Chennai in 2010.

 

Subha joined JCMSOG as a primary assistant in January of 2015; her favorite area in a Montessori classroom is the area of Practical Life as she believes these materials set the foundation for our “Montessori Magic”. She loves observing the children as they children care about for their environment and solve their own problems in front of the Peace Table. Her classroom is a place where children are given unconditional love, coupled with clear boundaries and consistency.

 

Subha lives in Cumming with her husband, Nachimuthu son Maadhavan, who is 14 and a freshman this year and her daughter Dhanya, who is 10 and in the 5th grade. She loves to go walking, hiking and gardening with them.

“We discovered that education is not something which the teacher does, but it is a natural process which develops spontaneously in the human being.”

Honesty Community

Badra Samaranayaka

Badra is originally from Sri Lanka and resides in Johns Creek with her husband. Her son has recently married and relocated to Michigan where he works for Chrysler. Now Badra is looking forward to her first grandchild!

 

Badra trained as an attorney in Sri Lanka and practiced there before immigrating to the US in 2000. She also holds an Associate degree in Computer Information Systems from Atlanta Tech which she earned shortly after moving to Georgia but then decided to pursue her Primary Montessori certification in 2002, receiving her AMS credential in 2004. Because her sons both attended Montessori schools as young boys, she felt that teaching young children in this way was her true calling.

 

Badra taught as a Lead Guide for five years at the Montessori School of Woodstock and then for the past nine years at the Suzuki School. Her passion for Montessori comes from Maria Montessori’s insistence on the prepared environment and on the teacher’s role as the conduit between it and the child. She is continually amazed at how the child is able to become fully independent in a classroom that they themselves care for and respect and looks forward to a spectacular year together!

“It is not enough for the teacher to love the child. She must first love and understand the universe. She must prepare herself and truly work at it.”

Angela Gomez

Angela holds a BA in TFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) from the Universidad de Carabobo in Venezuela. She has many years of experience teaching in a Montessori Primary classroom, here at JCMSOG since 2017 and at Northwoods Montessori School for the previous 11 years. Angela loves the level of independence that the children are able to achieve working in a Montessori environment and also is appreciative of the concentration that the children bring to their work. She feels that a multi-age classroom provides a number of opportunities for the old children to lead the younger and for the younger to learn from their older friends.

 

Angela lives in Suwanee with her husband and her two daughters who are three and one. The entire family loves reading books together and taking long walks with each other.

“The education of even a small child therefore, does not aim at preparing him for school but for life.”

Kavita Biradar

Kavita was born in India and attended an Intermediate College while there. She immigrated to the US in 2006 and began substituting at her son’s preschool where she developed an interest in working with very young children. As she was completing her CDA degree (Child Development Associate), she studied the Montessori system of education and was inspired to teach in a Montessori school. She joined JCMSOG in March of 2018 as a Primary Assistant in our Honesty classroom.

 

Kavita believes that a good parent partnership is crucial to the child’s success in school, understanding that communication, cooperation and collaboration between parent and teacher is vital; one of her primary goals is building this rapport with each of her families this year.

 

She lives in Cumming with her husband and her two sons. Kavita loves music, painting and cooking.

“We must help the child act for himself, will for himself, think for himself; this is the art of those who aspire to serve the spirit.”

Sue Wilcox

Sue is new to our school and will be assisting Miss Badra and Miss Angela with the Honesty children in the afternoons. Sue was born in South Korea but has been in the US for nearly 50 years. She lives in Johns Creek with her husband, a retired scientist. Her two children are grown and have careers of their own: her son attended a Montessori school (PrePrimary through Lower Elementary) as a child, is a journalist and her daughter is an entrepreneur.

 

Sue majored in art in college and has worked in as well as owned a variety of retail businesses, selling children’s clothing and custom frames. Sue is now semi-retired but loves children and is happy to be working with them!

The human hand allows the mind to reveal itself.

School Operations

Gloria Jew, School Operations Lead

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Gloria was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas. She has two grown children, and a grandson.

 

When her son began elementary school, his mother and his little sister would visit her grandmother mother, who taught in a preschool. Gloria enjoyed seeing how happy working with children made her so when Rose started school, Gloria began volunteering and then started classes in Early Childhood.

 

Gloria then became an Assistant Director and when she relocated to Georgia, she taught at Discovery Point before becoming their Assistant Director. She joined the JSCMSOG family in 2012 and loves caring for our children and works continuously to keep them healthy and safe!

 

Daisy Arias, School Operations Assistant

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Daisy was born in Honduras, then moved to the United States in 1997 so that her family could pursue the many opportunities that America has to offer. After working in the kitchen at a restaurant and running a house cleaning company, she was delighted to join Miss Gloria at JCMSO. As a mother of three children, I love working with kids!

 

Daisy is the mother of three children and the caretaker, along with her daughter of two pet turtles, Rosa and Choche. Her extended family – two nieces, her brother, and her sister-in-law – all currently live in Lawrenceville. In her free time, Daisy enjoys singing, playing the guitar, and spending time at her church, where she leads Bible Study classes for both children and adults.

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