Cina Patten


Ms. Cina joined the IMS community in 2018. She discovered Montessori while working as an after-care teacher at Three Tree Montessori; she was impressed with the beauty of the classrooms and the academic ability of very young children. Ms. Cina appreciates the way the Montessori philosophy and method respects the child’s development.

Ms. Cina holds a BA in Sociology from the University of Washington, a MA in Education from Antioch University as well as a Washington State K-8 teaching certificate. She completed an Early Childhood credential at the Montessori Center for Teacher Education in 2009.

Ms. Cina and her husband live in Auburn with two little dogs, two big dogs, and just two cats. When not at school Ms. Cina likes to crochet blankets, read, hike and work out. She appreciates the welcoming and friendly staff and families at IMS.

Gayathri Devi Dhanakotti

Assistant Teacher—Tulip

Ms. Gayathri joined the IMS community in the fall of 2019 as an assistant teacher. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics from Sri Saradha College in Salem, Tamilnadu, India. Ms. Gayathri completed the online Montessori Fundamental for Early Childhood course.

She lives in Issaquah with her husband and two teen-age daughters. When not at school Ms. Gayathri enjoys yoga, painting, swimming, baking, sewing, gardening, playing cards and spending time with family.

Ms. Gayathri’s daughter was a Montessori student when she was young. The individualized learning appeals to Ms. Gayathri, as does the way the curriculum flows. She likes how the children learn to be polite and to choose work independently. She appreciates her nice, friendly teaching colleagues; they’re willing to help without hesitation, very welcoming and helpful.

Karla Peroza

Assistant Teacher—Maple

Ms. Karla joined the IMS community in the fall of 2020 as an assistant teacher in the Maple classroom; she’s also taken on the role of afterschool care lead. She grew up in Venezuela, attending Catholic schools through high school. Ms. Karla studied law until 2017 at University Fermin Toro in Barquisimeto, Venezuela.

She lives in Bellevue with her adorable and much-loved dog, Gus. Ms. Karla’s mom and grandma live close enough to see often. When she’s not at school, she likes to listen to Latin music, dance, watch movies and series, and finally, to spend time with her family and friends.

Ms. Karla was drawn to Montessori by the freedom and independence of the children, the human values and the mission to give importance to each child in the classroom. About Issaquah Montessori specifically, she appreciates all the education provided, and the opportunity to learn more every day.

Leena Mane

Assistant Teacher—Maple

Ms. Leena joined the IMS community in the fall of 2017. She holds both undergraduate and graduate degrees in electronics, and an MBA from the Indira Institute of Management.

She lives in Sammamish with her husband and her two children who are now young-adults. While not at school or spending time with her family, Leena enjoys reading, traveling, gardening and interior design.

Ms. Leena appreciated the highly supportive and encouraging leadership and atmosphere that is shown from the staff at IMS. Coming from a non-Montessori background this experience has opened her eyes to a new approach to learning and education.


Manuela Negroiu

Lead Teacher—Maple

​Ms. Manuela joined the IMS community as an assistant in the toddler classroom in the spring of 2015, and moved on to primary over the summer.

She grew up in Romania, earning a Scientific Degree of Bachelor of Arts in Theology: Letters (English Language and Literature) from the University of Bucharest. She lives in Issaquah with her husband and two boys who keep her busy. When not at school or on the sidelines of a soccer match she enjoys baking, reading, going to the movies and crocheting.

Ms. Manuela met children who had come from Montessori environments and was impressed with their self-motivation and sense of responsibility. She decided to learn more about the Montessori Method. Ms. Manuela completed​ the early childhood education program at the Montessori Education Institute of the Pacific Northwest. Ms. Manuela is excited to use what she’s learned about child development and Montessori philosophy. She loves to see the children grow, the changes that take place and how they develop.

Mariam Sami


Ms. Mariam’s joined the IMS community in the fall of 2018. Her family is full of Montessorians; her mother’s Montessori credential is signed by Mario Montessori and her children attended Arbor Montessori school. She rediscovered her Montessori roots watching her children go through the process of Montessori education in their own classrooms. She especially appreciated their independence, empathy and love of learning.

Ms. Mariam earned a BA in English Language and Literature, with a minor in education from Benedictine University in Chicago. She taught grades 6, 7, and 8 for three years before moving to Washington. She has worked as an assistant teacher in lower elementary at Arbor Montessori Schools, as well as an assistant teacher in the primary program here at Issaquah Montessori. Ms. Mariam completed her Montessori Early Childhood Credential from the Montessori Center for Teacher Education in Bellevue in 2019.

She lives in Sammamish with her husband and three young children. When not at school Ms. Mariam likes to read, experiment in the kitchen, redesign and remodel her home and enjoy the beauty of the Pacific Northwest with her family. And about Issaquah Montessori: “I am so grateful to be part of such a generous and supportive community of dedicated individuals.”

Nicole O’Hare

Assistant Teacher—Rainier

Ms. Nicole joined IMS community in the fall of 2015, as did her youngest child. She graduated from Brigham Young University with a major in psychology and a minor in English. Ms. Nicole lives in Issaquah with her husband and two elementary-school age children. As a family they enjoy camping, hiking and bike riding. Baking is Ms. Nicole’s indoor hobby—and she makes an excellent key lime pie.

Ms. Nicole attended Montessori school as a child. She came upon IMS while looking for an alternative preschool option for her youngest child. As she toured the school she was thrilled to see the materials she remembered using. While going through the classrooms she was impressed with how hard the children were working, the variety of activities, that there was something for everyone. She loves the philosophy and the self-direction as well as the opportunity for each child to follow their own interests.

Ms. Nicole appreciates the level of education, dedication, different background and passion that’s evident in the staff at IMS. She likes the small community, the ability to work together with parents and getting to know them on a level that enables her to work with their children more effectively.

Shweta Bindal

Lead Teacher—Tulip

​Ms. Shweta joined the staff at Issaquah Montessori School in 2012. She was born and brought up in India. Her family moved to the Issaquah area 13 years ago for her husband’s work. She obtained both a Bachelor’s degree and a Master’s degree in English Literature in India, and earned an American Montessori Society Early Childhood credential from The Montessori Center for Teacher Education in Bellevue, Washington.

The main thing that attracts Ms. Shweta most in the Montessori philosophy is the respect for children. She is looking forward to learning and growing along with the children.

Ms. Shweta lives in Sammamish with her husband and two daughters.

Uma Viruthagiri

Assistant Teacher— Tulip

Ms. Uma has been a valued member of the Issaquah Montessori community since the fall of 2011. She’s worked in both the toddler and primary classrooms as an assistant teacher. She returned March 2021 to help out where needed. Ms. Uma holds a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and Engineering.

She appreciates the social interaction in Montessori environments, and the focus on child-centered learning. “I like the fact that the children get to work alone or in groups and are taught to be responsible by taking care of their own needs and belongings.” About IMS specifically, she appreciates the very welcoming and strong community filled with friendly, supportive and caring staff. “I’m so glad to be part of this wonderful community.”