Akriti Rastogi

Assistant Teacher—Sprouts and Cottage

Aurélie​ Tanvez


00052This is Ms. Aurélie’s tenth year on the staff or as a parent at IMS. She discovered Montessori education when her family moved to the area and she looked for a preschool for her oldest child. Montessori philosophy fit really well with her family’s philosophy of education and it has become part of their way of living.

Ms. Aurélie has a Master’s degree in biology and a PhD in neuroscience from the University of Paris. She recently completed an Early Childhood credential at the Montessori Center for Teacher Education in Bellevue, Washington. She lives in Issaquah with her two children and husband, dog and cat. When not at school Ms. Aurélie likes to cook and bake and do outdoor activities.

And about Montessori education: “When entering a Montessori classroom, I am always impressed by its serene and peaceful atmosphere. It is amazing to witness how independent and respectful the children are.”


Cina Patten


This is Ms. Cina’s first year at IMS. 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 appreciate 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. She’s on the board of the Pacific Northwest Montessori Association, active in Montessori advocacy

Ms. Cina and her husband live in Auburn with two little dogs, two cats, two geckos and two bearded dragons. 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.


Gail Gnehm

Art Specialist 

00087Ms. Gail is in her 12th year at Issaquah Montessori School. She’s been an assistant, an intern, a co-teacher and a lead teacher during that time.

Ms. Gail attended Evergreen State College and obtained her Early Childhood Montessori credential at Montessori Center for Teacher Education in Bellevue. She lives in Issaquah with her husband and Buster, a Bassett hound. When she not at school Ms. Gail can be found zipping around on her Vespa, or on a bike or hike, or making art with paint or fabric or yarn. She is over the moon about her grandson, Gavin, who she describes as super happy, bouncy and a very good traveler. Gavin and his family live in Texas, Ms. Gail visits them as often as possible.

Teaching in a Montessori environment fits Ms. Gail so well because she never grew up and can easily understand the perspective of the child. She loves being around children and delights in watching them learn and grow. Ms. Gail appreciates the good sense of community at IMS, the way in which everyone supports each other and the happy, loving environment.​


Kim Droppo

Assistant Director

00194The friendly face found at the front desk in the morning is Ms. Kim. In the afternoon, she’s the intern teacher in the Loft classroom. She’s adept at corralling paperwork, organizing schedules, interacting with children and keeping the school generally on track.

Ms. Kim earned a BA in Finance at Gonzaga University and a BA in Early Childhood and Family Studies at the University of Washington. Currently she’s pursuing an Early Childhood credential at the Montessori Center for Teacher Education in Bellevue. She lives in Carnation with her husband, and three children (two of whom are away at university). In her free time, she enjoys reading, crafting, volunteering with Girl Scouts, and spending time with her family.

Ms. Kim became familiar with Montessori education in the fall of 2000 when her son attended preschool at Evergreen Academy in Woodinville. Her daughters later attended Montessori middle school at Arbor Montessori Schools. She says, “I love the Montessori philosophy for education because it allows the child to explore their natural inquisitive side, it holds them responsible for their own work, and encourages them to reach their fullest potential.”


Leena Mane

Assistant Teacher—Maple

00024Ms. 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 two nearly-grown-up children. While not at school or spending time with her family, Leena enjoys reading, traveling 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.

Mamatha Mallareddy

Assistant TeacherLoft


Manuela Negroiu


00192​Ms. Manuela joined our community as an assistant in the toddler classroom in the spring of 2015, and moved on to early childhood 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.


Maria Suja

Assistant TeacherNest

00088Ms. Maria is in her third year at Issaquah Montessori School. She earned an undergraduate degree in physics from Kamaraj University and a graduate degree in math and chemistry from Madurai University. Ms. Maria is currently pursuing an Early Childhood credential at the Montessori Center for Teacher Education in Bellevue.

Ms. Maria lives in Sammamish with her husband, son and dog. She enjoys walking with her dog, spending time at the gym and traveling with her family.

Mariam Sarkar


This is Ms. Mariam’s first year at IMS. Her family is full of Montessorians; her mother’s Montessori credential is signed by Mario Montessori and her children are students at 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. Last year she worked as an assistant teacher in lower elementary at Arbor Montessori Schools. Ms. Mariam is currently completing a Montessori Early Childhood Credential from the Montessori Center for Teacher Education in Bellevue.

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.

Nichole O’Hare

Assistant TeacherLoft

00270Ms. Nicole is in her third year as part of the IMS teaching community. 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


00160​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 young daughters.