Cina Patten


This is Ms. Cina’s fourth 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 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. 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.

Daihan Avendano

Assistant Teacher—Maple, Afterschool care

Ms. Daihan joined the IMS community in September of 2021.

Gayathri Devi Dhanakotti

Assistant Teacher—Tulip

Ms. Gayathri joined the IMS community this fall as an assistant teacher in Orca and the after-school program. She holds an undergraduate degree in economics.

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

Ms. Gayathri’s oldest daughter was a Montessori student when she was young. The individualized learning appeals to Ms. Gayathri, so much so that she is making Montessori education her next career. She appreciates the friendliness of the IMS community.

Karla Peroza

Assistant Teacher—Maple and aftercare lead

Ms. Karla joined the IMS community in September of 2020.

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 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.


Manuela Negroiu

Lead Teacher—Maple

​Ms. Manuela joined our 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


This is Ms. Mariam’s third year at IMS. 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 is completed her Montessori Early Childhood Credential from the Montessori Center for Teacher Education in Bellevue in 2018.

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.”

Molly Costello

Assistant Teacher—Rainier, Afterschool care

Ms. Molly joined the IMS community in November of 2020.

Nicole O’Hare

Assistant Teacher—Rainier

Ms. Nicole is in her sixth 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.

Shradha Takalkhede

Assistant Teacher—Tulip

Ms. Shradha joined the Issaquah Montessori community in 2019 as a parent and assistant teacher.



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 young daughters.

Umamaheswari Viruthagiri

Assistant Teacher— Float/Substitute

Ms. Uma has been a valuable member of the Issaquah Montessori community for many years. She’s worked in both the toddler and primary classrooms as an assistant teacher. She returned March 2021 to help out where needed.