Meet Our Staff

HEAD OF SCHOOL

Tyler Bourcier, Head of School, trained at the Center for Montessori Education in New York, holds an American Montessori Society Credential for Elementary I and II, as well as a State of California Multiple Subject Teaching Credential. Tyler began his elementary teaching career in 2003 and taught at Montessori schools in Arizona and Delaware before joining Casa di Mir’s Upper Elementary faculty in 2007. Tyler is also an instructor at the Montessori Teacher Education Center of the San Francisco Bay Area.

ADMINISTRATIVE TEAM

Hema Munshi works in the front office as an Administrative Assistant. Hema holds a BA and certificate in Administrative Assistant/Office Technology. In addition to her extensive experience working in the non-profit sector, Hema is also a graduate of a Montessori High School.

Anne Nguyen, Admissions Director, has taught since 1994 and has spent most of her career at Casa di Mir with a 3 year stint teaching for the Palo Alto Unified School District. Anne holds a California State Teaching Credential from San Jose State University as well as an American Montessori Society certificate for ages 9-12 from the Montessori Teacher Education Center.

Karen Schuler is the Director of Finance and Human Resources.  Karen has been with the school since 1999.  She has completed the Human Resource Specialist Training, Advanced Course for School Leaders, Montessori Whole School Management, and holds a BA degree in Psychology.

Wanda Whitehead, Education Director, assisted the founding board in the establishment of the school in 1989, and was its first teacher. Her key focus and vision is Maria Montessori’s “Education for Peace.” Wanda taught for 17 years in the Palo Alto Unified School District, grades 2-6. She holds a State of California Standard Teaching Credential for grades K-8, American Montessori Society Certification for ages 6-12, and Orff-Schulwerk Level 1 music teacher certification. Wanda is a teacher trainer at the Montessori Teacher Education Center of the San Francisco Bay Area.

PRIMARY PROGRAM

Sunita Austin, Primary Program Director, has been a Montessori teacher since 2007.  She holds an American Montessori Society Credential from the Montessori Teacher Education Institute of Adrian, Michigan as well as an Early Childhood Education Certificate. Sunita joined Casa di Mir’s Primary teaching team in 2016.

Diane Heiba – bio coming soon!

Radha Kadich received her Amercian Montessori Society credential in Early Childhood Education at the Montessori  Teacher Training Center, and has been teaching since 2009. Radha also completed her chef training in South Africa and earned an associate degree in Nutrition and Catering.

Yan Qu started at Casa as a regular substitute teacher, and was such an asset in the classroom that she was subsequently hired as a full time Primary Teacher.  Yan has completed her Montessori credential for early childhood educators through the Montessori Teacher Education Center. Yan is bilingual, and has developed and taught Mandarin language lessons for preschool-age children.  Yan holds a BS in Electrical Engineering and has completed 45 units of Early Childhood Education.

Kristin Schwartz is an Assistant Teacher in the Primary Program.  She studied Communications at San Jose State University, and completed her American Montessori Credential for Early Childhood from the Montessori Teacher Education Center.  Kristin is a certified Mind Body Eating Coach, a devotee of yoga, traveling, and Child Development.

Whitney Williams is a Primary Assistant Teacher.  Since 2016, she has worked with toddlers, preschoolers and school age children.  She attended West Valley College, where she studied early childhood education and business.

Joy Yap has been an early childhood teacher since 2004. She holds an American Montessori Society Early Childhood Credential from the Montessori Teacher Education Center. Joy also has a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and is pursuing a Master’s Degree in Educational Psychology.

LOWER ELEMENTARY

Madhu Agarwal is a teacher in the Lower Elementary program. She earned a Master’s Degree in Finance and worked as a Financial Analyst before pursuing a career as a Montessori Teacher.   She completed her Montessori training for Lower Elementary at the Montessori Teacher Education Center.  Madhu especially enjoys bringing innovation and creativity to her work with her students.

Pheroza Doshi, obtained her Montessori credential from the Institute for Advanced Montessori Studies in Silver Spring, Maryland. She has been a classroom teacher since 2007. Pheroza has lived in Kenya and is fluent in French and Swahili.

Eliana Fernandez  is a Lower Elementary Teacher and holds an American Montessori Society Credential from Montessori Teacher Education Center. She completed a Bachelor’s degree in Law from the Universidad Pedagogica y Tecnologica de Colombia.

Kai Shuart attained her Liberal Arts degree from Golden West College and her Bachelor’s in Child Development from Humboldt State University. In 2014 she received her Lower Elementary Teaching Credential from the North American Montessori Center.  Kai is one of two Assistant Teachers in Casa’s Lower Elementary program.

Penny Thompson is an Assistant Teacher for the Lower Elementary classrooms. Penny holds an American Montessori International credential from the Foundation for Montessori Education in Toronto. She also holds a BS degree with a specialty in Geography.  Penny joined Casa di Mir’s staff in 2011.

Bithika Vora is a teacher in the Lower Elementary program.  Bithika received her Lower Elementary Montessori Teaching Credential from The Montessori Teacher Education Center. She enjoys giving Mathematics lessons and using Montessori tools like the geometric solids and checker board beads.

Cathy Zoeckler holds a MA in Education, an American Montessori Society Elementary Credential, and completed a Bachelor of Arts in Business Management. Cathy has been a Montessori teacher since 1994.

UPPER ELEMENTARY

Christine Forster received her Montessori Certificate for ages 6-12 from the Center for Montessori Education in New York. She began her Montessori teaching career in 1992. Christine taught at Casa di Mir from 2001 to 2007. She lived in Germany with her family from 2007 to 2014, and re-joined Casa di Mir’s faculty when she returned to the United States in 2014.

Kevin Lang holds a M.Ed. in Elementary Education from Loyola University in Baltimore and American Montessori International certification in both Elementary and Adolescent Studies. He has a BS in Environmental Studies from Northland College in Ashland, WI. Kevin has many years of experience as a Montessori educator with both upper elementary and middle school students. Kevin joined the Casa di Mir faculty in 2014.

Nathan Whitehead completed his American Montessori Society Elementary I training for ages 6-9 at the Center for Montessori Teacher Education in New York. Nathan also holds a BA in Spanish with a minor in Communication from San Diego State University. Nathan is the first Casa di Mir alumnus to return to work at Casa! Nathan joined Casa di Mir’s staff in 2011.

Erica Yorke teaches in the Upper Elementary Program.  In addition to a Bachelor of Arts from University of California, Santa Barbara, Erin completed the American Montessori International training at the Montessori Institute of San Diego.  She has been a Montessori Teacher since 2016.  Erica is passionate about creating classroom environments that foster discussion between students and engagement with the broader community. When she isn’t in the classroom, Erica loves to take her Basset Hound, Daisy, on long walks.

MIDDLE SCHOOL

Nanette Bernales is the Middle School Math and Science Teacher. She has taught Middle and High School math and science since 1995.  Nanette received her Master of Arts in Measurement and Evaluation and Bachelor of Science in Physics and Technology from Philippine Normal University-Manila. She holds a California Single Subject Credential in science.

Erin Coonrod is the Middle School Humanities Teacher.  Erin studied English Literature and obtained her Single Subject Credential at California Lutheran University.  She completed the Montessori adolescent training at the renowned Houston Montessori Center.  She has worked with middle-school age children and older adolescents since 2008.  In the Montessori tradition of lifelong learning, she is a frequent museum-goer and loves to incorporate art into all facets of her curriculum.

SPECIALTY TEACHERS AND SUPPORT STAFF

Avani Hirway is Casa di Mir’s Science Lab teacher. Avani holds a MA in Electrical Engineering from Purdue University and previously worked as a Lead Design Engineer for 7 years. Avani joined Casa di Mir’s staff in 2010.

Renee Jones, co-founder of Casa di Mir and former RN, has been teaching Human Growth to Casa’s Upper Elementary and Middle School students for over 25  years.  She brings her expertise in the field of medicine, human biology, human values and ethics to her work with Casa students.

Yonas Kameda is a Music Teacher at Casa di Mir.  Yonas has always been passionate about music, and has been instructing students of all ages in various instruments and musical theory since 2001.  Yonas has developed and taught music curriculum in public elementary schools since 2014.

Jillian Tkach teaches Physical Education and Art at Casa di Mir.  She holds a BS in Kinesiology and is an experienced youth soccer coach.   More recently, she has discovered her passion for art and has been heading up Casa’s art instruction program.

Lily Martinez teaches Spanish at Casa di Mir.

New School Aikido, under the direction of Sensei Leslie Simmons, provides Aikido instruction to grades 2-8 as part of Casa di Mir’s Physical Education Curriculum. Sensei Simmons has been providing Aikido instruction to Casa di Mir students since 2000.

Claudia Zambon is a Spanish Teacher at Casa.  Claudia is a native Spanish speaker who began teaching Spanish in 2008. An extremely versatile teacher with a passion for education, Claudia has also taught Science and History to elementary age students.

Our care of the child should be governed, not by the desires to make him learn things but the endeavor always to keep burning within him that light which is called intelligence.
– Maria Montessori