Teaching Staff

(listed in Alphabetical Order)

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JESSICA AVILA has worked with students in all of our classrooms and programs. She has a lovely way with children, and is popular with the other staff as well. She has just completed her bilingual Child Development Associate credential and also teaches Spanish.

TANIA FAJADO , the newest and most welcome addition to our staff, is a graduate of the University of Cuenca in Ecuador. Although her background is in administration, she also has experience in the fields of early childhood and home health. Tania, who has two children of her own, is often found supervising the children during recess, lunch and special activities.

MARIAN GARRECHT  has been working at the Center since 2016. In her many teaching roles, she interacts with nearly every student in some capacity. Marianne obtained her Child Development Associates credential while working here and is a frequent substitute teacher in all of our classrooms, as well as the office.


AZEB GREY has been working at the Montessori Center of Nyack for nearly 25 years.Her beautiful smile and gentle ways make her equally popular with children, parents and staff. Fluent in French and working on her Spanish,

Azeb completed her Montessori training at the Center for Montessori Teacher Education. She also has a Child Development Associates credential, an Early Childhood Development credential, and an Associate’s Degree in education from Rockland Community College.

CARMITA GUILLERMO ZARUMA (Rosario) came to the Montessori Center five years ago with experience as an au pair and with a genuine love of children. Now, she has her Child Development Associates credential and is looking to start Montessori Infant Toddler Training at the Center for Montessori Teacher Education this year. She is known and respected for her hard work and dedication. 

LINDA HARVEY is the head teacher in our Full-Day Prekindergarten class. She brings a wealth of experience to our Full-Day PK class. She is a certified New York State teacher with a Master of Science in Literacy, as well as a credentialed Montessori directress. She owned and operated her own Montessori school, and has trained extensively in Montessori teaching methods at the Center for Montessori Teacher Education.

BARBARA ISELIN has been teaching fitness and movement at the Montessori Center of Nyack for over 20 years. Her energy and enthusiasm are infectious to both children and staff. Barbara’s presentations, which emphasize fairness, politeness, team building and positive self-esteem, are an important part of children’s development.


MARÍA McNENNEY studied sociology and psychology at Manhattan College and worked as a translator for unionized companies before joining us in 1998.  She became interested in Montessori educational philosophy and completed her preprimary certification through at the Center for Montessori Teacher Education. Bilingual, María provides our children with Spanish language instruction as well as Montessori lessons.

ITA PURBA CHAPPELL is an educator and professional cook from Indonesia. As a private chef, she teaches adults and children how to make scrumptious dishes, including delicious steamed dumplings and fried rice. As an early childhood professional, Ita substitutes in all classes, as well as lunch and after school.

CHRISTINE HWALEK RENSTROM, our music teacher since 1988, is a graduate of Nazareth College. Christine has Orff-Kodaly training, but draws upon a variety of disciplines, including Montessori, when presenting her programs to the children. As a member of the Rockland County Guild of Music Teachers, she offers piano lessons privately and instructs many of our children.


ANGELA REYES brings experience to the Beginnings class both as a parent and as an educator. With an undergraduate degree from the College of Holy Cross in Worchester, Mass., Angela has had experience working with children in a wide variety of settings, including public school, before and after-care and summer camp. She completed her Montessori Infant and Toddler certification at the Center for Montessori Teacher Education and is now working on her Masters at Mercy College. This is Angela’s sixth year working at the Montessori Center of Nyack.

AREANA SOLANO loves working with children and has provided childcare for many of our local families. She is passionate about art, but is also proficient in guitar, piano and voiceplus she speaks Spanish and French. All of her talents are put to good use in out classrooms. Areana has her bilingual Child Development Associate credential and will complete her Early Childhood Development credential this year.


BEATRIX STEFAN has been working at the Montessori Center for over ten years. She was formerly a preschool teacher in her native Hungary. Beatrix received her Child Development Associates credential at Rockland Community College and her Montessori certification through the Center for Guided Montessori Studies. A dedicated and caring teacher, Beatrix is sensitive to the needs of her students and designs specific activities to accommodate each child’s learning style.

RACHEL TEKULA is an experienced childcare educator who is completing her New York State certification at Long Island University. During this past year, she has been student teaching at the Montessori Center of Nyack under the careful supervision of administrator Dharani Narasimhan. In addition to her work with children, Rachel is an accomplished web developer and photographer, who also has a working knowledge of Spanish.


MARÍA ELENA TORRES is a graduate of Lehman College with a major in psychology and a minor in education. She completed her Montessori early childhood certification at the Center for Montessori Teacher Education.

Elena loves working with our children and never has a cross word for either staff or students.In addition to Montessori lessons, Elena teaches Spanish, which she does using games and songs.

SONDRA WEINER is a teaching assistnt who joined us in 2012. She has a degree in management from Nassau Community College as well as her Child Development Associates certificate. Sandy supervises lunches for our Montessori and UPK classes and developes special crafts and learning activities as needed.



Driving Directions

85 Marion Street,   Nyack, NY 10960     *    845-358-9209