Meet Our Team

Administration

Zaki Swaray-Rowe

Founder

My name is Zaki Swaray-Rowe and I am originally from Sierra Leone, a small country on the coast of Africa but have lived in Egypt, England and now The United States. I happened upon Montessori 20 years ago when looking for quality care for my 18-month-old son back in London, England. I decided to quit my job as an Assistant Accountant and start a Montessori school when I switched jobs and couldn’t find another Montessori school South of the River Thames that my son could attend. I took the training in London a year after I opened my first Montessori school. I have founded and ran four other Montessori schools in Georgia since then, including Atlanta Montessori International School with the first Junior High Program in Atlanta. I am passionate about Montessori education and believe that every child should have the opportunity to Montessori education. I am married with six children all of whom went through Montessori. I love to read and travel the world discovering new places and ways of life.

Frank Ngure

Head of School

Hello everybody! My name is Frank Ngure (last name pronounced Gu-ray- the N is silent). I originally come from Kenya in East Africa. I come from a small town called Thika, which is considered as the Kenya's most enchanted town. My stay in Atlanta, Georgia for almost two decades is the longest time I’ve been away from my native country but it has been like turning pages; one experience giving way to another more beautiful one. I have an opportunity to learn about people, culture, job, professionalism, and life in general on my own. My life today is mostly about education. My passion for the field of education dates back to my initial work experience as a teacher at an internationally recognized Catholic International school in Nairobi, Kenya. I am glad that teaching and learning is part of my journey in life, as it is the best way to nurture and foster friendship. On a personal level, my happiness is supplemented by listening to music. I love music immeasurably! I am not a rock fan-- I prefer listening to classics, soul ballads and alluring blues. I am also an avid soccer player and a long distance runner. Apart from having a passion for outdoor life, I enjoy nothing more than watercolor and acrylics paintings and the art of imagination. Something of interest about my country is that Kenya is a land of hospitable people and breathtaking natural beauty. My heritage is full of love and spirit that many tourists have branded “real humanity”.

Jackie Hornbeck-Wall

Director of Education

Jackie believes in presuming competence, celebrating neurodiversity, relationships as the foundation of thinking and learning, and school communities built on insight, creativity, knowledge, respect and commitment. She is an educator with 25 years of experience working directly with teachers and families.  Jackie is a Licensed Professional Counselor and has served in various roles including Head of School, School Counselor and Floortime Therapist, Elementary Teacher, and Resource Specialist.  She is excited to return in the role of Director of Education and Counseling to IMA, a school she helped build during its first decade as the Young Children’s Community and Parent Education Coordinator. Jackie has a BA from Southwestern University in Child Study and Language Development, a M.Ed in Montessori Education from Loyola University of Maryland, and a MS in Mental Health Counseling from Mercer University. She lives in Decatur with her husband Kent and their children Jameson, Isak and Maya.

Rebecca LaBanca

Admissions and Program Director

Rebecca is an Atlanta native and grew up in the Emory area.  Rebecca has a Bachelor's degree in Art History from Agnes Scott College.  She always has enjoyed working with children and seeing the world through their eyes.  She completed her AMI Primary training in 2007 at the Montessori Instutute of Atlanta and earned her M.Ed. from Loyola College in Baltimore.  She taught Primary in two Atlanta Montessori schools before joining the IMA community. 

Corinne Banks

Business Director

Corinne is a native of Decatur who resided in Grand Rapids, Michigan for many years.  She returned to Georgia 2 years ago and joined IMA in 2016. Her hobbies and interest include: karaoke, music, and indulging in exotic cuisines, drinks, locales.

Mary Jane Leach

Communications and Operations Director

Mary Jane’s abiding interest in nature and sustainable communities has influenced her education, professional and volunteer choices.  She has an undergraduate degree in Business Administration from Georgia State University and a Masters of Public Administration from Tennessee State University.  She has managed all aspects of nonprofit in the areas of public health, nature and community agriculture. She spent three years at a charter school as an 8th grade farm-to-school ‘practicum’ leader and two years working with the Wylde Center, where she was a greenspace manager and and led a weekly nature-based work-readiness program for neurodiverse teens. She serves on the boards of the City of Decatur Environmental Sustainability Board and Decatur Makers, and lives in Decatur with her husband and two teenage daughters.

Nido

Natima Tiko

Lead Guide

I am originally from Sierra Leone in West Africa. I’ve worked with young children of all ages (from infants to six year olds) for nine years and in Montessori environments for the past five years. I love the Montessori Method because the children are able to make creative choices in their learning using all their senses. Thank you for entrusting us with your infants.

Tavia Gordon-Allen

Assistant

I am from Montego Bay, Jamaica. I am a people person and have always been fascinated with children. I have been at IMA since 2014. Working with children enables me to learn something new each day and gives me an opportunity to positively impact their development. In my spare time, I like to cook, listen to music, watch movies, and baby sit. I believe nurturing is very important in developing the potential of the child and helps cultivate growth, respect, and peace in the community.

 

Katerine Garcia

Assistant (Spanish Speaking)

I am from Peru, I emigrated here at the USA in 2005 with my husband. I discovered my passion for teaching when I was 18 years old. I was invited to volunteer in a Bible Vacation School as an assistant group leader. I enjoyed it so much that I kept working with children in different activities . I also volunteer as a Sabbath School Teacher through the years. I began in the Infant Room and finished at the Early Teen Class.

I had the opportunity to work as a nanny for a couple of years. When my first child was born, I decided to be a full time mom. Best experience ever! 

Now, I have the opportunity to continue working in something that I like, being a teacher!. 

Dawn Hudson

Lead Guide

I am Dawn and have been a lead guide for over five years. I am an AMI trained Assistants to Infancy guide. I received my Bachelor of Arts degree in communications from the University of Michigan. In my spare time, I enjoy reading, yoga and learning more about the world around me. One of my goals for the children is to allow for the natural development of each child through real and purposeful work in a nurturing and caring community. It is always an honor to get to see each child grow into a confident and independent individual!

Sasha Derosiers

Assistant

Hi, I'm Sasha! I am new to the IMA family  as a Teacher Assistant, I have worked in various capacities in the world of all things children for over 10 years.  I have been living in Atlanta for the past 5 years consider Boston, MA home.  In my spare time I love to travel and learn about various cultures and traditions!

Luciana Achierno

Assistant (spanish speaking)

Hola! My name is Luciana and I am from Argentina. I moved to Atlanta in 2016 with my husband and my two boys and since then we have enjoyed and learned about places and foods and we have found many good friends! In my spare time, I enjoy taking my children to play soccer and also traveling. I am very happy to be here at IMA assisting the Sunflower class and teaching Spanish to the children

 

Sheneka (Neka) Nicholson

Lead Guide

I am a Florida Girl who has made Georgia my home for over twenty-five years.  I earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in child psychology from Spelman College, completed Montessori training in Dallas, TX and Atlanta, GA in 2006 and I have worked as a toddler teacher for 15 years.  I am married and a mother of two children, Daja Ayan, 19 and Joseph Ethan, 12.  I enjoy fishing, spending time with family, and reading.  I received a Masters of Divinity in theology in 2014. I am a minister and motivational speaker, giving those without a voice, a voice.   I have a passion for justice, a heart for children and a Montessori philosophy that fuels a vision to change the world one family at a time.

Yerud Sanchez

Assistant (Spanish)

I am from Venezuela. I graduated in Business Administration. I have had the opportunity to work with children and I love them, I think they are spontaneous and affectionate. I think they are the future and that you have to treat them with respect and motivate them to develop their potential with love and care. I am very excited to join International Montessori Academy and speak to them in my native language.

Yo soy de Venezuela. Me gradué de Administración de Empresas. Ha tenido la oportunidad de trabajar con niños y me encanta, creo que es espontáneo y cariñoso. Pienso que es el futuro y que hay que lo tiene con respecto y motivarlos a desarrollar su potencial con amor y cuidado. Estoy muy emocionada de unirme a la Academia Montessori Internacional y hablarles en mi lengua materna.

Martina Hamilton

Assistant

I joined the IMA community in 2017 as a substitute teacher. I was born and raised in Jamaica and migrated to America in 2014. I lived in Florida for the first four years and loved the beaches and the weather because they reminded me of Jamaica. I have been in Atlanta for a year and am happy being in the same state as my sister, Lisa Hamilton who also works at IMA. I always wanted to pursue a career in either nursing or teaching because I love helping people and love being around children.

Sprouts Class

Infant Classroom 

Charisse Navarrette

Lead Guide

I grew up in Peru and have been a part of the IMA community since inception. I am an AMI trained Birth to Three guide and have a profound love for supporting young children. My favorite Montessori quote is “The greatest sign of a success for a teacher is to be able to say ‘The children are now working as if I did not exist.” In my free time, I enjoy watching futbol (soccer) and cooking Peruvian food, especially her favorite food, ceviche- yum!

Lisa Hamilton

Assistant

I grew up in Jamaica and joined the IMA staff in 2015. I enjoy assisting the children as they develop socially, emotionally, and cognitively and as they engage with their indoor and outdoor environments. I always look forward to cooking our Friday communal meal. My favorite food is spicy jerk chicken and I also enjoy reading, running, and spending time with my three children.

Amanda Cantos

Assistant (spanish speaking)

Hi! My name is Amanda, I am from Spain. I have been in the USA for about 3 years now. I met my husband in Spain and decided to try a new life here with him. We love spending our free time with friends, visiting museums or going to concerts, which are great opportunities for me to learn about other cultures, people. I enjoy being around the children and introducing them to Spanish language and culture everyday.

 

Sally Becker

Lead Guide

Hello! My name is Sally Becker and I am thrilled to be joining the IMA community this year. I am originally from Baltimore, Maryland and have been living in Atlanta for 6 years. I attended Clemson University and received a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology. I received my Montessori training for the Primary level in 2015-16 where I fell in love with the philosophy of Dr. Montessori. I spent the last two years working as a lead guide in a primary environment. I love watching children develop a real love of learning through self-discovery, purposeful work, an engaging environment, and a sense of community.

 

When I am not teaching, I enjoy spending time with my fiancé, Nathan, and our daughter, Everly. I love being outside, running, hiking, reading, cooking, and watching soccer. 

Marjorie Totesaut

Assistant (Spanish Speaking)

My name is Marjorie Totesaut I’m from Venezuela and my primary language I speak is Spanish and I'm improving my English every day. I am happily married without any children of our own but I have many nephews and nieces and I love them. I am a kind, patient, cheerful, positive, organized and respectful person.

 

I have a Bachelor Degree in Business Administration and I have taken the Child Development Associate (CDA) Credential is the best first step toward career advancement in early childhood education (ECE). 

 

I have about 2 years of experience with working with children. I love having fun and interacting with children while teaching them new things in Spanish. I worked as an assistant Spanish teacher for all age groups in learning center.

 

The Culture of Venezuela is a mixture of 3 different cultures: the European (in particular Spanish, the Portuguese and the Italian), the indigenous and the African. One of the Venezuelan customs is to meet with family and friends to share anecdotes and cook typical food of the country. Our typical foods are: Arepas, hallacas, empanadas among others.

 

I like to travel to meet new cultures and different people, I love chocolate and romantic movies.

Gloriela Pineda

Assistant

Julia Johnson

Lead Guide

Hi, my name is Julia and I am the Guide for the Magnolia Primary class. Previously, I was the Assistant for Lotus class for three years. I am very much looking forward to this exciting time to lead a casa. Children are perhaps the biggest source of inspiration for me; thus, the honor is truly mine to be to play such a significant role in their development.

I graduated from the International Montessori Training Institute here in Atlanta in 2018. However, I feel my first training really began very early on as an adolescent living across the street from a home daycare. For five years, I worked as “Ms. Sharon’s Helper” where I cared for children from infancy to 6 years.  This rich experience during these critical years of my life cultivated a deep tenderness and fondness for all children and which led me to volunteer full-time with an early education nonprofit, Jumpstart for Young Children in NYC. I received my first classroom experience when I worked in Japan for two years as a lead English Teacher at an International Preschool and then I found IMA!

Montessori has opened my eyes on new dimensions of child development which focuses on the power of finding one’s own work or work of the spirit. When children do (and adults), everything falls into place. We are fulfilled, renewed, and inner discipline evolves. All the more, as we find harmony in ourselves and only then are we are capable of giving it away to others-our casa, our community, our world.

Raquel Gutierrez

Assistant (Spanish Speaking)

Hola! My name is Raquel and I am from Madrid, Spain. I moved to Atlanta in August, 2016 and every day I learn new exciting things about the city. In my spare time I like spending time with my family, cheering my son and his team mates at soccer games, going for a run or preparing some Spanish cuisine dish. I love children and my goal is to help them adopt the Spanish language as part of their learning process

Jennifer Wilson

Assistant

Hello, I am Jennifer Wilson. I was born in Newport News, Va. My family and I moved to a rural town in Ga in my last year of middle school. I attended college in Atlanta & completed my degree in December 2017 at Spelman College. I was a nursery attendant at my church in 2009-2011 and I have teaching experience assisting in a Painting 1 class as part of my class requirement as a higher-level painting student.  During my free time, I do photography, videography, and sometimes create abstract work, some of which you'll see on display in our classroom.

Magnolia

 

Hi my name is Gloriela Pineda and I have been and assistant in the Lotus class for four years. The Montessori way and philosophy has changed me in many positive ways. I enjoy watching children be confident in their environment. When I'm not at school, I enjoy spending time with my children and cooking. I love going to the movies and football. 

Charisse Navarrette

Lead Guide

I grew up in Peru and have been a part of the IMA community since inception. I am an AMI trained Birth to Three guide and have a profound love for supporting young children. My favorite Montessori quote is “The greatest sign of a success for a teacher is to be able to say ‘The children are now working as if I did not exist.” In my free time, I enjoy watching futbol (soccer) and cooking Peruvian food, especially her favorite food, ceviche- yum!

Lisa Hamilton

Assistant

I grew up in Jamaica and joined the IMA staff in 2015. I enjoy assisting the children as they develop socially, emotionally, and cognitively and as they engage with their indoor and outdoor environments. I always look forward to cooking our Friday communal meal. My favorite food is spicy jerk chicken and I also enjoy reading, running, and spending time with my three children.

Amanda Cantos

Assistant (spanish speaking)

Hi! My name is Amanda, I am from Spain. I have been in the USA for about 3 years now. I met my husband in Spain and decided to try a new life here with him. We love spending our free time with friends, visiting museums or going to concerts, which are great opportunities for me to learn about other cultures, people. I enjoy being around the children and introducing them to Spanish language and culture everyday.

Hannah Taylor 

Assistant Teacher

Hi, I'm Hannah. I joined the IMA community as a Summer Camp assistant in 2018.  I grew up in southeast Georgia and moved to Atlanta for college. I’m currently in a graduate program at Georgia State University, studying film and art. I love working with children because they always remind me of our innate tendency to be inquisitive and creative. I’m so excited to teach them about some of my favorite artists and show them new ways to express their ideas.

Lolitia Johnson-Dore

Lead Guide

Mrs. Lolitia Johnson-Dore is our Lower Elementary Guide. She was born in the beautiful island of Jamaica. She grew up in Hartford Connecticut where she attended high school, college and completed her Montessori training at the Montessori Training Center of New England in 2010.  Upon completion of her training she moved to the sunny island of St. Thomas in the U. S. Virgin Island where she worked at the Virgin Island Montessori School for 5 years.   Upon moving to Georgia in 2015 she got married to her husband Dennis who is a native of Nevis of the St. Kitts Nevis islands. The couple just welcomed their baby girl Khora Elizabeth in September 2017. Miss Lolitia enjoys working with children, exploring the outdoors, travelling, and eating vegetarian meals.

 

Contact Us

We are open Monday - Friday 

 7:30am - 6:00pm

1240 Euclid Avenue Atlanta, GA 30307

404.474.6375

info@imontessoriacademy.com

International Montessori Academy

1240 Euclid Ave NE, Atlanta, GA 30307, USA

(404) 474-6375

©2019 by International Montessori Academy