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Teachers and Staff

        "The greatest sign of success is for a teacher to be able to say, 'The children 
working as if I did not exist.'"   - Maria Montessori
Rebecca Phipps McGrail, Director   Rebecca earned a Bachelor's degree in English Literature from Wheaton College in Massachusetts and a Master's degree in Education Policy and Management from Harvard University. Most recently, Rebecca was Assistant Head at an independent Montessori school in Massachusetts. She is a passionate advocate of Montessori education and the many ways in which it cultivates creative, independent, and curious learners. Rebecca joined MCH in 2014 after moving from the Northeast with her husband and daughter. They reside in Marin where they are enjoying the majesty of the outdoors.  To contact Rebecca, click here.

Vivienne Scharberth, Administrator Vivienne was an ESL teacher in adult education in Germany for 20 years. She also worked for 15 years with young students aged 7 through 18 in her private tutoring business. Her focus was helping her students develop effective homework strategies. For the past 8 years she was a manager and Director of Operations in the coffee/restaurant business. Vivienne enjoys taking long walks with her Labrador retriever, spending time with her children and family in Germany, listening to classical music (especially violin concertos with Joshua Bell), and her new found passion, yoga. Her own family includes two sons and a daughter all grown now and living away from home. Vivienne joined MCH in 2012.  To contact Vivienne, click here.

MaryAlice Ambrose, Primary Teacher (Redwood Room) MaryAlice holds a Montessori Early Childhood certification from the North American Montessori Center in British Columbia, Canada. She received her BS in Elementary Education from Salve Regina University in Rhode Island and holds a K-8 teaching credential from the state of Maine.  MaryAlice co-taught a kindergarten program in South Portland, Maine.  She has been a tutor in math and reading and developed science and hands on learning experiences in earth and environmental science for elementary age children. 
MaryAlice says of herself  “I am the middle child of five. The majority of my free time is spent sailing, hiking and adventuring around northern California. If I had not pursued teaching as a career, I would have been a baker. I believe in the power of persistence, strong coffee, snail mail and Fleetwood Mac. “

Cheryl Butler-Smith, Enrichment Teacher (Oak Room/Bunny Room)
Cheryl holds a BA in Liberal Arts from San Francisco State University with an emphasis in Early Childhood. She has completed several units of ECE at City College and completed the Assistant Training Program at the Montessori Teacher Training Center in San Leandro. Cheryl is a mother of Sean, an MCH graduate. She enjoys hiking and having picnics at Kirby Cove with her family. Cheryl joined MCH in 1994.

Teresa Prezzy, Assistant Primary Teacher (Oak Room)
Teresa joins MCH for the 2016/17 school-year having just relocated to San Francisco from Virginia where she was a teaching assistant in the public school system providing one-on-one instructional support. Teresa graduated with at B.S. from Shenandoah University where she was also pursuing a Masters degree in Applied Behavior Analysis. Teresa has also spent a many years as a children's coach in volleyball and softball.

Maria Fernandes, Enrichment Teacher (Redwood Room/Bunny Room)
Originally from India, Maria took her ECE courses at City College and John Adams Community College. Maria has completed two semesters at the Maria Montessori Teacher Training Center, and currently works as a classroom teacher and Head Teacher of the Extended Day Program. She came to MCH in 1999 from Florence Crittenton Services of San Francisco, a nationally known non-profit dedicated to helping low-income children and families. Maria enjoys her daily trips to the gym and especially swimming.  She also loves to cook.

Lucia Mara Flügel, Lunch and Park Play Assistant
Born in Curitiba City in Southern Brazil, Lucia began her studies at the College of Arts in Brazil. While there, she started her own business designing hand bags, and eventually she stopped her studies in order to devote her time to building her new business. Years later she came to the United States with the intent to study English for a few short months.  Fourteen years later, she is still here. While in the US she began working with children, taking courses at City College in child development and receiving the necessary ECE credits to qualify her to work with children. Lucia has been at MCH since 2008. 

Jolanta Kaminski, Head Teacher (Oak Room) Jolanta received her BA and MA in Early Childhood Education from the University of Adam Mickiewicz Poznan in Poland. She taught for four years in Poland at the elementary level. She earned her ECE credits from City College in San Francisco and graduated from the Maria Montessori of the Golden Gate Teacher Training Center in 1998. She joined MCH in 1997 and assumed a head teacher position the following year. Jolanta loves to travel and is passionate about Mexico and its rich culture. She lives in Marin with her husband and cat Toby.

Ines Marroquin-Larkin, Lunch and Park Play Assistant Ines is a native of El Salvador and has been here in the United States since 1973. She has two boys who are now grown but when they were young she enjoyed volunteering in their classrooms at school. Ines has an AA degree form City College in general education. She loves to garden and has volunteered for many years at her church in the children’s ministry. She has also been a nanny. 

Asako Shimazaki, Primary Teacher (Oak Room) Asako received her BA in Education from Aoyama Gakuin University, and AMI diploma from the International Montessori Teacher Training School, both in Tokyo. In Tokyo, she worked as a kindergarten teacher and at a children’s art studio, qualifying herself as an Early Childhood program site supervisor. Asako also holds a Fine Arts degree in photography from the San Francisco Art Institute. She is a mother of Marcus, an MCH graduate. Asako joined MCH in 1998.

Surishaday Villa, Assistant Primary Teacher (Redwood Room) 
A California native, Suri was an early childhood gymnastics coach creating environments for students to explore, to build strength and be challenged. Prior to this, she was a teaching assistant in a small Montessori preschool and has numerous years of experience caring for preschool and elementary aged children. Suri attended Chabot City College and is fluent in Spanish. Sure joins MCH in the 2016/16 school-year.

Kathleen Valdez, Head Teacher (Redwood Room) Kathleen received her BA in French from UC Santa Barbara and her ECE at Canada and City Colleges. She completed her Montessori training at the Montessori Teacher Training Center in San Leandro. Kathleen is a mother of two children, a son Jesse and a daughter Georgia, both MCH graduates. She joined MCH in August of 1997 and has been a head teacher for six years. Kathleen is passionate about the outdoors, she likes to go hiking and camping at Point Reyes as often as possible. Most50 weekends are spent cheering from the sidelines at lacrosse, soccer, basketball or futsal events.

Enrichment Programs
Andrew Gomez has been working with children for over 15 years and has a B.A. in Child Psychology from the University of California, San Diego. From organizing events at summer camps as a 16-year old to working for San Mateo County teaching K-8 special education students, Andrew has acquired extensive experience entertaining, nurturing, and enlightening youngsters, and now devotes his time to aiding their musical development. Blending his love for athleticism and exotic music, Andrew has been involved in Capoeira, an acrobatic Brazilian martial art/dance, for over 10 years, and has performed with Capoeira Mandinga of San Diego and Capoeira U.S.A. of San Francisco in different festivals, fairs,and clubs. As a singer/songwriter/musician, Andrew has released the internationally released, critically-acclaimed rock album Glean as part of the band Echobrain and has opened for such artists as Neil Young, Elvis Costello, and Willie Nelson. These days, he leads and performs in the San Francisco-based indie rock group Sporting Life.

A unique sports skills and movement program that was developed over 30 years ago by sports psychologists and educators in South Africa, Playball is now taught all over the world. Emphasizing the importance of courage, flexibility, and persistence, Playball activities are non-competitive. Children learn basic skills for soccer, baseball, volleyball, basketball, hockey, and tennis
Coach Dee Dee Bundy is the Director of Playball San Francisco. She 
received a background in Psychology and 
Early Childhood Education and has been co
aching and working with children for over 4 years. She earned her Master’s degree in Psychology with a creativity studies specialization in 2009 and strives to bring creativity and positive energy to each and every Playball class she teaches. She enjoys playing soccer an
d running marathons. 


Maria Fernanda Cooperstein
 Originally from Argentina, Fernanda is a graduate of the University of Buenos Aires.  She has taught Spanish for many years, most recently at the Berkeley Language Institute and the Montessori House of Children located in San Francisco.  She uses lots of manipulatives, games, songs and movement to teach basic Spanish vocabulary and culture.