Meet Our Team

Montessori House for Children and Elementary School ensures that the Toddler, Early Childhood, and Elementary guides/lead teachers are trained in Montessori pedagogy under the auspices of the American Montessori Society (AMS) or Association Montessori International (AMI). The School prides itself on the quality, educational depth and talent of its faculty. All guides/lead teachers are MACTE credentialed teachers. MACTE is the only recognized training body of American Montessori Schools. All trained assistants undergo specific Montessori Assistant Training both in-house and from independent trainers so that a consistency is achieved throughout the School.

Head of School and FOUNDER

Barbara Nelson:  Head of School

Barbara discovered and fell in love with Montessori when her oldest daughter first attended a Montessori School in 1991. Barbara co-founded her first school in Sugar Land, TX in 1997.  She became the Head of School at Montessori House for Children in 2004. Barbara holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education and Administration, AMS Early Childhood Montessori Credentials and is certified as a Positive Discipline Parent Educator. Barbara is passionate about the holistic approach of Montessori education and the skills Montessori Children develop which allow them to contribute to society in a meaningful and profound way.

Pam Nelson: Founder

Pam retired from Dow in 2001 to pursue a passion in bettering the educational options available to families. She co-founded her first school with Barbara in 1997 in Sugarland, TX.  In 2004 she co-founded Montessori House for Children with her husband of 50+ years. She is the proud mother of two daughters and grandmother of 6 grandchildren.

Lead Guides

Maria Aguilar: Guide for Toddler 1

Ms. Maria joined MHFC in 2013, she has always loved working with children. She believes that love and patience are very important when working with children. She is devoted to her faith and spends a great amount of time doing mission work, having served on four mission trips. Maria earned her Montessori Teacher Certification during the  2017 summer at Houston Montessori Center.



Yanaig Fleitas and Monica Paz

Juana Sippel: Guide for Toddler 2

Ms. Juana joined MHFC in 2006. She has an associate degree in Theology from Maranatha Institute and earned her AMS Associate Infant and Toddler Certification from the Houston Montessori Center. Ms. Juana is passionate about faith, family, friendship and working with toddlers. She is the proud mother of a daughter named Faith.


Glenda Fuentes and Patricia Aguirre  

Sandy Kabarwal: Guide for Early Childhood 1

Ms. Sandy joined MHFC in 2011 after many years of teaching experience both in India and the United States. She has a master’s degree in chemistry and an associate degree in microbiology. She earned her AMS Montessori Early Childhood Credential from the Houston Montessori Center. A proud mother of two, Ms. Sandy loves working with children and watching their joy as they discover and learn new things.


Ebtisam Agbaria and Rana Shamim

Liyuan Jin: Guide for Early Childhood 2

Ms. Liyuan joined MHFC in 2013. She has a master’s degree in Early Childhood Education from Texas A&M.  She earned her AMS Montessori Early Childhood Credentials from the Houston Montessori Center. Ms. Liyuan believes strongly in the Montessori quote: “it is the child who makes the man, and no man exists who was not made by the child who once he was”.


Lima Haikal and Rita Basu

Lakshmi Thirumalai: Guide for Early Childhood 3

Ms. Lakshmi joined MHFC in 2013 after many years of teaching experience both in India and United States. She has a master’s degree in management and earned her AMS Montessori Early Childhood Credential from the Princeton Center for Teacher Education in New Jersey. She is also a certified Positive Discipline Parent Educator and Brain Gym instructor. Her special interest is to facilitate learning for children with learning differences. She enjoys biking, fishing and traveling with her family.


Anna Rubin and Farah Saulat

Aruna Alluri: Guide for Early Childhood 4    

Ms. Aruna joined MHFC in 2014. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering and earned her  AMS Montessori Early Childhood Credentials from the Houston Montessori Center. Ms. Aruna is the proud mother of two children.


Megan Richard and Elisa Jiwani

Magali Fisher: Elementary Guide

Magali was born in France, and grew up in Latin America. She has a Master’s degree in Spanish and Latin American studies as well as a Master’s degree in Translation from Kent State University, OH. Magali worked as Language instructor before relocating to the USA. And finally, after working as a project manager in the translation industry, she decided to pursue a teaching certification. She completed her certification as a 6-12 Montessori guide at the Gulf-coast Montessori Teacher Education Center. Magali has 4 children and loves baking, reading, gardening, yoga, and exploring nature with her family.

Alexandra Rohl: Elementary Guide

Maria Alexandra was born in Caracas, Venezuela to a multi-cultural family; one side of her family is Texan, German and the other side is Italian Dominican. She has one daughter and she met her loving husband working at The Coca Cola Company. After a career in the marketing and advertising field, she moved to Texas with her family and decided to pursue teaching. She fell in love with Montessori Education after her daughter attended a Montessori school in Corpus Christi, Texas. She has been in the teaching field for since 2016 and is currently finishing her certification as a 6-12 Elementary Guide at the Gulf Coast Montessori Teacher Education Center. She loves to spend time with her family, baking and making handcrafts with her daughter, listening to music, learning about different cultures and is passionate about Cosmic Education. “Let us give the child a vision of the whole Universe”  – Maria Montessori


Rosario Via

Elisa: Elementary Guide

Elisa was born in India and came to the United States with her family in the late ’90s. She is married to her supportive husband and together they have a teenage daughter. Elisa completed high school in Oklahoma City and earner Bachelors of Art in Educational Studies, with an emphasis in Interdisciplinary Studies. After many years of dedicated services in the education community, she decided to pursue her Montessori Certification. Her combined experience in the public and Montessori schools helped her to define her passion for the Montessori philosophy and methodology. 

Apart from working with children, Elisa enjoys cooking, photography, running, yoga and spending quality time with family.

Support Staff

Neelofur Surty: Admin

Neelo joined MHFC in 2006. She started as an EC classroom assistant teacher and now works as the before/after school coordinator. Neelo loves reading, cooking and being with children.

Norma Angulo: Admin/Communications

Norma joined MHFC in 2005 after many years of working for a Maritime business company. She started at MHFC as a parent volunteer and then took a position in administration as the Parent/ Community Liaison. The mom of two Montessori children, Norma is passionate about, and well acquainted with Montessori philosophy. Born in Mexico City, Norma speaks both English and Spanish and loves welcoming and getting to know each MHFC child and family


Blanca Terán-Smith: Admin/HOS Assistant

Blanca joined MHFC in 2015 as a classroom assistant and transitioned into Administration in 2016. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications and a post-graduate degree in planning and management of event production.  Blanca also runs an event planning business serving the Houston/Katy area. Blanca has two children attending university and is an advocate of Montessori Education.

Yaneth Poo: Admissions Coordinator

Yaneth joined MHFC in 2011. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Administration and a Diploma as a Medical Assistant. She started working at MHFC as an Assistant in the Toddler Community then moved to administration in 2012


Mary Russell: Food Coordinator

Mary joined MHFC in 2006 and has worked in the food industry for over 25 years. She loves being with family, especially her grandson. She loves the outdoors… travel, camping, fishing, and swimming.

Margie El-Moussa: Dyslexia Practitioner and Finance Administrator

Margie Nelson El-Moussa, a Houston native, originally joined MHFC in 2006 working in the front office and evolved into working in the Business Office at MEFI starting in 2016. She has a business degree, master’s in finance, early childhood Montessori credentials, and most recently completed Neuhaus BLS program to become a Dyslexia Practitioner.  Margie El-Moussa believes wholeheartedly in Montessori education through adolescence, and feels passionate about Montessori education as an intervention for children with Dyslexia and Dyscalculia.

Margie is a grateful mother to three beautiful children and proud wife to her husband of twenty years.

Margie enjoys yoga, reading, baking, food, and wine, traveling, and spending quality time with her friends and family.