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 American Montessori Society’s auspices (AMS) or Association Montessori International (AMI). The School prides itself on the quality, educational depth, and talent of its faculty. Lead guides/teachers hold Montessori credentials recognized through the Montessori Accreditation Council for Teacher Education (MACTE). 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 to achieve consistency 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 allows them to contribute to society in a meaningful and profound way.
Pam Nelson: Founder
Pam retired from Dow in 2001 to pursue a passion for 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 a grandmother of 6 grandchildren.
Glenda Fuentes: Guide for Toddler 1
Glenda has a bachelor’s degree in Anesthesiology, earned while in her home country of El Salvador. In 2013, Glenda joined MHFC to begin her second career as a Montessori Toddler Guide. She loves working with toddler-aged children and finds their capabilities and level of independence intriguing.
In June 2021, after having eight years of experience as an Assistant Guide, Glenda began working towards her AMS Montessori Infant-Toddler Credential from the Houston Montessori Center.
Glenda enjoys spending time with her family, watching movies, going on road trips, and playing with their family pet, Linus.
Maria Aguilar: Guide for Toddler 2
Ms. Maria joined MHFC in 2013; she has always loved working with children. She believes that love and patience are essential when working with children. She is devoted to her faith and spends a great amount of time during the summer months serving on mission trips. Maria earned her AMS Montessori Teacher Certification from the Houston Montessori Center.
Assistants: Yanaig Fleitas and Roseline Adekanye
Heena Onay: Guide for Early Childhood 1
Heena was born in Chicago and moved to Houston at 10 years old. She graduated with a B.S. Psychology and Sociology in 2005, and then obtained her Master’s in Education in 2013. Her career choice began with wanting to work with at-risk children, but she soon realized preventing risk was more important than fixing it, and that’s when she found Montessori. Heena lives with her husband, who is now a true Montessori dad, and her six-year-old daughter who attends MHFC Elementary School. In her spare time, she loves discovering new recipes and spending the day with her family.
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.”
Assistants: Lima Haikal and Fariha Shere
Lakshmi Thirumalai: Guide for Early Childhood 3
Ms. Lakshmi joined MHFC in 2018 after many years of teaching experience both in India and the US. 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 a certified Positive Discipline Parent Educator and Brain Gym instructor. Her special interest is to facilitate learning for children with learning differences.
Assistants: Anna Rubin and Brittney Ann Zaenz
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.
Assistants: Ebtisam Agbaria and Farag Saulat
Elisa Jiwani: Upper Elementary Guide
Elisa was born in India and came to the United States with her family in the late ’90s. She joined MHFC in 2018 and is married to her supportive husband, and together, they have a teenage daughter. Elisa completed high school in Oklahoma City and earned a Bachelor of Art in Educational Studies, emphasizing Interdisciplinary Studies. After many years of dedicated services in the education community, she decided to pursue her Montessori Certification. She earned her Elementary 6 – 12 AMS Credential from the Gulf Coast Montessori Teacher Education Center. Her combined experience in public and Montessori schools helped her 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.
Assistants: Rosario Via and Marla Grajeda
Alexandra Rohl: Elementary Guide
Alexandra joined MHFC in 2016. She 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 since 2016 and earned her Elementary 6 – 12 AMS Credential from 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.
Assistant: Rosario Via
Yadira Hernandez: Interning Elementary Lead
Yadira was born in Mexico, she was transferred to the United States in 2010 while working in the oil and gas industry. She has a bachelor’s degree in Geology. She and her family discovered MHFC in 2012 and enrolled her son in the toddler class. He is now in his last year at Montessori House Elementary, joined by his sister who is also in the elementary community. After falling in love with the Montessori methodology, Yadira decided to become a Montessori educator and successfully completed the Lower Elementary training in the summer of 2021. She will working as a lead intern guide with Mrs. Alexandra, in our lower elementary community.
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 Certification, and most recently completed the 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 a proud wife to her husband of twenty years.
Margie enjoys yoga, reading, baking, food, wine, traveling, and spending quality time with her friends and family.
Norma Angulo: Admin/Communications
Norma joined MHFC in 2010 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 English and Spanish and loves welcoming and getting to know each MHFC child and family.
Blanca Terán-Smith: Admin/Assistant Head of School
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 managing event productions. 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 2008. 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.
Ryan Caridad: Food Coordinator
Ryan Caridad was born to Uruguayan parents in Houston, Texas. He has lived in Uruguay for 5 years.
Ryan attended the University of Houston majoring in hotel and restaurant management with an emphasis in Food and Beverage. He has been in the food and beverage industry for 20 years holding various positions from a waiter, busboy, cook, dishwashing all the way to Food and Beverage Director.
Ryan enjoys spending time with his wife and 3 children, traveling, eating out, and going to events with his children.