Faculty and Administration
At ToTH our teachers and administrators care deeply about children and are committed to implementing the pedagogy and values of Maria Montessori’s method in pursuit of helping each individual child reach their full potential. We value having a diverse staff made up of educators and professionals who represent the communities that we serve. ToTH offers competitive compensation, healthcare, dental, vision and short and long term disability insurance coverage, employer-matched retirement benefits, and ongoing professional development to all of our teachers. ToTH’s Head of School works closely with each teaching team, and with ToTH’s co-founders, who actively participate in the visioning, planning and sustainability of the school.
Our faculty and administration can be reached by calling our office at (202) 748-5930 or emailing us at [email protected].
Stephanie Sarvana, Head of School and Board Member
A ToTH parent since 2018, Stephanie joined the ToTH administrative team in 2019. As Administrative Director, and then as Head of Administration, she managed daily operations, human resources, communications and licensing requirements for ToTH. As Head of School, Stephanie focuses on building and strengthening school culture, providing programmatic support and leadership, and supporting the parent, student, and staff communities.
Stephanie is currently pursuing a certificate in Montessori leadership through Loyola University Maryland. She is an Arizona native with a B.A. and M.A. in English Literature from Arizona State University. After working in higher education at the Corcoran College of Art + Design and the George Washington University, Stephanie became a mom to ToTH student Leli. In her spare time she plays the violin in the Capital City Symphony. Together with ToTH’s three founders, Stephanie serves on ToTH’s Board, which is responsible for ToTH’s longer term vision, planning and sustainability.
Ila Furman, Admissions Director
Ila joined ToTH in 2015. She manages admissions and enrollment for the school and is usually the first person with whom all prospective families interact.
As a mother of two young boys and a resident of Navy Yard, Ila has been actively involved in local early childhood programs, including serving on the board of the parent teacher association at her children’s elementary school. She was even an early volunteer in ToTH’s start-up in 2012.
Ila holds a B.A in Art History and Archaeology from Emory University and an M.A. in Art History from the University of Arizona. She previously procured art and managed exhibitions in several museums and galleries in Washington, DC.
Anya Landau French, Co-Founder, Interim Head of Administration, and Board Chair
After helping to found ToTH in 2012, and volunteering in the classroom for 3 of the 4 years her own children attended, Anya served as ToTH’s Executive Director until 2016, and then as Finance Director until 2021. She has provided advice and assistance to ToTH’s Head of School on a variety of projects over the years. Anya currently serves as Interim Head of Administration, which includes managing ToTH’s finances, benefits, and facilities and partnering with the Head of School on strategic planning and daily operations. She is also the current Chair of ToTH’s Board. Anya holds an M.A. in Education and Human Development, focused on International Education, and previously taught English as a Second Language for five years. She is also a public policy professional specializing in U.S. – Cuba policy.
Sara Agarwal, Co-Founder and Board Member
As a young toddler, Sara’s son, Aniket, seemed to need more stimulus than his nanny alone could provide. Sara looked for a high-quality part-time Montessori program on Capitol Hill, but couldn’t find one. So she decided to build one from scratch. After finding several like-minded Capitol Hill parents and months of effort, ToTH was born in October 2012. From ToTH’s earliest years, Sara worked to bring a broad and competitive set of employee benefits to ToTH, and, with help from parent volunteers, she built our initial scholarship program. She continues to serve as an active member of the Board. Sara holds a M.B.A. from Insead Business School. She is a former Peace Corps volunteer and specializes in supporting the use of technology in economic development worldwide.
Joy Wilder, Co-Founder and Board Member
Joy has always been passionate about building community, so when the opportunity arose to help start ToTH for the Capitol Hill community, she rolled up her sleeves. Integral to its launch and licensure by the DC Office of the State Superintendent for Education, Joy continues to support ToTH through her active participation on ToTH’s Board. She also worked to make ToTH the first Montessori preschool in the city to enroll families through OSSE’s voucher program. Joy and her husband moved to Alexandria, Virginia to serve as Location Pastors for Capital City Church. She has since shared her passion for Montessori with her community by creating Montesshare, an in-home, Spanish bilingual, Montessori preschool.
Part Day Toddler Classroom
Javacia Finney – Lead Guide
Javacia has spent nearly twenty years teaching young children in the Washington DC area.
She received her Master’s Degree in Montessori Education at Loyola University Maryland and completed her Bachelor’s Degree from York College in Sociology. She received her Association Montessori Internationale Diploma for Primary (3-6 yo) from the MACTE-accredited Washington Montessori Institute and guided in Montessori environments for seven years before joining ToTH in 2018.
In 2021, Javacia completed her Infant/Toddler Montessori teaching certification through the MACTE-accredited Center for Guided Montessori Studies. Javacia also taught at the Smithsonian Early Enrichment Center for five years before joining ToTH.
Cecilia de Barros Dantas – Assistant Toddler Teacher
Cecilia joined ToTH in June of 2021. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Universidade Paulista and originally hails from the state of São Paulo, Brazil. She has worked as a caregiver for young children since 2013 and most recently as a pandemic pod teacher in the DC area. Cecilia has spent time in each of ToTH’s classrooms first as our full-time floating teacher, and is now an assistant teacher in part day toddler classroom.
Cecilia loves that in Montessori there are so many opportunities to teach more that academics. “We have opportunities to teach responsibility, care for the environment, respect for each other, the joy of learning, perseverance, and awe of the world we share. Most especially, we are able to teach life skills that allow each child to become a person of integrity.”
In the fall of 2022, Cecilia will begin working on a Master’s degree in counseling.
Full Day Toddler Classroom
Zharray Johnson – Co-Lead Toddler Guide
Zharray is a lead guide in the full day toddler program. She received her Infant/Toddler 0-3 certification in 2022 from the Center for Guided Montessori Studies and she has a B.S. in Psychology from Morgan State University.
Zharray joined ToTH in 2018 as a lead after care teacher and assistant in the part day toddler program. Zharray began to discover a deep interest in the Montessori method and decided to pursue certification at the infant/toddler level.
Zharray brings creativity, art, drama, and music to ToTH and enjoys creating themes and activities that center around seasons, holidays, cultural celebrations, geography, and artists. A singer and musician, Zharray is also a trained Music Together instructor.
Karen Solache – Co-lead Teacher
After occasionally substitute teaching at ToTH during our 2019-20 school year, Karen officially joined the Full Day Toddler classroom in January 2020. She felt right at home with the children and with her co-teacher. She now co-leads the Full Day Toddler Classroom.
Karen is a native Spanish speaker and grew up in Mexico. She is excited to help build Spanish language programming at ToTH in the months and years ahead.
Karen earned her Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Development from the Instituto Technologico de Morelia and has over seven years of experience working with young children, prior to coming to ToTH.
Karen is currently pursuing her Infant/Toddler Montessori teacher certification at the Center for Guided Montessori Studies. She finds her inspiration for guiding children in the moments where the young child finds their own voice, asserts their autonomy, or expresses personal pride in having accomplished a task independently.
Laura Tucker, Assistant Toddler Teacher
Laura joined ToTH in the fall of 2021 as a full-time floating teacher. Laura has worked with very young children for a number of years, most recently as a caregiver to several families during the pandemic. Laura spent several years working with a family whose children attended ToTH and she became very interested in the Montessori Method, and in getting training for the Montessori early childhood classroom setting.
Laura recently completed her Masters in Education and Human Development, with a major in International Education, from the George Washington University. She spent spent a number of years working in the field of international/cross-cultural education, interfacing with students and colleagues in various roles. Laura lived in Saudi Arabia for over ten years as a child, and studied abroad in Jordan as an undergraduate.
Naya Webb – Teacher
Naya joined ToTH in June of 2021. She was born and raised in Washington, DC, before moving to Daytona Beach, Florida.
Naya received her bachelors degree in Social Sciences, with a major in Criminal Justice and minors in Social Work and Psychology from Bethune Cookman University.
Naya has been working with infants, toddlers and preschoolers for many years, including in a Montessori Primary classroom.
Renata Faccioli – Primary Guide, Instructional Coach and Family Education Coordinator
Renata joined ToTH full time in 2019 after having been a consultant and collaborator since 2018. She is a Montessori parent of three teens, a guide and teacher mentor. Renata received her Primary 3-6 certification from the Center for Guided Montessori Studies. She is a conference presenter for the Montessori Foundation and Montessori Educational Programs International.
Prior to joining ToTH, Renata was the owner-operator of a licensed home care program in southern Nevada offering a Montessori environment for children six weeks to six years of age, featuring year round seed to table gardening, weekly yoga and Pilates instruction, and daily family style cooking and dining. Renata’s interests in school leadership began as a teacher intern. In addition to lead teacher responsibilities, she ran a parent volunteer program and directed enrollment for five years before creating her own Montessori program.Renata is passionate about community engagement and family partnerships. She has worked as a Director for Boys & Girls Clubs of the Colorado River, Program Specialist for Clark County Parks And Recreation and as a Family2Family Coordinator for Health And Human Services. She has also served as Bennett Elementary PTO President and Voting Parent Member of the School Organizational Team. She cultivated years of volunteer partnerships with Nevada Cooperative Extension and the Las Vegas Library District offering a variety of original educational and wellness based programming for children, teens, families and adults. She is eager to explore such opportunities in the DC community!
Gladys Mariscal – Teacher
Gladys joined ToTH in January 2020 to provide Spanish instruction in the Primary and Toddler classrooms. In the fall of 2020, she joined Renata as a co-teacher in the Primary classroom. Gladys was raised in Maryland and Panama and is a fluent Spanish speaker.
Gladys has been working with children professionally since 2013, and previously spent six years working in a Montessori environment at the White Flint Children’s House. She also worked in a Spanish immersion early childhood classroom and she pioneered a Spanish program geared towards five and six year olds in order to prepare them for elementary school.
Gladys is an avid plant lover and propagator and she shares her talents in botany with the children at ToTH.
Sasha Sargent – Lead Primary Guide
Sasha was born in Memphis, TN and raised in the Bronx, in New York City. Sasha joined ToTH in 2018 and has worked in our Primary community since then. She received her Early Childhood 3-6 certification from the Center for Guided Montessori Studies in 2022 and has a BS in Human Relations and Early Childhood Education from Trinity Washington University.
It was during her time at Trinity that Sasha discovered and researched Maria Montessori’s teaching philosophy and methods, and that experience sparked her desire to do an internship with another local Montessori school where she saw the method in action. She was inspired to become a teacher who not only helps shape the future for the children in her classes, but also one who cares deeply for each child she encounters. She believes that one of the most important aspects of a Montessori education is that it allows children to freely explore and fulfill their individual needs. She enjoys using observation to learn what every child needs to be successful and learn about the world around them.
Elizabeth Thompson – Primary Teacher
Elizabeth joined ToTH in September 2021 as a full-time floating teacher. She is currently pursuing her Montessori Early Childhood teaching credential through the West Side Montessori Teacher Education Program in New York City.
For the four years prior to joining ToTH, Elizabeth worked as a full time nanny for a family in DC. Elizabeth is passionate about working with children and has been looking for the right teaching environment that is truly committed to the values and principles of Dr. Montessori. She is also passionate about social justice and diversity, equity and inclusion work.
Elizabeth has a BA in Political Science from the College of Charleston and she studied abroad in Edinburgh, Scotland.