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 received her certificate in Montessori Administration in 2022 from the Association Montessori Internationale and is currently pursuing a certificate in Montessori leadership through the Whole School Leadership Institute. 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, Director of Enrollment and Admissions
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, Head of Finance and Operations, and Board Member
After helping to found ToTH in 2012, Anya served as Executive Director from 2013 until 2016, Director of Finance until 2021, and Interim Head of Administration until 2022. As Head of Finance and Operations (HFO), Anya is responsible for non-programmatic operations, including: budget and finance planning, management, and reporting activities; human resources, including benefits; facilities maintenance and procurement; and business compliance matters. She actively supports the Head of School (HoS) in strategic planning and operations across the school. Anya holds a B.A. in English from Guilford College, and an M.A. in Education and Human Development, focused on International Education, from The George Washington University. She is a public policy professional specializing in U.S.-Cuba policy, and spent several years working as an International Trade Advisor for the U.S. Senate Finance Committee.
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.
Naya Webb – Assistant 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.
Kailey Gilmer – Assistant Teacher
Kailey joined ToTH in April 2023, having recently relocated from Minnesota, where she received her Bachelor’s degree in Environment, Sustainability and Geography from the University of Minnesota-Duluth. Kailey has six years experience instructing children between ages 3 and 15 at YMCA camps. During her tenure, she was responsible for helping the children with their daily routines, leading various activities throughout the day, and handling any emergencies. Her excellent teamwork and problem-solving skills led to her being promoted into roles with increasing responsibility for child and parent engagement. She also served in planning and leadership capacities with the YMCA’s Leadership Development Program, where she supervised all of the camp staff and prepared the staff and youth for all outbound wilderness trips. After completing her studies, Kailey also served as a GreenCorps Member, where she managed 30 GreenTeam volunteers, and conducted research and identified opportunities to advance environmental sustainability.
Kailey is passionate about making a difference in the lives of children, and is excited to be working with young children once again.
Full Day Toddler Classroom
Karen Solache – 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 she now 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.
Ayshemgul Beydulla – Assistant Teacher
Ayshemgul joined ToTH in April 2023 as an Assistant Teacher in our Full Day Toddler classroom. Ayshemgul holds an early childhood education degree from Xinjiang Normal University in Urumqi, China. After settling in the United States with her family, Ayshemgul earned an early childhood credential from the state of North Carolina and an Infant and Toddler Certificate from the College of Albermarle in Manteo, North Carolina.
Ayshemgul has more than 7 years teaching experience, including 4 years in Montessori toddler and primary classrooms in the District and in North Carolina. Ayshemgul speaks Uyghur, English, Turkish and Chinese. She looks forward to deepening her Montessori practice at ToTH.
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.
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.
Gladys Mariscal – Primary 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.
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.
Cecilia de Barros Dantas, Substitute 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 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 as an assistant teacher in our part day toddler classroom. In fall 2022, she began working on a Master’s degree in counseling and is now working full time with children and families as a Qualified Mental Health Professional.