Our Team

Our ToTH Faculty and Administration

At ToTH Montessori, we pride ourselves on our commitment to the quality, enthusiasm, and talent of our teachers. ToTH teachers can only bring that famous Montessori joy and patience to the classroom every day if they feel rested, valued and fulfilled in their role. ToTH offers competitive compensation, health and short term disability insurance coverage, employer-matched retirement accounts, 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) 516-4158 or emailing us at info@toddlersonthehill.org.

Natalie with blocks and kidsNatalie Baginski, M.Ed., Head of School

Natalie earned her Montessori Credential through the MACTE (Montessori Accreditation Council for Teacher Education)-accredited Center for Guided Montessori Studies and has spent over a decade in toddler, primary and upper elementary Montessori classrooms.  Natalie is a frequent contributor to Montessorium.com and has presented at the Montessori Foundation/International Montessori Council’s annual International Conference. She holds holds two Master’s Degrees, including in Curriculum and Instruction (K-6). She is a former Peace Corps volunteer in West Africa.

Nathaly Stansbury-Trujillo, Toddler and Primary Spanish Guide

Nathaly has been teaching Spanish to young children for more than eight years. She earned her Infant/Toddler Montessori Credential through the North American Montessori Center and since joining ToTH in 2015, has continued her Montessori training with the MACTE-accredited Center for Guided Montessori Studies. Nathaly holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology. As a native Spanish speaker from Colombia, Nathaly (Nah-tah-LEE) enjoys the dynamic environment of a bilingual classroom and teaches in the toddler and primary programs.

 

 

Javacia Finney, Toddler Classroom Lead Guide

Javacia 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 from the MACTE-accredited Washington Montessori Institute and has guided in Montessori environments for seven years.  Javacia (jah-VAY-see-ah) also taught at the Smithsonian Early Enrichment Center for five years before joining ToTH.

In her spare time Javacia enjoys reading, traveling, and visiting museums. She enjoys museums because they provide a space for reflection, inspiration, and creativity. Her favorite museum here in Washington, DC is the Hirshhorn, where she enjoys viewing and contemplating abstract art and sculptures. Her passion is teaching and inspiring children.

Jonelle Cotone, Primary Classroom Lead Guide                                                            

Jonelle Cotone comes to ToTH from Richmond, VA, where she guided in Montessori classrooms for more than a decade. Jonelle received her degree in Liberal Arts with a concentration in Montessori Education from Endicott College outside of Salem, Massachussetts. She received her Montessori credential from the MACTE-accredited Virginia Institute for Montessori Studies.

Jonelle sites her son as her greatest testimony about the impact of early education. She is passionate about early education and enjoys the challenge of working with all types of students. Jonelle has seen year after year how the Montessori Method can directly benefit all types of children, including students on the Autism Spectrum, as well as students who are academically advanced. Jonelle aspires to create a peaceful and diverse classroom every year.

 

Sasha Sargent, Primary Classroom Assistant Teacher

Sasha is a graduate of Trinity Washington University, where she studied Human Relations and Early Childhood Education. It was during her time at Trinity Washington 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 and was hooked. Sasha completed her Montessori fundamentals training with the MACTE-accredited Center for Guided Montessori Studies in 2018, and plans to immerse herself in the Montessori way. She hopes to continue her training and to become a credentialed Primary guide in the future. Sasha was born in Memphis, TN and raised in the Bronx, in New York City.

Tierra Barnett, Toddler Classroom Assistant Teacher

At a early age Tierra was taught to love to learn and that knowledge was power! Tierra received her BA in sociology and is current pursuing her Master’s in Social Work, with hopes to pursue her PHD in Child Psychology. She is now studying Montessori Fundamentals with the MACTE-accredited Center for Guided Montessori Studies. Tierra worked a year in DCPS and learned about Montessori and wanted to apply her passions to an educational approach that helped children reach their full potential.  Her strong passion for learning, engaging with others, and exploring the world, makes Montessori a natural fit for Tierra.

Zharray Johnson, Toddler Classroom Assistant Teacher and Primary Extended Day Lead Teacher

Zharray has taught in childhood education for more than five years. Zharray received her B.S. in Psychology from Morgan State University, and completed her Montessori fundamentals training with the MACTE-accredited Center for Guided Montessori Studies. Zharray is excited to bring 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 naturally inclined to bring expression and creativity to our aftercare program.

 

 

Morgan Brown, Primary Classroom and Extended Day Assistant Teacher

Morgan enjoys anything that allows her to be creative, expressive, and artistic. She was searching for something where she could bring that to an early childhood setting, and feels ToTH’s aftercare program is a fantastic fit for her. She is eager to join Zharray each afternoon and is studying Montessori Fundamentals with the MACTE-accredited Center for Guided Montessori Studies. She is excited to work in an early childhood setting where she can exercise patience and observe children, instead of manage and instruct them, as her personality lends itself to freedom, understanding, and connection. Morgan received her B.A. in Arts Management from the University of Wisconsin.

DSC_9871Ila Furman, Admissions Director

Ila works closely with our Head of School to place families in our programs. As a mother of two young boys and a resident of Capitol Hill, Ila has been actively involved in local early childhood programs. She holds an M.A. in art history, and previously procured art and managed exhibitions in several museums and galleries in Washington, DC.

 

Anya Landau French, Co-founder and Director of Finance

After helping to found ToTH in 2012, Anya served as its Executive Director until 2016. She currently serves as Finance Director and  provides advice and assistance for special projects throughout the year.  Anya holds an M.A. in Education and Human Development, and previously taught English as a Second Language for five years. Anya is also a public policy professional specializing in U.S. – Cuban affairs.

 

Sara Agarwal, Co-Founder, Director of Human Resources, Strategic Planning

As a young toddler, Sara’s son, Aniket, seemed to need more stimulus than his nanny 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. Sara continues to assist our Head of School with recruitment, benefits and long-term planning. Sara is a former Peace Corps volunteer, and specializes in supporting the use of technology in economic development worldwide.

 

Joy Wilder, Co-Founder, Director of Licensing and Financial Aid

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, Joy continues to support ToTH by managing its licensing and financial aid programs. 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.