Our Team


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 her 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 and short 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 info@toddlersonthehill.org.

ADMINISTRATION

Stephanie Sarvana, Interim Head of School and Board Member

A ToTH parent since 2017, 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 Interim 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 Interim 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.

Natalie Baginski, Montessori consultant to ToTH

Natalie served as ToTH’s first Head of School from 2015 – 2021, building our parent education program, a new Primary class, new full day Toddler class, and helping to make ToTH a five-time Best Preschool winner in the Washington City Paper’s annual Best of DC Readers’ Poll.

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.  She is a frequent contributor to Montessorium.com. Natalie holds holds two Master’s Degrees, including in Curriculum and Instruction (K-6). She continues to provide advice and support to ToTH’s Board, teachers and the ToTH community.

FACULTY

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 Barros Dantas – Assistant teacher

Cecilia joined ToTH in June of 2021 as our full-time floating teacher. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Universidade Paulista and originally hails from the state of Sao 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 was excited to join the part day Toddler classroom full-time this school year.

Full Day Toddler Classroom

Zharray Johnson – Co-lead Teacher

Zharray joined ToTH in 2018. She has taught in childhood education for more than seven years before coming to ToTH.

After joining ToTH, Zharray completed her Montessori fundamentals training with the MACTE-accredited Center for Guided Montessori Studies. Zharray is currently pursuing a full Infant/Toddler Montessori teaching certification through CGMS. Zharray received her B.S. in Psychology from Morgan State University.

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 assisting at ToTH during our 2019-20 school year, Karen officially joined the 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 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.

Karen is currently pursuing her Infant/Toddler Montessori teacher certification at the Center for Guided Montessori Studies. She is excited to help build Spanish language programming at ToTH in the months and years ahead.

Naya Webb – Teacher

Naya joined ToTH in June of 2021. She was born and raised in Washington, DC, before moving to Daytona Beach, Florida, where she received her bachelors degree in Social Sciences, with a major in Criminal Justice and minors in Social Work and Psychology from Bethune Cookman University. She has been working with infants, toddlers and preschoolers for many years, including in a Montessori Primary classroom. 


Primary Classroom

Renata Faccioli – Lead Guide

Renata joined ToTH full time in 2019 after having been a consultant and collaborator since 2018.

Renata received her Primary 3-6 certification from the Center for Guided Montessori Studies.
Prior to joining ToTH, Renata was the owner-operator of a licensed Montessori home care program for Infants, Toddler and Primary-aged children in Nevada.

Renata has taught fitness and wellness programs for over ten years to adolescent, elementary, family and senior populations. She is passionate about learning and sharing wellness practices, as she feels this is at the core of furthering the Montessori way of life!

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 – Teacher


Sasha was born in Memphis, TN and raised in the Bronx, in New York City. She is a graduate of Trinity Washington University, where she studied Human Relations and Early Childhood Education.

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 hooked.

After joining ToTH in 2018, Sasha completed her Montessori fundamentals training with the MACTE-accredited Center for Guided Montessori Studies. She is currently pursuing her Montessori 3-6 certification through CGMS.

Elizabeth Thompson – Floating Teacher

Elizabeth is currently pursuing her Montessori Early Childhood teaching credential through the West Side Montessori Teacher Education Program in New York City.

For the past four years she has 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.

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