Meet Our Staff
Kristin Edwards, M.Ed.
Kristin Edwards, Co-Founder and School Director, has devoted her life to children. From a young age she "taught" the kids in her neighborhood, helping with homework and child care. She went to the University of New Hampshire and received her BA in Psychology with a focus on Child Psychology and Minored in Education. It was during a year long internship in a third grade classroom that Kristin realized traditional teaching was not her passion.She discovered that she enjoyed working with younger children at a traditional preschool, but something still was not right. She and her husband escaped the winters of New Hampshire and moved to Santa Barbara, CA. There she finally found her calling. Working at a Montessori school for the the first time, Kristin found an amazing group of children from ages 3 to 14. Within a year she was being trained at the Montessori Institute of San Diego. In 2001 she received her AMI Diploma in Primary Montessori Education and her Masters in Education from Loyola College in Maryland. Kristin was discouraged with her observations of other Montessori schools in the area and decided she would start her own school with the goal of being the best Montessori provider in San Diego. After years of teaching and searching for an appropriate site, Kristin finally discovered this amazing corner in a growing community. She designed the school and program over the 2 years it took to finalize the building project. Kristin finally got to watch her dream being built from the ground up in 2007.
Kelly McFarland, M.Ed.
Kelly McFarland, Assistant Director, originally from Santa Cruz, California, attended Santa Cruz Montessori from the ages of 2.5 through Kindergarten. She graduated from San Francisco State University with her B.A. in Psychology. It was there that she met her husband, Damian. Kelly worked in a traditional preschool and realized that there must be a better way for children to learn. She came across an ad for a Montessori assistant teacher at the Chinese American International School in San Francisco and remembered what fond memories she had of her own Montessori experience. She worked there with a head teacher who was AMI trained in the Netherlands and who had taught Montessori for over 30 years. She learned a lot from her head teacher and saw how much the children loved learning. In 2000, Kelly and Damian moved San Diego. In 2001, Kelly earned her AMI Primary diploma from the Montessori Institute of San Diego and her M.A. in Education from Loyola College in Maryland. Kelly taught as a head teacher for Primary children for five years in Mission Hills. She loved teaching but is glad to have found a career that utilizes more of her skills, while still working to better the education of children.
Jen Young, Administrative Assistant
Jen Young is a San Diego native. After attending the School of Creative and Performing Arts in San Diego she began studying Child Development. One of her first full-time opportunities with children was teaching in a preschool. For years she taught various age groups before accepting an opportunity as a nanny for a local family with two kids. During this time she learned how rewarding it was working with children and watching them develop. After years of working with children Jen moved into Mortgage and Real Estate. Years of experiencing life in the corporate world reminded her of what she longed for, to be around children. Jen lives in La Mesa with her husband Jason, daughter Zoe and the family cat Molly. During her spare time she loves spending time with her family, going to the beach and reading. She also loves going to Disneyland to enjoy all of the attractions.
Miss Heather Zolzer
Heather Zolzer grew up in Seattle, Washington and received her B.A. in Ethnic Studies at Washington State University in 1996. Shortly after finishing her bachelor’s degree, Heather began volunteering at many of the local elementary schools in the Seattle area in the hopes of eventually pursuing a degree in education. She soon realized she was not a good fit for traditional "teacher centered" education and temporarily postponed her desire to teach to pursue other work. Heather’s job adventures spanned a wide spectrum and included working as a Navigator on a 400 foot Ice Breaking Ship that frequented Antarctica, IT recruiter during the dot com boom in Seattle, and a Cultural Resources Liaison for the Washington State Department of Transportation. Fast forward some years later, she discovered Montessori after searching for a child centered preschool for her oldest daughter Amelia. After observing at some of the more "traditional" preschools, she soon realized her daughter needed something different. After driving by a small Montessori school near her home, she decided to stop and as soon as she walked into the classroom she felt like she had come home. She spent the next couple years substituting and volunteering at various local Montessori schools she quickly learned that although not all schools are alike, Montessori was her calling. After relocating to Southern California, she was fortunate to discover the Montessori Institute of San Diego and decided to take the plunge and soon thereafter she received her AMI Primary Teaching Certification and completed her Master’s Degree in Education from Loyola University in Maryland. Heather currently resides in Poway with her two children, a stray cat named Stubbs and a plethora of hamsters. In her spare time, Heather enjoys to read, knit, and eat the occasional taco.
Miss Claire Fritz
Claire Fritz grew up in Whittier, California. She went to Montessori School until 6thgrade. During High School summers she worked at her old school and the staff there encouraged her to train to be a Montessori Teacher. After college, Claire completed her AMI training in Los Angeles in 1986. She moved to San Diego and started teaching there. Claire took time off from teaching to pursue her other passion, Archaeology and Paleontology. Some areas Claire has worked are Seal Beach, Murrieta, Temecula, the Mojave Dessert and Julian. During this time she discovered many fascinating items and artifacts including a fossil of a 30,000-year-old bison. After 10 years in this field, Claire realized she missed teaching and returned to the Montessori Environment. Claire lives in La Mesa and likes hiking and donating time and food to homeless shelters. She enjoys spending time with her family and cat Ozzy.
Angela Kabel grew up in a rural part of southwest Michigan. Coming from a large family of 8 siblings, she grew up surrounded with children of all ages. She enjoyed being outdoors all times of the year. Angela completed her undergraduate studies at Western Michigan University earning a bachelors degree in Business and Anthropology. After college she moved across the country and landed here in San Diego. Angela discovered Montessori through her sister-in-law, who is an elementary Montessori teacher in Kalamazoo, Michigan. While assisting in the classroom, she was amazed at the things the children were working with and what they were capable of. Angela has held several different occupations and found that her heart belongs in work with children. She completed her AMI Montessori training here in San Diego and has a Masters Degree in Education from Loyola College in Maryland. Angela lives close to the beach and loves anything you can do in the water! She also enjoys ceramics, reading, hiking and riding her beach cruiser on the boardwalk!
Miss Vicki Cruz
Vicki Cruz was born in the Philippines and grew up in Yokohoma, Japan. She speaks English, Japanese, Tagalog and basic Spanish. She received her 0 to 6 Montessori Certification from St. Nicholas Montessori Centre in London. Upon her completion, her desire to further learn and deeply understand the Montessori Pedagogy brought her to San Diego, California. She attended the Montessori Institute of San Diego and completed her Primary Training in 2005. Since then she has taught here in California and has taught at a Montessori school in Japan. She fell in love with the cultural diversity in her classroom, which is the main reason why she has decided to stay in the United States to teach. Vicki lives with her husband, their two dogs Luda and Nala, and their bearded dragon, Benjamin. She enjoys going to the beach, exploring the city, attending various events, travelling, and most of all spending time with her family.
Miss Aly Ansert
Aly Ansert grew up in San Diego before moving to the south for her high school and college education. She always knew she wanted to work with children and began her professional career working for Walt Disney World as a part of the Disney College program in Orlando, FL. She loved working in hospitality and decided to move to Charleston, S.C. where she completed her B.S. degree in International Hotel and Travel Management from Johnson & Wales University in Charleston, S.C. Miss Aly enjoyed managing resorts, hotels and restaurants however, she was still longing for something more fulfilling that would help make a positive difference in the world. When her family moved back to San Diego in 2005, she started searching for a new career in education and found the Montessori Institute of San Diego. After researching the method, she found her new calling to become a Primary Montessori Guide. She received her AMI Primary Teaching certification and completed her Master’s Degree in Education from Loyola University in Baltimore, Maryland. She loves achieving her dream of working with children in a Montessori school. She resides in Scripps Ranch with her rescued Labrador retriever “Buddy”. She loves being outdoors and spending time with family and friends.
Miss Elizabeth Pedroza
Elizabeth Pedroza wanted to be a teacher since she was in preschool. While growing up in Tijuana, Mexico, where she is from, she was always attracted to helping other people, especially children. During her free time she babysat, volunteered at local churches and helped at schools with children 0 to 6 years old. Later, she studied Communications and Preschool Education and began working at traditional preschools. When she got married she moved to La Jolla, CA, and attended The Montessori Institute of San Diego where she obtained her AMI Primary Diploma. Elizabeth now lives in Poway with her husband and three children. She enjoys traveling, listening to music, singing, making crafts, going to the movies, and eating out with her family.
Miss Kyoko Nogami
Kyoko Nogami grew up in a small village in Japan that was surrounded by rice puddles and hills. When she graduated from high school, she followed her dream and came to the Unites States to study Child Psychology. She studied Linguistics and Human Development at UC Davis. Upon graduation, she enjoyed working at traditional preschool until she encountered a Montessori school where children are trusted and allowed to work freely (but within limits). She then decided to take the AMI Assistants to Infancy course at the Montessori Institute Northwest in Portland, Oregon. This degree allowed her to work with children ages zero to three years old. She concurrently completed a Master in Education program at Loyola College in Maryland.
For Miss Kyoko, working with young children has been a joy since when she was young. She has worked with young children both in a home environment and at schools for years. Young children always cause her to notice how beautifully and carefully human beings are created. Every day is a big and important day for young children, and they help her to realize that the same should be true for adults, too. She enjoys outdoor activities such as going to the beach and listening to the breeze in the woods. She also keeps the Japanese part of her alive by practicing Kendo (Japanese fencing), tea ceremony, and Calligraphy.
teachers are patient, caring, and genuinely concerned about all of the
children's well-being and education.