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Authentic Montessori Experience


  Head of School and Director each hold advanced education degrees

  Director administers exams for Pan American Montessori Society, helping qualify new teachers for Montessori certification

  All teachers and staff members demonstrate a commitment to authentic Montessori practices

  Continuing education and conference attendance is encouraged for all staff members

 Respect for children is paramount for all staff members

Johns Creek Montessori is dedicated to providing an authentic Montessori environment for our students and is staffed with teachers that are highly trained and equipped to offer the best in a Montessori education.

Our staff teaches within a collaborative environment and is able to support our families and their children in every aspect of the Montessori environment, both at home and at school.

Please take a moment to meet our wonderful JCMSOG staff:


Ash Punjani, Head of School

Ash holds a Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Education from the University of North Texas and a Masters of Education in Philosophy and Education from Teacher’s College – Columbia University in New York. She is certified at the elementary school level for grades 1-8 and has over 20 years of teaching and school administration experience. A long-deferred dream was achieved when she became the Head of Schools at Johns Creek Montessori in 2013.

Ash was born in Mumbai and belongs to a family of entrepreneurs. She immigrated to the US in 1989 to pursue higher education and became passionate about the field of education through voluntary service as a teacher in her house of prayer religious education program. Ash moved to Atlanta after her marriage in 2002 and continues to serve actively in the community in education and youth development. She currently resides in Johns Creek with her husband, Akbar, and her son, Kayden, a graduate of JCM who is now 10 years old and a fourth-grader at Johns Creek Elementary. Ash loves to cook and often brings our teachers delectable dishes for our monthly luncheons!

“Establishing peace is the work of education.”

Debra Markham, Director

Debra’s childhood was spent mostly in Europe before her family settled in Georgia when she was eleven. She earned a BA in Elementary Education from Augusta University and taught 7th and 4th grades in an inner city school for 3 years before moving to Atlanta in 1982.

She taught a 1st/2nd grade combination, a 3rd/4th grade combination and Kindergarten at the Suzuki School before becoming an Assistant Director in 1986 and then Head of Schools in 2005 for what had evolved into the three Suzuki campuses. She also worked with the Suzuki staff in the opening of the Montessori Teacher Education Institute here in Atlanta; this training center is accredited by both MACTE (Montessori Accreditation Council for Teacher Education) and AMS (American Montessori Society).

Like many JCM teachers, Debra was trained as a Montessorian by Dr. Feland Meadows, a Goizueta Endowed Chair of Early Childhood at Kennesaw State University, in 2007 and received her 2.5-6 year-old credential from the Pan American Montessori Society in 2013. She also completed one year of PAMS Infant/Toddler training at Kennesaw and received the Birth to Three credential from the American Montessori Society in the spring of 2016.

She lives in Marietta with her husband; her daughter (also a Montessori teacher) and her husband live nearby with her four-year old granddaughter, who is currently enrolled in the Honesty Community. Her passions are teaching, gardening, cooking and books and she is thrilled to be able to share all of these with your children!

“When a child is given a little leeway, he will at once shout, “I want to do it!” But in our schools, which have an environment adapted to the children’s needs, they say, ‘Help me to do it alone.’”

Joy Community

Silvia Torres

Silvia, who was born in Tamaulipas, Mexico, moved to the United Sates in 2008. She completed her degree in Pedagogy (the theory and practice of teaching) in Mexico where she attended the Cultural Univeritario in Juarez. She taught at the middle school level in Mexico as part of her professional practice and also was a teacher of religious education in Tennessee before relocating to Atlanta in 2008. Silvia has completed the first half of the PAMS 2.5-6 course at Kennesaw State University.

Silvia began working with our youngest students in the Joy community in 2016 and was instrumental in establishing the environment during the classroom’s first year. She is especially interested in helping our babies achieve their first level of independence: walking,, eating and using their words.

Silvia lives in in Johns Creek with her husband Omar, her son Alan (who now 20 years old is in his third year at Cornell) and her daughter, Atenea (who is now 18 and beginning her senior year at Northview High School)

“Concentration is the key that opens up the child to latent treasures within him.”

Stella Ifeadike

Stella joined the JCM community two years ago and is the teaching assistant in Joy. She is originally from Nigeria and has lived in Johns Creek for over 20 years. Stella is the mother of three daughters: her oldest, Amaka, has just been accepted into the graduate school At Columbia where she will major in speech pathology. Her second daughter, Ashley, is a Harvard graduate now at Georgetown studying law, and her youngest Chelsea is entering her senior year at Washington University.

Stella earned a BS in Politico Science at the University of Sokoto in Nigeria; she then married, immigrated to the US in 1990 and became a stay-at-home mom. She has taught as a substitute teacher in several traditional schools and also volunteers at Peachtree Corners Baptist Church each Sunday in the church nursery.

Stella’s hobbies include travelling, reading, cooking and volunteering and she is very excited to have found Montessori, believing it to be the best way to show young children how to become creative, independent leaders.

“Help me to do it myself.”

Respect Community

Florjana Rama-Shala

Florjana was born in Kosovo and immigrated to the USA in 2011. After finishing high school, she majored in education and taught for four years in a public preschool in Pristina, Kosovo. Florjana received her CDA (Child Development Associate) certification in 2016 and holds an AMI Infant/Toddler certification as well.

Florjana has taught at the International Montessori Academy and Meadowbrook Montessori, both as an assistant and as a teacher before joining Johns Creek Montessori in 2018.

She lives in Grayson with her husband and since her passion is sharing a love for the diverse cultures of the world, she loves to travel. Florjana is looking forward to seeing how much her young students grow this year!

“Children are human beings to whom respect is due, superior to us by reason of their innocence and of the greater possibilities of their future.”

Vidhya Subramanian

Vidhya holds both a BA and a Masters in Economics from Kundarai Naachiyaar College and Annamalai University, respectively. Her oldest daughter is a former Montessori student and Vidhya volunteered at Shaker Elementary and Rivertrail Elementary Middle School before joining the Respect classroom as an assistant in 2018.

“Never help a child with a task at which he feels he can succeed.”

Peace Community

Ji You

Ji was born in South Korea and spent much of her younger childhood there. When she was ten, her family immigrated to Atlanta and so she considers Atlanta her home.

Ji holds BA in Early Childhood Education, Birth through Kindergarten, with a concentration in Montessori Education from Kennesaw State University. She holds a MACTE-accredited Pan American Montessori Society Teaching Certificate and a GA State Teaching Certificate, both for children from Birth through Kindergarten. Ji joined our school in 2016 and has made her PrePrimary classroom an amazing place.

Ji’s approach provides a balance of gentleness and firmness, giving children freedom coupled with boundaries. The Montessori Method best matches her own philosophy of teaching – children learn best through purposeful work, having large uninterrupted blocks of time to explore and discover on their own, with windows of opportunity for times of specialized learning unique to each child.

Ji lives in Suwanee with her husband, and her daughter Joy, who is now a toddler in the Respect classroom.

“The essence of independence is to be able to do something for one’s self. Adults work to finish a task, but the child works in order to grow, and is working to create the adult, the person that is to be. Such experience is not just play… it is work he must do in order to grow up.”

Anu Rawat

Anu was born in Delhi, India and earned her Bachelor & Masters degrees in Commerce & Education before coming to the USA. While in India, she gained eight years of valuable teaching experience in an elementary school setting. Anu taught in a Montessori school in Cleveland, Ohio for two years which was her first exposure to the Montessori system of education. She quickly fell in love with the philosophy and the approaches used in letting the child develop his/her innate capabilities. She loves the fact that Montessori classrooms are not run by the teachers alone. Students are taught to manage their own community and develop leadership skills and independence.

Anu left teaching when her son was born in 2013, but after moving to Johns Creek with her family, she sought an authentic Montessori school for him because she knew he would flourish in its prepared environment.

Anu joined JCM in August 2016 and is a vital member of the PrePrimary team. Her knowledge of Montessori and her experience as a teacher and a mother help us provide a true Montessori environment for the development of young minds.

Anu loves to garden and to cook (she makes roti occasionally for her students!) for her husband Ajit and her son Vihaan, who is leaving the Love Community to enter first grade at Chattahoochee Elementary.

“The education of even a small child, therefore, does not aim at preparing him for school, but for life.”

Kyndal Dickey

Kyndal was born in Mississippi and lives at home with her mother and father, three younger brothers and a cat and dog; Kyndal appreciates her very loving family even though she describes her siblings as “quite a handful”! She loves spending time at the beach, hiking and traveling all over the world with her family. As a child, Kyndal and her family relocated often because of her father’s career and so she loves the community feel of each of the JCM classrooms and the sense of belonging the children demonstrate as they care for their environment.

Kyndal graduated from Northview High School here in Johns Creek in May of 2018 and now a student at Georgia State University where she will first attain an Associate’s degree in General studies and then a Bachelor’s in finance.

Kyndal began assisting our teachers in their classrooms in January 2019 when a friend shared with her how much she enjoyed our classrooms. She has come to understand the drive of our children drive to learn and appreciates the self-discipline that they demonstrate as they work with each other. She describes being in the midst of their loving relationships with each other as being “the highlight of my week.”

“One test of the correctness of the educational environment is the happiness of the child.”

Love Community

Zoe Ammatuna

Zoe was born in Atlanta and raised in Marietta, where she now lives with her four-year old daughter (who is in the Honesty community) and her husband. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, museums, and exploring Historic Marietta Square!

Zoe is completing her degree in Early Childhood education at Kennesaw State University and holds a Montessori teaching certificate from the Pan-American Montessori Society for ages 2.5 – 6 years. Zoe has taught as both an assistant and a Lead guide for the past eight years in several Montessori schools, joining Johns Creek Montessori in 2015.

Zoe loves to help children see the connections between language, math and science and the world around them, believing that children learn best when concepts and skills are presented in a context that is familiar to them. She is particularly passionate about the Peace Curriculum, believing strongly in Dr. Montessori’s assertion that children are the hope and promise of mankind.

In her classroom, she helps facilitate the Primary child’s growing ability to resolve conflict in a respectful, empathetic way as he learns to honor his needs and feelings while also considering those of his peers. Zoe is very proud of her children’s accomplishments in this area, and you will often see her friends offering a tissue or glass of water to a classmate who is upset!

“When children come into contact with nature, they reveal their strength.”

Honesty Community

Lauren Martin

Lauren holds a BS in Psychology from Kennesaw State University and received her 2.5-6 year-old Montessori certification from the Pan American Montessori Society (PAMS) under Dr. Feland Meadows in 2012. She began working in a Montessori environment at the Waseca Learning Environment as an assistant teacher while an early childhood college student. She taught in several Montessori schools in the Atlanta metro area before joining JCM as the Assistant Director. Lauren is also the Course/Program assistant and a trainer for PAMS.

Lauren prizes the Montessori system of education for everything it gives to our children: independence, the respectful manner in which adults and children work together and the peacefulness that is woven throughout the entire curriculum. She lives in Marietta with her husband, her five-year old daughter (who is in the Love community) and two dogs and a rabbit. When time allows, she enjoys hiking, kayaking, and camping with her family – anything that allows them to be outside in nature together!

“It is not enough for the teacher to love the child. She must first love and understand the universe. She must prepare herself and truly work at it.”

Kavita Biradar

Kavita was born in India and attended an Intermediate College while there. She immigrated to the US in 2006 and began substituting at her son’s preschool where she developed an interest in working with very young children. As she was completing her CDA degree (Child Development Associate), she studied the Montessori system of education and was inspired to teach in a Montessori school. She joined JCMSOG in March of 2018 as a Primary Assistant in our Honesty classroom.

Kavita believes that a good parent partnership is crucial to the child’s success in school, understanding that communication, cooperation and collaboration between parent and teacher is vital; one of her primary goals is building this rapport with each of her families this year.

She lives in Cumming with her husband and her two sons. Kavita loves music, painting and cooking.

“We must help the child act for himself, will for himself, think for himself; this is the art of those who aspire to serve the spirit.”

School Operations

Gloria Jew, School Operations Lead

Gloria was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas. She has two grown children, and a grandson.

When her son began elementary school, his mother and his little sister would visit her grandmother mother, who taught in a preschool. Gloria enjoyed seeing how happy working with children made her so when Rose started school, Gloria began volunteering and then started classes in Early Childhood.

Gloria then became an Assistant Director and when she relocated to Georgia, she taught at Discovery Point before becoming their Assistant Director. She joined the JSM family in 2012 and loves caring for our children and works continuously to keep them healthy and safe!

"If teaching is to be effective with young children, it must assist them to advance on the way to independence." 
- Maria Montessori

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