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Our Team

“The vision of the Director should be at once precise like that of a scientist, and spiritual like that of a saint. When the Director finds joy in observing the inner life of the child then she has begun to become a teacher.”
Dr Maria Montessori

To really genuinely know a child, that’s the role of the Director. Match this with careful preparation of the environment and learning pitched at just the right level of challenge and the conditions are set for children to thrive. The Director is the bridge between the child and the environment, supporting the child’s activities within the environment.

The Director is trained as an astute observer, to recognize the strengths and needs of every child as well as the whole group. This allows the Director to present materials and activities at the right time and to know when to intervene, help or stand back to let learning occur naturally.

A Montessori Classroom

Give your child an education that is beyond imagined. Learn about how we embrace your child’s individuality while nurturing ways to explore a deep and meaningful understanding of the world around them. See how they learn to become independent learners from a young age.

Meet the Team…

To view a team member’s biography, select their photo

CEO/Principal Denice Scala

Denice Scala

CEO/Principal

Denice is an executive leader who specialises in assisting organisations to discover their true purpose and pathway to their preferred future.
As a passionate advocate for the power of education to enrich lives, Denice moved from classroom teaching to leadership positions in 1992 and since then has held international roles in Scotland and Australia as Principal, Head of Junior School, and Head of Learning Support. She has an impressive working knowledge of early learning, primary, middle, and secondary schooling including gifted education and special needs. Denice’s grasp of current educational realities is equally matched by her ability to design and implement strategy.

Following a degree in education from Stirling University, Scotland, she now holds qualifications in Special Education from the Royal Society of Arts, a Masters in Gifted Education from UNSW and a Certificate in Neuroscience from Flinders University. Denice was one of ten principals to join Principals’ Australia Institute as a member of the National Principal Certification Design Team in 2015. She has undertaken the AMI Introduction to Adolescents Course, audited the AMI 6-12 Diploma and is currently undertaking the AMI School Administration Certificate Course.

She loves working with educators, inspiring growth by applying holistic, innovative solutions incorporating her expertise in neuroscience, MBTI® and LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY®. Denice is motivated by finding ways to ensure schools thrive.

“Montessori makes sense. It’s a powerful educational philosophy backed by well-considered teaching methods. The approach plays to children’s innate strengths-regardless of their age or abilities-without competitive pressure. It’s magical to observe the learning in action and the talented educators guiding children to embrace independence.”

Emma Elegado-Kotulic

Coordinator Birth-6 Community, Director of Toddler Program

Emma has over 15 years’ experience as an Early Childhood educator at Computer Associates Montessori Children’s Centre. For the past 7 years she has held leadership roles managing toddler programs, preparing the environment and mentoring staff in the Montessori philosophy and approaches.

She holds a Bachelor of Science in Human Ecology from the University of the Philippines where she majored in Family Life and Child Development and a Masters of Early Childhood Education from Macquarie University. She completed her AMI diploma (0-3) in Sydney in 2006 and her AMI Assistants Course (3-6) in 2016. She is currently in the AMI Training of Trainers Program for Assistants to Infancy level.

In addition to teaching, Emma is also the author of a website, Daily Montessori that aims to educate parents and interested educators in practical ways to implement Montessori at home.

Emma has two primary age children Tanna aged 11 and Clarey aged 7. They have attended Montessori Long Day care and live the Montessori philosophy at home.

Emma currently works four days a week, Tuesday to Friday. She will lead the Toddler 2-3 Program whilst working alongside all staff in our Birth to 6 Community continuing to ensure we offer programs of exceptional quality for our students.

“It excites me to meet new families that are committed to the Montessori philosophy. The role offers a great opportunity to be able to contribute to the ongoing growth of the child from the foundation (birth- 3) and see how it can continue all the way through the first plane of development. I have always been passionate about working with infants, toddlers and their families and finding ways to developing meaningful engagement and relationships. I am also looking forward to collaborating with Matty and learning from her knowledge and experience.”

Photo of team member Xarifa_Gabales – Director 6-9 Environment

Xarifa Gabales

Director 9-12 Environment

Xarifa Gabales is passionate about education and supporting others in finding their strengths and encouraging their interests.

As a child, Xarifa attended Montessori schools in the Philippines, United States of America, and Australia. After graduating high school and beginning her undergraduate degree, Xarifa worked as an assistant in different 3-6, 6-9, and 9-12 classroom environments. As she worked with children of varying age groups, Xarifa found herself keenly interested in pursuing a teaching career as a Montessori teacher.

Xarifa completed a Bachelor of Science with a Major in Psychology and a Master of Teaching as her undergraduate and post graduate courses at the University of Sydney.

Xarifa is an AMI trained 6-12 teacher. She completed her 6-12 AMI course in Bergamo, Italy in the 2009/2010 training year. In her teaching career, Xarifa has taught in both 6-9 and 9-12 classes, though her current class is a 9-12 class.

Through her extensive experience of Montessori from the point of view of a former student, an assistant, and a classroom Directress, as well as her understanding of Child and Developmental Psychology, Xarifa works to support the educational needs of the students in her classroom.

The Montessori Philosophy is not just about educating children in academic ways, as many different kinds of education systems do, but it is about creating a content, functional, productive, and entire human being who can contribute positively to the society in which they belong.

As Maria Montessori said: “Joy, feeling one's own value, being appreciated and loved by others, feeling useful and capable of production are all factors of enormous value for the human soul.”

Adelaide Jones

Co-Director 6-9 Environment

Adelaide has been involved in education since 2006, becoming a teacher's aide at a school for children for autism and working there for several years while she completed her education degree. She holds a Bachelor of education (Primary) and International Studies from UTS. Adelaide worked further with children on the autism spectrum as a teacher after finishing her degree but Montessori was where her heart lay and it was during this time that she commenced her Montessori training. She holds the following AMI qualifications;

AMI Montessori Children’s House Assistants Course (3-6) 2015
AMI Montessori elementary Assistants Course (6-12) 2017
AMI 6-12 Elementary diploma, 2017-2020

Having completed her initial Montessori courses, she worked at Montessori East in Bondi first as an Assistant then as a teacher. In 2021 she took a full-time role at Inner Sydney Montessori School as a Lead Teacher.

Adelaide likes the vision that Maria Montessori had for the multi- age group classroom and enjoys seeing how the children support and teach each other, eventually becoming leaders in each cycle. She also greatly admires the bold vision that Dr. Montessori had for the child as a hope for humanity.

“The child who has felt a strong love for his surroundings and for all living creatures, who has discovered joy and enthusiasm in work, gives us reason to hope that humanity can develop in a new direction.”

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Agnesa Simcic

Executive Assistant

A warm welcome to Agnesa Simcic who is joining our staff team as an Executive Assistant. Holding a Bachelor of Communications (Dip Media) from Griffin University, QLD, Agnesa has worked in a number of industries in office management, administration, marketing and media. Most recently, she completed an Advance Diploma of Nutritional Medicine and has combined her marketing work with running her own business.

Agnesa looks forward to using her diverse skills and experience to support the team and families at FMS.

Agnesa will be working closely with me to ensure the implementation of ongoing strategic initiatives combined with day-to-day management of the school’s administrative requirements. She will be sharing Reception responsibilities with Natalie, our Administration Manager, so will be getting to know all our families, students and supporting staff.

Agnesa can be contacted by email on agnesa.s@forestvillemontessori.nsw.edu.au

Ellen (Yeun Jung) Kim

Director 3-6 Environment

Ellen has a Bachelor of Early Childhood Studies from Monash University and an AMI 3-6 Montessori Diploma, and is passionate about working with young children in Montessori settings.

Ellen recently returned from a year in Seoul, South Korea where she worked at the Kids of the Nations International School as the 3-6 Directress.

She is fluent in spoken and written English and Korean. Prior to joining our team, Ellen was a 3-6 Directress at CA Montessori Children’s Centre.

Ellen's personal interests include crochet and snowboarding and travelling.

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Bonnie Chiu

Director 3-6 Environment

Bonnie Chiu believes in the importance of building relationships with children and their families, she likes to provide an environment that supports the children’s learning and empowers them to contribute to it, encouraging them to discover and problem solve through their everyday play.

Bonnie has a Bachelor of Education (Birth to Five) With Distinction from Charles Sturt University and a AMI 3-6 Montessori Diploma. She has a Diploma of Children’s Services (Early Childhood Education and Care) with Distinction and a Certificate 3 in Children’s Services.

Bonnie has over 21 years of experience working with children and has worked at Forestville Montessori School since May 2003. She loves to see the joy on her student’s faces as they explore their learning environments. Bonnie believes in the importance of embedding Indigenous perspectives in the children’s learning program, and enjoys guiding children to become creative writes.

Photo of team member Christine Wright – Director 3-6 Environment

Christine Wright

Director 3-6 Environment

Christine Wright considers the guidance of understanding and respecting of children and families from different cultures/socioeconomic backgrounds as a vital part of her work. She is an advocate for children’s rights and early childhood education. She believes it is important for herself as a professional, the parents and co-workers to join together for the development of the child.

Christine has a Bachelor of Education in Early Childhood Teaching at Charles Sturt University in Bathurst, Sydney. She has a Certificate lll in Children’s Services. She has a Diploma of Education 0-12. She holds an AMI 3-6 Diploma from AMI in Australia. She looks forward to further Professional development in the near future.

She is married with four children and values Montessori education, therefore, invested her children at Montessori schools both in England and in Australia. She is proud that one of her daughters holds a Pre and Primary degree in Education and is also an educator at Forestville Montessori School. Christine feels privileged to be involved at Forestville Montessori School for the last 22 years.

The Montessori Method of education, developed by Dr Maria Montessori, is a child-centred educational approach based on scientific observations of children from birth to adulthood…It is an approach that values the human spirit and the development of the whole child-physical, social emotional and cognitive.

“The Montessori approach to education, inspires children towards a lifelong love of learning, by following their natural development trajectory. I have observed children becoming confident, responsible, independent learners, who trust in their own abilities.”

Photo of team member Tamlin Howard – Sports Teacher, 9-12 Visual Arts Teacher, Class Assistant

Tamlin Howard

Sports Teacher, 9-12 Visual Arts Teacher, Class Assistant

Tamlin Howard is a dynamic visual arts and sports educator who is committed to building positive relationships and dedicated to guiding children to be creative, active and love learning.

23 years ago, Tamlin began his journey of working with children in play environments and supporting children with special needs. He discovered the joys of Montessori education working at Southside Montessori in 2001 and has strived to enable children to become independent and motivated learners ever since.

Tamlin spent a decade teaching secondary visual arts and photography in London where he was key in leading and developing innovative A level courses and programs that fostered a pathway for young artists into a career in visual arts. Tamlin is delighted to be back in Montessori education and has enjoyed four adventure packed years at FMS where he is fortunate enough to work fluidly across subjects and age groups on collaborative and whole school projects teaching his two passions in life; sport and art.

Following a Foundation in Art and Design at Chelsea Collage and a BA Hons in Fine Art at Southampton specialising in painting, Tamlin went on to complete a Post Graduate Certificate in Education specialising in Art and Design at Middlesex University.

Tamlin holds coaching certificates in: Netball, Volleyball, Soccer, Softball, Basketball, Tennis, Cricket, Bowls, Gymnastics, Hockey and Athletics and is fully dedicated to any ongoing professional development that benefits the children at the school.

Tamlin is a Montessori parent and educator who loves being a member of a positive school community that nurtures every child, promoting their individual strengths and interests enabling leadership and opportunities for success for all.

Photo of team member Lau Chi Stevenson – Japanese Language Teacher 6-12 Environment

Lau-Chi Stevenson

Japanese Language Teacher 6-12 Environment

Lau-Chi Stevenson has been the Languages Other Than English (LOTE) Teacher teaching Japanese from Level 1 Level 6 students.

Lau-Chi Stevenson has acted as substitute teacher for Japanese in Hobart, Tasmania in late 1980’s and early 1990’s working mainly with Level 7 & 8 students. She has started a permanent part-time position with Forestville Montessori School from 2003 to present, teaching Japanese.

Lau-Chi Stevenson holds a Bachelor Degree in Arts majoring in Japanese and Administration and a Diploma of Education from the University of Tasmania.

Lau-Chi Stevenson is a native Chinese, speaking Cantonese throughout her childhood and adolescent while acquiring English as her second language in primary and secondary school in Hong Kong. She used her second language to learn her third language (Japanese) in her university years in Tasmania.

She knows how to teach a language through learning it step by step herself and appreciates the difficulties in acquiring it. The aim of the LOTE program is to foster an interest in learning a language through fun and purposeful ways in order for the child to pursue it after primary schooling.

“Our aim is not merely to make the child understand, and still less to force him to memorize, but so to touch his imagination as to enthuse him to his innermost core” Dr Maria Montessori.

Alison Carrabott

Assistant Educator, Lower Primary (6-9 Years)

Alison Carrabott joins us in a newly created Assistant Educator’s role in the Lower Primary (6-9 Years) with a focus on supporting the Montessori philosophy in action for the benefit of your children.

Alison has been working in Montessori schools for over twelve years, mainly at Inner Sydney Montessori School, Balmain. She gained experience in Pre-Primary (3-6 Years) and Lower Primary (6-9 Years) and Upper Primary (9-12 Years). Alison obtained her AMI Elementary (Primary) Assistant Course (6-12 Years) in 2017.

"I am a passionate Montessorian who has worked alongside some of the most experienced teachers in the country. Taking up the opportunity to attend the Assistants Course with Rebecca Dallam has further enhanced my understanding of the role of the Assistant in the prepared environment.”

When not at work, Alison enjoys spending time with her family, exercising outdoors and taking her dog Ruby for a walk.

"The greatest gifts we can give our children are the roots of responsibility and the wings of independence."
Dr Maria Montessori.

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Rosalie Dankbaar

Assistant 3-6 Environment

Born and raised in Vancouver, Canada, Rosalie first developed a love of caring for children looking after her family from an early age. After graduating high school, Rosalie pursued her interests in early education by completing her Early Childhood Care and Education diploma.

Rosalie now has over 13 years experience working with children in different settings. She has worked in before and after school programs and childcare centres. After completing her AMI 3-6 Montessori Diploma at the Montessori Training Centre of British Colombia, Rosalie moved to Hong Kong where she was the director for the 3-6 environment at the International Montessori School of Hong Kong for 4 years before moving to Australia.

Rosalie joined FMS in 2015 and has been assisting in different 0-3, 3-6, and 6-9 classes. She is flexible and adaptable to the needs of the class and believes that a fun, safe and nurturing learning environment is the key to developing the full potential within each child.

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Ayesha Kalam Sonia

Assistant 3-6 Environment

Ayesha has worked in Australian Early Childhood settings since 2007. Her experience spans a variety of childcare settings with the most prominent being her 10 years of dedication at CA Montessori Children’s Centre, North Ryde where she was part of the team implementing an AMI (Association Montessori Internationale) curriculum for children from 0-6 years of age.

Recent experience has taken her to the Child Development Institute, Northmead where she brought her Montessori training to multi disciplinary professionals working in teams to assist children with autism, spectrum disorder and developmental delay. Her enduring respect for children was evident in her work that needed to adopt innovative approaches to learning, inclusion and wellbeing.

It is her passion for an authentic Montessori environment that has led her to Forestville Montessori School. Ayesha has the ability to support independent learning, to guide and support children to assist them in Montessori activities to stimulate and develop their intellectual, physical and emotional growth.

She holds a Diploma of Children’s Services, a Certificate III and an AMI (Association of Montessori Internationale) 0-6 Assistants Course, completed in October 2014.

Born in Bangladesh, Ayesha emigrated to Australia in 2006 with her family. She has two children, Sufia 11 and Zohaib 8, and says that the Montessori philosophy rules in her family. Both of her children went to a Montessori Centre from the age of six months. They were introduced to cloth nappies from day one. She involves her children in practical life activities which include cooking, cleaning, washing. Currently they have chickens as pets and are working towards getting eggs from them in future.

In her spare time, she likes nothing better than to take the family out for bike rides. She also likes to talk about her childhood and how it involved lots of practical life activities, just like the Montessori philosophy.

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Elma Sheldon

Director 3-6 Environment

Elma made a conscious decision to change careers from corporate finance to education when her son was born. Her passion for Montessori education started when she was looking for a pre-school for him. Since then, she has completed:
• AMI Diploma in Montessori Education- Pre-Primary, RTI- Netherlands
• AMI 0-3 Orientation, Julia Hilson, MIB, India, 2020
• AMI 6-12 Elementary Orientation, Madhavi G, MTRI, India 2020
• AMI 12-18 Adolescent Orientation, Tina booth, Train Montessori, USA 2021

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Ishbel Riach

Assistant Birth-3 Environment

Before emigrating to Australia with her family in 2010, Ishbel commenced her Early Years career in England where she was a Manager at Plus Three Nurseries Preschool.

Ishbel worked as a Group Leader and Supervisor at Belrose Kindergarten for six and a half years.

Ishbel holds a CACHE Level 2 and CACHE Level 3 Diploma in Children’s Learning and Development and is very excited to be starting a Montessori, Birth to Three course in September 2019.

Ishbel loves to read and has learnt much through Maria Montessori’s written work and is amazed that her work 100 years on is still relevant to our present modern day lives.

Meghan Andrew

Assistant Educator

Meghan Andrew is an Assistant Educator in our Upper Primary (9-12 Years) classroom. Meghan holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work and a Graduate Diploma in Youth Work. Her interests and experiences are in applied psychology. Meghan will also be bringing a new program to the Upper Primary (9-12 Years) class - to enhance our students’ leadership experiences through equine learning. Meghan will also be working in our After School Care.

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Sharyn Curry

Music Teacher

Sharyn began her music journey early, taking organ lessons from the age of 5, and now has over 20 years' experience, teaching young beginners to intermediate students and adults. During her teenage years she developed a love for piano and began taking piano theory and practical exams.
Following school, she studied Health Science (Rehabilitation Counselling) and worked in the disability sector for 12 years, before moving to piano teaching. Sharyn realised her passion was music, so commenced further study to become an Early Childhood Music Educator and has a Certificate 3 in Early Childhood Education and Care.
Since then, Sharyn has worked within the school system, for private music schools, and currently runs her own piano teaching business in her home studio in Warriewood.
Sharyn’s passion is to instil in students a love for learning music by providing a fun and stimulating environment to learn.

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Angie Liang

Teaching Assistant & OSHC Leader

Angie moved to Australia in 2020 after working for six years in an International School in Hong Kong – the English School Foundation as a Teacher’s Assistant.
She graduated from Macquarie University with a Bachelor of Accounting in 2005 and in February 2022 completed a Certificate IV in Teaching Support at TAFE NSW.
Angie has two children and enjoys listening to music, cooking and the great outdoors. Angie is looking forward to getting to know all of our FMS families.

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Loretta Maree Reilly

Student and Administration Support

Loretta is no stranger to schools having worked in a large K-12 school as an assistant to the management team. In that role she handled everything from appointments, schedules, events and the inevitable lost property!

Prior to this, she worked as an Executive Assistant to partners in a large legal practice after leaving a role as a team leader at the Australian Broadcasting Commission.

Loretta has a great love for Montessori education as both her grandchildren attended a Montessori school. She loves the vibrant energy and inspiration she gets from working with children, so the combination of her new role which involves working with the finance and administration team as well as helping in After School Care is her ideal role.

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Sun Mi Sim

Assistant Educator

This year we welcome Sun Mi Sim back to FMS in the role of Assistant Educator.
Sun Mi may be familiar to you as she spent time here as a casual in a similar role during 2021.
Sun Mi is no stranger to Montessori, having attained her first Montessori Teacher Education more than 25 years ago from Sook Myung Women’s University in Korea. Sun Mi arrived in Australia in 1999 and completed Bachelor of Teaching (Early Childhood Education) at the University of New England.
She has held positions at Lindfield Montessori and Northside Montessori, and we are excited to welcome her back to FMS in her new full-time role.
Sun Mi is passionate about early childhood education and committed to Montessori methods, placing the child at the centre of their education. Her enthusiasm for the Montessori environment and achieving wonderful outcomes for children is evident in all she does.
We are so pleased to have Sun Mi join our team and encourage you to give her a very warm welcome.

Yuko Uchido

Assistant Educator

Yuko is originally from Tokyo, Japan. She studied Bachelor of English and American Literature and holds Certificate IV in early childhood from TAFE NSW. Yuko became a certified AMI assistant educator (Birth -3 years program) in 2016 and brings many years of Montessori teaching experience to her role at FMS.
Yuko has worked in various Montessori environments, including long daycare, infant-parent classes and preschools. She is a true Montessorian as she raises her 6-year-old son in a Montessori home environment.
Yuko will be working as an Assistant Educator with Emma in our Birth – 3-year community.

Bec Talty

Admissions and Community Relations Manager

Bec is a seasoned enrolments registrar with a rich background in Montessori education.

She brings years of experience in enrolments and community relations and a genuine understanding of Montessori methodology having worked as an Assistant Educator in the 6-9 environment.

Bec's passion for Montessori and ability to foster relationships, combined with her natural flair for events make her an integral and lively part of the FMS community.

Bec's zeal for spreading the Montessori philosophy mirrors the enthusiasm she exudes for her impressive shoe collection!

Learn More

Under 3

Birth – 3 Years

Pre-Primary

3 – 6 Years

Lower Primary

6 – 9 Years

Upper Primary

9 – 12 Years

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