Director, MCS -
Ms. Graziano has been in the education field for over 20 years, having started as a preschool teacher. She taught at a top private preschool in Lowe's Island for 4 years and then moved onto another preschool to start their part time program. She grew the program from one class with 15 kids to 3 distinct classes with 15 each. She worked at MCS for 7 years as Director of Admissions and Assistant Director and then for 3 years at Loudoun County Public schools. She returned to the MCS family as the Director in August 2017. Karen lives in Lovettsville with her fiance Greg. She has 2 sons, 3 soon to be step daughters and 3 step grandchildren. In her free time she likes to relax with a good book and be by the water.
Lead Toddler Teacher and Assistant Director
Linda grew up in Beirut, Lebanon, moving to Connecticut at the height of the Lebanese Civil War. She received her BA in Philosophy from Emory University in Atlanta, GA. Linda’s love of Montessori education began as a high school student volunteering in a Montessori classroom. She was impressed with how curious and eager the children were about exploring and learning. She vowed that her own children one day would go to Montessori schools, and they did! Linda has two grown children who attended Montessori schools from Pre-school through the 8th grade. Linda was a parent volunteer in her own children’s Montessori schools in Northern California and Florida; but, her passion for Montessori deepened when she was offered an Assistant Teaching job at Summit-Questa Montessori in Davie, FL where she worked for 6 years. Linda has since moved to Virginia with her husband, and is thrilled to be back in the Montessori classroom. Linda is also both a certified Peace Educator since 2005, teaching children of all ages about the dynamics of conflict, raising awareness around self and others, and empowering children with non-violent problem solving skills, and a certified Parenting Coach since 2009, sharing parenting skill-building strategies with families seeking more peace and cooperation at home. A favorite quote of hers from Mohandas Gandhi is, “If we are to teach real peace in this world… we shall have to begin with the children.” Linda’s hobbies include cooking, reading, traveling, learning, and most of all time with family.
Lead Montessori Teacher
Ms. Ruby Akbar was born and raised in Karachi, Pakistan. She has a bachelors degree in Family Relationship and Child Development. She completed her Primary class training from Association Montessori Internationale Institute in Karachi, Pakistan. Ms Ruby moved to the United States in 1994 and worked as a lead guide in several Montessori schools in Arizona and Virginia for almost twenty six years. In 2002, she had the opportunity to work at MCS as a Toddler Teacher for two years and later taught the Primary class for the next ten years. She shared that “It is my responsibility to prepare an environment that fosters growth and provides each child with the possibility to reach their potential.” Ms. Ruby is a believer that we must “Educate for peace, which begins with the child”. She loves being with children because they teach us so much; children are instinctively accepting of you the way you are, and they do not judge people. Ms. Ruby feels that she learns something from the children every day! She feels blessed to be a member of MCS family.
Lead Montessori Teacher
Ms. Akkawi was born in Lebanon and lived there till she was 19. She then moved to Greece because of war in her country. In Greece, she studied Sociology at the American University of Greece. She was inspired to explore the Montessori system of teaching after seeing how much her niece loved her Montessori school in Athens. She worked with little children as a tutor, an ESOL teacher, volunteer in private and public schools in KG - 6th grade and always knew she wanted to be a teacher.
She moved to Virginia in 1992 after she got married. She earned both her Primary(3 to 6 ) and Elementary Montessori (6-12) diplomas from the Washington Montessori Institute and a Masters in Education from Loyola College in Baltimore. Since then she has taught upper elementary, lower elementary and primary classes.
Ms. Akkawi loves teaching young children and her goal is to reach every child and bring out the best in them. She wants to see every child reach his/her potential as a whole child, academically, socially and emotionally. As a parent, she believes the best decision was to send her own two daughters to a Montessori school. She can see the benefits of their early education till now. Her goal is to help other children achieve the most in their three year cycle of education in our Montessori classroom.
Her hobbies are traveling , cooking, listening to music, reading, hiking and swimming.
Lead Montessori Teacher
Mrs. Kashif grew up in Karachi, Pakistan and received her Master’s degree in Political Science from the University Of Karachi in 2001. In 2004, she attended the Association Montessori Internationale Institute where she received her AMI Diploma. She has 12 years of experience in education all together which includes 2 years of teaching abroad, 10 years of teaching young preschoolers at Montessori Country School. Mrs. Kashif is currently the lead Montessori teacher in the primary class at Montessori Country School. Her teaching Philosophy is to follow the child, providing a prepared environment while encouraging independence, freedom within limits, and a sense of order. She currently resides in Herndon with her husband. In her spare time, she likes to spend time with close friends and family.
Aftercare Primary Lead Teacher
Donya Rezvani was born and grew up in Iran; she learned English while she was in Iran and improved it when she migrated to Australia. Donya attended the volunteer refugee Children's class to teach science and grew up taking care of her younger cousins. Donya moved to the US in December and now lives in Reston. Donya is excited to be taking over for Ms. Sally as the lead aftercare teacher. Donya believes working and teaching children is a service. She enjoys playing traditional music, studying and working out at the gym.
Mrs. Leyra was born and raised in Panama. When she was 17, she moved to the United States to continue her education in Fort Hood, Texas. Soon after, she moved to Puerto Rico where she graduated with a degree in Human Resources. After school, she became a private school teacher helping high schoolers. This is where she found her passion for teaching and working with students. Mrs. Leyra moved to Virginia in 2007 where she became a full time teacher at Chesterbrook Academy in Herndon, Virginia for seven years. Mrs. Leyra joined MCS in 2017 where she continues to work with the toddlers. She loves the Montessori perspective and works hard everyday to further her understanding and education in the Montessori philosophy. She spends free time reading more about Montessori practices and works on broadening her experience in the classroom. For fun, she likes to be active by riding horses and traveling. She returns to her home country of Panama often to visit family and friends. She is also a very big NAT’s fan!
Ms. Sonali was born and raised in Mumbai, India. She received her Bachelor of Accounting degree from the University of Mumbai. She came to United States in 1998 and lived in Connecticut for 13 years before moving to Richmond. She moved to Chantilly in 2015. Her passion for kids started when she was in college, where she tutored kids. In Connecticut, she babysat infants and toddlers. In Richmond, she took care of after-care kids. For the past 1.5 year, she has been a tutor at Eye Level Learning Center in Herndon, where she teaches Math to Preschool and Elementary kids. Ms. Sonali joined MCS as an Assistant Teacher for the aftercare class. She speaks English, Hindi, Marathi. Her hobbies include reading English and Marathi novels as well as cooking new cuisines. She loves classical and latest Bollywood music. She is curious and stays abreast with the latest trends in STEM. She lives with her husband, 2 kids and a naughty but cute Labradoodle, Lucky.
Toddler Teacher Assistant
Ms. Normi grew up in the Philippines where she received her Bachelor degree in Industrial Engineering. She worked for a large multi national company that provided her the opportunity to travel to different countries and form a deep understanding of many cultures. A key part of her job was to develop standards and training employees and suppliers. While living in Japan for 7 years, Ms. Normi was able to combine her teaching experience and love for kids by becoming a Sunday School teacher. Ms. Normi believes in the Montessori's philosophy that the goal of early education should be to activate the child's own natural desire to learn. If we can nurture this as teachers, then we are setting our children up for success. Ms. Normi and her husband are blessed with one child. She enjoys reading parenting books, connecting with friends, traveling, and most of all being with her family.
Madame Sihem was born and raised in Algiers, Algeria. She did all her studies in French and graduated from Algiers University as a pharmacist in 2010. She grew up speaking French since her Mother was a French teacher. She started her journey of teaching kids between 2 to 12 years old in Algeria for 7 years before moving to the US in 2012. Madame Sihem joined MCS in 2013, where she taught French for 3 years and left the school for 2 years to become a licensed Pharmacist. She is very excited to be back and share her love to the French language with the children at MCS. Madame Sihem speaks 4 languages - Arabic, French, English and Berber. Her hobbies include traveling, reading and cooking. She lives in Leesburg with her husband and her 5 year old son.
Bridget Olson teaches music in Fairfax and Loudoun counties through The Music Loft, LLC and now at MCS! She studied Music Education at Shenandoah Conservatory and maintains an active studio of viola, violin, and piano students. She believes all children possess an innate musical ability, and it is her responsibility to foster that natural ability. Her classroom is a welcoming, safe space where all students are free to explore and discover a lifelong love for music.
Ms. Olson comes from Falls Church where she worked in preschool-aged classrooms for 7 years. She currently lives in Berryville, VA with her boyfriend and their house plants. When she finds spare time, she enjoys reading comics, eating ice cream, and exploring outdoors.