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MCS STAFF

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KAREN GRAZIANO

Director, MCS - director@mcsherndon.com

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.

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LINDA WEINER

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.

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RUBY AKBAR

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. 

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MARIZA AKKAWI

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.

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REHANA KASHIF

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.

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SONALI CHITRE

Aftercare Primary Lead Teacher & Teacher Assistant

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.

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DIANE COBB

Aftercare Toddler Lead Teacher

I am so excited to begin the 2021-2022 school year at MCS as the afternoon extended care lead teacher!

I bring with me over 25 years of experience as a lead or assistant teacher in several preschools, elementary schools, after school programs and homeschool enrichment programs.  I also served as the “Art Specialist” for a local private day school for ten years.  I have a small art studio in Herndon, where I offer private and group art lessons and complete drawing and painting commissions.  More information on this is available at DianesFineArt.com.

I received an Associate in Science from Northern Virginia Community College a “few” years ago.  My primary emphasis was on Fine Art and Early Childhood Development.  Since then, I have completed a great deal of self-education and further course work!

I love producing my own art and continuing to expand my knowledge on may subjects, especially world and art history, music, and literature.   Still, I am a teacher at heart, and I love watching and encouraging the growth and development of children of all ages!  I believe that one of the best ways to truly understand anything is to help to share it with a student!

On a personal note, I am mom to three grown “children,” and grandma to five granddaughters and one grandson, all under the age of nine!  I am blessed that they are all in the area so I can see them often!

I am looking forward to meeting each new student and aiding parents in whatever way possible.  Should you ever have and questions, concerns, or suggestions, please do not hesitate to contact me.  My personal email is MastersArtistDWC @ aol.com.

Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your child’s life!

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JAMEELA NALUKANDY 

Teacher Assistant

Jameela was born and raised in Mumbai, India. She has a degree in Psychology and had worked as a Guidance Counselor before moving to the United States. She has been working  as a preschool teacher for the last five years.

Working with children and watching them grow into happy, independent and confident individuals is the most rewarding aspect of her professional life. She lives in Herndon with her husband and her dog Whiskey.

Jameela is a certified yoga teacher who feels that mindfulness and body awareness training are part of a child’s education.

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NORMI BROWN

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.

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ANAIS MINASSIAN

French Teacher

Mrs. Minassian grew up in Paris, France, where she received her Master’s degree in French language and literature from the University of Paris-Sorbonne and her teaching certificate from the French Ministry of National Education, Higher Education and Research in 2006.

She moved to Virginia in 2012 and lives in Reston with her husband and son.

She has 10 years of experience in teaching French. She loves working with preschool age children because at this age they have so much to discover. Children around three or four have a mental flexibility that allows them to learn a second language like a native. The benefits of learning a foreign language at a young age are lifelong.

Her classes are in French immersion and children learn through play in a safe and welcoming environment. She introduces the French language and culture through games, conversations with puppets, songs, books, yoga, physical activities, and typical French games that children play in Preschools in France.

She enjoys traveling, cooking, spending time with friends and family, and continuing discovering the United States.

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BRIDGET OLSON

Music Teacher

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.