About us

The founders

Co-founders: Iker Marcaide, Irene Cañero and Mariano Pontón
We, the founders, are parents from Valencia with experience in business and education. Between our three families we have five children of similar ages, and we share the desire to provide our children with an education which will fully develop their abilities using a methodology different from the one we experienced at school.

We believe that the role of a school should be to accompany the children in their innate curiosity, respecting each child’s pace of learning as well as their likes and choices. We also believe children should be allowed to develop their creativity and explore what they have around them in order to discover that learning, finding difficulties and solving these on their own is a source of great satisfaction.

We identify with the Montessori Pedagogical Method because, besides being present in every continent for over 100 years (with over 20,000 schools around the world and 4,500 in the USA alone), its philosophical-scientific basis and methodology is centred on the development of the child’s cognitive, emotional and social abilities. We consider these to be key, equally relevant aspects.
“I do not believe there is a better method than the Montessori Method to make children aware of the beauties of the world and to awaken their curiosity for the secrets of life.”– Gabriel García Márquez
Writer. Winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature

Direction and Administration

Mariano

Mariano // Executive Director

Mariano is co-founder and Executive Director of Imagine Montessori School. Father of 2 girls aged 6 and 8 years old. Passionate about education, as a lever for society change. He was a strategic consultant and part of the Accenture Strategy executive team during 9 years. Under this role, he led transformational programs, as well as operational excellence programs in multiple industries in Europe, Asia, and south America. Mariano holds an Executive MBA by Instituto de Empresa Business School (Madrid) and an Industrial Engineering degree by the Polytechnic University of Valencia.

Gina

Gina // Secretary

Graduated in Art History and Museums, I was mainly focused on educating younger generations and bringing arts and culture closer to a younger audience. I worked with school groups in different cultural institutions, and, after many years doing administrative work in different areas, I am excited to be part of Imagine, providing my support to everyone in this community. On my free time, I take long walks with my dog, visit museums, love travelling and finding new places to eat.

Pedagogical Team

Nicky

Nicky // School Coordinator

Originally from the UK, I am a passionate and committed educator with over 13 years experience in both British and American international schools. I am a graduate of Graduate Trainee Program (GTP) and a MEd. in International Administration. Prior to my transition to education, I worked in the financial sector in London, after majoring in both Political Science and Economics. My transition from the business world to teaching has been extremely rewarding, as I have focused my energy, creativity and rigor to help impact positively the lives of young people.

As a mum of 2 young boys, I have a vested interest in bringing engagement, curiosity and fun into learning. The Montessori philosophy with its child-focused approach, has great appeal, as each child is treated as a unique and individual learner. When I’m not at work, I’m usually baking, reading, running and spending time with my family.

Primary
Carla

Carla // Primary Coordinator and Primary guide

My Montessori background is an International Teaching Diploma and I am very pleased to be joining the Imagine community in Valencia. I’m from South Africa and have taught there for many years at a Montessori school. I love teaching children at every stage of development and nurturing their social, intellectual and physical needs. I’m a mother to a four-year old girl and love putting into practice the Montessori philosophy at home. What I enjoy most about being a Montessori guide is encouraging a child’s natural love for learning. When I’m not teaching or preparing the classroom environment I love to spend time outdoors with my family. I enjoy keeping fit and live a healthy lifestyle.

Madeleine

Madeleine // Primary Teacher

I am originally from Scotland, but spent most of my childhood in England. I have 15 years of experience as a teacher and worked in primary schools prior to starting my Montessori training. I began my journey working in a Montessori school in Portugal, where I worked for two years and completed my Montessori training through the MCI centre in London.

It was a great change from teaching in a traditional school to a Montessori school because the results can be seen in the children. They get to learn through exploration and choice in what they want to focus on, which I think is very important, especially in their formative years.

Paula

Paula // Spanish Curriculum Teacher and Assistant

After qualifying as a preschool and elementary teacher, I travelled around the world for several years, studying and working in different countries. This wonderful experience allowed me to get a deeper perspective on life and a global vision of the world. My view of a great teacher is a person who is always there to guide and help you get to know yourself and always believes in your best potential. It is very important for me to create a beautiful and calm atmosphere where the process of learning can occur naturally. I’m hoping to help the children at Imagine Montessori shine through their creativity and imagination.

Children’s House
Sheila

Sheila // Children’s House & Infant Community Coordinator, and Children’s House Guide

I’m a qualified Early Years teacher. I moved to London in 2012 where I started working as a teaching assistant in a Montessori school where I had the opportunity to discover the method and be able to work following the Montessori philosophy. I was impressed with how children were able to achieve their full potential working with the Montessori materials and how the school encouraged them to follow their interests. This inspired me to gain my Montessori Diploma and with it I became a teacher in the same school.

I think my experience in London has enriched my life both professionally and personally. At that school I was lucky enough to work with children from many different cultures, building up values like respect, patience, and responsibility among others to create harmonious learning environment.

Sian

Sian // Children’s House Guide

I began my journey into education as a drama teacher for the Helen O’Grady Drama Academy and after qualifying as a Montessori teacher, I have worked in many Montessori schools across the U.K. with a particular focus on Children’s House. I also worked as a Montessori Trainer in MCI for 3 years. I have 20 years experience as a Montessori teacher and thrive on educating young minds using Maria Montessori’s philosophy. My interests range from drama, art, culture to film, theatre and music. I am very much looking forward to discovering what the little minds at Imagine can accomplish and exploring Valencia as a city.

Sonia

Sonia // Children’s House Guide

I am an Early Years teacher with a degree in Psychopedagogy. Fascinated by other countries and cultures, after completing my Master Degree in Special Education, I moved to United Kingdom where I had the opportunity to work in mixed-age classes with children with different needs and abilities. When I started my Montessori Diploma my approach to education changed completely and open a new world to me. I have always been interested in child centred education alternatives that respect the child and give them the importance they deserved.

In my spare time I enjoy yoga, swimming, cooking and exploring new places. I am delighted to be part of this amazing team of teachers and to be able to contribute positively to the Imagine Community.

Maite

Maite // Children’s House Guide

I’ve worked as a teacher in different educational stages for more than 5 years. My curiosity about new pedagogical methods and the continuous improvement in my training took me to Ireland, where I certified as a Montessori guide and I lived for 6 years. After working in different Montessori Schools, it is a privilege for me to be able to apply all the knowledge acquired in Imagine. Being a Montessori guide is my passion. It makes me happy to promote a pedagogy where children learn spontaneously, with joy and enthusiasm, in an environment that favours freedom and where they become independent and confident.

I am passionate about artistic and creative activities such as art, dance and photography, which I usually do and combine with my other love, knowing and enriching myself from other cultures by travelling.

Sara

Sara // Children’s House Guide

I graduated as a Montessori guide in London and have to say I feel extremely fortunate to work with like-minded professionals who share this vocational dedication. After nine years abroad, I feel it is time to come home to Valencia and I can’t think of a better way than the opportunity to join the team at Imagine. Outside school, I enjoy playing team sports, music, movies and books. I enjoy nature, especially a stroll by the beach or in the countryside but most of all I love discovering new places with good company.

Raquel

Raquel // Children’s House Guide

After graduating as an Early Years and Elementary teacher, I moved to London to become a Montessori Guide. My previous experience volunteering in international schools in Germany and the US led me to the decision to look for a model of education that was child-centered. I’ve worked in London as a Montessori guide and now want to share that learning in my hometown of Valencia. I am extremely excited to become part of the Imagine team and my interests outside school include pilates, dancing and travelling.

Alba

Alba // Teaching Assistant

Learning about the Montessori method has opened new horizons for me on a professional and personal level. I began here at Imagine as a student teacher in Children’s House, where I was able to observe and participate in all aspects of learning through the Montessori pedagogy. It also allowed me to become part of this wonderful community of parents, children and colleagues. I have also been lucky enough to have had the opportunity to work as a counselor in many camps, including The Red Cross in the U.S. where I had to opportunity to master English. On a personal level, I enjoy travelling, photography, dancing, arts and crafts and spending time with my family.

Amy

Amy // Teaching Assistant

I am a speech and language therapist from the UK and I specialize in Early Childhood Intervention. I’ve worked in Peru, Spain and the UK and was drawn to Imagine Montessori School in Valencia because I strongly believe in a personalized approach to education which adapts and builds on a child’s strengths. My love of yoga and working with children led me to become a yoga teacher for children and I’m hoping to share that with the children at Imagine. I also enjoy hiking, arts and crafts and exploring new places.

Hanne

Hanne // Teaching Assistant

I have always dreamed about being a teacher as I enjoy working with children. I think the Montessori Method is a great way for children to develop and discover the world each day. Everyday has to be an amazing adventure. I am really excited to share my previous work experience with the Imagine Montessori team and accompany children in their learning and growth. I am glad to be part of building society transmitting key values! I also love to travel and discover new cultures which is constant learning about the world and people around us.

Cristina

Cristina // Children´s House Teacher

Being raised in a bilingual home definitely gave me the best of both worlds. After finishing a Psychology Degree in the US, I decided to come to Spain to continue my studies with a Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Development & Diagnostics as well as a Teacher Degree. It’s been 8 years now working in the education sector and I feel like I’ve just begun. In 2014 I started my career in Montessori as an assistant.

I’ve been lucky enough to travel the world which has helped me gain positive qualities on a personal level. My hope is to share these experiences and learn from as many incredible little minds as possible.

Infant Community
Mercedes

Merche // Infant Community Guide

I’m a Teacher and have an international teaching diploma in Montessori education. I have lived and worked in Ireland and Australia, where I was very fortunate to work alongside colleagues with decades of experience in the Montessori Method and guide a class that included children from all over the world.

This year I returned home to Valencia as a mother. I was delighted when I found Imagine. It makes me happy to think that there is a place here in Valencia where children can learn to be independent, confident and gain self-esteem applying the Montessori Method.

Lidia Marques de Freitas

Lidia // Infant Community Teacher

Native Portuguese but raised in London, I graduated in Hispanic Studies and European Studies. After travelling the world, I now enjoy being a mother of three and am passionate about working with children and dedicating time to a good cause. I started with Imagine, three years ago when it was first founded and this will be my second year in Infant Community.

Ina

Ina // Infant Community Teaching Assistant & Yoga & French Teacher for Primary

I’m originally from Germany and have travelled extensively around the world. During my time in India I discovered Maria Montessori and the way she promoted learning by developing a child’s natural curiosity, sparked an interest in me. I subsequently did my Montessori training in Freiburg and think that together with my passion for yoga, I bring a strong skill-set to the team at Imagine. I am happy to be in Valencia and enjoy everything that the school and city has to offer and conversely, I hope to bring language, dance, yoga and joy to the children!

Ángela

Ángela // Infant Community Teaching Assistant

I have always considered teaching to be my vocation. As a teenager I was lucky enough to engage in my two passions: children and nature, as I worked as an instructor with children outdoors. I graduated in Early Childhood Education and Primary Education and am very proud to be responsible for educating children for the future. My discovery of Montessori Method, amazed me at how children can learn in a natural and spontaneous way, and how they enjoy developing their self-reliance, self esteem and their imagination. I’m grateful to have found IMAGINE and to have the opportunity to contribute my bit to keep growing together. Apart from education, I also love animals, enjoy cooking and especially traveling to new places.

Specialists
Laura

Laura // PE Teacher

I am a qualified primary teacher, passionate about lifelong learning, different pedagogical philosophies, and sports! As a trail runner and mountain lover, this sport has lead me to rediscover nature and the benefits of movement as a natural and necessary process in our development. With my previous experience of teaching nutrition and cooking workshops at a British School and teaching at a School in The Netherlands, l believe creativity and curiosity are triggers for learning.

I am excited and grateful to convey my passion about sports, learn and add my positivity to this wonderful community.

 Lucía

Lucía // Music Teacher

I graduated in music from Berklee College of Music (Boston and Valencia). My work has involved many creative and multidisciplinary projects as a professional artist and musician, which has given me a wide understanding of the creative process. I’m a performance musician currently leading my own project as guitarist, singer, composer and arranger. My background as a Montessori child in school makes me feel very connected to this philosophy, especially as I like to encourage the autonomy of each child, and the discovery of their own unique voice and identity. I truly believe that creativity is a vital tool for the present and the future world, which is why I want to support this idea by teaching young children how to use it and develop it through music. I like to teach in a fun, dynamic and intuitive way for children to be able to gain a love for music and on a deeper level, use it to develop the capacity for communication, expression, concentration, attention and collaborative work. Besides going to concerts and art exhibitions, I love spending time in nature, and especially enjoy hiking, biking, yoga, languages and travel.

Ricard García

Ricard // SEN Teaching Assistant

When I graduated in Psychology I did my thesis on infant psychology. I love the world of leisure and free time so I have worked as a monitor in campuses, farm schools and summer camps. I actively collaborate with associations that help people with disabilities in leisure activities and to promote their well-being. At the moment I am studying sociocultural animation and pedagogy.

My passions involve discovering new things that are stimulating and help me reflect so I love reading, travelling, workshops, theatre, discovering, listening and learning from people.

During my Erasmus in Poland I came across the Montessori pedagogy and I realised that using this method, children could actually learn whilst having fun. It is an honour to be part of Imagine, a project that has not limitations where autonomy and emotional intelligence are the priority.

 Aída

Aída // SEN Teaching Assistant

I’m psychologist and I had the opportunity to work with children and youngsters during an internship, where I realised the truth in the statement “they are the future”. For this reason, I decided to extend my training with a masters in intervention for learning difficulties in order to assist kids in their personal evolution.

I enjoy cooking, travelling, reading and writing, and meeting new people.

 Alicia

Alicia // SEN Teaching Assistant

As a psychologist, specialized in learning difficulties, my main objective is to work with special needs that manifest themselves in the classroom. My vision on education is holistic, giving importance not just to academic content but also to values and emotions. I value the importance of reinforcing self-confidence in children, curiosity and the willingness to be a lifelong learner.

 Noemi

Noemi // Psychopedagogical Office

I am psychologist, with a Master on Specific Learning Difficulties. Additionally my expertise focus on on Multi-Element Behavioural Support. I am mother to a 12 yo daughter and have developed most of my professional experience in Ireland for 13 years.

I am passionate about children and being part of their support sytem, work along their families, educators and with themselves, helping develop their full potential.

I am thrilled to join Imagine, a team working from principles that respect each child’s learning rythm, their individual personality and cares for emotional development, principles I consider fundamentals in education.

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