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 six children ranging from newborn to pre-adolescent, 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.

Elvira

Elvira // Head of Administration and Enrichment Program

I grew up in Vigo, Galicia, moved to the U.S. at the age of 22 and lived in the Washington, DC metropolitan area for 13 years. Missing my homeland, I returned to Spain and lived in Barcelona for six years before recently relocating to Valencia to join Imagine. I discovered the Montessori pedagogy when my daughter was a few months old and fell in love with the way that the guides instill a passion for learning and curiosity in their students. I hold a Business and Tourism Management Degree. My experience includes managing a national educational leadership program; developing and implementing a training program and creating operational procedures in a start-up; event planning, and executive account management. I am very excited about being part of Imagine team and community, and being able to use my experience and skills to foster our student-centered mission and long-term vision.

Almu

Almudena // – Secretary at Imagine – Valencia

I believe that life happiness lies in people. I have always been happy surrounded by others, and feeling that I am helping them. I was born in Salamanca, where I studied German Philology. After a year living in Berlin, I decided to go back to the Spanish sun, and fell in love with the Valencian one. I taught English and German, and worked in the tourism industry, where I learned that getting a smile from others can improve your day. I love cooking, travelling and languages understanding them as a way to discover new cultures and people. I joined Imagine excited to support my colleagues with my full energy, and to learn a lot from them.

Madhu

Madhu // Secretary at Imagine – La Pinada

I was born in Nepal and grew up at the base of the beautiful Himalayas. I was educated in India, Germany, and the U.S., where I received my Bachelor Degree in Hospitality Management. Speaking five different languages and working at the front desk of various hotels has allowed me to meet people from all over the world and learn about different cultures. In my spare time, I love spending time with my husband and two children in nature. I am very excited to be part of the Imagine team and community whose members come from all different backgrounds and can share many new experiences.

Ana Lourdes

Ana Lourdes // Community Care Lead

I was born and raised in Guatemala. Since I was little I had an interest in children's development and education, and as I grew up the desire to help humanity through education only got bigger inside me. I became a teacher in 2013 and started formally working with kids since then. I studied the AMI Assistants to Infancy (0-3 years) course at Instituto Internacional Montessori in Mexico City and I also was the Nido Guide at the same school. Then, I moved to El Salvador to work at Kinder Mi Casita Montessori as School Coordinator. I have also worked at two different projects with Educateurs sans Frontières, AMI, in El Salvador and Washington D.C. I am currently studying Pedagogy at Universidad Panamericana from Mexico City. I am a truly believer of Montessori Education as and aid to life and as a way for human development. I love to hike mountains and volcanoes, and going to the beach. I enjoy being surrounded by nature, meeting people from different countries and discover new ways of doing things. I am very excited about being part of Imagine Montessori Team!

Judith

Judith // Administration Team

If I could describe myself in one Word, it will be curiosity. I thrive discovering the hidden secrets life presents us with, those that took a new and fun perspective when I became a mother of three children. This curiosity, along with my passion for communication, led me towards a Communications Degree in Valencia, after spending my high school years in the United States. I started off my career in communications and move onto other areas, as my interest sparked. I ended up getting an Early Years education degree when my third son was born and joined Imagine when it was an idea in need of development. With my work at the admin department I hope to contribute to spread Montessori method and give children opportunities to develop their natural talents. Among my hobbies, geocaching, prolific reader and enjoy spending time with children and seeing the world through their eyes. Enjoying and protecting the environment is always on my mind. I am a strong inclusion advocate, sustainability and nurturing our human emotions.

Laura

Laura // Administration Team

With a professional degree in Marketing and Sales, I acquired professional experience in an international company. With this experience, supporting the administration department, I found true love for numbers. This shift took me to obtain a Degree in Business Administration at the Universidad Politécnica de Valencia. After working on different companies, I came across Imagine Montessori school on its early stages – seeing how our community grows is my major learning experience.

Malu

Malu // Administration Team

I think life is an amazing adventure full of great moments. I studied biology, worked two years as a lab research scientist and later changed to work as freight forwarder. I am now starting this new adventure where I am going to keep enjoying my passion: nature, science and children. My ideal scenery: read outside with children playing on the background, and being part of a community that wants to improve in all possible ways.

Simone

Simone // People Director

My beginnings were in biotechnology: I’ve always been fascinated by science. Even so, academically speaking, I veered towards Comparative Literature. Life is an unpredictable path! I do not remember a time in which I was not fascinated by the giant potential inside each one of us. Reading, writing, traveling, playing basketball, my family with my three kids are my passions. Also, I adore talent development and children’s learning. For kids, there are no limits: only the sky.

Jon

Jon // Financial Director

Born in San Sebastian, I have lived in Valencia for 20 years. Married with a 15 year old boy and a 12 year old girl. With a degree in Business Administration and Economics from the University of Navarra, I joined a Leadership Development program at IESE. I have focused my career in the financial area on different sectors, mainly in real estate, in which I have worked for the last 15 years. This is my first approach to the education sector and doing it with Imagine Montessori presents an exciting opportunity.

Víctor

Víctor // IT Manager

With more than 20 years of professional experience in the IT field, I have been able to lead digital transformation projects in different sectors such as retail, sports, banking, logistics and health. I am passionate about technology as medium that enables individuals and organizations to achieve their goals. I believe that curiosity is the key to progress, innate in children and that we must keep throughout life.

Luz

Luz // Communication Team

One of the greatest achievements of my life is to live my dream: Work in what I love and love what I do. Since I was a little girl, I wanted to be a journalist. My determination, my family and my teachers and friends were key to help me achieve this dream. Soon I will be celebrating my silver jubilee in this profession. Although I am a journalist by vocation, I am first and foremost a mother by devotion.

With a degree in Information Sciences from the Pontifical University of Salamanca, I have worked in radio, newspapers, Communication agencies and in the Relations and Communications departments of different companies and institutions.

As Anthony Robbins said, I am convinced that “the way we communicate with others and with ourselves determines the quality of our lives”.

Pedagogical Team


Sheila

Sheila // School Head Teacher

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.

Primary
silke
Silke // Primary Guide

“Help me to think by myself” is Maria Montessori’s motto to support the Elementary child to become an independent and responsible learner for life. Inspired by her idea and her philosophy, I enjoy giving the children keys to open up the doors to the inspiring world of knowledge. I am a teacher for Elementary and Secondary schools and finished my AMI Montessori Training for children from 6-12 in Italy. After working at schools in Germany and Italy, I arrived in Valencia last year and fell in love with the city and its surroundings. In my free time I enjoy reading books, long walks on the beach or biking through the Jardin del Turia. 

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.

Nuria
Nuria // Primary guide

I’m an AMI trained Montessori Elementary 6-12 teacher and I got my diploma in the Maria Montessori Institute (A.M.I) in London. I am from Valencia and I am a Montessori Guide. I have a daughter, she is 8 years old and she has been in a Montessori school since she was 18 months old, which is what inspired me to become a Montessori teacher. I have been working with children in lower and upper lementary in different schools and I am very passionate about the Montessori method because it allows me to work with the children in the moment that they are, in a safe environment where they get to explore their imagination and other skills, new concepts and ideas. I am a very proactive person and I love spending time outdoors practicing sports and enjoying nature with my family.

Elena
Elena // Primary guide

Always passionate about teaching, growing up with two educators as parents, I was eager to pursue my studies in the education field. I have a bachelor’s degree in English language and literature, a master’s degree in teaching and an AMI 6-12 diploma. I have spent the last 6 years teaching abroad, Spanish or English as a second language and during the last 3 years the Montessori elementary curriculum as an English speaking guide in France. Outside of school, I love traveling, reading, dancing, theater, painting and learning new things; I also see every new learning experience of my own as a possible lesson to share with my students. I am thrilled to be able to continue my Montessori experience, this time at home, and to be part of such an inspiring project.

Juliane
Juliane // Asistente

The world can be an overwhelming place. That is why my biggest hope and whish for everyone would be to find something about which they are truly passionate. As a scientist, holding a master’s degree in biology, I am passionate about connecting people to nature and empowering them to take responsibility for our environment. As a former fellow in the Teach First Leadership Programme I worked with young people from low-income areas and turned my professional experience into classroom expertise. I am happy to join imagine and to learn alongside my students and colleagues how to build a sustainable society. I am an ocean lover and I enjoy going for hikes during the weekends. Beyond my love for nature, I take pleasure in reading and travelling to new places.

Alexis
Alexis // Co-Teacher

I was born in Valencia, from English mother and Spanish father, which enriched me from two different cultures. I studied at the American School of Valencia, where my mother was a teacher. As in my mother’s family there are many teachers, I decided to study a Primary Education Degree with English as Foreign Language specialty at Valencia University. I did one stage of my university studies at North Carolina, USA, where my educational perspective leaned towards Montessori methodology after visiting Island Montessori in Wilmington, which captivated my attention. When I finished my degree I wanted to broaden my studies focusing on Multimodal Literacy, so I did a master’s degree in Research in Language and Literature at Valencia University. I have worked in two bilingual schools in Valencia, where I have benefited from different cultures and perspectives. I like to share my spare time with my family, as well as play tennis, ski and snowboard, and travel around the world to learn how to cook food from different countries. I am very excited to start this new stage at Imagine.

Madeleine
Madeleine // Primary guide

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.

Clara
Clara // Asistente

I was born in Segovia, and I have lived in different cities in Spain and also in Limerick, Ireland. I have always worked as an English teacher, but a few years ago, I decided to escape from the traditional teaching methods and undertake a new personal journey by opening an educational space with a familiar atmosphere in which children could have the opportunity to learn a second language in an active and experiential environment, and at the same time I started my training as a Primary Montessori Guide. I believe that every journey begins with a simple step and I would love to transmit the children at Imagine School the idea that they can achieve their goals by making simple actions, no matter where they start or how many stones they will find on their way.

Ricard García
Ricard // Primary Teacher 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.

Children’s House
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.

Jessica
Jessica // Infant Community Teacher

I graduated as an Early Years Teacher and Psycho-pedagogical specialist in Salamanca, which is really close to my home village. Once I finished my studies, I decided to move to London in order to improve my English and learn on different teaching approaches and cultures. A few years later, destiny brought me to a Montessori School where I fell in love with this methodology. It is amazing to witness how the little ones learn following this approach. So, I decided to become an AMI Montessori Assistant. These nearly six years living in London and three working with the Montessori Method has helped me to grow in a personal and professional level. Now I feel it is the time to go back home and I cannot imagine any place better than Imagine to do so.

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.

Sandra

Sandra // Co-Teacher

It has always been my dream to become a teacher. I got my Early Years degree seven years ago and I have enjoyed working with 0-6-year-old children ever since. Loving the Montessori method, I decided to start my academic training to become an Assistant. I am very grateful for being part of the Imagine community. Besides my vocation as a teacher, I love playing tennis and reading.

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.

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.

Clarissa
Clarissa // Children’s House Guide

After graduating with a degree in Psychology I pursued a career in social care, with a mission to have a positive impact on the lives of others. It was in 2012 whilst living in Madrid that I first discovered Montessori. It wasn’t until three years later while working with young disadvantaged people in London, that I really understood the words of Maria Montessori. ‘If you want to help humanity then look to the child’. To have a profound impact on others and society we must therefore turn to the developing child. This should be done by guiding children to realise their potential and support their natural love for learning, all whilst encouraging them to develop a secure sense of self and a deep care for others. It was in that moment of realisation that I embarked on my Montessori training at the Montessori International Centre in London; with the sense that this was what I had been searching for, in my quest to make a positive contribution to society. Since then, I have been fortunate enough to have the rich experience of working in a central London Montessori primary school, a British state school and a concerted school in Galicia, as well as the immense experience of becoming a mother. Through these experiences my belief in the Montessori method has strengthened significantly. I have been made aware of the impact Montessori learning can have on a child’s engagement with their own learning. Now, new to Valencia I am so proud and incredibly excited to make a beautiful city my home and Imagine my community.

Laura
Laura // Co-Teacher

After graduating as an Early Years teacher, I followed my admiration for those who teach with enthusiasm and decided to continue my education and learning to be able to nurture children as much as possible. Discovering the Montessori Method was the tipping point for my decision to complete a M.A in Montessori Education in Early Years (0-3). My passion for this method took me to Rome to dive in Maria Montessori’s steps. Imagine is an opportunity for me to actively contribute on children’s development in a Montessori environment. On my free time, I enjoy reading, writing, walking on the beach and creating Montessori materials from scratch for children.

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.

Anna

Anna // Co-Teacher

I am an Early Years and Primary teacher. I had the opportunity to go to London as an Erasmus student to complete my internship in a school that showed me a multicultural environment. I am passionate about cinema, photography and any cultural activity. My interest for arts led me to further pursue my education completing a Master’s degree in Marketing and Communications giving me the opportunity to travel to Paris and Florence. I also love travelling, practicing yoga and cooking. I am thrilled to become part of the Imagine family and support our mission and mission.

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.

 Aída
Aída // Children´s House 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.

Infant Community
Edel

Edel // Infant Community Guide

I feel very fortunate to be able to join the Imagine community and engage in a culture rich environment, in the beautiful setting of Valencia!
After graduating with my degree in Psychoanalysis and Politics, I worked in various tourism and hospitality environments before undertaking my studies in Early Years and Montessori Education. Since then I have worked in different educational settings, building on my experience and constantly learning from the children and my peers. I believe the Montessori method is so conducive for children in allowing them to explore their true potential, being empowered to make their own decisions whilst experiencing the support of their community.
During my free time I love to cook new recipes, exercise, explore new places and visit my family in Ireland.

Tamara

Tamara // Co-Teacher

After living four years in Australia where I became an Early Years teacher, I decided to move back to Spain. Once I settled in my home town, Valencia, and following passionate about the Montessori method, I decided to start the training to become an Montessori teacher assistant. Thanks to Imagine I have a chance to do what I love the most. I am a nature lover and a traveler, and I enjoy discovering new places and cultures, doing yoga and dancing. I also enjoy painting.

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
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.

Specialists
Lucas

Lucas // PE Teacher

The learning process and the continuous search for new paths has always been and continue to be my engine day after day. I am a Physical Education Teacher, Lifeguard, Entrepreneur, Architect, a lover of physical activity and father of three girls of five, six and nine years old. Passionate about my callings and aware of the diversity of my fifteen years of academic training I bring, I try to add new knowledge and contribute with my experience to all the projects I join. I am convinced that the best work is team work and I firmly believe in the constant feedback of new ideas and perspectives. To become part of the Imagine Montessori School team generates in me responsibility, commitment and enthusiasm, much enthusiasm

Nerea

Nerea // Phychopedagogist

I hold a PhD in Education, Educational Psychology and Social Education, and I am specialized in Special Needs Education. In 2014 I moved to the United Kingdom to work as teacher assistant and social worker assistant in an Institute for autistic children between 7 and 19 years old. My desire to continue my professional development made me turn my experience and knowledge to the academic field, being able to conduct different studies at Valencia University about interculturality and labour mobility in the Education field. I love discovering new places and cultures, therefore I carried on with my work in other universities in Poland and Canada for some years. Since 2011 I am a member of CUDIDE (Culture, Diversity & Development) reserch group. I am thrilled to join Imagine Montessori School and support the team in their project of motivating and supporting children’s curiosity through the Montessori method.

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