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.

Gina

Gina // Administration team

Who many of you remember as our Secretary, will be taking care of Admissions and Communications for our two centres. She will be working hand-in-hand with our two secretaries and you will see her around the school.

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.

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


Primary
Geetha

Geetha // Primary Coordinator and Primary guide

My interest for the Montessori education has led me to focus my professional education and career on this field. I am AMI certified in the Early Childhood (2 ½ to 6 y.o.), Primary (6-12 y.o.) and the Adolescence program (12-18 y.o.). I have more than 28 years of teaching experience, around 20 years were in Montessori schools (teaching and consultancy) in countries such as India, England, Czech Republic and United States. I am very pleased to also have had the opportunity to run my own Montessori school for 10 years. I really love travelling and discovering new cultures but also spend as much time as possible with my grandchildren, trying to be a Montessori grandma and sharing what I can with them!

Geetha
Amanda // Primary Guide

I am a true believer in the power of Montessori education as a transformative agent for social change. My first experience with Montessori education was through The Institute for Educational Studies (TIES) at Endicott College in Beverly, MA. There I explored radical Montessori education and completed my M. Ed in Montessori integrative studies. Most recently, I completed my AMI training at the 6-12 level.  My experience includes over 10 years guiding elementary children in both upper and lower grades. It is my privilege and honor to serve the second plane child. My interests include health/fitness, travel, and exploring nature. I am always in search of a good book, great conversation, and the perfect cup of coffee. 

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.

Emily
Emily // Primary guide

I am thrilled to be joining the Imagine community this year! I bring 7 years of teaching experience in diverse bilingual and international school settings from New York City to South Korea, and most recently the American School of Valencia. I am a certified K-6 teacher from the United States with an M.Ed in Curriculum Design from Teachers College, Columbia University. My mother was a Montessori guide and she homeschooled my seven siblings and I! I started public school in fifth grade but I am forever grateful for the wonderful foundation that Montessori instilled in me. I love the environment of inquiry and self directed learning and I am excited to bring my passion for curriculum design into this setting. When I’m not in the classroom you can find me on a soccer field, my bike, or exploring Valencia with my partner Beto and our puppy Dominó!

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.

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.

Laura
Sarah // Primary Teacher

My first experience with Montessori education was as a 6 year old girl in Amsterdam, when I started my new primary school! Both as a student and as a teacher, self-directed learning and following its own pace are crucial to me. I have worked in schools with various pedagogical methods, but I've always felt most connected to the Montessori method. I have degrees in Clinical Psychology and Primary Education and besides experience as a teacher, I worked with children with learning difficulties, with a specialization in Dyslexia. In the evenings, you can usualy find me on the dance floor, as I am also a dance teacher! I am very excited to join the team of Imagine and to work in an environment where I can combine my different fields of interest!

Children’s House
Sheila

Sheila // Children’s House & Infant Community Coordinator

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.

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.

Sara
Inoka // Children’s House Teacher

My childhood is filled with fond memories I had at the Montessori setting I attended in Sri Lanka amongst it’s beautiful nature. I was very privileged to have this as my foundation in my early years and I reconnected to that passion as an adult in London through my Montessori Teacher Training. Living and working in cosmopolitan cities like London and Berlin has deepened my respect of diversity and inclusivity and I fully embrace the value of collaboration,enquiery and open dialogue I wish to share these experiences pedagogically with the children under my guidance to become positively contributing citizens of the world building on their integrity and self-esteem.Traveling,learning and the arts are subjects very close to my heart and I am very excited to locate myself in the culturally rich Mediterranean city of Valencia to be part of the progressive team at the Imagine Montessori.

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.

Tamryn
Tamryn // Children’s House Teacher

I am an educator from South Africa, with an International Diploma in Montessori Teaching. I have been fortunate enough to have taught at Mouse House Kindergarten for the last 4 years and before that at a Montessori Farm Preschool. I am excited to embark on a new adventure with Imagine Montessori School in Spain. Teaching and nurturing the potential in each child is my passion and I believe children learn effortlessly when they feel safe, loved and free to be who they are. I love the outdoors and exploring new places but I am just as happy when reading a good book or watching a good movie.

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.

Sonia
Alessia // Children’s House Guide

My name is Alessia and I come from Italy; since I was 18, I have lived by myself, traveling and exploring the world. I lived in Spain, Portugal and the U.K. I love traveling and learning about new cultures and new languages. Besides Italian, I speak English, Spanish, Portuguese and I can understand French as well. I graduated with a degree in Early Childhood Education and Elementary Education. After different educational experiences, I chose to take a different path, where the real protagonist is the child and no longer the teacher. I was trying to find the answer by myself, when one day I was faced with a sentence of an Italian famous educator and physician, which made me reflect on the traditional way we see children. The phrase said “We must focus our attention on the child, because he is the source of the enigmas of humanity and also the key to solve them.” Reading this phrase prompted me to discover a little more about this person. Her name was Maria Montessori and since I “met her”, my life has changed. After this wonderful experience something has awakened my interest: understanding what comes before, discovering all the processes which lead to the formation of the child of 3. And that’s why I decided to start a new adventure and do the AMI 0-3 Assistant Guide and 3-6 Guide. I am so glad I decided to follow this path, since now I feel I can really understand the enormous potential of the human being, which develops, grows, feels and learns, preparing themselves to become the marvelous creature, capable of changing the world through their actions.

Ricard García
Ricard // Children´s House 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.

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.

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
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.

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.

Ángela
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.

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.

Laura
Laura // Infant Community Teaching Assistant

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.

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

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