Director of Education
Jenni Nino is a wife and mother of three. She received her B.A. in Communications from University of California, Davis. She went on to earn her Multiple Subjects Teaching credential as well as her Masters in Education, from Teachers College of San Joaquin. Jenni then discovered her passion for teaching young children during her four years of teaching kindergarten for Stockton Unified School District. As a teacher and Director of our school, she strives to ensure that each child reaches his/her own potential and to provide a caring atmosphere in which your child can learn. Jenni is very excited to have the opportunity to work with your child as they learn and grow with Lodi Montessori. When away from work Jenni enjoys exercising, spending time with family and friends, and supporting her children’s sports and activities.
“So many times during my tenure teaching kindergarten I observed that those children who were able to master the tasks presented, also developed a solid foundation to thrive with an eagerness to learn. Our goal is to provide our students with this solid foundation and to ignite their eagerness for learning.” – Jenni Nino
Director of Personnel
Jolie Zins received her Bachelors Degree from University of California, Davis and went on to explore a career in teaching. She began substitute teaching in the Lodi, Galt and Stockton school districts and quickly found her niche in the education field. She substituted at the Elementary, Middle, and High School levels, gaining eight years of teaching experience. After discovering her strong connection to the elementary aged children, Jolie decided to obtain her Multiple Subjects Teaching credential. She is extremely proud to be teaching at Lodi Montessori, and works hard to ensure that each one of your children reaches his/her full potential. Jolie enjoys being outdoors, exercising, traveling, reading and spending time with her husband and son.
“There is nothing more rewarding than knowing I have developed the educational foundation of each child I work with throughout preschool and to know that they are fully prepared for success in kindergarten and beyond.” – Jolie Zins
Director of Operations
Before joining Lodi Montessori, Vy Ergonis’ professional career has spanned 10 years in the Human Resources and Business Management/Administration field. Vy brings an extensive administrative and office management skill set along with significant customer service experience and interaction with increasing levels of responsibility and proven capabilities.
Through her experience at major corporations such as Hewlett Packard and Adecco Group North America, Vy has developed the knowledge and skills in Business Management/Administration and Human Resources that will only help to ensure a positive experience for both our students and their families. Vy’s work experience also includes volunteer work in the elementary school system and local daycare. It’s this experience that has sparked her desire to join Lodi Montessori. Vy enjoys hiking, traveling with her husband, and giving back to the community by participating in 5k charity runs.
“I admire the Montessori philosophy and its teachings. I have seen children learn at a fast pace due to the hands on Montessori materials available. I am proud to be a part of Lodi Montessori where I can use my work experience to give back to the children and parents in our community.” – Vy Ergonis
Rosanna Casillas pursued a career in teaching because she believes that it is important to mold and guide young children for a successful future. Rosanna’s early childhood education experience has spanned over 17 years. Within these years, Rosanna has learned how to be aware of safety and health concerns by observing signs that may indicate illness, abuse or neglect. In addition, she currently holds her Montessori Certificate, Associate Teacher’s permit and is CPR and First Aide certified. Rosanna strives to make a positive impact in the lives of young children, their families and her team members alike. She takes pride in her work and hopes to inspire her students to work hard for a successful future. Rosanna has two young children whom she devotes her personal time to. She enjoys spending quality time with her family, going on trips, baking, reading and going to her children’s sporting and dance events.
“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” – Benjamin Franklin
Head Teacher/PreK & Kinder
Setsuko Geary is a mother, wife, artist and a Montessori preschool teacher for over 20 years including 7 years of teaching Kindergarten. She earned her Montessori certification from National College of Montessori Education where she learned to help children explore Math, Language, and Cultural which includes science, music and fine arts. Setsuko has a passion for the fine arts and enjoys incorporating it into her teachings. Her former kindergarteners have received numerous awards including 1st place at the Haggin Museum Annual, Robert T. McKee Student Art Contest & Exhibition in Stockton. She enjoys painting in multimedia; portraits, landscapes and still life. She hopes that all her students find the same wonderful feeling and sense of pride about themselves by doing something that they enjoy. Setsuko is originally from Japan and is fluent in Japanese.
“I have been inspired by Montessori education for a little over 30 years. It all started when my only son entered a Montessori school. I continue to be amazed at how effective and inspiring Montessori is in developing lifelong learners. I am very proud to be a Montessori teacher and will continue to do my best in educating the leaders of the future.” – Setsuko Geary
Assistant Teacher/Early Preschool
Alicia Dace first gained an interest in the education field while serving as a teacher’s aide and tutored in high school. She has earned her Associate’s Degree in Humanities, Social Sciences and Liberal Arts & Science, and her Associate’s Teacher certificate from San Joaquin Delta College. She has over five years of experience working as a teacher’s aide in the Montessori setting, working with toddlers and preschool aged children. Alicia is currently in the process of obtaining her Montessori Certification through NAMC. When away from work, Alicia enjoys spending her time with family, traveling and reading.
“I have a lot of respect for the Montessori Method, and I admire its appreciation for each child’s independence and individuality. Children flourish greatly in this type of environment and I am very pleased to be a part of it.” – Alicia Dace
Amber Lopez has been working with young children since 2000. She began her Montessori teaching career in 2005 when she started as a full time Teacher Assistant for children ages 18 months through 6 years. With her growing passion for the Montessori teaching philosophy, Amber continued teaching in Montessori preschools in the surrounding areas such as Elk Grove and Stockton. She then became a certified Montessori teacher in 2012 at the North American Montessori Center. Since then, she has been working in the preschool and toddler classrooms. Aside from her desire to teach, she is also passionate about fitness and the performing arts. Outside of school, Amber spends 6 to 10 hours a week doing volunteer work in the ministry. Not only does Amber appreciate the Montessori Method, but she also has an appreciation for her friends and family, art, writing, orcas, the rain and pumpkins.
“I enjoy watching children learn and grow. One of the goals I have for my students is to be confident in themselves, and to have the courage to try new things.” – Amber Lopez
Assistant Teacher/Early Preschool
Maria joined our team with over 25 years of experience working with young children. Maria received her Montessori certification through National College of Montessori Education, and also holds an Associates of Arts degree in Early Childhood Education. When interacting with the students, Maria’s love and passion to work with young children cannot be denied. Patience and compassion are just a few of the many wonderful qualities she has to offer in our Early Preschool classroom. Children immediately feel at ease with Maria due to her kind and gentle approach. When it comes to learning, Maria believes that it is a reciprocal process between the teacher and child, as adults can learn from the children just as well. Maria is fluent in Spanish and from time to time will incorporate Spanish in her teaching. Maria raised five children of her own, who all are now successful adults. She also has six grandchildren whom she enjoys giving her attention to when she is away from work. It is not easy for Maria to find down time, but when she does, she relishes on quiet time sewing.
“I enjoy watching children grow at this age.” – Maria Luna
Head Teacher/Early Preschool
Lizzet Picos found her passion for working with young children at a young age. It was in high school that she began volunteering at her first job as a teacher assistant in a preschool classroom. Liz takes her work with children very seriously, and believes that education is most important during the early years of life, when children are building connections in their brains. She studies at San Joaquin Delta College where she has earned over 30 units in early childhood education. Additionally, Liz has received her Montessori certification from North American Montessori Center. Her experience in a Montessori classroom began in 2012 while assisting and co-teaching, where she remained for the next 4 years prior to joining Lodi Montessori. On her free time, she enjoys traveling, nature, and spending time with family and friends.
Assistant Teacher & PT Specialist/Early Preschool
Teaching and working with young children has been a lifelong passion for Noemy Anaya. She has worked as a kindergarten and first grade teacher, and was co-owner of a day care center. After taking a hiatus from the workforce to raise her four children, Noemy knew she wanted to continue to teach young children, and earned her associate teaching credentials from San Joaquin Delta College. It was here where she fell in love with the Montessori teaching philosophy, as it allows children’s self-discovery and creativity to blossom. Aside from working with children, she has a passion for interior design and working on any creative projects. When Noemy is not working, she loves to spend time with her family and being at her children’s sport activities. Just like the Montessori philosophy, she hopes to nurture the independence and individuality of her children, and hopes to engage them in individual tasks and group activities with other children.
“All children are born to grow, to develop, to live, to love, and to articulate their needs and feelings for their self-protection.” – Alice Miller, Psychologist and Author
Assistant Teacher/PreK & Kinder
Natasha McDougal has been inspired by the development of children for some time now. She has been caring for young children for over eight years, while working in a preschool setting, and as a private nanny. The inspiration of working with children has led her to attend Consumes River College where she received her Associate Degree in Early Childhood Education, and earned her Teacher and Infant Specialist certificates. She has plans to become a Montessori certified teacher in the near future, and has begun her journey towards obtaining her Montessori certificate. When not in school, Natasha enjoys going to the beach, camping, bowling, and hiking. She is always keeping busy with family and friends, striving to live a fun filled life.
“Our flexibility and willingness to follow a child’s lead will allow remarkable to happen, if we let them.” – Bev Bos, Educator and Author
Nicolette “Nikki” Cruz received her Bachelor’s Degree in Liberal studies with a focus in education from California State University, Northridge in 2015. While attending college, Nikki worked in the peripheral field of education as a camp counselor, a Sylvan Learning Center teacher’s assistant, and she also currently works as an After School Program teacher at an elementary school in Stockton. Nikki always had a passion and desire to work with children after discovering her love for it when her younger brother was born. Knowing the future of the country and ultimately the world lies in the hands of the youth, drives Nikki to help mold them to be the best versions of themselves. She hopes to inspire children to embrace their individual differences by creating a nurturing and diverse environment.
Nikki loves to travel. She spent a summer traveling through nine different countries in 2015. This experience changed the way she viewed the world forever. She hopes to continue to travel as often as possible!
“Education is our passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.” – Malcolm X
Mahogany has always wanted to work with children at a young age. She knew she wanted to help inspire young minds and guide them to be successful individuals. Mahogany graduated from ABLE charter school, while obtaining her A.A. Degree in Liberal Studies from Humpherys College. She has recently graduated with her Bachelors Degree in Early Childhood Education, in addition to obtaining her Child Development Permit. Mahogany’s long term goal is to become a second grade teacher, and eventually complete her Doctorate Degree in Education. She enjoys spending time with her family and friends, singing, traveling and volunteering at various community events.
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” – Nelson Mandela, Former President of South Africa