Faculty

Debbie Evans Warkentien – Head of School 

Her love for children and passion for the Montessori method of education inspired her to start the Rancho Viejo Montessori School in 1996. Miss Debbie received her Montessori Certification in early childhood from UCI and her elementary training through North American Montessori Training Center. She has raised two sons in the Montessori education and lifestyle. Miss Debbie believes it is her Mission to serve children and their families through Montessori. It is her delight to watch her students succeed throughout their academic career and now into adulthood.

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Rick Warkentien 

Mr. Rick joined his wife Debbie at the Rancho Viejo Montessori School in 2000. They have two wonderful sons, Hunter 27, and Cole 25. In addition to his administrative duties, Mr. Rick enjoys sports and spending time with the elementary and middle school students. “What I enjoy most is working with the children and seeing their smiling faces as they enter the door each morning.”

 

Robin Cheney – Teacher, Middle School 

Miss Robin joined Rancho Viejo Montessori School in January 1998, teaching first the lower elementary, upper elementary, and then middle school. Montessori’s emphasis on real work and experiential learning attracted her to the philosophy. Miss Robin has a Bachelor of Arts in English, with a minor in Art History, from Cal Poly Pomona. She received her Montessori Certificate of Adolescent Studies in 2002 from NAMTA, studying at the Hershey Farm School in Ohio. Miss Robin has traveled to 30 countries and speaks 4 languages.

 

Karl Stalcup, Occupations Assistant

Bio coming soon!

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Sarah Kim, Teacher, Upper Elementary

Miss Sarah joined Rancho Viejo Montessori School in 2017 teaching the Upper Elementary class. Miss Sarah rediscovered Montessori as an adult five years ago after having been a Montessori Student as a child. She became an assistant teacher in a Montessori Elementary classroom and pursued her training through Montessori Institute of San Diego and Loyola University in Maryland where she obtained her master’s Degree in Montessori Elementary Education. Miss Sarah has an art education background, so it was an organic and natural transition to Montessori, where she enjoys seeing children become problem solvers, creative thinkers, and independent individuals. She believes fully in the Montessori philosophy and applies it in her personal life.

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Iumi Urrego – Teacher, Lower Elementary

Miss Iumi’s children led her to discover Montessori. She never imagined that choosing a Montessori Education for her own children would lead her to fulfill her personal desire to work with children. “What I love most about Montessori is that it serves the needs of every child.” Miss Iumi holds a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from Cal State LA and received her AMS Montessori Elementary Teaching Credential in 2005. Miss Iumi has been a part of Rancho Viejo Montessori School for over 14 years and looks forward to continuing her journey for a long time.

 

Natalie Gardner, Assistant Teacher, Lower Elementary

Bio coming soon!

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Becky McLeod – Teacher, Children’s House 

Miss Becky was born and raised in California and at 16 she began working as a daycare supervisor at a Montessori School near her home in Villa Park. “I became fascinated with the ideas and materials behind the Montessori method. A 6th grader taught me fractions using the materials. It made so much more sense than the way I was taught.” She earned her Associate Degree in Early Childhood Education at Fullerton and her Montessori Teaching Credential at AMI Montessori College in Santa Monica. Miss Becky taught at a Montessori School for 10 years then started her own in-home Montessori School, which she had for 6 years. Miss Becky took some time off to be with her sons and then joined Rancho Viejo in 2009 where she is happy to be back at an authentic Montessori School.

 

Holly Yarbrough, Teacher, Children’s House

Miss Holly, having always been fascinated by a child’s unique journey, earned her Bachelors Degree in Child and Adolescent Development from Cal State Fullerton. One of Miss Holly’s greatest joys is the time she spends being a mother to her five children, Logan, Ashlyn, Skylie, Kinley and Raylee.  While in search of the perfect school for her first born, Miss Holly discovered the magic of a Montessori education.  Intrigued with how Montessori engages a child in joyfully advancing through ascending levels of difficulty and rigor while simultaneously cultivating a love of learning, Miss Holly decided to pursue a teaching career as a Montessori Certified teacher. Miss Holly received her Montessori Certification from UCI and joined the Rancho Viejo School family in 2013.  Guiding a child toward his or her highest potential and most exciting possibilities is Miss Holly’s passion. .

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Rafiya Qidwai-Khan, Teacher, Children’s House

Miss Rafiya was born and raised in Great Brittain where she earned a Bachelors in History and Geography and a Masters in International Relations. She discovered Montessori while homeschooling her four children and was intrigued by its individualized learning path.  Miss Rafiya pursued her passion for teaching by becoming a Montessori Teacher and has taught both elementary and primary.  Miss Rafiya joined Rancho Viejo in 2006 and loves watching her students grow emotionally and academically and believes every child has the potential to succeed.

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Linda Van Kampen, Teacher, Pre Elementary AP

Miss Linda received her BA from BIOLA University’s School of Education and holds a California Teaching Credential.  After teaching in public and private traditional classrooms, Miss Linda discovered the Montessori Method of teaching in the mid 1990’s.  In 2000, Miss Linda earned her Montessori Certification from the National Center for Montessori Education here in Orange County and has enjoyed a rewarding career at Broderick Montessori and now Rancho Viejo Montessori for the past 23 years.  Miss Linda has found that “The wonderful foundation children build upon from this environment and it’s materials is by far the best education available”..

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Michael Dunkin – Assistant Teacher, Children’s House 

Mr. Michael’s passions in life are music, art, and teaching. He earned his Bachelor of Music Degree at UCI, studied choral conducting at Cal State Long Beach and completed his early childhood education at Concordia. Mr. Michael began teaching in a Montessori classroom in 1997 and has been with Rancho Viejo since 2006. He has directed children’s choirs and children’s musicals for over 20 years, including our own Children’s Chorus and our annual musical productions. Mr. Michael believes that “every child holds within them the potential to positively impact our world.”

 

Shah Adhami – Assistant Teacher, Children’s House 

Miss Shah grew up in France and graduated from the University of Paris with a Bachelor Degree in Child Development and International Relations. She began teaching in a Montessori school in Paris in 1980. Miss Shah moved to the United States in 1990 and continued teaching in Montessori, always enriching her classrooms with lessons in French. Miss Shah appreciates the order and structure of Montessori. She has been with our school for 12 years and loves working in such a peaceful and productive environment.

 

Thashika Perera – Assistant Teacher, Children’s house 

Miss Thashika was born and raised in Sri Lanka and attended a Montessori School as a child. She has lived in California since 1993, receiving her Early Childhood Education at Los Angeles Mission College. Miss Thashika has nearly 30 years of experience in Montessori education as lead teacher and assistant teacher at many levels. She has been with Rancho Viejo for 12 years. She attributes her passion for Montessori to the wonderful teachers she had growing up. Both her children attended Rancho Viejo Montessori School.

 

Ericka Kiss – Teacher, Beginner’s Class 

As a child, Miss Erika attended a Montessori School in San Juan Capistrano. Experiencing Montessori education first hand gave her the desire to help young children reach their full potential. Miss Erika received her Bachelor of Science in Child Development from Cal State Fullerton in 2000 and her Montessori Infant Toddler Certificate from UCI in 2004. She has been a kind and loving teacher in our Beginner’s Class for over 16 years.

 

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Brittney Kushi, Assistant Teacher, Beginner’s Class

Bio coming soon!