The Executive Team

Leonor Stjepic – Chair

Leonor Stjepic, is an award-winning social enterprise entrepreneur, whose career has spanned both the private and NGO sectors. She is Chair of the Board of Directors of Montessori Centre International and the Chief Executive of the Montessori Group – a leading global Montessori organisation.
Prior to this role, Leonor was CEO of the medical research institute, RAFT. Leonor spun out a commercial company called Smart Matrix Ltd, from RAFT raising $8m in social investment. This won universal praise and has been widely used as a case study in how to avoid risk in social investment.

Leonor was concurrently CEO of RAFT and of Smart Matrix Ltd for five years. During her time at Smart Matrix Ltd, the company doubled its share price and was independently valued at £86million by the time she stepped down as CEO.

Leonor has also had a number of Non-Executive roles, including Chair of London Fire Brigade Enterprises

In 2016, the ACQ5 Global Awards named her as ‘UK Gamechanger of the Year’, and a year later, Leonor was named as the ‘Most Innovative CEO in the Not-For-Profit Sector’ by Business Worldwide, and as ‘Female CEO of the year – UK’ by Acquisition International in 2018.   In October 2019, Leonor will be awarded the TIAW World of Difference Award in the NGO sector and she has been shortlisted for a Top 100 Leaders in Education award. Leonor is often asked to speak at international conferences on leadership and entrepreneurship.

Maccs Pescatore – Chief Executive Officer

Maccs trained as a Chartered Accountant with Coopers & Lybrand before moving into industry. Initially, she joined Geest plc and Camelot Plc gaining exposure to international markets and large scale production sites. She went on to spend 13 years with Tate & Lyle Plc and ASR Group in the FMCG sector where she held a variety of senior finance positions in divisions in the UK and Europe.

In recent years, working alongside commercial and operational colleagues, she has combined her passion for business with her affinity for working in changing environments, being instrumental in turning around under-performing businesses, repositioning and moving organisation into new markets

Maccs holds Non-Executive Director positions with Genius Within C.I.C., Advance Performance (UK) Ltd and London Fire Brigade Enterprises. She mentors young people wanting to start their own business both through The Prince’s Trust and Hatch Enterprise.

Karen Chetwynd – Director of Academic Quality and Partnerships

As an experienced quality assurance consultant, Karen has worked within a wide variety of educational practice for over 16 years.

A trained classical dancer and actor, Karen started her industry experience through work with the BBO, an international graded and vocational awarding body based in London. Review and development of their recognised, accredited qualifications led to the establishment of the first publicly funded teaching qualifications for those working in professional, vocational dance. Following this work, Karen was asked to work with Sport England and the National Governing Body for Group Exercise in delivering entry level dance fitness qualifications to activate hard to reach young people and inspire greater physical education within schools.

Returning to the vocational sector, Karen worked as Head of Strategic and Quality Enhancement for a major performing arts college in collaboration with the University for the Creative Arts. Karen completed a MA in Educational Leadership and Management and accepted roles as a Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) reviewer whilst supporting an international rock and pop music awarding organisation as Head of Assessment, developing a team of international examiners; quality assurance processes and local operations in South Africa.

Karen’s professional accreditation and validation experience includes collaboration with Middlesex University and a leading psychotherapy institute in West London, supporting preparation for independent Degree Awarding Powers status; product endorsement for a leading commercial partnership and external monitoring for a national awarding organisation.

The Senior Management Team

Preeti Patel – Head of Education

After fifteen years practice in a Montessori day-care nursery as Nursery Manager and an Early Years Educator, Preeti took on the role of Academic Placement Tutor at Montessori Centre International (MCI). She is now our Head of Education.

Preeti holds a BA (Hons) Degree, Montessori International Diploma and an Early Years Teacher Status. Preeti has been involved in Safeguarding training and has delivered many CPD training sessions to colleagues over the last few years.

Jeremy Clarke -Head of Digital Education

Jeremy joined the Montessori Centre International (MCI) academic team in 2013. He previously taught in Nursery and Reception age classes for 13 years and was at Gorton Mount Primary when it became the first state school in the UK to adopt the Montessori approach. At MCI he is the Head of Digital Education, overseeing the Virtual Learning Environment and new Open Learning platform.

He received his BA (QTS) in Environmental Science and Outdoor Studies studying in the Lake District at Charlotte Mason College, Ambleside. He completed his Montessori Diploma at MCI.

Kate Addison – Head of Finance

After completing her MSci in Chemical Physics at the University of Bristol, Kate decided that finance might be more useful than quantum mechanics to everyday life, so she joined KPMG to train as a chartered accountant in financial services audit. Then, from a technical accounting role in a large life insurance company, she moved to gradually more commercial positions in the educational software sector.

Her most recent role was heading up the Financial Planning and Analysis function at Bristol Energy, a start-up electricity and gas supply company set up by Bristol City Council with three main objectives: creating financial value for the Council, environmental benefit, and social good.

Between office jobs, Kate spent three years sailing round the world as crew on award-winning sail training ship Picton Castle, offering adventure travel and sail training to an international, intergenerational crew. She will gladly share salty stories with anyone who might be willing to listen.

The search for meaningful work took Kate to Rwanda, where she volunteered for a short time as a consultant accountant at One Acre Fund, a large international NGO working with smallholder farmers across East Africa. And then to London and the Montessori Group, where she is delighted to have joined the team at such an exciting and inspirational time.

The Academic and Student Services Team

Antonella Cirillo – FdA Course Leader

Antonella joined MCI in 2007. She practised as a clinical psychologist in Italy before moving to the UK. Antonella gained a Post Graduate Diploma in Observational Studies at the Tavistock and Portman and trained as a Montessori Teacher at Montessori Centre International (MCI).

At MCI, she is a lecturer for the Diploma Course and for the Foundation Degree and is also a Teaching Practice tutor.

Hannah Baynham – EYE Diploma Academic Course Leader

Hannah Baynham has a BA in Sociology and received her International Montessori Diploma at MCI in 2009. She has worked in kindergartens and Montessori schools in India and Hong Kong and started a parent cooperative Montessori school in Istanbul which she ran for four years. She also was able to help promote Montessori in Turkey through teacher workshops for low income nurseries and early childhood education students. Her first book ‘Following the Child’ was translated and published in Turkish in 2015.

She joined MCI in August 2017 as a curriculum lecturer and is now the EYE and IMP course leader. She is happy to be back with the people and the place where her Montessori journey began.

Michela Castellarin – Lecturer, IQA Officer and MAI Lead Mentor

Michela has been working at MCI for about 10 years after having taught and managed the Balderton Street branch of St Nicholas pre-preparatory school. She is a lecturer, group tutor and leader for the Montessori diploma course in Early Childhood. Her duties also include supporting and tutoring students during their teaching practice experience.

Sarah Olley-Dorey – Academic Lecturer

Sarah has worked at MCI and formerly LMC since the 1990s. She has also worked in schools across London and for a few years ran her own small infant toddler community that evolved into a small school.

Her current involvement at MCI is teaching cultural and creativity and as a teaching practice tutor. She also volunteers in her local primary schools supporting children with reading.

Julie Compton – Academic Lecturer

Julie is currently leading the FdA Level 5 Diversity and Professional Studies and Practitioner Placement modules. After working in the music business in Los Angeles for 14 years, Julie returned to London in 1999. She owned and ran Art-in-the-Park, providing art sessions for under-fives, and set up Saturday Art Club in a Montessori nursery. She completed her Montessori Diploma and worked in a Montessori nursery for six years.

Julie returned to part-time study, gaining a BA (Hons) in Education from UCL. She is currently enrolled on the Sociology of Childhood & Children’s Rights MA at the Institute of Education.

Annamaria Guild – Lecturer

Annamaria’s interest in the Montessori philosophy started 15 years ago, when her first child was born. The interest in Montessori’s method became a possibility of a career change and she started training while working in a Montessori nursery. She studied at MCI and completed her BA in Early Years at London Metropolitan University.

After a few years of working in a nursery Annamaria opened up her Montessori childminding setting, which received an ‘outstanding’ Ofsted inspection report. She specialised in looking after the very young children of our society (0-3).

After the childminding, Annamaria took on a new challenge as a manager of a Montessori nursery. This was a challenging task and at the same time, undoubtedly one of the most interesting jobs she has ever had. Annamaria has been a guest lecturer at MCI for the past three years and in 2019 accepted the permanent lecturer position. She is currently teaching the Under Threes module, co – teaches at the workshops and looks after the apparatus practice. Annamaria is currently enrolled on the ‘Facilitating Student Learning’ module at London Metropolitan University.

Annamaria volunteers as a Godly Play Sunday school teacher at her local church and she is also an assistant scout leader at her local Scout Group.

Emma Litvinova-Levermore – Academic Placement Tutor

Emma joined the permanent academic team in November 2018 but had been previously working for MCI as both an online tutor and an external placement tutor since 2016.

She has more than 6 years Montessori teaching experience, working both here in the UK and abroad in both teaching and management positions. Graduating from MCI back in 2008 she holds an International Diploma in Montessori Pedagogy as well as a BA in Early Childhood Studies.

Roopa Tailor – Academic Placement Tutor

Roopa has a BA (hons) in Economics, and studied the postgraduate international diploma in Montessori pedagogy at MCI in 2003. She has worked in Montessori settings for about 10 years in both teaching and management positions. Roopa has been an external placement tutor for MCI since 2013 and joined the team as academic placement tutor in December 2018.

Padmini Persaud – Academic Support Officer

Padmini’s introduction to Montessori was as an Early Childhood student in 2003. Being intrigued by the approach and eager to understand the method from birth, she accepted an opportunity to pursue the Infant Toddler training as well. She continued her Montessori career as the Head of a Toddler room where she implemented a Montessori environment for the 18-24 month age range and was actively involved in helping staff to understand the Montessori approach. Padmini also set-up a home-school environment for a 3 year old child and baby. She later accepted an opportunity to work with the 4-5 year old age range in a Montessori setting and once again rose to the challenge of creating the Montessori environment and improving the approach in the setting. She also functioned as the Deputy Manager during that time.

Since 2004, Padmini had continued to work at MCI on Saturdays as she was keen to maintain her link, support and gain more experience in the operation and training. In 2012, she accepted full-time employment as the College Administrator/Teaching Practice Coordinator and enjoyed supporting the students during their training as she could relate to their experience from having been a student and after 8 years of experience in Montessori settings. She is now the Academic Support Officer and provides administrative support for the academic processes for students. In her day-to-day duties, she reviews the progress of students on the Diploma EYE course and works alongside the Academic Tutors and Internal/External Quality Assurers to help students meet the qualification requirements and achieve their qualification.

Ruth Tesfamariam – Placement Coordinator and Student Relationship Officer

Ruth did her Early Years diploma in Montessori Pedagogy in 2013, and in 2017 came back to do her Foundation Degree in Early Years. She has worked as a Montessori Practitioner in three different Montessori settings and now works at MCI as our Placement Coordinator and Student Relationship Officer.

Nicole Orchard – Student Recruitment Officer

Being in customer relations for more than two decades, Nicole found a special interest in education having worked for one of the largest education companies in the world. Here she worked in student recruitment as well as managing the training and development of all partnership advisors. Nicole was also instrumental in the project management of programme launches. She joined the Montessori Group in September 2019 on the Student Recruitment Team.

Digital Education Team

Margarita Rouki – Digital Education Support Officer

Margarita has a BA(hons) with QTS in English Language and Literature and is a chartered member of CILIP (Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals). She taught English as a Foreign Language in Greece until she moved to London in the 1990s. Here she worked for over a decade at an image library, managing digital content and copyright. She then decided to combine her educational and digital skills by joining the world of e-learning in higher education. She joined MCI in 2017 as the Digital Education Support Officer.

Laura Heap – Digital Education Development Lead

Laura joined Montessori Centre International (MCI) in February 2014 and led on the launch of the online learning platforms. After designing and developing the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), she lead on launch of Montessori St Nicholas’s (MSN) informal learning platform. She is responsible for designing and developing e-learning content and systems and is the Digital Education team leader.

Having previously worked as a teacher in FE and HE for ten years, she moved into e-learning in 2009 working as a Digital Content Developer at London Metropolitan University. She graduated with a BA in Geography, a Cert Ed with ESOL subject specialism and an MSc in e-Learning.

Erdal Dogan – Digital Education Developer