Who we are | Teaching Team

photo by cheri pearl

Bogdana M. Manole is the director and the lead Montessori teacher. She has twenty-two years of teaching and directing experience. For Bogdana, teaching is not just a job, but a deep commitment to building a more kind and just world. She envisions Learning Garden as a place filled with joy, learning, kindness and respect for her little students and the larger school community. When she not leading Learning Garden, she is a mom of two great kids, a scholar in critical theories, environmental justice and political ecology, and a climate justice activist. She holds a Masters in Cultural Studies from University of Washington Bothell, and is working on a PhD in Political Ecology at Arizona State University.

Carmela D’Amico has worked in early education for over a decade, as a children’s book author, literacy advocate and coach, and as a Montessori preschool teacher. She believes teaching is her calling and that working with young children, in particular, is a sacred privilege. She’s grateful to have found a home at Learning Garden, where she gets to learn and grow along with the students every day. When she isn’t teaching, she’s usually reading, cooking Italian food, writing or playing music.

Sidney Gaines has experience teaching preschool age children in private home settings and at Spanish immersion preschools. He values the process of learning and collaborating with children, families and fellow educators. He is passionate about the art, design, and communication involved in creating vibrant learning landscapes. He holds a degree in Comparative Sociology from University of Puget Sound and is now completing a Master in Communications at UW. A commitment to creating a better world through art and storytelling is at the center of his practice as a teacher.

Kara-Lee Ruotolo , our yoga teacher, has a masters degree in Education and Mental Health Counseling and has worked as a child and family therapist in Seattle Public Schools, as a social worker for King County Public Health, and an instructor and therapist for kids with special needs at Bellevue College. She began practicing and studying yoga in Seattle in 1995, and shares her love of yoga wherever she can!

Olive Oil ( Nuengruethai Isarat) is our substitute teacher. Olive is a Montessori teacher with eleven years of teaching experience. She is not only passionate about learning and teaching our students, but also she is full of life and laughter. She has been our school’s lead teacher for four years.

Learning Garden Montessori is recognized as an Internship School by the Montessori International Association, which means we can train new aspiring Montessori teachers. We are a diverse team - our cultures and different life experiences will enrich your children school experience and understanding of the world!

The school does not promote any religion, but promotes respect for and understanding of different beliefs.