Faculty and Staff

Hope Montessori School is a non-profit private school. We serve a diversity of children from two and a half to six years of age residing in Northern Virginia, namely Burke, Falls Church, Annandale, Fairfax and Springfield. Hope Montessori School has a well-established reputation for excellence in teaching the Montessori Philosophy, a highly experienced faculty, a hard-working and reliable staff, and a supportive parent community.


                                                                                                 Jaime Russell photo

Jaime Russell, Administrator


Jaime Russell joined the Hope team in September, 2015. She is a Northern Virginia native and passed through the halls of Hope Montessori as a child in the early eighties. She attended college in Argentina, where she received her degree in Business Administration. After living in Argentina for over a decade, and working in small business development she, her husband and son moved back to the area. Her work lead her into the non-profit world, where she was focused on non-profit governance in foreign countries and international grants awarded by public charities and private foundations. Her son graduated from Hope and her daughter is currently attending the school.


Jo-Anne Mclellan, Teacher mrs.mac@hopemontessori.org

Mrs. Jo-Anne Mclellan, “Mrs. Mac” (as her children call her) has been a Montessorian for 22 years, and has been teaching at Hope since 1997. Originally from the New England area, Mrs. Mac received her Ams Pre-Primary certification from the New England Montessori Teacher Education Center (NEMTEC) in 1990, and has a BS in Education graduating from Northeastern University, Magna Cum Laude. The wife of a career military Officer, Mrs. Mac held teaching positions at the South County Montessori School in Kingston RF, the East-West Montessori School in Okinawa, Japan and Der Kinderhuis Montessori School in Oak Harbor, Washington State. Mrs. Mac has also served as a lead training instructor for NEMTEC since 1994. She is a lifetime member of the American Montessori Society. Mrs. Mac is the proud parent of two grown children.


Michelle Lopez, Teacher, mlopez@hopemontessori.org

Mrs. Michelle Lopez is a proud mother of three children. She herself is a product of Montessori. Originally from Burke VA, she has been teaching in the Montessori classroom for five years in Las Vegas as the Lead Teacher with 2-6 year old children. Mrs. Lopez studied Early Childhood Education at the College of Southern Nevada. She received her Montessori Teaching Diploma from North American Montessori Center. Mrs. Lopez has also served as the Lead Training Instructor for Nevada Registry since 2010.  She is a life time member of the International Association of Montessori Educators.


Bio Pic - Didavi2Megan Didavi, Teacher, mdidavi@hopemontessori.org

Mrs. Megan Didavi taught at Hope Montessori school from 2005-2013.  She left to find job closer to home in Montgomery County Maryland with the goal of spending more time with her sons (both graduates of Hope -2008 and 2009), but has  since realized that there is no school as good as Hope Montessori and is happy to be back.  After growing up in Arlington (and being among the first children to attend Arlington’s public Montessori program), Mrs. Didavi graduated from George Mason University with a Bachelor of Arts in German Language and Literature, followed by a Master of Arts in International Transactions.  She worked a Montessori classroom assistant while in graduate school and soon decided to switch careers by taking the AMI Montessori training course which she finished in 1998.  Since then, Mrs. Didavi has worked at various schools in Northern Virginia and Maryland, giving her a wide variety of experiences in working with children between the ages of 2 and 7.  She is a member of Association Montessori International.


Michiko CooperMichiko Cooper, Teacher, mcooper@hopemontessori.org

Mrs. Michiko Cooper has been an early-childhood educator for almost 30 years, and a Montessori educator for almost 20 years. She has taught in different Montessori schools in Northern Virginia gaining a varied experience in Montessori education.
She is a returning teacher at Hope, having served previously as a part-time co-teacher. Prior to becoming a trained Montessori teacher, Mrs. Cooper worked as a home Family Child Care Provider, and before that as a Social Worker at a Child Welfare non-profit in Mumbai, India. In 2002, Mrs. Cooper received her AMS Early Childhood Credentials from the Institute of Advanced Montessori Studies in Silver Spring, MD. Her academic degrees are an MA in Social Work from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) and BA in Psychology and Sociology from St. Xavier’s College, both in Mumbai, India. She is a lifetime member of the American Montessori Society. She is a proud parent of two adult children, one of whom attended a Montessori school.

Bio pic - ThakralSantosh Thakral, Lifelong Supporter

After teaching at Hope Montessori School from 1972 to 1994, Mrs. Santosh Thakral became the School Administrator in 1994. Mrs. Thakral completed twelve years of Senior Cambridge schooling at St. Mary’s School, in India. Thereafter she completed three years of B.S. degree in Home Science and one year of B.A. in Education from Lady Irwin College in India. Mrs. Thakral completed the Montessori Teacher Training from Washington Montessori Institute in Washington, D.C.

In June, 2016, after close to 45 years of service, Mrs. Thakral retired as Director from Hope Montessori. She will always be a part of the Hope extended family, providing support and guidance as needed.


Extended Daycare Staff and Teacher Assistants: 

  • Zoila Prudencio joined Hope Montessori School in 1988.
  • Farida Essar joined Hope Montessori School in 1996.
  • Silvia Cardenas joined Hope Montessori School in 1997.
  • Rubina Muish joined Hope Montessori School in 2013.
  • Rekha Chopra joined Hope Montessori School in 2014.