Founder & Director
Lonna started her career as an Early Childhood Educator over thirty years ago. A Bay Area native, Lonna graduated from St. Mary’s College, Moraga with a MA in Teaching, BA in Child Development and an American Montessori Society pre-primary teaching credential. Lonna taught in the East Bay and Marin until she had her son in 1993.
In 1997, Lonna established a Montessori program in the home of San Francisco philanthropists Ann and Gordon Getty. For over two decades, Lonna presided over the cultivation of a well-respected and sought after pre school program.
Lonna and her husband of over twenty-five years are proud of their son, a Playgroup alum whom they have traveled the world with and graduated from UCLA with much success.
Margaret was born and raised in North Carolina. After graduating from UNC at Chapel Hill with a BA in International Studies, Margaret obtained her K-6 teaching credential from Queens University in Charlotte. While studying for her license, Margaret assisted at Anami Montessori, where she fell in love with the Montessori philosophy. After finishing at Queens University, Margaret headed to West Side Montessori School in NYC to work at the pre school and attend their renowned teacher training program. After receiving her AMS Montessori certification, Margaret moved back to the South and taught at a Title One public school with a newly implemented Montessori program in Charleston, SC.
Seeking a change of scenery and influenced by her brother, Margaret decided to try out the west coast in the summer of 2016. Drawn to the outdoors, Margaret taught at Caring Creatives, in the Presidio. Just as the summer was coming to a close Margaret happened to hear about Playgroup and immediately knew it was where she was supposed to be. Its “follow the child” philosophy in addition to learning through dramatic play fit perfectly with Margaret’s beliefs and experiences.
In her spare time Margaret enjoys exploring San Francisco and its surroundings, as well as practicing yoga and spending time with friends, family and her rescue mutt, Sweet Pea.
Ali was born and raised in Bakersfield, California. Ali graduated from California State University, Chico with a BA in Child Development in 2011. After graduating, she received her substitute teaching credential and spent a year teaching and tutoring children grades K-3. It became quite clear that her preference and passion was pre school.
Ali moved to San Francisco over five years ago and has been advancing her career in the field of early childhood education ever since. Ali’s love for learning is what led her to pursue her Masters Degree in Early Childhood Education from St. Mary’s College, Moraga where she came to meet Lonna and Noelle. Ali is ecstatic to be our newest addition to the Playgroup family!
In her free time, Ali enjoys running, yoga, and spending quality time with her family and friends.
Noelle was born and raised in San Francisco. She graduated from Convent of the Sacred Heart High School in 2009 and earned her BA in Psychology from the University of San Francisco.
Noelle has over ten years of experience working with children and has worked as a full-time nanny for the past four years. Her love for being around children and wanting to be in the classroom has led her to peruse her AMS Montessori credentials. She is currently finishing up her program at St. Mary’s College in Moraga. Noelle is very excited to explore a new path by working as a teacher in the pre school classroom.
She has a passion for cooking, living an active lifestyle, and diving into creative projects.
Amanda was born and raised in California. After receiving her BA in Psychology from the University of Arizona in 2003, Amanda embarked on a career in education and has only advanced since. In 2005 she worked at Lindamood Bell of San Francisco as a Clinician focusing on reading, spelling, comprehension and language programs with children.
With a background in Psychology and extensive experience with children, Amanda was drawn to Playgroup’s successful implementation of the self-guided approach to Montessori education. She joined Playgroup in 2012 and has played a dynamic role in the school’s growth.
In addition, Amanda has drawn on her athletic background to introduce a yoga program to the children’s curriculum at Playgroup. In her spare time Amanda enjoys the local outdoors and spending time with her six nieces and nephews.
Emily was born in San Francisco and raised in New Delhi and Singapore. She returned to California with her family at age 12, and has since become a performer and costume designer. Emily has worked with many community and professional theaters across the Bay Area, and her designs have been showcased in a number of local theater productions, short music films and local fashion shows.
Emily recently played the role of an alien in New Conservatory Theatre Center’s YouthAware production “Let’s Get Galactic,” that toured over 35 schools within the SFUSD. Dancing around in her alien spacesuit, Emily taught K-2 students about healthy choices, germs, basic hygiene, friendship and respect. This experience led her to deeply value positive teacher-child interactions, and enabled her desire to pursue additional educational work.
Emily hopes that her experience with musical and physical theater training will help foster classroom environments that inspire creativity and independence. She is currently studying fashion and apparel construction at City College of San Francisco, and plans to pursue her ECE credits.
Emily’s favorite color is yellow, her favorite holiday is Halloween, and her favorite Disney villain is Ursula.
Joey is a fourth generation San Franciscan. He has a degree in Economics from the University of California, Santa Cruz and AMI Montessori certification from the Montessori Teacher Training Center of Northern California.
Joey comes from a family of San Francisco educators and has over 15 years of experience working with children of all ages. For the last 7 years he has been the head Montessori teacher in a bilingual, international school in Nosara, Costa Rica.
In his free time, Joey enjoys surfing, gardening, traveling and spending time in nature. He is very excited to be back in his hometown to share his passion for Montessori and bilingual education with Playgroup.
Megan was born and raised in Connecticut. The oldest of seven siblings, she has extensive childcare experience. Some of her earliest memories are helping her mom care for her four brothers and two sisters.
Megan has known Lonna since early 2012 when she made her first trip to the Bay Area and fell in love! After graduating from Iona College in New Rochelle, NY with a degree in Mass Communications she decided it was the right time to try life on the West Coast.
With a passion for kids and early childhood education Megan will join us as an assistant teacher as she figures out the next steps to take towards a Montessori certification.
When she isn’t learning and having fun at Playgroup Megan enjoys the outdoors, painting, cooking, playing tennis and soccer, and exploring and learning about her new home.
Head Toddler Teacher
Nicole graduated from the University of San Francisco with a BA in Psychology and an MA in Counseling Psychology in the School of Education.
Nicole has always enjoyed working with children. Some of her early experiences include working at summer camps and after school programs. For the past 7 years, Nicole has assisted Corinne Vernon in the toddler class helping to set the children up for success in their first educational experience.
After Care Director
Ariel was born and raised in Erie, Pennsylvania. She earned her BA in Musical Theatre in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She is currently pursuing Early Childhood Education and is looking to attend graduate school.
Ariel has worked with young children for 10 years, teaching summer theatre camps, dance and acting classes. She continues to stay active in theatre performing in various plays, musicals and a series with the Bay Area Playwrights Foundation.
She has made San Francisco her new home and is able to help children at Playgroup discover and express themselves. While nurturing creativity and imagination, Ariel enjoys the genuine excitement of education that the children at Playgroup experience.
During Ariel’s free time, she enjoys visiting Farmers Markets for fresh produce, shopping for vintage clothing, and hiking trails in the beautiful Bay Area. Ariel plans to write her own series of children’s books.
Susie was born and raised in Budapest, Hungary where she began working as an educator after earning her BA in 1993. She started her 20year career as an elementary school teacher, then for a few years she taught German as a foreign language for middle school students. Susie’s family moved to San Francisco in 2001 where she worked as alead teacher at SFMA for six years and fell in love with Montessori education. Currently she is working toward her AMS Montessori Certification.
Susie is passionate about teaching literacy through puppets and drama, and giving children the opportunity to perform their favorite stories.In her free time, she enjoys camping, kayaking, skiing and traveling with her husband and two children.
Jessica was born and raised in Southern California and moved to the Bay Area in 2010. She is passionate about visual arts and psychology. Jessica studied Art and Psychology at Las Positas College and began her career in education by teaching art classes in community centers around the Bay Area. Jessica is a firm believer in the healing properties of art and encourages creativity and individuality to all her students.
Jessica met Lonna in 2017, and immediately fell in love with all things Montessori. She started her career at Playgroup by teaching weekly art classes at Playgroup where students study the history and artistic process of famous artists. Jessica eagerly begun studying to receive her teaching credentials and quickly transitioned to an Assistant Teacher.
In 2019, Jessica moved to San Francisco to dedicate her career to teaching at Playgroup. She is currently working on becoming a certified Montessori Teacher.
Samantha recently graduated from the University of Arizona with a BS in Literacy, Leadership and Learning and a minor in Special Education.
Just over a year ago Sam and her family relocated to the Bay Area from the East Coast. Sam is ecstatic to be apart to join our Playgroup family while she pursues her education. In her free time Sam enjoys spending time with her family and friends and being able to travel.
Ashley was born and raised on the coast of California. After receiving her AA in Visual Communications followed by her BS in Technological Entrepreneurship at Arizona State University, she embarked on a career in business operations, human resources and financial management. Ashley merges her love for visually pleasing aesthetics and efficiency through technology as People Operations Manager at Playgroup.
Ashley comes from a family who is entirely immersed in Child Development and California public schools. With this background she is an engaging communicator, projects enthusiasm and warmth, while motivating other people.
When she isn’t taking care of Playgroup, Ashley enjoys spending time with her rescue dog, being outdoors, shopping and visiting Disneyland as often as humanly possible. She is overjoyed to be
a part of the Playgroup family.