Faculty & Staff
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Faculty and Staff

Faculty and Staff

Founder & Executive Director

Ayelet “Ellie” Lichtash

Ellie, an attorney by trade, practiced labor and employment law in Israel and in the United States. She published two papers in the U.S. on Discrimination Law and Employment and Arbitration issues. She holds a master’s degree from Tel Aviv University and from Georgetown Law School.

Ellie, alongside the community, established the Alef Bet Montessori School to bring together all denominations of the Jewish Community to experience Jewish life through the Montessori Method.

Until June 2010, Ellie served as a founding board member of the National Organization of Montessori Administrators Association. Ellie has served as the Vice Chair to Montessori Schools of Maryland (MSM) for over seven years and has served as the National Representative of AMI (Association Montessori International) USA at CAPE for over five years.

In 2013, Ellie won a fellowship at the ConnectGen program of the Federation of Greater Washington to initiate an international organization – Israel Montessori Association (IMA). Since March 2014, Ellie has been a member of the Association of Independent Schools of Greater Washington (AISGW) and serves on the AISGW MoCo Legislative Committee. In the Spring of 2015, Ellie took on the role of Co-Chair of Israel Action Committee (IAC) for DC Region until the fall of 2017. As of March 1, 2019, Ellie serves as the President of the Board for Whole School Leadership (WSL) an international organization for training Montessori heads of schools.

Teachers & Supporting Staff

Farhana Jaffrey, Primary Lead Teacher

Farhana is an AMI Montessori teacher who been teaching at Alef Bet Montessori since August 2008. Farhana has a BS in Business Administration and holds a JD degree from Kings College, University of London. She practiced law for several years before changing careers and earning her AMI (Association Montessori Internationale) Montessori certification from the Washington Montessori Institute at Loyola College, Maryland, one of the most prestigious Montessori training centers in the country. Farhana is an innovative teacher with an acute sensitivity to children’s needs and abilities.

Carmen Murrilo, Primary Support Staff

Carmen is working with Farhana as a team member of the Primary classroom. She joined our staff in the fall of 2015 and has been changing the lives of children with her patience, love, and compassion. Carmen has trained with the early childhood program and master the understanding of child development. She adds a warm smile and care to each day of the school.

Marjorie Arriola, Toddler Lead Teacher

Marjorie is an AMS trained lead teacher who joined our school in the fall of 2015. She has been teaching toddlers and infants for over 15 years with love and deep understanding of child developmental stages. Marjorie is passionate about early childhood learning and is a dedicated and loving member of our staff.

Andrea Thomas, Toddler Lead Teacher

Andrea has been teaching toddlers and infants for over 10 years. He holds a BA in Early Childhood education and various training of health and safety, child development and more. Andrea has been trained with AMI over the summer of 2018 at Crossway Montessori for the summer and is working in the classroom with vast experience. Andrea brings a great smile each morning and loads of love to the classroom.

Rachel Sharon, Elementary & Primary Hebrew Coordinator

Rachel joined our school in the fall of 2013. A skilled and enthusiastic teacher, Rachel is also a fluent Hebrew speaker. Rachel has a Teaching Certificate as well as a BA from Seminar Hakibuzim in Israel. Rachel is also very accomplished in the field of teaching on an individual basis and small groups. Rachel is excited to work both in Primary and Elementary classrooms.

Christine Parson, Music Teacher

Christine is an AMI Montessori teacher with music expertise. She earned Bachelor degrees in Music and Science from St. Lawrence University, NY and a Master’s degree in Elementary Education from the University of Massachusetts, Boston. Christine completed her AMS certification in 1990 from CMTE, in addition to her AMI certification in 1996 from the Washington Montessori Institute. She has been teaching music since college and has over 15 years of Montessori classroom teaching experience. She also gives private lessons at her home in flute and teaches music programs at KMMS and Lone Oak Montessori School. We are proud to have her on our staff since 2009.

Supporting Staff:

  • Anat Funaro, Hebrew Specialist, Primary
  • Shirin Zahirpour, Hebrew Specialist, Support Staff.

Administrative Staff

Gabrielle Cohen, Assistant to the Head of School

Gabi has a passion for education and love for children. A Psychology graduate and passionate individual she comes to work each day with the goal to make a difference in children’s lives and support the teachers so that they can do their work with love. Gabi joined our team in February 2019 and will be working as an assistant to Ellie Lichtash.

Monica Abrams, Director of Advancement & External Affairs

Monica joined our team in the spring of 2016. Her portfolio includes development, fundraising, expansion, building, government relations, and other external relations. Monica Abrams graduated summa cum laude from Harvard College, attended Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar, and then earned her J.D. from Yale Law School.

After clerking on the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, she joined the Criminal Appellate Section of the Department of Justice through the honors program. Monica became involved in Jewish education through her six children, who attended the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School.

She served as the major gifts chair and the chair of development there, during which time she initiated and developed the Chai Level of Giving and ran a 100% parent participation campaign which raised parent participation by almost 40% in its first year.  She simultaneously worked extensively on expanding admissions and revived and co-chaired the Parent Ambassador program. Monica also currently serves on the board of Congregation Beth El.