Crescent Montessori is lead by a volunteer board of directors and a committed group of primary parents. Roles and jobs are completed by this caring and dedicated Montessori volunteers.
Director, Primary Program Lead Teacher: Minha Yoon
Minha discovered her passion for the Montessori Method after the birth of her nephew Ethan. She committed to creating an authentic Montessori learning environment while providing care for him from infancy to 3 years old. She then left the New York fashion industry to become a Montessori teacher. A South Korean native, Minha’s family immigrated to the United States when she was 9 years old. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking, sharing classroom ideas with her husband Brendan, who is also a Montessori teacher (Upper Elementary), and taking care of their two beautiful dogs, Coco and Kong.
Central Saint Martins in London, UK
B.A. Fashion Design
M.F.A Academy of Art University in San Francisco
Minha received her AMS Early Childhood credential from Saint Mary’s College in Moraga. Before joining Crescent in 2017, Minha taught at Montessori schools in Berkeley, American Canyon and Santa Rosa.
It is an honor to practice Maria Montessori’s educational philosophy, based on the belief that the role of education is not to dictate knowledge, but to assist the natural course of human development. I am grateful to be working with children in this important phase of their growth, assisting in their task of reaching their natural born potentials.
Primary Program Lead Teacher (expected Fall 2020): Tatiana Manderscheid
Tatiana first fell in love with the Montessori Method while searching for preschools for her daughter. While observing a Montessori classroom, she was struck by the hands-on, individualized experiences that the lead teacher created for each child in order to facilitate independent play and foster self-sufficiency. It was after this classroom observation that she knew she had to apply her passion for education to help children reach their full potential in all areas of life—cognitive, social, emotional, and physical. A former public school teacher, Tatiana has extensive experience working with children from primary to high school age. A mother to a toddler herself, she is thrilled to be joining the Crescent community and excited to provide a rich, joyous, and nurturing environment for students. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her family, hiking, reading, cooking, and practicing yoga.
The University of Chicago, B.A. English Literature
Boston University, Master of Arts in Education
Early Childhood Training:
UCLA Early Childhood Education, Basic Core Program
North American Montessori Center
I strive to help each student become confident, creative, and flourishing members of their community through Montessori’s unique approach to education. I am honored to work with children in the important role of Lead Teacher, and my goal is to instill a love of learning and personal growth in my students and myself.
Faculty Emeritus & Founder: Karin Neihoff
Karin Niehoff founded Crescent Montessori School in 1994. Formerly a teacher at Vintage Country Day School, which closed in 1994, Karin carried on the Montessori tradition at the Pre-School level for 12 years before opening the school to Elementary classes in 2006 and to a Middle School class in 2014.
Montessori trained at all levels from pre-school through adolescent, Karin continued in the dual role of Teaching Head of School until her retirement at age 70. Today the school continues her legacy of an authentic Montessori pre-school class in its original location at the Sonoma Community Center.
Gaining non-profit status for the school in 2010 and successfully guiding the process for being awarded full WASC accreditation status for the upper grades in 2011 and again in 2017 count as her professional accomplishments. She brought memorable creative programs like Art In The Garden, Roots of Empathy, Spring and Holiday shows, Orff Music Performances and Culinary Arts to the school to enhance the students active learning while engaging the community of families. The blessing of a wonderful and productive career that spanned 44 years in the Montessori classroom surrounded by curious, happy learners, inspires Karin to continue on the learning path at Art Farm Sonoma where she continues to learn, paint and be surprised by the everyday work of art.
Faculty Emeritus: Pam Higi
Pam has 40 years of Montessori teaching experience, and taught at Crescent since it opened in 1994 through 2017.
Pam received an AMI Montessori Diploma in 1975 from the Montessori Institute of Los Angeles. She has been a Montessori Directress for the past 40 years, teaching in Southern California, Santa Rosa and at Crescent.
Pam walked into a Montessori classroom for the first time when she was 14 years old. She was babysitting for a family who were realizing their dream of opening a Montessori classroom in southern California. Pam spent that summer helping the family convert an old house into the beautiful three classroom Montessori school. There was a lot of work to do, including painting, sewing curtains and tending three children as the old house transformed into a school not so different from Crescent Montessori. This transformative experience introduced Pam to the discoveries of Maria Montessori, and she knew that becoming a Montessori Directress was the work she wanted to do.
Working with the families and staff of Crescent Montessori as we support children through an essential time in their development is an honor and joy. Crescent is a nurturing and supportive place to learn through discovering, which brings out the best in me, and all of us!
Board of Directors