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The Founder-Ms. Sierra

I love children and am proud of myself for having a childlike spirit. My own little boy has brought me tons of joy, hope and fulfillment. This love has led me to work in several Montessori schools and become a certified Montessori teacher after having worked extensively in the field of education in China, UK and US. As a matter of fact, my love for my son and for children in general has defined the purpose of my life - to become a child advocate, to embrace and implement the essence of Montessori philosophy in modern times, and to nurture future generations into independent and intelligent global citizens with intercultural competence, creativity and compassion.

In July 2011, I came to the US and studied Translation & Interpretation at Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. In August 2012, out of my passion for international education and intercultural communication, I switched to the inaugural International Education Management program, and graduated with honors in December 2013.

There is nothing which a mother would not do for her son. After giving birth to my son, my life was forever changed (for good). I always remember Mr. Honey-Jones (the founding Principal of The British School of Beijing - an international school for children of expatriates) once said to me, "Sierra, whatever you do, you do the best!" The truth is, whatever I do, I give it my heart and soul. This is even so when I become a mother, I strive to become the best mother I could. Such desire has eventually led me to the establishment of Garden of Joy Montessori International School.

I cherish the spirit of "Live to Learn", and continue to improve myself through professional and personal development. I am a member of the American Montessori Society (AMS), Bay Area Montessori Association (BAMA), and Bay Area Childcare Network Group. As such, my inspiration is constantly renewed throughout ongoing Montessori training, Early Childhood Education workshops, child development classes, conferences, and frequent group network meetings. 

My educational credentials:

  • A certified Montessori Teacher

  • Ongoing training with AMS, BAMA, and First 5's Quality Matters Program 

  • MA in International Education Management

  • One year's training in Translation & Interpretation (English/Chinese)

  • BA in English at Beijing Language & Culture University

My professional background: ​

  • Chinese Teacher for preschoolers at Word of Grace Chinese School

  • Teacher at several Montessori preschools

  • Inaugural San Francisco Summer Program Coordinator for Boston University

  • Independent Translator for Elfenworks Productions LLC., translated the book "Intelligence & Compassion in Action: The Seven Pillars for Social Entrepreneurs" written by founding CEO Dr. Lauren Speeth

  • Head of School Services & Facilities and a founding member for The British School of Beijing 

In my spare time, I like to spend time with my family. I practice yoga (I am a certified yoga instructor in China), and I like jogging, hiking, salsa dance, and watching movies. I am also a dedicated Toastmaster, having obtained Advanced Communicator Gold and Competent Leader certificates.

Ms. Katherine Tan

Assistant Teacher

A mother of two boys, Ms. Katherine has a master’s degree in Mathematics from Sun Yat-sen University, Guangdong Province,  China. She truly enjoys being a mother as her sons bring her tremendous joy and happiness. This love leads her to a great deal of volunteering work at their schools over the years (3D Preschool, Kinderwood Children’s Center and Stratford Schools). She is an active member of Parent Committee at Stratford Schools, helping the schools to organize events on the class and school levels.

Being around children, watching them grow and learn, and being a part of their lives give Ms. Katherine a great sense of satisfaction and fulfillment. She is constantly inspired by their innocence, love, and sense of humor. Striving to be the best teacher she could possibly be, after having finished Myteachstone Teacher Training Program provided by First 5, Ms. Katherine is currently on a 2-year Apprenticeship Program to obtain her Associate Teacher permitIn her spare time, she likes cooking, singing, dancing, painting, hiking and traveling, as well as spending time with her family and friends.


Ms. Maggie Su

Assistant Teacher


Ms. Alma Jimenez

Spanish Teacher

Hello there! My name is Maggie, and I am thrilled to join the team of this wonderful preschool – Garden of Joy Montessori. I am originally from China and I have a passion for working with young children. I'm a lively, cheerful, and easygoing person, and I love making new friends with the little ones. As a teacher, I aim to create a nurturing and engaging environment where children can learn, grow, and have fun. I look forward to getting to know each child and their unique personalities, and to embark on an exciting learning journey with them together!

Hola, I am Alma Jimenez. I'm so glad to be part of this wonderful team at Garden of Joy Montessori International School teaching Spanish to the little ones. I'm a mother of two beautiful daughters, the younger one has been in this school since October 2021, my husband and I cannot be happier with the progress she has made.


I love to be around children helping them to discover everything around them. I have taken the course of Early Childhood Education at West Valley College and I loved it! This course has enlightened me on child development, making me a much more confident and well-informed mother/early childhood educator. I am prepared to give my best to the children and guide them to learn in their own way.

Ms Sarita/Grandma

Assistant Teacher

Hi I am Sarita Carey, but you can call me Grandma; all the kids do. I have  been working with Ms. Sierra since the beginning of the school. I am not a certified teacher but my many years of experience with children and my having taught Sunday school, help me to fit in quite well. I was raised here in the Bay Area and twenty-five years ago moved up north to Paradise/Chico area. After the devastating fire in 2018 I found myself back in San Jose with my family.

One of my main duties here is planning the menus and cooking the food for the children. I studied nutrition in college, and I make sure the children get a balanced food program. I usually do the shopping and pride myself on choosing the best items and still aim for a reasonable price. I try to accommodate the children's likes and dislikes and create a variety for everyone.

If you like the bulletin board displays and holiday decorations, you should know I love that part of my job. It is fun and the children seem to enjoy my efforts.

It is an honor to work here with Ms. Sierra. I like the passion and love that she brings to her school and the students. She always brings her best and that brings out the best in us. 

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