Our Team

The Prepared Montessorian team consists of a diverse, growing group of educators, school leaders, and professionals with decades of combined experience in the field of education and education management, at dozens of varied Montessori schools, across multiple countries.

Rebecca Girn

Rebecca Girn was raised a Montessori child. She attended her family’s small Montessori school on the East Coast through 8th grade, and supported the school in a variety of roles, from the classroom to the office, from the time she was a young teenager. In addition to her Bachelor’s Degree in Classical Studies from the University of Chicago, and her law degree from UCLA, she holds a Montessori teaching diploma from the Montessori Institute of San Diego, in the 0 to 3 age group. Ms. Girn has been professionally running Montessori schools and working to support and develop both Montessori educators and school leaders since 2010, first at LePort Schools, a California-based network of Montessori schools, then as a founding team member of Higher Ground Education, an organization born out of a sweeping vision for what might be possible for the Montessori movement. She is highly experienced with all aspects of running a Montessori school, from creating perfect prepared environments, to honing classroom practice, to the ins and outs of professional-level best-practices in admissions, operations, compliance, marketing, human resources, and management.

Ms. Girn is a driving force behind the vision and strategy of the Prepared Montessorian, as well as an eager contributor to and creator of its varied set of offerings.

Steven Gaudino

Steven Gaudino was a Montessori child who went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in Mathematics from the University of Chicago. In 2004, he joined a mathematics education company called Reasoning Mind as a curriculum developer, and ran one of the organization's first pilots, using the curriculum he had helped to develop. In 2007, Mr. Gaudino became Reasoning Mind’s first Director of Implementation, supporting the organization’s growth from 1,500 to 22,000 students over the ensuing four years. As a leader in the Reasoning Mind organization, over the course of roughly 13 years, Mr. Gaudino gained varied experience in educational leadership and management, training, professional development, project management, and program development. His first love is mathematics education: when he first encountered the Montessori math materials, it had a dramatic impact on his pedagogical views. He became excited by the prospect of applying his considerable experience and expertise to a new project benefitting Montessori educators. Under his capable leadership, the Prepared Montessorian project has crystalized around an ambitious mission & vision, and clear pathway to realizing it.

Mariana Serralde

Prepared Montessorian Developer & Coach

Mariana Serralde has been a Montessori guide and Montessori school administrator for more than 20 years. She completed her B.A in Early Childhood Education and earned her Montessori diploma at the 3 to 6 level from the Montessori Institute of San Diego in 1999.

Her passion for Montessori began at a very young age, when founded a volunteer program for the allocation of educational materials to teachers at high-risk public schools in Cancun, Mexico—work for which she received government recognition before she was 18 years old.

Ms. Serralde has worked in a variety of Montessori private and public schools. In her first year as a lead guide in a Montessori Magnet school, she was given the Skillful Teaching award through the Denver Public Schools. In conjunction with the University of Colorado, she collaborated in the development of the dual-language Montessori model for one of the first dual-language Montessori schools in the country.

After almost 10 years as a Montessori guide, Ms. Serralde was promoted through several positions to ultimately become the Principal in a school with 700 students. After seven years, she moved to south Florida to become Head of School in a new start-up Montessori school, where she served for five years.
Ms. Serralde is a leader in shaping, creating, and delivering the resources provided by the Prepared Montessorian. She is tireless in her dedication to supporting educators and school leaders in the delicate and complex art of fully-realized Montessori education.

Joel Mendes

Director of Prepared Montessorian

Joel Mendes has been in the field of education for his entire career. Mr. Mendes earned his Bachelor’s of Arts in English Education and Literature and California Teaching Credential in English from California State University Long Beach. He began his career in a traditional classroom, teaching English, writing, and literature to students of a variety of ages and circumstances, from 6th grade in an inner-city, entrepreneurial-inspired charter school, to high school students in a large public high school, to adults at an international college.

After realizing that innovation in education takes both the development of new ideas alongside efficiency in school operations and management, he moved into roles developing proprietary curriculum, mentoring teams of teachers, then becoming the Head of School of a Montessori school for children ages 18-months to 8th grade. From his Head of School role, he has grown into mentoring and developing both school leaders and teachers in a Montessori setting. He brings his considerable wisdom and expertise to bear as a leader in shaping, creating, and delivering Prepared Montessorian resources and trainings.

Dr. Matt Bateman

Dr. Bateman earned his bachelor’s degree from Sarah Lawrence College in 2004. While there, he worked in their Child Development Center researching the nature of early personality development in children. He went on to earn his Ph.D. in Philosophy in 2012 from the University of Pennsylvania, where he studied the history of thought in philosophy and psychology, as well as conducting research in cognitive science. He taught and continued his research at Franklin and Marshall College in the Department of Psychology, on topics ranging from neuroscience to evolutionary theory to philosophy.

Dr. Bateman left his academic position in 2014 to join LePort Schools as its Director of Curriculum and Pedagogy. There, he oversaw research and development of the school’s approach to education.

In 2016, Dr. Bateman became a founding member of Higher Ground as the Vice President of Content, where he is responsible for intellectual and pedagogical oversight across the organization. He acts as a key representative of the school’s educational philosophy, writing position papers, giving lectures and trainings, and engaging with the larger educational community.

Dr. Jane Erickson

Dr. Erickson graduated Summa Cum Laude from University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign in 2003, and received her Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology from Yale in 2009. As part of her graduate research, she worked with hundreds of preschool and elementary children, lectured and published in her field, and received awards for her college-level teaching, including the prestigious Yale University Prize Teaching Award. During this time, Dr. Erickson also worked as chief investigator and education consultant for PBS.

In 2009, Dr. Erickson joined LePort Schools. She served as teacher, curriculum developer, Head of School, and ultimately Vice President of Academics where she oversaw the company’s program development, management, and support.

In 2016, Dr. Erickson became a founding member of Higher Ground as the Chief Talent Officer, with responsibility for attracting, developing, and amplifying the impact of world-class talent across the organization.

Lindsay Sloan

School Leadership Operations Trainer

Lindsay Sloan has an extensive history in operations and infrastructural design to support educators and schools. 

Lisa Kathleen

School Leadership Admissions Trainer