The Lake Room & The Ocean Room
The Lake Room
Maria Serrano – Co-teacher
Tricia Falaschetti – Lead Teacher
Zeke Thomas – Assitant
Tricia Falaschetti first learned about Montessori through a chance conversation with a stranger. The philosophy resonated with her deeply and she wanted to learn more. When she enrolled at Marylhurst University she learned about the teacher training program at Montessori Institute Northwest and knew this was the path she was meant to follow. Tricia graduated with a degree in Human Studies and received her AMI Primary diploma in 2007. She has been working as a lead guide since the completion of her Montessori teacher training and feels honored to share in the joyful discoveries of the children. She was delighted to join the team at Harmony in January of 2014 as the Lake room guide. Tricia enjoys experimenting in the kitchen and when that fails, exploring the Portland restaurant world. She is an eager novice in the yard and garden and loves playing in the dirt with her son, Roman. When the weekends allow, she loves a good Northwest adventure with her favorite boys, Roman and her husband, Matt.
“It is such an honor to be a part of this vibrant community and witness the discoveries of the children and their joyful journey towards independence.” -Tricia
Maria Serrano became the assistant in the Lake room in September 2015. She is originally from Bilbao in the Basque region of Spain. In 2000, while working in business, she began teaching Spanish to American university students that had come to Spain. That summer she moved to the United States and after having the opportunity to work in different business settings she got a job at Portland Community College as a Spanish Instructor. At this time she also helped a Montessori based daycare teaching Spanish. When her son was born she became more interested in Montessori and began working as an assistant. Maria worked for 4 years as an assistant, fell in love with the philosophy and decided to pursue Montessori training. She graduated in the summer of 2015 and joined our staff shortly after, along with her son who attends our elementary program. In her free time she loves dancing, yoga, camping and being active with friends.
Zeke Thomas joined the Harmony community in August 2017 as an assistant in the Lake Room after they received their AMI Primary diploma from Montessori Northwest in 2017. After studying alternative pedagogical techniques for social justice education in college, Zeke came to Portland to teach martial arts to kids. The combination of theory and a holistic experience of how movement impacted the kid’s education sparked a passion for supporting children in their lifelong journeys to create and discover themselves and the world around them. The Montessori philosophy offered Zeke the perfect opportunity to do so.
The Ocean Room
Katie Swisher – Co-teacher
Keinya Kolhbecker – Lead Teacher
Shelby Voas – Assistant
Keinya Kohlbecker began at Harmony as a co-teacher in 2013. In 2016, she took over the Ocean Room as Lead Guide. Her Montessori journey began in 2001, when she witnessed the pure joy of children moving freely with coordination and patience while working as a classroom assistant in Reno, Nevada. From that moment, she became interested in learning more about the Montessori Method. In 2005, Keinya received her Primary Diploma from the Montessori Northwest and a Master’s in Education from Loyola University. Keinya also earned a BA in Dance, with a minor in Sociology/Anthropology from Denison University in Ohio. In addition to working with children on the Primary level, she spent several years working with Montessori adolescents, teaching Humanities, writing and dance. Outside the Harmony community, Keinya enjoys taking dance classes, choreography, music, reading about historical events, the outdoors and most of all spending time with her husband Matt, her son Noah and her cat Bundle.
“Every child has the potential to become confident, compassionate and peaceful individuals at Harmony. It feels good to continue my Montessori journey with this wonderful school.” -Keinya
Katie Swisher grew up attending and assisting in her mother’s Montessori school in northern California. She credits her early educational experiences for her fierce curiosity about a variety of subjects from fine art to natural history, and after obtaining her BA in music performance/education she pursued teacher training at Montessori Northwest in Portland, graduating in 2004. During the following three years, she worked in classrooms on Kauai and gained an appreciation for how the Montessori method can bring families of diverse cultures together in community. Upon returning to Portland, Katie joined the Harmony community in the fall of 2007 and was honored to establish the Ocean Room classroom in January 2008. She is passionate about supporting the development of children as social human beings and fostering learning by providing a beautiful, comfortable environment for exploration. Katie and her husband Mike welcomed their daughter Mira in April 2016 and she returned to the Ocean Room in the fall of 2017.
Shelby Voas started in the Ocean room as an assistant in September 2015. She began her journey working with children when she was 12 years old. She loved babysitting for the neighborhood kids. By the age of 16, Shelby was co-teaching during the summers with her mother in a preschool classroom. She has taught in the classroom, spent her days with children as a nanny, and taught English as second language in Seoul, South Korea to children of all ages. She was introduced to Montessori through children she nannied, and she fell in love with Montessori education. Shelby is passionate about the education of young children and feels lucky to have discovered Dr. Maria Montessori and her teachings. When she is not in the classroom, she enjoys spending her days with her son Indigo, gardening, creating art, and camping.
Tania Rivera Contreras was born in Cartagena, Colombia she came to live to USA in 2007. She began working as a Spanish assistant in a Montessori program in 2012 where she worked with both infant/toddlers and primary aged children. Tania loves working with children and has also worked as a lead guide in a primary Montessori classroom. She joined the Ocean Room in August 2017.