Marnie Brines Chapa
Marnie graduated from Holy Names University with a BA in Psychology, minoring in Child Development. After she graduated, she began pursuing a career in education. Marnie started teaching in a play-based program where she soon learned about the Montessori method. She ultimately fell in love with the philosophy and began to pursue her Master’s degree at St. Mary’s College in Early Childhood Education where she received her Montessori training.
Marnie joined Starlight Montessori School in 2006. She is the program director at the Alamo site and the lead instructor in the toddler program. She has been teaching as a Montessori preschool teacher since 1996.
Marnie has a great compassion for the Montessori philosophy and is a wonderful guide and parent educator. She believes that every child should have the privilege of a Montessori education, especially during early childhood. Marnie enjoys traveling, reading, music, cooking, and spending time with family.
Amanda started substituting for Starlight School in 2013 and joined the team full time in 2014.
She graduated from College Of The Canyons with an AA in Art History, minoring in Child Development. Amanda has been teaching in public elementary schools as well as middle schools for seven years and is currently obtaining her Montessori credential.
She is a mom of two children that both attended a Montessori program in Tracy.
Danielle Anderson-Craig graduated from the University of Southern California with an American studies & ethnicity/Philosophy degree. In an attempt to spend more time with her 4 year old goddaughter, she took a job at her play based preschool as a teacher shortly after college. Realizing her love for teaching, she then rooted herself in the world of the child, returning to school and becoming a highly skilled early childhood educator, an advocate for young learners, and a resource to families.
Danielle fell in love with the Montessori method and approach after visiting Fountainhead Montessori and immediately accepted a position there as the childcare director, starting her Montessori training and immersing herself in the words and ways of Montessori’s vision for peace and education. Montessori’s philosophy and pedagogy have been vital to her personhood and path, not only as a teacher, but as a human being. She believes an ideal education is one that encourages illuminated minds, capable hands, and compassionate hearts.
She has been in the Montessori environment, wearing many hats as a lead teacher, afterschool director, and Spanish teacher, for over 12 years and could not imagine a life without serving community as a teacher of young children.
When she isn’t teaching she is traveling, learning languages, and writing books for children. Her debut picture book, The Magic of We, was recently published with Third Man Records and Books ( the cultural lighthouse and publishing arm owned by Jack Whiteof The White Stripes). Much of her free time is spent sharing the book with children at libraries, bookstores, and various schools across the country. Making literature come to life for children is one of Danielle’s greatest joys.
Her travels have taken her to Central America, Europe, Asia, and Indonesia. She most recently was living in Thailand for 2 years developing a Montessori inspired early childhood education program and training teachers new to the ECE field.
She is thrilled to be back home in the Bay Area and looks forward to an incredible year at Starlight Montessori!
I’m thrilled to be joining the Starlight family as the assistant teacher in the preschool program.
I grew up in the Bay Area and graduated from UC Davis in 2010 with a degree in textile and fashion design.
After spending many years working in design and retail management, I decided to change careers and enter the field of early childhood education. I have never been more inspired in a career than working with children and observing their love of learning, and I am eager to learn new pedagogical approaches through my Montessori certificate program.
I’m looking forward to bringing elements of my design degree into the Montessori classroom through arts and crafts with mixed media and textiles. When I’m not in the classroom I enjoy crafting, cooking, gardening, and traveling.
Parisa is the owner of Starlight School. She holds a California teaching credential from San Francisco State University and is a member of the American Montessori Society. Parisa holds an American Montessori Society Montessori Primary Certificate through Fountainhead Montessori and Cal-State East Bay.
She has owned Starlight School since 1998 and has worked as a Montessori teacher since 1996. She has served as a teacher in public elementary schools, a provider of in-home child care, and a behavior specialist for a private school.
Julie dreamed of becoming a teacher, moving to California, and establishing a private school. She attended the University of Maine at Farmington where she obtained her Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education with an emphasis on Early Childhood. Upon graduation, she moved to the San Francisco bay area and started her teaching career as a Teacher’s Assistant in a Montessori Preschool.
From 1989 – 1999, Julie joined the team at Growing Light Montessori School in Berkeley. She devoted 10 years teaching and directing the Toddler Program for children ages 18 months – 3 years.
In 1999, Julie became the owner/director of Kensington Montessori School. The school was in great need of revitalization. Within a year, the school had a thriving Toddler, Preschool & Kindergarten program.
In 2000, Julie decided to take a hiatus from teaching children. For the next 15 years, she brought her gifts and talents into the healthcare industry as an advocate for families dealing with Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. She developed and implemented a revolutionary coaching program to help them maintain a high quality of life by having them focus on their passions.
Julie is a certified Reiki Master, a certified Passion Test Facilitator, and a Visionary.
Her JOY comes from inspiring herself and others to live out their highest potentials.
Jessica first came to Starlight as the teacher of a music program. Her dedication and love of this program started 10 years ago in 2007 while enrolled in classes for with her son.
Her love of children has also brought her to our school in other capacities. This past school year she has also had an opportunity to join our team and sub on occasion when needed. It was during this time that her dream of being an early childhood educator in a classroom setting was re-awakened. She has made the decision to join us full time and dedicate her time to pursuing courses in the Montessori method.
Jessica is a mother, who’s ten year old son is a 5th grader at Mary Farmer school. With the birth of her son, her true nature was actualized. It was through his eyes that the world opened up to her and gave her the true meaning and purpose of her life. It is her belief that all children have beauty within them. As a guide she has promised to provide a safe space for each and every child to grow and blossom into the phenomenal beings that they already are.
Jill started substituting at Starlight Benicia in 2018. In 2019, she was hired as a part-time art enrichment instructor three afternoons a week. Jill holds BA in Human Development with an emphasis in Children and Families, from CSU Hayward. With over 30 years experience working with children from infancy through preschool age, Jill is delighted to be a part of the dedicated staff at Starlight School.
Julie is very pleased to be part of the Starlight community and looks forward to getting to know your child and your family.
“Free the child’s potential and you will transform him into the world” – Maria Montessori
Julie developed an interest in the Montessori style of teaching over 18 years ago while completing her undergraduate studies. Julie taught briefly in the public sector, but was drawn back to Montessori environment due to the complexity of practical life, sensorial, science, math, geography, botany, zoology, language, art and cultural studies that are offered to the youngest of students. She continues to be amazed by how each and every child grows as an independent learner in the Montessori environment developing individual interests, learning to be part of a community, developing confidence and sharing knowledge with others. Julie feels that the children have a lot to teach her about living in the present, appreciating each moment, exploring the natural world and perseverance when practicing new things. Julie is a graduate of St. Mary’s College with a Master’s Degree in Education, a Multiple Subject Credential and has her American Montessori Society Certifications in the 3-6 years, 6-9 years and 9-12 age groups. She has extensive and diverse experience in teaching, mentoring and directing at the early childhood and elementary level. Furthermore, Julie has worked part-time at a local college helping to train future Montessori teachers. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, cooking, camping, backpacking, spending time with her family and traveling in North America and beyond.