Staff Members

Our Staff all have exceptional qualifications and experience.Here is a short introduction of our highly qualified and experienced personnel who form the Alef Bet Montessori School Staff:

Founder & Executive Director

Ayelet “Ellie” Lichtash, Executive Director, Founder
Ellie is the founder of the School that was established in 2005. She experienced the Montessori Method as a mother and saw a great need in the community for a Montessori school. Her daughter graduated KMMS Kehilat Montessori, Silver Spring in the Elementary program. Ellie, an attorney by trade, practiced labor and employment law in Israel and in the United States. She has published two papers in the U.S. on Discrimination Law and Employment and Arbitration issues. She holds a Masters degree from Tel Aviv University and from Georgetown Law School. Alef Bet Montessori School was established through a community effort, led by Ellie, to bring together Jewish people of all denominations to experience Jewish life through the Montessori Method. Ellie served as a founding board member of the National organization of Montessori Administrators Association (MAA) until June 2010, and currently serves as the Vice Chair to Montessori Schools of Maryland (MSM) Since November 2009. Starting January 2012 she serves as the National Representative of AMI USA at CAPE. Ellie won a 2013 Fellowship at the ConnectGen program of the Federation of Greater Washington to initiate an international organization – Israel Montessori Association (IMA). Since March 2014 Ellie has been a Member of the Association of Independent Schools of Greater Washington (AISGW) and serves on the AISGW MoCo Legislative Committee. In the Spring of 2015 Ellie took on the role of Co-Chair of Israel Action Committee (IAC) for DC Region.

Teachers & Support Staff

Farhana Jaffrey, Primary Montessori Lead Teacher
Farhana is an AMI Montessori teacher and an energetic mother. In addition to her BS in Business Administration, Farhana holds a JD degree from Kings College, University of London. She practiced law for several years before changing careers and earning her AMI Montessori certification from the Washington Montessori Institute at Loyola College, Maryland, one of the most prestigious Montessori training centers in the country. Farhana is an innovative teacher with an acute sensitivity to children’s needs and abilities. She has been teaching at Alef Bet Montessori since August 2008.

Kate Zierke, Toddler Lead Teacher
Kate joined our school in the fall of 2013. She has been teaching toddlers and infants for several years. She graduated Nabraska University in Early Childhood Education. Kate is an AMI trained lead teach (A to I)with an AMI Master’s Diploma. Kate is passionate about early childhood learning and is a dedicated and loving member of our staff.

Rachel Sharon, Hebrew Coordinator – Elementary and Primary Classes
Rachel joined our school in the fall of 2013. A skilled and enthusiastic teacher, Rachel is also a fluent Hebrew speaker. Rachel has a Teaching Certificate as well as a BA from Seminar Hakibuzim in Israel. Rachel is also very accomplished in the field of teaching on individual basis and small groups. Rachel is excited to work both in Primary and Elementary classrooms.

Christine Parson, Music Teacher
Christine is an AMI Montessori teacher with a music expertise. She earned Bachelor degrees in Music and Science from St. Lawrence University, NY and a Master’s degree in Elementary Education from the University of Massachusetts, Boston. Christine completed her AMS certification in 1990 from CMTE, in addition to her AMI certification in 1996 from the Washington Montessori Institute. She has been teaching music since college and has over 15 years of Montessori classroom teaching experience. She also gives private lessons at her home in flute and teaches music programs at KMMS and Lone Oak Montessori School. We are proud to have her on our staff since 2009.

Anat Funaro, Hebrew Specialist, Primary

Maya Oren, Hebrew Specialist, Primary

Marjorie Arriola, Support Staff, Toddlers

Carmen Murill, Support Staff, Primary

Shirin Zahirpour, Support Staff and Hebrew Language

Administrative Staff
Janel Herman, Business Manager
Janel joined our staff in 2007 and handles bookkeeping, accounts and financial information for the school. Prior to joining us, she was the treasurer of Beth El Preschool for many years. In addition to her BS in Secondary Mathematics Education from the University of Maryland, Janel also holds an MBA from the University of Maryland. A pleasant and genial staff member, Janel will be able to assist in any questions parents might have concerning the accounts and enrollment at the school.

Monica Abrams, Director Advancement & External Affairs 

Monica joined our team in the spring of 2016. Her portfolio includes: development, fundraising, expansion, building, government relations and other external relations.

Monica Abrams graduated summa cum laude from Harvard College, attended Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar, and then earned her J.D. from Yale Law School.  After clerking on the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, she joined the Criminal Appellate Section of the Department of Justice through the honors program.

Monica became involved in Jewish education through her six children, who attend the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School.  She is currently co-vice president of the board and a co-chair of the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School 50th Anniversary.  Before becoming vice president, she served as the major gifts chair and the chair of development, during which time she initiated and developed the Chai Level of Giving and ran a 100% parent participation campaign which raised parent participation by almost 40% in its first year.  She simultaneously worked extensively on expanding admissions and revived and co-chaired the Parent Ambassador program.  Monica also currently serves on the board of Congregation Beth El.


The Alef Bet Montessori School is an Equal Opportunity Employer and values workplace diversity. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, national origin, gender, age, religion, disability, sexual orientation, veteran status, marital status or any other traits or characteristics protected by law.