Toddler

Ms. Vanessa Findlay

TODDLER MONTESSORI GUIDE

Updated staff biographies and information coming fall 2024.

Ms. Jessica Dewey

TODDLER ECE ASSISTANT

Updated staff biography and information coming fall 2024.

Ms. Sydney Relic

Toddler Classroom Assistant

Ms. Relic is Toddler classroom assistant. She was born and raised in Hamilton. Ms. Relic has worked in multiple industries as a hot food/deli clerk, baby sitter, cleaner, and custom cabinet maker. She was raised by her father, who always encouraged her to lead in self-directed and hands-on activities. Growing up Ms. Relic attended daycare and, being one of the longest attending children there, she had the opportunity to help out in the other classrooms. This is where she first discovered her passion and love for working with children. Through her friends and family having children, and Ms. Relic’s love and knowledge for building and creating, her interest was drawn towards Montessori. Ms. Relic is often spending time with friends, family, and dog Zeus, planning events, trying new activities, and building things.

Casa

Ms. Briar Beach

MONTESSORI GUIDE

Ms. Beach is the Montessori Guide in Casa North. She was born and raised in Hamilton, received her degree in Communications Studies from Wilfrid Laurier University, and is a recent graduate from AMI’s Foundation for Montessori Education in Toronto. Ms. Beach has worked in several different industries as a hostess, cashier, and a camp counsellor. She always knew that she wanted to work with children and found her love of Montessori through her older cousin who is also a Montessorian. She was lucky enough to be able to complete her first Montessori observation at Lyonsgate before she attended the Foundation to become a Montessori guide. Outside of Lyonsgate, Ms. Beach is often spending time with her friends, family and dog Dasher, baking, playing sports, or watching one of her favourite TV shows.

Mme Fatia Murati

FRENCH CASA ASSISTANT

Mme. Murati is the Casa North French Assistant at Lyonsgate. She was born and raised in Sens, France. Her parents decided to keep her home until Grade 1, during which time she was homeschooled by her grandmother who taught her to read and write. During her time in high school she was on the track and field team and would coach younger children after school in a variety of athletic activities.

After graduating high school, Mme. Murati attained a college diploma in business management from Joseph Fourier. In 2010, Mme. Murati moved to Canada to join a man she met on vacation in 2006, who would later become her husband. Their family has expanded since then to include two children, both of whom attend Lyonsgate.

When she began work at Lyonsgate Montessori, Mme. Murati knew very little English and so she made a deal with her young students: she would help them learn French if they would help her learn English. After a few months, she was so happy to see their progress in understanding and speaking French. The Montessori philosophy is now a part of her everyday life.

Ms. Kathy Canessa

ENGLISH ECE ASSISTANT

Updated staff biography and information coming fall 2024.

Ms. Laurie Robinson

MONTESSORI GUIDE

Ms. Robinson is the Casa South Montessori Guide.

Laurie began her Montessori career in Victoria, BC, and then began to travel overseas to continue her work in classrooms, as well as in administrative and teacher training roles in international Montessori schools. Working and exploring in New Zealand, the Caribbean, and Asia has been enlightening and inspiring. Laurie returned to Canada where she taught in Calgary and more recently returned to her roots in Ontario, where she continues to enjoy working with children and their families.

Laurie has a BA in Sociology, a MEd (Montessori Integrated Studies), and is an AMI certified Casa Guide.

Spending time outdoors, whether it’s to garden, hike, sail, or ski is the best way for her to re-energize and connect with family and friends.

Mme Jessica Moniere

FRENCH CASA ASSISTANT

Updated staff biography and information coming fall 2024.

Ms. Shelby Gelder

ENGLISH ECE ASSISTANT

Updated staff biography and information coming fall 2024.

Elementary

Marissa Achong

MONTESSORI GUIDE

Marissa is the youngest of three sisters, and spent her childhood exploring the woods behind their home in Hamilton. She holds a Masters of Education from Loyola University in Maryland, and received her A.M.I. Elementary diploma from Washington Montessori Institute in 2010. Previously, she completed an A.M.I. Primary diploma at the Foundation for Montessori Education, as well as a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from McMaster University.  She has worked at both the Casa and Elementary levels, as well as specializing in guiding students with learning differences and special needs in Montessori environments. She also holds a certificate in Montessori Applied to Children at Risk from Shelton School in Texas. After class, Marissa enjoys playing board games, reading, hiking, trips to the dog park, and has an eclectic taste in music. Her young son is an enthusiastic member of Casa North at Lyonsgate.

Michelle Achong

MONTESSORI GUIDE

Updated staff biography and information coming fall 2024.

Michelle Morra

FRENCH LANGUAGE SPECIALIST

Updated staff biography and information coming fall 2024.

Ms. Danielle Pine

ELEMENTARY PHYS ED. SPECIALIST/CLASSROOM ASSISTANT

Updated staff biography and information coming fall 2024.

Administration

Mrs. Rachel Lyons

OWNER/PRINCIPAL

Mrs. Lyons is a native of Hamilton west, and attended a Montessori programme as a child. She credits her early education for her passion for teaching and an eagerness for exploration. She received a diploma in Early Childhood Education at Mohawk College and later achieved her A.M.I. Primary diploma from the Foundation for Montessori Education in 2000. After gaining experience directing Casa programmes in Aurora, Dundas, and Ancaster, she achieved her dream of opening Lyonsgate Montessori in September 2005.

Outside of school, she is a mother of three energetic Montessori students, as well as her dog, Petunia. She loves to sing and play guitar, enjoys bicycling and hiking, and volunteers as a Girl Guide leader in the community.

Mrs. Sarah Kennedy

VICE-PRINCIPAL

Mrs Kennedy was fortunate enough to have attended a local Montessori school as a child and has fond memories of her time in the casa and lower elementary classrooms. Having an extensive variety of volunteer experiences working with children, Mrs Kennedy attended Mohawk College for Child and Youth Work, followed by earning honors in her Early Childhood Education program. After enjoying many years in the social service sector, Mrs Kennedy returned to school to earn her AMI Montessori certificate from the Foundation for Montessori Education. She has taught in the classroom for ten years, and is now excited to move on to an administrative role in a position to support the students, families and staff of Lyonsgate. When not involved with the three “R’s”, Mrs Kennedy enjoys the three “C’s”: camping, cottaging and cruising. Most importantly, she treasures moments spent with family.

Jason Phillips

ADMINISTRATOR

Jason is the father of two now-graduated Montessori children and has worked in Montessori for 10  years, both in the classroom and in administration. He holds an honours B.A in English from Laurentian University, an M.A. in English from McMaster, and has a partial PhD. in Literary and Critical Theory. As a graduate student, he has taught at McMaster and Wilfrid Laurier universities, developed literature and cultural studies courses, performed research for course development and publication projects for tenured faculty, and has presented papers at conferences in Canada and abroad. Jason has also worked as a journalist and editor. After spending his first eight years in England, Jason was raised in the wilderness of northern Ontario and spent many years falling off skateboards in Vancouver before settling down in southern Ontario in order to make the world a better place through education.

Support Staff

Ms. Kim Fiocca

ELEMENTARY LEARNING RESOURCE SPECIALIST

Updated staff biography and information coming fall 2024.

Ms. Allie Craigie

PRIMARY LEARNING RESOURCE SPECIALIST

Ms. Craigie supports French language development in the Lyonsgate Toddler programme (she was the French assistant in Toddler for 10 years) and the Learning Resource Specialist at the Lyonsgate Primary (Casa and Toddler) campus. Ms. Craigie has two children that attend Lyonsgate as Montessori students. Originally from Ottawa, Ms. Craigie received her Registered Early Childhood Educator diploma from Algonquin College, received her A.M.I. Montessori training from the Washington Montessori Institute, and her MACAR (Montessori Applied to Children at Risk) training from the June Shelton School and Evaluation Center.

Ms. Craigie loves to be outside in nature, and to both read and write.

Ms. Janelle Duhig

MONTESSORI GUIDE

Ms. Duhig is the Primary support staff and has worked as Lyonsgate’s Toddler Montessori guide at Lyonsgate; she was always told to one day work with children. As an adolescent, she was a camp counsellor and babysitter. Prior to becoming a Montessori teacher, she was a travel agent as well as an event planner, but her love for working with children always prevailed. After reading about the Montessori philosophy she knew that this was the career path for her.

Ms. Duhig graduated from the Toronto Montessori Institute in 2013 and has had the privilege of teaching children from 15 months to 6 years of age.

Ms. Duhig is also a certified prenatal yoga instructor and yoga birth coach, and enjoys going on walks, reading, and painting.

Ms. Tatjana Covic

KITCHEN AND CARE

Ms. Covic works at the Lyonsgate Primary campus and is responsible for preparing the catered lunch for each class, participates in outdoor care with the Casa children, and keeps everything clean, organized, and ready for the next day. Ms. Covic was born in Bosnia where she finished business high school before having to leave the country because of war, spending six years in the Czech Republic managing a crystal, glass, silver, and gem store. Ms. Covic then moved to Canada, got married, and had three children, one of whom attended Lyonsgate.