Lyonsgate Staffing, Staggered Start, and Info Update

[This is the body of the August 28 “Lyonsgate Staffing, Staggered Start, and Info Update” email sent to all Lyonsgate families]

Hello Lyonsgate Families,

Today we have the 2020.2021 school year new staff update for you, all of the required COVID-19 policy documents, staggered start dates, and a few other notes.

New Staff

This week we want to tell you about the new, amazing staff that will be guiding and caring for your children, but before we do we want to say a warm, heartfelt goodbye to those that have left: Miss Dee, Mlle Nordaam, Miss Moffatt , Mlle Cottone, and Miss Boyle. We were blessed to have those wonderful women with us as long as we did. Some we knew were leaving at the end of the last school year, and the pandemic has definitely had an effect on everyone, giving us the time, and need, to rethink our lives and paths, and in some cases has opened up new opportunities. We wish all these ladies nothing but the best for their future endeavors!

We have been updating the staff on the individual classroom “Cohort and Schedule” documents that were shared with you on August 14. You can view the updated staff and cohort lists here:

[Please see you email for cohort lists]


Please welcome and get to know your new Lyonsgate staff members

Toddler Montessori Guide:

Ms Janelle Duhig

Ms Duhig is the Toddler Montessori Guide at Lyonsgate and 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.

Toddler French Assistant:

Mme Allie Craigie

Mme Craigie is the French Assistant in the Lyonsgate Toddler programme, and previously worked at Lyonsgate before starting her family. Mme. Craigie has two children that attend Lyonsgate as Montessori students. Originally from Ottawa, Mme. Craigie studied early childhood education at Algonquin College.
Excited to come back to work after taking five years off to be with her children, Mme. Craigie loves to be outside in nature, and to both read and write.

Casa North Montessori Guide:

Ms Andrea Doherty

Ms Doherty is the Casa North Montessori Guide at Lyonsgate. She began her teaching career in the traditional school system but says, “I was very organically drawn to Montessori. After being suggested as a great fit for a Montessori position by a colleague, I was completely hooked! I have been blessed to see firsthand the confident, inquisitive, focused child that Montessori encourages. I believe it is the most authentic, genuine, wholesome form of education, and a wonderful gift to offer your child!”
Ms Doherty graduated from Brock University with an Honours Bachelor of Humanities for Drama in Education in 2011, and a Bachelor of Education in 2012. After years of experience working in an accredited Montessori school, Ms Doherty received her formal Montessori training, graduating from the AMI Teacher Training Program (Primary) in 2015. Her Montessori roles have led her to Toronto, to New York, and to Ireland. After years living abroad with her partner, Warren, and their puppy, Ziggy, Ms Doherty is grateful to be planting roots here in Hamilton with Lyonsgate Montessori. On a personal level, you can always find Andrea curled up with a great novel, baking anything & everything that pops up on Pinterest, or hiking the Hamilton trails with her family.

Casa South Montessori Guide:

Ms Nisrin Jasdanwala

Ms Jasdanwala is the Casa South Montessori Guide at Lyonsgate. She was born and brought up in Bombay (Mumbai), India, moved to Canada in the late 1990s, and has native fluency in English, Hindi, Marathi, and Gujarati.
Ms Jasdanwala’s dream was to teach Casa children since she was 20 years old. That came to be in Toronto in 2002, when she received her Montessori AMI Diploma from the Foundation of Montessori Education. Her education qualifications also consist of a Masters Degree in Sociology from Bombay University, a Bachelor of Education from Charles Sturt University, and Certificates in Speech and Drama from Trinity College of London. Ms Jasdanwala has taught for 8 years in three countries: Canada, United States, and India. She also holds diplomas in Travel and Tourism and in Beauty and Hairdressing, and extends her knowledge to friends and family when they require it.
Ms Jasdanwala loves to indulge in adventurous sports, play board games, loves to travel the world, watch Broadway plays, and direct plays for children at the school. She also likes to read, enjoys Indian and Western music, loves to see Bollywood and Hollywood movies, and plays the Djembe.
Ms Jasdanwala is passionate about guiding your children’s academic, social, cognitive, and emotional development to enhance each child’s will and personality.

Support Staff:

To meet the requirements of the heightened health and safety requirements for this school year we have hired two new support staff:

Ms Ashley Lalonde

Ms Lalonde will be filling the new position of Float Staff that is required for the 2020.2021 school year to allow for the cohort scheduling, so all of the Casa and Toddler children will get to know Ms Lalonde. Born in Germany, Ms Lalonde moved to Canada when her father was posted to Pembroke, Ontario. She enjoys travelling and had the opportunity to visit her birth town in Germany in 2007.
Ms Lalonde has always had a passion for working with children. Before transitioning to Lyonsgate, Ms Lalonde held a position at a Montessori school in Paris, Ontario. Ms Lalonde will be completing her AMI (Association Montessori Internationale) 0-3 (Infant and Toddler) training, and looks forward to establishing relationships with the Lyonsgate children and families alike.

Ms Mandy La Rose

Ms La Rose is the on-call supply staff for the 2020.2021 school year. With the heightened health and safety protocols, including strict exclusion criteria, your children will likely be seeing a lot of Ms. La Rose.
Born and raised in Hamilton, Ms. La Rose comes from a large family and is the middle of three sisters. She has two daughters, married her high school sweetheart, and has three “fur babies” — 2 cats (Drake and Milo) and 1 husky (Kira).
Ms La Rose earned her diploma in early childhood education from Mohawk College in 2013, and has been the camp coordinator for summer camps for children ages 4 to 6.
Ms La Rose grew up camping every weekend and all summer, and now enjoys sharing her family traditions with her two girls, and also enjoys drawing.

You can view all of this information, including childhood photos, and the rest of the Lyonsgate staff on your Lyonsgate website at
[There are still a few photos to track down and some biographical info to come].

Classroom Contact Email Addresses

Contact email addresses for your children’s classes are:

Toddler: Ms Janelle Duhig at
Casa North: Ms Andrea Doherty at
Casa South: Ms Nisrin Jasdanwala at
Lower Elementary: Michelle Achong
Upper Elementary: Marissa Achong

Required COVID-19 Policies

As you know, reopening schools and child care in the midst of an ongoing pandemic requires significant changes to day-to-day operations, and the provincial government and Hamilton Public Health have both been providing legislation and operational guidance directives to ensure a high degree of risk management and mitigation. Lyonsgate has been developing policy and procedure documents as required by the legislation and directives throughout the summer, as guidance has been released and updated. The legislation and guidance is informed by public health officials at all levels of government and has been responsive to changing conditions and research-based evidence. It has been a bit chaotic as we try to plan while awaiting information we know is yet to come, and there is still some we are expecting (the final Hamilton Public Health requirements for child care/Primary we’re distributed last night and our policies have been updated accordingly), but overall, given the situation, we are confident that the time has been taken to develop guidance and directives that will be effective in keeping your children, your families, and our staff safe and healthy.

Please click here to access Lyonsgate’s COVID-19 policy documents

[Note: there is a policy document titled “Lyonsgate COVID-19 Policy MinEd Submission” that is a single document containing most of the other individual policies; this is due to different submission requirements].

Mask and PPE Policy

We let you know last week that cloth masks will be required for all students at the Lyonsgate Elementary campus, and masks are strongly recommended for students in the Casa and Toddler classes, unless under the age of two. There are more details in the “Lyonsgate COVID-19 Mask and PPE Policy and Procedure” document found at the link above.

Staggered Starts

You have likely heard that Hamilton’s two publicly funded school boards will be using a staggered start model for the first two weeks of school. At Lyonsgate, we have always used staggered starts in the Primary programs to make the transition to school easier for young children, and this year will be no different.

  • All returning Casa students and all Toddler students (unless by request) will start school on Tuesday, Sept. 8.
  • All students moving up from Toddler to Casa will have their first day of school on Thursday, Sept. 10.
  • All new Casa students will begin school on Monday, Sept. 14.

Look for specific start dates for Casa and Toddler students from your children’s Montessori guides next week.

At the Elementary campus, because our student population is low relative to a traditional elementary school, and because of the cohorting model, all students will begin school on Tuesday, Sept. 8. You will receive specific drop-off time periods from your child’s Elementary Montessori guide next week.

Lyonsgate Calendar

Remember to regularly check your Lyonsgate Calendar under the “Parents” tab at We are updating as new events and information, such as online orientation sessions, are added. You will also be hearing directly from your children’s Montessori guides via email; keep an eye on your inbox.
Thank you everyone, we can’t wait to begin in-person learning again.

As always, and of great importance as we all move towards a return to school, please continue to follow all public health guidelines for the health and safety of your family, and the wider community, so that we can all participate in a full and safe 2020.2021 school year. Keep to your social circles/bubbles. Wear a mask. Wash your hands. Maintain physical distance. Keeping community transmission rates low is essential.