Radiant Montessori Team

Why do we take a tremendous effort to screen and hire the most qualified individuals to our team? You surely know the answer. Dealing with young children requires patience, experience, a caring attitude, and an understanding of child psychology.

As a parent, you know how challenging young children can be. When they spend a good part of their day at school, it is so important to keep them meaningfully engaged, cared for, and given positive stimulation. Radiant’s Children’s Houses (Preschool Classrooms) have Montessori qualified staff members. The wonderful staff in Radiant’s toddler rooms and infant room follow the curriculum that Radiant management carefully plans.

What makes a preschool or childcare program great? The quality of its teachers and support staff. We would challenge anybody who disagrees. That’s why we take pride in our motto: “Let’s talk education. Not just daycare.”

A dedicated staff makes all the difference. Having qualified and experienced teachers is essential to running a quality Montessori program. Our staff is qualified, experienced, friendly and responsible. All teachers receive on the job guidance from Center Director Carmelita to constantly improve the Montessori lessons and also receive on-going training on CPR and other safety procedures from certified personnel. You are free to speak with any teacher, ask questions about your child’s day, or other questions relating your child’s care. We encourage parents to have strong relationships with our teachers and work hand in hand so that your child gets the best that he or she deserves.

Radiant teachers also communicate and keep children’s records using specially designed software.

Interested in a career with us? Click “Jobs” from the top menu.

Radiant Management

Center Director: Carmelita Perera

Carmelita Perera is Radiant Montessori’s co-owner and Center Director. She worked for a leading Montessori School in the Twin Cities for 7 years and decided to start her own school because she believed that every childcare program must put the child’s interest first. Her passion for Montessori education and a desire to run a quality program gave birth to Radiant Montessori in August 2008.

Carmelita was first attracted to Montessori education because she believed her disabled son could benefit from the multi-sensory educational tools and methods that Montessori uses. She qualified as an attorney in Sri Lanka in 1992 but instead of pursuing a career in law, she received Montessori training in Sri Lanka and founded a non-profit organization called School for Enhancing Learning Potential (SELP) to help special needs children. Using the family’s resources and friends’ help, she operated SELP for one and half years. Her family migrated to the US in 2000.

Carmelita is responsible for the overall business operations of Radiant including financial decisions, invoicing, purchasing educational materials for classrooms, implementing the Montessori method in the classrooms, and ensuring the quality of Radiant’s educational programs.

Carmelita likes walking, cycling, reading, and traveling.

Email Carmelita

Center Supervisor: Annie Dunham

Annie Dunham is Radiant Montessori’s Center Supervisor. She started her journey in childcare in 1999 while working at a church nursery. After graduating high school, she attended North Hennepin Community College for her Associate’s Degree and nannied on the side. She eventually took a full time position at a local child care center as a Toddler Teacher where she worked for about 8 years and during this time, she went on to earn her Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education Leadership and Management from Rasmussen College.

Annie joined the Radiant team in 2014 as its Center Supervisor. As Radiant’s Center Supervisor, she is responsible for overseeing all day-to-day operations which includes many things but to name a few: giving tours to prospective families, creating the staff schedule, communicating with parents, writing the monthly newsletter, maintaining Radiant’s Facebook page, and organizing field trips and other Radiant events. She also leads the team of teachers in the smooth functioning of their classrooms and the school as a whole to provide a high-quality program and helps out in classrooms when staff are absent.

Annie has lived in Plymouth nearly her entire life and has one brother who is 5 years old than she is. In her free time, she enjoys crafting (loom knitting, crocheting, and sewing), being outside (when it’s warm!), relaxing, and spending time with her nephew, John.

Email Annie

Resource Manager: Tosha Anderson

Tosha Anderson is Radiant Montessori’s Resource Manager. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology with a minor in Sociology from the University of Wisconsin – River Falls as well as a Master’s Degree in School Counseling from Winona State University. During her graduate program, she worked with elementary aged children at a non-profit after-school program, along with high school students at an alternative learning center. She completed her school counseling internship at Gatewood Elementary School where she was a second school counselor on duty and gained invaluable experience. Her passion for working with children comes from their innocence, curiosity, and enthusiasm for life and learning.

Tosha joined the Radiant team in 2017 as an Assistant Teacher in the Transition Room and later stepped up into her current role in September of 2018. She is responsible for maintaining all student and employee records, overseeing classroom curriculum, providing guidance on children with behavioral concerns, and ensuring overall employee well-being. While her home is in the front office, you can still find her helping out in classrooms when needed.

Tosha and her husband, Matt, have lived in the Maple Grove area for the last ten years but recently built their dream home in Dayton. In her free time, she loves to spend time with her family and friends, snuggle up with her three kitties, and travel (especially to she and her husband’s favorite place, Walt Disney World, or taking Disney cruises to new places). A fun fact about her is that she has been around motorcycles her entire life (thanks to her grandpa) and got her motorcycle endorsement in 2013. She has gone to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally with her family for over 15 years and has so much fun riding in the Black Hills, taking in all of its beauty.

Email Tosha

Director and Legal Counsel: Nandana Perera

Nandana Perera has provided legal counsel and online marketing to Radiant since its inception in 2008. He was an Associate Legal Counsel for the State of Minnesota for 11 years before he opted for early retirement in July 2016. He continues to market Radiant’s services and provide legal counsel to the management. Before coming to the United States in 2000, Nandana worked for the government of Sri Lanka—both as a revenue investigator and a prosecutor of white-collar crimes—for 15 years.

Nandana likes reading non-fiction, hiking, cycling, music, and international travel.

Email Nandana


PRESCHOOL – CHILDREN’S HOUSE 1

Hello! My name is Sarah Wojciechowski and I am a Co-Lead Teacher in Children’s House 1. I received my Bachelor’s Degree in Communication Arts and Literature from St Cloud State University and then went on to teach 6th through 12th grade for nearly 8 years before joining the Radiant team in 2019. Through a challenging position at a school downtown Minneapolis, I became an expert in positive classroom management techniques, communicating with my students’ best interest at heart, and creating learning opportunities for students at different levels. The best part about being a teacher is watching kids go from the blank stares of not understanding to having their eyes light up. It’s exciting to be with the kids of Casa 1. Watching them learn and grow has been such a joy so far! In my free time, I love being outside. I grew up here in Minnesota and my favorite memories from childhood all have to do with being out in nature. We played, we camped, we hiked, and we spent time on the boat. Now that I’ve got a family of my own, I’m continuing the tradition of outside time. My husband and I love to camp and have recently introduced our daughter to this world. I’m also learning to garden and hope to get enough veggies to make plenty of home cooked meals.

Hi, I am CS Kim and I joined the Radiant team in 2016 as the Lead Guide in Children’s House 3 but have since moved to a Co-Lead position in Children’s House 1. I hold a Montessori Diploma (AMI) from the Montessori Training Center of Minnesota and a Master of Divinity Degree from Luther Seminary. I am also pursuing a Master of Theology Degree. I believe in Dr. Montessori’s philosophy and methods that view human beings as being capable of developing into constructive and positive citizens. I love watching children grow and learn from the Montessori materials that we use in our classroom. Children have beautiful minds and I love them for their innocence, enthusiasm, and what I can learn from them. In my free time, I serve on a Children’s Ministry at a church in Minneapolis and I love spending time with my two daughters, Esther and Irene. Together, we enjoy going outside to explore and catch Pokémon.

Hello! My name is Michelle Persaud and I am an Assistant Teacher in Children’s House 1. Prior to joining the Radiant team in 2019, I worked at two other centers with infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. I completed my Child Development Associate in 2018 and went on to pursue Montessori training shortly thereafter. In my free time, I enjoy spending time with my family, reading, crocheting, and going to museums, movies, and restaurants.

PRESCHOOL – CHILDREN’S HOUSE 2

Hello! My name is Bawani Dahanayake and I am the Lead Guide in Children’s House 2. Prior to joining Radiant Montessori in 2017, I earned my Bachelor’s Degree in Education from Sri Lanka, as well as Primary Montessori Credentials for the preschool age group through the Montessori Training Center of Minnesota. I have been a Montessori guide since 2007 and also worked as a director at a Montessori Center in California for one year. Helping children (and their families) is the most rewarding job I can think of! Knowing that my job is to help kids achieve their full potential and help them fall in love with learning is important to me. In my spare time, I like to spend quality time with my two children (Kyle and Sasha), listen to music, read, and spend time outside.

Hello! My name is Allie Leuer and I am an Assistant Teacher in Children’s House 2. I began working at Radiant as a Teacher’s Aide in the Transition Room in 2019. After graduating high school, I took a short break to focus on college but later returned in the spring of 2020. I am currently attending North Hennepin Community College for generals but plan to transfer to the University of Minnesota at some point to pursue a degree in Orthodontics. My favorite part about working with children is understanding how they learn and watching them grow. In my free time, I love to play hockey, hang with friends, travel, and spend time with my puppy, Lucy.

Hello! My name is Regina Ratnaraj and I have been with Radiant Montessori as a Teacher’s Aide since 2013. I have worked in many different classrooms at Radiant but am now happy to call Children’s House 2 my permanent home. I enjoy watching the children play, smile, and just have fun. I also love when they share their stories with me. I grew up in Sri Lanka and moved to the United States just before starting at Radiant. I enjoy spending time with my husband and three sons, listening to music, and cooking delicious Sri Lankan food in my spare time.


TODDLER ROOM

-Photo coming soon-

Hello! My name is Alyssa K and I am a Co-Lead Teacher in the Toddler Room. I came to Radiant Montessori in 2018 with 5 years’ experience in childcare of several sorts including a Montessori background. I earned my Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Studies with an emphasis on Montessori at Metropolitan University in December 2020 and I plan to continue on to obtain my AMI Montessori credentials. A child starts to absorb the world around them starting the day they are brought into the world. This is why I strongly believe that every day is a day to celebrate and enjoy the new learning moments we all achieve. I am blessed to have the opportunity to teach and learn from children every day! When I am not in a classroom, I enjoy camping, fishing, water sports, downhill skiing, and spending time with my fiancé and our new puppy, Boscoe. A fun fact about myself is that I competed in swimming through high school and continue my love for the sport by coaching.


TRANSITION ROOM

Hello! My name is Abby Stetler and I am a Lead Teacher in the Transition Room. I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Child Psychology from the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities. Before starting at Radiant in 2015, I worked as an Assistant Teacher at another Montessori school for over two years and worked at a library for over three years while I attended the University of Minnesota. I love working in the Transition Room because at this age, children are learning so much and are like sponges. I really enjoy seeing them learn new things about the world and watch them as they develop their gross motor skills which are big milestones at this age. In my free time, I enjoy spending time with my husband, reading a variety of books, and playing softball. Also, during the summer months I really like watching the Minnesota Twins play at Target Field no matter how great or poor their season is going.

Hello! My name is Sofie Sinjem and I am a Teacher’s Aide in the Transition Room. After joining the Radiant team in 2019, I began attending Anoka Ramsey to complete my generals and plan to transfer to a four-year school to get my degree in Early Childhood Education. My ultimate goal is to become a Preschool teacher. I love working with kids because there is something new every day with them. Prior to working at Radiant, I volunteered in an after-school kindergarten classroom. In my free time, I enjoy spending time with family and friends and watching Netflix.

Hello! My name is Olivia Becker and I am an Assistant Teacher in the Transition Room. Before joining the Radiant team in 2020, I attended Minnesota State University Moorhead and obtained a degree in Social Work with a minor in Psychology. Throughout college, I worked as an Assistant Supervisor at the Boys and Girls Club in Fargo, ND for about three years. I enjoyed spending time with the children and building trusting relationships. At Radiant, I love building relationship with the children and families, as well as watch them reach exciting milestones. Kids are so fearless and fun to be around; we all learn things from them. In my free time, I enjoy spending time with family and friends, golfing, and spending time on the lake.


INFANT ROOM

Hello! My name is Husna Van Walbeek and I am the Lead Teacher in the Infant Room. I have worked with children nearly my entire life. Before joining the Radiant team in 2019, I began my childcare career by babysitting when I was a teen and then worked at New Horizon Academy in 2008 for several years. I love working with children because they are hilarious, fun, show their true emotions, and always speak their minds. I began pursuing a degree in Elementary Education but took a break to care for my own family. My ultimate goal is to pick up where I left off in the near future and eventually, hope to teach in an elementary school. In my free time, I enjoy spending time with my family, writing, painting, and engaging in other creative outlets.

Hello! My name is Shyla Evans and I am an Assistant Teacher in the Infant Room. Prior to joining the Radiant team in 2019, I nannied for a child who had special needs and I have always been interested in working with children. I’ve taken a few courses at Anoka Ramsey Community College for Physical Therapy but teaching is something I’ve always wanted to do and I hope to be able to continue teaching until I am no longer able to do so. I enjoy working at Radiant because interacting with babies and watching them grow makes me happy. In my spare time, I like to hang out with friends, paint, and binge-watch Disney+.


FLOATS

Hello! My name is Emilee McMillen and I am an Assistant Teacher float at Radiant. Before joining the team in 2019, I had worked with children of all ages in other childcare centers, after-school programs, and churches. My favorite parts about working with young children are being a part of their natural desire to learn and watching them become more independent. I hold a dual degree in Developmental Psychology and Spanish & Portuguese Studies from the University of Minnesota. Although I have completed school, I absolutely love learning and plan to continue taking courses at the University of Minnesota as I slowly work towards earning my Doctor of Audiology Degree. I am primarily interested in working in the area of rehabilitative audiology and my goal is to eventually work with infant and toddler cochlear implant candidates. In my free time, I reading books and journal articles about just about anything related to Hispanic linguistics or cognitive development. When I am not doing academic work, I love to spend time outside with friends and family. Since I grew up on a farm, I naturally have a love for nature and working outside. Of all outdoor activities, my favorites are hiking and gardening.

-Photo coming soon-

Hello! My name is Lily Jatso and I am an Assistant Teacher float at Radiant. Before joining the team in 2018, I taught swimming lessons for many years and was the neighborhood babysitter. I am currently studying Elementary Education at the University of Wisconsin – Superior. I believe that every child has an amazing talent. I enjoy watching them grow and finding these talents. When I have free time throughout my busy schedule with school, I return to Radiant to sub (usually during the holidays and over the summer) and I enjoy attending sporting events in Superior. I also like seeing the sights that Lake Superior has to offer, especially in the morning and at night.

Hello! My name is Morgan Mauch and I am an Assistant Teacher float at Radiant. I joined the Radiant team in 2018 as a part-time aide in the Infant Room but have helped out in nearly every classroom. I am currently attending the University of North Dakota for Occupational Therapy. I hope to then earn my Doctorate so I can work as a Pediatric Occupational Therapist. When I’m not busy with homework, I enjoy hanging out with friends. I also return to Radiant to sub when I can, usually during the holidays and over the summer. Lastly, a fun fact about myself is that I played soccer for 11 years.

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