Our Staff:

Administrative Team

Emily Farley


Emily Farley graduated from Regis University in 2006 with a degree in Elementary Education. She received her Primary Montessori training from The Montessori Institute of North Texas (Association Montessori Internationale) in 2010, and taught in Denver Public Schools for six years as a lead primary guide.


Emily received her Assistants to Infancy training through The Montessori Institute (Association Montessori Internationale) in 2014, and opened Highlands Montessori that fall.  She completed her M.Ed. in Montessori Education through Loyola University in 2015. 


Emily was born and raised in Colorado. In her free time, she enjoys the Colorado outdoors by hiking and snowboarding. She also enjoys spending time with her husband, baby boy, and her dog, Porky.


Natalie Anderson


Before opening Highlands Montessori in 2014, Natalie Anderson was a lead Montessori primary guide in Denver Public Schools for 5 years.  She received her Primary Montessori training from the Montessori Education Center of the Rockies in 2009, and completed her Assistants to Infancy (0-3) training through the Montessori Institute (Association Montessori Internationale) in 2014.


Natalie graduated from Regis University with a Bachelor's degree in Sociology and Criminology, and also holds a M.Ed. in Montessori education through Loyola University.


Natalie spends most of her free time with her husband and two children.  She enjoys sewing, hiking, spending time with friends and family, and walking her dog, Huckleberry, around the neighborhood.

Nido Staff

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Alicia Venor

Nido AMI Lead Guide 

Alicia Venor joined our community in 2014 as a Toddler Guide, and opened up our Nido environment in the fall of 2015.  Before joining Highlands Montessori, Alicia worked in both private and public schools as a Montessori teacher, assistant, and special education teacher for infants through 4th grade students.


Alicia completed her Assistants to Infancy (0-3) training through the Montessori Institute (Association Montessori Internationale) in 2013.  She attended The University of Northern Colorado for Early Childhood Education and Special Education in 1998.  


In her free time, you can find Alicia spending time with friends, family, and her teenage son.  Alicia enjoys cooking, playing guitar and piano, painting, hiking, and going to music shows!

Andrea Jones

Nido Guide

Andrea graduated from Texas A&M University- Corpus Christi with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology. She is currently enrolled in the Assistants to Infancy (0-3) Montessori training with The Montessori Institute of Denver and is earning her Masters in Education from Loyola University. She has worked with children for many years in classroom settings as a coach and as a Mental Health Coordinator. Andrea is a Montessori child, having attended a Montessori school from Primary through middle school, and grew up with a mother that is a Montessori trained Elementary guide.

Andrea moved to Denver from Houston, Texas in 2016 with her two dogs, Lily and Leo. She enjoys snowboarding, painting, traveling, and spending time with friends and family

Ingrid Mendez

Nido Assistant

Ingrid Mendez was born in Texas but lived most of her young life in a small town in Mexico called Nuevo Casas Grandes. She moved to Colorado at the age of nine. Ingrid has 2 years of experience working in traditional preschool, and another 4 years of experience working as a Montessori assistant. She loves working with children and considers it one of the most greatest experiences of her life.


Ingrid loves music, painting, educational videos and spending time with her family. Montessori has been one of the greatest influences in Ingrid's life. Working with children has allowed her to learn patience, empathy, and the desire to find a better way. She hopes to continue her journey and is happy to share it with all the wonderful people around her.

Toddler Community Staff

Catherine Wadley

Toddler Community 1 AMI Lead Guide 

Catherine Wadley was born and raised in Texas before moving to Colorado in 2012 to pursue a degree and enjoy the outdoor culture. Catherine received her Bachelor's Degree in Criminology from the University of Denver in 2016. She previously worked as a nanny, tutor, and teaching assistant. The philosophy and creativity behind Montessori education and her love of children drew her to Highlands Montessori.


Catherine is an animal lover and avid camper. Her favorite animal is the fairy penguin and her favorite spot to camp is in Grand Teton National Park. Catherine also enjoys drawing, cooking, gardening, rollerblading, and creating makeup looks in her spare time.

Gilda Garcia 

Toddler Community 1 Assistant

Gilda Garcia was born in Boulder, CO. At the age or 13, her parents decided to move to Chihuahua, Mexico, where al her family resides. She attended a private LDS middle school-high school. From there, she decided to move to Thatcher, Arizona where she studied and received her General Studies Associates Degree. In 2016, she moved back to Denver and worked in the business field. Gilda is excited to have the opportunity to work with children again and be able to learn about the Montessori method. 

Gilda is currently studying Interior Design at RMCAD, In her free time she enjoys to cook, make designing arrangements to her home, spending time with her family, friends and dogs (Aussie & Golden Retriever), shopping and traveling to Mexico to visit her old friends and family. 

Erin Oliver

Toddler Community 2 AMI Lead Guide

Erin Oliver has a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Towson University in Maryland and obtained her AMI certification from The Montessori Institute in Denver, CO in 2013.  She is a "Montessori child," having gone to an AMI Montessori school from primary though upper elementary and has worked in both private and public Montessori schools.  


Erin was born in Washington D.C. and raised in Annapolis, MD. She moved to Denver in 2016 and has been enjoying all of the beautiful things Colorado has to offer with her Border Collie, Benson and Golden Retriever, Baylee! When not at work, Erin loves reading, cooking, and spending time with family and friends. 

Kate McAleer

Toddler Community 2 Assistant

Kate McAleer was born in Washington D.C. and raised in Annapolis, MD before moving to Colorado in 2013. She has a Bachelor of Science in Biology and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Guilford College in Greensboro, NC. In college, Kate was a dual athlete playing soccer and lacrosse and is now the head lacrosse coach for Rocky Mountain Girls Lacrosse Program. She also has her 200 hour certificate in yoga teacher training and her 90 hour certification in children’s yoga. 


Kate is a "Montessori child," having gone to an AMI Montessori school from Nido through Upper Elementary. Kate is taking the AMI 0-3 Teacher Training Spring 2021, where she plans to get her diploma and eventually lead a classroom. 


Kate, her husband TJ, and their 2 big dogs live in Arvada, CO where they spend a lot of time hiking, running, practicing yoga and spending time with family and friends. 

Primary Staff

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Natalie Anderson 

Primary AMI Lead Guide

(See above)

Leonela Barrios

Primary Assistant

Leonela is from California and came to Colorado in 2004. She loves working with kids of all ages and she has worked with kids since she graduated high school. Leonela also did some Montessori training at MECR in Boulder, Colorado. 


In her free time, Leonela enjoys spending time with her family and friends. She loves to travel and take family vacations. 

Aftercare/Support Staff

Allegra Johnson

Aftercare Coordinator/ Nido Aftercare

Allegra Johnson is studying Business Administration at Colorado Christian University. She is a licensed cosmetologist in the state of Colorado. She was raised by teachers and has been working with children for over 12 years. Allegra is a board member of the Pueblo Children's Chorale and is a character member of Upon A Star Singing Telegrams. She is on a mission to run a fashion empire so she can later create after-school programs for children in troubled neighborhoods.

In her free time, Allegra loves to go sing karaoke and to hang out with her roommates.

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Kaileen Avila

Primary Aftercare

Kaileen is currently attending Metropolitan State University and pursuing a career in elementary education. She has lived in Colorado all her life and she loves animals. In her free time, Kaileen likes to hang out with friends and family.

Once Kaileen graduates from MSU she plans on taking the Montessori training to be able to teach in a Montessori school. 

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Ren Virnoche

Toddler Aftercare

Ren Virnoche was born and raised in Madison, Wisconsin before moving to Durango, Colorado in 2017. She is currently studying at the University of Colorado Denver with a major in Economics and a minor in Cognitive/Behavioral Neuroscience. Ren began working with children as a behavioral therapist and received her Registered Behavior Technician certification in 2019. Following her move to Denver August of 2019, Ren found Highlands Montessori and quickly fell in love with the school and the Montessori methodology. She enjoys learning theory both through observation and conversations with her colleagues. Ren enjoys studying developmental science, cooking, gardening, and rollerskating in her free time.

Cora Wakeman

Toddler Aftercare

Cora has always been drawn to working with people whether it is with children or adults.  She thrives from human connection. She is currently attending Arizona State University online pursuing her bachelors degree in Family and Human Development with a minor in Psychology. She will be graduating at the beginning of 2021!


She enjoys being outside whether it is hiking or camping, She also loves the beach and hopefully will be living near one once she graduates. She is also adopting a new puppy and looking forward to new adventures! 

Vincent Cordova 

Primary Aftercare

Bio coming soon. 

Kylie Russell 

Toddler Aftercare

Bio coming soon. 

Cassandra Lozoya

Toddler Aftercare

Bio coming soon.