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Montessori casa international preschool

Executive Director

Inspired by Dr. Maria Montessori’s philosophy, Punum Bhatia, PhD has dedicated her life to Montessori education as a parent, teacher, and teacher educator for nearly thirty years. She completed her Bachelor’s degree in English Literature; earned Masters’ degrees in English Literature and Education from the University of Calcutta; and completed a certificate diploma in Montessori Pedagogy. She earned her Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Colorado Denver in 2012 for her work on the Self-Efficacy of Montessori teachers. In her efforts to understand children and the environments necessary for them to grow and flourish, Punum focuses on Maria Montessori’s original philosophy and techniques. After teaching the Montessori Method to cohorts all around the world, she is proud to open her very own bilingual preschool.(Download C.V.)

Primary Lead Guide | Assistant Director

Zenebech Gebeychu has completed her Primary Montessori training at MCI and is also Director Qualified. She has done an AMS refresher course on Infant Toddler Montessori and is eager to continue to learn all she can in order to become a good Montessori Preprimary teacher. In the afternoons, she works as Primary Guide. She hopes to be able to thoroughly implement her studies into the classroom with the children. Originally from Ethiopia, Zizi has made Colorado her home and enjoys spending time with her young son.

Mandarin Primary Guide

Xuelian Yang (Jane) was born in Hubei, China and is a native Chinese speaker. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Huazhong University of Science and Technology in China. Jane also has a Teaching Certificate in Chinese Language Instruction from Beijing Language and Culture University (BLCU).  She loves being a teacher and enjoys sharing her Chinese culture with people from all over the world. She has worked as a Chinese teacher at the Colorado Early
College which is a charter high school in Castle Rock and teaches preschool children on the weekends for the Denver Chinese School. She has two children of her own and they are both bilingual, speaking Chinese and English fluently. Jane is very artistic and enjoys all kinds of art and crafts. She also loves all outdoor activities like hiking, rafting, fishing, camping with friends and family. She is very interested in Montessori Philosophy ever since her older child studied at a Montessori preschool for 4 years in Beijing, China. She enjoys working with children and hopes to share the Chinese culture and language with the children of MCI.

Primary Assistant

Olga Castillo was born in Jalisco, Mexico and has been living in the US for the past ten years. Throughout the years she has had the opportunity to do multiple jobs that have challenged her and helped her grow. While living in Mexico she started out teaching at an elementary school in her hometown. That’s when she discovered one of her passions: educating children and caring for them to help them thrive in any given environment. She loves to learn and is eager to experience more about teaching and working with little children.

Primary Assistant

Birgit Kieft grew up in Germany and has lived in Colorado for the past 18 years. After raising her two children, she worked as a 1st Grade Paraprofessional at Park Hill Elementary School in Denver. She has a deep love and passion for young children and all the wonder they carry. In her free time she enjoys hiking, gardening and reading historic fiction books.

PrePrimary Lead Guide

Nazia Begum is originally from Bangalore, India which is also known as the Silicon Valley of India for its advancement in Information Technology.  She earned her bachelor's degree in Business Administration from Bangalore University. After moving to Denver, Nazia was introduced to Montessori through her children and that led her to pursue her dream of becoming a Montessori educator. She completed her Montessori Diploma from Montessori Casa International and worked at the school for two years before moving back to India. Her family has returned to Denver, and she is eager and excited to rejoin the school community. She has a passion to learn and observe the development of children through which she can help their foundational learning, shaping them to become not only independent individuals but also good human beings.


PrePrimary Assistant

Kandace Wilkins has worked in Early Childhood Education for the past year and a half in the Aurora and Denver Districts. She was born and raised in Aurora, CO. Her passion is heavily rooted in working with children and guiding them towards success. She is currently working towards her Master’s Degree in School Counseling. She is very excited to learn from Montessori and hopes to gain an enriching philosophy that helps children be the best they can be.


School Nurse

Carrie Albi, BSN, RN completed her first degree in Health Sciences with an emphasis in Cardiac Rehabilitation from the University of Wyoming;  she later received a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing with honors from Southern Illinois University. 

Carrie began her nursing career in the hospital setting then moved to home health, where she enjoyed the more personal interactions with patients.   Carrie is a married mother with three children and enjoys coaching soccer in her spare time; she currently works for Renewal Surgery Center and has been consulting and teaching CPR and First Aid for over five years.