SSMS is very proud to introduce you to our Administration and Teachers. All of our Lead Teachers are Montessori trained ( or in-training) and experienced.

Aparna A Banka

Aparna was born and raised in India. She did her Undergraduate studies in India and Master’s degree in Birmingham U.K. She moved to the US in 2003 where she began pursuing her CPA degree. Montessori has been around Aparna and her family for many years now. Her son currently also goes to an AMI Montessori School. Stepping Stone Montessori is a dream venture for Aparna and her family and has been launched in the name of her beloved brother, who is no longer with them. This institute has been created with lots of love, care and hope for a bright future. Aparna has been working successfully in a family run Apparel business for the past 10 years and has now embarked on this new journey of her life.



Laurie Kennedy

Ms. Laurie was born and raised in Dunwoody, Georgia. After graduating from the University of Georgia with a BS degree in Recreation Resource Management she moved to Colorado. Ms. Laurie started her Montessori career in 1985 in Colorado.

“The first time I walked into a Montessori classroom I was amazed that the adults talked to children as if they were regular people. The teachers treated the children with respect and did not talk down to them.” This observation inspired me to become a Montessori educator. In 1989 Laurie began her American Montessori Society Primary teacher training and received her teaching certificate in 1990. Ms. Laurie opened her own school in Lyons, CO. in 2005. After nine years of running the school, she moved back to Atlanta. One of Laurie’s passions is Peace education. She plans to incorporate this into the daily life of the classroom and school at Stepping Stone Montessori School.


In 2015 she audited the training program at MTEI in Atlanta, GA. “I was so excited to take the training again. I learned some new things and I feel I am a better Director because of the training.” Laurie is thrilled to be a part of Stepping Stone Montessori School.


Thea Morris

Ms Morris is the Assistant Director at our Sugar Hill Campus. Following is a little bit about her in her own words!

My name is Thea Morris. I started my career in Montessori education in 2007. I remember the first time I observed in a primary classroom and thought to myself “Wow! Look at these self-sufficient little humans.” There were children independently doing various lessons, all while the guide (or teacher) blended into the background. It was as though the classroom was running itself. It seemed so organic and I was completely amazed. Ever since that day I have been a believer in Montessori education. I’ve worked in several Montessori schools for the past ten years in both teaching and administrative roles. I have my Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Master’s degree in Public Administration. I live in Brookhaven, GA with my husband, my two girls and our dog.



Cindy Chiu

Ms Cindy Chiu is an Elementary guide at Stepping Stone Montessori School. She is from Taiwan and has been living in the united states for the past 15 years. She completed her AMI elementary training in Maryland in 2003, and has been actively involved with Montessori education ever since. She loves the Montessori idea of how adults should prepare the environment for the children, and allow them to explore the world through their senses. These concrete experiences help the children understand and grasp the abstract academic concepts in an elementary classroom. She is looking forward the new school year at SSMS with a new and beautiful classroom.



Tandy Krajec

Tandy Krajec is the Primary Guide at SSMS. She brings energy and insight to her Montessori work. With a thorough AMI Primary training on top of her traditional teacher preparation, Miss Tandy is experienced in a variety of educational settings.
She also uses American Sign Language with children, as another form of communication. She joins us for the 2015-2016 year. Her background in art and her appreciation of nature are things that Miss Tandy will use to round-out her Montessori Primary classroom, creating a learning environment meant to inspire young minds. After experiencing traditional teaching, Miss Tandy realized that she wanted more than simply repeating the same things in her work with young children. Her research into Montessori made clear that she had “found the avenue that would help me be the most effective teacher to all children in my care”.

Miss Tandy loves the arts and has a background in the theater, which she would love to share with the children at SSMS. She sees the arts as a wonderful form of self- expression, self-exploration, and learning through error-making.



Amber Cunningham

Ms Amber is a Primary Guide at SSMS. In her words she says: ” Hi and Welcome! I am delighted to begin teaching at Stepping Stone Montessori School. For the past four years, I have been a Primary guide at a Montessori school in Atlanta, Georgia. I received my Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education from the University of West Georgia back in 2009. I am both a PAMS (Pan American Montessori Society) and AMS certified Montessori teacher. I recently received my AMS certificate from the Montessori Teacher Education Institute of Atlanta. In addition to these certificates, I hold a Masters degree in Elementary Reading and Literacy for grades PreK through 5 from Walden University.

I love each day of teaching and am well-known for my patience and enthusiasm. I believe that every child has the potential to excel and become excited about learning. I will strive to make sure your child excels in my Primary class and gains a love for learning. I will also make sure to honor their natural talents and curiosities. Ultimately, I look forward to seeing your child grow and develop under my guidance and instruction. ”



Luz Lopez

Luz Lopez is the Toddler Guide at SSMS. She joined SSMS in its inaugural year (2014). Bringing more than fifteen years of experience within Montessori toddler environments, she was the ideal person to launch the SSMS toddler program. Ms Luz holds both an AMI 0-3 Diploma and an AMI Primary (306) Diploma. As a native of Columbia she brings a rich cultural tradition to her work, incorporating music and Spanish. As she says “I have been fascinated with the results and success of the Young Children’s Community (i.e., toddler program)”. Ms luz brings a deep passion to her work, fueled by her understanding and appreciation of Dr. Montessori’s insight and work. She has presented workshops to parents and teachers about the Montessori birth-3 work because “it is my mission to promote and increase the opportunities of children to benefit from Montessori principles”.
When not engaged in Montessori work Miss Luz is an avid guitar player, singer and song writer.




Ariana Matthews

Ms Ariana is a Toddler Guide at Stepping Stone Montessori School. In her words, here is how she would like you to know her:

My name is Ariana Matthews and I’ve been working with the youngest children in Montessori for the past 12 years and I am a certified AMI Assistant to Infancy. While Montessori is my passion in education, I have also worked with children in daycare, church, and public school settings. In my free time I am a wife and I have a blended family with six grown children and two grandchildren. We like to cookout, hike, travel, and play with our dogs.


Dana Bican

Dana Bican is the Infant Guide. She came to Montessori the way so many do: as a parent looking for the best opportunity for her young child. Working as a classroom assistant in a Montessori school, Miss Dana came to realize the significance of this work and chose to seek out Montessori training for herself. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Environment Engineering and since she moved to the US in 2002 she has worked with children. Her daughter, Annemarie, has grown up with an integrated Montessori experience since birth, and has attended Montessori schools since she was 18 months old. For Dana, working at Stepping Stone Montessori School is not just a job, it’s more of a civic duty: a strong personal conviction that dedicating one’s efforts to forming well-balanced happy individuals is the key to a better society. Dana is a diligent, sociable, loving, flexible and empathic person who enjoys reading psychology and environment studies, listening to classical music, engaging in outdoor activities with family and friends.

Ms Dana joined SSMS in its inaugural year, 2014, by launching our Infant program. She helped the program grow from 2-3 children to a full room of 12. Ms Dana is currently finishing up her AMI Infancy to Toddler training and we are proud of her achievement!