Carmela Micheli, Owner, Manager, and Teacher:  

Carmela has owned & operated Arcadia Montessori Tacoma since 1976.  In 2009 Carmela started construction of a second location in Gig Harbor.  In 2012 we opened the doors of our new school – Arcadia Montessori-Gig Harbor. Carmela received her Montessori training at Spring Valley Montessori in 1974 and is dedicated to providing a safe, rich, loving learning environment for the students and staff.


Shannon Gilbert, Director:

Shannon began working in Montessori education in 2004 and joined the Arcadia team in 2008. She received her training at Montessori Teacher Preparation of Washington.  Shannon also earned a certificate of Management in Early Learning as well as an AA in Early Childhood Education with an Emphasis in Special Needs at Tacoma Community College and has a BA in Early Childhood and Family Studies from University of Washington, Seattle. Prior to seeking Montessori education Shannon was a parent volunteer coordinator, served on Tacoma Public Schools Safety Commission and held many PTA positions. Shannon has 3 grown children and loves painting, cooking and books. She and her husband enjoy weekend trips to the coast, farmers markets and used book stores.


Dr. Elly Claus-McGahan, Math Specialist:  

Math Specialist since 2002, Elly comes with a Ph.D in Mathematics and joined us to assure that all children receive a solid foundation in math as well as a joy of learning this science.


 Elena Banfield, Substitute Teacher:

Elena has been working in early childhood education since 2003: family daycare, Kindercare, Tacoma Public Schools Head Start, Dupont Learning Center, and TCC Early Learning Center. She has a degree from Russia which is equivalent to a BA in teaching foreign languages (French and German) specializing Philology. Upon arriving in the US, Elena chose to become a preschool teacher and received an AA with an empasis in ECE. In 2017 she earned an international Montessori teaching diploma for primary Montessori through the North American Montessori Center. She is thrilled to in a Montessori setting. Elena and her husband are learning ballroom dancing, she also enjoys knitting, crocheting, yoga and travel.

Jenny Baldwin, Teaching Assistant:  

Jenny  has over twenty years experience teaching in a Montessori environment. She received her Montessori training at Spring Valley Montessori and has an Associates Degree in Early Childhood Education.  She worked as a head teacher at Arcadia for twenty-two years before pursuing other teaching experiences as a Head Start Teacher for the public school system.  She has chosen Montessori as her preferred teaching method, and we are glad to welcome her back.

Deena Singleton, Teaching Assistant:

Deena Singleton has a long history of working with children. From 1987 until she came to us she ran her own daycare and had been a para educator. She then became interested in Montessori education. While working at Arcadia she completed her Montessori Assistant Training in October 2011. Deena is an outdoorsy person who enjoys skiing, gardening, and camping.


Carolina Larsen, Substitute Teacher Assistant:

Carolina Larsen is originally from Ecuador and her primary language is Spanish. In addition to a BA in Strategic Marketing she also has a Childcare Certificate from her hometown university in Ecuador. Carolina has worked in early childhood since 2008.

When she came to the US Carolina fufilled a desire to care for infants and young children by becoming a personal nanny. She is skilled in working directly with families and served as a part of an early intervention team to ensure children with special needs have the right supports to access their immediate environment. She served both preschool and lower elementary students at Charles Wright Academy and high school students at Clover Park Public Schools teaching Spanish. Carolina is an advocate for inclusive early childhood education and is a natural fit with Montessori education


She loves the great outdoors and spending time with her husband and their fur baby – Prudence.

Heather Kindem, Assistant Teacher:

Heather has been at Arcadia since 2006. She holds an elementary teaching certificate and a MA in curriculum and instructional systems. She teaches mindfulness and non-violent communication. 

Giuseppa De Luca, Assistant Teacher:

Giusepppa has been working in Tacoma Public schools teaching French in a before school program since 2016. She has a Ph.D in French Literatures and Languages earned in 2002 with a thesis about the French author Henri-Pierre Roché and the director François Truffaut. Giuseppa taught Italian in French lycées [Marseille and Bordeaux] during her college years. When she completed her Ph.d she taught French language at the University of Palermo in Sicily and she is a certified French high-school teacher in Italy. She moved to the US  in 2007 and she started her American career teaching Italian as an Adjunct Faculty at Seattle University and at Tacoma Community College. Her passion towards early childhood education was born together with the birth of her own daughter who, at the age of three, was enrolled at Arcadia and attended the school until her kindergarten year when she entered Tacoma Public Schools. Giuseppa enjoys being around children and she is in love with the Montessori method. Her new goal is to become a certified Montessori teacher and continue to enrich her life with new experiences and more travels around the world.


Doug Engebretson , LeadTeacher:

Doug has been working in Montessori classrooms since 1998 in Bremerton, Seattle, Tacoma, Gig Harbor and Ukiah, CA. He received his Montessori training from the North American Montessori Center and M.A.C.T.E., as well as a Bachelor of Arts from CityU with a K-8 state of Washington teaching certificate. He rides a bike to work, plays guitar with the children and enjoys dreaming about sailing the world some day in retirement.


Tacoma School | 6312 N. 30th St. |Tacoma, WA 98407 | 253-752-6463

Gig Harbor School | 13302 Crescent Valley Drive NW | Gig Harbor, WA 98332 | 253-858-1114