Board of Trustees, September 2018
Term Expires 2019
David C. Bagnoli, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, is a practicing architect and has been been involved with Breakthrough since its conception, working on the charter application, visiting multiple potential locations across the District, reviewing potential build-out alternatives and reviewing leases. Selected to serve as one of Breakthrough’s founding board members due to his national reputation as an architect of purpose designed and construction of Montessori schools, including the relationship between the school building and the Montessori model of education. A Founding Principal of Studio MB Architects located in Dupont Circle, David has over 27 years of experience in practice, including academic, master planning, commercial mixed use, multi-family housing, and hospitality architecture. His firm has been involved in the renovation of two Montessori schools in the DC area and has worked on a new public Montessori school with Boston Public Schools, a proposed charter Montessori school in Bridgeport, Connecticut, and a new Montessori charter school in Cary, North Carolina.
David is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Notre Dame and retains an active interest in academics, serving as visiting critic and guest lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania, The Virginia Polytechnic and State University, Catholic University and The University of Maryland.
Teacher, ASA Early Learning Academy (Also SHA President)
Tova Wilson is a parent representative on the Breakthrough Montessori Board and President of Breakthrough’s School Home Association. Tova’s son has been enrolled at the school since its first year and Tova is passionate about bringing the community together to build the strongest school possible. Tova continues her commitment to supporting human growth and flourishing outside of Breakthrough through her work as a Career and Life Skills Coach at the Mary Elizabeth House, an independent living community for teen mothers who are in foster care. Prior to this position, Tova worked in early childhood education, serving as the Assistant Director/Lead Teacher at ASA Early Learning Academy, an Education/Disability Monitor for Chicago Commons and as a TFA Corps Member teaching PreK in Chicago.
Originally from Georgia, Tova has worked in education and the non-profit sector over 11 years with the goals of building community, creating space for marginalized voices and supporting and advocating for children and families. Tova earned a BA from Ithaca College and an MS in Early Childhood Education from Dominican University.
Miguelina Zapata, PhD, CCC-SLP
President of the School Home Association
Miguelina Zapata is a parent representative on the Breakthrough Montessori Board and President of Breakthrough's School Home Association. Miguelina’s daughter has been enrolled at the school since last year. She is a bilingual speech-language pathologist and the president of a small contracting company. She currently works for different Public Charter Schools as a bilingual SLP.
Miguelina is originally from the Dominican Republic and has been in this country since she was 12 years old. She is an advocate for equity, diversity, and education for all. She is a mentor to new students and professionals in the field. Miguelina earned her MS in Speech-Language Pathology from Teachers College, Columbia University and her PhD in the same field from Howard University.
Term Expires 2020
Executive Director, National Center for Montessori in the Public Sector
Keith Whitescarver, Chair of the Breakthrough Montessori PCS Board, was a writer of the charter application and and served as the Interim Executive Director during the school’s first year. Like many, Montessori advocates, Keith Whitescarver became familiar with Montessori through the schooling of his own child. Moved by the impact of the Montessori approach on learning and human development, he began to undertake research on Montessori, saw the need for a national organization solely devoted to public Montessori schools and co-founded the National Center for Montessori in the Public Sector (NCMPS) in 2012. He currently serves as the Executive Director of NCMPS. Keith is a nationally known historian of literacy and American schooling who has written extensively about the development of the Montessori movement in the United States.
Previously, Keith served on the faculties of the College of William and Mary, Ohio University, Wellesley College, and Lesley University, and he worked ten years as a high school history teacher in Atlanta. He received a B.A. in History from the University of Florida and an Ed.D. in History of Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
DC Regional Coordinator and Research Associate, NCMPS
Katie Brown is the newest member of the Breakthrough Montessori Board of Trustees, bringing over 10 years of experience in public education and expertise in public Montessori schools. A native of Southern California, Katie began her career as a middle and high school English teacher in both district and charter schools, in traditional and alternative program settings. She was first introduced to Montessori education while working at the South Carolina Department of Education, a state with over 40 public Montessori programs. This experience inspired her to pursue a PhD in urban education at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, where she studied outcomes for students of color in public Montessori schools. Katie previously served on the board of Countryside Montessori School, an independent school in Charlotte, NC. Currently, she works as the DC Regional Coordinator for the National Center for Montessori in the Public Sector, supporting public Montessori schools in the DMV area. An aspiring Montessori parent and passionate Montessori advocate, Katie lives in the District with her partner, their five-month-old son, and their two cats.
Practice Leader, Gartner
Vivek Swaminathan is a parent representative on the Breakthrough Montessori Board. His daughter has been enrolled at the school since its first year, and Vivek is committed to supporting the continued growth of the school, staff and student body. Vivek works as a Practice Leader at CEB, now Gartner, managing research and advisory services tailored for CIOs and their teams at midsized organizations. Previously, Vivek worked at PeopleSoft Inc. (now Oracle) with the professional services group supporting large scale technology implementations for education and government clients.
With over 15 years of experience in the private sector, Vivek brings expertise in strategic planning, workforce hiring and development, data analytics, and executive-level communications. Vivek holds a Master’s degree from The London School of Economics and a Bachelor’s degree from The University of Texas at Austin.
Term Expires 2021
Director of Coaching and School Services, National Center for Montessori in the Public Sector
Sara Suchman has been deeply involved with Breakthrough since its conception, working on the charter application and serving as one of Breakthrough’s founding board members. As a child, Sara moved between traditional public, progressive and Montessori schools and, though she began her career in non-Montessori schools, she is grateful to be back in Montessori. Over the course of her career, Sara was an elementary math and computer teacher and went on to teach math and ESL, grades PreK - 12, in both independent and public schools in the U.S. and abroad (Japan, Thailand and Mexico). She served as the Middle School Director and Assistant Head of School at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Day School in San Mateo, California, Director of Curriculum for the Exploration High School program at Yale University, and Director of the Cambridge-Harvard Summer Academy. As a founding member of the National Center for Montessori in the Public Sector, Sara currently directs the organization’s collaborative initiatives.
Sara received a B.A. in Psychology from Williams College, an MAT in ESL from the School for International Training, an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business, and an Ed.D. in Educational Policy, Leadership and Instructional Practice from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Chris Lohse, Ex-Officio
Interim Executive Director, Breakthrough Montessori
Chris began his career teaching teaching high school chemistry and physics in Los Angeles for 5 years, winning teaching awards each year. He then went on to work with the Montana Legislature, the Montana Office of Public Instruction (Chris is originally from Montana), the National Conference of State Legislators, and Teach for America. Chris originally moved to Washington, DC to work at the Council of Chief State School Officers, serving as the Director of Research and Development. While there, he led CCSSO’s data system work for several years, innovating the way many educators think about using data and speaking at numerous large-scale conferences and national and international events.
Chris lives in New York, but will be returning to Washington, DC (where he lived for 8 years) while he serves the school. Chris enjoys biking and tennis, photography, watercolor painting, antiques and reading. Chris has a bachelor’s degree in biology and chemistry from Willamette University, and a masters’ degrees in education and policy from Harvard University.
Child Study Lead, Lee Montessori Public Charter School
Rachel Kimboko has been engaged in the Montessori community of Washington, DC since she arrived in 2003, first as a parent of a Montessori student in a public program in Capitol Hill. After finishing AMI Elementary training in 2007, she worked for three years in support roles before launching her teaching career in public Montessori. Since 2010, she’s taught in all three variations of elementary classrooms—6-9, 9-12, and 6-12 years old—and was the Elementary team lead for several years before stepping into an administrative role as the Child Study Lead at Lee Montessori Public Charter School. While working for DC Public Schools, Rachel was involved in several initiatives that involved developing curriculum and delivering training to the broader DCPS community. This has helped her to proactively adapt the district’s standards and methods (close reading, Common Core, Eureka Math, and Next Generation Science Standards for example) to her Montessori practice.
Before classroom teaching, Rachel spent nearly twenty years working in community technology and development programs in various contexts. She worked on several national projects, providing technical support and training to practitioners across the country in the America Connects Consortium and HUD’s Neighborhood Networks, and facilitating strategic planning with groups engaged in education design processes. Another earlier theme of her career was work in and with youth-development organizations like City Year, Citizen Schools, and the Computer Clubhouse Network.
Rachel received her BA from Dartmouth University, an M.Ed. from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and received her Montessori diploma from Hershey Montessori Training Institute.
Emily Hedin, Ex-Officio
Executive Director, Breakthrough Montessori
Emily is a non-profit leader with eight years of experience in education and youth development. As Founding Executive Director of Building Dignity, a non-profit in Peru, Emily oversaw Montessori-inspired programming for 150 students ages 4 to 22 years. Emily has led international education projects in diverse settings through positions with the Inter-American Development Bank, the United Nations, and various non-profits in the United States, Latin America, and West Africa.
Emily holds a B.A. from Macalester College and a M.Phil in international development from the University of Oxford.
Hannah Richardson, Ex-Officio
Director of Curriculum & Instruction, Breakthrough Montessori Public Charter School
Hannah Richardson has worked in the field of education, specifically in Montessori since 2002. She was introduced to Montessori shortly before finishing her undergraduate studies and completed her AMI Primary training in the year following her graduation. Hannah has worked in a variety of Montessori settings in various parts of the country, working in public magnet programs, private schools, neighborhood schools and public charters in Hartford, CT, Columbus, OH, Chicago, IL and now Washington, D.C. She was worked as a guide at the primary level, a coordinator of a multi-level program and a consultant before joining the Breakthrough team as the Director of Curriculum & Instruction in 2016 during our planning year. During her time at Breakthrough Montessori, Hannah ahs helped to develop the school and faculty as it grows toward its goal of serving children through age twelve.
Hannah received her B.A. from Denison University in Sociology/Anthropology, her M.Ed from Loyola University Maryland, her AMI Primary diploma from the Washington Montessori Institute and is currently a PhD candidate at Concordia University Chicago.
Chris Lohse, Ex-Officio
Interim Executive Director, Breakthrough Montessori
Latham & Watkins LLP