• Santa Barbara Montessori School’s 40th year begins with an updated version of head teachers and support staff dedicated to provide the best possible care, instruction, and guidance to each and every child enrolled in the school’s programs.

  • SBMS’s faculty and staff is a multi-generational blend of veteran teachers (some with more than 40 years of Montessori classroom experiences) and new (some finishing their AMI Teacher-Training), along with a younger group of teachers who have quietly accumulated a decade of directing children at SBMS.

  • Plus, SBMS’s AMI-Trained teachers are directly involved in mentoring the next generation of young teachers through the “student teacher” programs of the AMI Teacher Training Centers in San Diego, Minneapolis, Portland, Mountain View, Denver and Loyola Marymount in Maryland.

  • Additionally, SBMS’s faculty and staff regularly attend and participate at national AMI conferences and “refresher courses,” as well as other professional development workshops and classes.

AMI Montessori Teachers

Frances Fitzpatrick
Elementary (Sequoia Class)
› International Center for Montessori Studies, Bergamo, Italy 1972

Co-founder of SBMS, Frances has taught at nearly every level as both a head teacher and or assistant at SBMS. Teaching in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Whittier, before founding SBMS, Frances brings her talents and abilities to SBMS’s Sequoia Class each day. A talented artist and knitter, her interests include travel, golf, outdoor-ism, and anything involving her three grandsons.

Mishelle Fitzpatrick
Elementary (Sequoia Class)
› Montessori Institute of San Diego (MISD), 2015

Mishelle’s experiences with Montessori education began in 2008 at Countryside Montessori School in Chicago, where she assisted at the elementary level while developing a Spanish immersion program for the Primary and Elementary classrooms. In 2012 Mishelle joined the SBMS staff implementing a Spanish immersion program at every level. In 2013 she began the AMI teacher-training at MISD, and became the assistant teacher in SBMS’s Sequoia class. Her background includes international studies, which included business translations at the United Nations. She holds a M.A. degree from Old Dominion University, and is working toward another M.A. degree from Loyola University.

Leah D. Sahagun
Primary (Willow Class)
› Washington Montessori Institute at Loyola University Maryland, 2001

Leah began her personal experience in the Montessori classroom at the age of 18 months old and is an SBMS alumna. Leah began her professional experience in the Montessori classroom in 1998 as a bilingual Assistant at Northwest Montessori in Seattle, WA. In 2000, she moved to Baltimore, Maryland to specifically obtain the AMI Primary credential, as well as, her Masters degree from Loyola University. Leah was the head Primary teacher at Montessori de Terra Linda in San Rafael, CA from 2001-2004.

Leah is also the proud parent of her 11 year old son, Emilio, who has been attending SBMS since he was 18 months old.

Rosa Hopkins
Toddler and Infant (Eucalyptus Class)
› Montessori Institute of San Diego (MISD), 2004

Rosa has been guiding AMI Infant Toddler Classrooms for 13 years. In addition to developing and directing the SBMS AMI Infant and Toddler program, Rosa offers guidance and information to parents in the areas of birth and newborn support, sleep, toileting, nutrition, and Montessori home environments. Outside of her Montessori work Rosa enjoys adventuring and exploring the beautiful environs of California with her daughter Kira, an SBMS Alumni.

Lyz Key Jimenez
Toddler and Infant (Eucalyptus Class)
› Early Childhood Education, Santa Barbara City College

An SBMS Primary level assistant teacher for two years, and 11 years as an Infant / Toddler level assistant, Lyz Key specializes in Infant / Toddler Spanish immersion. Lyz Key is planning to pursue AMI A to I training at MISD in 2016.

Born in Cuernavaca, Mexico, Lyz Key moved with her family to Santa Barbara when she was 16. In addition to her ECE training she is also a certified Esthetician, enjoys exercising, spending quality time with family and friends and meeting people of different cultures.

Jim Fitzpatrick
› International Center for Montessori Studies, Bergamo, Italy 1972

Co-founder of SBMS, along with his wife, Frances, Jim was a classroom teacher at both elementary levels, and launched SBMS’s Erdkinder class 14 years ago. A founding board member of the AMI Affiliate Montessori Administrators Association (MAA), Jim works closely with Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) and AMI-USA in the ongoing development of teacher-training programs, administrative development, and the globalization of AMI’s activities. His interests include the arts, video and film production, writing, and sports involving boards that are stood upon.


Administrative Team

Aran Klingensmith
 Head of School (HOS)
› Montessori Institute of San Diego (MISD), 1998

Aran has taught at the Primary and Toddler levels, as well as running after school programs. Her interests include dance, the outdoors, theatrical productions, and “staging.”

Juniper Dwight
 Director of Admissions
› Montessori Institute of Denver, 2003


Lisa Schaeffer
 Administrative Assistant
› University of California, San Diego

Lisa brings 20+ years of administrative and marketing experience with her to the SBMS front office. She has been involved with the school for the past 15 years as a parent, volunteer and employee.

Lisa enjoys gardening, exercising, scrapbooking and walks with her dog, Chester. She is also the parent of two SBMS alumni: Evan, a freshman at UC Santa Cruz, and Nina, a sophomore at San Marcos High School.


Support Staff

Elia Arispe

Cassie Catlett

Colin Fitzpatrick

Kelly Ruvalcaba
 7421 Mirano Dr, Goleta, CA 93117
 Contact Us
phone icon 805.685.7600
 Facility No. 426210224
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Santa Barbara Montessori School
All Rights Reserved
Non-Profit 501c3 Corporation
Celebrating our 42nd Year
“Quality Education Since 1975”
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