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Zamahara Berkov-Rojas  
Founder and Director

I came from Costa Rica in 1968 and settled in the Bay Area.  I worked with nonprofit organizations in the Mission District where my love for working with the community grew immensely.   I have always loved working with children but my passion and love for the Montessori philosophy began more than 40 years ago when I began working at El Cerrito Montessori School. This passion and commitment to young children made La Casita a wonderful reality when I established the school in 1985.   I received my AA in Early Childhood Education from Contra Costa College, my BS in Liberal Arts, with emphasis in Science and Values from JFK University, and my Montessori training from the St. Nicholas Centre. 

I am passionate about education and relating the importance of preserving the rain forest and our earth’s resources within my teaching. I love working hands-on with the children in the garden, planting, observing insects and harvesting as well as cooking and planning special activities.  I actively seek for enrichment programs to further enhance the experience of children and families at La Casita.  I continue learning and staying current in my field of Early Childhood Education and Montessori studies.  I participate in First Five’s Professional Development Program and the Quality Rating and Improvement System to maintain a high-quality program and support our staff in their continued education.  In my spare time I enjoy reading, working in my garden and painting.
CTC Child Development Permit Level:  Program Director

Kathy Maloney
Montessori Teacher Butterfly

CTC Child Development Permit Level:  Program Director

Ana Ruiz

Montessori Teacher Caterpillar

I am originally from Guatemala City, Guatemala, and have lived in the East Bay for many years with my family.  Prior to working at La Casita, I worked in West Contra Costa County Unified School District and at the Model School in Oakland and Montessori Children’s House (now closed) in Pinole.  I have a BA in Liberal Arts and Early Childhood Education as well as a BA in Elementary Education from my native Guatemala.  I have my Montessori Credential (3-6) from Contra Costa College.  I love working with children and have been a teacher for over 20 years.  When not working with children, I enjoy knitting, crocheting, singing, and playing with my two grandchildren.  I also like to be in nature, taking walks, and doing yoga.  I have worked with La Casita since 2013.

CTC Child Development Permit Level:  Site Supervisor


Etzel Yadira Murguia
Assistant Teacher Butterfly

I come from Michoacán, Mexico.  I have been at La Casita Bilingue Montessori School for nine years and I am currently taking Early Childhood Courses Contra Costa Community College as well as participating in First Five’s Professional Development Program.  My goal is to get my AA degree in Early Childhood Education.  I have completed 14 plus Early Childhood units and have my CTC Associate Teacher Permit.   I discovered my passion for early childhood education while volunteering at Grant Montessori school where my eldest son attended.  One of the aspects I most enjoy about this field is the opportunity to be an important part of the education of many children but also feel very blessed to implement the method with my own children.  I have worked at La Casita since 2003.
CTC Child Development Permit Level:  Associate Teacher


Lydia Roybal

Assistant Teacher Butterfly

I am a graduate from University of California Irvine, with a Bachelor’s Degree in English for Future Teachers and a minor in Anthropology. My goal is to earn my Master’s Degree in Education and teaching credential to further my career as an educator. I am actually an alum from La Casita, having attended from 1999-2000. In 2017, I was happy to return home to La Casita and help the next generation begin their journey at school and form a lifelong love of learning.  I am taking Early Childhood Education courses at Contra Costa College and taking Montessori classes.


Geovanna Perea

Assistant Teacher Caterpillar

Zama Bio
Kathy Bio
Ana Bio
Yadira Bio
Yadira Bio
Lydia Bio
Vanessa Bio
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