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Meet the Team

The Board of Trustees

The board is very active and meets three times a year as a full board to oversee the work of the charity.  After a recent (June 2015) review of its activities, the Board has formed a new committee structure, consisting of:

  • Montessori St Nicholas Charity
  • Finance and General Purposes Committee
  • Montessori Education Committee
  • Montessori Schools’ Directorate Committee

Such committees are constituted to provide direct governance in all core areas of the Charity’s activities.

Current Trustees

Chairman Mr Kevin Coyne


Vice Chairman Dr Catherine Hobey-Hamsher PhD, JP  

Mrs Gillian Nester-Smith JP

Mr W T Sketchley FCA, FCT

Professor W J Callaway

M.Sc, BA, Dip.TP

Professor R D Rawlings BSc PhD, DSc, CEng

Felicity Marrian Mont.Dip

Andrea J Newman

JP Mont.Dip

  Alderman Dr Andrew Parmley

MusM, Hon GSM

  Andrew Ling 

F.C.A, BSc (Econ)

  Jean Tsang



Charity Staff


Dr Stephen Tommis - Chief Executive

Stephen joined the charity in 2015. Up to 2014, Dr Stephen Tommis was the founding Executive Director of the Hong Kong Academy for Gifted Education (HKAGE), a post he took up in February 2008. The HKAGE is an initiative to ensure that appropriate provision is made for teachers, parents as well as all gifted students across Hong Kong. 

Stephen is a graduate of the University of Dundee (MA First Class Honours), Jesus College, Oxford where he was awarded the D Phil degree and the Institute of Education, London University where he took a PGCE.

After a spell in business working as an antique map dealer, he decided that education was his true vocation and so moved to the south west of England to be a teacher at Sherborne School, an independent secondary school. After one year he was promoted to Head of Department and subsequently to Undermaster. From there he went to The King’s School, Gloucester, as Deputy Head and after three years learning the job, was appointed to be Headmaster of Abbotsholme School in Staffordshire, completing a 23 year stint of direct involvement with education. 

Between 2003 and 2008 he was the Director of The National Association for Gifted Education (NAGC) in the UK where he led campaigns to get parents’ needs heard in government and schools.

On joining Montessori St Nicholas Stephen says “I am delighted to be working for Montessori; it is always a privilege to work with and for young people. I hope that in the coming months we will be able to expand our provision and reach out to an even wider audience”.

Sharron Zubaida

Peter Collins – Chief Operating Officer

Peter joined the charity at the start of July 2015.  He is responsible for providing a wide range of support functions at Montessori St Nicholas, including finance, HR, ICT and facilities.  Peter is a chartered accountant and a graduate of the London School of Economics.  He joined us from Epilepsy Society, where he was Director of Finance & Administration for over five years and also served a short period as Interim Chief Executive.  His earlier career includes four years as Director of Finance & Infrastructure at Samaritans and several senior financial positions with subsidiaries of Lockheed Martin, NCR and Olivetti.

Sharron Zubaida

Sharron Zubaida - Group Administration Manager

PEA, NVQ Level 4, AAT Level 2 Bookkeeping

Sharron joined the Charity in 1996 after working for a leading Independent Financial Advisory Company. She is currently the Group Administration Manager and also assists the Sales Department. Her role is to administrate on all aspects relating to the Charity, Head Office and College, especially Grants and our exhibitions/conferences.


Karen Brunwin 

Karen Brunwin – Accounts Assistant

Karen Brunwin joined the Charity in 2010 and works as Accounts Assistant supporting the Finance Officer. She deals with the day to day accounts for the Charity and MCI.



Sameena Wali - Receptionist

After graduating in 2012 with an LLB honours, Sameena worked as a receptionist/administrator in the NHS for 1 ½ years, before joining the charity in 2014, as the MCI receptionist. Sameena assists with the day to day administration tasks, assisting Susan the distance learning co-ordinator with Seminar and Workshop bookings and she is also responsible for the administration of the magazine subscriptions and the classified job advertising.  

Kristine Largo 

Kristine Largo - MSA Communications and Marketing Manager


Kristine runs the Montessori Schools Association (MSA) office supporting a team of Regional Chairman who are based round the country, organises the annual MSA Conference and is responsible for communication with MSA members.

Rupert Smedley

Rupert Smedley - National Sales Manager


Rupert joined Montessori St Nicholas in summer 2009 having previously worked in Sales & Marketing for Aston Martin and Mercedes-Benz. Rupert manages student enquiries, liaises with MCI Centres around the country and is responsible for promoting teacher training at home and abroad. He is also involved in representing the College at educational and career events throughout the year.

Philip Davies

Philip Davis - MEAB Administrative Manager & Editor, Montessori International

Philip administers the MEAB accreditation scheme, overseeing and scheduling assessment visits to Montessori nurseries in the UK and abroad, and does technical proofreadings of all reports. He is also Editor of Montessori International, the Charity’s magazine for the Montessori community; he occasionally contributes articles to the magazine.

Peter Salvadori

Peter Salvadori - Cleaning and Maintenance Officer

Peter joined the Charity in December 2008 after working for over 30 years for Royal Mail. Peter is responsible for the general maintenance of the building.


MCI Staff


Barbara Isaacs

Barbara Isaacs - Director of National Strategies

MA, BA, Adv. Mont. Dip.

Barbara joined the newly established MCI in 1998 after training Montessori teachers both at Montessori St. Nicholas and London Montessori Centre.  She was also a proprietor of Seedlings Montessori Nursery in Oxfordshire for fifteen years. She is the Academic Director for the Montessori Centre International and the Senior Accreditation officer for the Montessori Accreditation and Evaluation Board.

Padmini Persaud 

Padmini Persaud

Mont. Dip, Legal Sec Dip, Bus. Comp. Prog. Dip.

Padmini supports the admin once the students have registered, oversees queries and all elements of Teaching Practice such as organising placements in Montessori settings and assisting students to obtain their CRB checks.  She also plans our annual Graduation ceremony.  She joined MCI in August 2004 on a part-time basis but recently came to work full-time after 8 years of experience working in Montessori settings with both infant toddler and pre-school children. Padmini's original training was in the administrative field and she gained qualifications as a legal secretary before deciding to pursue Montessori training. 

Michela Yagoub

Michela Yagoub - Academic Tutor

Mont. Dip.

Michela has been working at MCI for about 10 year after having taught and managed the Balderton street branch of St Nicholas pre-preparatory school. She is a lecturer, group tutor and leader for the Montessori diploma course in Early Childhood. Her duties also include supporting and tutoring students during their teaching practice experience.

Ewa Donnachie

Ewa Donnachie - External Programmes Manager

BSc (Hons), Mont. Dip.

Ewa started working for Montessori St Nicholas Centre (MSN) distance learning department in February 1990 and moved to MCI in 1998 when MSN merged with London Montessori Centre. Her main duties now are running the External Part-time Centres, returning assignments to distance learning students and issuing transcripts to past students.

Susan Balcombe

Susan Balcombe - Distance Learning Administrator

B Ed. (Hons), Mont Cert. Stage 2

As distance learning co-ordinator, Susan provides a contact for all enquiries about the distance learning course and acts as the administrator for the distance learning course and the MCI seminar and workshop programmes.  She also deals with student accounts as well as registering students on their courses.

Sarah Olley-Dorey

Sarah Olley-Dorey - Tutor

BA, Mont. Dip.

Sarah has worked at MCI and formerly LMC since the 1990s. She has also worked in schools across London and ran her own small infant toddler community that evolved into a small school for a few years. Her current involvement at MCI is teaching cultural and creativity and as a teaching practice tutor. She writes for Montessori international magazine and volunteers in her local primary schools supporting children with reading.

Antonella Cirillo 

Antonella Cirillo - Tutor

PG Dip, Mont. Dip.

Antonella joined MCI in 2007. She practised as a clinical psychologist in Italy, before moving to the UK. Antonella gained a Post Graduate Diploma in Observational Studies at the Tavistock and Portman and trained as a Montessori Teacher at MCI. At MCI, she is a lecturer for the for the Diploma Course and for the Foundation Degree and is also a Teaching Practice tutor.

Penny Johns

Penny Johns - Director of Studies

MA, BA (Hons), PG Cert., Mont. Dip.

After a previous career in theatre costume Penny retrained as a Montessori teacher at MCI with further Early Years training at Middlesex University.  After working as a Montessori teacher at a North London Montessori nursery Penny joined the teaching team at MCI in 2009, teaching on the Foundation Degree and Diploma courses.  She is currently Director of Studies at MCI.  

Marion Meechan

Marion Meechan - Tutor

B.A.(Hons), Mont. Dip.

Marion left a successful career as a senior buyer for a large retail group in 1996 and retrained at L.M.C. She still owns and manages the Montessori Nursery School in Surrey that she started fifteen years ago. More recently she has joined the team at M.C.I. as a part time tutor. Marion has a Foundation degree in Early Years, an Honours degree in Education; she recently completed the Montessori trainer certificate and is currently undertaking Early Years Professional Status at Chichester University.


Lynnette Brock - Tutor

Lynnette has worked in early years both as a practitioner and as a head teached in Montessori nursery settings and preparatory schools in South West London.
As an avid supporter of play in the outdoor environment, principally the role of play in contributing to children’s learning, knowledge, motivation and self-esteem, she has recently led two projects; the first at a preparatory school working with teachers from reception to year two, and the second at a seventy place Montessori nursery setting.  She has also co-ordinated a project in an under two's room to enhance sensory and communication experiences for babies.
Lynnette completed her Montessori Diploma at MCI, and read for a BA (Hons) in Early Childhood Studies at the London Metropolitan University, where she also achieved Early Years Professional Status.