Our Directresses have a deep seated passion and commitment to children. They exude kindness and warmth; they inspire and they know how to laugh. They have found their life's work with the children and make Full Circle the special place that it is.
Ms. Andrea Meszaros Elementary Program Director and Directress
Andrea Meszaros came to Full Circle after spending the 2007-2008 school year as an English teacher in China. She thoroughly enjoyed the cultural experience as well as working with children, and returned home looking for an opportunity to continue her work in the classroom. Andrea was fortunate enough to come upon Full Circle and was immediately inspired by the enthusiasm of the staff and the culture of the school community. She served as classroom assistant to Ms. Woellhaf at the FRED. Her time as an assistant taught her invaluable lessons about what it means to work with children from a Montessori perspective. At the same time she realized that she wanted to pursue her Montessori studies further, Full Circle was ready to expand. She jumped at the opportunity to train at Loyola University/Washington Montessori Institute. After a leave of absence to complete the Master of Education degree program in 2010, Andrea was thrilled to open Full Circle’s first Elementary class. Andrea is delighted to bring “Cosmic Education” to Full Circle, and to explore the universe right along with the children!
Primary Montessori (Children's House)
Ms. Sumayyah Lafraie Primary Level Directress
Sumayyah Lafraie was born in Honolulu, Hawaii to Afghan parents, and spent her childhood growing up between Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Virginia, before settling with her family in New Zealand. This early exposure to different countries and cultures contributed to Sumayyah’s passion for travel and her love for learning languages—in addition to her native English and Farsi, Sumayyah understands Hindi, Urdu, and Pashto, as well as some Arabic. She continues her language practice today by indulging her special fondness for Bollywood movies and music. During her undergraduate career at the University of Otago in New Zealand, Sumayyah completed her bachelors degree in Information Science with minors in Marketing and Design, a trend she continued with her postgraduate diploma in Fashion Design from UCOL Whanganui, New Zealand. Sumayyah developed a keen interest in education while living in London, UK, where she worked at an inner city elementary school and on weekends for an educational charity helping refugee children catch up with school work. Soon after moving to the DC area, she joined Full Circle Montessori School as an assistant to the Jordan classroom in 2013, making this her seventh year with FCMS. Since then, she has received her AMI Montessori Certification and completed an M.Ed in Montessori Education at Loyola University Maryland. She lives in Arlington with her husband Mohammed, who is studying towards his Ph.D. at Georgetown University, and her not-yet-two-year-old daughter, Ikhlas.
Ms. Stephanie Kurnava Primary Level Directress/ INSIEME Director
Stephanie Kurnava enjoyed being in a Montessori environment herself, from age three through third grade, and returned to her childhood Montessori school as a Classroom Assistant through high school and college. She received her Graduate Montessori Teaching Certificate and Master of Education at St. Catherine University in St.Paul, Minnesota. She has lived and worked all over the country, teaching, exploring, and enjoying each new place through the eyes of the children she has worked with. She especially loves seeing the Montessori environment through the eyes of her own child, now thriving in the Elementary program. The openness and love for life and learning that children possess fuels her excitement to be a facilitator for children as they develop to reach their potential. When at home, Stephanie and her family love to be outside exploring and collecting nature as well as enjoying music, movies and books of all kinds.
Ms. Amy Lawniczak Primary Program Director and Primary Level Directress
Amy, a native of Ohio, grew up in a small town where her upbringing influenced her to be socially aware and steered her to pursue education in furtherance of her ideals. Amy left Ohio to attend the University of Wisconsin where she was an active member of both the campus and local communities and majored in political science. Through her passion for social justice, she broadened her academic scope to include courses in education and realized that the primary key to positively impacting society resides in the quality and purposeful education of its youth. At the end of her sophomore year, Amy began a simultaneous certificate program in Educational Policy Studies and followed it through to graduate-level coursework. After conducting independent research on young women’s education in Africa, Amy traveled to Ghana, spending a few months teaching under-served primary age children and furthering her understanding of African education. After moving to Washington, in 2009, Amy joined the Full Circle family as a classroom assistant at The Fred, a wonderful experience that introduced her to Montessori theory and practice. Impressed by Montessori’s astute observations on childhood development and ability to foster organic learning, Amy pursued a Master’s degree in education and concurrently received her AMI Montessori Certification. Since obtaining her M.Ed and AMI Certification, Amy has been the Directress at FCMS. Outside of FCMS, Amy loves to spend time with her family, to cook, to travel, and to garden
Ms. Susan Plant Primary Level Directress
Susan Plant was born near Sydney, Australia, but moved to Richmond, VA at a very young age and spent most of her childhood there. She has always loved working with children and spent three summers as a counselor at a camp specializing in art and science education. Susan became involved in Montessori education when she began working at Full Circle Montessori School in 2009. She fell in love with this method of education and completed the AMI assistant’s training course at Washington Montessori Institute. Susan worked at FCMS from 2009-2014 as a classroom assistant and support staff member before moving to Florida for a few years. She completed her Bachelor’s degree at Eckerd College with a major in Business Management and a minor in Human Development and worked as a classroom assistant and teacher-in-training at a Montessori school in St. Petersburg, FL. During this time, she spent her summers in San Diego, CA completing her AMI Primary Montessori training at the Montessori Institute of San Diego. Susan always maintained a close connection with the wonderful staff at FCMS throughout the years and was thrilled to begin working with them again in 2017. She completed her Master's in Montessori Education at Loyola University Maryland in 2018.Outside of school, Susan loves to spend time with friends and family, try new restaurants, and travel.
Young Children's Community
Ms. Mariana Vicéns YCC Program Director, Primary Level and Assistant to Infancy Directress
As a Montessori child herself, she knew from an early age that her passion is working with children and making a difference in the world. She attended the University of Florida (Go Gators!) where she got a bachelor in Sociology and Latin American Studies. She continued her education at The Universidad Interamericana de Puerto Rico earning a master’s degree in Special Education. During this time she worked as a Teacher Assistant at a local Montessori school and knew she had found her calling. She returned to the United States for Montessori Training and graduated with a master’s degree in Montessori Education from the Washington Montessori Institute (AMI) at Loyola University. It was her good fortune to meet a group of amazing women and she found the Full Circle Montessori School community where she opened her own classroom. After 5 years teaching the Primary level, she decided to continue her education and she received her Assistance to Infancy Diploma from The Montessori Institute in Denver Colorado.
Mariana loves her Caribbean roots and incorporates the Puerto Rican rhythm, love, and language in her classroom. With each passing day she reminds herself that children inspire her to become a better person. She always acknowledges that she is in fact not a teacher, but that the children are the ones that teach her everyday about the Montessori method and the simplicity of life. In her spare time she enjoys doing outdoors activities, dancing, traveling, learning about other cultures, and trying new things.
Ms. Kate Ward Assistant to Infancy Directress
Kate is a mother, daughter, sister, wife, and aunt and has been working with children for over 15 years. She owns a Master’s degree from Loyola University Maryland in Montessori Teacher Education and earned her undergrad degree in Early Childhood Education from the University of Nebraska. After leaving her home state of Nebraska, she moved to New York and started her own premium in-home childcare business which lasted for 10 years. This began her love for the East coast. After more exploration, she moved to D.C. to follow her passion of teaching. This is where she discovered and fell in love with Montessori.
Ms. Ward loves spending time with her family and friends, including a passion for sports (watching and playing) especially baseball --Go Nats and college football Go Huskers! She loves running, being outside, swimming and baking. Kate and her husband love spending time with their two children Harper and Nolan. Kate joined the FCMS family in 2018.