Our Team

Our Team

At Little Elephant, we are extremely proud of our teaching team. All of our lead teachers have B.A. degrees and are Montessori trained, and collectively we have over 40 years of experience teaching and caring for children. Our passion for teaching children using the Montessori method is what drives us to work as hard as we do. But we also like to have fun and we really enjoy working together.


Maxine Kincora, Lead Teacher, Caterpillar Class

Maxine joined LEMS in 2008.

She received her BA at the California Institute for Integral Studies, her master’s degree in English from National University, and her Montessori teacher training from North American Montessori Center. She brings a passion for arts education to the children, and the rest of her life. She is deeply committed to positive discipline and non-violent communication. Maxine is an avid bird watcher, kayaker, rock climber, performer, artist and reader. She loves commuting to work on her sporty blue electric bicycle. She’s much older than anyone here and is way more wrinkled than they are.

Crystal Taylor, Lead Teacher, Butterfly Class

Crystal joined Little Elephant Montessori in July 2017.

Crystal has worked with children for nearly twenty years and has accrued valuable knowledge, resources and remedies to inevitable situations! Her experience is inclusive but, not limited to being a Montessori Teacher and Director. Crystal’s favorite component of working with children is that of their intrinsically gentle and inquisitive nature. Her innate interests and curiosity has led her to pursue this field that began with the simple goal of creating the optimal environment to provide children with a platform and vantage point to be a kind, empathetic, compassionate and contributing member to society.

Crystal employs the method (s) of teaching through informative songs , interactional stories and modeling to help children develop coordination, order, concentration and independence. She values integrity and children developing the ability to be focused enough to complete a task to their satisfaction but, also being vigilant and enough to help someone in need.


Richard Escandon, Teacher

Richard is the most recent edition to Little Elephant community. He joined Little Elephant in 2015. He is originally from New Mexico, and been living in the Bay Area for three years. He attended UC Santa Cruz where he received his B.A. in humanities and is currently attending Merritt College to receive his A.A. in early childhood development. Richard has been working with young children all his life and enjoys every minute of it. When not in the classroom, he is biking, baking, gardening, card game playing, or skateboarding with friends and loved ones.

Jennifer Kottage Lund, Teacher

Jennifer is our Primary morning co-teacher. Jennifer joined Little Elephant in 2017

Denise Oller, Teacher

Denise is one of our afternoon teachers.  She just joined our team in October 2018.


Julie Larwood, Lead Teacher

Julie is a California native.  She grew up in Orinda and now lives in Oakland with her husband near Lake Merritt.  Julie studied at D.V.C. & Merritt College.  She began learning about Maria Montessori’s philosophy at Contra Costa College which was then followed with her AMS certification at San Francisco Montessori Training Center.  She enjoys gardening, being outdoors, cycling & spending time with friends and family.

Flor Zepeda, Teacher

Flor is our Primary class support teacher.

Stephanie Sanders, Teacher

Stephanie has been a preschool teacher for over 20 years, working with ages 6 weeks to 7 years. She is also a mother, grandmother and huge dog lover. Stephanie loves working with children watching them explore, learning new things. And just listening to them talk about their  day brings her joy.  Besides working with kids she loves to cook, explore new recipes and baking up scrumptious desserts, spending time with family, traveling or just hanging out at the beach.  Stephanie also volunteers at Bay Area animal shelters mainly with Pitbulls, and spending time with her own dogs, Nia, a 2 year old pit and Maxy a 11 month yorkie.  Children are a joy to be around and their little smiles make everything better.

Annie Spirka, Teacher

Annie is our afternoon support teacher.



Natanya Moore pictureNatanya Moore, Director

Little Elephant is owned by Natanya Moore, who received her International Montessori teaching credential from the St. Nicholas Centre for the Montessori Method of Education in London. With 25 years experience teaching at the infant through kindergarten level, Natanya has trained Montessori instructors at the Santa Monica Montessori Teacher Training Institute, established new programs and served as a director in other schools. Natanya works daily to support Little Elephant’s core values of Kindness, Peace, Passion for Learning, Community Building and Creativity. She is also the mother of 12 year old, Duncan.