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Board of Directors

Gail Longo - Founder & President

Gail founded Cinquegranelli Montessori in 1989 and the Maria Montessori Language & Cultural Center (MMLCC) a decade later. A graduate of Seattle University, Gail is a Washington state certified teacher in elementary and secondary education and she completed her Montessori certification at Montessori Teacher Preparation of Washington. Gail has taught young children in public and parochial schools near and far, from co-op preschools affiliated with North Seattle Community college to children in Brindisi, Italy.

In May 2003, Gail joined with Eileen Knobbs and Sara Orton of Ballard High School in designing a Montessori lab school as a joint initiative with Seattle Public Schools. Now in retirement, Gail remains a longtime advocate for bringing Montessori teaching and philosophy to Seattle Public Schools.

Gary Tribble - Treasurer

Gary Tribble is the current treasurer and member of the Montessori (MMLCC) Advisory Board and board member of the Seattle Chinese Garden Society. Now retired, he was Director of Finance for the Seattle Opera and earlier the business manager of Wajax Pacific, Inc. (a division of the Canadian multinational corporation). He was also a hospital orderly at Providence Hospital in Seattle and a US Navy Petty Officer on the USS Liberty.


Inspired by Dr. Montessori as a guiding star, he desires a world of peace where each individual (down to the youngest) is respected and listened to… and the adults grow in their strength, while bringing their energy and gifts to others.


Katherine Denison - Board Member

Katherine’s pathway to Montessori took awhile. Katherine decided early on that animals were way more interesting than peers, so her education veered towards veterinary science in 7th grade. Katherine received a degree in animal physiology. For the following decade, she worked with the animals at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, cared for and bred endangered waterfowl at a ranch by Lake Stevens, and cared for waterfowl at the Woodlawn Park Zoo. Between these animal-focused jobs she had two children. When Katherine’s oldest turned four she was enrolled in the closest available school; Crown Hill Montessori. Katherine didn’t even tour it, she simply signed up on the phone. This was her official introduction to Montessori. Katherine started helping the school at lunchtime, eating with the kids while the teachers took a break. She became passionate about developing practical life work for home and even at the preschool. Katherine then decided to become a Montessori Teacher. She trained in Kent the same year as Gail and interned at Crown Hill. Katherine received a position at Discovery Montessori and worked there for 3 years before starting her own preschool, Veranda Montessori. She enjoyed that for 26 years and retired in 2022.


Jade L. Denny - Board member

Jade is a young working professional with a very diverse work background. She’s done everything from Barista, Sous Chef, Mailman, Montessori Assistant Teacher, to serving 9 years in the Air Force. Jade is very proud of these experiences, as they have made her a well-rounded individual. She is originally from Michigan and moved to Seattle in 2014 to be closer to her twin brother and niece. Jade graduated from Seattle Pacific University with a B.A. in Human Development & Family Studies. At SPU she devoted most of her studies to Family and Consumer Studies which is what led to meeting Gail in 2017. Jade worked with Gail for a short time and gained her as a lifelong friend. Some of Jade’s learning interests include; childhood development, nutrition, fitness, & mindfulness activities.

Roxanne Trees - Board Member

Roxanne Trees often repeats a favorite old Chinese proverb that reminds us, "If you want to grow something to last for a year – plant rice; if you want to grow something to last for a decade – plant trees; if you want to grow something to last for 100 years, plant people."

She recently retired as Seattle Public Schools (SPS) Career & Technical Education (CTE) Health & Human Services (HHS) Program/ Pathway lead and is now at South Seattle College mentoring / observing educators completing their final (CTE) practicum. Recognized for National / State leadership and awards, she was recently selected as the 2018 National ACTE Lifetime Achievement winner.

Tammy Tan - Board Member

Tammy Tan is currently the lead teacher for the Montessori International School of Bellevue, having previously served other Montessori schools and as a teacher of Chinese. She holds a B.A. in General Education and is a MACTE certified, Montessori teacher. Tammy believes that young children offer new life and hope; they are a joy, creative, at peace, and-- both the present and the future. Tammy says Montessori Education is not only teaching children Math or Language. Far beyond it, this education is for life. It includes parents and families and is an Education whereby a person becomes whole – to have peace and love with self and others.


Joseph Weisnewski - Board Member

Joseph is a composer, musician, and a certified Montessori teacher. He has studied and performed music in the United States and England. He has composed professionally for stage, dance, and film productions. 
Joseph also developed a music program for children based on his knowledge of Montessori methods. He has shared his classroom experiences and successes when speaking at national and local Montessori conferences.
Joseph is also the creator of the popular podcast Pig Town Stories. The podcast and many of his compositions are available on most streaming platforms.

Advisory Board

Wes Harman

Wes is now the owner of a refrigerated goods long haul  truck. He is also a parent  who enrolled his two children in a Montessori school when they were little, and was a strong supporter of their early learning. A former college English professor, Wes travels so much at work now, he functionally lives on the road, taking occasional breaks in far -flung locations of beauty or interest where time and tide may deposit him.

Anne Heil

Anne has been working with young children for more than 30 years in both Montessori and traditional schools in the US, Venezuela, Nigeria, and El Salvador.  Montessori education drew her in with its emphasis on peace and holistic education.  Then Anne fell in love with teaching when she observed a child's joy at her first realization that letters and sounds unlocked the door to reading. She continues to believe that Montessori's vision of the development of children on their path to adulthood has been proven timeless and is even more important now in our chaotic world.

John Heil

Originally a research scientist, John has taught chemistry, math, physics and environmental studies. He has worked with students in environmental research and restoration projects, believing that when children and adults work outdoors, their observation and interaction in a natural setting gives them a better sense of themselves and a connection to the global community. Their focus is on a peaceful world for children and environments and communities that meet their needs – physically, emotionally and socially.

Maryann Johnston

Maryann Johnston is a certified Montessori Teacher serving on the board for Montessori Institute of America (MIA). She is also on the Training Board for the Department of Learning (DEL).


Eileen Knobbs

A graduate of the University of Washington in 1966. Eileen Knobbs taught 30 years in Seattle Public Schools. She headed the department of Family and Consumer Sciences where she developed the first Food Sciences Curriculum  for Seattle high school students  so they could gain Science lab credits and receive food handlers licenses.  In addition to teaching Sewing, fashion and textiles and a class in Child development, she involved students in a leadership program called the FCCLA . 
Eileen was awarded the Teacher of the year in Washington State by the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences.  
In 2003, she initiated an educational collaboration  between  the non- profit, Maria Montessori 501c3  organization to occupy the child care  rooms in the wing adjacent to her classroom. Both she and Roxanne Trees  had helped   design the child care environment when the School was reconstructed. It included a kitchen area. Originally, an observation room was prepared to view the children's community . 

Some students chose to  experience  on-the-job internships working alongside certified Montessori mentors.

Diane Saint

Diane Saint graduated from University of Oregon with a Bachelors in Elementary Education.  She earned a Masters in Whole Systems Design from Antioch Seattle. Diane, long time resident of Seattle, is currently studying and informing the community on how to benefit from quality-of-life boosting health supplements.

Diane has held a lifelong interest in forms of self expression as modalities for healing and self knowledge.  She has designed and offered workshops for adults exploring creativity through art, music, and movement.  Her work with children include a number of art projects designed to  activate and develop the child's personal sense of aesthetics.  Her personal interests include voice and guitar.

Yeon-Hee Yim 

Yeon-Hee Yim is Audio Director and Master Music Guide at Sonaesthetics Studios, composing music and providing music education for an authentic and empowered lifestyle. She has over 14 years of teaching experience including being an ESL/ELL tutor, writing coach, drumline instructor and more. She provides valuable skills to this board including: administration, technical support, event coordination, and web management.

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