Meet Our Staff and Educators
Ms. Inayat Unissa Bergum
Founder/CEO & Director
My calling began shortly after obtaining a superb Montessori training in Paris, France in 1962, and it was to unite children from all aspects of life in the United States, Canada, as well as Mexico through the Montessori way of education. All of my educational training has led me to understand that I inherited my passion for children by way of my aunt, Noor Unissa. In 1962, I took part in assisting Tom Laughlin (an actor and director in the movie, Billy Jack) to start the first Montessori in Southern California. It was named the Sophia Montessori of Santa Monica. In 1964, I opened the first Montessori in Costa Mesa, California, known as the Montessori Centre.
Lisa Marie Nicol
Director's Assistant & Chief Administrator
I am a Certified Holistic Nutrition Consultant, Life Coach, photographer and a creative entrepreneur by nature. I'm passionate about helping people heal their mind, body and spirit holistically. Whether it be nutrition guidance, spiritual guidance or help with business goals I encourage self-advocacy through the process. Having an entrepreneurial background starting at the age of 18, from owning local gas stations to coffee shops and business start-ups, I have learned many valuable skills and offer them to our school such as planning, communication, organizational, problem-solving and many years of bookkeeping.
I have always had a love for children and their inquisitive minds and authentic nature, which is what attracted me to accept the position here.
My name is Leyla Nikkel and I am the Principal for the Elementary program. I live in Duncan, on beautiful Vancouver Island, and acknowledge that, for millennia, the Malahat, Lake Cowichan, Quw'utsun, Halalt, Penelakut, Stz'uminus, and Lyackson Peoples have coexisted in harmony with the unceded territories I now call home. I thank them for their hospitality and am committed to working on building relationships with the first peoples here, one based in gratitude and respect.
I have Bachelor's Degrees in Environmental Science and Education, and am in the process of completing my Masters in Montessori Education. I am passionate about science, art, and making things, and love to share that passion with other people. I spend my free time recreating historical time periods, and am a skilled hand-worker, particularly enjoying the traditional craftsmanship skills involved in fibre, wood, metal, and clay. I am particularly passionate about the Design Process regardless of the medium I am working in, which moves from idea generation through to final reflections on the process of creation. One of my goals as an instructor is to help my students discover how amazing it feels to create something beautiful or functional with their own hands.
My name is Flora and I was born and raised in France where I worked as a teacher with the students of many age groups. I studied Celine Alvarez’s work about Montessori and neurosciences, she revived Montessori in France by adapting the teaching practices to our time and our children’s needs.
I fully embrace my deep passion for the Montessori way of learning. What better way to learn than by experiencing learning with all our senses and being surrounded by kindness, joy and sharing. I believe, what you learn and the way you learn as a child reflects in your behaviour and your choices as an adult.
In my spare time I like cooking and discovering new places and different cultures.
I look forward to continuing our good work with our students and to pass on the enrichment that Montessori learning has to offer. We are excited to meet and welcome our new students and families!
I was born in India and spent seventeen years teaching and following my passion for working with children. I moved to Canada 6 years ago with my husband and two sons in Grade 5 and Preschool here in Duncan. I took my ECEA certification at Northern Lights College. I love teaching here at our International Montessori Academy. I am hardworking, compassionate, and passionate about working with children. It is never a dull moment working with kids!
I was born and raised on a beautiful island located northeast of Mindanao in the Philippines. I graduated from college with a four-year course of Bachelor of Science in Office Administration major in Computer Education. My journey to be part of International Montessori Academy began when I volunteered as required to be accepted in ECE program in Vancouver Island University then later was hired as employee of the said school. I took my ECEA at Pacific Rim Institute and currently working on getting my Montessori certificate (3-6) , early childhood educator, infant and toddler, and special needs educator at Vancouver Island University. I love watching the children learn and discover in a Montessori approach. Working with children, I am constantly learning more, and it is my passion in life to invent new ways to relate to children and help them form their foundations for learning as they go forward into life. The children have all become my best friends.
Originally, I am from Alberta and moved to Vancouver Island two years ago to be closer with my family.
In Alberta, I worked in two Montessori schools. I hold a BC certificate as an early childhood education assistant and an early childhood diploma in Montessori at the North American Montessori Center. I am also currently completing my lower elementary Montessori diploma.
In my free time, I enjoy yoga, swimming, hiking, and exploring outside. And an interesting fact about me is that I have traveled to five out of seven continents!
I am passionate about providing a safe space for children, which ignites the internal love for learning. I am so pleased to be working another year at the school and a looking forward to all the new experiences our class will share together.
I've enjoyed my career in early learning in several capacities over the last twenty years. I especially enjoy gardening, baking, science experiments, and art and look forward to sharing these activities with the children. I am originally from the eastern townships in Quebec. I’m bilingual and I’m really looking forward to using French in the classroom on a daily basis.
I've been a part of the Vancouver Island community since 2016 and started my journey into early childhood education in 2018. I have a passion for seeing children thrive and grow and look forward to having my own! In my free time, I enjoy horseback riding, painting, and going for walks.