Meet our Staff


Cindy is the founder of The Child Unique and The Montessori Elementary School of Alameda (MESA), and has served as principal for over 30 years.  She has several degrees in education, human development, spirituality, cultural studies and a doctorate in Educational Leadership from UC Berkeley.  Cindy is also a public policy adviser, representing Montessori schools in California.  Apart from her passion for education, Cindy is a singer and choir director in Marin and Guerneville and a mom of adult children. Cindy speaks Dutch and Spanish. 

Administrative Assistant

Emily Lavender studied English and Art as an undergraduate at Grinnell College in her home state of Iowa.  She moved to California and earned her Master’s in Counseling Psychology at JFKU.  She has been a volunteer at Cat Town for several years where she fosters and socializes shy cats and kittens.  She is the mom of two young sons and loves living in Alameda.  She is also a voracious reader of all types of books and always welcomes new recommendations.

Assistant to Principal/Website Maintenance/Public Relations

Karen Mitchell has been seen around The Child Unique since 2008 both in and out of the office. This year, she returns as Cindy's executive assistant, and the website, enewsletter and public relations contact. Karen studied Voice Performance and Communication Studies at UCLA for her undergraduate degree and received her Teaching Credential from SFSU. She enjoys spending time with her husband, 12 year old daughter and puppy, singing, reading, painting, traveling and writing stories.

Elementary Teacher

Fatma lived in Cario, Egypt before coming to the Montessori Elementary School of Alameda. Fatma has been working with children for 18 years. She holds a degree in Education and her Montessori Primary teaching credential. She has been a Montessori Guide at private schools in Egypt since 2008. Fatma  is currently completing her  Elementary Montessori credential.  In her spare time, she loves reading, traveling and working out.

Assitant/Spanish Teacher

Jazmin Silva has been working with children since she was 15 years old and began as a tutor for an after school program in Oakland. She has spent time as an Arts & Crafts lead mentor and, coming from a large family, she always enjoys being around a large community of children. In her spare time she likes to create art, read and pursue healthy activities. She has a strong interest in history (like her mom) and likes attending sports events. She is looking forward to bringing her passion to The Child Unique. Jazmin is fluent in Spanish and will be teaching it this year. 

Music Teacher

Steve Slater has been playing drums for nearly twenty-five years. Steve attended Santa Barbara City College and San Jose University. He is a percussion instructor at Allegro Music and has his own studio in Fremont called School of Drums. Shortly after beginning to teach private lessons he was recruited to lead the drum line at Mission San Jose High School and has done so for ten years. In addition to working as a music instructor, Steve plays drums in three San Francisco Bay Area rock bands as well as for his own jazz ensemble, Park St. Trio, based out of Alameda. He is the primary songwriter for Park St. Trio, which has released two albums of original music.

Office Manager

Uta studied Social Pedagogy in Germany. After several years of traveling, she settled down in Alameda, where she is raising her two sons. She first heard about Montessori during her studies and was delighted when she was able to send her two children to a Montessori preschool. She is excited to be part of the office team at The Child Unique and loves to see children grow and flourish in the Montessori environment. In her free time she enjoys gardening, exploring the outdoors with her husband and sons, and visiting family in three continents.