Sima Cheregosha – Founder & Board Chair
Sima moved to the Dallas area twenty five years ago, and co-founded ArborCreek Montessori School (ACMS) in Farmers Branch, TX, now completing two decades as an educational institution par excellence. Sima’s accomplished career as a seasoned Montessori educator, first as primary guide, then Director, and now as Head of School, has uniquely positioned her to launch ArborCreek Montessori Academy (ACMA) for age groups 9-18. She believes Montessori education develops motivation and discipline; it empowers students with a sense of self worth and confidence in a rapidly changing world.
As founder and chairperson, Sima provides the vision and strategy to make ACMA a reality. She directs board members in their efforts and motivates a highly efficient team. Her leadership qualities make her the driving force behind ACMA.
“I am inspired by people who will stop at nothing to have a positive impact on other people’s lives. I feel extremely fortunate to be part of such a committed team engaged in creating an environment for older students who will undoubtedly benefit from the value of a Montessori education.”
Sima is an American Montessori Society (AMS) Life Member, AMS certified for ages 3 to 6, AMS trained for ages 0-3, and Language and Math trained for lower elementary. She holds a Master of Liberal Studies from Southern Methodist University, preceded by many years experience in literature and foreign language studies. She is fluent in English and Persian.
Berenice San Juan – Board Member
Berenice is a dedicated parent of to her two children, both of whom are students at ACMS and will one day attend ACMA. She is excited and motivated to be a part of ACMA because she strongly believes that her children would benefit long term from the opportunity to extend their Montessori education beyond the primary grade level.
As a board member, Berenice provides expertise and guidance in financial and accounting matters as well as crucial administrative support on many projects. She also teaches Spanish at ACMA, further enhancing the curriculum offered to our students. Her dedication and eagerness to find solutions rounds out the ACMA board.
Berenice is fluent in English and Spanish. She has a degree in Accounting and is a small business owner in Dallas.
Jennifer Wester – Board Member
Jennifer is a Dallas native and the parent of two ACMS students. She has had an illustrious career as a professional skater in ice dance, having represented Team USA from 2005-2010. Jennifer has performed for live audiences and TV in several countries, and credits skating with enriching her life with inter-cultural experiences and friendships she otherwise may never have experienced. Since 2008, as an athlete representative on advisory committees, she participated in the governance organization of United States Figure Skating. From 2010-2015 she also directed and owned a community skate school in Newington, CT.
“I’m extremely thankful to have found ACMS for my children, and excited to be a part of the foundation and growth of ACMA. I believe academia must not produce a normalized product because no child deserves to be averaged. Montessori is a proven, successful response to the need for ever better and individualized education while simultaneously teaching children how to create and interact within community and respect differences; it’s everything that public education doesn’t provide.”
Jennifer holds a degree in Computer Science and Fine Art from Yale University, and is fluent in English, Russian, and Italian. She is an acclaimed performance artist, metal sculptor and painting artist as well as the co-owner of a family business supplying custom pressure vessels to aerospace and research facilities and is active as a metal sculptor and painting artist.
Kelsey O’Keefe – Board Member
Kelsey is a parent of Montessori students in the primary level with our sister school, ACMS. A native of Seattle, Washington, Kelsey and her family moved to Dallas in 2014. She practiced immigration law for 12 years in Washington and Texas. When her children started school at ACMS, she observed tremendous personal growth in each of them, and she become increasingly intrigued with Montessori education. In 2017, Kelsey decided to transition from the legal world to focus on our project on a full-time basis.
As a ACMA board member, Kelsey works on fundraising projects and operational planning, which provides her the opportunity to learn more about the many wonderful organizations in our area that support a greater future for the children in North Texas. Kelsey is a self-starter and brings outstanding value to the board – her perseverance, single-minded focus, attention to detail and consistency are invaluable.
“I am thrilled to be a part of the future of ACMA, where children will continue the journey of realizing their full potential as citizens of our community. Together we are ensuring that each child has the tools to develop into thoughtful, engaged, and driven individuals who will make the world a better place. It is an honor to be part of this project.”
Patty Said – Board Member
Patty is a talented Montessori teacher with 25 years of experience and administrator for 20 years. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in History and English with minors in Art and French. In addition, Patty is an American Montessori Society Certified Guide for Elementary, ages 6-12, and has completed some courses in Montessori 0-3 and all coursework for Montessori 3-6. Patty’s children have also benefitted from Montessori education, having attended Montessori school as well as homeschooling.
We are fortunate to draw from Patty’s wealth of expertise in Montessori education and administration, and she helps to ensure that we continue to adhere to Montessori fundamentals as we continue to expand to serve more students.