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Our Staff

At Little Elephant, we are incredibly 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 drives us to work as hard as we do. But we also like to have fun, and we enjoy working together.

Natanya 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 in 1992. With 29 years of 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 powerfully to support Little Elephant’s core values of Kindness, Peace, Passion for Learning, Community Building, and Creativity. She is also the mother of 18-year-old Duncan.


Paola Contreras - Lead Teacher - Caterpillar Class

Paola joined LEMS in 2020.

Jennifer Kottage Lund - Lead Teacher - Butterfly Class

Jennifer joined LEMS in 2017.

Flor Zepeda - Support Teacher - Butterfly Class

Flor is the Butterfly class support teacher.

Monica Lannon - Afternoon Lead Teacher

Monica joined Little Elephant in 2021, bringing her love and creativity to art and science. She was raised in Los Altos in the South Bay and moved to Oakland to pursue her passion for art. 


Monica holds a degree in Graphic Design from California College of the Arts, a Culinary Degree from Tanta Marie, and an Early Childhood Education Degree from Merritt College. She has always felt her education came full circle with teaching. Monica has been teaching in the classroom for seven years and eleven years as a teacher's aide for elementary and middle school and taught a pod of kindergartners for a year. 


Her innovation and creativity are driven by the children’s excitement when chasing bubbles, dancing to music, creating art, building sand castles, reading, and their enthusiasm and curiosity for nature and science. Monica loves to travel, hike, visit museums, watch great movies, listen to music and NPR, cook and share excellent meals and spend time with family.

Amber Doyle - Support Teacher - Caterpillar Class

Amber grew up in Austin, Texas, and moved to the Bay Area in 1999. In 2011, she received her American Montessori Society Early Childhood Teaching Credential from St. Mary’s College and has taught in a Montessori environment.


As a teacher, Amber has discovered various exciting educational approaches to support each child's emotional, social, intellectual, and physical growth. Her goal is to provide children with a positive, inspiring vision of the world and help them find their place within it. In addition to her Montessori credential, Amber holds an Interdisciplinary Studies Degree from Amherst. Her area of concentration is Children’s Learning and Development, emphasizing Special Education.


She enjoys traveling the world with her amazing daughter in her free time, sharing food with friends and family, and having a good dance party in the kitchen. 


Julie Larwood - Lead Teacher

Julie helped to set up Little Elephant Too! and has been the morning lead teacher since the opening in 2016. She had already been teaching for over 30 years prior. 

During college, she studied early childhood education and worked in childcare at a Montessori school. Then moved up to assistant, lead teacher & director over the years.

Julie received her Montessori certificate at San Francisco Montessori Training Center/AMS in San Leandro, CA.   

Julie grew up in the Bay Area and now lives in Oakland with her husband. She volunteers for the Oakland Museum and other activities to help beautify Oakland. She enjoys the ocean and little short trips up and down the coast of California!

Katsuko Kataoka - Teacher

Katsuko was born and raised in Hiroshima, Japan, where she earned her BA in Elementary Education and Special Education. After working in the fashion industry for 15 years in Tokyo and San Francisco, Katsuko made a career change, returning to the education field to become a teacher. Katsuko started working at a Montessori school in Alameda in 2016 and obtained her Montessori early childhood credential in 2018.


She joined Little Elephant Too! in 2022. Katsuko is very happy working with children and loves to share her language and culture with them.

Joseph Niles - Afternoon Lead Teacher

Joseph is a passionate early childhood educator with over ten years of experience teaching preschool-age children in the East Bay Area. He brings a unique perspective to his work, informed by his love of history, art, writing, and nature.

Joseph attained his Montessori Teacher's Certificate early in his career through the Montessori Teacher Education Center, which has shaped his teaching approach and understanding of child development. He continues to pursue his education, currently enrolled in classes to obtain degrees in Early Childhood Education and Human Development.

In addition to his passion for education, Joseph also enjoys building things. With his creativity and hands-on skills, he contributes to developing a stimulating and engaging outdoor learning space for children. He is currently working to enrich the outdoor environment at Little Elephant Too!

Julia Arriola - Support Teacher

Julia Arriola joined Little Elephant in 2020. She has been focused on exploring new ways to create strong connections with children and facilitate their growth and development. Throughout her time at Little Elephant, Julia has taken great pleasure in watching children develop and learn new skills. Her favorite part of working in this field is witnessing the sense of pride and accomplishment children feel when they have achieved a personal goal or milestone.


Julia is a highly skilled and experienced educator with a passion for working with children. She is patient, kind, and understanding, and she has a knack for making children feel comfortable and safe. Julia is also very creative and has a wealth of ideas for activities and games that are both educational and fun. She is always looking for new ways to challenge and engage children, and she is always willing to go the extra mile to help them succeed.

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