Our Staff

Co -Founder/ Educational Director

​“I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept…”  – Angela Y. Davis

Sharifa Hodges

Sharifa Hodges is Co-Founder and Educational Director at Seneca Village Montessori. She graduated from Brooklyn College with her Bachelors of Science in Business Management & Finance. After starting a family, she decided to move on from her career as a Marketing Manager and pursue her dreams of becoming an educator. Despite working full time, being a wife and a new mother, she tackled graduate school head on. Graduating from Touro College with her Masters degree in Childhood Education and Special Education was one of her proudest moments.

Sharifa has over 10 years of experience working with children. From her days as a teenager helping out in her mother’s day care to her time as a NYC public school teacher working with special needs students….not to mention raising her own two sons Allen and Oliver.

Working in the public school system, made it overly apparent to her that an alternative learning environment was needed for our children. A learning environment that was academically rigorous but also focused on fostering confidence, encouraging creativity, and teaching knowledge of self. Sharifa became more active in her community, volunteering her time to work with groups that were trying to make a difference. Through her work in the community she was introduced to and later became friends with Mama Isis. That was how Seneca Village Montessori School was born…two friends wanting to make a real difference for our youth.

Assistant Director

Zulu Co-Lead Teacher – 2- 3 yr olds

Mama Taswya

Mama Taswya graduated from Borough of Manhattan Community College with her degree in Social Work. After realizing she wanted a more hands on approach with fostering the development of children, she went on to get her BA in Early Childhood General and Special Education from Brooklyn College. She has also completed the NAMC Montessori Educators Program. Taswya has over 8 years of early childhood experience and her philosophy on teaching is to “appeal to the whole child”, which benefits their social, emotional, physical and cognitive development. She loves her people and understands that her contribution towards the goal of Black Liberation will come in the form of educating our youth!

Mama Shawnea

Mali Co-Lead Teacher – 3-5yr olds

Mama Shawnea was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. She has over four years of experience working as a Preschool Lead Teacher, with two of those years at a NYC Montessori Preschool. Before pursuing her career in Early Childhood Education, Shawnea originally went to school to obtain her degree in nursing. However, after having her daughter she decided that education is where she wanted to make her mark. She has her A.S. in Early Childhood Education and is currently pursuing her B.A. in Childhood Education at City College. Shawnea has her Child Development Associate (CDA) credential and is also CPR & First aid certified. She has a nurturing and loving spirit with science being her passion!

Mama Ashley

Mali Co-Lead Teacher – 3-5yr olds

Mama Ashley has her Masters of Arts in Sociology and Education fromTeachers College at Colombia University. She also has her Bachelors of Science in Learning Disabilities and Emotional and Behavioral Disabilities from Winthrop University. Mama Ashley has extensive childhood education experience, is a certified doula and also shares a deep passion for working towards making our community better through empowering our youth.

Mama Ballantyne

Kemet Assistant Teacher – 2yr olds

Mama Ballantyne is from the gorgeous St. Vincent and the Grenadines island located in the Caribbean. She is a mom of two beautiful little girls, Ntombi and Subira, ages twelve and two. Sobongile has over 5 years experience as an early childhood educator. She is a raw food vegan chef that loves holding workshops teaching families how to prepare healthy raw meals together. She also loves designing and creating children’s clothes and accessories.

Mama Monique

Zulu Co-Lead Teacher – 2- 3 yr olds

Mama Monique was born and raised on the beautiful island of  Trinidad and Tobago.  Her passion for the arts was cultivated here in the United States  while taking photography and interior design classes at The High School of Art & Design. After graduating, Monique wanted a career where she felt she could best help the families in her community and so went on to attain a degree in  Social Work.

While volunteering as a substitute teacher at a local school, Monique fell in love with the classroom. Teaching gave her the opportunity to merge together the two things she loved the most, creativity and helping her community. Monique has several years of  Early Childhood experience and is currently pursuing her B.A. Early Childhood Education.

Mama Blaire

Kemet Lead Teacher – 2yr olds

Mama Blaire is from Atlanta, GA. She holds a BFA in Dance with a minor is African/African American Studies from Fordham University and the Ailey School. Prior to Seneca Village, Blaire was an Assistant Teacher at an Arts-Based Montessori School in Atlanta for two years. In 2017, she started as an Assistant Teacher with Seneca Village. Aside from teaching, she is also a member of Ntrinsik Movement; an Afro-Modern Dance company based in Brooklyn. She has had the opportunity to perform and teach in Ghana, West Africa.