Gardengate Academy, 249 N Main St, Natick, Massachusetts 01760, United States

(508)720-0033

GARDENGATE ACADEMY

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Gabi maza

Founder & Owner 

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SALAM ELSAKKA

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Director

Salam has over 8 years of experience working as a teacher and an Administrator in independent schools. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Early Education & Care with a concentration in Administration and Supervision from the University of Massachusetts - Boston. Before starting with Gardengate, she was an Assistant Director of an Early Childhood Center in Boston. Prior to that, she was a Teacher throughout college, gaining hands on experience within Infant, Toddler and Preschool classrooms. 

Inspired by the Reggio approach, Salam loves being able to show children their potential and help them learn how to more effectively achieve their milestones. She aims to create a motivating community for  educators in a fast paced, ever changing environment. Salam believes that strong communities are based on diversity, fairness and respect for all and she loves being able to provide these elements within a nurturing environment. 

Outside of work, she enjoys traveling and spending time with family and friends.

JACKIE COUTOUMAS

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Toddler Lead & Dance Coordinator

Jackie graduated from Dean College with a bachelors in dance and a minor in business. She takes passion in her teaching and choreographing as well as encourages creativity, confidence and being active! Her work has been showcased in numerous shows throughout college and her most recent work was performed in Danceworks at Fitzgerald Theater. Jackie has been teaching dance for over 8 years in local Dance Studios and most recently at Cambridge Rindge and Latin School. Her styles include ballet, tap, hip hop, jazz, contemporary, salsa and musical theater.

Aside from teaching dance, Jackie has worked with children ages 2 to 5 years in the last 6 years. She is a certified lead teacher by the Department of Early  Education and Care.  She is excited to transmit her passion for the Reggio Style to children and families within our community. 

In her free time, Jackie likes to watch movies, play with her puppy Brady and hang out with her family and friends.

ISABELA CARVALHO

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Toddler Teacher

Isabela is a student at Massbay Community college. She is pursuing a career as an educator with a concentration in English. She will be graduating with an Associates Degree in the Spring of 2020 and will continue on to pursue a higher education. Her prior experience with children includes nannying her niece from infancy throughout preschool. She enjoys working with children as she loves seeing them grasp ideas, become independent and develop their own personalities. While growing up, she was always outside riding her bike, climbing trees, exploring forests, swimming at local lakes or getting her hands dirty in anything outdoors. She believes nature is an important aspect of a child’s development. She is overjoyed to be teaching toddlers by using the Reggio Style approach. 

She is elated to be a part of our Gardengate community.

"Learning alongside Ms. Jackie has been nothing short of extraordinary."

In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family, writing poetry, exploring local coffee shops, cooking, and traveling. 

JANET CRAMER

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Infant Lead Teacher

Janet holds a BS/MS in Computer Science. After working in the Computer Science field for 14 years, she decided to stay home full time with her four children.

When her youngest child entered first grade, Janet became a Foster Parent and fostered several children in need of temporary homes. A few years later, Janet  began pursuing a career in Early Childhood Education. She is Lead Teacher certified by the Department of Education and is continuing her classes at Mass Bay Community College to further her certifications.

Janet has a second degree black belt in Taekwondo. For several summers she taught Taekwondo to children ages 5-10 at a summer camp in Needham and Robert Giorgio’s School of Taekwondo. Her love of language, nature, and art has been of personal interest as she explores the world in her infant classroom. 

During her free time, Janet works as a licensed Real Estate agent and enjoys showing homes in the MetroWest area! She loves football, basketball, exercising, baking, eating and spending time with family/friends.

ROB CARNEY

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After School Lead

Rob Carney is a certified Holistic Lifestyle Coach, Reiki practitioner, & Thai Bodyworker. Rob holds a Bachelor's Degree in Sustainable Food & Farming with a concentration on Holistic Health from UMass Amherst and is currently enrolled in his Master's for Business Administration at UMass Boston. Motivated by a concussion that knocked him out of activities at 17 years old, he set out on a mission to become the best version of himself and empower others in the process.

Rob has worked with many of the best nutritionists, acupuncturists, massage therapists, and other integrative practitioners south of Boston. Each experience has been a stepping stone of learning and growth which has led to the next. In early 2017, Rob set out on his journey to Southeast Asia. It was here that some monumental shifts occurred. Being able to live in the jungles of Sri Lanka as the only American, Rob gained perspective and experience connecting without the use of a common language. Here, Rob worked with the children on the nearly 300 acre farm, teaching English & practices of Sustainability to protect our planet. This last experience was an enriching inspiration for our Reggio Style which he practices naturally with our children in class.  In addition, Rob has spent time working at various schools and leading classes to help the youth become more in tune with their bodies and share his knowledge of health. 

Rob brings a unique skill-set and knowledge from the world of Functional Health & Sustainability that he is excited to bring to Gardengate. He believes that children should be in touch with the natural world; including plants, animals, and having a connection to their own bodies through moving and breathing.

He looks forward to incorporating these aspects into our After School program!

LINDA BURSCH

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Preschool Lead

Linda has always had a passion for teaching and made the decision to study Early Education and Care at 12 years old. When it was time to go to high school, she chose to go to go to J. P. Keefe Technical High School to study Early Education and Care and become a certified Lead Teacher by the Department of Education and Care. During her senior year, she realized she wanted to continue schooling and chose to study Photography. She made the decision to go to Salem State University majoring in Art with a concentration in Photography with a Minor in Theatre.

Linda has 6 years of experience working with children and about 2 years of experience working for various photography companies before realizing she preferred to do freelance work. Linda shares her love and passion for the Reggio style by exposing children to nature and love for art expression. 

Outside of work Linda spends time with family and friends, watching movies, reading comics, occasionally plays video games with her siblings, painting, drawing and anything artsy as well as fitting in freelance photography work where she can. 

MARY RODRIGUEZ

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Infant Teacher

Mary holds a Medical Coding Certificate and a Medical Office Administrative Assistant Certificate from Massbay Community College and obtained both with High Honors. Mary is currently a student at Penn Foster and has five years of experience as a Medical Records Coordinator in a nursing home. 

In 2013, Mary worked at Kathleen Daniel Nursing Home and Bethany Health Care Center bringing high quality care for their patients. Mary is excited to bring her love of nature and warm care into our classroom. She speaks English, Spanish and Portuguese fluently.

Mary is a happily married, mother of 3 children and first time grandmother of a young infant. Mary is excited to continue providing a nurturing and loving environment for our young minds.

During her free time, Mary enjoys going to the movies and restaurants but best of all, Mary loves spending time with her family.

NADA TUFFAHA

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Teacher's Assistant

Nada is currently a student at Suffolk University majoring in Theater and Early Childhood Education. She has always been passionate about Performing Arts, as she started acting and singing at a very young age. She has had professional training in both mediums and appeared in several commercials, shows and performances throughout her life. Nada brings her joyful enthusiasm into our classrooms with our young and older children. 

Nada has been working with children for the past 2 years. She has volunteered at the "Found In Translation Program" which helps low-income women come out of poverty by obtaining jobs as Medical Interpreters. She would offer reliable care for their children while mothers attended their training. 

Nada is bilingual, speaking both English and Arabic fluently. During her free time, she enjoys playing the piano, writing music, baking, traveling and spending time with her family.

Nada would like to continue to pursue a career in education as she loves being with children. She aims to create a joyful environment for them to achieve their milestones. 

Sara Williams

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Art History Teacher

Sara holds a BA from Brandeis University in Classics and Classical Archaeology and a MA from Tufts University in Teaching. She has taught History at the high school level for 15 years, but her biggest passion (aside from her awesome family) is Art History!  Sara teaches Art History at Hopkinton High School and is also in charge of the yearbook there.

When she isn’t teaching History, Sara enjoys doing lots of arts and crafts with her kids (including making slime)! She also loves to spend time in Maine in the summer, read, and play with her eight guinea pigs and one turtle.  

Eamonn o'Hara

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Piano Teacher

Eamonn O'Hara was a scholarship student at both the New England Conservatory Prep School and the Boston Conservatory. His principal teachers were with Jonathan Bass, Ramon River and William Daghlian, and he also took a masterclass with the legendary Leon Fleischer.

Eamonn teaches at the Amadeus Music School in Lexington; he has previously taught piano at LexiMusic, and pedagogy at the Boston Arts Academy. He brings to his students not only his extensive teaching and performing experience but also his in-depth study of the Alexander Technique, in order to help them employ natural and effective movement in developing their piano playing.

Eamonn is a versatile performer who has appeared as soloist and chamber musician at a wide range of venues in New England, and has also performed as symphonic pianist with the Cape Ann and Melrose Symphony Orchestras and with the Prospero Trio.

Mia tsai

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Piano Teacher

Mia  Tsai enjoys a diverse and fulfilling life in music. Ms. Tsai has had a passion for chamber music and teaching for most of her life. She began her musical education on the piano at the age of three and soon after discovered her love for the cello. An active performer, Ms. Tsai enjoys performing music ranging from Classical to Jazz and collaborating with artists from different genres. She has recently collaborated with such renowned musicians as William Preucil, Invoke String Quartet, Laura Bossert, and Terry King.  She recently completed her Master of Music Degree studying with Professor Terry King at Syracuse University, where she taught as a graduate Teaching Assistant.

Ms. Tsai has held principal positions in the Lyrica Chamber Orchestra, Syracuse University Symphony Orchestra, Longy School of Music Conservatory Orchestra, Tainan University of Technology Orchestra and Baroque Ensemble, and Chiayi Chih-Yin music ensemble.She currently serves as the principal cellist of the MIT Summer Philharmonic under George Ogata.

As a teacher, Ms. Tsai aims to help her students enjoy the journey of learning music

and discovering their passion for telling their own musical stories. As music reflects

life, Ms. Tsai encourages her students to apply what they learn through their musical

experiences into other applicable areas of their lives.

Contact Us

Join our Team!

We are currently hiring! 

If you are an enthusiastic individual passionate about children contact us!

We are looking for Full Time and Part Time positions 

Send us an email including your Resume and a short Bio.