Here at Pikake, we believe that the deeply connected relationships developed between teachers, children, and their families are crucial for a child to become a lifelong learner. We look at families as teaching partners, and encourage their involvement.  Our teachers are exceptionally well-qualified, multi-lingual, passionate about early childhood education. As guides and researchers, they enjoy reexamining their teaching practices and inventing new ways to expand children's journey of learning. Since we have a low teacher-student ratio in the classroom, they are able to work closely with each child, listen intently, and be present in the moment with the children. They always enjoy sharing the joy and wonder of learning.


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Tomomi Saito-Kalkhoven, M.ed.

Educator & Director of Pikake School

Tomomi has been working with children for over 10 years. After graduating from Keio University, she joined a project team to start-up a child center "Camp Nepos" in Tokyo Disney Resort, Japan. She worked as a program manager, designer, trainer, and performer. She enjoyed creating an imaginative program for children and a training program for educators in Japan. She moved to Honolulu to finish her master's in early childhood education. She obtained Montessori Early Childhood Credential from AMS (American Montessori Society) along with Hawaii teaching license for K-3. She has worked in several Montessori schools as a lead teacher in Hawaii and Washington. Pikake School has been her dream project for years. Tomomi has strong roots with Montessori; she continues to learn about the Reggio Emilia educational model, and she would like to explore the new possibilities in early childhood education for our next generation of children.  Her motto is "Continue learning with children."

Born in Tokyo, Lives in Eastside, WA. Outside of the classroom, she enjoys spending time with her family, hiking, growing veggies, yoga, and reading. 

Chiaki Sugihara

Admin Manager

Through raising her own children and experience as a mother and a teacher, Chiaki has learned how important the environment during early childhood. She hopes each child can spend his/her childhood in the safe and nurturing environment. She would like to be side by children being a witness of children's beautiful eyes and smile and also keep learning from them.

Graduated from Ochanomizu University, Japan, with M.S. Human Environmental Sciences, Life Sciences

​Working in Montessori Schools since 2014


Michelle Meza
English Class Lead Teacher

Born and raised in Southern California, the wide variety of diversity inspired Michelle's career in teaching English as a Second Language (ESL). In California she worked closely with international students of various ages as a private ESL tutor. After relocating to Washington she discovered Montessori as well as the Nurtured Heart Approach and believes in its ability to bring out incredible potential in students. Michelle continues to tutor international students both in person and remotely via video chats. She completed her Montessori training, TESOL certification, and Teaching ESL to Young Learners Certification. She believes in the power of being present and compassionate with all students. Her favorite part about Pikake is that aside from quality academics, Pikake encourages empathetic views towards others and developing vital social skills.

Sachie Takezawa
Japanese Lead Teacher

Sachie majored in theatre arts and continued to participate in many troupes after graduation. She was motivated to enlighten many children with the enjoyment of theatre arts after reading picture books to her own children. Since 2011, she formally joined ”Mimibunko” for puppet show performances and reading stories for small children. She operated many small performances for multiple Japanese preschools and Japanese-themed events, as well as reading picture books to emergent schools near Seattle. She believes theatre arts do not only require you to expand acting skills but also have many other components such as script writing, composing music, constructing stage props and many more. She is hoping to share these fantastic components of theatre arts with students at Pikake school. She enjoys working along with this optimistic environment full of laughter and constantly pushing herself to learn new things in this wonderful school. 

A graduate of Nihon University of Art. Her hobbies are watching movies and plays, listening to music, eating delicious food, and drawing oil paintings.


Maple Jackson
Bilingual Class Lead & Kindergarten Teacher

Maple has worked in Montessori environments for over 18 years, holding certifications for Elementary I and II from Houston Montessori Center and Montessori Teacher Education Center San Francisco Bay Area, respectively.  She has also worked in a bilingual Japanese/English pre-K classroom setting and greatly enjoyed observing the students expand their vocabularies in both languages.  In addition to working with children, Maple also enjoys playing taiko, volunteering at various events for the Eastside Japanese-American community, and reading manga with her teenage daughter, who is a Montessori child.

Ayaka Tamanaha
Early Preschool Teacher

Ayaka sensei started her career in early childhood education in Japan. She obtained certifications for nursery school teacher, KinderCare teacher - level 2, and recreation instructor.

 After working at a daycare and a kindergarten in Japan, she moved to Bellevue in 2010. Here, she continued on the same career track, working at a nursery and also helping ASD children as an Applied Behavior Analysis Therapist. Through her experience, she appreciates how important the Montessori’s education of ‘Self-education', ‘Observation', and ‘Prepared environment' are for the children.

 In her personal time, she likes taking walks on sunny days, and enjoys tea and sweets.


Chloe ​McGaffey

English Class Assistant Teacher

Chloe was born and raised in Washington, and has worked with and been inspired by children for a majority of her life. In addition to babysitting and volunteering time in an infant nursery, she has also worked as an infant/toddler assistant teacher. She is working towards completing an Early Childhood Education certification, and plans on eventually pursuing Montessori training. She believes strongly in giving children a compassionate, loving space to express and be completely themselves, and in integrating plenty of artwork and creativity into her teaching. She also enjoys art as a personal hobby, as well as baking (and eating) tasty desserts.


Kyoko Matsuda

Japanese Class Assistant Teacher

With experiences raising children in Hawaii and Los Angeles, Kyoko believes in the importance of a bilingual environment starting at a young age. For children growing up in these diverse communities, she strives to teach them the beauty of the Japanese language and culture. She developed an interest in teaching Japanese after her experience at a Japanese learning academy, and wishes to continue this through Montessori education at Pikake School. She wants to be there for the children and foster a safe environment for them to allow better concentration. Surrounded by many smiles, she wishes to help the children realize the fun of deep understanding, while continuing to learn herself.

Graduated from the California State University with a B.S. in Computer Science.

Mayumi Miller

Saturday Japanese Teacher

Mayumi came to the Seattle area in 2013. She worked at a Montessori preschool as an assistant teacher in Bellevue for 3 years, leaving when she gave birth to her son in 2016.  Mayumi has worked as an English teacher for children in an English conversation school in Japan, a substitute teacher at a Montessori preschool in Indiana, and holds an Infant/Toddler diploma from the North American Montessori Center.  She earned the J-SHINE teaching certificate in Japan, and a TEC (Teaching English to Children) certificate while studying abroad in Vancouver, Canada.  Mayumi believes that children learn best when they are able to study and play by following their own interests, and she is delighted to support them and teach them as they do.

Kylie Mitsuda
Early Preschool Teacher

Originally from Honolulu, Hawaii Kylie moved to Washington in 2020. 

She has an Associates in Teaching and has been working with children for the past 8 years.

 After moving to Washington she discovered Montessori and will pursue obtaining her Montessori Certificate. 

She enjoys the Montessori philosophy and implementing self directed activities, hands on learning, observing,and allowing children to make their own choices.

 She wants to encourage and nurture a safe learning environment for students here at Pikake. In her personal time she enjoys exploring parks, spending time with her dog, and listening to music.