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Meet the Team

Dedicated & Certified


Deborah Asham

School Director


Ms. Asham obtained her Early Childhood Educator level III in 1993.


Upon graduating with her ECE, Ms. Asham ran a 100-student junior kindergarten program in Thompson Manitoba.

After relocating with her family to Brandon in 1995, Ms. Asham stayed home with her 3 children until they were school age before venturing into the work force again.

In 2002 Ms. Asham was offered the position of Childcare Director then promoted to General Manager of Childcare with the YMCA. In her 11 years with those roles, she opened 4 early Learning Centers under the YMCA umbrella.

In 2013 in an effort to work at a slower pace and with her children preparing to leave the nest she left the YMCA to join the Brandon School Division as an ECE in the classroom where she was described as a “ great teaching partner and an amazing educator”.

About her time with BSD, Ms. Asham said,” I never planned on staying for 10 years but it was a position that offered me great work life balance. As time went on and things became quiet at home the time seemed right to venture back into licensed care.”

“ I am fortunate to be at a stage in my life with my children now grown and independent and this allows me to pursue professional opportunities that I am passionate about. I am excited to join the Montessori Smile family and look forward to collaborating with my new team to offer individualized education to our students and families.”

In her spare time Ms. Asham is also a Distance Education Instructor with the ECE Program Management faculty at Assiniboine Community College.

Ms. Deborah Asham ECE III


Gehad Hassan

Lead Teacher Ages 2 - 6

and Ages 6 - 9


Mrs. Hassan is an experienced Montessori Lead Directress with a passion for fostering holistic development in young learners, with over 8 years of dedicated practice. Gehad embarked on her professional journey in Mass Media Communication, earning a bachelor’s degree with a specialization in Broadcasting and TV from M.U.S.T University in Egypt in 2015.

Her initial career goal was to observe and engage with children to develop a project for a children's TV channel. However, her path eventually led her to the field of Montessori education, where she obtained a MACTE-accredited Montessori Diploma ages (2-6) and (6-9) from the Center for Guided Montessori Studies in the U.S.

Throughout her 8-year journey, Gehad has furthered her Montessori education by obtaining Montessori philosophy courses and classroom management courses from Acacia University. She has also gained a comprehensive Montessori overview of upper elementary education ages (9-12) covering grades 4 to 6.

She played a pivotal role in establishing Montessori departments within top international schools in Bali and Egypt. Her commitment to the Montessori philosophy is evident in her ability to create engaging learning environments that cater to children's social and emotional needs.

Her most recent contract involved teaching children aged 6 to 9 at a private Montessori School in Bali. Beyond the classroom, Gehad actively engages with the school community, conducting workshops for parents and fellow educators. She brings innovation to her English as a second language teaching through methods such as A~Z reading and the Orton Gillingham technique. 

Mrs. Gehad Hassan MACTE Dip 6 - 9, Dip 3 - 6, BSc MM 

Jess May

Lead Teacher Ages 2 - 3


Montessori NAMCE Diploma In Progress

Jess studied early childhood education at Bob Jones University in South Carolina and graduated with Bachelors in General Education. Jess also completed her Teaching English as a Second Language certification in 2019. She then worked as an English teacher at Genesis Preschool in Jaworzno, Poland for 2 years teaching English to children ages 2-6 as an assistant teacher. Jess’s travels then took her to Switzerland for a year to Au Pair. Locally Jess has worked at the Shilo daycare and ACC daycare. Jess first discovered Montessori in university and it stuck in her mind. She loved the idea of helping children learn and become independent and following the child. After seeing a Montessori School opening in Brandon Jess was thrilled at the opportunity. After working with us Jess has completely fallen in love with the philosophy and flourished as a teacher. Under the guidance of our Senior Montessori Teacher Gehad Hassan, she is now the lead teacher of the 0 – 3 classroom and currently completing her 0 – 3 NAMCE diploma. Jess will also have her ECE 2 completed May of 2024.

Jess May ECE II, B.G.E., TESL, Montessori NAMCE diploma 0-3 in training

Manisha Rani

Teacher Classroom Ages 2 - 6

ECE II, Montessori NAMCE 3 - 6 in training

Ms. Rani has been working in Early Childhood Education since 2018. Originally from India, she began her childhood career in Canada. First receiving her Early Childhood Education at Northern College of Applied Arts and Technology in Toronto Ontario then further advancing her education by receiving her classification of ECE II in Winnipeg Manitoba. After working in Toronto Ontario with preschoolers at BrightPath Kids she settled into her first Montessori experience at The Prep Montessori Daycare in Winnipeg Manitoba. Manisha, with her ECE II in hand, supported a Montessori classroom and was able to work directly under a Montessori trained teacher for 2 years of guided mentorship before deciding to pursue her own teaching diploma. Through this experience she was able to strengthen her understanding and philosophy of the Montessori program. Manisha has now joined Montessori Smile in Brandon Manitoba and pursued her own studies for certification from NAMCE Montessori Teaching Ages 3 – 6. She choose to work with children not only to improve childcare but to positively influence children’s lives. As an educator, she values and helps develop each child’s individual strengths, interests, skills, abilities and knowledge to extend their learning. Manisha’s strength in having both her Canadian Early Childhood Education diploma and Montessori experience has prepared her in leading our school opening and helping Montessori Smile harness the Montessori curriculum in a Manitoba classroom setting.  

Ms. Manisha Rani ECE II, Montessori NAMCE 3 - 6 in training


Sumera Al Ahdal

Teaching Assistant


Sumera started her Montessori journey working as a Kindergarten Teacher at Dr. Maria Montessori Child Development Centre in Pakistan.
After working at this school for 2 years she established a strong understanding for the philosophy.

Since moving to Brandon Manitoba she has worked as an Educational Assistant for the Brandon School Division and with the afterschool program with the YMCA.

Most recently Sumera joined us as an EA from Meadows School where she has now found her way back to Montessori with us. 

Thilini Fernando

Teacher Classroom Ages 2 - 6

AMI dip, BSc TT, MSc Psy

Thilini Photo for website.jpg

Arriving in Summer 2024

Mrs. Fernando has been an educator for over 13 years, with experience teaching infants through middle school. 

Mrs. Fernando completed her Montessori diploma for primary ages 3-6 from Good Shepherd Maria Montessori Training Centre in 2008. Her Montessori Diploma is an accredited Association International Montessori diploma which is the leading Montessori Teachers education college. 

Mrs. Fernando then completed her Bachelors Degree in Teaching Technology from Sikkim Manipal University IN in 2009. With the BSc. In Teaching Technology Mrs. Fernando was able to study more about educational psychology, educational methods and educational philosophies. The program covered areas on how to introduce, design, develop, utilize and manage technology in the field of education.

Mrs. Fernando was inclined to further educate herself to continue to expertly support her Autistic students. She completed a Autism Spectrum Certification from the Institute of Early Learning Fairfax County Nova in 2017. 


Finally just this year 2023 Thilini completed her Masters in Applied Psychology and Behavior change at Cardiff Metropolitan University UK.


Through her career Mrs. Fernando has worked in the US for 7 years in total as a lead Montessori Teacher. She has worked as a Montessori consultant to leading private schools  in Sri Lanka. In 2016  Mrs. Fernando served as a vice principal at a leading Montessori School in Sri Lanka with 250 students ranging from 3-6 years of age and 30 staff members to manage and support. In 2020 - 2022 Mrs. Fernando co-founded a Montessori inspired day care with her colleague which was closed due to covid. At present she is working at  Special Education Unit at the Ladies College Colombo with children of different challenges and abilities. Thilini will be joining our team upon her arrival to Canada in summer/fall 2024.

Mrs. Thilini Fernando AMI dip, BSc TT, MSc Psy

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