Elite Minds Montessori is a women owned and operated preschool.  We are local moms with a total of 6 children.  Our backgrounds include decades in the field of education, healthcare and entrepreneurship.  Our mission of an early and purposeful education is near and dear to our hearts, as we believe the greatest weapon towards peace that we can give our future is through an early education.  We are deeply committed to providing a strong foundation and developing a love of learning as part of a natural process.  The Montessori philosophy strongly focuses on mutual respect and independent learning.  Elite Minds combines this method with a strong focus on the arts and mindfulness.  We believe our children are fully equipped to enter elementary schools with a balanced passion for academics and creativity after graduating our program.

The greatest sign of success for a teacher... is to be able to say, ‘The children are now working as if I did not exist.’
— Maria Montessori

Laurie Torres (Administrative Director) is a Basic Life Support (BLS) for Health Care Provider, CPR and First Aid Instructor for American Heart Association and owner of Baby Be Safe.  Laurie completed her BBA in International Management with a minor in Spanish from Pace University in 1992.

Laurie has been the owner of  Baby Be Safe since 2005.  She has over 25 years of experience as an administrator in the health care field working for hospitals, wound care centers, and home care.  Laurie was determined to be a stay home mom and nurture her premature twins (who are now teenagers) so they could thrive to be healthy children while maintaining a flexible work schedule. Today Laurie and husband Ralph are proud parents of 4 boys (Ethan, Aydan, Dylan and Brandon).

Laurie was PTA President  and chaired the 5th grade committee at PS 230. She was also part of the School Leadership Team (SLT).  As a parent, Laurie feels that providing education, support and resources to parents will strengthen the village it takes to raise  our children.  

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Genevieve (Lili) Hattenberger (French Teacher) has been teaching and working with children (privately - one on one lessons, and in schools) in New York for more than a decade. She is native french, and grew up in Paris. She traveled the world before starting a life in New York City.  She is also an artist and a humanist.  She values art, life, people, respect and love.


Natania Cortijo (Educational Director) has worked with children since 1998 as a classroom teacher and tutor. She received her B.A. in Psychology from Rutgers University in 2000 and a M.A. in Early Childhood Education from Adelphi University in 2004 with a dual certification in early education. 

When Natania's daughter was born in 2004, she started researching different approaches to early childhood education and was intrigued by the Montessori method.  She visited almost every Montessori school she could find in Brooklyn and at 2 1/2 years old enrolled her daughter in Midwood Montessori.  There her passion for a Montessori education evolved.  She volunteered and observed and continued teach with the NYC DOE and applied her knowledge of Montessori.  

Since 2011 Natania has operated an after-school learning center in Carroll Gardens Brooklyn and left her full time teaching job to dedicate more time to her new business.

Both her children attend(ed) school (elementary/middle school) in Carroll Gardens and so Natania has become very connected to the community, specifically families with children.

Familiar with both the classroom benefits of a Montessori education and the Carroll Gardens community, Natania has a mission to increase options with quality education for our future generations.


Maya L. Sherpa (Head Teacher) is a passionate and tenacious Montessori educator who has worked in preschool education for fifteen years. Maya is a credentialed Early Childhood Montessori teacher. She has her Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration and is pursuing a dredge in Sociology and Liberal Arts at Hunter College with a focus on Early Childhood education.


Reina Figueroa(Montessori Assistant Teacher)  has been working as an Early Childhood educator since 1982. She raised her, now adult, children in Carroll Gardens. Reina received her Montessori training from the College of New Rochelle in 2008. She has her Bachelor’s Degree in Business & Office Education from El Salvador. She comes to Elite Minds with a passion for teaching our younger children.


©2018 Elite Minds, Inc.