Director, Primary assistant

Melanie Robbins, M.Ed. - Montessori Integrative Learning 6-12  Melanie is head of school and Primary Assistant teacher. She holds a B.S. in Psychology and a M.Ed in Montessori Education (ages 6-12.) Melanie is certified by the Department of Children and Families. She is also CPR/First Aid certified. Melanie specializes in transformative and integrative learning from early childhood through adulthood, within the context of Dr. Montessori's pedagogy.  Melanie's master's thesis entitled,  "An Awakening into Macrophase Wisdom"  explores Montessori education within an eco-cosmological framework and an autopoietic learning community.  Laniakea Montessori School was founded with a mission to guide children in the spirit of humility, love and observation so they might connect with their highest calling, and their sense of purpose.  Melanie is a mom to Sage and Kelltin and a step-mom, friend and guide to Mason and Van.

Melanie Robbins, M.Ed. - Montessori Integrative Learning 6-12

Melanie is head of school and Primary Assistant teacher. She holds a B.S. in Psychology and a M.Ed in Montessori Education (ages 6-12.) Melanie is certified by the Department of Children and Families. She is also CPR/First Aid certified. Melanie specializes in transformative and integrative learning from early childhood through adulthood, within the context of Dr. Montessori's pedagogy.

Melanie's master's thesis entitled, "An Awakening into Macrophase Wisdom" explores Montessori education within an eco-cosmological framework and an autopoietic learning community.

Laniakea Montessori School was founded with a mission to guide children in the spirit of humility, love and observation so they might connect with their highest calling, and their sense of purpose.

Melanie is a mom to Sage and Kelltin and a step-mom, friend and guide to Mason and Van.

Lower & upper Elementary Lead Teacher, Assistant director

Erin Sorel, Lead Teacher

Erin Sorel, Lead Teacher

Erin Sorel has taught in Montessori schools for the past 16 years, working with children of preschool age through Middle School.  Erin holds a B.A. in Spanish Education from University of Florida, the Pathways to Teaching (K-12) minor, and has earned the Montessori 6-12 certification from Center for Guided Montessori Studies.  Erin is passionate about nature and also spent some years working for the Nature Operations Division of the City of Gainesville, where she developed and taught nature-based field trip andA camp programs to children in the Gainesville community.  Erin enjoys hiking, the springs, gardening, and spending time with her family.  She has 3 children, ages 9, 11, and 13.

Primary lead Teacher

Alexa Baiano, Lead Teacher

Alexa Baiano, Lead Teacher

Alexa has been in Montessori for 3 years working at the Primary level. She has a Bachelors in Philosophy, Writing, and Woman’s Studies, as well as the Primary Montessori (ages 3-6) and Fundamentals certifications from the Center for Guided Montessori Studies. She is passionate about creating a peaceful, helpful, and kind community through the lens of Maria Montessori’s discoveries. She is also an active member in local and global communities, advocating for the child’s voice and the needs of others. 

art teacher, aftercare teacher

Branislava (Brani) Lakic-McLeod, Art History, Visual Art

Branislava (Brani) Lakic-McLeod, Art History, Visual Art

Branislava was born and grew up in Serbia, in the city where classics in visual arts and music were very much appreciated. She graduated from The Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb, Croatia.

During her life she traveled a lot and lived in quite a few different places admiring different people and different cultures. She loves Florida, and Gainesville has been her home for 17 years. She received her teaching certificate at the Educator Preparation Institute at the Santa Fe College in Gainesville.

Branislava taught in various local schools and today she is a firm supporter and believer in a wholesome Montessori education that integrates with the artistic realm. Brani is a stunning artist that specializes in integrating art from different cultures, periods, and movements into Montessori education. She is most inspired by the beauty of nature and animals.

As a teacher, she tries to show possibilities and inspire original ideas, creativity and imagination. Her students participate in various art contests and local art shows at the Thomas Center, Harn Museum, Florida Museum of Natural History, Winter Fine Arts Fair at Tioga Town Center, and more. Besides graphic arts, Branislava’s loves photography, has passion for organizing, interior design, and cooking.

She has one daughter, Sati, who is now a senior student at the College of Nursing at UF.

Music teacher

Jason Mullen, Music Teacher

Jason Mullen, Music Teacher

I believe that creativity and the arts lead to positive growth. As a seasoned music teacher and educator I have had the privilege to collaborate with students of all ages and abilities in varied settings. When working with children, I am interested in the development of cooperative thinking through the facilitation of student-generated works of art. In an age where information is all around us, my hope is to provide a space where young minds can engage towards knowledge and understanding. Professional experiences that inform my teaching are: Artist in Residence with The Santa Fe Opera, VSA Arts, Kennedy Center Arts Integration. My wife, Heidi Jensen, and I are currently working on our PhD in musicology at the University of Florida, we are parents to Glenn, and proud members of the Laniakea family. 

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