Jan Ilsley

Lower Elementary Assistant Teacher


Where did you grow up?

I was born at the Queen of the Valley Hospital in Napa. I grew up on my parent’s ranch in Yountville. My family has lived in the Napa Valley for over 100 years and has been involved in the wine industry for 65 years.


What were your dreams as a child?

I wanted to be a teacher and a chef.


Where were you educated?

I went to Vintage High School in Napa. I later attended Napa Valley College where I studied early childhood and viticulture. I received my Montessori training from the Montessori Teacher Education Center of the San Francisco Bay Area.


How did you learn about the Montessori philosophy?

While babysitting for a Sunrise family I noticed the kindness and gentleness of the children and was intrigued.


How long have you worked at Sunrise?

I have worked at Sunrise for 15 years.


Which age groups have you worked with at Sunrise?

I have worked with all the age groups..


Where else have you worked?

I have worked in the County Office of Education in Santa Cruz in the special education department. I have worked with the Group Homes organization in Napa and with the Napa Infant Preschool Program as an instructional technician. I taught at One World Montessori School in San Jose and at the Montessori Family Center (now Sun and Stars) in St. Helena. 


What excites you about the Montessori philosophy?

After 35 years I still look forward to coming to work each day!


What is the essence of the Montessori philosophy for you?

Montessori philosophy stresses peace, love and respect for oneself, one’s environment, one’s community and the world.


What do you love to do outside of school?

I love to cook and spend time with friends and family. I love long walks and relaxing on the beach. I love horseback riding and being in the vineyard.