Sophia Montessori Academy has been blessed with an incredible team of people on our Board of Advisers.


They are dedicated to Byzantine Catholic Montessori Education, to our students and families, and to the future of Sophia Montessori Academy

Chaplain- Father Brian Escobedo

Father Brian Escobedo was appointed Pastor of Holy Protection in the Fall of 2019. He can be reached at


Board President and Financial Advisor- Rudy Andras


Rudy Andras started learning about Montessori in 2014. Through his studies, he found Irene and Pauline who were presenting Montessori workshops at the time. Since then, he has been a faithful support of the vision and mission of SMA, received his Montessori training from the Montessori Institute of San Diego, and is strong advocate for Montessori in Denver. He is an economist. Rudy is a grandfather extraordinaire, bringing his passion for Montessori to his grandchildren.

School Director and Director of Business Development- Irene Ortega


Irene Ortega took her Children’s House training at the Montessori College of Dublin, Ireland in 2007 and recently completed Montessori training for the Elementary Level in Bergamo, Italy. She is delighted to bring the joy of discovery to children through the Montessori approach. When she is not planning lessons, you can find her playing music, cooking, hiking or dreaming up a new adventure with her husband Anthony. They are parishioners of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church.


School Director, Secretary, and Treasurer- Pauline Meert


Pauline Meert received her international Montessori diploma from Montessori Centre International in 2008. She later came across the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd and was deeply moved by the beauty of it all. She also completed her Master’s degree in Montessori education from St. Catherine University in 2014. She is a parishioner of Holy Protection of the Mother of God Byzantine Catholic Church. 

Financial and Fundraising Adviser- Ed Dietz

I started my professional career working for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society starting out as a local chapter field representative then moving onto national field positions responsible for multi-statewide MS Chapters.  In 1987, I accepted a Director of Development position with United Hospital in Saint Paul, MN responsible for implementing annual giving campaigns as well as working on capital campaigns. In 2004 I accepted a position with a Manufacturer's Representative firm selling analytical laboratory instrumentation to customers at multiple universities, biotech, pharmaceutical, and renewable energy companies.  While living in Minnesota my wife Mary and myself started the first Catholic Montessori School in Blaine, MN, and now has become an Archdiocesan Catholic Montessori approved pre-school and elementary school.  In 2006 my family and I moved to Colorado where I developed my own MR business, serving the same industries as I did in Minnesota over a 9 state Rocky Mountain region and then retiring in 2020.

Administrative and Curriculum Adviser- Patty Cisle


Patty Cisle is the Director of Evangelization at Good Shepherd Catholic Parish. Prior to that role, she was in Catholic education for 24 years, including 17 years as assistant principal at Good Shepherd Catholic School. It was there that she learned firsthand about Montessori education. Patty is married to Jim  and is the mother of three grown children. Her interests include gardening, cooking, and hiking.

Marketing and Data Adviser- Sylvia Smith


Sylvia Smith holds a Master's in Library and Information Science from the University of Denver and a Bachelor's in Philosophy from Christendom College. She is a certified Project Management Institute Professional in Business Analysis (PMI-PBA) and currently works as a Senior Business Analyst at Larimer County. She is also a parishioner and chorister at Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Littleton.


Founding Board Member at Large- Very Rev. Michael P. O'Loughlin, pastor of the Byzantine Catholic Proto-Cathedral of St. Mary in Sherman Oaks California.


Fr. Michael holds a Masters of Divinity from Sts. Cyril and Methodius Byzantine Catholic Seminary in Pittsburgh, PA. Father is the Vocation’s Director and Co-Director of Youth and Young Adults for the Eparchy of Phoenix. Father is the Byzantine host of Catholic Stuff You Should Know Podcast, the largest Catholic podcast in the world He regularly appears on many different Catholic media outlets bringing deeper understanding of Byzantine Catholicism.