meet our team

Meet the team behind Girotondo.

Hello from the girotondo team!

We are a small group of educators with different experience and backgrounds but with one main thing in common: a passion for education and drive for innovation. We look forward to meet you and tell you about ourselves and our vision.

Dr Elisa Forestan-Barnes
Founder and GENERAL Manager

I am a social scientist with extensive experience in academia and research. I have a passion for education as one of the most important factors affecting individuals’ development and opportunities in life. After getting a teaching diploma and working in a nursery for a few years in Italy, I ventured into a different path and studied sociology getting a Ba and MSc before getting into Oxford University, where I achieved my DPhil in sociology in 2010; my research interests have always revolved around social and educational inequalities and education policy, in particular education inequalities and the impact of social, cultural and economic resources on children’s educational attainment. After years working in higher education, lecturing on research related subjects, I decided to take some time off to rethink about my career. It was my daughter, who was 2 years old at the time and going to nursery, who got me to think about education approaches for young children and that was when I discovered the Reggio Emilia approach.

That changed everything for me and Girotondo was born, first as a plan mostly in my head and then as a preschool, with its own unique environment and enthusiastic educators ready to share their knowledge and passion into providing the best education for children.

Thing Thing Koh
SCHOOL Manager

After obtaining my first degree in Genetics and Molecular Biology, I decided to travel for a year in the USA. By chance, during volunteering sessions in a Montessori school in Seattle, I have found myself enjoying working with children, who, I felt, were teaching me more about life and the outside world than the other way around. That is how my journey working with children began. Since then, I have worked in early years education for over a decade over Malaysia, the USA and the UK. I have a broad range of practical experience using different educational approaches including the Multiple Intelligence and Montessori methods. These experiences have provided me with valuable insights into the diverse philosophies and approaches in early years education. As well as having a wealth of practical experience, I completed my Master’s degree in Early Years Education at the University College London in 2012.

I am a strong believer in maximising a child’s learning through play - play is the work of the child. Children have a natural curiosity and a sense of wonder for play and learn so let children be children and let them have control over their own learning.

I have two young children myself, which has only strengthened my view on children being born playful and needing time and space to develop. Their natural desire to engage with other people and the environment in which they live in is the founding philosophy here at girotondo pre-school.

Gosia Jankiewicz

Hi I am Gosia and I am originally from Poland, where I completed my degree and MSc in Early Years studies. I love to work with children and have various experience in schools and educational centres both in Poland and here in the UK. Since I started working in the UK, I decided to improve my knowledge and understanding of the early years principles by pursuing a UK childcare level 3 qualification, which I am currently very close to obtain.

I consider my work as an educator as a calling mission and an "art", where the educator becomes a reflective practitioner and an artist helping children develop their learning and creativity. To guide the children in the discovery of the world around them and develop their skills for all their future learning is my goal as an early years educator.

When I am not working I enjoy cooking and I love to lead a healthy lifestyle, practising sports.

Silvia Famiglietti

Hello, my name is Silvia and I am Italian.  I have worked with children for over 15 years and it truly is my passion.  My experience is diverse; I have worked as a nursery and preschool educator, with children of ages ranging from babies to toddlers and have considerable experience working with children with special needs. I also have a passion for swimming and I’ve been a children swimming instructor for a number of years. In 2004, after completing my studies and attaining a teaching diploma in Rome, where I also had my first experience as a nursery educator for a few years, I decided to move to the UK, to get more opportunities to develop personally and professionally. My experience here in London has been quite diverse and reinforced my passion for the childcare sector. I have enjoyed very much working as a nanny with several families for the past few years, dealing with the day to day care and education of the children I was responsible for. A few years ago, I had the pleasure of meeting Elisa, the founder of girotondo, whom introduced me to the Reggio Emilia approach, and was instantly fascinated by this approach to education. I have spent some time researching and learning about this approach since then and look forward to enjoy this new professional adventure and guide children in their everyday discovery of the world around them.

Michela Carri

Hello! I am Michela, the Atelierista here at girotondo pre-school. With an artistic background, my role is to support the educators in the realization of projects using creative and poetic languages and discovering new and exciting materials.

I studied Architecture in Italy and Spain before getting my BSc and MSc in 2006 at the University of Genoa, Italy. I have been working as an Architect and Interior Designer since then, first in Milan and then in London, where I moved in 2010, to progress in my career as an Interior Designer.

When my son Filippo was born, in 2013, I decided to take some time off focusing on my little one. It was then that I discovered a deep interest in children development. Children are ‘small just in size’ and - for a certain time - they have just different tools to approach the world around them. I was fascinated by their way to communicate, their logic and perspectives.

It was only when Filippo started going to nursery that I began to wonder about the impact that this would have on his emotional and intellectual development. So I started researching different educational approaches for young children and their impact on their personal development and future learning attainment, thinking about how I could use my professional experience and passion for art and design to contribute to that.

I had just completed my training as a yoga instructor for children when I met Elisa, who introduced me to the Reggio Emilia approach, with its love for creative arts and the hundred languages of children. Amazed at the infinite possibilities, I asked to be part of her team and for my professional skills and passion for art to be part of the girotondo vision for children’s education.

how to apply

Dear prospective parent, thank you for taking an interest in our school. We will be happy to show you around the school anytime, talk you through our approach and answer your questions.

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