Leslie Hites

Founder and Head of the School

Leslie was born in Colom­bia, and spent a good part of her child­hood and ado­les­cence in Italy with a three year inter­lude in Wash­ing­ton DC and Chile. From Rome, she moved to Bel­gium where she stud­ied com­mu­ni­ca­tion at the Uni­ver­sité de Louvain. After mov­ing to the United States, while search­ing for the best edu­ca­tion that would allow her six chil­dren to develop their poten­tial, Leslie came upon the work of Dr. Maria Montes­sori. Since then, she has ded­i­cated her life to study­ing Montes­sori, teach­ing in Montes­sori envi­ron­ments and as admin­is­tra­tor of The Renais­sance Inter­na­tional School, a Montes­sori school that is the only gen­uine trilingual Montes­sori school in the United States. Leslie is a par­ent edu­ca­tor and coach as well as a trainer for the Inter­na­tional Net­work of Chil­dren and Fam­i­lies. She reg­u­larly teaches an eight-​week Redi­rect­ing Children’s Behav­ior course to Bay Area parents. She serves on the Board of Trustees for The NewGate-​Field School, a model school of the Montes­sori Foun­da­tion in Sara­sota, Florida, and is also on the Board of the Inter­na­tional Montes­sori Council. Leslie lives in Oak­land, Cal­i­for­nia with her hus­band and enjoys trav­el­ing to visit her six chil­dren and eleven grand­chil­dren who live around the world.


Renée Hites

Head of Administration

Renée has a background in both music and fundraising development in educational settings. After studying vocal performance at the Conservatoire Royal de Bruxelles, Renée moved to Boston where she got a Bachelor’s and Master’s in Music from The Boston Conservatory. While in Boston, Renée successfully led the Boston Opera Collaborative, a not-for-profit volunteer opera company, for five years; she continues to serve on their board. During that time she also worked in the development departments of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and later the New England Conservatory. In 2014 Renée moved to New York City where she continued her development career at Columbia University. Renée moved to the Bay Area in May of 2017 at which time she started at TRIS overseeing the administrative team. In her free time, Renée loves to go running and enjoys spending time outdoors.


Sara Sangco

Early Child Development Coordinator

Sara was born and raised in the Philippines, and traveled often growing up. She completed her Bachelor of Arts degree from the Ateneo de Manila University, majoring in English Literature and Communications. She also holds two Minors in Philosophy and Creative Writing, and worked as a freelance writer and Elementary English teacher before moving to San Diego in 2005 to pursue her AMI Primary training. She was drawn to the method because of her experience in a Montessori High School, and fell in love with TRIS during her visit in 2006. She has worked here ever since. In 2008,  she completed her M.Ed in Montessori Education from the Loyola University in Maryland. Since then, she and her husband have welcomed three children, all of whom attend TRIS. In her spare time, Sara enjoys cooking, sneaking vegetables into her children’s food, reading, travelling, and swimming.


Andrea Jakab Peto

Office Staff

Andrea graduated from Lajos Kossuth University in Hungary with high school teaching credentials in Biology and Geography. She has been working at TRIS for over two decades. She has two daughters who are graduates of TRIS and a son who is currently in Upper Elementary. She likes being outdoors and camping with her family.


Tania Figueroa

Marketing, Social Media and Event Coordinator

Tania graduated from the Catholic University of Chile, DUOC.UC, in 2004 with a B.A. in Advertising and received her M.A. in Consciousness and Transformative studies with an emphasis in Culture and Consciousness from John F. Kennedy University in 2014. She also has a certification in Digital Marketing, Photography, Fashion Show Production and performance. She has worked for different organizations in the East Bay as a bilingual educator and a community-based social marketing consultant for more than ten years. She started at TRIS in 2015.

Ashley Gravett

School Administrative Assistant

Ashley is originally hails from the Midwest, but calls California home. She holds a B.A. degree in Spanish from California State University, Fresno. She loves language, how words are put together, rainbows, and traveling every chance she gets. Ashley has been with TRIS since 2017.