Ms. Rhonda - Principal

I am so excited to be a part of this community. I finally feel like I am home. I graduated from Eastern Washington University a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education with Reading as my major, ESL as my minor and a Masters in Educational Leadership. I have spent the past twenty-five years serving students and their families.

I have a beautiful family with four exceptional children- all of whom have been educated in the Public Montessori System in Spokane, Washington. I served as a board member for the Community of Montessori Parents for many years and know Maria Montessori’s method provides the best learning environment for all children. I moved to Nevada two years ago and I am honored to be a part of this peaceful community.

I feel a kinship to Dr. Maria Montessori and believe that I share her strong will and sense of self, along with Dr. Montessori’s unwavering desire for progressive leadership.

This opportunity is my organic match. Montessori is ingrained in my DNA and who I am as a leader, mother, teacher and community member.

Paramount to my leadership philosophy is that I am a constructivist. I firmly believe that what is known comes from within and needs to be developed through relationships, prepared environments and the leadership of expertly trained teachers/practitioners.  This is the environment that empowers and motivates people. I have a growth mindset and have been immersed in the practices and beliefs of Montessori for over 20 years as a mother, teacher, instructional coach and leader. But more than that, I was raised by parents who knew that Maria Montessori’s classroom was the right spot for me and that was the classroom where I began my educational journey.

Our reality at High Desert Montessori Public Charter School is focused around sustainability and fundraising for our newest Montessori teachers.  I have actively been a part of City Wide Comp as a Parent-at-large, former Comp North President and a Montessori Parent for the past twenty years.  I supported the private Montessori Primary Program at Spokane Falls Montessori where my children once attended. My service and dedication centers from my core beliefs around the Montessori Method that is integral to my parenting, community involvement and career. My innovation, creativity and diplomacy are natural talents I balance with my knowledge of best practice, sensitivity to social justice, and a genuine drive to empower and unite people. I am committed to sustaining the authenticity of the Maria Montessori Method and growing the program with fidelity to Dr. Montessori’s Methods.  

At High Desert Montessori Public Charter School, we house Primary through Adolescent ages. We are undergoing strategic planning in preparation for a capital campaign, sale and remodeling of property to meet the demand for Montessori education in Nevada. Our hope is to partner with local universities and open the first training center in the state of Nevada while maintaining the highest quality teachers and environment conducive to the Montessori method.

My leadership experience in traditional settings transcends.

I bring with me skills as a leader in traditional educational settings and in my current role as principal at High Desert Montessori School and I am excited for the opportunity to learn more. I have experience with aligning district initiatives, developing and sustaining a professional learning community, evaluation through the Marzano’s frameworks with the TPEP model and designing and facilitating professional development. I have a vast knowledge of the Common Core State Standards and dedicated many years of my career studying best practice, all of which Maria Montessori knew one hundred years ago.

My leadership style is collaborative and innovative.  I have been steadfast in improving community relations and building partnerships with parents by designing school events and outreach programs with community stakeholders for participation, both physically and fiscally. I balance the managerial skills of being a building leader with my leadership style, all with authenticity and my standards for rigorous learning and love of my community.  Accurate evaluations through observation is also an essential skill to effective leadership. After a recent TPEP observation, I received the following email feedback:

“Rhonda, I wanted to thank you for taking the time to observe me and spend over 45 minutes of your time giving me feedback on what you saw when I taught. It’s hard for me to express what I want to say but I will try.  I so appreciate how thoroughly you ‘observed’ me while frantically typing away at the same time. I was surprised at the level of attention you were able to give during an observation.  I would imagine paying attention to overall big ideas but you didn’t miss anything, which I so respect because that matters to me too. The fact that you grasped certain details that I would imagine could have easily gone unnoticed really surprised me and touched me.  Your feedback was positive and helpful, your questions were insightful and valid, and your ideas were original and wonderful.”

While the foundations of the Montessori classroom community include the 3 Period Lessons, prepared environments, and independent work; the ability to observe and not interrupt learning is crucial.  Montessori teachers/practitioners are committed to the practice of anecdotal observation. Likewise, my ability to observe and follow the child within each of us in our school community has consistently created positive interdependent relationships that are crucial to a growth mindset.

My dedication and devotion, my knowledge, my connectedness & reverence of the Montessori Method are my guide.

While the unification and move is foremost on our priority list I know that growth of this wonderful program will be in the planning stages as well.  In anticipation of the growth our school I am working to help bring together our AMI and AMS trained teachers. I hope global accreditation and both AMI and AMS can see the importance of this partnership to the survival and progressive growth that is needed. The future really is held in the public sector. I want to be a transformational leader in this movement. Dr. Montessori believed that secondary education should “aim at improving the individual in order to improve society.” The heart of this philosophy is empowerment, critical thinking and best practices; where children are developing what is within them not digesting what is delivered to them.  Together with our community partners, parents and all stakeholders the possibilities for urban projects can foster such goals. Together is better. The design, planning and collaboration essential to this growth needs the natural talents I possess, and I have demonstrated.

This work is real and it is aligned with my core values. The time is now to do what we do best; get to work- real work, around a dream come true. This is my definition of harmonious success.

I will further my education within the Montessori philosophy through formal training and I will collaborate with the teachers/practitioners/leaders. Through my direct and indirect experiences with the Montessori Method, I will continue to eloquently articulate the unique philosophy, design and advantages of Dr. Montessori’s research.

My arms are strong enough to fund-raise and sustain this program; my mind is sharp enough to learn while collaborating and creating the future; my heart is genuine in welcoming challenges and embracing new members to our community; my spirit is illuminated with my purpose: to serve the cosmic task. So…

“If you are thinking a year ahead, sow a seed.

If you are thinking ten years ahead, plant a tree.

If you are thinking one hundred years ahead, educate the people.”

Ms. Tamra - Assistant Principal

  1. What is your experience and training and how did you come to our school?

In 2005 I made the tough decision to move away from my hometown in Texas to Reno in order to work at at public Montessori school, as I had been working as a teaching assistant at private Montessori schools up to that point.  I am forever grateful that the school was able to pay for my AMI Primary Montessori training in St. Louis under the guidance of one the the most prolific action researchers, the late Dr. Annette Haines.

  1. Why do you believe in our public charter Montessori school?

Public Montessori gives access to all students, which is how Montessori schools originated over 100 years ago in Italy.  Throughout my tenure at HDMS, I have been a steadfast advocate for economic and racial equity. For several years I spearheaded a grant that allowed students to come into our primary program tuition free.  I am always seeking further opportunities to create equity for families in northern Nevada.

  1. What are your beliefs about guiding all children- those that struggle and excel?

When it comes to guiding children, Dr. Montessori said it best:

“The work of the teacher is to guide the children to normalisation, to concentration. She is like the sheepdog who goes after the sheep when they stray, who conducts all the sheep inside. The teacher has two tasks: to lead the children to concentration and to help them in their development afterwards. The fundamental help in development, especially with little children of three years of age, is not to interfere. Interference stops activity and stops concentration. But do not apply the rule of non-interference when the children are still the prey of all their different naughtinesses.” (Dr. Maria Montessori, ‘The Child, Society and the World: Unpublished Speeches and Writings’, Clio Press Ltd, 16)

  1. What does partnering with parents and community look like for your classroom?  

In order for a student to succeed, families must consider the teacher and administrators partners in their child’s education. Each classroom strives to be a harmonious community, and together we all strive to build a community that is peaceful, empathetic, active, and hard-working.

  1. What is the method in which you grow professionally and personally?      

Professionally I continue to grow through expanding my education with classes in Reading. I seek all ways to balance a mental with a physical I enjoying such activities as hiking, yoga, drawing, and spending time with my family. my mindset is when that I am constantly growing and learning and I hope that I passed that on to each student and teacher that I work with.

  1. Where do you see yourself and HDMS in 5 years?

In 5 years I see High Desert Montessori School as a leader in our community in education. I know that the Montessori method will continue to expand in Northern Nevada and the country. I hope to continue to be a part of the movement to spread peace education and hands-on learning wherever I am.

Ms. Cher - Montessori Coach/ Interventionist

  1. What is your experience and training and how did you come to our school?

My name is Cher Allison and I first discovered Montessori in 2001 while researching educational experiences for my son. I fell in love with the philosophy, became an assistant at his school, went to training, and haven’t looked back since.

I graduated from UNR with a B.A. in psychology, summa cum laude, and did extensive graduate work in clinical psychology before transitioning into education. I obtained a Master’s degree in Montessori education from Loyola College, Maryland, and earned my Montessori diploma from Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) in 2005.  In 2018, I received my school administrator’s license from the Nevada Department of Education. This is my 16th year at High Desert Montessori School.

I previously served as a primary teacher, lower elementary teacher, social/emotional learning interventionist, and dean of students. This year, I am excited to serve as a Montessori coach and reading interventionist.

  1. Why do you believe in our public charter Montessori school?
  1. What are your beliefs about guiding all children- those that struggle and excel?  

At High Desert Montessori, we guide children to be independent, forward thinking problem solvers. We view mistakes as opportunities to learn, and we inspire children to explore their own interests and engage with other members of the HDMS community with kindness and compassion. I feel so fortunate to work at a school that celebrates diversity and provides access to a free Montessori education to all children in our community. Our multi-age classrooms and unique method of teaching enable us to meet the academic and social/emotional needs of all children.

  1. What does partnering with parents and community look like for your classroom?  

I offer tours and classroom observation follow-ups to prospective families, and I provide information about Montessori to new families at our annual seminar for new parents. This year, I am conducting parent literacy workshops for families of lower elementary and kindergarten students and I provide support to parent and grandparent volunteers. I also organize the annual Grassroots book fair, and I volunteer with our families at events such as Kids on Big Rigs, The Fall Festival, and the Celebration of Diversity.

  1. What is the method in which you grow professionally and personally?

Last year, a UNR employee at Admissions and Records looked at my transcript and proclaimed that I was a “lifer.” I hadn’t thought about it that way, but I’ve been taking classes at UNR and other academic institutions on and off since 1990. I learn by researching topics that interest me, and I love to read. I grow through self-reflection and being open to feedback from others.

  1. Where do you see yourself and HDMS in 5 years?

We have so many exciting possibilities on the horizon at High Desert. In five years, I see myself and our school thriving on one unified campus with a beautiful, new outdoor environment that serves children of all ages.