“The secret of good teaching is to regard the child’s intelligence as a fertile field in which seeds may be sown, to grow under the heat of flaming imagination. Our aim therefore is not merely to make the child understand, and still less to force him to memorize, but so to tough his imagination as to enthuse him to his inmost core.”
~Maria Montessori, To Educate the Human Potential

Our Elementary Program includes a three-year experience in a Lower Elementary classroom for children ages 6 to 9 years old (1st through third grades) and a three-year experience in an Upper Elementary group for children 9 to 12 years old (4th through 6th grade).

During these years, children are characterized by a reasoning mind, a thirst for knowledge, a sense of wonder, an attraction to peers and growth toward intellectual independence.

Elementary students are offered key lessons and Great Stories that invite them to explore the world around them from the farthest reaches of the cosmos to the smallest flower.

Experiential materials continue to help the child explore the areas of geography, history, math, language, biology, geometry, and music.

Most lessons are in small group format and assume a collaborative spirit and a social interest in learning alongside and from one's peers.

Decision-making, problem-solving and social awareness are key components of the elementary experience. Our elementary teachers are observant, respectful and passionate about guiding each child to full engagement in every area of curriculum.

Meet the Teachers

Upper Elementary

Ms. Kaleigh - Sierra - Upper Elementary

About Me

My name is Kaleigh Richards and I am the teacher/guide in the Sierra classroom, joining the HDMS family in 2014. I received my Bachelor’s of Education from the University of Phoenix in 2013.  I completed my AMS  Montessori training at the Montessori Elementary Teacher Training Collaborative in Lexington, Massachusetts. I am currently working on my Master’s in Montessori Education at Xavier University.
Prior to teaching, I owned my own massage therapy business. I am a mother of two children, a Junior at AACT, and a sixth grade student here at HDMS. On the weekends, you’ll find me on the back of a horse, skiing, or spending time with my family.

Ms. Amber – Upper Elementary Assistant

Ms. Elyse - Stillwater - Upper Elementary

About Me

My name is Elyse Niemann and I teach grades 4, 5, and 6, in the Stillwater class. I started teaching at HDMS in 2014 and earned my Montessori Teaching Certificate in 2016. I have been teaching since 2008. I received my bachelor’s degree in International Relations and Russian from UC Davis. Prior to teaching, I worked with at-risk youth in South Lake Tahoe in a wilderness therapy group home and started a youth street outreach program. I am honored to be part of the High Desert Montessori community of professionals, students, and families. The best part of my job is when students inspire and amaze me. On weekends and holidays you may find me playing in the mountains – hiking, skiing, or biking.

Ms. Sharon – Upper Elementary Assistant

Ms. Christy - Diamond - Upper El.

About Me

My name is Christy Fagundes. I teach 4th, 5th, and 6th grade in the Diamond Classroom. I graduated in 2015 with a degree in Elementary Education specializing in English as a Second Language and Early Childhood Education from the University of Nevada, Reno. I have worked at High Desert Montessori since graduation and recently received my certification in Gifted and Talented education in May 2018 from UNR. I am currently enrolled at the Montessori Institute of San Diego to receive my AMI Elementary Diploma and at Loyola University to receive my Master’s in Montessori Education. I am a proud supporter of Montessori as a form of public education. In my spare time, you would probably find me outside rock climbing or biking. It is an honor to be part of such a kind and caring community.

Ms. Gabby – Upper Elementary Assistant

Lower Elementary

Ms. Jen - Excelsior - Lower Elementary

About Me

My name is Jennifer Marcondes, and this will be my first year of teaching at High Desert Montessori School, but some of you will recognize me as I have spent 4 years as a teacher’s assistant in the Excelsior classroom.   I completed my Bachelors of Education in May and am very excited to be returning to the High Desert community. I’m a native Nevadan, but I’ve done quite a bit of travelling. I’ve visited most of the states in western United States, Canada, Mexico, Germany, Netherlands, France, Italy, Portugal, Spain, and Brazil.   I met my husband, Felipe, here in Nevada, but he was born in Brazil and immigrated to the United States when he was 14 years old. We have been married for 14 years and we have two beautiful boys. Marcus is 12 years and Caius is 10 years old. These days, I really enjoy spending time with my family, being outside in nature as much as possible, going new places where my sons can explore, reading or listening to a good audiobook!

Ms. Artie – Lower Elementary Assistant

Ms. Sarah - Antelope - Lower Elementary

About Me

My name is Sarah Hausman. I have known about the Montessori method since I was a first grader at a bilingual Montessori school in France and told my mother that I wanted to be a Montessori teacher. Since then, I have obtained an M.Ed. in general and special education from Lesley University, taught four years at a charter school in Washington DC, and worked as a outdoor educator and science instructor delivering hands-on lessons across Washoe County. I will be starting Montessori training this year. I was born in Denver and grew up outside of Paris. I went to Montreal for college and lived in New York and Washington DC before moving to Reno in 2016. My hobbies include skiing, knitting, growing plants, practicing yoga, meditating, and learning languages. 
Ms. Jamie - Ruby - Lower Elementary

About Me

I came to Reno and High Desert Montessori School in 2007.  I taught in the middle school program and upper elementary before joyfully taking on a lower elementary teacher position in Ruby; a first, second, and third grade classroom.  I have served on many school committees and organized after school clubs. In 2008, I started Montessori Elementary training and found my true calling. While still in Las Vegas, I received a Master’s Degree from Lesley University.  This program allowed me to incorporate my hobbies, music, and drama into the daily curriculum. After completing my Bachelor of Science in 1998 from the University of Nevada Las Vegas, I taught K-2 students in various public schools and a K-8 multi-age, project-based charter school.     

My ultimate goal is to impact education like Maria Montessori!

Ms. Kristina – Lower Elementary Assistant

Ms. Alex – Lower Elementary Assistant

Ms. Nicole - Candelaria - Lower Elementary

About Me

My name is Nicole Commons and I teach first through third grade in the Candelaria classroom. I graduated from SDSU with a B.S. in Telecommunications and Film Production.  I worked in the Film industry for many years and then decided that I wanted to share that knowledge with children.  I worked with a couple of non-profit groups that went into inner-city schools and taught video and films skills to students.  I really enjoyed it and decided that I wanted to be in a classroom full time.   I studied at Sierra Nevada College and got my teaching license, and I am currently working on my master’s in Education. I love working with children and guiding them toward their individual interests.   I enjoy seeing the multi-age classroom function with the older children helping the younger children in their learning journeys.

Ms. Martha – Lower Elementary Assistant