“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.

Elementary Teachers

Ms. Kaleigh - Sierra - Upper Elementary

About Me

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

While I was completing my Bachelor’s of Education, my son, Cole, was struggling in his traditional school environment, resulting in being withdrawn and enrolled in an online school for 5th and 6th grade. Half way through 6th grade, Cole was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes.

With me looking for a teaching job, being at home online was no longer an option for him. The middle school he was zoned for was not a good fit for him, so my husband and I went looking for alternatives.

HDMS was the perfect fit not only for Cole, but for my daughter Eden as well. Both of my children were accepted for the school year 2014/15. A week after, I was notified that my children were accepted, a teaching position at HDMS was posted. I thought it would be neat to teach at the same school as my children.

Little did I know that I would fall in love with the Montessori philosophy and approach to education. I have been teaching Upper Elementary at HDMS since 2014, completed my American Montessori Society training in 2017, am working on completing my Masters in Montessori Education, and have been accepted into the American Montessori Society Emerging Leaders Fellowship!

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

The Montessori approach to education should be available to all children regardless of background. HDMS allows all children to benefit from a Montessori education.

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

Every child has the ability to grow and excel. It is my job to guide and encourage all children, helping them achieve whatever they set their minds to.

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

Our parents and our community are integral components of our school. I encourage and welcome parents and community members to observe in the classroom, and if at all possible, to share skills with the children. Open communication is our key to success.

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

I love learning. Every opportunity I have to learn and grow, I embrace. I am constantly striving to improve my craft as a teacher.

In my personal world, I also embrace learning and growing. For example, I have been riding and training horses for almost 40 years, yet I am still learning and growing, and embrace opportunities to learn and study from others.

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

I see myself still loving teaching children. I come to school everyday excited about what the day might hold. I see HDMS settling into one campus, and welcoming alumni back to teach, share, and interact with our community.

Ms. Jen - Excelsior - Lower Elementary

About Me

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

My High Desert Montessori experience started as a parent.  Both of my son’s attended HDMS my oldest started in Kindergarten and my youngest was 3 years old.  I was working as a teacher’s assistant for WCSD at the time, but was so taken with the community here that I approached one of my children’s assistants and told her to keep me in mind if there were any openings.  It wasn’t long after I let my intentions be known that I was invited for an interview. I became the assistant in the Excelsior classroom. I was the assistant in Excelsior for 31/2 years before I completed my teacher licensure and became the teacher in the Excelsior classroom.

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

Prior to becoming an assistant at HDMS, I had no desire to become a teacher.  It didn’t take long for me to realize that this was inspiring, this was the WAY to teach.  I began my licensure program after my first school year. If Montessori’s methods could inspire me as an adult, her methods are exactly what children need to be excited to become life long learners as well.  The children at HDMS are surrounded by adults who truly want to help them become the best versions of themselves every step of the way, even if they are not involved with the child throughout the day.

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

I believe that the desire to learn is instinctual.  If you give a child the tools learn he or she will move toward tools and use them.  When you find a student struggling, there can be many reasons why. In talking to the child, getting to know the child, the reasons will become clear.  As a guide, you now know how to alter a lesson, or change the tools available to activate their desire to learn.

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

Parents are a child’s first educator.  They know their child better than anyone else.  Meeting with and partnering with a child’s parents is inspiring to me.  I would be a less effective educator without the help of parents. Working with students in the 6 to 9 age group, we work on seeing our class as a community.  Then we begin working on the whole school as a community. We talk in circle about how each person in our class has similarities and differences. These similarities and differences are recognizable within our community.

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

Beginning June 2019, I will begin my elementary Montessori training.  I am excited for this next step in my professional growth. It is a part of my programs mission to also provide for the growth of the guide.  It will be invigorating to be around other Montessori professionals sharing our strengths and teaching experiences.

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

It will take almost 3 years to complete my elementary Montessori training.  I see myself teaching at HDMS in lower or if given the chance, I would really enjoy teaching at the upper elementary level as well.

Ms. Olivia - Stillwater - Upper Elementary

About Me

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

When I was younger I had never thought I would become a teacher even though I had several jobs working with children and teens.  I have been a tutor, therapeutic aid for a student with special needs, leader of youth adventure trips and summer camps, and organizer of youth events.  I was born in Hawaii but have lived in other states and countries. I have always gone to public schools but felt that something was missing in my education.  Becoming a teacher seemed disheartening until a Montessori school opened my eyes.

From the University of Hawaii, I transferred to Humboldt State University, California and graduated with a Bachelor’s in Social Sciences.  I continued to have different jobs working with kids and one was a summer school teacher for a Montessori class of 6-9 year olds. That summer program was my first interaction with Montessori students and I was amazed.  It was my first time planning school lessons as well. I developed a curriculum involving Hawaiian culture, geography, biology, math, language and art and the students were interested and eager to do the work. What’s more, if a student was out of line, it was not always me who intervened but another student.   I was intrigued and wanted to learn more about Montessori principles, which has become my answer to what was missing in my public education.

As a result, I pursued an Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) Elementary Diploma and Masters of Education from Loyola University, Maryland.  I have taught upper elementary Montessori for three years and worked as an assistant for a Montessori upper elementary class. After observing Elyse’s upper elementary class at HDMS, I felt excited to have the opportunity to work as a Montessori teacher again.  I feel fortunate that I am able to substitute for her class while she is on maternity leave for the year.

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

Montessori philosophy is a holistic way of looking at the child, not just his intellectual abilities but his physical self and environment, social and moral character, and emotional needs as well.  Montessori education helps her develop and become a contributing member of the world she is a part of. No matter where the child is, a good Montessori education can support her growth in these areas.

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

HDMS strives to be an effective Montessori school and makes Montessori education available to all children.

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

Working together with parents by helping them understand Montessori principles, inviting them to observe their child at work, conferencing, and encouraging participation with school activities are some of the best ways for parents to get involved.  Parents who are actively part of their children’s school no matter how small have children who are more engaged in their schooling.

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

I just don’t teach the students but the students teach me as well.  Part of Montessori is to foster the love of learning so just like the students’ desire to learn, I yearn to learn more as well whether gaining more knowledge of their interests or reaching out to the community or beyond to better my teaching and growth.  Audio books on long drives are an easy way to fulfill this.

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

As a Montessori elementary teacher, in the future I hope to utilize my learning to further foster students’ independence and leadership qualities; help them explore what their passion is through learning and creating meaningful work; fundraise for their own financial school related endeavors; and contribute to their community.

Ms. Jamie - Ruby - Lower Elementary

About Me

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

I came to Reno and High Desert Montessori School in 2007.  I joyfully took a teacher position in the middle school program after searching for a school that would provide me flexibility in teaching practices.  HDMS was a great place for me and my two boys, who had just come from a charter school in Las Vegas that allowed them to guide their instruction, explore the real world, and be with multi-age groups.  

After receiving my Bachelor of Science in 1998 from University of Nevada Las Vegas,  I taught K-2 students in various public schools and at a K-8 multi-age, project-based charter school.  In 2005, I received my Master’s Degree and in 2008 started my Montessori training.

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

Coming to HDMS allowed me to remain in the public school setting, which provides education to a diverse population.  Being in a charter school, provided a unique learning experience to families from all over the valley. The diversity of our school has connected me with people from many different places in the world, students of various abilities, and the opportunity to share the Montessori philosophy and materials.

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

Throughout my education, I have sought out experiences to make me a better teacher.  Project Life and Leveled Literature Instruction are a few courses that have helped me to understand what struggling readers need to be successful.  English limited learner seminars and diversity discussions at my level have made me aware of some of my biases and strengthen my strategies. My latest endeavor was getting endorsed in Gifted and Talented instruction to assist students that need acceleration and advanced instruction.  The more I learn the stronger my belief that Montessori schools provide most of characteristics of good instruction.

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

Conferences, PTO, Parent Education Nights, and Committee Meetings give me opportunities to connect with people about Montessori.  I cherish talking to parents about work, child successes, and parenting struggles. I love sharing the materials we use in our classes, displaying special student projects, and discussing reasons why we do certain things.  I find value in explaining that the process of learning takes time, that worksheets don’t provide the rich experiences that materials do, and that sensory exposure to concepts prepare child for abstract ideas. These are a few of the ways I partner with parents and community.

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

You might ask, how I keep up with the new trends or how I grow personally.  This comes is the form of lifting weights with my oldest son, listening to podcasts and audiobooks while walking my dog, and debating current societal norms with my husband.   By participating in school events, I learn what parents, children, and the community needs from Montessori. Attending conferences connects me with the bigger Montessori movement and drives me to try new things.  Discussions about the classroom challenges with colleagues happens on horseback. There is also a long list of things that I want to explore, so I have to listen to my family about taking on new challenges.

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

The new challenges will take me to different places in the next 5-10 years.  My first goal, is to become a teacher trainer. This will allow me to expose more people to the philosophy and in-turn affect more children.  My dream includes traveling to far off lands to see how Montessori works and provide me with experiences to understand our differences and similarities. Finally, I will use these experience and possibly run for office, which will finally help the most amount of children possible.

Ms. Christy - Crystal Peak - Upper Elementary

About Me

   1. Start with your experience and training and how you came to our school.

I graduated from UNR with a bachelor’s degree in Integrated Elementary Education specializing in work with Early Childhood Education and English Language Learners. When I was completing my student teaching, my lead teacher suggested that I observe at High Desert Montessori. I spent the morning in Primary and Elementary, and I was immediately hooked. When a job became available, I reached out to the school and applied. I knew that my path in education had to be the path of Montessori, and I was incredibly lucky to be offered a position in Lower Elementary. More recently, I have received my endorsement in Gifted and Talented Education from UNR. I am currently earning my AMI Elementary License from the Montessori Institute of San Diego and my Master’s of Education in Montessori from Loyola University. I am currently teaching 4th, 5th, and 6th.

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

I am a firm believer in Maria Montessori’s vision of this form of education for all students rather than just some students. We offer children a free Montessori education, and that allows so many of them to develop their passions and interests while being exposed to the wonders to the universe. Hands-on, targeted small group instruction is the most effective way to teach children, and we have the opportunity to ensure that the children of our neighborhood are given that experience. I want to make a difference in the lives of children, and our school allows me to do just that.  

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

I believe that every child has an innate potentiality for greatness. It is my job to meet children where they are at and work with their strengths and areas of need to help them to find success. Each child is different and requires a fresh start each day. They all need extra support in one area or another, and they need to feel safe in the classroom to try and fail. By creating a prepared environment that encourages them to challenge their hearts and minds, I give all of my students the opportunity to grow both academically, socially, and emotionally.

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

I encourage all parents to join us and observe in the classroom. Working with each parent to help meet the needs of their child is incredibly important. We can support each child fully as a team. As for the community itself, the children venture out or bring the community into the classroom by planning small field trips, known as going outs, in which they search to find answers by speaking to real professionals in the areas in which they are studying. They often bring that information back to the classroom and present, inspiring other students to pursue their own research.

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

I learn best by observing veteran teachers.Through my training program I am given the opportunity to observe teachers all over the country to see their methods. That information helps me to improve my classroom. Collaboration with such individuals and the individuals at my school also helps me to grow professionally.

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

I hope to see HDMS continue to serve our community and its children in five years. I look forward to being able to serve a larger percentage of our neighborhood population.

Ms. Kelly - Candelaria - Lower Elementary

About Me

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

I graduated from New York University in 2007 and Appalachian State University in 2009. I hold an Associate’s of Art Degree and a Bachelor’s Degree in Internationals Studies: The Developing World with a minor in Political Science. I began my career through a less traditional route, with Teach for America in Denver, CO in 2011. As I developed my practice and educational philosophy, I sought out schools that were community focused, learner driven, and environmentally conscious. That led me to the Denver School for International Studies where I served as a teacher and teacher leader. Later, I transitioned to Sabin World IB School, an accredited IB school, where I was the IB and Personalized Learning Coordinator.  After moving to Reno in November of 2018, I was elated when I came across HDMS. I could not be happier to join such an empowered and thoughtful community of learners! 

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

All children should have access to an education that nurtures their passions, interests, and curiosity for the world, while fostering and developing their social, behavioral, and intellectual growth.  I believe in our public charter Montessori school because the Montessori method and philosophy cultivates and advocates for the development of the whole child and the community of learners in which they belong. 

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

Learning is happening all around us, every second of every day. There are not a single pair of learners that are exactly alike. Each of us learn in a different way and at a different pace and we all learn from each other. In every aspect of learning (emotionally, socially, environmentally, physically, intellectually)  we all possess different strengths and face different challenges. My goal is to create a safe and joyful learning community where we can nurture each others’ strengths while cultivating the skills we need as learners to overcome challenges. 

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

I see parents and the community as my partners and equals in the learning community. We all have valuable knowledge and unique experiences to share. I am an advocate for learning that is relevant, engaging, and rigorous.  Learners will engage with their parents and the community (organizations and experts) through classroom experiences/events, community outings (field trips), service based learning, and inquiry. We are all citizens of our world and I believe that partnering with parents and our community as a whole helps learners enhance their sense of belonging and ownership as members of that community. Their learning has meaning in their own lives and the world around them. 

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

I have a life-long love of learning! I enjoy exploring new places/communities, reading, and meeting new people. I value learning along with my students and our school community. 

 Professionally, I continually develop my practice and pedagogy as an educator by collaborating  with veteran teachers, observing other classrooms, and participating in professional learning communities. 

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

In the next 5 years, I see myself completing my Montessori training and continuing to be a guide teacher. I hope to have created a well established classroom community that fosters a service based learning environment and empowers learners to be independent, curious, and passionate about all aspects of learning.

Ms. Sarah - Crystal Peak - Lower Elementary

About Me

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

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. When I left the classroom the first time, I was looking to teach in an educational setting that relied less on sticks and carrots and more on students’ curiosity and innate drive to learn. When planning my move to Reno, I was excited that to find out that there were two Montessori schools in town, and I decided to pursue Montessori teaching. I was thrilled when there was an opening last year and am grateful to be part of the HDMS community.

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

All children should be able to benefit from the Montessori method regardless of zip code or income level. I also believe Montessori schools that are overseen and funded by local districts and counties contribute to raising public awareness about the Montessori method in ways that private schools cannot.

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

In my classroom, I strive to create a community of learners who are independent and self-reliant but who also take care of each other. One of my favorite Montessori-inspired educators  emphasizes “bienveillance” as the key to a thriving, warm classroom. From French into English, this translates as having someone’s well-being in mind and implies goodwill and kindness. When the whole classroom is fueled by goodwill and kindness, love and trust can flourish, and children are happy to come to come to school.

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

I have always maintained open lines of communication with parents, whether they want to use email or text to get in touch with me. I enjoy having regular volunteers in my classroom who come to teach skills such as sewing, knitting & crochet, and mask-making.

When students were researching African countries for our yearly Celebration of Diversity, I asked a friend to come in to speak about his experience fleeing the war torn Congo and coming to the US as a refugee with his family. We had a wonderful Q&A and students wrote him thank you cards when he left.

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

The bulk of my learning as a teacher has come from collaborating with colleagues, whether it is through mutual observation, engaging in lesson study or planning together. I am learning to let students’ interests guide my teaching. I also look forward to starting Montessori training this summer.

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

In the next several years, I hope to still be working with children in the classroom as a guide. I will have completed my AMI training and hope to continue growing as a teacher. I also hope to become more well-rounded as teacher and improve my art and music instruction.

Elementary Assistants

Ms. Kristina – Lower Elementary Assistant

Ms. Jyoti – Upper Elementary Assistant

Ms. Artie – Lower Elementary Assistant

Ms. Kyla – Lower Elementary Assistant

Ms. Martha – Lower Elementary Assistant

Ms. Sharon – Upper Elementary Assistant