Board Chair: Nicole Commons

  1. What is your professional experience and training?

I received my undergraduate degree from SDSU, my Master’s Degree in Education from Sierra Nevada College and my AMS Montessori degree from MTEC in Sunnyvale. I am currently a teacher at Roy Gomm for the SWAS program.  The ‘School Within a School’ program caters to the needs of gifted students. I have been able to bring a mix of Montessori to public education.

  1. Why do you believe in families having Non-Traditional Educational Choices?

In Montessori we believe that all students have different needs and that we need to look at the “whole” child. I believe that families know their child best and should have non-traditional educational choices that they know will work best for their particular child.

  1. Why do you offer your time and talents specifically to High Desert Montessori School?

I believe in Montessori for all students. I offer my time and talents to High Desert Montessori as I feel that we can bring this educational format to any student that wants a free Montessori education. HDMS is a great community based school and I want to help make sure it continues to be successful into the future.

Past Board Chair: Max Haynes

From his business life to his community life, Max Haynes remains committed to education, finance and technology.

Max currently serves as founder and Chief Executive Officer of Customer Engagement Technologies focused on efficiency and financial literacy for underbanked customers. As CEO and strategy leader for the company, Max is responsible for driving solutions to serve the underbanked market.  

Max also currently serves as the Director of Private Lending for Alpen Mortgage, the largest private lender in Northern Nevada. For over 20 years, Max has helped finance the development and construction of numerous commercial projects and thousands of housing units in the region.

An aggressive innovator, Max has spent more than two decades disrupting traditional financial models in the lending, real estate, banking and private finance sectors. Prior to founding Customer Engagement Technologies, Max invested years in the private mortgage arena while also consulting for numerous players in the U.S. banking industry, including Citibank. His work with both national and regional banks opened his eyes to the limits of traditional banking and its profound effect on the underserved.

Max has a deep understanding of commercial real estate, construction and mortgage lending. He helped provide private construction financing in Nevada at a time when no banks would consider lending. He also led American business delegations to Russia, China and Japan to assist in the development of creative strategies for both finance and technology companies.

A successful serial entrepreneur, Max was an early member of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) and has been a major speaker at conferences hosted by EO, as well as the Young Presidents’ Organization. Max has spoken on the topics of entrepreneurship and innovation at more than 50 universities in the United States, Canada and Mexico and has been featured as a thought leader in numerous television, radio and print interviews. Max’s natural aptitude for innovation led to his active involvement on a number of national advisory boards—including the U.S. Small Business Administration and the U.S. Department of Commerce—and as Executive Director of the Association of Collegiate Entrepreneurs.

Before entrepreneurship was mainstream, Max attended the University of Southern California’s Entrepreneurship Program and later championed the concepts of new enterprise at universities across the globe. He has led educational conventions with globally-recognized entrepreneurs, such as Steve Jobs, Michael Dell, Ted Turner and Mark Cuban, to inspire young entrepreneurs and to elicit that same passion for disruption in the younger generation.

Besides his business interests, Max is actively involved in his community in Reno, Nevada and is committed to helping youth gain a better education with special emphasis on technology.  Max serves on the City of Reno Mayor’s Housing Taskforce helping streamline the development and entitlement process for the fast growing region. He has two school aged children who are committed to a Montessori education. He has spent many years studying Montessori and alternative education methods. He currently is the Vice Chair of High Desert Montessori Charter School.  Max believes in teaching children to be more independent, self-driven and creative in their educational lives. He strongly supports private and charter schools and believes that parental involvement is the key to a child’s success.

Treasurer: Reid Riker

  1. What is your professional experience and training?

I am a certified public accountant, licensed in Nevada, practicing predominantly in tax return preparation but also financial statements and IRS representation. Training-wise, while I don’t have any education-specific training, I’ve been in the accounting profession for 16 years.

  1. Why do you believe in families having Non-Traditional Educational Choices?

Freedom in having non-traditional education allows parents, their children and ultimately the end-users, the World, experience a different way of thinking that promotes healthy diverse ways of solution creation/problem solving. As well, Montessori education allows children to collaborate strongly with other differently-aged students, something not common in traditional education; working with others not in the same grade opens different perspectives.  

  1. Why do you offer your time and talents specifically to High Desert Montessori School?

I offer my time and talents to the wonderful High Desert Montessori School because I was always taught in my family that a solid education is the key to a successful rest of your life, so even though I wasn’t raised on Montessori education, I share values with it. Secondly, a school always needs good stewardship, whether that’s from an educator or financial professional such as myself; it’s a great school and the kids deserve to have strong board guiding the school. Lastly, as a United States citizen, helping an educational institution is a great way to build a stronger country.

Secretary: Ashley Allen

  1. What is your professional experience and training?

I graduated from UNR with my bachelors in Economics and French. I then worked for a few years on the business side of a green energy company here in Reno. I returned to school and received my masters in Physician Assistant studies from Boston University School of Medicine, after which I came back home to Reno, and I now work as a Physician Assistant (PA) in primary care in the outpatient setting.

  1. Why do you believe in families having Non-Traditional Educational Choices?

When I was a teenager, I spent a year abroad as a foregin exchange student, attending school in Brussels, Belgium. It was a wonderful and formative experience, and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to experience a different style of education. I feel that it is important for families to have options when it comes to their children’s education. Two of my favorite Montesorri principles are independence and individual pacing. Students will continue to benefit for the rest of their lives from learning to think for themselves at an early age. I also strongly believe that everyone learns at a different pace, so it is not only valuable, but crucial, to have an education system that fosters this environment.

  1. Why do you offer your time and talents specifically to High Desert Montessori School?

The staff and leadership at High Desert Montessori School are so dedicated and talented in dealing with the children. I love the school’s focus on teaching social responsibility and eco-friendly ways. I am impressed with the overall peaceful and calm feeling of the classrooms. As I do not come from a teaching background, I hope to bring an outside perspective and contribute to the diversity of the Board’s discussions of various topics.

Parent Representative Board Member: Nancy Smith

  1. What is your professional experience and training?

I want to give back to the HDMS community that helped my family out during the most challenging time in our lives.  Six years ago, my youngest son was diagnosed with childhood cancer.  My oldest was in kindergarten at HDMS at the time, and the faculty, staff, and families rallied and helped take care of all of us.  I can do nothing to repay what has been given to us, but I can sure try.

  1. Why do you believe in families having Non-Traditional Educational Choices?

I believe that choice matters, and to provide my children with the best education possible, I need to be aware of my options.  While some children benefit from a traditional school format, others do not.  

  1. Why do you offer your time and talents specifically to High Desert Montessori School?

I want to give back to the HDMS community that helped my family out during the most challenging time in our lives.  Six years ago, my youngest son was diagnosed with childhood cancer.  My oldest was in kindergarten at HDMS at the time, and the faculty, staff, and families rallied and helped take care of all of us.  I can do nothing to repay what has been given to us, but I can sure try.

Board Member: Brigitte Frost

  1. What is your professional experience and training?

I completed Elementary Montessori training at Loyola University and received my Montessori Credential through the Association of Montessori Internationale (AMI). I earned a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from University of Dallas and my Masters in Education from Loyola University.  I have 20+ years experience as an elementary teacher. I have taught and have been licensed in three states- Nevada, Indiana, and Michigan and was a Montessori trainer for 15 years at Montessori Teacher Education Center (MTEC) in the Bay area.

  1. Why do you believe in families having Non-Traditional Educational Choices?

Traditional schools have a set formula but charter schools are able to offer other models that serve individualized students’ needs and build stronger communities.  Montessori has been successfully offered as a charter option in many states and provides an educational model built on scientific observation.  It provides unique hands-on materials and an educational environment that serves the developmental stages of students.  Educational choices allow all parents options for their children. 

  1. Why do you offer your time and talents specifically to High Desert Montessori School?

I enjoyed working with HDMS in many roles as an elementary teacher, testing coordinator, and Nevada Early Literacy Intervention Program (NELIP) representative.  I’m thrilled to see how it’s growing and look forward to contributing as a board member

Board Member: Jennifer Linn

  1. What is your professional experience and training?

I have been a licensed real estate agent in Nevada since 2012. I simultaneously held a license in Oregon for 2 years. In August of 2021 I received my Nevada Broker’s license and opened M & A Real Estate in September 2021.  I have experience in residential and commercial transactions, both as an agent (for clients) and as a principal (for myself.)

  1. Why do you believe in families having Non-Traditional Educational Choices?

We are all so different; having a unique option for children to grow and learn is really healthy for society. I love the idea of non-traditional education because I am a non-traditional woman.

  1. Why do you offer your time and talents specifically to High Desert Montessori School?

I want to help out in the community that I love.  Education is important and the Montessori path is really intriguing-I’m really glad we have the school here in Reno! I want to see it stay strong and vibrant for our area.

Board Member: Bonnie Pillaro

  1. What is your professional experience and training?

.

  1. Why do you believe in families having Non-Traditional Educational Choices?

.

  1. Why do you offer your time and talents specifically to High Desert Montessori School?

.

Contact the Board at ncommons@hdmsreno.com