“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.

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 Elementary Team

Ms. Kaleigh - Sierra - Upper Elementary

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my Bachelor’s of Education, my son, Cole, was struggling in his traditional school environment, resulting in being withdrawn and enrolled in an online school for 5th and 6th grade.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!

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.

Ms. Elyse - Stillwater - Upper Elementary

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

I started teaching at HDMS in 2014 and earned my Montessori Teaching Certificate in 2016.  I received my bachelor’s degree in International Relations and Russian from UC Davis and a teaching certificate from Sierra Nevada College.  I began my teaching career in 2008 in a small, rural school in Markleeville, California where I taught first and second grades.  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.

Why do you believe in our public charter Montessori school?

Teaching in public schools is my calling, and until I moved to Reno, I did not know public Montessori schools were an option.  During my teaching credential program at Sierra Nevada College, we studied many famous education philosophers.  Maria Montessori’s work always stood out to me as the most well-founded and effective method for children to learn.  When I discovered that HDMS offered a tuition-free Montessori education to a wide range of students, I knew it was the school for me.

Ms. Christy - Crystal Peak - Upper Elementary

What is your experience and training and how did you come 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.

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.  

Ms. Sarah - Crystal Peak - Lower Elementary

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.

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.

Ms. Kelly - Candelaria - Lower Elementary

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! 

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. 

Ms. Jen - Excelsior - Lower Elementary

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.

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.

Ms. Jamie - Ruby - Lower Elementary

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.

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.

Ms. Autumn - Virginia - Lower Elementary

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

I have worked in education in several different capacities. I did my student teaching in Japantown of SanFrancisco. I was lead teacher at an afterschool program for the Jewish community center of San Francisco while working on my undergrad at SFSU. I was selected for the Oakland Teaching Fellows after I began my work in teaching Special Education in East Oakland at Life Academy. I remember hearing about Maria Montessori in my Education classes but her work was presented as something to inform a traditional pedagogy. When looking into daycare programs for my oldest child, I quickly got on a list at HDMS for the infant toddler program.  I observed, I asked questions, I was extremely persistent and eventually had my daughter enrolled in the primary program. When my youngest was born, I took a hiatus from teaching special education/resource for WUSD and applied for an opening. Even though my education was strictly traditional, I truly believe in Montessori education and strive everyday to merge the two in a meaningful way.

Why do you believe in our public charter Montessori school?

I believe in equality of education for all students. When I look at the Montessori pedagogy I see that it truly meets the needs of all students, where they are on their path, and is non-judgmental of the style or speed of learning.

Ms. Jyoti - Sierra Classroom Assistant

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

I have a Masters in Equity & Diversity in Education and a Bachelors in Human Development and Family Studies from University of Reno, Nevada. I have worked as a Special Education aide at Washoe County School District, at Head Start, and as a substitute at WCSD.  I came across HDMS online and researched the school and applied for an open assistant position.

Why do you believe in our public charter Montessori school?

I love the Montessori program because it allows a child to be him/herself and learn with freedom and responsibility.  It teaches a child to be independent, responsible, and learn at his/her own level.

Ms. Sharon - Stillwater Classroom Assistant

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

I was a Licensed Daycare Provider for 12 years.  I raised 3 children of my own.  I have personally studied the Montessori philosophy and attended Love and Logic classes.  I was hired in 2006 and have worked as an Elementary Assistant ever since.  

Why do you believe in our public charter Montessori school?

I love working with children.  They are the future of the world.  I strongly agree with Maria Montessori’s philosophy and the hands-on technique of learning.  I love how the little lights shine in the children when they can choose work they are passionate about. Also, the Staff at HDMS are incredible professional adults that are dedicated and loving towards the children and their position.  I look forward to coming to work everyday.  It’s an honor and I am proud to be a part of the HDMS team.

Ms. Tress - Crystal Peak Classroom Assistant

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

As an undergraduate an Norteast Missouri State University, I studied Anthropology and Sociology. I was an administrative assistant for a local independent business for 15 years and a stay-at-home parent for nearly a decade prior to coming to HDMS. My son has been attending the school since kindergarten. When my daughter started kindergarten here last year, I was ready to become a member of our community as a staff member as well as a parent.

Why do you believe in our public charter Montessori school?

When my son was ready for kindergarten, I was absolutely thrilled when I discovered a free public charter Montessori school in my neighborhood. Over the years, my familiarity with the school as a parent deepened my appreciation for the idea of child led learning. The respect for children at our school and the compassion and independence I see in our students inspire and humble me.

Ms. Martha - Candelaria Classroom Assistant

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

I have worked with children for 20 years now. I have my sub license for K-12 years. I have 2 grandchildren at the school. I have also studied different philosophies of education and what I learned about Montessori was very appealing to me. 

Why do you believe in our public charter Montessori school?

I enjoy the empowerment that Montessori gifts children, in leadership, classroom environment pride, and independent directed education.

Ms. Artie - Excelsior Classroom Assistant

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

I came to HDMS by way of my two grandchildren who attend HDMS.  When my granddaughter was old enough for preschool, her parents started looking for schools to send her to.  We were all concerned about where she could go that would be a safe environment. Her parents started exploring the Montessori education and we all fell in love with the learning environment. I started working as an assistant when she started first grade.

Why do you believe in our public charter Montessori school?

I did not fare well in the 60-70s education. I have felt from the beginning that if I had only had the chance to attend a Montessori school, I would have had many more options open to me. The children teach me something everyday and Ms. Jen is the most amazing teacher I have ever known. I hope that I can give the children a safe and loving environment in which they can learn from the master Maria Montessori.

Ruby Classroom Assistant

Bio coming soon!

Ms. Megan - Virginia Classroom Assistant

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

I came to HDMS as a long term substitute in the adolescent program, but have also been fortunate enough to help out with all ages around the school. I have been a licensed substitute teacher with the state of Nevada for a little over 3 years and studied education at the University of Nevada, Reno.

Why do you believe in our public charter Montessori school?

I believe that HDMS is a wonderful community. I fell in love with the concept of independent learning. I believe that HDMS is preparing students to become life long learners.