"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
Our Elementary Program includes a three-year experience in a Lower Elementary classroom for children in grades 1-3 and a three-year experience in an Upper Elementary classroom for children in grades 4-6. We also have one Bilingual (French) Elementary classroom that serves children in grades 1-6.
Experiential hands-on Montessori materials help our students explore the areas of geography, history, math, language, biology, geometry and music. Our students are offered lessons and Great Stories that invite them to explore the world around them from the smallest flower to the farthest reaches of the cosmos.
Our expert Montessori teachers understand that during the Elementary years, children naturally have a thirst for knowledge, a sense of wonder, a reasoning mind, an attraction to peers and growth toward intellectual independence.
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

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my Bachelor’s of Education, my son, Cole, was struggling in his traditional school environment, resulting in being withdrawn and enrolled in an online school for 5th and 6th grade.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

Miss Olivia - Stillwater Classroom Teacher - Upper Elementary

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 Elise’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.

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.

Miss Elyse - Toiyabe Classroom Teacher - 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.

Miss Christy - Crystal Peak Classroom Teacher - Elementary Grades 1-6

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.  

Miss Sarah - Crystal Peak Classroom Teacher - Elementary Grades 1-6

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.

Miss Kelly - Candelaria Classroom Teacher - 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. 

Miss Jen - Excelsior Classroom Teacher - 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.

Miss Jamie - Ruby Classroom Teacher - 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.

Miss Autumn - Virginia Classroom Teacher - 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.

Miss Jyoti - Sierra Classroom Assistant - Upper Elementary

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.

Miss Tress - Stillwater Classroom Assistant - Upper Elementary

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.

Miss Sharon - Toiyabe Classroom Assistant - Upper Elementary

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.

Mr. Eli - Crystal Peak Combo Classroom Assistant

What is your experience and training and how did you come to our school?
Most of my training and experience in childcare has taken place here at High Desert. I enjoy working here and with all the students very much!
Why do you believe in our public charter Montessori school?
I believe in High Desert because we are able to teach the students in a very special way that helps us as the staff see what makes each child special and highlights how unique they are.

Miss Isabel - Crystal Peak Classroom Assistant

What is your experience and training and how did you come to our school?
Teaching is my calling, I always knew I wanted to be a teacher. I graduated from a College in México with a Bachelor’s Degree in Education; specifically in Spanish working for Middle Schools. After that, I enrolled in another University to learn English.  Being bilingual gave me the opportunity to work with almost all ages students.  For almost eight years I worked as a Grammar, Latín and English teacher at a High School.
I moved to Sparks and started working as an Interpreter for the WCSD, helping families and teachers. Becoming a mom took me to another chapter in my life, and I worked  four years at a Daycare.
During my career, I learned about teaching theories and methods and certainly Montessori was the one that stood out for me.  I heard there was a Montessori school and I wanted my daughter and myself to be part of this community. When the position for Teacher Assistant became available I applied and took this opportunity.
Why do you believe in our public charter Montessori school?
I truly believe the Montessori method provides all children with a hands on learning environment and the motivation needed for them to feel inspired and always  thrive for the best.

Miss Maureen - Candelaria Classroom Assistant

What is your experience and training and how did you come to our school?
I have worked with children for most of my life.  After teaching special education for 18 years, I decided to join HDMS as the next leg of my own educational journey.  The idea of learning a new (to me) method of supporting the growth and education of our children is exciting!
Why do you believe in our public charter Montessori school?
I believe all students have the right to participate in quality educational experiences and take an active roll in those learning experiences.  HDMS creates a learning environment that helps students become independent learners who take pride in their education.

Miss Sam - Excelsior Classroom Assistant

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

I have worked with kids for 12 years in a child care setting after having my first son. When he was going to start kindergarten I was so nervous because I had been his teacher for 5 years and wanted to find something that would set him up for an amazing future. I found HDMS online and scheduled an observation and fell in love. I was blown away with how well 3 and 4 year olds behaved and worked all by themselves, especially coming from a daycare. The atmosphere was so different and I knew that is where I wanted my son to be. After 4 years of my son being enrolled I got an opportunity to work there and jumped at it.

Why do you believe in our public charter Montessori school?

I believe in our school because I see everyday how dedicated not only the teachers and assistants are but also the administration and parents. We are a community at our school and work as a team to shape the future of the children there.  I am proud and so grateful to be a part of HDMS and when my youngest is 3 we will all be there.

Miss Keishla - Ruby Classroom Assistant - Lower Elementary

What is your experience and training and how did you come to our school?
I have a Master’s of Arts and a Bachelor of Music Performance in Violin. I had the opportunity to hold a number of professional roles including Music Teacher and Musician Instructor. Through these experiences, I have been fortunate enough to educate a diverse groups of Pre-K to 12 graders in different schools and coach youth orchestras. I came across HDMS online and applied for an open position. I wanted to expand my educational journey in order to be a well rounded teacher for my students.
Why do you believe in our public charter Montessori school?
I am convinced that a classroom crafted to meet the students educational needs with proper guidance can positively impact how a child learns. I believe it vital that children are offered meaningful opportunity to individually develop their full potential, enabling them to step out into the world as responsible, engaged, competent and respectful citizens.

Paige - Virginia Classroom Assistant - Lower Elementary

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

I first worked as a short term office aide and loved the HDMS environment.  Then I heard there was an Assistant position open.  After observing the classroom and meeting Ms. Autumn, I was excited to join the team with a permanent position!

Why do you believe in our public charter Montessori school?

I believe children should have access to various environments throughout the day, be able to practice what they’re skilled at, and have a chance to learn new skills as well!  I believe in fostering independent learning in children.  I love seeing how capable they are and how surprised them sometimes are by their own progress!