The Primary Program is the foundation of the Montessori educational system.
This program offers long, uninterrupted work periods that allow children to fully engage in tasks that they have chosen for themselves, under the careful, individual guidance of their teachers.
Montessori children thus have repeated opportunities to explore materials, become engrossed in their activities, and experience regular states of concentrated focus.
Our materials are scientifically designed to teach multiple skills and to enable children to problem solve, using their hands and senses. Thus they can independently repeat activities and achieve mastery.
Please visit the enrollment section of our website for rates and hours.

Meet the Primary Team

Ms. Pam - Beowawe Classroom Lead Teacher

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

I was born in Guatemala and moved to the United States at the age of 12. Reno has always been my home away from home.

I knew early in life I wanted to work with children, and when I started seeking childcare for my eldest daughter, I fell in love with Maria Montessori’s work.

I have been a primary teacher in the Beowawe classroom for the last 12 years and before that I was an assistant for three years. I am committed to this method/philosophy because of the profound respect Dr. Montessori had for children and their developmental stages. I graduated from the Montessori Institute of San Diego in 2009 with an AMI diploma (ages 2-6).

In addition to teaching, I find it rewarding to serve as an interpreter and translator for our Hispanic families. I provide parent education nights and offer my expertise as an advocate for their needs and rights.

Why do you believe in our public charter Montessori school?

Our school is able to successfully serve approximately 425 students and their families. We believe that all children should have access to a Montessori education regardless of their socioeconomic, racial or cultural background. I feel grateful to be part of the HDMS community.

Ms. Kelly - Lahontan Classroom Lead Teacher

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

A love of music brought me to study music education as an undergraduate, but as soon as I entered the classroom as a public school music teacher, early childhood development grabbed my interest. As I completed a graduate degree in Early Childhood Education, I focused my studies on Montessori and became more and more convinced by the Montessori philosophy and method.

Before coming to High Desert Montessori, I worked for two public Montessori programs in the United States and ran nonprofit Montessori in Oaxaca, Mexico. I taught Orff-Schulwerk music in a Montessori magnet school in Denver for 7 years. I completed my AMI Montessori training at MINT in Dallas, I was a guide at Lumin Education, an AMI charter school in Dallas, Texas. My husband and I left Texas to open a nonprofit Montessori in Oaxaca, Mexico, where I was the guide in the Montessori Children’s House for 3 years and an administrator/fundraiser for 2 more.

I am a dedicated, experienced, bilingual (Spanish/English), Montessori guide who is passionate about equity and peace education. While I have taught a variety of subjects over my 20+ year teaching career  including English, Music, yoga, and Educational Methods (at a university in Mexico), Montessori is my true passion. I am absolutely thrilled that my two children and I are part of the High Desert Montessori community.

Why do you believe in our public charter Montessori school?

I am a strong advocate for public Montessori schools because I believe that Montessori education should be available for all. Montessori is unique in the way that it respectfully encourages each individual to achieve their fullest potential in all areas of life. I believe this amazing educational approach should be accessible to every child and family. 

Ms. Claudia - Peavine Classroom Lead Teacher

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

I knew I had a calling for teaching since I was a little girl with “school” being my favorite game to play. I have been working with children since the age of 16. I was first exposed to the Montessori Pedagogy at the age of 22; when I first began to work as an Assistant in a AMI Accredited Montessori School in a Primary Classroom in Marin County, California. After observing the transformation from the children, I decided to continue my education to become a Primary Montessori Guide. I attended the Montessori Institute of San Diego where I obtained my AMI Diploma. After graduation, I moved back to Northern California where I began my journey as a Lead Guide in a Primary Classroom. I spent the last two years teaching in Napa; which was a magnificent learning experience. I recently moved to Reno to begin a new chapter of my life together with my husband. Due to my strong belief in the work of Maria Montessori, I visited and observed a classroom at HDMS. The calm, loving community is what attracted me the most about this school. While observing, it was evident that children were enjoying the hours of uninterrupted work and together with the grace and courtesy from the adults; children were at peace.  I look forward to a wonderful adventure together with all the families at HDMS.

Why do you believe in our public charter Montessori school?

I strongly believe that all children highly benefit from the Montessori Method. After working in the Private Sector for the past 5 years, I am very thrilled to know that I will be offering the guidance and assistance to more children regardless of their financial background. I am excited to know families, but mostly children, will have the opportunity to experience a loving Montessori Environment.  

Ms. Lisa - Toquima Classroom Lead Teacher

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

My name is Lisa Kapellas and I am a primary teacher in the Toquima Classroom. I have a BA in Anthropology from the University of Colorado at Boulder and a MEd in Early Childhood Special Education from UNR. I have completed both the Primary and Lower Elementary  Montessori training programs at the Montessori Education Center of the Rockies through the American Montessori Society (AMS).

Why do you believe in our public charter Montessori school?

Throughout my time working in Montessori schools, I have worked as an administrative assistant, a classroom assistant and a lead teacher in the Front Range of Colorado and the Bay Area. When I moved to Truckee, I was aware there were no Montessori schools and looked toward Reno. I happily found HDMS which was not only a Montessori school but also, a public charter.

Ms. Chrissy - Tuscarora Classroom Lead Teacher

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

I have a B.A. in environmental science and ecology and a Master’s degree in education. I earned my Montessori primary diploma from Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) in 2012. I came to High Desert looking for an individualized and whole child approach to education for my two daughters.   I have been a part of the High Desert Montessori community for over 10 years now.

Why do you believe in our public charter Montessori school?

I love working with children; each day is different and new. I enjoy seeing each child reach his or her true potential through the Montessori curriculum in a public charter school setting. I believe all children should have access to a Montessori education regardless of their background.

Ms. Maria - Beowawe Classroom Assistant

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

Being part of HDMS has been one of the best experiences of my life.  I have learned through direct interaction with children to identify their basic needs and have been trained to help them in an appropriate way during the time they are in our school.  I came to this school so that my son could receive a Montessori education.  I have the opportunity to be part of HDMS working as a teacher’s assistant.

Why do you believe in our public charter Montessori school?

I believe in this school because it is led by professional people who are trained to act in a fair and intelligent way.  This institution has as one of its main objectives to always protect and preserve the safety of children and their families.  Also help children to develop themselves in the best possible way, helping them create a healthy environment.

Ms. Sunny - Lahontan Classroom Assistant

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

I graduated in 2014 with a degree in Early Childhood Education. I started working at HDMS in the Fall of 2014. My son, Elliott, had been attending HDMS since 2013. Montessori was a teaching style I had learned about while going to school for my degree. I loved that I could work at the same school as my son.

Why do you believe in our public charter Montessori school?

I believe in HDMS because it is very accepting of all families. I believe in HDMS because I have seen how this learning style can greatly affect children to be independent, life long learners.

Ms. Dominique - Peavine Classroom Assistant

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

I came to our school because my son got in and I wanted to be part of the community. I’ve worked 2 years in an inclusion autism classroom prior to coming to HDMS.

Why do you believe in our public charter Montessori school?

I believe in HDMS. We have the best teachers and staff. They’re patient and kind. They’re really engaged with each child. If you want a good education for your child and one who follows your child’s interest, choose our beautiful school.

Ms. Jade - Toquima Classroom Assistant

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

I originally came to this school as a parent wanting quality education for my children. Our local public school couldn’t offer what High Desert offers, and that’s freedom within limits, following the child, respecting the child as their own person, teaching responsibility and independent thinking. Now I get to be a part of guiding children in the classroom as a primary assistant. I taught for one year in a special education class for grades 1-4, and just before coming to HDMS, I was a teacher in the 3-4 year old class at a local co-op preschool.

Why do you believe in our public charter Montessori school?

I believe in our public charter Montessori school because Montessori education should be accessible to all families regardless of income.

Ms. Stefanie - Tuscarora Classroom Assistant

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

I received a Bachelor’s degree in Theatre Studies from UNLV. I then worked for Cirque Du Soleil for 13 years in the wardrobe department.  I came to this school when I moved back to Reno in 2018. I was looking for a school for my son, and found out that High Desert Montessori was hiring. It worked out perfectly for me and my son.

Why do you believe in our public charter Montessori school?

I believe that the Montessori method really helps develop independence among students. It builds their confidence and their interest in learning. I believe our school gives ALL children the opportunity to experience what Montessori has to offer. 

Ms. Jenni - Primary Assistant

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

My experience and training with kiddos began with my first job in high school with the City of Sparks.  This lead me to persue to a Bachelor Degree in Human Development and Family Studies. I’ve worked with children between the ages of birth to 17 in many capacities. My favorite being my job onboard different cruise lines!  

I also ran an infant/toddler home daycare.

Why do you believe in our public charter Montessori school?

After becoming a parent I realized even more so how important education is and wanted the best all around place for my kiddo to attend. We enjoy the philosophy and intent behind Montessori and feel lucky to be a part of the HDMS community. 

Ms. Noemi - Primary Assistant

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

I am currently studying elementary education in college. I came to High Desert Montessori thanks to Miss Martha in Candelaria because when I was doing my observations for my 203 education class she saw how interested, how polite and friendly I was and she asked me if I would like to work here, I looked at her really shocked and I told her really? I could work here even though I don’t have my associates degree yet? She said I could and I was really happy because just by observing that classroom I saw how wonderful the school is. 

Why do you believe in our public charter Montessori school?

I believe in our public charter Montessori school because I see the happiness in the children’s face. I’m not in a classroom but the few times that I have been put in one even if it’s for an hour I see how engaged the students are to learn. The learning methods that are used are very different than with public education and coming from one, if I would have had the chance to ask my parents if they could put me in a Montessori school, I would have. I also saw how my younger sister was being taught in elementary and she struggled a lot to understand things, especially with Math. I had the opportunity to see a teaching method used for math, and it made it seem so simple. I like how the children have choices on what work they would like to do and how hands on the teaching methods are.

Ms. Sam - Primary 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.