Board of Directors

The Board manages the affairs of Desert Montessori School (DMS) and is responsible for overall policy, direction as well as financial oversight.  It delegates responsibility for day-to-day operations to the Director and Committees.  The Board also assumes the responsibility of discussing, developing and implementing long-term strategic plans to ensure continuity of the School and its Purpose and Mission.


Melissa Brown, Director,  Missy started at DMS as a parent in June of 2004 and by August of 2006 was hired on as the Associate Director.  She completed her Montessori Teacher Training in 2007 and took over as Director in June of 2008.  Missy has a B.A. in Geology from Miami University.  She worked as a geologist in Wyoming and Tennessee, but switched to retail when she moved to Santa Fe.  Missy had her own shop downtown for a number of years before becoming a mom.  Melissa oldest child graduated from Desert Montessori last year (current enrolled at Santa Fe Prep), and her youngest is in 4th grade at DMS.


Mitchell Koolpe, Vice Chair/Secretary,  Mitch is a graduate of the UC Santa Cruz with a B.A. in Biology with an emphasis on Cellular and Molecular Biology and a graduate of UC Davis with a Ph.D. in Immunology.  Mitch has three children.   His twins are thrilled to continue E3 with Miss. Wagner and Mrs. Sovcik this fall, and his oldest graduated DMS in 2011 (currently enrolled at Santa Fe Prep).  Mitch is currently working as a Stay-At-Home Father.  Mitch has been with Desert Montessori since 2007.



AutumnAutumn Wise, Teacher Representative,  Autumn has taught at Desert Montessori School for 7 years. (please see our faculty page for more information about Autumn’s extensive experience and teaching philosophy)



Colleen McCalla, At Large,  Colleen has taught at Desert Montessori School for 5 years. (please see our faculty page for more information about Colleen’s extensive experience and teaching philosophy)



Jim Stanton, Treasurer,  Jim Stanton graduated from the University of New Mexico with a BS in Biology.  After working in the private sector for five years, Jim returned to school to earn a Masters degree in public health.  Since then he has been an environmental project manager at LANL.  Jim also devotes time to Sustainable Santa Fe and his homeowner’s association.


Julianne Wagner, At Large,  Julianne has taught at Desert Montessori School for 5 years and is in her 33rd year of teaching. (please see our faculty page for more information about Julianne’s extensive experience and teaching philosophy)


Erika Penczer, At Large,  Head of Santa Fe Prep Middle School. Erika received her bachelor’s degree in biology from Colby College, and her master’s degree in private school leadership from Columbia University. Erika is an avid outdoors woman, with interests ranging from triathlons to camping to lacrosse to skiing. She also has served in the Peace Corps, teaching biology to several different age groups in Cameroon, West Africa.


Jeremy Jones, At Large,  Jeremy is a partner at Sommer, Udall, and Sutin Law Firm.  Jeremy received his bachelor’s degree in political science from Fordham University, and his Juris Doctor degree from the University of San Francisco.  He also studied International Law and Comparative Civil Law at Oxford.  He handles civil litigation involving business, estates and trusts, banking, real estate, debt collection, insurance and construction matters. Since 2006, Jeremy has served as an Adjunct Faculty Member at the University of New Mexico where he teaches Business Law and Business Ethics to undergraduates seeking their degree in business technology.


Juliette Mattila, At Large, Juliette is a retired school administrator and college professor.  Juliette received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of California Berkeley.  She also has a Ph.D. in English from the University of Chicago.