“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” .- Maria Montessori
Our staff reflects professionalism at all levels. Everyone most hold undergraduate or advanced degrees in education, or Montessori specialization. All are life-long learners. Our students also benefit from parent and community collaborators and specialty teachers in the areas of Art, Spanish, and Movement.
Our Toddler and Primary Classes have a student teacher ratio 8:1.
Our Lower and Middle Elementary classes (6-7, 8-9 year olds) have a student teacher ratio varying from 9:1 to 8:1.
Our Upper Elementary (10-12 year old class) has a student teacher ratio varying from 10:1 to 8:1.
Our Lead Teachers:
Daisy is a Montessori trained and certified Directress with fifteen years experience at Montessori facilities. She received her training and certification with Joan Ellard in White Rock, N.M. Daisy also has over ten years experience supervising Camps, including being the Director of the YMCA Summer Camp in Los Alamos, N.M. Daisy is currently training and mentoring junior staff at DMS in the use of Montessori Materials.
Page Meneely is entering her third year as a Montessori teacher and her second year at Desert Montessori School. She received her Primary Montessori Certification in the spring on 2011 and will be starting her first year as Lead Teacher for the toddler class this fall 2012. Page was a Montessori child herself, having attended Odyssey Montessori (now Growing Up Montessori) from grades 1st through 5th.
Page’s years at Odyssey were unforgettable and life-changing. Becoming a Montessori teacher was a path for which page always had a calling and she is very proud and excited to be a member of the Desert Montessori Team. Her goal for the toddler classroom is to provide a peaceful, consistent, and nurturing classroom in which the children are free to explore and discover while being gently guided through the steps of their early growth.
Carmen is excited to join Desert Montessori School as the new lead Kindergarten teacher in the 4-6 year old classroom. She received her training and certification in Montessori Early Childhood Education under the direction of Verva Zoe Klingman Judge in Amarillo, TX. Carmen has extensive Montessori experience. Her experiences includes teaching at Children’s Montessori House in Canyon, TX., substituting at various Montessori Schools in Amarillo, and working with special needs children using the Montessori method. Aside from working in the Montessori environment, Carmen has also substituted for Canyon Independent School District and was the lead teacher in the 2-4 year old classroom at the New Children’s Center in Canyon.
Carmen has served on the board for Children’s Miracle Network in Amarillo, and continues to be an advocate for this wonderful organization. She is also a vocalist and has been blessed to sing and tour with an award winning Country artist. Carmen, along with her husband David Lee, had a leading role in the outdoor musical drama “Texas”. They have one beautiful child who, this year, will be attending Desert Montessori School for his first time. We are excited to welcome Carmen to our Desert Montessori family.
Winifred is looking forward to working with the students, staff and parents as a member of the teaching staff at Desert Montessori School. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education with a dual major in Early Childhood Education. She also has a Master of Arts degree in Elementary Education with a minor in Reading with an emphasis in learning disabilities. Both of these degrees were received from the University of New Mexico. She has held certification as an instructional leader for over 15 years. Winifred went back to school and received an Education Specialist degree in Educational Leadership the spring of 2006 at UNM and has a New Mexico Administrative License. She has 26 years’ experience as a teacher in grades K – 5 and 6 years’ experience as an administrator.
Throughout her educational career, Winifred has been involved in initiatives to improve teaching and learning. At a teacher, she participated in reading/balanced literacy workshops, hands on math workshops such as the Exxon Math Initiative, and the Intel “Teach to the Future” Master Teacher program. As Team Leader for the “Jornada: Hand in Hand” multiage team in Las Cruces, she collaborated with team members to obtain Action Research grant funding, gain administration, staff, parent and community support for program implementation and development including a differentiated curriculum designed to meet the needs of all students, both gifted and special needs. She presented at local, regional, and national conferences during this time on the topics of balanced literacy, differentiated curriculum and developmentally appropriate education that recognizes the social, emotional, physical and intellectual needs of all students.
Winifred’s extensive educational background demonstrates her strong foundation and commitment to empowering students to become caring citizens who contribute to their local, national, and global communities.
Lisa Grogan is thrilled to join the dedicated teaching staff at Desert Montessori School! She recently earned her New Mexico level-three instructional elementary license, has been working as a substitute teacher with the Santa Fe Public Schools, and as a volunteer at The Gentle Nudge Preschool.
Before moving to Santa Fe, Ms.Grogan enjoyed eight years as a lead teacher in first and third grade at John Muir Elementary School in Antioch, CA. As an enthusiastic and energetic teacher, she designed creative hands-on lessons while developing a nurturing learning environment for all children.
In 1997 Ms.Grogan earned a Master of Arts in Teaching from Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, MA where, in 1994, she received a BA in geography and environmental studies. She also received her California professional clear multiple subject teaching credential, and CLAD (cross cultural language and development) certificate.
As a student, Ms. Grogan spent a semester at the University of Hawaii studying geology and geography (at times getting extremely close to the active Kilauea Volcano). In addition, she completed an internship at The Conservancy in Naples, FL where she worked in environmental land management, conservation and education, and sea turtle protection. In her free time, Ms. Grogan enjoys ballet, singing, traveling, and spending valuable time with her two little girls, Lily and Gigi.
Valera Sovcik has thirty-one years of teaching experience and holds a New Mexico Level Two Professional K-8 Elementary Teaching License. In addition to teaching Kindergarten through Sixth Grade, Valera has also been a reading and writing tutor, an educational consultant, a mentor teacher for Santa Fe Public Schools, and a Performing Arts teacher.
Valera’s dedication to her students’ well-being and academic excellence has been publicly recognized with several awards and accommodations. She was nominated for the Golden Apple Foundation of New Mexico Award and has received the Great Teacher Award from Century Bank, the Muchas Gracias Award from the City of Santa Fe, Teacher of the Month Award from KNYN Radio, the Teacher Who Inspires Award from Partners in Education, and in 2004 Acequia Madre Elementary School named their theater “The Sovcik Theater” in honor of Valera’s dedication to the performing arts.
Valera is a dedicated and resourceful educator who establishes a learning atmosphere that is nurturing, calm, and inviting, as well as an educational environment that emphasizes a strong academic curriculum where the students are engaged and active participants. Valera also values the importance of the arts in a child’s education.
Julianne Wagner has taught for thirty-one years and continues to do so with the enthusiasm of a new teacher. She began teaching in inner-city Los Angeles and moved to a math and science magnet school. Mary Laycock mentored her in teaching mathematics.
Julianne taught mathematics, computer science, social studies, science, and language arts for 17 years in the International Baccalaureate Program at Washington International School, in Washington, DC.
After moving to Santa Fe, Julianne missed teaching and was delighted to join DMS four years ago. Julianne continues to teach upper elementary students as they are her favorite age group.
In addition to teaching children, Julianne teaches adults through school district programs for in-service teachers, at George Mason University preparing aspiring teachers to receive their teaching credentials, and for the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program. Julianne has also given presentations at professional conferences including the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS), and the National Council Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM). She has been a mentor teacher and a student teacher supervisor.
Julianne is a Fulbright Memorial Fund-Japan Scholarship Awardee. She also has received a Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics Teaching, and the Outstanding Mathematics Classroom Teacher Award from the Los Angeles Unified School District.
Julianne holds a K-12 Clear Teaching Credential from the State of California and a State of New Mexico K-8 Level Three-A Professional Teaching License.
Based on her many years of classroom experience, Julianne believes that all students can meet and exceed their own expectations in a supportive environment.
Our Assistant Teachers:
Melia Lewis is delighted to be reuniting with her old friend and fellow co-teacher, Daisy Guranich, from the former Montessori Children’s House in Santa Fe. Melia has been involved with Montessori education since 1989 when she began directing the after school program at MCH. She began co-directing the summer camp program there with Daisy in 1996, with an emphasis on teaching environmental education, appreciation, and stewardship. She embarked on her teacher training at Montessori Education Center of the Rockies in Boulder, Colorado in 2006 and received her American Montessori Society Early Childhood certification in 2007. Melia is a firm believer that nature is the best teacher and she delights in sharing children’s excitement, curiosity, and wonder about the world we live in. As such, she strives to bring nature into the classroom as much as possible through hands-on exploration, field trips, and high quality teaching materials.
Melia has enjoyed a variety of paths in her adult life. She received her undergraduate degree in Wildlife Resources from the University of Idaho in 1979; became a certified massage practitioner in 1984 after studying at Heartwood Institute in Garberville, California; studied for 3 years at the Elisabeth Kubler-Ross Hospice Training Institute in northern New Mexico; and trained in wilderness rites of passage with Steven Foster and Meredith Little at The School of Lost Borders in Big Pine, California in 1993. She co-guided vision quests and wilderness writing retreats for women on the Colorado Plateau from 1994-2000, as well as continuing her work with Montessori Children’s House until August 2010.
Melia’s passion is exploring the natural world and traveling. She recently returned to Santa Fe after 2 years of working in such varied environments as an orphanage in Mfuleni Township, Cape Town, South Africa, and a Montessori school in Bend, Oregon. Her insatiable curiosity about the world keeps her pouring over maps, plotting her next adventure, and she loves to hike and camp. She is the happy mother of a 26 year old daughter who grew up in Montessori education and who travels the world teaching and exploring. Melia looks forward to sharing her love of the world with the children at Desert Montessori!
Elise joins the Roadrunners classroom in her 2nd year at Desert Montessori School. In addition to working with the aftercare students and assisting part-time in the Kitfoxes classroom during the 2011-2012 school year, she also brings 10 years of experience assisting in music classes at the Lyric Music Studio in Houston, TX. Classes included Kindermusic, Mountain Dulcimer building, and Group Piano for children and adults.
Elise graduated Magna Cum Laude from the College of Santa Fe with a B.A. in Contemporary Music. Her music has been heard up and down the halls of DMS. In her spare time, she has travelled to 12 European countries and enjoys performing music and various circus arts around Santa Fe.
Michael is currently teaching with Lisa Grogan in our 8-9 year old class. Michael joined Desert Montessori in 2010.
Our Specialty Teachers and Aftercare Staff:
Colleen has taught at Dessert Montessori for four years. She has enjoyed watching her students grow over the years and feels lucky to have them for more than one year as a specialty teacher. She has a level one New Mexico teaching license and 8 years of teaching experience.
Mrs. McCalla has a degree from Whitman College in Fine Art and completed the Santa Fe community college teachers academy. In Chicago she completed the Urban Life Center’s “City Arts” program with internships and Lil Street Gallery and Little Black Pearl Workshop. She studied drawing and painting in Florence Italy as part of the SACI study-abroad program. She was an Americorp volunteer in Las Cruces, NM and lead arts integration projects at Even Start (bi-lingual pre-school), Dona Ana Elementary School, Hatch Elementary and High schools, and Pioneer Alternative High School. During her time in Las Cruces she also created large murals for the Dona Ana Volunteer Fire Department and the Club Fusion Teen Center. Mrs. McCalla was promoted to Lead Artist of the “Aqui se Puede” arts-based violence prevention program for high school students on long-term suspension.
Mrs. McCalla enjoyed learning Spanish as a child from her mom who grew up in Peru. In addition to college course work in Spanish, she worked with the cross-border “Amigos de Las Mujeres de Juarez”, attending a human rights conference in Chihuahua, Mexico. She continued her education attending a intensive Spanish language program “El Proyecto Linguistico Quetzalteco” in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala. Mrs. McCalla lived and worked at “Pimpollo Ciudad de Los Ninos” in Juchitan, Mexico. She volunteered at the Mexican orphanage as a mentor and art teacher. She fell in love with the kids of Pimpollo and Mexico and almost became an ex-patriot. Her Spanish classes emphasize useful vocabulary and conversational Spanish.
Raquel Garcia is very excited to join Desert Montessori as the Spanish teacher and aftercare teacher. Raquel has worked in the Business/Administrative field, but has always had a passion for nutrition and teaching. Raquel has received a Certificate in Nutrition from the Santa Fe Community College and intends on pursuing a higher education degree in Nutrition. Raquel would eventually like to teach disease prevention and education as a bilingual person which allows her to communicate with a wider audience.
Raquel enjoys spending her free time with her husband and three wonderful children. She likes to travel and spend time outdoors.
Joel is a new addition to the staff with the 2012-2013 school year as an After Care Assistant. After moving to Santa Fe from eastern Pennsylvania in 2008 following a twenty year career as a professional land surveyor, Joel’s theme has been “people experience”. Following a rewarding, initial foray in retail sales, for the last two years he has provided private personal care for the elderly. In addition to fun, recreational companioning of his clients, Joel provides quality in-home care including administration of daily medications, toileting, implementation of physical therapy routines, meal preparation, overseeing doctor’s visits, home care, pet care and hospice care. Most of his clients have been in their late ‘90s and Joel has enjoyed comfortably assisting them in navigating the end of life. Wishing to broaden his care giving skills, Joel is enthusiastic about working with children infused with the energy at the beginning of life. He will continue to work mornings with his favorite 96 year old who, to put it in perspective, was born just four years after the sinking of the Titanic! Over the years, Joel has volunteered with literacy programs, homeless shelters and hospice, and most recently with mentally handicapped adults and children in therapeutic horseback riding. Not least, he happily admits to helping raise two children of his own both well-adjusted, adventurous and productive adults now in their late 20’s. Joel is a licensed nurse’s aide.