At Mission Montessori we are firm believers in rigorous academics in a peaceful environment. While there is always room for spontaneity  on a day to day basis, our curriculum is designed to cover all of the common core standards while following and using the Montessori Philosophy and materials. We believe in following the interests of the child, but this does not mean that they can just do whatever they want, whenever they want.

We believe the child learns responsibility through the choices they make, but we limit those choices in  a way that allows them to exceed the standards of traditional schools and satisfies their natural curiosity.

Infant Curriculum

The Montessori caregiver lays the foundation of positive social learning by introducing the “Grace and Courtesy” lessons before the more academic lessons are given and she also refrains from interrupting the child’s work. “Giving the infant time, attention, trust and respect is the foundation of the Montessori philosophy.”

The purpose of the Infant Development Program at Mission Montessori is to encourage, assist, and protect the normal development of each child. The primary goals include development of movement and independence. Children in the Program will flourish in prepared environments which respect, support and respond to their basic needs for independence, exploration and the building of trust and self-esteem.

We believe that any kind of group child-care will not work without the co-operation between care givers and the parents. Parental involvement is stressed; parents know their child better than anyone else. Parents and caregivers must feel comfortable in exchanging knowledge and experience about the child.

During the early years of life, Dr. Maria Montessori felt that “the first thing the child’s education demands is the provision of an environment in which he or she can develop the powers given by nature”. Quite literally, the school environment IS the curriculum.

The structure of the curriculum is based on five developmental areas: Sensory and Perceptual, Physical and Motor, Self-help Skills, Language, and Social and Emotional. Dr. Maria Montessori emphasized the need for a rich environment. While providing a structured, and thus familiar environment, the needs of individual children are met.

The young child absorbs the world around him or her through the five senses, and a rich environment should cater to the child’s senses.

Infants have a sensitive period for movement. They are born with an innate desire to move and master control of their bodies; it requires no instruction from caregivers. Along with the mind, both fine and gross motor skills develop rapidly from three months to three years. Attention to these needs supports balanced development. Physical activity in the young child is an important part of environmental involvement, and thus education.
An infant’s natural movements are never restricted by placing them in containers such as bouncy seats, swings or walkers. They are never put into a position they cannot get into and out of themselves. Infants roll onto their stomachs when they are ready to be on their stomachs, and infants crawl onto the climber by their initiative alone.

By providing developmentally appropriate movement opportunities and maintaining a safe environment that does not restrict the exploration for the infants in the classroom, motor development is allowed to unfold naturally and at the infants’ own pace.

The focus is on helping the child enjoy independence; each individual must depend on himself or herself for education. Movement and independence are guided by respect for the infant’s competence. The infant is considered to be an initiator, an explorer and self-learner. Caregivers are sensitive observers – available when direct help is needed, but not intrusive while the infant solves his own problems. A physically safe, cognitively challenging, and emotionally nurturing environment is provided for the infant. The infant is allowed to do what he is ready and willing to do. Instead of placing an object in the hand of a four month old who is learning to reach and grasp, the aware caregiver places a graspable object within reach of the infant, allowing him to initiate, practice and eventually master the skill of reaching and grasping. When an infant drops a toy, the adult waits for the infant to initiate retrieving the toy, instead of getting it and handing it to him. The infant is encouraged and allowed to problem solve and to reach the goal himself, instead of having this opportunity taken away from him by the well-meaning adult. The infants are allowed to do what they are ready and willing to do.

The construction of vocabulary is a part of every aspect of the classroom from snack time to manipulating a toy to group activities. The infant brain is wired to learn multiple languages concurrently and effortlessly. Maria Montessori referred to this as a child having a window of opportunity to easily “absorb” languages from birth though six years of age. To make the most of this fleeting opportunity, the infant hears language spoken by their teachers all day, as well as, being spoken to in sign language. Research tells us that an infant’s brain is wired with the receptors to learn any language and develop those languages if a person is consistently speaking to them. By learning sign language infants have the tools they need to use to express themselves in sign before they are able to express themselves verbally, thus eliminating some frustration felt by the infants. At Mission Montessori we provide that opportunity for our infants and carry it through in dual language classes through to age six.

A well rounded and happy child, whose balanced development and happiness have been supported by responsive individual attention, reacts positively with the environment, copes with frustration, and learns easily. All areas of our curriculum are reinforced by the infant caregivers’ observation and reflection. Caregivers reinforce the infant’s self-initiated activities by paying full attention, while being quietly available. This results in the caregiver appreciating and enjoying what the infants actually do. Occasional reflections made by the caregiver, such as, “You touched the ball and it rolled away,” reassure the child of the adults’ full attention. A joyful smile when the infant solves a problem conveys pleasure in his success. The caregiver says what she sees. Internal guidance is valued in the infant. Gentle validations are used to encourage rather than the use of instructions, criticism and praise. A predictable balance of togetherness and separateness is achieved which benefits both the infants and the adults.

Again, giving the infants time, attention, trust and respect is the foundation of the Montessori philosophy. The goal is the “authentic child” – one who feels secure, autonomous and competent.

“Movement is the primary way of engaging the child with his environment. Each child has a mission. If he cannot use his organs of movement then he cannot manifest his mission.”

Maria Montessori
“When they are ready, they will do it.”

Toddler Curriculum

The curriculum for toddlers includes Practical Life, Sensorial, Language, Math, Cultural disciplines plus the Virtue Program. In addition, we are joined by specialty teachers who lend their expertise in teaching the children Music, Spanish, Sign Language and Gardening.

In Practical Life, attention is paid to developing large muscle groups, walking and carrying exercises, dancing, etc. The small muscle groups are developed through hand-eye coordination exercises, bead-stringing, pegs, gluing, puzzles, folding, pouring, spooning and grasping. Care of self is emphasized with dressing frames, hand washing, combing hair and wiping face. Grace and Courtesy are foremost in the training, including setting table, table manners, wiping and sweeping and using kind words such as “please” and “thank you.”

In the sensorial area we are concerned with refinement of the senses: size, shape, color, texture, smell and taste.

Building vocabulary with calendar activities, story books, music and finger plays and felt story board is a natural progression at this age level.

Math is presented with calendar and counting games, and associating quantity to symbol.

In the cultural area of the curriculum, great artists and composers are introduced with the exposure to their works. Even a brief introduction to the continents can be seen through the use of songs, games, pictures and artwork.

Like our Primary classes, the children enjoy special lessons in Spanish, Sign Language, Gardening and Music. Some of the extra-curricular activities are also made available for parents to choose to sign their children up for individually.


Primary Curriculum


In the Primary curriculum the child is greeted warmly by their teachers as they begin their day of lessons in the areas of:

Practical Life
Gardening, cooking, self care, care of the environment including plants and animals, grace and courtesy, and the development of coordination of movement.

Sensorial Exercises
Colors, dimension, sound, tactile impressions, and comparisons of smell and taste.

Language Development
Self-expression, writing, letters and sounds and reading.

Montessori manipulatives for introducing numbers, shapes, mathematical operations, and the decimal system.

Cultural Life
Geography, map skills, continent recognition, cultural practices and traditions, global similarities of the needs and desires of people.

The study of science is pursued through real life objects in the classroom. Plants and animals are studied in the classroom and experiments with magnets, water and plants are undertaken as a group or individually. Cards for studying botany, zoology, and physiology are also used within the classroom coupled with our gardening classes and outdoor environment.

Specialty Teachers
Work with the children on a weekly basis in the areas of music, Spanish, sign language and gardening.

Additional enrichment classes
Available for enrollment once a week in classes like dance, stretch-and-grow, gymnastics, yoga and chess.

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Children entering the Montessori Primary Program at age three typically stay in the same classroom with the same teacher for the entire three years. This promotes a familiar environment for the young child and a quicker introduction into the classroom work when the child returns to school each fall. Conferences are scheduled twice yearly to discuss the child’s progress. Our primary classes meet the needs of Preschoolers in Scottsdale, Fountain Hills, North Phoenix, Tempe, Cave Creek, and other nearby areas.


Lower Elementary (E-1)

The Lower Elementary classroom, 1st to 3rd grade, embraces the needs of this child. You will see the following in our Lower Elementary program:

Community Meetings: Children take active participation in the day-to-day inner workings of the elementary classroom.

Independent Study: Children are given work plans and assignments to be completed by the end of each day or week. They learn to organize their time to allow for these lessons.

Teamwork: For many students, the first years of the Elementary program are the very first opportunities to work as a team member.

Small Group Lessons: Teachers work one on one or in small groups to deliver specific lessons to each child. These lessons capture the imagination through lots of storytelling and hands-on opportunities with beautiful materials.

Field Trips: Children have many opportunities to go out into the field to learn firsthand how things work.

Research Projects: Research is the course of study in all curriculum areas. Children are empowered to select a topic they are interested in and create a way to teach this information to their friends. Power Point is a favorite for many of our students.

Enriched Curriculum: During the six years of elementary classroom experience, the elementary child moves through exciting studies in History, Biology, Physics, Chemistry, Geology, Language, and Mathematics. Work in the Montessori classroom is supplemented by multi-sensory extensions using such materials as SRA, Saxon Math, Lucy Calkins writing program, and Study Island online assessment and test prep.

Each week includes greatly anticipated “specials” such as Spanish, Music, and an excellent physical education program aligned to Arizona state standards. All children participate in our Sustainable Systems program and spend hands-on time in our vegetable and flower gardens learning about plants, composting, water conservation, zero landscaping, and solar cooking. Feeding and maintaining the goats, chickens and rabbits provides great experience and authentic practice in taking responsibility.

The end result is the education of the whole child – a child who has the opportunity to be uniquely different, and reach his/her academic potential with personal success, and who has developed a passion for lifelong learning.


Upper Elementary (E-2)



Middle School

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Our Faculty

Mr. Darrin Chappell

Hello! My name is Darrin Chappell and I am very excited to be back at Mission this year, at the Larkspur campus. This will be my second year at Mission Montessori, having spent this summer in Houston for my training in the Lower and Upper Elementary programs. I grew up in the Bay Area just

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JoDene Tryon

The founder and Executive Director, has committed her life to bringing the Montessori Method to all children, both under-privileged and affluent, which has been demonstrated by her career direction over the past four decades. She began in 19 73 as a public school teacher in the Roosevelt School District where she worked with children who lived in a

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Ms. Patti Sandler

Ms Sandler earned a Bachelor of Science in Education from Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio; a Master of Arts in Guidance and Counseling from Northwestern University in Chicago, Illinois; and has Montessori Certification, 6-9 & 9-12, from the College of St Catherine, Minneapolis, MN/Houston Montessori Center. She has taught for the Chicago Public Schools, Hopkins

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Deborah Summers

Deborah Summers  grew up as a military child and began school in Munich, Germany, and  continued her elementary and high school education in Puerto Rico, New Mexico, Colorado and Arizona. She attended the University of Arizona earning the  bachelor’s degree in Speech and Hearing Science and masters degree in Special Education.  Her second masters  from

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Ms. Georgene Cunningham

Ms. Cunningham is AMI and AMS certified for ages 3-9. She holds a BA in Sociology. She also earned her AEPA (Arizona Educator Proficiency Assessments) in Elementary Education. She looks forward to getting to know each of you as we create a partnership to make these years together memorable.

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Dr. Heather Devich Ed. D.

Our school is so lucky to have such a wonderful human being running our sustainability and gardening program. Her heart is truly a loving one and the students and parents of Mission Montessori absolutely love her. Her wisdom and knowledge are a welcome part of every day life at this school. Her academic achievements are tremendous

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Ms. Sarah Stipanovich

Ms. Sarah Stipanovich is certified from Montessori Teacher Education Center in Infant/Toddler education, where she received her early childhood training for 2 ½ to 6 year olds from The Center for Montessori Teacher Education in 2005. She has been working in a Montessori environment for over 18 years and this is her 10th year at Mission Montessori Academy. Her

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Mr. David Zapotocky

Music Director (Upper Elementary & Middle School) David Zapotocky (Mr. Z) is a specialist on woodwind instruments and music composition (though he can teach and play just about any instrument!). Mr. Z has a Bachelor’s degree in music education from the University of Arizona and a Master’s degree in jazz studies from California State University, Long Beach. In

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Dr. Lalit Ecka PH

Dr. Ecka serves our community as principal and site manager of our E2 Larkspur Campus. With a Doctorate in Public Health, a Master’s in Sociology and years of service in the Montessori world, Dr. Ecka moved to Arizona last year to join Mission on their quest to educate children for the 21st Century.

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Ms. Maura Kelly

My name is Maura Kelly and I would like to welcome the new and returning families to my class this is my 11th year at Mission Montessori. Prior to my years here, I taught in Montessori schools back in New Jersey. Although most of my teaching experience is in the Montessori classroom, I also worked

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Ms. Debbie Wright

Ms. Debbie Wright has been the lead teacher in our infant program for the past five years. She believes that the basis of a good education starts at the infancy stage and requires time, attention, trust and respect. She is Montessori Certified for Infant/Toddler programs and a Mother of 3.

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Ms. Alicia Kimbro

Ms. Kimbro attended Arizona State University and earned a bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education in 2005. she is a “Highly Qualified” Arizona state teacher with an SEI (Structured English Instruction) endorsement. She recently earned her Master’s Degree in Social Work this past May.

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Ms. Brittany Baisley

Ms. Baisley has been a Montessori teacher for 8 years, both in an infant and toddler environment. This will be her 4th school year at Mission Montessori, and her second year as a lead toddler teacher. Her Montessori journey started at a very young age as a toddler student through to Eighth Grade.

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Ms. Crystal Macias

Ms. Macias is Montessori trained and certified to teach E2 (4-6 Grade). She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Education, Biology and Anthropology. She has worked in various learning environments, including special education, and has found the Montessori Method to be the most impactful for all students.

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Mr. Brad Colburn

Mr. Colburn has a Master’s Degree in Special Education and a Bachelor’s in English Literature. After 17 years of teaching, he has decided to become Montessori trained this summer and is eagerly awaiting the upcoming school year. His knowledge and kind heart make a perfect fit for Mission.

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Ms. Danka Dobrikova

Ms. Danka has been with Mission Montessori for the past 13 years and an educator for 38. Her wisdom and love for teaching is easily seen by anyone who enters her room. She has a Master’s in Early Childhood Education and a continued enthusiasm and exuberance to teach new children every year.

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Ms. Claudia Ramirez

Ms. Ramirez is a Mexican born spanish teacher who loves the learning process. She is a great addition to our middle school and completed training in Houston, TX to become a lead in that environment. Her abilities to teach comes from her willingness to learn. Her drive

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Ms. Joslyn Maike

Welcome to Middle School… Ms. Maike graduated from Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, MI with a Master’s in Education. Her undergrad  degree is in Fine Art from Kendall College of Art & Design in Grand Rapids, MI. Ms. Maike received her secondary Montessori training at Houston Montessori Center with Dr. Elisabeth Coe and went on

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Ms. Caitlin Collins

I love our Middle School… Ms. Collins graduated from Baylor University in Waco, Texas with a Bachelor of Arts in history & anthropology in 2005 and spent the following summer studying archaeology in Beijing, Xi’an and Chengdu, PRC through the International Scholar Laureate Program. Ms. Collins received her secondary Montessori training at Houston Montessori Center

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Ms. Laine Rutkowski

Hello parents! I would like to share some information about myself so that you may better get to know me, as we begin this new school year together. My name is Laine Rutkowski and this will be my fifth year teaching at Mission Montessori. I started my career at Mission teaching Spanish to the Elementary 1,

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Ms. Kelly Wisley

Hello! My name is Kelly Wisley. I was born and raised in Minnesota with two sisters, my mom and dad, and our dog.  I played competitive soccer for fourteen years and played rec soccer for nine more years until I started my family.  I have lived in Arizona for almost ten years and have been

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Dr. Glena Hegstad Ed.D.

Following attending one year at Oklahoma College for Women on a music scholarship, I transferred to Oklahoma City University. Upon achieving a bachelor’s degree from that university in Elementary Education, I went on to obtain my master of arts in teaching. As part of the course work for my master’s degree, I was able to

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Ms. LeAnna Gonzalez

My name is LeAnna Gonzalez. I have been involved with Montessori education for 14 years. This school year will be my 12th year as a Montessori teacher and my 6th year at Mission Montessori. I have two daughters one attends Mission Montessori at the Del Jardin Campus and the other is at Mission Montessori on

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Ms. Veronique DeAngelo

Ms. DeAngelo is a certified Montessori Teacher for ages 3 to 6 years old. Her passion for teaching and her commitment to the Montessori Philosophy and Method are paramount in her daily activities.

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