The Montessori Method was designed to enhance the possibilities of learning for all children.


Maria Montessori observed what she called “sensitive periods” in the development of a child. These sensitive periods are times in a child’s life when certain activities and behaviors are most often observed. If the child is able to participate in these activities, when most interested, then learning will become easier and the child will become more engaged in what she or he is doing.

“The Montessori curriculum was designed to offer children learning opportunities in a challenging and inspiring way as soon as they are ready for it.”

Children in Montessori educational programs are separated into multi-aged classrooms. This arrangement has many benefits.

Increased Confidence –

Being the youngest in a new environment is usually a little intimidating at first. As time passes, every student is able to see others working on materials that they’ve mastered and can watch themselves improve as they begin to tackle work that only the older students were doing at one point in time.

Learning to be Leaders –

The oldest children in each classroom are looked at as leaders. They understand the expectations of the classroom and have experience with most of the work that is to be done in class. The younger students are able to see the confidence and knowledge that has been acquired by the older students, and readily aspire to emulate their older peers.

Peer Mentorship –

Not only are there multiple age ranges, but there are multiple skill levels as well. Because every child is working at his/her own pace, there will probably be a few students who have already done what you’re doing, so we encourage children to ask for help and to help others when needed.

Our Programs From Infants Through Middle School


Infants need not only love and emotional nurturing and a healthy physical environment, but also an environment which promotes their very real need to learn. The Montessori Teaching Method provides a basis for individualized learning activities, appropriate for even the earliest stages of a child’s development.

The daily needs of the infant, such as diapering, feeding and bathing are the optimal times for interaction, cooperation, intimacy and mutual enjoyment. Using theses times for social learning experiences encourage full participation of the infant and the caregiver. These times become the opportunity for much communication and for nurturing. As the infant is “refueled” by such attentive, caring interaction, he/she is ready to explore the world around him/her with minimal intervention from adults.



At Mission Montessori, the class size is small and inviting to make it feel like a home for the youngest children.It is a period of self-development, learning self-help skills, and preparation for the Primary program. Our program is designed to assist the child towards independence, social awareness, respect and the development of motor skills and language.

The children have access to a variety of large muscle activities that offer them opportunities to jump, climb, balance, crawl, and skip. These exercises as well as song, dance and creative art activities are offered to each child to choose. This freedom in a safe place is crucial to the toddler program. It is tempered, however, by two important limits that will be beneficial for a lifetime: respect for others and respect for the environment.



The Mission Montessori Primary class is a mixed age grouping of 3 to 6 year old children. Our classrooms offer a variety of opportunities for children to experience freedom within a secure, attractively structured and welcoming environment. This blending of ages is based on Maria Montessori’s philosophy of a multi-age educational society. She recognized the spontaneous interest that arises within each child at this age. It is through the child’s interest and active engagement that the love of learning arises.

In each of our classrooms there is a degreed teacher who is also a certified Montessori teacher. Each teacher has two assistants. The teachers observe and record each child’s individual progress. They know when to introduce a new challenge and when to allow a child to work with genuine interest.


Lower Elementary (E-1)

According to Montessori philosophy a child enters the “2nd plane of development,” ages 6-12, with an increased interest in the world around him. Play takes on a more social aspect as the child spends more time interacting with others and wanting to know how the different aspects of life relate to one another.

In practical terms, a first grade Montessorian enters a whole new world on day one. The classroom changes from one in which most students are engaged in trying to understand the world in front of them, to one in which the imagination and critical thinking become a daily part of the routine.

The imagination is sparked almost immediately with what we call the first Great Lesson. The room is prepared, the lights are dimmed, and in a soft voice the teacher tells an amazing story about the creation of the universe and the formation of the stars and planets. The Great Lessons are designed to fuel the imagination and excite the children to do their own research to learn more about the topic. These stories are told every year, so that each time it is heard a child will understand more and ask more difficult questions.

Most students enter the lower elementary classroom with a solid, but basic, understanding of numbers and reading. Those who may still need help with these basics are quickly inspired to action. With so many things to do, and being able to see what the older kids are working on, children constantly want to improve so they may be able to make new discoveries and accomplish more difficult tasks. This greater interest in doing meaningful work fosters the development of self confidence and an increased ability to concentrate.


Upper Elementary (E-2)

The Upper Elementary program is a continuation of the Lower Elementary curriculum. However, empowered with three years of practice in math, geometry, language, cultural and social studies, astronomy, biology and chemistry, geography, history, geology, philosophy, art, music, physical education, and even oral presentation skills, Upper Elementary students are ready to apply their knowledge to increasingly difficult but engaging endeavors.

Academic work in the classroom is self-paced and fosters not only independent learning, but a collaborative environment where students learn and correct each other. Most of the work is done through experiential lessons rather than memorizing text books. In the Montessori culture text books are secondary to the true lessons that come with the experience of real life. The students are held to, and often surpass, the state standards for academics.

A student in the upper elementary program will face a whole new level of work and experience that truly challenges the child to reach new heights of independence and creative thinking. The projects and assignments are designed to challenge and support students in ways that foster a true desire to learn more. The Montessori Method is solidified and absolutely apparent to those who interact with students at this age.

The upper elementary program is the best primer for the practices and skills necessary to excel in the middle school years of development.


Middle School

The middle school years can be a huge transition from child to young adult. The skills learned at this stage are designed, not only for high school preparation, but for the rest of your child’s life.

Our students will learn all the core subjects taught in a traditional school like math, writing, science, etc. The difference between standard education in junior high and that of our Montessori Middle School is vast. Above and beyond the norm, your child will learn: advanced problem solving, critical thinking, innovation and creativity, perform analytical research, access and apply information and utilize and implement technology.

All of these skills will enable your child to succeed and surpass expectations in the high school environment and on through the college years. These are life skills that they will learn and master upon completing our middle school program.

We believe that the personal skills that are learned are just as important as the academic. We believe in cultivating the whole child, not just the academic side.

When your child completes this program they will have a set of personal skills that include: effective communication, collaborative and independent work ethic, ability to lead others, being personally reliable and responsible, organization and planning, being self directed and self confident, working in multicultural settings, showing integrity and perseverance, and they will have a clear understanding of complex issues both locally and globally.


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

read more

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

read more

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

read more

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

read more

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.

read more

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

read more

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

read more

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

read more

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.

read more

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

read more

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.

read more

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.

read more

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.

read more

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.

read more

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.

read more

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.

read more

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

read more

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

read more

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

read more

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,

read more

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

read more

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

read more

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

read more

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.

read more

instagram Images

    Request more info