Ms. Georgene Cunningham

Dear Families,

My name is Georgene Cunningham. I am so excited to be a part of Mission Montessori. This will be my 2nd year at Mission and my 21st year of teaching as a Montessori teacher. I am AMI and AMS certified for ages 3-9. I hold a BA in Sociology. I also earned my AEPA (Arizona Educator Proficiency Assessments) in Elementary Education. I look forward to getting to know each of you as we create a partnership to make these years together memorable.

On a personal note, after living in Montana and various parts of California, I made the move to Phoenix in 1995. It was the same year that one of my many cousins worked as the director of a Montessori school and insisted I had to enroll my girls. I enrolled them and they attended until 11:30. My youngest was 1 1/2 and my oldest was 3 1/2. Once enrolled, I didn’t know what to do with myself, as I had been a stay at home mom, so I decided to volunteer. My first year in a Montessori school was so profound I decided to begin training the year after. My Montessori ‘life’ began in 1995. My oldest daughter continued in a Montessori school through 8th grade. My youngest stayed through 6th grade. I believe both of my girls are strong and confident young ladies because of their Montessori foundation.  20 years later, I can’t imagine doing anything else with my life. I have grown and learned so much over the years and continue to do so to this day. Every day I hope I make a difference and that is what I strive for.

My 2 beautiful daughters are now grown. My husband and I have been empty-nesters for the past several years. I have finally begun to adjust. My oldest daughter graduated last May with a BA in Business, minor in Communications. She will be getting married in November 2015. We are very happy and excited for her. My youngest daughter is entering the nursing program through ASU and aspires to be a Pediatric nurse.

Watching children work toward their unlimited potential is such a joy. One example comes to mind to best explain this…Every year my first years have come into the class and respond to my cursive writing with “Oh, I can’t read that” to which I respond “Ok. Well let’s just try.” As I move my finger under each letter, saying nothing as the child gives the sounds, we reach the end of the word and I hear “Wow! I just read cursive.” Those are the moments I strive for and feel so grateful to witness and be a part of.

 

 

Personal Notes

Favorite book: One More Day by Mitch Albom

Favorite type of food: Greek/Mediterranean

Who inspires you: My children inspire me.

Favorite Movie: Good Will Hunting

Favorite Quote: You can never cross the ocean unless,
you have the courage to lose sight of the shore. ~Christopher Columbus

“I teach Montessori because I whole-heartedly believe in the philosophy of a Montessori education and way of life. Being a witness to the unfolding of unlimited potential in children is a gift. Helping children realize they can do more than they ever believed possible is something that inspires me on a daily basis. I could not imagine doing anything more worthwhile and rewarding than being a Montessori teacher.”

Email: gcunningham@missionmontessori.com

Visit Ms. Cunningham’s WEBSITE

 

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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