School Faculty & Staff
Please note that this page is subject to change; online content may lag actual assignments.
Juli Newman, Executive Director/Principal,
Juli has a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology and Sociology from the University of Utah
and a Master of Arts in Education – Supervision and Administration from the University of Phoenix.
Juli is currently working on her doctoral program through North Central University. Additionally,
Juli has completed over 20 continuing education seminars ranging from Special Education Law to
Leadership in Technology. She attended the Center for Montessori Teacher Education and is certified
in Montessori School Administration. Juli is the author of several papers on transforming education,
which may be found online here
Krista Cross, Director of Education,
Krista has an extensive background in language and literature in education which includes Project Read
training, Resiliency through Reading, and emphasis work in childhood language development. In 2000, Krista’s
exemplary teaching abilities were recognized when she was a recipient of the prestigious Milken Family Foundation
National Educator Award. Krista is working on her Master’s Degree in Curriculum Development at Ottawa University.
Wanda Wright, Vice Principal,
Wanda was previously the Director of Staff for the Arizona Air National Guard. She is a graduate
of the United States Air Force Academy and holds Master's Degrees in both Business Administration
and Public Administration. She and her husband Curt have two Montessori-educated children. Wanda
enjoys reading, working out, and spending time with her family.
Jill Plonski, Director - ESS,
Jill was born in New York and grew up in different parts of the country before making her home in AZ 12 years ago.
She is the proud mother of a middle school student. Jill has a Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences degree in Psychology
and will complete her Master's Degree in Special Education in 2012. She currently holds a Cross-categorical K-12 Special
Education certification with full SEI endorsement. Jill loves learning new things and participating in professional
development activities. In her free time, she enjoys reading and photography.
Reem Rosheidat, Office Manager,
Reem is originally from Amman, Jordan, where she earned a BA in Archaeology and History from the University of Jordan.
In her free time, Reem enjoys reading, writing, and swimming.
Tiffany Nelson Slack, Office Assistant,
Bio for Tiffany is pending...
Traci Penman, IT Administrator,
Traci holds certifications in Information Technology and Data Networking, with 20+ years experience in the field. Her focus
is in computer technology for education. Originally from Michigan, Traci is the mother of two grown children - prior MA students,
one of whom is a National Society of Collegiate Scholars student at NAU. Traci enjoys hiking in Sedona, music, karaoke,
cooking, and making memories with family and friends.
George Quebbeman, IT Administrator,
George has 30+ years experience in Information Systems including software development and IT Operations: financial, retail, supply chain,
and education. Degreed in Computer Programming, he holds PMP, PMC, and Agile certifications, an FAA (ASEL) pilot's license,
and is an ASCAP member. Raised in Nashville, George spent 25 years in Michigan, relocating to Arizona in 2003. He is a father
of three children, enjoys hiking, making music, painting, and karaoke.
Room 18 & 19
Lindsey Watts, Teacher, Coordinator,
Lindsey was born and raised in the Phoenix area, and is mother to an 8 year old and a toddler.
An Arcadia High School graduate, Lindsey holds an Infant/Toddler Montessori Credential from the North American
Montessori Center, and is currently attending Phoenix College to prepare for entry into the Nursing Program.
Her near-term goals include following the Montessori approach and putting it into practice in her own classroom.
A travel aficionado, Lindsey enjoys photography, exploring new places, and sharing adventures with her family.
Cooking and baking, swimming and soccer, round out her favorite pastimes.
Dana Rush, Co-Teacher,
Dana graduated from Horizon High School in Phoenix in 2007, and has worked in child care for the past six years.
A mother of one toddler, she spends her leisure time with family, camping, volleyball, and wakeboarding.
Crystal Aponte, Assistant,
Crystal's bio is pending...
Early Education (Ages 3-4, Kindergarten)
Kim Maher, Teacher,
Kim is originally from Long Island, New York. She has a Master's Degree in Elementary Education
as well as a Montessori Intern Certificate. She majored in dance and is teaching dance to students after school.
Kim enjoys gardening.
Keesha Wylie, Assistant,
Keesha's bio is pending...
Cassie Headley, Teacher, Coordinator,
Cassie is an Arizona native who has a Bachelor's degree in Behavioral Science,
graduating cum laude from Western International University. She has Montessori
Early Childhood credentials and is currently pursuing her state certification.
In addition to speaking fluent Spanish, she has special needs training and a
music background. She contributes to the after school program by teaching Spanish
and Sign Language. She is married to Scott Headley, and in her free time, she enjoys
camping, scrapbooking and sewing.
Amanda Mickelson, Assistant,
Amanda's bio is pending...
Scott Headley, Teacher,
Scott is a 2nd generation Arizona native, and holds a Bachelor's degree in Interdisciplinary Studies
with an emphasis in American Humanics and Sociology from Arizona State University. He holds Montessori
Early Childhood (Age 3-6) credentials and an AMS certification. In his free time, he enjoys being with
his family, exercising, and participating in sports.
Amparo Arnold-Garza, Assistant,
Amparo attended Montessori schools while growing up in San Antonio, TX. She holds an Associate Degree in Early
Childhood Education & Administration, and is currently enrolled at ASU, focusing on Human Development. Amparo
feels strongly that a solid education features arts and creative problem solving at its core. She enjoys outdoor
activities including road cycling, snowboarding, and wakeboarding, and also art/crafting and reading.
Sandy Atwood, Assistant, ODE
Sandy has Infant and Toddler Montessori credentials. She is currently pursuing a Bachelor's degree in Early Education
and learning sign language. She has the distinguished honor of earning the Silver Beaver award in Scouting (the highest
award available to volunteers). She is the proud mother of three sons and one daughter who is a Montessori Academy
instructor (Cassie Headley). She contributes to the after school program by teaching Cooking Club. Sandy enjoys sewing,
scrapbooking and gardening.
Junior Elementary (Grades 1-3)
Angela Pollock, Teacher,
Angela holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from University of Guelf (Guelf, Ontario, CA), and received her
Montessori training for age bands 3-6, 6-9, 9-12 at Toronto Montessori Institute (TMI). The mother of
three children, with two attending Montessori Academy, Angie's goals include providing her students with
educational excellence in the Montessori tradition while being flexible and creative in addressing
each one as a unique individual. Angela's leisure interests include photography, gardening, decorating,
cycling, swimming, and supporting her children's extracurricular activities.
Cathy Droll, Assistant, ODE,
Cathy's bio is pending...
Megan Cady, Teacher,
Megan is a Phoenix native. She has studied American Sign Language and has a Bachelors in Elementary Education
with a state-certified ESL endorsement. Megan loves learning and has many hobbies including sewing, scrapbooking,
reading and learning about different cultures.
Stacy Urich, Assistant,
Stacy's bio is pending...
Bailey Bednarz, Teacher,
Bailey is originally from Phoenix and attended Villa Montessori growing up. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology as well
as an AMS postgraduate certificate in 6-9 Montessori Education. Bailey believes in promoting a life-long love of learning and
encouraging each child's individual interests. Bailey loves helping animals. Previously she worked as an Animal
Welfare League/SPCA adoption center counselor.
Caitlin Huber, Assistant,
Caitlin attended Mills College. She hails from Lincoln, NE. Outside the classroom, she enjoys cooking, reading, and learning about history.
Senior Elementary (Grades 4-6)
Maegan Alford, Teacher, Coordinator,
Maegan holds a Grade 6-12 teaching credential in Montessori Education and is a certified EMT. She has
been teaching for twelve years in a Montessori classroom. She is mother of three Montessori-educated students.
Maegan enjoys traveling to rodeos with her family and experiencing the outdoors.
Owen Evans, Assistant,
Owen comes to us by way of Lebanon, New Jersey. He holds an Associates in Liberal Arts, a Bachelors in Liberal Arts,
and a Montessori Elementary Education certification. Owen believes education is a two-way street, where the students often
teach the teachers a thing or two, if they are paying attention. He has experience composing music for film and commercials,
has worked with Microsoft as a client, and has previously volunteered for an after-school art program. Owen enjoys film,
photography, playing Scrabble, and his cat.
Deanna Pieniazek, Teacher,
Deanna graduated summa cum laude from Arizona State University with a Bachelor's in Elementary and Early Education, earning
the ASU Moeur Award for academic excellence. Her studies also included an emphasis on Special Education. Promoting trustworthy,
respectful relationships in the classroom, Deanna strives to build student interest in learning through perseverance, independence,
and a determination to succeed. Originally from the greater Chicago area, Deanna maintains close ties with her nieces and nephews.
Enjoying travel, Deanna has backpacked across Europe and even spent three months living in Ethiopia. She enjoys reading
and the outdoors.
Laurel Walsh, Assistant,
Laurel's bio is pending...
Andrea Corbin, Teacher,
Andrea has a Bachelor's Degree in Early Childhood Education. Hailing originally from Maine, Andrea is married with three children,
one of them at Montessori Academy. She enjoys baking and cake decorating, and supporting all her children's activities.
Debra Berkey, Teacher,
Debra's bio is pending...
Middle School (Grades 7-8)
Abelardo Gil, Teacher, Coordinator,
Abelardo holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with an emphasis on Photography. He believes in infusing his
teaching and everything else he does, with a “Reach for the Stars!” attitude. Abelardo is fluent in Spanish,
plays classical guitar, and follows the LA Lakers very closely. His daughter is a current Montessori student.
Megan (Hohl) Reiss, Teacher,
Megan was born in Texas, and moved around a bit before settling in Arizona. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in
K-8 Education, with a minor in Spanish, from Arizona State University. Her specialized focus includes
Spanish, English Language Learners, Multi-Cultural Education, Mathematics, and Language Arts. Megan brings 6 years
of teaching experience in both public and private settings, where she has enjoyed getting to know each student's
unique personality and capabilities. She enjoys family and friends, traveling, movies, and her two cats.
Jennifer Gartner, Teacher,
Jennifer's bio is pending...
Remington Miller, Assistant,
Remington is a native of Phoenix, AZ. He holds two Bachelors degrees in Arts (Creative Writing) and History from
Arizona State University, plus an Associate in Arts from Phoenix College. A favorite quote by Frederick Douglas goes:
"It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men (and women)." Remington enjoys helping children
understand that strength of mind and spirit are their gateway to successful lives. He enjoys writing, playing games,
and collecting hats.
Catherine Texeira, Teacher, Art & Culture,
Catherine's bio is pending...
Rocio Daniggelis, Teacher, Spanish,
Rocio's bio is pending...
Ashley Kocik, Instructional Aide - Jr Elementary,
Ashley's bio is pending...