School Faculty & Staff

Please note that this page is subject to change; online content may lag actual assignments.


Juli Newman, Executive Director/Principal, Email Juli

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, Email Krista

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, Email Wanda

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, Email Jill

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, Email Reem

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, Email Tiffany

Bio for Tiffany is pending...

Traci Penman
, IT Administrator, Email Traci

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, Email GQ

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.

Toddler Education

Room 18 & 19

Lindsey Watts
, Teacher, Coordinator, Email Lindsey

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, Email Dana

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, Email Crystal

Crystal's bio is pending...

Early Education (Ages 3-4, Kindergarten)

Room 1

Kim Maher
, Teacher, Email Kim

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, Email Keesha

Keesha's bio is pending...

Room 2

Cassie Headley
, Teacher, Coordinator, Email Cassie

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.

Angela Watkins
, Assistant

Angela's bio is pending...

Room 3

Scott Headley
, Teacher, Email Scott

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, Email Amparo

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 Email Sandy

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)

Room 6

Angela Pollock
, Teacher, Email Angela

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, Email Cathy

Cathy's bio is pending...

Room 7

Megan Cady
, Teacher, Email Megan

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, Email Stacy

Stacy's bio is pending...

Room 8

Bailey Bednarz
, Teacher, Email Bailey

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, Email Caitlin

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)

Room 10

Maegan Alford
, Teacher, Coordinator, Email Maegan

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, Email Owen

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.

Room 14

Deanna Pieniazek
, Teacher, Email Deanna

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, Email Laurel

Laurel's bio is pending...

Room 15

Andrea Corbin
, Teacher, Email Andrea

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.

Science (ODE)

Debra Berkey
, Teacher, Email Debra

Debra's bio is pending...

Middle School (Grades 7-8)

Room 12/13

Abelardo Gil
, Teacher, Coordinator, Email Abelardo

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, Email Megan

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, Email Jennifer

Jennifer's bio is pending...

Remington Miller
, Assistant, Email Remington

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, Email Catherine

Catherine's bio is pending...

Rocio Daniggelis
, Teacher, Spanish, Email Rocio

Rocio's bio is pending...

Ashley Kocik
, Instructional Aide - Jr Elementary, Email Ashley

Ashley's bio is pending...