We meet children at their level.
Ms. Jolie Guiney Fletcher
Toddler - North
Ms. Jolie, Toddler South Montessori Guide, has been with Escuela del Sol since…basically forever! Her mother taught here and she is an Escuela alumna. Ms. Jolie earned an Associate’s degree in Science, holds a Pharmacy Tech degree, and gained American Montessori Society (AMS) Infant/Toddler certification from the Montessori Teacher Education Center San Francisco Bay Area. She loves the freedom the children and teachers have to grow and foster learning.
Ms. Leslie Mendoza Morales
Toddler - North
Ms. Leslie has been working with children since 2016. She received her Child Development Certificate from Central New Mexico Community College (CNM) in 2020. Ms. Leslie is looking forward to working in a Montessori environment and sharing her bilingual abilities with the Toddler Community. Ms. Leslie loves animals and nature. When she isn’t spending time in the classroom, she enjoys being creative with drawing and painting.
Ms. Shaina Brinkman
Toddler - South
Ms. Shaina is an Escuela del Sol alumna and the parent of an alumna who attended Escuela from Early Childhood – Toddler through 5th grade. Ms. Shaina earned her Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) certification in 2014 at the Montessori Institute of Denver. She worked at Escuela as an Assistant Guide in Primary for four years, then moved to Portland, Ore., where she was a Toddler Assistant Guide before coming home to Escuela to become a Toddler Montessori Guide. A fun fact about Ms. Shaina is that both she and her daughter were in Ms. Cristina’s class.
Ms. Adriana Chavez-Culp
Toddler - South
Ms. Adriana has been involved in the Montessori community for her entire life. She attended a Montessori school through 6th grade and spent lots of time in her mother’s Montessori classroom. She has been a performer, competitive dancer, instructor, coach, and storyteller, specializing in children from birth to 5 years old. Ms. Adriana is currently enrolled at Central New Mexico Community College (CNM) working toward her early childhood education certification; and she is a licensed cosmetologist. Before finding her full-time position as an assistant guide in the Toddler community she was a substitute guide at Escuela. She’s the definition of a multipotentialite.
Ms. Rhian Small
Toddler -Extended Day
Ms. Rhian has officially been at Escuela del Sol since 2011, but began volunteering at Escuela events before that. Ms. Rhian holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from University of New Mexico, and she is Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) trained (Assistants to Infancy). She grew up and attended Montessori schools, from Early Childhood – Toddler through 5th grade, in both Maine and New Mexico.
Ms. Joslynn De Herrera
Primary - Blue Room
Ms. Joslynn is an Albuquerque native who has been active in the Montessori community for over two decades. She received her Primary credentials from the Montessori Education Center of the Rockies (MECR). She joined the Escuela team in 2018.
Ms. Colette Village Center
Primary - Blue Room
Ms. Colette grew up in small-town Raton, New Mexico, and moved to Albuquerque to pursue her degree in Political Science at the University of New Mexico. During school, she discovered her love for working with children, first while working at a before-and-after school program, then a preschool. Ms. Colette enjoys reading, crafts, keeping up with the news, and eating green chile with literally everything.
Ms. Nicole Duran
Primary - Yellow Room
Ms. Nicole has her American Montessori Society Early Childhood Certification and has been teaching children ages 3-6 for the last 20 years. About her passion for Montessori and children, she said, “I truly enjoy my profession and am continually inspired by them.” Ms. Nicole also has certification in Positive Discipline, and she is also certified in the Orton-Gillingham Reading Program. According to the Orton-Gillingham Academy, “The Orton-Gillingham Approach is a direct, explicit, multisensory, structured, sequential, diagnostic, and prescriptive way to teach literacy when reading, writing, and spelling does not come easily to individuals, such as those with dyslexia.” Ms. Nicole is an Albuquerque native who will be returning home with her husband and three children after living in North Carolina for the last 17 years. Her youngest will be joining the Escuela community
Ms. Shardae LeDouix
Primary - Yellow Room
Shardae LeDouix is from Santa Fe, New Mexico, and transitioned to the city of Albuquerque in 2008. Shardae graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of New Mexico, where she double majored in Family Studies and Psychology. Shardae has been with Escuela
del Sol Montessori since 2011, where she has served as a jack of all trades. She has served as the Lead Guide for the Harwood Summer Art Camp for 4 years, Elementary Extended Day guide, and she currently works with the Primary children in the Yellow Room. Shardae values her time spent at Escuela, and makes it her job to create a home away from home for each and every child. She is also excited about celebrating her 10th year this year as a part of the team!
Ms. Gretchen Vogelsberg
Primary - Red Room
Ms. Gretchen has been teaching since 1998, joining Escuela in 2006. She grew up in Brooklyn, NY, then Maine. She possesses a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies (Montessori concentration) from Endicott College. First earning her American Montessori Society (AMS) Infant-Toddler credentials at the Montessori Education Center of the Rockies in Boulder, Colo., Ms. Gretchen later returned to earn Primary certification. Prior to working at Escuela, she spend two years working in a conventional private school before returning to Montessori, secure in the knowledge that this is where she truly belongs. Ms. Gretchen also ‘moonlights’ in the office after school as a member of the administrative team and she volunteers on school accreditation/reaccreditation teams for AMS. Gretchen has twin daughters, Rhian and Dylan, who attended Montessori schools from ages 3 through 5th grade. Ms. Gretchen has owned several small businesses, is a licensed cosmetologist, and loves to travel.
Ms. Maria Mendoza Morales
Primary - Red Room
Ms. Maria Mendoza Morales was born in Aguascalientes, Mexico, the capital city of that province. Ms. Morales moved to Arizona as a child, with her parents and three siblings, relocating to New Mexico seven years ago. She is currently studying at Central New Mexico Community College (CNM) to earn her degree in Early Childhood Education. She is excited to share her heritage language of Spanish with the students and discover a different type of education in a Montessori environment.
Ms. Monica Chavez
Primary - Extended Day
Ms. Monica has been a Montessori Guide for over 30 years, and she’s been at Escuela del Sol since 2002. She earned her Primary certification from the Montessori Training Institute in San Francisco and her American Montessori Society (AMS) Infant-Toddler certification from The Montessori Education Center of the Rockies (MECR) in Boulder, Colo. She has been a Montessori Guide in Early Childhood – Toddler and Early Childhood – Primary, and is now the Montessori Guide in Extended Day – Primary. Ms. Monica grew up in Albuquerque, and has been a dancer nearly all of her life. She loves performing and teaching ballet and yoga to kids. She’s also been in several rock bands! Ms. Monica has two children and three grandchildren, and has devoted her life to assisting children of all ages.
Ms. Elizabeth Harris
Primary - Extended Day
Ms. Elizabeth has worked with kids since she was a teenager working at a local children’s art school. She has a degree in Art Education from the University of New Mexico and has worked at Escuela for over 30 years where her children went to school from Early Childhood – Toddler through 5th grade. Ms. Elizabeth continues her passion of working with children in Escuela Extended Day. She has also been an Escuela Primary Assistant Guide. She loves the feeling of freedom when riding her bike and recently discovered a love of gardening.
Ms. Inga Tomlinson
Elementary - Jr. El East
Ms. Inga, Montessori Guide in Jr. Elementary – East, came to Escuela in 2004. She grew up in Seattle, and earned a Master of Education from Loyola University, and Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) 6-12 credentials from the Washington Montessori Institute. Ms. Inga has been a Montessori Guide and also worked as the Elementary Coordinator. Inga loves Montessori for its love of learning, deep study, child advocacy, and imagination of childhood.
Ms. Meg Peralta-Silva
Elementary - Jr. El East
Ms. Meg has worked with youth in a variety of settings as a
youth advocate, program coordinator, and educator. Originally from Baltimore, her enthusiasm for exploration of other cultures has led her on many travels and she has lived in Uganda, South Africa, and Guatemala. Meg holds a B.A. in Peacebuilding and Community Development from Eastern Mennonite University. She discovered Montessori education after moving to New Mexico in 2017 and fell in love with the self-directed, hands-on learning it provides. She is passionate about encouraging curiosity, inquiry, and belonging in a community.
Ms. Cristina Sessa
Elementary - Jr. El West
Ms. Cristina started working at Escuela in 1991. Currently the Montessori Guide in Junior Elementary-West, she was raised in the North Valley, received her Bachelor of Arts in Education from the Univeristy of New Mexico, and her American Montessori Society (AMS) credentials from the Montessori Teacher Education Center San Francisco Bay Area. Ms. Cristina loves Montessori because it deepens one’s understanding of the potential of children and their ability to help transform the world around them. This includes respect for each student so that every child feels safe, respected, and important as an individual.
Ms. Paloma Springer
Elementary - Jr. El West
Ms. Paloma was born and raised in Albuquerque and is an alumni of Escuela del Sol. She graduated from University of New Mexico with a dual degree in Special Education and Elementary Education. Ms. Paloma’s early childhood experiences at Escuela inspired her interest in pursuing a teaching career, and she believes that a Montessori classroom provides the ideal environment for children to learn and grow. She has a passion for traveling, scuba diving, hiking and many other outdoor activities.
Ms. Sharayah Williams
Elementary - Sr. El
Ms. Sharayah is a Midwesterner who stumbled upon Montessori education and Escuela del Sol in 2013, not long after moving to Albuquerque. She fell in love with the child-centered and life-long learning approach. She started as a substitute and worked in the Primary Extended Day before becoming the assistant guide in Senior Elementary. Ms. Sharayah earned a Bachelors of Arts in Elementary Education, and taught for several years at a public elementary school in Kansas. Now the Lead Guide in Senior Elementary, she recently completed her Elementary 6-12 Montessori training at Montessori Institute of San Diego.
Mr. Ben Tobias
Elementary - Sr. El
A Houston native, Mr. Ben began working at Escuela del Sol in 2015. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in Art History from University of New Mexico, and recently completed his Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) Elementary I Montessori credential training from the Montessori Institute of San Diego. Mr. Ben began his teaching journey in 2007 while living in Barcelona, Spain, and teaching English. He returned to Albuquerque, where he worked as a classroom assistant and volunteered at arts organizations. This led him to the Harwood Art Center, and eventually to Escuela, after participating Montessori Journey, where he finally got a better grasp on fractions! Mr. Ben enjoys creating art, being in nature, cooking, learning, and spending time with his son, who is in the Blue Room. As the Support Guide in Senior El, Ben is drawn to Montessori for the presentation of materials and tactile nature, and the scientific methodology it utilizes to empower children in taking an active role in their own education.
Mr. Ramon Chavez
Elementary & Jr. High - Extended Day
Mr. Ramon grew up on a small farm in the East Mountains. He joined the Harwood Art Center and Escuela staff in 2014, working as teacher support and as a guide for Harwood’s Art & Sol after school art program. In 2015, he took over the Hardwood Cafe and school lunch program. Before working at Escuela, Mr. Ramon worked as a sub; a teachers’ aide; and ran the lunch program and the summer camp at a local private school. He is fluent in American Sign Language and is our in-house animal expert. Mr. Ramon has a flock of parrots – including his scarlet macaw, Tango, who you might recognize from his frequent visits to campus – a tortoise and mini pig.
Ms. Tanesia R. Hale-Jones
Jr. High Level Director & Guide
Ms. Tanesia is a Montessorian, educator, social activist, poet, artist, and parent, who believes in the importance of community engagement and teaching students to be global citizens. She has over 15 years experience teaching students of all ages and currently serves as the Jr. High Guide and Adolescent Program Coordinator, where she guides 7th and 8th grade students, and oversees a team of teachers and community partners. Ms. Tanesia holds an AMS diploma at the Elementary Level, and an AMI/NAMTA Orientation to Adolescence Studies Certificate. She is a graduate of Loyola University New Orleans where she earned her B.A. in English Literature/Creative Writing and San Francisco State University where she earned her MFA in poetry and poetics. Ms. Tanesia is active in the local arts’ community where she has shown work and performed around Albuquerque. Her written work has been published and has been featured in exhibitions at Harwood Art Center. She is the 2018 recipient of the Bretta Weiss Award for Excellence in Montessori for Innovation. Ms. Tanesia was born and raised in Albuquerque and is proud to be of service to her local community through her passion for arts education, social justice and creative collaboration.
Mr. Jordan Hines
Jr. High/Community Support
Mr. Jordan was raised in New Mexico and is back after receiving Bachelor of Arts degrees in Creative Writing, and Media and Visual Culture from the University of Redlands. Mr. Jordan believes education is a process of growth that begins first and foremost in our schools, but if done right instills an attitude that continues that process indefinitely and is only improved by helping others in their own process. Living that belief, Mr. Jordan is always looking for opportunities to grow with others in his community and is why he joined the Escuela del Sol team in 2021.
Ms. Christy Cook
Studio - Art
Ms. Christy was a student of Waldorf and later public education in a small town near Ashland, Oregon. Our Elementary Art teacher since 2014, she received her BA in Romance Languages with an art minor at the University of Oregon, and recently completed her MA in Art Education at UNM. Christy is drawn to Montessori for its intrinsic motivation. She thinks teaching children to find their own motivation/creativity is paramount to being an artist – or anything else!
Mr. Casey Mráz
Studio - Music & Performance
Mr. Casey is an educator, composer, musician, playwright, and designer who grew up in Albuquerque. He earned an M.F.A. in dramatic writing from University of New Mexico in 2009, and studied literary arts in Prague, Czech Republic at Charles University. Mr. Casey is also a teaching artist with the Santa Fe Opera’s ALTO Program (Active Learning Through Opera) and the Music Director for Circo Latino. He most recently taught special education at Dolores Gonzales Elementary School.
Ms. Emily Schuyler
Studio - Spanish
Spanish Studio Guide, Emily Schuyler has been at Escuela since 2003, where she was the lead guide in the White Room. She grew up in Kearney, Nebraska, received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Textile Design from the University of Kansas, and earned her Association Montessori Internationale Primary credentials from Perugia, Italy. Ms. Emily believes Montessori education offers real, daily opportunities to create a better world and practice lifelong learning.
Mr. Jonathan Parks
Mr. Jonathan has been with Escuela and Harwood since 2017 as a guide, a teacher, and now as our Garden Guide. Mr. Jonathan has a passion for the environment and desert landscapes. He holds an MFA in Studio Arts and a BFA in Painting. Originally from the Midwest, he has been living in New Mexico since 2010, and has worked at various educational organizations and not-for-profits promoting lifelong learning, accessibility in the arts, and supporting disability rights as a teaching artist.
Ms. Sandra Munoz Puga
Ms. Sandra moved to Albuquerque with her husband in 2021 and worked as an assistant NIDO guide at Montessori ONE Academy. She is passionate about staying in touch with her inner child, and this allows her to foster connections with the children she works with. She is driven to help children to grow in their most authentic selves while she grows alongside them. Ms. Sandra considers herself to be a “student of life” and enjoys learning through direct experience, but eventually would like to earn a degree in Early Childhood Education. She made a promise to her dear friend Barbara, who is 87, that she would graduate in the next 3 years. Ms. Sandra was born in Nochistlan, Zacatecas, Mexico, and immigrated with her mother Nevada when she was about 3 years old. In her free time, you might find her painting, hiking, rock climbing, gardening or with family in Nevada.
Mr. Michael Chavez Liberman
Harwood Cafe - Lunch Program
Mr. Michael is one of Escuela’s first elementary alumni students and is also a Montessori parent. He attended Boston College where he majored in History. He later became a sous chef at Beacon Hill Bistro, a fine dining restaurant. When he returned to Albuquerque, Mr. Michael worked as a line chef at Prairie Star, working his way up to Sous Chef. After leaving Prairie Star, he joined the FAA as an air traffic controller. Mr. Michael credits his foundation in Montessori education for his ability to work in complex, high-intensity professions, and for his curiosity about the world and his love of learning. He values his time at Escuela so much, that he brought his own children back to the community that felt like home.