The History of Our School
Sunrise Montessori was started in the home of Mary Ellen Cooper in 1979. That first year there were eight children in the school and fifteen on a waiting list. It was time to move to a bigger facility. For five months, a search was made for a church with space available to rent to our school. The church we found was Larkspur Christian Church on 33rd Avenue north of Cactus. Their Fellowship Hall was used for our school from September 1980 through June 1988. In 1981, one of the first Montessori toddler programs in the Valley was added. In 1984, Sunrise Montessori Academy joined our school with grades 1 - 6. In the fall of 1988, our beautiful new building at 14233 N. 47th Avenue was purchased to house our school. In 2000, Circle of Peace Church was building a new facility and invited us to join them. We began leasing space for our elementary class in the fall of 2003. We added a preschool and kindergarten class in January of 2004. The 2019/2020 school year marks our 40th year educating children of the valley in the practices of Maria Montessori.
Mary Ellen Cooper is the owner and elementary teacher. Mary Ellen received her B.A. in Elementary Education from Arizona State University and she received a Master’s Degree in Counseling from the University of Phoenix. She taught in public schools for four years: 1 year in the Washington School District teaching 2nd grade and 3 years in the Mesa Unified School District teaching 1st grade. Mary Ellen found an interest in Montessori when her oldest daughter was ready for preschool. In 1983, she spent the summer in Oakland, California and received her Montessori certification for children ages birth to 3. She also holds certification for Montessori elementary. She has 5 children and 10 grandchildren.