Meet Our Staff

Mary Ellen_edited.jpg

Ms. Mary Ellen 

Owner/Director/Elementary Lead Teacher - North Campus

Mary Ellen is the proud owner of Sunrise Montessori, and she has been for 41 years! Mary Ellen began her teaching career in high school teaching Sunday School and Vacation Bible School. She earned her BA in Elementary and taught in the Washington and Mesa School Districts for 4 years. She took a leave of absence to have her first child and never went back to public school. She heard about Montessori in college, but did not hear anything positive about it. When she began looking for preschool for her oldest child, who would soon be 3, a close high school friend told her to go observe her son's Montessori school. After visiting every other type of preschool, she finally went to see the Montessori school recommended by her friend. As she sat observing the class, tears rolled down her cheeks. How she wished she could have taught the Montessori way to all the children she had taught while teaching in public school! She enrolled her daughter immediately! A year later, her daughter's Montessori teacher had to leave the school after having a baby, so, Mary Ellen opened her home and she began Sunrise Montessori in a spare bedroom. With the naivete of youth, she had no idea there were rules and regulations to operate a preschool and that she could not have one in her home. So with a school of 10 children and more than 20 on a waiting list, the school began looking for a property in which to continue the school. A church was found on 33rd Avenue and Larkspur where Sunrise Montessori stayed for 8 years. A new pastor came to the church and the school was asked to leave. A hunt was on for a new facility! A parent at the school drove by a big house for sale on her way to school every day. After looking at it, Mary Ellen realized with a few minor tweaks, it would make a perfect school! And so, 32 years ago, the school moved into the big grey house with the blue tile roof on 47th Avenue. Mary Ellen received her Montessori training in Oakland, CA in 1983 and has taught every level - toddler through sixth grade. She has been very grateful that all 4 of her children were able to continue their Montessori education through sixth grade. Mary Ellen believes that if Maria Montessori had been a man, her method of education would be in every school around the world. After teaching in public schools and watching her own children's lives be enriched by the Montessori education, she is convinced the Montessori Method of education is absolutely the very best way for children to learn and love learning. in 1995, to keep the Arizona State teaching certificate current, she and to get her Master's Degree. Because Montessori is out of mainstream education, she decided to pursue a Master's in counseling. This degree has been very beneficial in helping the families of Sunrise Montessori


Ms. Alissa

Lead Toddler Teacher/Director - South Campus 

Ms. Alissa has been working for Sunrise Montessori since November of 2013. She began working in the primary classroom at our North Campus. She received her Montessori Toddler Teaching Certificate in the summer of 2015. During this time, she was also the Director of the Before/Aftercare program, which is where she realized her love for working with the toddler. 

In June of 2015, she moved to our South Campus and became the Lead Toddler Teacher. The 2020/2021 school year will be her fifth year as the lead teacher. 

Alissa is known around Sunrise Montessori as "the toddler whisperer." 

Ms. Madison

Office Manager/Assistant Director - North Campus 

Ms. Madison attended Sunrise Montessori from the ages of 3-12. After graduating from Sunrise Montessori, she went on to attend a Montessori middle school and a charter high school in the Phoenix area, graduating in 2016. After graduating high school, she went on to attend Northern Arizona University in the pursuit of a Master's Degree in Social Work. 

Ms. Madison has worked for Sunrise Montessori since 2016, in each classroom and in both campus's office's. She is excited to be working in the North Campus office this year! 

In her free time she enjoys being with friends and family, watching Disney movies, reading, and taking or teaching dance classes. 

Ms. Kayla

Lead Primary Teacher - South Campus 

Ms. Kayla is joining us for her 4th year at Sunrise Montessori, this year as a lead teacher! She is very excited to see hwat the new school year holds for her in her Montessori journey. In her free time, she enjoys spending quality time with friends and family, and playing with her dog Stark! 

Ms. Ashleigh 

Lead Primary Teacher - North Campus 

Ms. Ashleigh moved to Arizona in 2007 from Michigan. She began working at Sunrise Montessori 12 years ago, but left to have her 4 beautiful girls! After returning, she took on the role of Outdoor Environment teacher for the primary class. She then moved into the office manager position at the South Campus. This school year, she has become the Lead Primary teacher at the North Campus!

Ms. Kayla 

Lead Toddler Teacher - North Campus 

Ms. Kayla began her journey with the Montessori Method by finding out about Sunrise Montessori through the children of a family for which she was a nanny. When a position opened up, Kayla took the opportunity and applied. She was hired! She started as the outdoor environment teacher, and she was also the Assistant Toddler Teacher at our North Campus for four years. She loves working with the children, and is exceptional with them! This year, Ms. Kayla is beginning her journey as the Lead Toddler teacher at our North Campus! 

In her free time, she enjoys making arts & crafts to create her "Spooky Town."

Ms. Tracie

Elementary Phonics Teacher - North Campus 

Ms. Tracie started at the school as a parent in 2002, she fell in love with the philosophy. She has two daughters; Madison and Rhenn, who both attended Sunrise Montessori through sixth grade. Ms. Tracie began working with Sunrise Montessori in 2005 when an opportunity opened for the job as an outdoor environment teacher in the primary class. She has worked with every age group in every classroom at our North Campus. 

Ms. Tracie also has her own business as a hairstylist 

Ms. Chelsie 

Assistant Elementary Teacher - North Campus 

During Ms. Chelsie's visit last school year, she realized how rewarding working with children can be. She is joining us for her first year at Sunrise Montessori as an elementary assistant teacher. In her free time, she enjoys painting, music, and spending time with her friends, family and her three dogs Carli, Daisy, and Ace. 

Ms. Corina 

Assistant Primary Teacher - North Campus 

Ms. Corina just moved to Arizona from California. In California, she was a primary assistant at another Montessori school for 2 years. She is excited to begin her journey as the Primary Assistant teacher, here at Sunrise Montessori's North Campus!

Over the summer, she will be getting her Montessori Training!

Ms. Sherrie

Assistant Primary Teacher - North Campus 

Ms. Sherrie has been working at Sunrise Montessori for many years. Ms. Sherrie is very creative and loves working with children. Ms. Sherrie is excited to be working in our Outdoor Enrionvment area this school year!

In addition to working here, she also owns a dance studio and loves to teach dance!

Ms. Olive

Part-Time Primary Teacher - North Campus 

Ms. Olive has worked at Sunrise Montessori school for about 30 years. She loves teaching and working with the children. After taking a short hiatus, she is returning to work in the primary classroom in the afternoons. We are so excited to have Ms. Olive here with us! 

Ms. Mia

Assistant Toddler Teacher - North Campus 

Ms. Mia is excited to be working in the toddler classroom this year!

Ms. Allie 

Assistant Primary Teacher - South Campus 

Ms. Allie is excited to be working in the primary classroom this year!

Ms. Jenna

Assistant Toddler Teacher - South Campus 

Ms. Jenna is beginning her first year with Sunrise Montessori at our South Campus. Ms. Jenna loves exploring and expressing her creativity by drawing and painting. She is a dog lover, with her two girls Rosie and Gracie. She enjoys taking them on adventures and enjoying nature. Working with children brings her great joy and watching them learn new things every day is very rewarding for her. 

Ms. Betty Jo

Art Teacher - North & South Campus

Ms. Betty Jo is the elementary and kindergarten art teacher. She earned her Bachelor's of Science in Art Education (K-12) from Nazareth College of Rochester, New York. She started at Sunrise as a parent in 1999, when her oldest daughter, Anna, enrolled in the preschool class. The following year she began helping in the Aftercare Program as an assistant teacher. From there, the opportunity arose for her to become the Art Teacher for our kindergarten and elementary students. She has been working with our students for many years and has made art both a fun class period and very educational. Students both past and present remember and enjoy Ms. Betty Jo's art classes. 

Coach Ron

Physical Education Teacher - North & South Campus

Coach Ron was born in Switzerland and attended a Swiss business school, graduating from the University of Gran Canarias, Spain. He then became the Executive Vice President of Tog-Heur Watches in New York. Coach Ron has 30 years of experience in teaching youth sports to all ages, preschool through high school. He began to see the beauty of Montessori when his son enrolled in the toddler program at Sunrise Montessori. After he sold his business, he began working at Sunrise Montessori as the Physical Education Teacher for both the North and South Campuses. Coach Ron is beloved by all the students, past and present, as he has continuously worked so hard to make P.E. fun for all the students. 

"Free the child's potential, and you will transform him into the world"

-Maria Montessori