Mary Ellen is the proud owner of Sunrise Montessori, and she has been for 40 years! Mary Ellen began her teaching career in high school, teaching Sunday School and Vacation Bible School. She earned her BA in Elementary Education 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 a preschool for her oldest daughter, 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 they began Sunrise Montessori in a spare bedroom. With the naiveté 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 31 years ago, the school moved into the big gray house with the blue tile roof on 47th Avenue. Mary Ellen received her Montessori training in Oakland, CA in 1983 and has taught at every level – toddler through elementary. 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 the children to learn and love learning. In 1995, to keep the Arizona State teaching certificate current, she had to get a Master’s degree. Because Montessori is out of the mainstream of education, she decided to pursue a Master’s in counseling. This degree has been very beneficial in helping the families of Sunrise Montessori School.