Mary Ellen Cooper

Owner/Director/Elementary Lead Teacher - North Campus

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. 

Ms. Madison

Assistant Elementary Teacher - North Campus

Ms. Madison attended Sunrise Montessori from ages 3-12. After graduating from Sunrise. she went on to attend a Montessori Middle School and a Charter High School in the Phoenix area. After graduating in 2016, Ms. Madison has gone on to attend Northern Arizona University in the pursuit of a Master's Degree in Social Work. 

She has returned to Sunrise Montessori for the second year to be the assistant in the elementary class. 

In her free time Ms. Madison enjoys being with friends and family, dancing, and watching movies.  

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. She has worked with every age group and in every classroom at our North campus. 

Ms. Tracie also has her own business as a hairstylist. 

Ms. Olive

Lead Primary Teacher - North Campus

Ms. Olive has taught at Sunrise Montessori for over thirty years. She started teaching here as an outdoor environment teacher. After realizing her passion for the Montessori philosophy, she went to school and achieved her Primary Montessori Teaching certificate for AMI. She has been teaching with Sunrise Montessori ever since. 

All three of Ms. Olive's children went to Sunrise Montessori, and now two of her grandchildren attend, which shows how much of a fan she is!

Ms. Sherrie

Assistant Primary Teacher - North Campus

Ms. Sherrie is the outdoor environment and primary teaching assistant at the north campus. Ms. Sherrie is semi-retired, working part-time at Sunrise Montessori, Dance Nation, and California Kisses. She is great with children, and has been a certified dance teacher for many years, working with children ages 3-18. In her free time, Ms. Sherrie enjoys designing dance costumes and hanging out with her grand kids.

Ms. Nandini

Assistant Primary Teacher - North Campus

Ms. Nandini began her secondary education with a bachelor's of technology in Electronics and Communication. She later went back to school and received her diploma in Montessori teaching from Sam's Academy in Bangalore, India. Ms. Nandini is starting her first year with Sunrise Montessori as the primary teaching assistant at the north campus. In her free time she enjoys reading, dancing, and listening to music. 

Ms. Chaz

Lead Toddler Teacher - North Campus

Ms. Chaz first learned about Sunrise Montessori through her sister, who worked here. After learning about the school, Chaz enrolled her daughter, who attended the school from 18 months until she was 11 years old! Chaz began working here as the outdoor environment teacher, then moved to the preschool assistant, and she has now been the lead toddler teacher for 2 years. In her free time she enjoys working as a hair stylist and decorating her new house. 

Ms. Kayla

Assistant 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 became available at Sunrise, Kayla took the opportunity to apply and she was hired! She started as the outdoor environment teacher, and she is now the Assistant Toddler Teacher at our North Campus. She loves working with the children and is exceptional with them. 

In her free time, Ms. Kayla enjoys making arts and crafts to create her "Spooky Town." 

Ms. Jenny

Assistant Toddler Teacher - North Campus

Ms. Jenny is a new member of staff for the 2019/2020 school year. She originally got her Bachelor's Degree in Spanish from Point Loma Nazarene University. She then went on to also receive a certificate of Applied Linguistics from Dallas International University.  Ms. Jenny recently moved back to the states from Thailand. In addition to being the assistant in the toddler classroom at our north campus, she is also the Director of Operations for a non-profit organization called, "Kick at Darkness," which raises support and awareness for survivors of interpersonal violence. 

In her free time, Ms. Jenny enjoys making music, hiking, traveling, climbing trees, trying new foods, and learning new languages. 

Ms. Ashleigh

Office Manager - North Campus

Ms. Ashleigh moved to Arizona in 2007 from Michigan. She worked at  Sunrise Montessori 8 years ago, but left to have her 3 beautiful girls. After returning, she took on the roles 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 North Campus's Office Manager. 

Ms. Brenda

Lead Primary Teacher - South Campus

Ms. Brenda is new to our Sunrise Montessori family and is very excited to be here! She was born n San Juan, Puerto Rico and was raised in Guaynala until her family moved to El Paso, Texas when she was 5. She spent most of her life in Texas until she moved to Miami for Culinary School. She quickly learned it wasn't her calling, so she returned to Texas and studied psychology at UTEP. She found a job as a primary assistant in a Montessori classroom where she fell in love with the Montessori method. After a year, she moved to Arizona and did her Montessori teacher training while working at another Montessori school as an assistant. She is a new AMI certified, Primary Montessori guide and is here, ready to serve the children. On her free time, she liked to relax with her dogs, her family, and her friends. She likes to watch her favorite T.V. show, The Office and enjoys dancing, doing hot yoga, and playing dominoes. 

Ms. Kayla

Assistant Primary Teacher - South Campus

Ms. Kayla is excited to be returning to Sunrise Montessori for the 2018/2019 school year! She graduated from Sunrise Mountain High School in 2016 and began going to college at Glendale Community College to pursue of a nursing degree. 

Ms. Kayla has worked in both the primary and toddler classrooms at Sunrise Montessori and has enjoyed her work in both classes. 

In her free time, Ms. Kayla enjoys being around her friends and family, reading, and cooking. 

Ms. Alissa

Lead Toddler Teacher/Director - South Campus

Ms. Alissa has been working at Sunrise Montessori since November of 2013. She began by working in the primary room at our North Campus. She received her Montessori Primary Teacher 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 loved for working with the toddlers. 

In June of 2015, Ms. Alissa moved to our South Campus to become the Lead Toddler Teacher. The 2018/2019 school year will be her third year as the lead toddler teacher. 

Alissa is known around the Sunrise Montessori Community as the "Toddler Whisperer."  

Ms. Chloe

Assistant Toddler Teacher - South Campus

Ms. Chloe was born and raised in Oklahoma, but moved to Arizona the day after graduating high school. Chloe began working in Montessori as a teaching assistant in 2016. It was then that she discovered her true passion for working with children. Ms. Chloe is excited to be a part of our Sunrise family this year, in the toddler classroom. When Ms. Chloe isn't working she enjoys coloring and going shopping. 

Coach Ron

P.E. Coach - North & South Campus

Ron was born in Switzerland and attended Swiss business school, graduating from the University of Gran Canarias Spain. He then became the Executive Vice President of Tag-Heuer watches in New York. Coach Ron has 20 years of experience teaching various 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. After he sold his business, Coach Ron began working at Sunrise Montessori as the Physical Education Teacher for both our North and South Campuses. Coach Ron is a beloved teacher by all the students, past and present, as he has continuously worked so hard to make P.E. fun for all the students. 

Ms. Betty Jo

Art Teacher - North & South Campus

Ms. Betty Jo is the elementary and kindergarten art teacher. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Art Education (K-12) from Nazareth College of Rochester, New York. Betty Jo 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 Mother’s Day Out program as an assistant teacher. From there the opportunity arose for her to become the Art teacher for our kindergarten and elementary programs. She has been working with our students for many years and has made art both a fun class period and a very educational one. Students both past and present remember and enjoy Ms. Betty Jo's art classes. 

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

-Maria Montessori