Passion, determination and the love for her job, these are a few traits that describes Desert Garden Montessori teacher Denise Henry and is the many reasons she has been selected as the 2013 Best Elementary/Middle School Teacher in Ahwatukee.

Henry began her teaching career 12 years ago, where she started teaching at her daughter’s school, Montessori Education Center in Mesa, and felt she wanted to become a certified Montessori instructor.

She was interested in pursuing her career because she enjoyed what she saw happening inside the classrooms, and enjoyed the creativity each child was allowed to have under the Montessori style of learning.

Her training allows her to teacher at the first through third grade levels, and at Desert Garden Montessori Henry oversees students in all three grade levels simultaneously in one classroom.

She made the decision to apply for a teaching position Desert Garden during her training, and formed a bound with her site-advisor and mentor Rosemary Jones.

She has been working at Desert Garden Montessori for the past three years, and feels she has found the perfect home.

“When there was an opening here at the school, I knew I wanted to come here. The school has such a great reputation about its community and about how dedicated it is to the Montessori philosophy,” Henry said.

She also showed excitement being hired on because she was able to work alongside Jones. As Henry began teaching she began noticing that a good teacher can have a deep impact in the lives of students.

“If the children know that someone believes in them, and knows that they’re capable of great work then they tend to believe in themselves. I think sometimes children come to school not believing in themselves... so I think for me, the changes I’ve seen in certain children in just having a wonderful environment and supportive teacher, you really do see a change,” she said.

Henry enjoys being that center figure on changing the student’s perception of believing they can become a great student.

“To see these children blossom, that’s what makes it worth wild everyday to do it,” she said. “What we have here is a strong community, and children feel like this is their home. It’s great to see a child grow throughout the program and it’s just wonderful to go on that journey with them.”

Henry feels she has found the greenest pasture at Desert Garden Montessori, having no plans of teaching at any other institute.

“I definitely want to stay here in this community and keep teaching. I just want to continue spreading the work on Montessori education, and I would love every child to have the opportunity to go to a school like this,” she said.

Henry was completely blown away from the news of her recent award, and feels by receiving the award says a lot about the community as a whole.

She also feels receiving the award was partly because of the support she receives from her team at the school.

“Because we have such a tight-knit community and we are so supportive of one another, it says a lot about that,” Henry said. “That helps me know that I’m on the right track and affecting children in a great way.”

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