The staff at Desert Garden Montessori wants to be known for not just talking about future plans and improvements, but actually making them happen.

At its yearly community breakfast, administrators, including executive director Shetal Walters, shared their vision of the future for Desert Garden Montessori. They touched on the previous and current relationship with Arizona State University and how they will become the first private school to offer a high school Montessori program.

“We believe we would be the only private Montessori high school in the southwest of the country,” Walters said. “The most deliberate step is we are moving to high school. We’re excited. Because we are trying hard to do it right, our goal is to collaborate with other entities that will make it the best experience for students and their families.”

Next year they will offer a ninth-grade program, and has been accepting applications since Monday. The school, which is a private nonprofit, expects to have its first class include somewhere between 10 and 25 students. It is the first step down a road to creating the full high school experience with about 100 students for ninth through 12th grades.

“The goal isn’t to duplicate so we will partner with organizations that will make it a complete and enriching experience,” Walters said. “We want to start small and slowly build up.”

Middle school students have been working with graduate students from ASU on a sustainability project that involves collecting rainwater. This is one of many undertakings that make the school and its students successful, she said.

“There’s no reason why these kids shouldn’t be working with other students in a higher learning environment,” Walters said. “I think we are transforming from our position to being a beacon of light. We let people know how to teach this way — to do what is right instead of what is familiar.”

To find out more information, call (480) 496-9833 or stop by the Ahwatukee Foothills location, 5130 E. Warner Road.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-4903 or

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