School highlight: Desert Garden Montessori - Ahwatukee Foothills News: School Highlight

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School highlight: Desert Garden Montessori

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5130 E. Warner Road Phoenix AZ

Posted: Friday, February 7, 2014 9:45 am

Desert Garden Montessori

5130 E. Warner Road

Desert Garden Montessori has been part of the Ahwatukee community for the past 15 years, offering its students a hands-on learning experience.

The school first began in 1996, inside the founder of the school Shetal Walters’ living room, where she had only 12 students.

“It was one beautiful step after another and there was a huge need in the community for more families wanting to educate their kids in the Montessori philosophy,” she said.

After three years of figuring out where they were going to land, in 1999 Walters and her team gained the funds and opened their current location.

When the school opened its doors it had 75 students, and by August enrollment increased to 175.

“We’ve been full ever since,” Walters said. “Now there are approximately 260 students. We currently serve children from 8 weeks old through ninth grade. We are hoping to continue to grow.”

The school garnered honors from the Ahwatukee community by being named “Best Childcare” in the 2013 Best Of Ahwatukee.

For more information on Desert Garden Montessori, visit

• Compiled by Daniel Ochoa.

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Keystone Montessori

[David Jolkovski/AFN]
Teacher Pily Pantoja helps Sarah Wang, 4, with the addition snake game at Keystone Montessori on Thursday, Sept. 4, 2014.

Keystone Montessori has come a long way since its founding in 1995. Back then it was operated out of the founder’s home before eventually moving on to rent rooms from Horizon Presbyterian Church. It was only in 2000 that they had gained a strong enough enrollment to move into the facility where they currently reside on Liberty Lane, just off Desert Foothills Parkway and across from the Ahwatukee Foothills Family YMCA.

The school services students as young as 18 years old, as part of their toddler program, and as old as ninth-graders. The current enrollment is around 320 students, who all have access to Spanish, music and arts programs in addition to the full Montessori curriculum.

“We provide an authentic Montessori education which focuses on the independence and whole development of the child, including academic as well as social and emotional growth,” said head of school Cindy Maschoff. “We want our students to become independent citizens of the world.”

The school will be taking the time to present the concept of Montessori education to the public Jan. 29 and 30. At the presentations the school will provide a clear understanding of what Montessori education looks like at each level of education. Those wanting to attend should plan on going to both meetings, with the Jan. 29 meeting going from 6-7 p.m. and the Jan. 30 meeting from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The meetings require attendees to RSVP, which can be done by emailing

For more information, visit

• Compiled by James Gingerich.

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