Erin Fitzgerald was raised in a family that loves travel and new experiences, but their home base was always the beautiful landscape of Southern New Mexico. After completing her degree in Cultural Anthropology and Creative Writing in 2013, Erin moved back to Silver City and found the Guadalupe Montessori School community. Erin had the opportunity to assist at each level of Montesori education offered at GMS (Toddler, Primary, and Elementary) before finding her niche as an Administrator. Erin and her partner have two children, Lydia and Arlo who are also vibrant and lively members of the GMS community. Although Erin’s passion is early childhood development and understanding cultural backgrounds of families, she also loves to hike, craft, cook, read and play with her children, and get her hands dirty while working with the earth.
Jesse is a seasoned educator and holds a degree in Elementary Education from the University of Arizona. She has experience working as an assistant in both lower and upper elementary Montessori classrooms. Jesse has lived and worked in Silver City with her family for the past six years, is fluent in Italian and in ASL, is a great lover of all things science and nature, and spent time teaching English in Rome.
Johannes grew up in Germany and moved to the US permanently in 2018. He lived in Oregon before he and his spouse moved to Silver City in the Spring of 2020. Here they hope to start a homestead on 10 acres. Johannes holds a B.A. in History and Philosophy and is currently pursuing a Master’s of Sustainable Food Systems from Prescott College. He has worked previously with junior youths, ages 11-14. When he is not busy working on the homestead or studying, he enjoys the outdoors, taking walks with his two dogs, getting to know the local flora, and connecting with the community.
Joanie Morency relocated from the east coast to Silver City in 2017 and joined the GMS community shortly thereafter. She graduated from the State University of New York at Geneseo in 2013 with a degree in communication and English literature, and she is AMI accredited from the Montessori Training Center Northeast to teach Montessori education at the primary level for 3-6 . Joanie hopes to combine her love of language and lifelong learning with her passion for working with children. She spends her free time reading, writing, hiking, and spending time with friends and family.
Skye is originally from Morenci, AZ. She moved to Silver City, NM in 2013 to begin her college education in Early Childhood Development at WNMU. Skye has her AA degree in ECED and is working towards receiving her BA in ECED. She has a two year-old son and two stepchildren. Skye enjoys being outdoors with her family, hunting, backpacking in the Gila, and traveling, and goes camping multiple times a year. She believes in empowering the minds of our young children and is expanding her knowledge in the Montessori Method. One day she hopes to become a Lead Guide at Guadalupe Montessori and is very excited to see what the future holds!
Paige is originally from the St. Louis area where she graduated from Washington University with a degree in English. She received her AMI Primary Montessori diploma from the Southwest Institute of Montessori Studies, in Mesa, Arizona. Paige joined the faculty of GMS in 2019. She is the mother of a (now adult) Montessori child. She loves Silver City, her role as a teacher at GMS, and the Gila National Forest. She is inspired by the beauty of the mountains and enjoys spending her free time hiking, reading, writing, observing nature and sharing her observations with the Sunflower children.
Katina Castillo was born and raised in California, just north of Los Angeles for the first 18 years of her life and then in the San Francisco Bay Area for the last 18 years which is where most of her family has been rooted since the early 1940s. Katina graduated from UC Berkeley with a B.A. in English concentrated on Folklore and Cultural Studies which allowed her to receive degree credit while studying abroad in Mexico, Chile and Costa Rica. Just before moving to Silver City in August 2020 she passed her Masters exams in Depth Psychology with specialization in Community, Liberation, Indigenous and Eco- Psychologies. Katina is passionate about diversity and co-creating a world that is safe and encouraging for all children and families to thrive. When she is not working at GMS she remains physically active and continuously learning and exploring. She loves the forest, thrift stores, books, and the night sky.
Xochitl Hernandez Moctezuma was born in Mexico City, the third of six children. Both her parents were teachers of humble origin who moved to the country's capital to earn a degree and support their families. In Mexico, Xochitl pursued a teaching career and taught Math in middle school for nine years before moving to the US in 1998. Mother of three children, her family lived in Michigan, Texas, and New York before moving to New Mexico. Xochitl provides Spanish bilingual immersion in the Toddler classroom, and received her AMI diploma at the Montessori Institute of San Diego for children ages 0-3 in the summer of 2018.
Nicole moved to Silver City from Douglas, AZ. She has always loved children and started babysitting at the age of 9. Nicole has two sons, a granddaughter and new grandbaby due in March 2021. She enjoys being outdoors helping her fiance with his yard cleaning business and woodcutting. She has been with GMS since 2018.
Liz moved to Silver City with her husband, Ob, in 1991. They opened a music store named Tune Town Music Exchange in downtown Silver, which they ran until 2012. Liz also worked at the Down to Earth School, where she raised her three children while she taught- for close to 20 years! During this time, Liz earned degrees in History and Sociology from WNMU, and graduated with honors in 2015. Liz has been working at GMS since the summer of 2017, and enjoys watching the children of this town grow into fabulous adults and seeing the generations turn their kids on to great music and alternative education. In her spare time, Liz loves to cook, read, travel, and spend time with her family and friends.
Izzy has been a dirt worshiper and plant whisperer since she was young. Hailing from New Jersey originally she grew up in a home with two Waldorf teacher parents and has always loved being a part of alternative education and the communities supporting them. She has worked in farms from Morocco to Maine and in Waldorf education as an assistant in New Jersey. The Montessori garden is yet another blessing that combines a beautiful outdoor classroom and beds bursting with produce for the kitchen and Izzy is grateful to be its shepherd for this school year.
Martha has been serving as the director of GMS since the fall of 2014. Martha's leadership is based on over a decade of experience at GMS, including instruction; food service management; music programming; and design, development, and management of our award-winning garden. Martha received her B.A. in Religious Studies from Brown University, where she also completed the Undergraduate Teachers Education Program with a provisional certificate in Secondary Social Studies and History. During college, Martha was heavily involved in urban farming and community gardening, and student taught at an experiential High School. Ultimately, her talents in experiential education, community gardening, and professional cooking would come together at GMS: After founding the garden that both feeds and helps educate our students, Martha ran the school's meal program for two years. She has also served the school as the unofficial music teacher as well as its 7th year Guide. All of Martha’s three daughters attended GMS through Elementary, and are now students at Aldo Leopold Charter School.
Dee has an extensive background in office management, including Executive Assistant to the General Counsel at Texas Tech University (B.A., C.L.A.) and Administrative Assistant to the CEO of St Mary Hospital in Lubbock, TX. When her husband changed professions and became a commercial pilot, Dee followed his career around the country, through Idaho, Colorado, Nebraska, and St Croix, USVI, before settling in Grant County, NM. She has managed offices for telecommunications and insurances, and in healthcare administration as a lead promotora, medical records director, and general manager of an assisted living facility. In the summer of 2016, it was Dee's turn to change career paths, and she brought her expertise in office management and passion for excellence to GMS.
Carissa was born in Silver City, and attended GMS from age 2-1/2 to 11. In her last year of high school, she moved to Las Cruces to pursue gymnastics. In 2003 she relocated to Alaska to attend college, and ended up living there until 2016, developing her bookkeeping skills. She and her family spent 2017 traveling through four continents before coming back to settle in Silver City in January, 2018. Carissa has a huge passion for music and dance, and is a certified Zumba instructor. She also has a deep love for the outdoors and for working with and advocating for children.
Heidi joined GMS in the fall of 2010 when she enrolled her two children Molly and Thomas. In true Montessori fashion, Heidi came to us with a variety of skills - fashion design and promotions, outdoor education and wilderness medicine, catering and managing commercial kitchens- just to name a few. In her role at the school, Heidi brings a high level of professionalism and organization to the GMS food program and kitchen, and takes the lead at GMS with health and safety protocols. She cares deeply about providing the highest level of student nutrition, and our lunches are all recipes she has crafted. She puts a great deal of effort into sourcing local and organic food and in to training GMS kitchen staff to cook from scratch. Heidi was the driving force behind expanding our lunch service to provide hot lunches to Aldo Leopold Charter School under the National School Lunch Program in 2017.
Jeff was born in Colorado and raised in the western suburbs of Chicago. He received a degree in Architectural Technology in Iowa and then went to CU Boulder for environmental design to continue his education. Construction and Design have always been his passions. He currently works for R.S. Bigelow as a Lead Foreman and will start his own company in the spring. His family moved to Silver City in June of 2017 and they see a lifelong commitment to this community. GMS has impressed Jeff with the overwhelming amount of personal care and attention each student, staff member, parent and family receives, and puts into this gem of a school. He plans to bring his experience in construction and building to support GMS through facilities changes and improvements in the years to come.
Kevin is the Executive Director of the Mimbres Region Arts Council. In this position, he has been working towards increasing creative-based youth programming, equitable access to the arts and arts centered approaches toward cognitive development of students of all ages. Previously, he served over 20 years with YorkArts, located in south central Pennsylvania. During his tenure as Executive Director, YorkArts created an arts center housing a premier exhibition gallery, artist studios, classrooms and pottery studio. His last project at YorkArts was a successful capital campaign to retire debt, renovate and expand classrooms and develop a satellite campus. Kevin has a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from York College and has completed coursework for a Master’s degree in Humanities from Penn State. He moved to Silver City with his wife, Kathleen and GMS student Kieran, after becoming enchanted with the people, natural beauty, art and culture of New Mexico.
Shanna is a native of Silver City who started at the Guadalupe Montessori School in 2005 as an assistant in the Toddler classroom. Eventually completing her AMI training in Assistance to Infancy (Birth-3 years), Shanna was the lead guide in the GMS Toddler class until the end of the 2017-18 school year, when she left GMS to pursue a nursing degree at WNMU. Shanna's two younger children attend GMS, and she brings a wealth of relevant experience to the board of directors. In her spare time, Shanna enjoys knitting, camping, and making jewelry.