Our Programs

Labor Day
Sep. 1, 8:00 am

School Closed, no childcare available.


Escuela's teachers combine excellent training, strong academic qualifications and experience with warmth, openness, and a strong respect for children and their parents. Our lead teachers have their Montessori training through either the American Montessori Society (AMS) or the Association Montessori International (AMI).

Miss Juli

The 2013-14 school year marks Ms. Juli's 7th year at Escuela, her 4th as Garden Guide. In this role she creates and involves the children in our Outdoor Classroom, which is used by children of all ages--for nature walks, lessons in practical life and care-giving, relaxation and celebration. The orchard, herb garden, habitat, vegetable boxes, landscapes, and chicken coop also provide materials and inspiration for scientific experiments and research, cooking, music, and art projects.  Ms. Juli majored in Soil Science at New Mexico State University and continued her studies at the Land Institute (Kansas) and the Permaculture Drylands Institute.  She wears her Master Composter badge with pride and enthusiastically shares her knowledge and experience with the Escuela community. She can often be seen at the Downtown Grower's Market sorting trash as part of the Knowaste team.

Ms. Juli also works as a Teaching Assistant in our Toddler Aftercare Program. In 2000 she attended the National Center for Montessori Education in White Rock, NM and she worked as a Teaching Assistant with Ms. Dana from 2000-2003. For the seven years prior to this, Ms. Juli worked primarily as a pre-school teacher; she also has experience with infants and toddlers.  

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Mr. Barney


Barney Lopez is our coach for the 2012-2013 school year.  He has been with Escuela several years - as Extended Care teacher in the Elementary program, a summer as a teaching artist at Harwood Art Camp, and two years assisting Ms. Emily in the White Room.  Barney is also a director, playwright, actor and improviser, having graduated from the University of New Mexico with a BA in Theatre in 2009.  He has been teaching theatre to children across the city for many years, and has been teaching adults improv for several years.  As Education/Outreach Director for Blackout Theatre Company, Barney manages The Black Board, a newly expanded theatre education program at The Box Performance Space & The Harwood Art Center.

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Mr. Seth

Seth Stambaugh joined the Escuela community in the 2013-2014 school year, teaching with Ms. Savanah.  As a child he attended Montessori schools in Albuquerque and Corrales in both the primary and elementary programs.  Receiving his bachelor's degree in English from Lewis and Clark College in Portland, OR, he continued on through the Lewis and Clark Graduate School of Education and Counseling, receiving his M.Ed in 2012 while working in public schools.  Continuing his education, he underwent Montessori Lower Elementary training at the Montessori Education Center of the Rockies.

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Ms. Elizabeth

Primary - Red Room

Elizabeth Harris has been with Escuela 22 years!  The 2012-2013 school year marks her first year assisting Ms. Jill in the Red Room.  Ms. Elizabeth is now a proud grandmother to Atticus, son to Escuela alum, Emily Harris-Martinez.

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Ms. Emily

Primary - White Room

Emily Schuyler has been a lead teacher in the White Room for the past six years.  She received her AMI Montessori diploma in Perugia, Italy, in 1999.


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Ms. Gretchen

Primary - Red Room

Gretchen Vogelsberg has been teaching since January 1998 and joined Escuela in 2006.  She spent seven years working with Ms. Dana in the Blue Room before moving to the Red Room in 2013 to work with Ms. Elizabeth.  First gaining her AMS Infant-Toddler certification at the Montessori Education Center of the Rockies in Boulder (she, Elizabeth Marcilla, Ms. Monica, and Ms. Jill all first met that summer at MECR!), she later returned to her studies to earn Primary certification as well.  Just prior to Escuela, she worked two years in a traditional private school before returning to Montessori secure in the knowledge that this is where she truly belongs.  Gretchen has twin daughters (whom many of you know through their babysitting or their time spent volunteering and working at Escuela).  Rhian and Dylan attended Montessori schools in Maine and Albuquerque from ages three through fifth grade.  Gretchen also ‘moonlights’ in the office after school as a member of the administrative team.


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Ms. Lisa & Ms. Lisa

Primary - Yellow Room

The 2012 - 2013 school year marks Lisa Alessio's 21th year at Escuela. Her Montessori certifications for toddler and primary (birth to age 6) is from the Montessori Education Center of the Rockies (AMS).

This begins Lisa Pearl's 8th year at Escuela del Sol and her 1st year co-teaching with Ms. Lisa in the Yellow Room. Lisa has a B.S. in Environmental Conservation from the University of Maine and her AMI Montessori certification for ages 3-6.


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Ms. Monica & Ms. Rita

Toddler Room North

A native New Mexican, Monica Chavez first gained toddler certification 27 years ago at the Pacific Coast Montessori Training Institution in San Francisco.  In 1999, she earned AMS Infant/Toddler credentials through MECR in Boulder, CO.  Monica has two children, both Montessori kids (16 years apart - wow!).  She has been with Escuela since 2005 and is looking forward to many more years!!!  Monica feels a strong connection with the Harwood  Art Center as her great aunt and grandmother both attended in the late 1920’s when it was the Harwood Girls’ School.  She is a grandmother of two beautiful babies, Azalea (age 3) and Cassiel (age 2).  In her spare time, Monica enjoys dancing with the Festival Ballet Company of Albuquerque and also teaches ballet to children at the Ballet Theater of the Southwest.

Rita Francois has been a toddler teacher since 1999 and has an associate degree in Early Childhood from NMSU.  She has been married for 30 years to an Air Force retiree and has two children and six grandchildren.  “Escuela has become part of my life and I am proud to be part of this warm and caring community.”

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Ms. Savanah

Savanah Cooper has been a member of the Escuela team since 2009 and has been working in the Montessori environment since 2005. She received her bachelor's degree in Education from The University of New Mexico. She received her Lower Elementary certification from The Houston Montessori Center under Dr. Betsy Coe and her Upper Elementary training from The Montessori Education Center of the Rockies in Boulder, Colorado.

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Ms. Tanesia

Senior Elementary

Tanesia Hale-Jones taught in the Junior Elementary program for two years before joining Senior El in 2009.  She has a B.A. in Literature and Creative Writing from Loyola University New Orleans, an M.F.A. in Poetry and Poetics from San Francisco State University, and earned AMS Montessori certification from the Montessori Education Center of the Rockies in Boulder, CO.  Tanesia has taught children and adults writing, editing, and poetry for many years and enjoys sharing her knowledge with the Senior Elementary students.  Her son, Harlow, has been an Escuela student since 2007.

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Ms. Vashti

Vashti M. McCulley is the Director of Youth Arts and Education for Escuela del Sol and the Harwood Art Center. She is a visual and teaching artist with teaching and arts program development experience in schools, cultural institutions, and community centers in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and here in Albuquerque.  She designs curriculum and teaches in the Escuela del Sol Elementary Art Program, and directs the Art & Sol Afterschool Creativity Workshops, the Harwood Summer Art Programs and is a collaborator on the Harwood Art School and Creative Roots programming.  She works to create learning environments that foster creativity, literacy, self-esteem, imagination skills, and community.

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Music Program - Ms. Cathy

Escuela Music Program

Cathy Suding is the director and creative energy behind Escuela's Primary and Elementary music program.  Ms. Cathy received her B.M. from Butler University and her M.M. from the University of Illinois.  She came to the Escuela community in 2002 after 19 years teaching in International Schools in Belgium, Japan, Venezuela, and Poland.  Her first experience with Montessori education was in Tokyo, where she taught music to her daughters and their classmates in a primary Montessori setting at a school headed by Spanish nuns with Montessori-trained teachers from Ireland.  Like the international administration and faculty, the children were not only from the host country, Japan, but from many different countries.  "From all of my experiences in international schools both as a teacher and a mother, I found that there is a common thread connecting the children and music of our world.  It is my lucky fate to be part of the spinning of this thread as I join the children of Escuela in their musical development."

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1114 Seventh St. NW   Albuquerque, NM 87102   505.242.3033   email us
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