Primary Staff


Melissa Eckes, P1 Head/Primary Grade Level Head

In 2003, Melissa joined the FMS staff, with over 12 years experience in education, including several years teaching English to Japanese students in Japan.  She dedicated a couple of years helping to start a Montessori Charter school in Colorado, and in 2013, FMS was fortunate to have Melissa return to our school.  Melissa holds a BA in English, an MA in Education and is Montessori certified for primary aged children.  Melissa is also accredited to teach the Montessori method to perspective Montessori teachers. Melissa’s calm manner is matched by her eye for seeing the needs of the child and guiding them to the work and the lessons that best serves them. Her favorite thing about Montessori and teaching is “the level of respect given to the students and igniting the spark of interest in the world around them.”

Diana Marquina, P1 Co-Teacher/Spanish Immersion Teacher

Diana brings a precise and friendly flair to all of her lessons.  Having begun her teaching career with FMS in 2005, she has mastered the art of combining her Montessori training (American Montessori Society certified for Primary aged students) with the beauty of the Spanish language.  Children are empowered by Diana’s clarity and enthusiasm for using the Spanish language and are able to experience their Spanish lessons as naturally as the ones delivered in English.   Diana says, “I love children and to be able to work with them every day is the most amazing experience for me. I love the Montessori philosophy.”

Nancy Crow, P1 Support Teacher

With three years Montessori teaching experience, Nancy joined the FMS teaching staff in 2011.  Nancy holds a BA in Communication Studies and an Early Childhood Credential from the American Montessori Society.  She resonates with the Montessori precept of developing the “whole child” by incorporating her own experience of doing yoga to her daily routine of managing the students in her classroom.  Nancy’s favorite aspect about teaching the Montessori way is in  “watching a child develop the ability to listen deeply and concentrate on a presented concept.”  She is also very impressed with the Peace curriculum and the wonderful life skills the children learn at a formative age.


Yesenia Quintero, P2 Head/Spanish Immersion Teacher

Yesenia’s (aka Jessie) natural warmth and quiet manner bring a peaceful and inviting feeling into the classroom, as she delivers clear lessons using the Spanish language.  Jessie joined the FMS teaching staff in 2006, after obtaining her AA degree in Liberal Arts and working in the field for five years.  Jesse holds an Early Childhood Credential from the American Montessori Society. Her favorite features about the Montessori method are the “home-like environment, mixed-age group classes, hands-on learning, and the order and harmony of the classrooms.”

Sadie Schmidel, P2 Co-Teacher

Sadie Schmidel joined the Primary teaching staff in 2019. With a MS degree in Education and a BA in English including specific work experience in early childhood (toddler through 2nd grade), Sadie brings a wealth of experience to her position. Sadie’s enthusiasm for the Montessori process has long been established, as two of her children attended FMS for primary and lower el. She has seen firsthand the love of learning, the value of process, and the power of igniting curiosity in a young mind. She is looking forward to experiencing the Montessori method from inside the classroom and contributing her experience to the FMS team.

Ana Julia Burns, P2 Support/Dual Language Program Teacher
Ana (aka Julie) joined the FMS teaching staff in 2010, after practicing nursing in her native country of Costa Rica.  Julie holds a BS in nursing, Licensure of Nursing, and Nurse Doctorate. Julie interacts easily with all her students in a natural and friendly way;  giving them ample opportunities to practice their Spanish speaking skills. Julie’s eye for details is matched by her playful interaction with her students and reflected in her comment, “I love the Montessori curriculum and working with the children and my peers,” says Julie. “I am especially excited about sharing the Spanish language and culture with my students.”


Joanne Tuazon, P3 Head Teacher

Joanne Tuazon assumed the role of Head Teacher in October of 2016. Joanne is Montessori Certified to teach Preschool and Kindergarten, has 12 years of combined teaching experience at the Primary and Lower Elementary levels, and holds a Bachelors of Fine Arts degree. As a young child, Joanne attended a Montessori school and stayed there through her 7th grade. Joanne sees that her early education years positively influenced her holistic way of looking at the world. She fondly recalls her joy and ease in using Montessori materials to learn complex
concepts and, now as a teacher, she marvels at the beauty and effectiveness of the Montessori method.

Alisa Peck, P3 Co-Teacher

Alisa joined the FMS teaching staff in 2004, having 9 years of education experience under her belt, and credits in Early Childhood Education.  Alisa obtained her Montessori certificate (for primary aged students) in 2014.  Alisa’s steady manner and quiet assuredness imparts a love of learning to her students and is instrumental in helping her students develop confidence in their own self-perceptions.  Alisa has seen the advantage of working with her students over a three-year cycle and “the chance to really get to know the students and discover what makes them tick.  I’ve seen my students blossom through the three-year cycle and I love to witness the tremendous growth in my students as they prepare to enter first grade.”

Kristen Hale, P3 Support Teacher

Kristen Hale joined the FMS team in 2018 with a BA in Special Education and General Education with over 5 years teaching experience.  Kristen is currently pursuing her AMS Montessori Primary Teacher Certification and will receive her Montessori teaching credential in 2019.  In addition to that training, Kristen is also working towards her Master’s Degree in Montessori Integrative Learning from the Van Loan School at Endicott College. The Montessori Method speaks to her love of learning and is reflected in her deep sense of peace and social justice.


Maryam Khadivi, P4 Head Teacher

Having achieved the rigor of sitting for a BS degree in Chemistry, Maryam attended the London Teacher Training College and received her Montessori Certification (for primary aged students).  Maryam was a welcomed addition to the FMS teaching staff in 2012, bringing 12 years of experience in education to her position. Her quiet manner and deliberate style helps guide her students in an easy and clear way enabling them to grasp the deeper meanings of their lessons.   She loves “to see academic and social growth, and to build self-confidence and independence in children.”

Kim Kelly, P4 Co-Teacher

Kim re-joined the FMS team in 2017 after helping to open a Montessori school in UT during the previous school year. Kim holds a BS in Family Life with an emphasis in early childhood development.  She is Montessori certified to teach both primary and lower elementary students.  Kim’s quiet manner and keen eye for observing her students creates a high level of trust and openness with her students. “The Montessori philosophy allows me to understand the need for children to develop at their own pace and grow within the three-year cycle. I love seeing the joy in the life of a child as they advance and make progress in their development, and grasp a love for learning.”

Katie Wallace, P4 Support Teacher

Katie took the lead as the Extended Care Coordinator in 2018 after working two previous years as an Extended Care Teacher. Katie joined the classroom teaching staff in Fall 2019.  As an FMS alumni, Katie brings a unique and specialized perspective to her new position. Her foundational experience of having been immersed in the Montessori philosophy (preschool-8th grade) gave her a clear sense of respect and appreciation for her teachers, a moral compass for navigating in society, and a deep level of academic confidence gained from her educational experience at FMS. Katie will naturally bring these values to her new position along with a bright singing voice and piano playing skills.