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.”

Kini Tan, P1 Support Teacher

Kini has been part of our community for several years now. Her two sons go to school at FMS and she taught Hula to our primary school students after school. She joins us with a myriad of experiences. She has taught at the high school, middle school, and elementary school levels. In addition, she most recently taught preschool, Pre-K, and Kindergarten Music and Movement here in Las Vegas. Behind her experience is a Masters in Education from Azusa Paciifc University and certifications in Orff and Music Together. Kini loves that Montessori fosters a love for learning and teaches skills essential for our children’s futures: independence and a good work ethic. In her free time, Kini likes to spend time playing board games with her kids, planning events, and dancing hula. We are honored to have Ms. Kini join us as a staff member at FMS.


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. Julie is a certified Montessori preschool/kindergarten teacher accredited by the North American Montessori Center. Julie also holds a BS in nursing, Licensure of Nursing, and Nurse Doctorate from her native country of Costa Rica. 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. 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.”

Carla Rosas, P3 Support Teacher

We are excited to welcome Carla to the P3 team! It was at an early age that she discovered a great passion for both teaching and psychology having taught children ranging from ages 2-12 for a few years now. Her goal is to continue her education and earn a degree in Psychology with a minor in Child Development. She says, “I feel Foothills Montessori is without a doubt the perfect place for me to learn, develop and thrive. By being able to bring my patient, calm demeanor, and experience to the classrooms, I intend to help children in their cognitive, emotional, social and physical development. That is why I strongly believe that the Montessori philosophy and way of teaching brings both my passions together and is truly a dream opportunity.”


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.”

Nancy Crow, P4 Co-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.

Pauline Well, P4 Support Teacher

Pauline has been part of the FMS family since 2007. She left us for a short time, but made her way back home to her FMS family and we couldn’t be happier. Pauline’s love of the Montessori method began with her nieces, who were educated in a Montessori environment. When she had her own child, she knew that FMS was the right fit for her child’s early childhood education. That’s also when she decided that this would be the perfect work environment for her! Right out of university, Pauline taught ESL through the Japanese Teaching Program abroad for 3 years. That’s when her love of teaching began. Pauline has a BA in Journalism and a Minor in English. We are excited to have Pauline back!