Steffanie has spent more than a decade as an educator, with teaching roles ranging from preschool to high school. She graduated from Texas Christian University in Fort Worth and began her career teaching world geography to English language learners in a low-socioeconomic school in the Dallas area. She then earned her Master’s degree in secondary education as well as her certification to teach elementary school. Upon joining the Durango community in 2016, Steffanie taught at St. Columba School as a kindergarten aide and student support specialist. She transitioned to a role at Juniper School teaching grades 2-3, where she was trained in a variety of Montessori math and methods. Steffanie was drawn to Durango Montessori School because of her interest in the Montessori approach and her belief in its value as a learning model. As a leader, she focuses on creating a collaborative environment where children thrive, learn, and enjoy being at school. She believes an administrator’s role is to take care of the families, the teachers and the the students, fostering a community in which teachers feel supported and families feel connected to the school they’ve chosen for their children. Steffanie and her husband Jack are proud parents to Sutton, Eliot and Deacon, and their family passion is traveling.
Aruna has been with Durango Montessori School since it established its Preschool / Kindergarten classroom in 2019. She attended Fort Lewis College and then served at the Campbell Child and Family Center, where she was a lead educator for ten years. During that time she earned her lead and director’s certification from Southwest Community College. During her first year in the preschool / kindergarten classroom, she was inspired to work toward her Early Childhood Montessori certification at the Montessori Education Center of the Rockies in Boulder and completed her training in the summer of 2020. Aruna loves watching children grow and discover a love of learning through play and small groups. She believes the connections that children have with peers, guided by teacher encouragement and support, results in priceless learning, and values how she learns and grows from every interaction with each unique child. Aruna loves soccer, Zumba, hiking, and being outdoors in Durango, alongside her husband of seven years, and their four-year-old Australian Shepherd, Rio.
After earning her BA in English at Fort Lewis College, Sarah taught kindergarten, third, fourth and fifth grades at elementary schools in Farmington, New Mexico and Petaluma, California. She received an MA in Psychology from Sonoma State in 2007, and then returned to the Four Corners region. She spent six years teaching kindergarten through second grades at Mosaic Academy, a charter school in Aztec, New Mexico, and then devoted six years to homeschooling her own children, as well as the children of two other families. Thus, she has a combined 17 years of teaching experience, with well-developed skills for the multi-age classroom, and has worked with students from diverse backgrounds. Sarah is passionate about understanding each student’s learning style and unique giftedness, building community within the classroom, leading meaningful conversations about our place in the world, and teaching about the writing process. A resident of Durango since 1996, Sarah loves to spend time with her husband and three children, two of whom attend DMS, and she likes to run, read and practice yoga in her free time.
Jess is passionate about teaching children socially, emotionally, and academically to build a better world, engaging students with challenging work while connecting the academic standards to their everyday lives, and creating a culture where all students feel safe to learn, thrive and make mistakes. Jess has a Master’s Degree in Education and is a Certified Elementary School Teacher. She is working towards her Montessori School Teacher Certification. She has been a teacher for 20 years, beginning her career in expeditionary education as a Course Leader for NOLS (National Outdoor Leadership School), and as an educator for Alternative Youth Adventures, helping troubled youth to thrive. Jess has lived in Durango for 18 years. She and her husband have three children and enjoy the area’s wonderful rivers, mountains and trails. She enjoys skiing at Purgatory or in the backcountry, rowing her raft down the river, mountain biking with her kids, hiking in search of mushrooms, and reading.
Michelle is a Certified Academic Language Therapist and a Structured Literacy Dyslexia Specialist, and is now pursuing a qualification to train others to become dyslexia practitioners and therapists. She has been at Durango Montessori School since 2009 and has worked in many capacities including School Director and Upper Elementary Lead Teacher. (She got to teach her own daughter, Isabelle, who graduated from Durango Montessori in 2013.). She is certified as a Montessori elementary teacher and a Colorado public school teacher, and has her Master’s degree in Reading. Her nationally-registered therapy dog, Charlie Bear, loves to visit with the Durango Montessori community when he is not sleeping or stealing food. When Michelle isn’t spending time helping children learn to read and write or coaching other professionals, you can find her playing in the mud, creating pieces in her pottery studio, or, like most Durangoans, spending time outside skiing, hiking, or biking.
Heidi is a Colorado native and has been working with children of all ages for the past 20 years. She enjoys splitting her time at DMS by assisting both lead teachers in the Lower and Upper elementary classrooms as well as teaching art to all DMS students, with a particular talent for coaxing out the unique artistic side of each individual child. Heidi is also the co-founder and co-director of Durango’s Seed Studio, where she enjoys the creative challenge of making art from just about anything and is always excited to share her love of art with others. In her free time, Heidi enjoys spending time with her family in the great outdoors.