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Children's Garden Montessori | Preschool for 2 to 6 year olds

Our Teachers



Joan Shankin, Director and East Class

Joan has a degree in English from Texas A&M, with minors in Education and Business. She taught in high school and middle school before she had her own retail business for ten years in Houston. She did Montessori training for the elementary level at the Houston Montessori Center in 1997, and taught in an elementary Montessori classroom for four years. She completed the Montessori preschool certification with the NCME-NM teacher training course in Los Alamos in 2010. Her hobbiy is officiating USA and high school swimming.


Dora Brandt, East Class

Dora is from Mazatlan, Mexico, and still brings her family back to visit every year for a seaside vacation. She went to a technical college in Juarez. Then she worked in quality control for an auto manufacturer. Dora came to Santa Fe before her sons were born. Dora became a Montessori teacher in 2002. Her hobbies include crafts, dancing, gardening and painting. 


 Carolyn Jillson, Toddler Class

Carolyn grew up in southern California, and moved to Santa Fe in 1989. In 2010 she received her International Montessori Diploma for Infants and Toddlers from the North American Montessori Center. Her background is in music, art, literature and the culinary arts. She loves the school and is devoted to the children.


 Julee White, West Class

Julee was born and raised in rural Pennsylvania. She grew up Montessori; her mom was a Montessori teacher when Montessori was just entering the U.S in the 1970’s. Julee helped in her mom’s schools growing up, beginning her lifelong work with children. She attended Carnegie Melon University, studying art and design, before moving to Santa Fe in 1997. Julee went back east for a few years to care for her grandfather, and worked in home health care and assisted living. Julee completed her Primary Montessori training at the New Mexico Center for Montessori Education in June 2016.  She is a swim instructor working with young children. 


Antonio Cisneros, East and West Class


Antonio went to Camino de Paz Montessori Farm School in Espanola and the New Mexico School for the Arts.  He began working here during the summer of 2013 when he was in high school, and now has chosen Montessori early childhood education as a career. 


Belle Ponder, West Class 

Belle was born and raised in Arkansas and earned a M. Ed. in early childhood development and education at Antioch Graduate School in 1975. She founded the Santa Fe Pre-School Inc. in 1975 and taught there for 20 years. Meanwhile she received a M.A. in counseling from Antioch Graduate School in 1987. Belle has been a therapist with the Youthworks Program, and the Viva Familia Program at the Santa Fe Rape Crisis & Trauma treatment Center. Belle has a thorough knowledge of early childhood development and has expertise in a variety of teaching methods for at-risk parents and children. She loves to cook, create art, sing and dance. 


Becky Stamm, West Class

Becky is a native Santa Fean who has taught for 40 years.  She is certified 0 to 9 years in Montessori from NCME-NM Teacher Training and the North American Training Center.  She has been a Montessori teacher in 1st through 5th grades, preschool, and is presently working in the toddler class.  She is an avid camper, skier, hiker and gardener.