Priscilla Cordova, Director

Priscilla Cordova has been in the education field for over 20 years and has experience teaching in the preschool and elementary levels. Priscilla has a Bachelor's Degree in Education from Arizona State University and an endorsement in Early Childhood Education. Although she did not grow up wanting to be a teacher, Priscilla knew this was her calling the moment she had her first child. It was through the loving guidance of her first child that she realized she wanted to guide other children through the process of growing up, of becoming a caring person, of understanding a little bit about life's meaning. Priscilla became aware of the beauty of teaching a child who starts as a blank canvas and then be able to help that child create their own work of art. Priscilla fell in love with teaching and felt the need to learn more about a child's mind.


Priscilla holds an enormous amount of experience and knowledge about educational standards as well as life lessons. She has been a co-Director for a preschool in the past and has office management experience. Her warm personality and understanding of the child's need is a great fit to Mis Manos Montessori School.

DDanielle Soetaert, Primary Lead Guide and Primary Level Support

Danielle Soateart (a.ka. “D”) grew up in Tucson, AZ, after being adopted with her three siblings at the age of 7. Sports and the outdoors, whether at the lake or building forts in the wash, was a huge part of her childhood. She graduated from Sabino High School and aspired to become a firefighter. After working part-time at a daycare, she soon realized that she connected with children and really enjoyed her new found passion. She has been working in the Montessori environment since 2006 and received her Montessori Teaching Certificate in 2012. D is an avid outdoors person and loves showing children how much fun learning can be while getting dirty.

FrancescaFrancesca Bowers, Primary Assistant Guide

Photo and bio coming soon!

AngelaAngela Arce, Primary Assistant Guide

Photo and bio coming soon!

AnyssaAnyssa Fragoso, Primary Lead Guide

Since joining Mis Manos, Anyssa has blossomed into a great guide for the children.  She has recently discovered her calling in the Montessori philosophy and is in the process of completing her American Montessori Society training. 

TiffanyTiffany Ash, Co-Lead Primary Guide

Tiffany Ash originally hales from Richmond, Virginia and has lived in the Southwest for 22 years now. She has worked with children of all ages in a variety of capacities for about 20 of those years. Since 1998 Tiffany has taught in 3 different schools. For 13 of those years she has taught at The Montessori Schoolhouse here in Tucson. Tiffany received her Bachelor’s degree in 1997 in Environmental Studies. In 2008, she received her Master’s degree in Teaching and Teacher Education from The University of Arizona. Her emphasis for both programs was Environmental Education. Tiffany is also certified by The American Montessori Society.

Tiffany spends most of her time outside of teaching with her wonderful friends and family, particularly her two amazing children. She also finds any opportunity to enjoy the outdoors and explore the natural world.

MarianaMariana Madden, Primary Assistant Guide

Mariana Balamani Madden was born in Hyderabad India. At the age of ten she was adopted by an American family and since then has been living in Tucson, Arizona. Mariana maintains her Indian roots through her cooking of South Indian food, arts and crafts and by frequent conversations with friends in India.  Most of her friends and family call her Balamani.

From an early age Mariana has loved being with and helping young children.  Following this path Mariana graduated from Pima Community with an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Early Childhood Education in 2013. Mariana has been working in a Montessori environment for few years while going to school. She strongly believes that children learn best through hands on experiences in a nurturing environment.  Her exposure to the Montessori method through both work and her formal education has lead Mariana to start her training that will lead to her formal certification as a Montessori teacher. Her future plans include working as a Montessori teacher in another country, possibly her native India.

In her free time Mariana likes to spend time cooking Indian food for family and friends, photographing nature and doing arts and craft projects.  She also likes to come up with new art ideas to incorporate in her teaching of art to the children of Mis Manos Montessori School.

SandraSandra Eden, Co-Lead Toddler Guide

Sandra Eden is a native Tucsonan and lives with her husband and four sons. She discovered her love of children at a very young age while helping her mother teach a toddler Sunday school class when she was twelve. Her love of children carried on throughout her life through babysitting neighborhood children and then taking her first preschool job at age 18.  Sandra has worked with preschool age children on and off for most her life and consistently since 1999. Sandra joined Mis Manos Montessori in 2013 where she first experienced the Montessori Method.  She is amazed to see how beautifully this method helps a child gain independence and fosters a true love of learning.  She feels that every day is an adventure and that she is learning as much if not more than her students. Sandra is currently attending Pima College and is close to earning her degree in early childhood education.

In her spare time Sandra enjoys spending time with her family and friends.

AlbaAlba Lopez, Co-Lead Toddler Guide

Alba Elisa Nichols-Lopez was born in Nogales, Sonora, Mexico. At the age of 5, her family moved to Arizona.

Alba has an Associate of Science in Early Childhood Education (ECE) and also holds two other diplomas; one in Medical Assistant and another in Phlebotomy. Alba worked at St. Mary's Hospital, where she took care of patients and also worked in the laboratory. Soon after, she was offered an opportunity to work with special needs children. This changed Alba's life and it was a determining factor in her pursuing an Associate in Early Childhood Education. After receiving here ECE, Alba continued working with special needs children and concurrently working part-time in a Montessori School in Tucson. Alba joined Mis Manos Montessori School in 2013 and will commence her Montessori training this school year.

Alba has four beautiful children. Anthony, her twins girls; Lesay and Andrea, and the youngest Elizabeth. When Alba is not at work, she enjoys going out with her wonderful family to the movies or to a nice restaurant. Spending time with her family is important to her. Alba likes to paint and read books.

AliciaAlicia Gilliland, Toddler Assistant Guide

Alicia Gilliland is a southern California native.  She decided to move to Arizona in 2013 and shortly thereafter started working at Mis Manos. Alicia enjoys doing fun projects with the children during the after school program.  She especially enjoys science projects or anything to do with getting their little hands dirty.

Mara Castro, Head of School

Mara Castro is an Arizona Native.  She was born and raised in Douglas Arizona, border town to Agua Prieta Sonora, Mexico.  Mara attended schools on both the USA and Mexico.  She is fluent in both English and Spanish and has learned to appreciate the beauty of different cultures and traditions.

A graduate of the University of Arizona with a Bachelor's of Science in Microbiology and Immunology, Mara started her college career as a premed student with goals of becoming a Pediatrician.  Her love of science and children seemed to be a good fit.  She worked in Academic Research as well as in Private sector in the biomedical field.  However, she discovered her true calling of working with children in the education field after discovering Maria Montessori's method.

Mara and Francisco married right after college and began their family.  After the birth of their first child, Mara became a home maker and home school teacher to her son and four other children.  When their son began Montessori school at the age of three, Mara was intrigued and amazed at the Montessori method.  Her science background and its importance of observation aligned in harmony with Maria Montessori's philosophy.  She began volunteering and later working at two different Montessori schools.  All four of their children have been in Montessori schools.  Mara had the opportunity of learning from all three Montessori schools that her children have attended.  She is now incorporating all the wonderful ideas and programs that she was able to be a part of.

Mara and Francisco are very proud of their children Francisco Jr., Diego, Isabella and Camilla.  They enjoy and appreciate family time and are constantly helping one another achieve their goals and dreams!