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. She is also a Certified RCB Instructor (Redirecting Children’s Behavior).
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!
Sandra Eden is a native Tucsonan and has four sons and two grandchildren. 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 of 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 earned her degree in early childhood education from Pima Community College.
In her spare time Sandra enjoys spending time with her family and friends.
Dora is from Sonora, Mexico and attended the Universidad del Noroeste where she earned a degree in graphic design. She met her husband in Sonora, who is from California. They married and eventually moved to Tucson with their children. They have been happily married for many years and have three children, Max, Anna Sophia, and Mia.
Dora learned about Montessori when she was a student working toward her graphic design degree in Mexico. She was asked to design packaging for Montessori materials. In order to do this she researched the product, and became curious about the simple, beautiful classic materials such as the iconic Pink Tower. In later years, she was invited to work as an after school care member of the staff at Mis Manos Montessori School. She has worked as an assistant in the Toddler Bluebird classroom and now works as assistant in the Primary classrooms. Dora joined Mis Manos Montessori School in 2018 and subsequently completed a Montessori Fundamentals certificate through The Center for Guided Montessori Studies in Tampa, Florida.
Dora and her husband work together restoring and selling furniture. She is an artist and loves to paint, enjoys gardening, and spending time with her friends.
Kelly Lhungay was born and raised in New York and New Jersey. She graduated from Mount Holyoke College with a degree in Philosophy, with a focus on Law and Public Policy. After traveling post-college, she worked as an in-house paralegal at a food tech company in New York City. She learned a lot and enjoyed her work, but realized she was not fulfilled with her chosen career path. Looking for a better fit, she felt lucky to have Montessorians in her life and was able to shadow several guides. She took a leap of faith and moved to California, where she started her own journey as a Montessorian. She earned her Montessori certificate at the IAPM Montessori Teacher Training Institute, and started working as a Montessori guide. She feels it has been the best decision, and is happy and excited to come to school every day.
Much of Kelly’s family relocated to Tucson, and she is delighted to live close to her parents, siblings, and nieces. She is pleased to join the warm, inspiring Mis Manos Montessori family and hopes to be a valuable addition to the team!
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 assisting 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 degree, Alba continued working with special needs children and concurrently worked part-time in a Montessori school in Tucson. Alba joined Mis Manos Montessori School in 2013. As her interest in the Montessori method grew, she pursued her passion by earning her International Montessori Teaching certificate through NAMC (Canada), in 2017. Alba continues to update her knowledge and teaching methods through various Montessori continuing education courses. She hopes to complete her Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) training through the Southwest Institute of Montessori Studies in Mesa, Arizona in 2023.
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.
Xochitl Hernandez Moctezuma was born in Mexico City, the third of six children. Both her parents were teachers of humble origin who moved to the country’s capital to earn a degree and support their families. In Mexico, Xochitl pursued a teaching career and taught Math in middle school for nine years before moving to the US in 1998. Mother of three children, her family lived in Michigan, Texas, and New York before moving to New Mexico. Xochitl provides Spanish bilingual immersion in the Toddler classroom. She received her AMI diploma at the Montessori Institute of San Diego for children ages 0-3 in the summer of 2018.
AnnaLis was born on the East Coast but grew up in Sebastopol, California. She earned a degree in visual anthropology with a minor in environmental science, at Mills College in Oakland, California. She has a strong interest in natural sciences, hiking, arts and culture which she loves to integrate into her work with children.
As a child, AnnaLis attended a small private school that integrated Montessori with a nature emphasis. She has attended many Montessori continuing education programs over the years to support her work as an assistant in the Hummingbird classroom, and strongly believes in child-led education and the value of fostering independence in children. Annalis joined the staff at Mis Manos Montessori School in 2017.