About Camelback Montessori
Faculty & Staff
Montessori Program Director
Danchi Nguyen grew up in Salt Lake City, Utah and attended Murray High School. Ms. Nguyen decided to attend college out of state and pursued a B.S. in Neuroscience and a B.A. in Social Psychology at the University of Rochester in Rochester, New York, graduating in 2008. Through volunteering with multiple public schools in Rochester, Ms. Nguyen discovered a passion for seeking social justice and equity in education and joined Teach for America, bringing her back west to Phoenix, Arizona in 2008. Since then, Ms. Nguyen has taught middle school science, middle school math, and high school chemistry in traditional settings at Carl T. Smith Middle School and Camelback High School. Through Camelback Montessori College Preparatory, Ms. Nguyen was fortunate in helping to pioneer the Camelback Montessori program in 2012 and taught biology, chemistry, math, and gifted senior seminar for four years. The shift to embracing the philosophy behind a Montessori education has been transformational in her career, as she developed skills to fulfill the needs of the whole child through differentiated instruction, constructivism, and relationship building. A life-long learner herself, Ms. Nguyen received an M.Ed. in Secondary Science Education at Arizona State University and an M.Ed. in Secondary Montessori Education through Xavier University. Ms. Nguyen is currently pursuing an M.Ed. in Educational Leadership at Arizona State University in order to continuously develop and support the Montessori program in her role as Program Director.
Ulises Aragon grew up in Phoenix, Arizona where he attended Mountain Ridge High School. Because of his diverse academic interests, he considered different academic disciplines during his college years, ranging from dental hygienist to biomedical engineering. However, an opportunity to lecture at Mountain Ridge High School as a guest inspired him to switch his major from biomedical engineering to secondary science education. He completed his B.A. in Secondary Science Education from Arizona State University in 2016. Mr. Aragon’s goal as a teacher is to harvest the potential of diverse thinking. He believes that the world is beautiful in its variety of perspectives and modes of thinking which are shaped by life experiences. Students learn best when they share, embrace, and harness diverse thinking. Mr. Aragon joined the Camelback Montessori College Preparatory in 2016 where he is teaching biology and chemistry. He embraces the principles of learning driven by curiosity and the adolescents’ yearning for meaning and purpose, which are present in Montessori’s self-directed activities, meaningful work, and practical applications. As a lifelong learner interested in learning and innovating, Mr. Aragon is currently enrolled in an M.Ed. program in Secondary Montessori Education at Xavier University.
Montessori Social Sciences & Gifted Senior Seminar
Omar Mora, although a native of the Eastern United States, grew up in Phoenix, Arizona. He graduated from Peoria High School and ultimately matriculated at Arizona State University - earning a B.A. in African American Studies; emphasis in History. He later completed an M.A. in Social and Cultural Pedagogy. Mr. Mora's passion for service has always shaped his worldview but it was not until his undergraduate experience that he realized the potential to serve in the field of education. Heavily influenced by his undergraduate mentor in history and later by a trusted colleague in the field of education, Mr. Mora began his teaching career in 2010. Mr. Mora has taught all of the humanities courses - English Literature, World and U.S. History, Government, and Economics. His philosophical approach is one that relies on heavy integrative contextual thinking, greatly attributed to his multiple experiences with these courses and his graduate work in pedagogy. His ideas about teaching stem from Paulo Freire's concept of Praxis. As Freire saw, "reflection and action [should be] directed at the structures to be transformed." Mr. Mora interprets this in the simple, continuous format: "think, act, reflect, think again ... " In 2015, Mr. Mora joined the Camelback Montessori College Preparatory where he would teach all of the Social Studies Humanities courses. It was among Maria Montessori's several visions to establish the building of meaningful communities; to work on the cultivation of personal ethics; and to stand in the service of others. These all align with Mr. Mora's fundamental values as an educator.
Montessori Language Arts
Erin Sandoval was born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona where she attended Washington High School. She attended Arizona State University where she majored in Communications and minored in Spanish, originally thinking she would pursue a career in non-profit. While studying in Mexico, Erin began teaching English classes which is where she fell in love with teaching. After finishing her Masters of Arts in Education in 2006, she returned to the United States where she taught subjects ranging from Spanish and ESL to English even working as an instructional coach for a period of three years. Erin is a National Board Certified Teacher who is passionate about student learning and believes in a holistic approach to educating adolescents. Her educational philosophy perfectly aligns to the “head, hands, heart” approach of Montessori. She has embraced Montessori education and has found her home at Camelback Montessori College Preparatory. Erin is working to finish her Montessori certification by December of 2016 and looks forward to future opportunities to continue her education and improve her instructional practices.
Johnson Truong grew up in Phoenix, Arizona where he attended Tolleson Union High School. Mr. Truong then completed a BS degree in Mathematics and Physics in 2010 from the University of Arizona and an MS degree in Applied Mathematics in 2012 from Southern Methodist University. He discovered his passion for teaching while in graduate school and started his teaching career at an independent school in Tucson where he taught physics and math for three years. His teaching philosophy can be summarized with three basic ideas: adolescents learn best in a supportive and loving environment, most students are stronger math students than they think they are, and learning is most rewarding when it happens in a cross-discipline context. In 2015, Mr. Truong joined Camelback Montessori College Preparatory as a math instructor, where he has been developing skills to instruct the whole child through differentiated and interdisciplinary instruction. He embraces the Montessori principle that it is a priority to build a community of functionally independent and socially interdependent individuals. Mr. Truong is currently enrolled in an M.Ed. program in Secondary Montessori Education at Xavier University to learn and to develop additional skills to work with students in a secondary Montessori school setting.