About Camelback Montessori
The founding of Camelback Montessori College Preparatory (CMCP) was sparked through conversations between Camelback High School’s then-Principal Dr. Chad Gestson and neighboring Villa Montessori’s Head of School, Margo O’Neill. Villa Montessori’s incredible care and education of the child is offered from 18 months through 8th Grade. Margo noted that, upon graduating from Villa’s rich, whole-child centered Middle School program, these young adolescents didn’t have opportunities to continue their Montessori education into high school. Inspired by the philosophy and quality of a Montessori education, Dr. Gestson worked closely with Margo, Camelback administrators, Phoenix Union High School District, and the Cincinnati Secondary Teacher Education Program (CMSTEP) to create a vision for a school-within-a-school model right inside the Camelback High School community.
In March 2012, two teachers were chosen to lead the design and instruction of the Camelback Montessori College Preparatory program. They participated in becoming Secondary Montessori certified in Cincinnati, Ohio under the mentorship of Marta Donahue, the nation’s founder of the first public Montessori High School and director of CMSTEP. In August 2012, Camelback Montessori College Preparatory opened its doors to 25 freshmen as Arizona’s first and only Montessori high school program. By August 2014, CMCP had almost tripled in size to 70 students, requiring the addition of two more teachers. The program expansion allowed for one teacher dedicated to each of the four core subjects: language arts, mathematics, sciences, and social studies. In August 2015, CMCP reached its full capacity of serving all grade levels- freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors. In May, 2015, CMCP had its first student graduate early as a junior who went on to receive the Gates Millennium Scholarship. In May 2016, CMCP was proud to celebrate its first graduating class, with 100% of students attending college and university. For the current 2016-2017 school year, CMCP was able to add on an additional position of a Program Director and currently has an enrollment of approximately 90 students.