The Journey to Kindergarten Starts Now! Schedule a Visit >

Meet Us

Darling Hall, Head of School
Darling Hall, Head of School

Hello, my name is Darling Hall and I am proud to be your Montessori Academy Director.

As an educator and mother I know that finding the right early childhood program for your family is one of the most important decisions you can make. At Smaller Scholars Montessori Academy we believe in nurturing our children academically, socially and emotionally. It is our mission to encourage our children to develop a life time love of learning. We offer a Montessori setting that inspires children to be explorative, inquisitive and curious about the world around them.

Our beautiful campus is secure and clean, complete with security coded entrances and surveillance cameras in every classroom and on every playground. Our school holds 2 playgrounds, basketball court and lovely garden. Your child will love learning in our Montessori works enriched classrooms. Our Certified Montessori teachers are First Aide & CPR certified and we conduct regular background checks. We offer an open door policy to all our enrolled families that allows for our parents check in on their children regularly.

Our children LOVE coming to school because we make learning a fun and explorative processes. We believe in positively reinforcing academic and social success as a behavior management guide and celebrating children when they make great choices.
As your Montessori Academy Director it is my dedication to provide your children with the absolute BEST Early Childhood Educational experience. We invite you to stop by our Guadalupe and Mc Queen location for a complimentary Day of Discovery. We are conveniently located 2 blocks south of the US 60 on the SW corner of Guadalupe and McQueen in Gilbert AZ. We look forward to making you a part of the Smaller Scholars Montessori Academy Family.

Barbara Gonzalez, Director of Montessori Curriclum
Barbara Gonzalez, Director of Montessori Curriclum

I began my Montessori journey working in the Primary (3-6) classroom back in 1990. However, after a few years, I was asked to help out in the Toddler classroom temporarily and fell in love with the age group. Shortly after, I took on the role of Director of Montessori Curriculum. I completed my Montessori training for Infants and Toddlers in 2001. I have helped one of the larger schools in the Valley expand their toddler program and open an Infant room. I serve as a Field Consultant for two AMS (the American Montessori Society) training sites, working with schools to improve their practicum. I am a passionate and strong advocate for children. I am a native Arizonan, from a small copper mining community. I enjoy exploring nature, walking, traveling, and am a big professional football and basketball fan, particularly of the San Francisco 49ers and the Phoenix Suns.

Bridget Cordano, Teacher
Bridget Cordano, Teacher

My name is Bridget Cordano. I am a native Arizonan born and raised in Mesa.

Following in my mother’s footsteps; as she instilled in me the love for teaching. I have worked with children of all age groups for 26 years. Currently, working with infants and toddlers has been my main area. I pursued school for Psychology, early childhood education and special education. I have been wanting to fulfill my passion in Montessori Education. Being a professional nanny for a while has lead me into this direction.

I am happy to be a part of the Smaller Scholars Montessori Academy family serving the children and families of Gilbert.

Chemiah Donavan, Infant 1 Teacher
Chemiah Donavan, Infant 1 Teacher

My name is Chemiah Donavan, I am a native Arizonan, born and raised in Chandler. I am half Navajo and half Apache. I attended East Valley Institute of Technology to pursue my career in the Medical field. I worked as a Medical Assistant in Pediatrics. This is where I discovered my calling to be an educator and work one on one with children.

I have worked in childcare for 5 years and still love every second of it.

I am happy to be a part of the Smaller Scholars Montessori Academy family serving the children and families of Gilbert

Tiphanie Reed, Primary 3 Teacher
Tiphanie Reed, Primary 3 Teacher

My name is Tiphanie Reed.

I was born in Japan and raised in Kearney, Arizona. I have 2 young children and currently reside in Apache Junction.

I have worked with children for 9 years. I have held the titles of both Teacher and Assistant Director. I completed my Montessori Primary 3-6 Certification in May 2016. I am excited to apply my newfound knowledge as a Certified Montessori Teacher.

I am happy to be a part of the Smaller Scholars Montessori Academy family serving the children and families of Gilbert.

Esperanza Vega, Primary 1 Teacher
Esperanza Vega, Primary 1 Teacher

My name is Esperanza Vega.

I received my Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. I met my husband, married and moved to Phoenix in 1970. We have three wonderful children and eight amazing grandchildren.

My love for working with children lead me to a different career path. I researched and learned about Montessori Philosophy and curriculum. I fell in love with Montessori methodology and chose to obtain an AMI Primary Certification. I also obtained an AMS Elementary Certification. I have 38 years of Montessori Experience. During those years I had the privilege to help open Montessori schools for underprivileged children in South Phoenix.

I am honored to be a part of the Smaller Scholars Montessori Academy family serving the children and families of Gilbert.

Jinhee Chung, Toddler 2 Teacher
Jinhee Chung, Toddler 2 Teacher

My name is Jinhee Chung.

I am originally from Seoul, Korea where I earned my Bachelors Degree in Music.

I received an American Montessori Society Primary certification from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in 1999. I have 15 years of experience as a Montessori Educator, including 6 years as a Lead Primary Teacher; 6 months with infants and served as an assistant teacher for both Primary and Toddler.

I am a mother of two children. My daughter is a sophomore at UNC Chapel Hill and my son is in 8th grader at Basis Chandler.

I am happy to be a part of the Smaller Scholars Montessori Academy family serving the children and families of Gilbert.

Maria Niebla, Infant 1 Teacher
Maria Niebla, Infant 1 Teacher

My name is Maria Niebla. I have been working in education since 2004. My primary focus has been Science (Biology), but I also love the social sciences (History, Psychology). I received my Master’s in Education while living and working I Kansas Cit, Missouri. I moved to Phoenix area with my husband in 2013 and have been thrilled to be here ever since.

We are now a family of three and stay very busy. Whenever time permits, I love to travel the globe. My favorite cities in Europe have been London, Paris, and Florence. There is so much history and so many exciting things to see! When I’m home I enjoy reading non-fiction, watching sports, or seeing a great film. Football season is my favorite time of year. Phoenix offers so many beautiful days outside. I try to take advantage of them as much s possible. Bike rides and walks to the park happen frequently.

I am happy to be a part of the Smaller Scholars Montessori Academy family serving the children and families of Gilbert.

Midori Montoya, Infant 2 Teacher
Midori Montoya, Infant 2 Teacher

My name is Midori Montoya. I am a native Arizonan. I have a two year old daughter, who is in the Smaller Scholars Toddler program.

I have been working with infants and toddlers for seven years. I began working in this field at the age of 16. It was through this experience that I found my passion to teach and care for children and I have continued this path since.

I enjoy romantic candlelit dinners, long walks on the beach, and nighttime carriage rides. I enjoy playing piano and listening to a wide variety of Music. My favorite color is purple and I am a self-proclaimed Chocolate connoisseur.

I am happy to be a part of the Smaller Scholars Montessori Academy family serving the children and families of Gilbert.

Michelle Orduno, Toddler 1 Teacher
Michelle Orduno, Toddler 1 Teacher

My name is Michelle Orduno. I am a native Arizonan, born and raised in Mesa. I have 2 children ages five and four. I enjoy spending time with my children and family; promoting healthy eating habits for myself and my children and going to the gym. I enjoy arts and crafts and doing DIY projects.

I have six years experience working with toddlers as a lead teacher. I attended Mesa Community College studying Early Childhood education and took time off to spend time with my children. I recently completed my Montessori Infant/Toddler training with North American Montessori Center and have obtained my Montessori Certification.

I am happy to be a part of the Smaller Scholars Montessori Academy family serving the children and families of Gilbert.

Phone

Schedule a Visit: 480-210-9504
Enrolled Families: 480-630-2816

Interested in Contacting Us?

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Address & Directions

1675 W Guadalupe Rd
Gilbert, AZ 85233
Located on the southwest corner of Guadalupe and McQueen in the Ethan Plaza.

Map

Hours

Monday – Friday
6:30 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Recognized as a Cadence Education 
School of Excellence

Recognized as a Cadence Education School of Excellence

Gilbert, AZ