Primary Teaching Staff

Shannon Pursell

Primary North Lead Teacher

Shannon Pursell joined the Khalsa Montessori team in August 2015.  Shannon holds a B.A. in English from The University of Tulsa, and has completed some post-graduate work in English literature studies at Arizona State University.  In 2010 she received her Primary (3-6 yr. olds) level AMS Montessori certification through the South Mountain Montessori Certification Program.

Shannon worked in a Montessori classroom for six years before joining the Khalsa staff, serving for 3 years as an assistant teacher and 3 years as the lead teacher!

Shannon loves reading, movies, and animals.

Candy Cotto

Primary North Assistant

Ms. Candy is happy to return to the classroom for her third year with Ms. Shannon in Primary North. She completed her AMI Orientation training in 2020. Candy had practiced as a dental hygienist for more than 25 years, but she couldn’t stop talking to her patients about how much she loved her son’s Montessori school, so she followed her son and her heart to Khalsa. She has been a Khalsa parent for 9 years and has spent many hours observing and volunteering in both Primary and Elementary classrooms. She holds a Bachelors of Science in Dental Hygiene from NAU and hopes to further her Montessori training. Candy enjoys road trips to the beach, summers in New England, knitting, sewing, and spending time with her son. 

Dyanna Jiron

Primary South Lead Teacher

Dyanna’s journey with Khalsa began in the summer of 2018, where she was recruited as an aftercare assistant. Her passion for the primary children and Montessori Method led Dyanna to the primary north classroom as classroom assistant for two years. Since then, Dyanna took training through the Center for Guided Montessori Studies (CGMS) to become a lead teacher. This will be her third year as a lead teacher and she looks forward to gaining more experience and knowledge from her time at Khalsa. Outside of school, Dyanna enjoys spending time with her husband, going on trips to the beach, getting crafty, and spoiling her fur family of one dog and two cats (Ollie, Mo, and Frank).

Ninfa Hartley

Primary South Assistant/ Primary Outdoor Environment

Ninfa joined the Primary South classroom in August 2004. Ninfa is Montessori Primary trained and certified through the Center for Montessori Teacher Education. For thirteen years she has been a Primary South teacher: giving lessons, overseeing areas of the classroom, and leading the classroom when needed.

Ninfa is from Honduras and moved to the United States in 1992. She worked as an ophthalmologist assistant for eight years and became interested in Montessori teaching in 2002. She was an assistant teacher at Community Montessori School before coming to Khalsa.

Ninfa attended the National Pedagogical University in Honduras and has a bilingual secretary diploma. She has been a Sunday School teacher for 18 years and now is the coordinator of the Sunday School program at her church.

Syera White

Primary South Assistant 

Syera joined Khalsa in 2022 as an assistant teacher to Ms. Dyanna in Primary South. She has a background in Head Start teaching, where she was a lead teacher for three years. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Child and Family Development. She has always been interested in the Montessori way of learning, and excited to be at Khalsa.

Syera is originally from Kansas City, Missouri. In her spare time, she enjoys reading and going to the movies.

Amy Page

Primary Upstairs Lead Teacher

Amy joined Khalsa Montessori as an assistant in 2016 and became the Primary Upstairs Lead in 2021. Amy received her Montessori Primary training from Arizona Montessori Teachers Education Program and is currently working on her B.A. in Bachelors of Science of Education at University of Phoenix. She is on the Dean’s list at her University and also a member of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars.

In her free time she enjoys the arts and is an alumni of the Torch Theater School of Long-Form Improvisation and the Meisner Acting Program. She has performed in several local films, theatrical plays, and improvisational shows as an actress as well as producing, writing and directing her own projects. Furthermore, she has performed with a local tap dance troupe that was founded in 2012 and is a fire spinner (poi).

Treasure Howie

Primary Upstairs Assistant/ Music & Movement Teacher

Treasure’s history with Khalsa spans many Suns & Moons, 15+ years, at every campus, including Middle School. She is grateful to have experience in multiple positions such as the 2022 Family Feast, Earth Blessing Organizer & MC, Elementary, Middle School, and Toddler Hand Drumming/Music Instructor, Palm Campus Tutor, Art Instructor Special Education and Primary Lead Directress. Treasure is a lifetime student which includes, Music Together, ASU “Science Is Fun, STEAM” Internship, AMI & AMS Montessori, Waldorf & Reggio Emilia Philosophies, Health Rhythms Drum Facilitation, Theatre, Artistic Behavior Health, a Published Author, All Indigenous Cultures Culinary Kitchen Wisdom, Birth & Death Doula Support (Cihuapactli Collective & Phoenix Birthing Project), Religious/Spiritual/ Metaphysics Medicines and Education. Her favorite connection with our Khalsa Community is being a “Citizen of the World.” The children & adults support her awareness of understanding the wider world & how we can contribute collectively, near & far. Treasure enjoys sharing time traveling, exploring nature, spending time with her Mother, husband/children/family, writing, international cuisine, jewlery design, photography, volunteering, her horses, dogs, rabbits, bird watching, song writing, singing, fashion, construction, learning, swimming, and teaching.

Donna Koenig

Primary Upstairs Assistant

Donna recently returned to Arizona with her husband and family after living in Florida for many years. As a member of the Tohono O’odham Nation, her family roots run deep in Arizona. After graduating from Coronado High, Donna attended Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence, Kansas. She later went on to get her A.M.I certfication from the Southern Montessori Institute in Miami, FL. As an A.M.I Primary teacher with 30 plus years experience, Donna is excited to continue her passion for teaching here at Khalsa Montessori!

DoJshana Smith-Washington

Primary After Care Director

DoJshana “Doshi” Smith-Washington just joined Khalsa Montessori Primary School as the After Care Director. She is a graduate from Indiana State University and majored in Human Development and Family Studies and minor in Dance.  She previously came from a behavioral facility for at risk youth, which she knew her passion was to worked with adolescents to guide and teach daily fundamental function for their everyday life. She is excited to be working with a younger age group and being a positive light in their life. In the meantime Doshi loves being a mentor to youth, cooking and especially dancing. You will see a lot of positive dance movements and yoga during the After Care Program.

Ashley Burns

Yoga Instructor

For Los Angeles native Ashley Burns, yoga is curiosity, trust, and freedom- her soul has been rich with these elements her whole life! Thankfully, the practice focused these energies toward shaping a balanced and conscious lifestyle.
As co-founder and Creative Director, Ashley has been sharing yoga and creating accessible and inclusive spaces to expand the systemic boundaries of the practice in the valley with her organization DiRTYOGA since 2012.
She received her first 500-hour Yoga Teacher Training at The Southwest Institute of Healing Arts. In 2015 she was gifted the opportunity to continue her education in Costa Rica with Jenn Chiarelli’s Anahata Soul 200-hour Intensive. And most recently, in 2021, Ashley received a 60-hour Yoga Nidra certification from Tracee Stanley + Chanti Tacorante- Perez with the Empowered Wisdom Yoga Nidra Teacher Training.
Ashley is a BELIEVER driven to serve her community and is enthusiastic about upholding yoga with the Khalsa students and teachers.

Belen Martin

Spanish Teacher

Founder of the preschool Spanish immersion program curriculum, “Funny Sunny Spanish”, Belen has had the privilege of teaching and entertaining young children in the San Francisco and Phoenix areas for many years. She is grateful to have discovered this opportunity to combine her experience, love of children, and her abilities to create and interactive Spanish immersion program for students. Belen is orginally from Argentina.

Toddler Campus

Revay Cargo

Toddler North Lead Teacher

Revay Cargo was born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona. She has worked in many different school settings as an assistant along with being a lead. She is currently in school becoming Montessori certified. She strongly believes teaching is her passion and agrees with Maria Montessori when she said “Early childhood education is the key to the betterment of society.” Besides being a Montessori guide, Revay enjoys spending time with her loved ones, having movie nights, baking goodies, and going on bike rides. 

Erendida Moron

Toddler North Assistant/ TEC Coordinator

Erendida became a part of the Khalsa Toddler family in 2021, the children know her as “Dida”. She has worked in Montessori schools since 2015. She has experience teaching children 0 – 11 years old. 

In her free time she is very outdoorsy, she enjoys any activities that will keep her busy. In 2020, she entered the beauty industry to become a licensed esthetician to run her own business.

Brittney M.

Toddler North Assistant

Brittney recently joined the Khalsa school in 2023 as an assiatant, after moving to Arizona in March! While she may may be new to Montessori, she has extensive Early Childhood Education expierence and education. She has worked with children her whole life, including being a Lead Infant/Toddler Teacher and Lead School-Age Teacher. In her free time, she loves to spend time with loved ones, including potlucks, game nights, and going to spiritual-based conventions!

Chloe Clift

Toddler South Lead Teacher

Chloe is from NewPort Beach California and moved back to Arizona to be around family. She joined Khalsa as an Teacher Assistant in 2019. She has worked with children right out of high school as a professional traveling Nanny for 6 years before transitioning into Montessori Teaching. As of August 2022 she will be finishing her Infant and Toddler Montessori Training. Outside of Teaching she is an avid country swing dancer. She is so excited for this new school year to aid the development of children and cultivate independence. 

Carmen Barba

Toddler South Assistant

Carmen is an assistant in toddler south with Ms. Chloe. She has been at Khalsa for four years now. She is very excited for this school year and plans for the best experience for our toddlers.

Kaitlyn Galindo

Toddler South Assistant 

Kaitlyn joined Khalsa during the 2022-23 school year. She’s excited to work with her student friends and make an impact on their lives and keep them happy! In her spare time she love to draw and color, listen to music and also play with her pets at home.