Karen Paxton

Director / KMS Board of Directors, President

Karen Paxton is the  Director of Khalsa Montessori School. As the Director she is responsible for the Toddler, Primary, and Elementary programs at all three campuses. She manages the operations and staff in conjunction with one administrative staff member. She has been on the Board of Directors for over ten years.

She graduated with a Bachelor’s degree from Millsaps College in 1977 and worked as a VISTA volunteer before moving to Arizona in 1979. She worked in the medical field and administered a multi-site primary care practice for eleven years. She has completed graduate courses in business and education. In 2002, Karen completed her AMS certification as a Montessori Middle School teacher at the Houston Montessori Center. She taught middle school students for five years at Khalsa Montessori School.

Karen has been a familiar face around Khalsa School since the early 1980s. She began as a young parent, PTO Board member, and finally a staff member, substituting at every campus in the Khalsa School system in the 1990s. Her three daughters have all graduated from Khalsa School. In addition to her role at Khalsa School, she enjoys gardening, cooking, yoga, and meditation. She is a certified Kundalini Yoga Teacher.

Keerat Giordano

Education Director & SPED Coordinator

Keerat Giordano is the Education Director of the Khalsa Montessori School. She is the Secretary of the KMES and KMPS Board of Directors, having served as a member for the last 8 years. With the Khalsa Administrative team, she is responsible for the operation and management of the school. Due to her interest in the Montessori philosophy, she also oversees educational decisions with input from the teaching team.

Keerat joined Khalsa School in October 2000 assisting in the Lower Elementary classroom and working with students of all age groups ranging from primary to middle school. In the spring of 2001, Keerat joined Jaswant Kaur Khalsa as her Upper Elementary assistant and she subsequently assumed responsibility as Upper Elementary Lead Teacher. Since 2010, she has been part of the Administrative team. She served as the Assistant Director and then the Co-Director of the school.

Keerat has a Master’s Degree in Microbiology and Biochemistry from St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai, India, and a Master’s degree in Biomedical Sciences from the University of Connecticut. Keerat completed her Montessori Assistant training through the Arizona Consortium of Montessori Charter Schools. She completed her lower and upper elementary Montessori training in 2004 through CMTE/NY.

In her spare time, she enjoys traveling with her family, reading, experiencing various cultures, learning German, and now seeing human development unfold, firsthand, through her daughter.

Satwant Singh Khalsa

Director Emeritus

Satwant Singh began his long tenure at Khalsa in 1973. In 1980 he became the school’s Director and oversaw Khalsa’s Elementary program transition from private school into a public charter school. Please read more about Satwant Singh and his rich history with Khalsa Montessori here.

Cynthia Huebscher

 Primary School Assistant Director

Cynthia Huebscher joined Khalsa Montessori School in April 2016.

Cynthia received her American Montessori International Diploma from the Montessori Institute of La Jolla. She trained with Sylvia Dubovoy, an AMI trainer, consultant, and examiner. Cynthia has over 20 years of experience in education as a teacher, trainer, mentor, and tutor to students of all ages. She obtained her California Teaching Credential from National University and her BS in Liberal Studies from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona.

Cynthia is truly excited to bring her knowledge and experience to the primary classroom at Khalsa.

Cynthia loves to read – when she has the time. She is enjoying exploring with her husband, Walter, now that they live in the beautiful state of Arizona.

Susan Duffield

 Finance Manager

Susan joined the Administration team in August 2010.  She has a strong customer service/Administration background. She spent over twelve years with Holiday Inn Worldwide as an Operations Manager. She spent several years in the retail industry – learning and performing all related functions. In 2006, her children enrolled in a charter school. Here began her journey into the world of education. Susan quickly became a member of the Office Administration serving as the Assessment Director and Administrative Assistant for a school serving over 500 students grades K-9. Susan is very familiar with the multi-faceted aspects of managing a charter school and providing an outstanding educational experience for students.

Susan moved to Phoenix in August 2009. She enjoys a life of learning; from Business Administration at the University of Utah, a Massage Therapist License from the Utah College of Massage Therapy, becoming a professional feng shui practitioner to learning how to help those around her organize their life. Susan enjoys spending time with her family and friends. Together they enjoy exploring Arizona, swimming in the backyard, and hiking in the desert. She also enjoys reading and playing with paint.

Jill Woodhull

 Accounting Clerk

Jill joined Khalsa in March of 2018 in the accounting department. In addition to her accounting role, Jill is the Outdoor Environment Teacher at the Primary campus.

Jill grew up in Arizona and graduated from Arizona State University with a degree in Fine Arts. She has been a parent of Khalsa children for the past 7 years. She enjoys travel, hiking, reading, and any activity that is with her family.

Denise Souder

Administrative Assistant

Denise recently joined Khalsa on August 30, 2021.  She has spent the last 8 years working in the Paradise Valley Unified School district as an Administrative Assistant supporting all levels from Pre K to High School.  

She is originally from Chicago but has lived in the valley for 27 years.  She received a Bachelor’s degree in Business from Eastern Illinois University and worked in the Human Resource field until deciding to be a stay at home mom.  She has 4 children and 2 grandchildren.   Hobbies include spending time with her kids and grandkids, reading, movies and exercising.

Kira Froehlich

Elementary School Site Coordinator

Kira joined Khalsa in March of 2019. She enjoys experiencing other cultures through music, food, and art. She is passionate about all wildlife conservation but is particularly passionate about herpetofauna and invertebrates. In her spare time, she enjoys creating art and spending time with her dogs. On long weekends she can often be found camping or kayaking with her partner.

Dan Howell

Toddler & Middle School Site Coordinator

Heather Kimbell

Primary School Site Coordinator

Heather joined Khalsa Primary School in April 2018 as the Primary Onsite Coordinator. Married for 28 years, she is the mother of 4 and grandmother of 1. Heather is pleased to be working with young children again in an administrative support capacity.

In her spare time, Heather enjoys being part of the Phoenix storytelling and theatrical communities. She recently took up square dancing and kayaking and hopes to add an artistic endeavor such as painting or pottery to her future.

Janet Vinette

Special Education Teacher and Coordinator

Teaching has always been a passion as well as a vocation for Janet.  She has a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Elementary Education (K-8) from Emporia State Teacher’s College in Kansas. She attended the University of Kansas for several years pursuing master’s level coursework in Psychology and Counseling upon deciding that the emotional piece of a classroom is vitally important in ensuring the success of students. Janet had the privilege of studying in England which gave her working knowledge of learning and teaching in the British Enfant Schools.

When her love of travel and new adventures called, Janet moved to New York for several years and completed a Master’s of Science Degree in Special Education with an emphasis in Specific Learning Disabilities at C.W Post University (Long Island University).  She holds two certificates in education. One is Elementary Education (K-8) and the other is in Special Education (Specific Learning Disabilities K-12) with an endorsement in SEI for each.

When she moved to Arizona, she taught in several private special education schools and spent 20 years in Scottsdale Unified School District as a classroom and special education resource teacher.  She was an ESS case manager/teacher and coordinator at Great Hearts Academies for several years, where she worked closely with students and families while helping them gain a classical education.

She cherishes those times that she spends with her son, daughter-in-law and new grandchild. She was born into a large family and loves spending time with them in all parts of the country.  You will find her singing, reading and exercising when given some free time!