Desert Garden Montessori 2019 - 2020 Annual Report

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Our Story. In Montessori education, one of the most powerful ways to teach is through the art of storytelling. It is through stories that we share history. It is how we build traditions, it is how we carry information across generations, and it is how we learn. Today, we share our story. In our 24-year history here in Ahwatukee, our priority has always been the same — to serve children and families.

1996 • FIRST CLASS HELD IN MS. SHETAL’S LIVING ROOM Class was held in a humble, single room “school house.” It housed no beautiful wooden furniture. There was no Garden Cafe. There was no amphitheater. And there certainly was no Organic Kitchen. Instead, the Montessori works were purchased solely on faith and credit, and the shelves that held them were made only from carefully-placed boards and bricks. 1997 - 1998 • SCHOOL EXPANDS INTO MORE HOMES Days turned into weeks, and weeks turned into months, and that humble living room school house was simply overflowing with children. Parents all through the Foothills opened their homes to create more classrooms for the children. 1998 • LAND PURCHASED TO BUILD CAMPUS Families, once again, demonstrated the school needed to expand to properly serve the growing needs of the community. The land at 5130 East Warner Road was purchased and construction began. 1999 • DESERT GARDEN MONTESSORI CAMPUS OPENS With construction complete, an open house was held on Sunday, and on Monday morning, Desert Garden Montessori welcomed and served the first group of 75 children on campus. 1999 • NEW CAMPUS AT FULL CAPACITY By August of the same year, fall enrollment was at maximum capacity, serving 175 children ages two through six.


2002 • PLEA FROM PARENTS TO OPEN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL The property behind the first building, a seemingly-useless dirt lot, became one of Desert Garden Montessori’s greatest treasures. In 2002, DGM acquired the land from ADOT for $1,000. Present day, this land is home to our second building — Primary classrooms, Lower Elementary, the Organic Kitchen, and more. 2009 • CONTRIBUTION OF $80,000 TO OPEN MIDDLE YEARS PROGRAM Once again, in response to parent needs, we answered a call to serve. In August of 2009, with contributions from a small group of individuals, the Founding Partners, Desert Garden Montessori created the Middle Years program. 2014 • IMC ACCREDITATION Desert Garden Montessori completed the accreditation process and earned full IMC School Accreditation from the International Montessori Council. 2017 - 2018 • FIRST SENIOR CLASS OF DESERT GARDEN MONTESSORI As history has proven to us time and time again, we are called to serve our children and families. In 2018, we proudly held a Commencement Ceremony for the very first senior graduating class of Desert Garden Montessori. 2019 • INTERNATIONAL BACCALAUREATE® (IB) WORLD SCHOOL Desert Garden Montessori achieves a designation no other private school in Arizona has earned. DGM is authorized as an International Baccalaureate® (IB) World School for the Middle Years Programme. 2019 • DOORS OPEN AT NEW MIDDLE YEARS & HIGH SCHOOL FACILITY The 6,000-square foot campus expansion was designed and constructed specifically to support a blend of Montessori and International Baccalaureate® programs for Middle Years and High School students. On the morning of September 16, 2019, MYHS students entered the doors of their new facility for the first time. 5

that we serve. This Annual Report is different than most you may see. Much like our school, it tells a story, not just a financial one, but one that expresses the heart of who we are.

What an extraordinary year this has been for everyone! 2020 has been a year full of difficulties and, through it all, we have been reminded of how important life is, how important our work is, and how important community is. Each and every day, we are so very grateful to wake up and have a place to come and serve, a place to connect, a place to see one another, and a place to call home. As a leader, this year has proven to have challenges and obstacles like no other. I have found myself humbled by the reality of it all and honored to take a step forward to find solutions to move through these unique times with the very best I have to offer. I have also taken some time to find true gratitude for the past 24 years and the opportunity to serve this community, to have an impact on thousands of lives, and to create a place that will carry on for years to come. This year, like no other, has also created tremendous financial complexity. It takes critical and creative thinking to get me through each day. The daily motivation comes to all of us by being mindful of the beautiful children and families

Dr. Dave & Ms. Shetal MYHS Grand Opening, 2019

Through this experience, I have been given the opportunity to see a new dimension of reality. These difficult times have opened my eyes and revealed possibilities that could not be seen without facing such challenges. With that being said, I am honored to share and to commit to you that Desert Garden Montessori is officially in the process of creating an Endowment, so that this community can thrive long after the echoes of our footsteps have faded. Preparing for our future requires that we invest in what has meaning for us today. We must create a path for others to carry forward to keep this vibrant, loving community alive for this generation and generations to come. Please join me in giving to this community and supporting our mission of creating a place of wonder, growth, and strength for children and their families. For now, and for our future.


Dear Families,

Behind all the genuine and heartfelt words and photos, there are real numbers that must sustain us and, to be honest, this year has been very difficult. We need your help. We need to ask you to come together to help this community — not only to make it through these tumultuous times, but to flourish.

FISCAL YEAR 2019 - 2020 ANNUAL REPORT 10 10 12 14 18 31 34 40 42



Desert Garden Montessori creates an environment for children and families in which they are encouraged to explore, create, learn, socialize, and celebrate their unique talents. We are committed to developing, within each person, a sense of responsibility, belonging and interdependence with nature, the community, and our world.

President & Executive Director Shetal Walters

Board of Directors James Walters Jorganne Forbes Jill Carson Stephanie Cook

Vice President Secretary Treasurer Officer


DIVERSITY. EQUITY. INCLUSION. Educational equity is a shared commitment to ensure every student receives what they need to be successful. We believe all children, regardless of background or identity, must be given meaningful and engaging learning opportunities and the support to truly thrive. DESERT GARDEN MONTESSORI COMMUNITY 1996 - 2020 Argentina Armenia Australia Bahamas Bangladesh Belarus Bosnia and Herzegovina Brazil Bulgaria Canada China Colombia Costa Rica Croatia Czech Republic Egypt

Ethiopia France Georgia Germany Hungary India Indonesia Iran Ireland Israel Japan Laos Lebanon Macedonia Mali Mexico Netherlands

Nigeria Pakistan Palestine State Philippines Poland Qatar Romania Russia South Africa South Korea Spain Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia United Kingdom USA Vietnam





Flag Football, 2019

Through our priority to serve the children and the families of this community, we have established more meaningful relationships and connections than we can count. Our hope for you is that the following stories provide a glimpse into some of the intricate connections and experiencs that make up the vibrant tapestry of our community.


rootS ms. carol & ms. kare n, 1998 In December 1997, we began teaching class in Lorna’s home. When the neighborhood began to complain about the cars at pick up and drop off, Shetal told me we would be moving to another home in two days. I said, “NO WAY,” and she replied, “No worries, trust me.” Indeed, school began that Monday. After a few months, the new neighborhood began to complain. Shetal said on Friday we would be moving by Monday. Again, I said, “NO WAY,” and she replied, “No worries, trust me.” Once again, we moved, this time to Miss Gail’s house by the date specified. After several months, the new neighborhood complained and Shetal said we would be moving,


but this time into our very own building. I said, “NO WAY. The building is not even completed.” Shetal replied, “No worries, trust me.” Sure enough, we were teaching in the school and the building was completed by Monday. After the addition of the second building, we held a Meet the Teacher Night in the shell of the new classrooms with no windows or doors. Alarmed parents asked, “Will this be ready by Monday?” I confidently answered, “NO WAY.” And Shetal countered, “No worries, trust me.” School began that Monday. This is the foundation of the school — no worries, have faith, believe in our hope, and trust in our integrity, so that we, as teachers and parents, empower our precious children to grow into adults that shine each and every day.

Karen Snyder Upper Elementary Teacher

h t w o gr Gabby Fonseca 2018 DGM Graduation Speech Hello, Desert Garden Montessori friends, family, and teachers. Thank you for being here and supporting us tonight. Desert Garden has been a part of my life since my very first memories. As the years have gone by, I’ve come to appreciate every single little thing about DGM all the way down to little things like the smell of the air misters in the summer and the way the little pieces of hay lay on the ground weeks after Fall Festival. I truly believe that DGM has shaped my life in countless ways. Our community is one of the strongest examples of a family that I have ever seen or experienced. I’m positive I would not be the person I am today without each and every person involved in Desert Garden. I’d like to thank my teacher, Bill Hall. Aside from teaching me language and history, he’s taught me so much of what I know about life. He’s pushed me to be better

DGM Graduate, Ga bby in every single thing that I do. This is a community that you stay a part of forever, and I have every intention of doing what I can to help see more graduates up on this very stage. I’ve been at the school since I was about three years old. Now, I’m 18 and beginning in August, I will be attending the Medical Microbiology Program at Arizona State University.

2020 Update from Gabby: I’m finishing up my sophomore year in ASU’s Medical Microbiology Degree program. Next year, I’m going to be adding a Pre-Med path, which is really, really exciting. I’ll be graduating in spring of 2022.

Desert Garden Montessori Winter Concert, 2019

Parent-Submitted Community Story The sweetest moment of the entire talent show last night. Anya was going to perform storytelling. She stepped onto the stage to recite “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” (from memory!), and realized just how vast of an audience was gazing quite eagerly upon her to see her perform her piece. She looked down and shook her head in hesitation. She whispered something unintelligible to her mom. You could tell she wanted to be anywhere but on that stage at that very moment. And then it happened. Her mom stayed by her side and they turned to the back of the stage together. Anya

recited that entire story to the back of the stage. And her little voice told that story so beautifully! You could hear a pin drop in the audience. Everyone gave her their full attention and cheers galore when she had completed her piece. Be more like Anya, friends. Step onto that stage, whatever it might be in your life, and face your day. It’s okay if you pause, hesitate or have reservations, but stand up tall and get it done. Be like Anya.❤️

DGM Spartan Race Team, 2019

our corporate partners Corporate support plays an important role in Desert Garden Montessori. This tradition of generous, dedicated support continues annually and is critical to the success and vibrancy of our school’s future. Many of our school’s features and programs that exist today would not be possible without corporate funding and support. Desert Garden Montessori depends on corporate partners to realize tremendous improvements and innovative programming to enhance and sustain our community’s margin of excellence.





FISCAL YEAR 2019 - 2020 ACTUALS JULY 1, 2019 - JUNE 30, 2020




$3,645,065 TOTAL LOSS


REVENUE Tuition & Fees


Enrichment & Events


Contributions & Grants


Financial Aid & Discounts



EXPENSES Faculty/Staff Compensation & Benefits


Other Educational Expenses


General Operating Expenses




Our school is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. This information is available to our families as well as the public.




In addition to the depicted revenue figures above, -$453,666 were allotted to Financial Aid & Discounts.









Matching Programs





FISCAL YEAR JULY 1, 2019 - JUNE 30, 2020


Organic Kitchen Improvements


Fine Arts Equipment

Garden Cafe Development




COVID-19 Expense Relief


Teacher Bonuses


Facilities Enhancement


Professional Development





FISCAL YEAR 2020 - 2021 FORECAST JULY 1, 2020 - JUNE 30, 2021




$3,680,539 TOTAL LOSS


REVENUE Tuition & Fees


Enrichment & Events


Contributions & Grants


Financial Aid & Discounts



EXPENSES Faculty/Staff Compensation & Benefits


Other Educational Expenses


General Operating Expenses




Our school is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. This information is available to our families as well as the public.




In addition to the depicted revenue figures above, -$319,312 are forecasted to be allotted to Financial Aid & Discounts.




School closure due to COVID-19


-$294,385 Credited to families due to closure


-$90,000 - $120,000 (Gross) loss due to Dream Event Fundraiser cancellation


PPP Loan to carry teachers’ salaries for 8 weeks


$-86,334 Refunded to Infant, Toddler & Primary families who disenrolled due to closure


Summer school opened with 98 fewer students


-$184,440 Online tuition revenue loss


Fall semester began with 67 fewer students


-$190,077 Extended & late day revenue loss

2019 - 2020*

2020 - 2021*










* 2019 - 2020 actual figures * 2020 - 2021 projected budget 40

the ask.


Desert Garden Montessori depends on annual fundraising to meet our goals and to continue to serve children. COVID-19 is a pandemic that needs to be met with a similarly once-in-a-lifetime response. We need your support now.

Our fundraising goal is $400,000. If 160 families each donate $2500, we will meet our goal! We greatly appreciate all donations. Desert Garden Montessori is a registered 501(c)(3) organization and your donation is tax-deductible. We invite parents, grandparents, alumni, alumni parents, faculty, and community members to share in this goal of raising $400,000. 42



BECOME A CORPORATE SPONSOR When you or your organization partners with Desert Garden Montessori, you are demonstrating your commitment to support and promote our community, and to help contribute to our mission ­— developing, within each person, a sense of responsibility, belonging and interdependence with nature, the community, and our world. Request Your Sponsor Packet Now

No tree grows in the forest alone. Donors seed support. 43

5130 East Warner Road Phoenix, AZ 85044 Phone: 480-496-9833 Fax: 480-705-8579 E-mail: Web:

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