Four Pillars

Academic Excellence


Montessori Method

We believe the Montessori Method provides the ideal framework for academic excellence at all ages of development. It fosters independence, encourages exploration and inspires a love of learning. For more information on the Montessori Method, check out What is Montessori?

IMC accreditation

In January of 2014, Desert Garden Montessori received a full accreditation from the International Montessori Council (IMC) and maintains that accreditation to this day. In the words from the final IMC report, “Our congratulations to Desert Garden Montessori for creating a school where the needs of the children and community are met and exceeded. We welcome you to the status of Accredited School.” Schools with this accreditation must meet rigorous criteria. To learn more about the Code of Ethics we follow as an IMC accreditated school, click here.

IB authorized school

Desert Garden Montessori has become the newest member of an ever-growing global community of 5,000 schools offering the International Baccalaureate in 153 different countries. Students will be able to take the Middle Years Programme at Desert Garden Montessori, with the first cohort commencing their studies on August 5th, 2019 for the 2019-2020 school year.

Shetal Walters, Founder and Executive Director of Desert Garden Montessori says: “We strive to offer the best and most extraordinary opportunities for our students and community at Desert Garden Montessori. We strongly believe in the importance of teaching to the whole child and fostering a love of learning. As an IB school, we can place an equal focus on academics, service learning, social and emotional health, personal growth, and other transferrable life skills in order to best prepare our students for success in an ever-changing, global world. We are so proud to be able to offer this unique, forward thinking education for members of our community. We are delighted to become an IB World School!”

The IB framework for teaching and learning is world renowned. As an authorized member of the IB community, Desert Garden Montessori is now connected to a team of experts that are leading the field of education. They are also now the only private school in the entire state of Arizona to offer the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme. The IB curriculum has a positive impact on students, schools and their wider communities with innovative learning going well beyond the classroom. It's holistic approach to education instills in students the skills, knowledge, and outlook to succeed in the 21st century, both in their local community and in the wider world. IB’s unique and innovative approach to learning means both students and teachers are genuinely engaged and benefit from being a part of an unparalleled global network. Students can participate in international conferences, and educators work with their peers internationally to ensure that IB remains at the cutting edge of international education.

Desert Garden Montessori is now accepting applications and interviews for the 2019/2020 school year, and spaces are limited. Having successfully completed the IB authorization process, Desert Garden Montessori is proud to offer a world-class education for its middle and high school students. This marks an exciting time for our Ahwatukee / Phoenix community and more importantly, for the students who will benefit from an IB education.

Global Standards with Tangible Outcomes

As a Montessori and IB candidate school, our curriculum for all ages includes and meets global standards, not just state or national standards. We believe as members of our global community, it is important to encompass standards that students worldwide are challenged to meet with tangible outcomes that can be demonstrated by our students.

Criteria based assessments

In our IB candidate program for Middle Years and High School, the teachers use criterion-based (skill-based) assessments. This means that student achievement is measured using a set of rubrics designed by the IBO to determine student progress across each subject. These universal criterion-based assessments are used instead of traditional letter or percentage grades.

Empirical test data

Though we do not administer standardized tests, we do have a basic assessment test called STAR that provides teachers with learning data for students in 1st grade and up. For more information on STAR testing, click here.

Complete Curriculum

We give equal weight to all subject areas that include: Language Arts, Math, Science, Cultural Studies, Art, Music, Theater.

Art program

Art is incorporated in each classroom, and weekly art electives are taught at the elementary ages and up. As a vital component of a well-rounded education, art is integrated into lessons on a regular basis and art works are rotated throughout each classroom to provide the students opportunities for exploring color, visual beauty and various artistic styles during their work cycle.

Music program

Our music program begins in our infant room and expands into full-fledged band, choir and violin practices and performances at our Winter and Spring Concerts each year. Our top-notch music instructors perform nationally and internationally and are passionate about sharing their love of music with the students. MYHS students also have the option of a school rock band to join.


Our theater program is a weekly elective available to elementary and MYHS students. It includes a comprehensive and integrated approach to theater, encouraging students to participate in every aspect, including: acting, singing, set design, costume design, lighting, sales, management, and performing and producing an outdoor dinner theater production in the round.