Emily Friedman

Kindergarten Head Teacher

Emily Friedman, Kindergarten Head TeacherEmily received her BFA in Art Education from the University of Georgia in 2012. Upon graduating, Emily worked as an Elementary Art teacher in a rural Georgia school, before moving to Oregon in 2014. Once in Oregon, Emily discovered the beauty of Montessori while working as a toddler assistant in Eugene. In spring of 2016, Emily received her AMI primary certification from Montessori Northwest in Portland along with her M.Ed from Loyola University of Maryland. She spent the last year as lead guide in a primary classroom in a private school setting. Emily is incredibly excited to be leading the inaugural Kindergarten class at Desert Sky Montessori.

Emily chose to join the Desert Sky team because of her commitment to make Montessori accessible to all children. For Emily, Montessori is more than a pedagogy, it is a way of life. She aims to guide each child to become independent, exploratory, and confident, while creating a child-centered community founded in empathy, love, and respect.

When she is not working with children, Emily enjoys hiking, biking, snowshoeing, fishing, and just being outside. She also continues to explore a variety of art mediums, especially needle felting, printmaking, and ceramics.



Gabrielle Dominguez

Kindergarten Assistant

Gabrielle will be the assistant teacher in the Kindergarten classroom at Desert Sky. She is very passionate about making sure the children have the perfect learning environment. She believes that every child should have a great opportunity to succeed in life. She’s been working with children for over 3 years starting out as a nanny. She’s taught in a foreign country and has worked in a Montessori school in the past. She’s been in Bend for many years where she graduated from Bend High in 2009. Gabby has pursued education in traditional arts and entertainment media.

In her free time she likes to do fine arts consisting of painting, digital art, and charcoal drawings. She also practices the piano and the violin. She likes to be outdoors hiking or spending time at the river. Gabby takes time working on professional development by reading books, taking classes online or at COCC, reading articles and listening to podcasts. She is excited to work with all of the children and watch them grow in this coming year.



Heather Phillips

Head Teacher K-1

Heather Phillips, Head Teacher K-1Heather Phillips has been teaching in the Montessori Primary Classroom for over 20 years. She completed her Montessori training at St. Mary’s College, CA. after receiving a BA in Liberal Studies/Psychology. Heather is passionate in her love for the Montessori method and all of the wonder it inspires. She is dedicated to fostering an environment that is safe (physically, emotionally, and intellectually), cooperative, and cultivates intellectual curiosity. Heather deeply believes in the potential of every child, and the children she works with are like an extension of her own family.

Heather and her husband have four beautiful daughters (ages 12, 17, 18, and 21) and have recently added a beautiful black lab named Cooper to their home. They really enjoy watching their youngest daughter play softball, hiking around Central Oregon and just spending time together as a family. When Heather realized that public Montessori was an option for our families here in Bend, she was excited to get involved. She is looking forward to the development of the Desert Sky community and is eager to meet all of you!



Taylor Phillips

K-1 Assistant

Taylor Phillips ~ K-1 Assistant“My love for the Montessori philosophy is deeply rooted in my childhood. I grew up in a small town in the Napa Valley, and I went to a Montessori school from infancy through primary. My mom worked at the school, so I feel as though it continued to be part of my life through elementary and middle school.

Years later when my family moved to Bend, I found myself drawn back into the classroom and worked at a Montessori primary school for 5 years. In my role as a primary assistant I have learned that patience, love and support will help guide any child down a happy and healthy path.

I have enjoyed the Montessori assistants training and plan to keep furthering my education so that I can eventually be a Montessori Lead Guide.

In my free time I enjoy watching movies, reading, hiking and spending time with my friends and family.

I am so glad that Bend-LaPine School District now has a Montessori elementary school and I feel privileged to be a part of this amazing experience.”



Heather Dommershausen

Lower Elementary Head Teacher

Heather Dommershausen, Lower Elementary Head TeacherHeather Dommershausen was born in Indianapolis, Indiana. She graduated in 2011 from Ball State University with a BS in Elementary Education. She discovered Montessori her senior year of college for her final project. She was asked to research a curriculum that she would experience in her field. she chose the Montessori method because she loved the child-centered classroom. She was used to working in the public school where it was a more teacher-directed environment. By the end of the semester she felt she was changed, and she no longer wanted to teach in the public sector and wanted to continue her career as a Montessori teacher. Since than she has worked with all different Montessori-aged children from toddler to upper-elementary in 3 different states for the past 6 years.

Heather and her husband moved to bend 3 years ago. She enjoys hiking with their dog, Bernie. They enjoy being active and spending as much time outside as possible. She also enjoys gardening and is an avid reader. She has a great sense of humor and loves nothing more than to laugh and enjoy life with her students.



Melinda Evans

Lower Elementary Assistant

Melinda Evans, Lower Elementary AssistantMelinda is an Educational Assistant for one of our elementary classes here at Desert Sky Montessori.  She began working with children at the age 16, being a teacher’s aid in an elementary classroom. Melinda then went on to pursue her Bachelor’s Degree in Human Development and Family Science with a focus on Early Childhood Education.  Upon graduating she moved to Bend to start her career.  Since then, Melinda has had the pleasure of working in both Montessori and public schools; including Head Start and Title 1 Pre-K.  Of all the types of schooling she has experienced, Montessori has always been her favorite! Melinda says: “I am excited to be able to teach and work with children in a beautiful, peaceful manner.”

In her free time she takes pleasure in reading suspenseful books and romance novels, being outside, hiking, playing in the snow, and spending time on the river.  Melinda loves to exercise and play volleyball, spend time with family, do yoga, and meditate.



Joan Best

Lower Elementary Head Teacher

Joan Best, Lower Elementary Lead TeacherJoan comes to us from Portland, Oregon. She earned a B.S. in Music and in Arts and Letters at Portland State University, and completed her Graduate Teacher Education Program at Sierra Nevada College. She taught in the public school system for many years before discovering Montessori. She had the opportunity to team-teach in a Montessori Charter School for one year, and then decided to obtain Montessori Certification, which she received at Montessori Institute Northwest in Portland. She completed the Master’s Degree Program at Loyola University Maryland this last summer. She is also currently licensed by the State of Oregon to teach at the Elementary level. Joan is a firm believer in the value of a Montessori education, and sees Montessori Charter Schools as a way of being able to offer a Montessori education to more children. Her personal interests include music, observing nature, reading and traveling.


Pascaline Ocana

Lower Elementary Assistant

Pascaline was born in France and grew up around the world following her parents, both medical doctors for a French nonprofit medical organization. Pascaline holds several degrees in Paleontology and Archaeology from her native France. She moved to the United States in 2000. She completed her studies at the Northern Arizona University and worked as a translator for 13 years in New York and California.

After moving to Oregon in 2014, Pascaline joined the founding group for Desert Sky Montessori and helped write the charter to open the school. In parallel, she worked on getting her diploma as French teacher for foreigners, with an emphasis on elementary-age children, as well as her Montessori certifications from NAMC for Lower and Upper Elementary Guide and from Montessori Northwest for AMI Assistant Guide.

In 2016, Pascaline worked as Lead Guide in the Upper Elementary classroom at High Desert Montessori, in Redmond. She particularly enjoys the company of children, fostering their curiosity and passion for our world through their studies and discoveries.”


Rochelle Hellar

After School Enrichment Club Leader

Rochelle Hellar is professionally trained in Montessori as an assistant teacher. She currently works at Montessori in the Pines with preschoolers and runs the Desert Sky Montessori Enrichment Club. Rochelle has a degree in Recreation Management from San Diego State University. She has worked with children of all ages for over 15 years. In addition to her Montessori training, she has trained in Kripala hatha Yoga, FENG SHUI and is a raw food chef and teacher.

Rochelle has an awesome 27 year old daughter who was raised in Bend. Rochelle loves nature, birding, nutrition, playing music, singing AND African drumming.

“Children are what makes the world go round.”



Karen Perez

After School Enrichment Club Assistant

Karen Perez ~ After School Enrichment Club AssistantKaren Perez was born in Sylmar, California and moved to Oregon in 2013. She enjoys working with children and is currently working towards her AAS in Early Childhood Education. She aims to guide each child to become exploratory and confident in their own learning, while creating a safe environment founded in empathy, love, and respect. She deeply believes in the potential of every child and hopes to foster their curiosity and passions each day. In her free time she enjoys listening to music, watching movies, and drawing. Karen also enjoys spending time with her family and her five pets (dog, cat, hamster, two turtles).


Renee Bell-Roemer

Special Education Teacher

Renee Bell-Roemer, Special Education TeacherRenee Bell-Roemer has been a special education teacher in Bend schools for eleven years. Prior to teaching, she was a special education assistant at Amity Creek Magnet Elementary. She received a Masters degree in Early Childhood / Early Childhood Special Education from the University of Oregon and an Elementary Special Education endorsement from Lewis & Clark College. She loves the joy of discovery that comes in learning new things and helping children in that journey. Reading has always been a favorite pastime and she treasures opening the door to literacy for others.

Renee has spent almost half of her life living near Bend and appreciates all of the opportunities for recreation she has discovered while raising her family here. They enjoy camping, canoeing, swimming, hiking and exploring in the mountains nearby, and along the Oregon coast. They also enjoy music and dancing, and have been involved in bluegrass/old time music, gospel choir, folk, contra, square and round dance communities in the area. Renee is also learning more about handcrafts such as knitting and quilting. She likes to be creative and try new things.