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Faculty & Staff

Carol Phillips-McClure – Head of School and Lead Teacher


Carol is an International Baccalaureate Full Diploma recipient. She was awarded the Simon A. Lazarus Humanitarian Award for years of work with Developmentally Disabled children when she was still in her teens. Her International Baccalaureate original thesis won her a full four-year Grant (Petit Pulitzer) for Excellence in Expository Writing to DePauw University where she studied Political Science. Her IB scores afforded her the opportunity for admittance with Junior year standing. Carol also attended Thomas More University in Crestview Hills, KY. She has BA Degrees in Political Science and History, and an Associates Degree in Performing Arts. Carol has been a Montessori Directress at several schools in Boulder, CO and in Santa Fe. Carol has helped to found three other successful elementary schools. She received her Montessori Directress certification from the Institute for Advanced Montessori Studies, Silverspring, MD. Carol has traveled extensively, and embraced an astonishing array of learning experiences. She has substancial theatrical and musical performance experience, and has been awarded opportunities to study professional theatre set design and costume design, as well as choral performance with the Cincinnati Opera Association. She has owned and operated her own coffee house and café, apprenticeshipped in chinkless log cabin building, worked as a “mud hoddy” for block and brick masons, been a “tail sawyer” at a sawmill, waitressed, managed a ski area, lived “off the grid’ for seven years, and much, much more. Carol is currently the Head of School and Academic Director at NMAIS.

Morgan Moran – Assistant Teacher

Morgan joined the NMAIS team fall of 2016. She has been working with children for well over fourteen years; directing and counseling several summer camps, coaching youth soccer, planning children’s parties, and working as a nanny. Morgan began her college career in Business Administration. She quickly learned, however, that her heart actually lies in Education. She is currently working toward her AA in Early Childhood Education and plans to reach the masters level in the field. Morgan recently moved to Santa Fe, NM in the fall of 2015 from Fairfax, VA where she was born and raised. It has been an amazing adventure and transition for her and her husband. In her personal time, Morgan loves hiking, running, camping, yoga, cooking and art to name a few things. She is very excited to bring her passion, ideas, and experience into the NMAIS classroom.

Esme Olivia – Spanish through Music

Esme Rodriguez Vaandrager

Esmé Olivia is a songwriter, poet, dancer, theatre-maker & teaching artist from Albuquerque, NM.  She received her BA in multidisciplinary performance & critical pedagogy from Hampshire College in 2011.  Since the 10th grade she has facilitated workshops in poetry, performance, dance, theatre, art, music & Spanish.

Philomena Salem – Assistant Teacher and Visual Arts Teacher


Philomena is an multi-medium artist, educator, and active advocate of child well-being. Philomena studied Media Technology at Jack Yates High School in Houston, Texas and earned her BA in Moving Image Arts from the College of Santa Fe (now Santa Fe University of Art & Design) in 2010. Philomena has worked directly for the betterment of children since 2007 beginning as a production assistant and juror for KIDS FIRST! Coalition for Quality Children’s Media. She has worked with children of all ages in many different venues such as schools, camps, museums, and juvenile correctional facilities and specializes in facilitating a variety of arts including video production, photography, theatre, painting and graffiti art, poetry and graphic novels.She is passionate about promoting the importance of self-expression and creative opportunity for children and pursues the cultivation of her own talents and effectivity to grow as a teacher and artist.

Fred Simpson – African Drumming Teacher

Born in San Francisco, raised in Berkeley, CA, Fred Simpson began drumming at an early age on his mother’s pots and pans. At age 20, he was given a small conga drum and began accompanying Modern Dance classes at UC Berkeley and UC Santa Cruz. A year later he moved to New York City to drum for Modern Dance classes at NYU School of the Arts. He also began training and performing with Titos Sompa and the Tanawa Congolese Dance and Drum Ensemble. While in NYC, he also worked and toured with Arthur Mitchell and Dance Theatre of Harlem. He also performed with Walter Nicks in the American Dance Festival at Connecticut College. He later moved back to the SF Bay Area to join Fua Día Congo under the direction of Malonga Casquelourd and continued drumming for African Dance classes at Stanford University (including accompanying Katherine Dunham). He also joined Creedo Senegalese Dance Company and toured extensively with Mabiba Baegne, master Congolese dancer and drummer. Fred also travelled to Guinea West Africa where he trained in the traditional art of drummaking of the Mandingue people and completed certification as Djembefola with Mamady Keita. Over the last four decades, Fred has shared his passion and expertise in African drumming with kids of all ages in elementary schools and colleges throughout the U.S. He is currently working on new drumming techniques that enhance concentration and academic performance.

Peter Kalbfleisch – Whole Bodies, Whole Minds Teacher

PETER KALBFLEISCH joins our school with a professional career in educational programming, curriculum development and over 15 years teaching in Seattle, WA. His educational services have been utilized with Ghost Ranch, “E2” learning support, high school History Dept. Head, international college counselor & National Honors Society Advisor.

Dennis Jasso – Piano/Guitar Teacher

Dennis Javier Jasso is an award winning producer, songwriter, arranger and drummer and is a voting member of The Recording Academy (GRAMMY Awards) and The Latin Recording Academy (Latin GRAMMY Awards). He won the 2016 “Norman Petty Producer of the Year” award from the NM Music Awards and has also won several other NM Music Awards for his songwriting and arranging. Other awards received have come from the John Lennon Songwriting Contest and the NM Musicians Fund who recognized him as drummer of the year. Dennis is founder and owner of Fw Studios, a recording studio in Santa Fe, NM. He studied music at New Mexico State University and currently performs as drummer for the popular Latin band, Nosotros. Dennis is a certified Pro Tools user and has earned a “Professional Certificate” in Music Production from Berklee College of Music’s highly acclaimed online program. Dennis proudly endorses Natal drums.

Our wonderful previous instructors

Tencha Avila- Spanish Teacher

Tencha Avila is a playwright whose great love at the moment is teaching Spanish at NMAIS. She teaches Spanish with the audio-lingual method and with Latino songs, dances, games and stories that hopefully will infuse the students with joy for learning, curiosity and a love for life and respect and responsibility for each other.  She has been a secondary school teacher in Language Arts and an administrator of the English language program for the United States Information Agency in Vietnam and acting teacher in China at the Central Academy of Theatre in Beijing. Four of her plays have won national awards and her play “Kiss Bessemer Goodbye” had an off-Broadway production at Repertorio Espanol Theatre.  “Maria y su Sidekick” and the “Vallarta Impromptu” have had productions in Mexico.

Walter Friedenberg- Reading Teacher

Walter Friedenberg, the part-time reading tutor, is a longtime journalist (reporter, foreign correspondent, editor of two dailies), a university professor and Fulbright  scholar in China.

Morgan Miense- Lead Teacher

Prior to joining us at NMAIS Morgan has taught diverse groups of students in France, East Africa, New York and Oregon. She holds a Master degree in Teaching French as a Foreign and Second Language from l’Université Lumière Lyon II. She is a mother of two children. She enjoys language, diversity, being outdoors, cooking, and dancing.

David Murphy- Lead Teacher

Since finishing college, David has lived and taught in Sweden and Spain, as well as in Puerto Rico, Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Iowa, and Virginia. He relocated to Santa Fe in August 2013 to be the Resident Friend and gardener at the Santa Fe Friends Meetinghouse on Canyon Road. He visited NMAIS at the beginning of that year, and has maintained the connection.  “This must be my destiny”, thought David, when he learned upon accepting the co-teacher position that both he and Carol’s truck originate from the same small town in western Pennsylvania. David has a BA in English, Philosophy, and Religion; an MA in English; and, an MA.Tin English to Speakers of  Other Languages (ESOL). He has worked with a wide variety of ages and abilities in a variety of educational settings. David is an AMI trained Montessori Guide for Elementary Children and is also a certified Master Naturalist. He has taught in public, charter, and private schools. He has also taught in a Waldorf school, a county jail, and a group home for the developmentally disabled. David’s interests include gardening, biking, swimming, hiking, reading, music, and films.

Suzanne Teng – World Music/Native American Flute Enrichment Teacher

Suzanne received her Master’s Degree in Flute Performance from Boston University and pursued a Ph.D. in Ethnomusicology at UCLA. She is a specialist in flutes from around the world and performs internationally with her world music ensemble Suzanne Teng & Mystic Journey. She has taught music for over 30 years at private and public schools, music conservatories, universities, music camps and conventions. She currently leads workshops around the country teaching people of all ages to play the Native American flute, presents lecture/demonstrations about world flutes, and is the music instructor at New Mexico Academy of International Studies. With a special gift for inspiring children to enjoy the process of learning music, she has created a fun, educational and entertaining program that teaches children about music from around the world. Through a hands-on experience playing flutes, drums and stringed instruments as well as singing songs and chants from around the world, the students begin to understand more about the world’s many cultures encouraging them to grow into global citizens. suzanneteng.com worldmusicjourneys.com

Casey Carr – Latin Studies

Casey Carr holds an Honors Baccalaureate in Classics from Xavier University and a Masters in Liberal Arts from St. John’s College. As un undergraduate, she studied Ancient Greek, Latin, and philosophy. She also has a background in romance languages, germanic languages, and some very old semitic languages. She has been a librarian, a chef, a dishwasher, a tutor, a waitress, an art gallery gal, and then some. She loves to travel and loves to read. She is also a cat enthusiast. She teaches Latin with a strong emphasis on basic grammatical concepts, providing a firm foundation for future language learning. She is currently studying Sanskrit and Eastern Classics at St. John’s College, and plans to be both a student and teacher for the remainder of her days.

Maria Jose Ugalde Alcazar – Yoga and Meditation Instructor

Maria Jose Ugalde Alcazar is an educator, musician, painter and poet.  She studied philosophy in Universidad Sergio Arboleda, visual arts with the renowned painter Jaime Arango, as well as anthropology, eastern philosophy, education and music at Evergreen State College. Most recently, she was awarded a scholarship to Berklee College of Music to pursue music therapy.  Maria Jose was born and raised in La Paz, Bolivia and has spent the last nine years of her life living, learning and traveling in various countries.   Her paintings, poetry and art have been shared at events, exhibits and publications in Bolivia, Guyana, Colombia and the U.S. She has experienced and advocates for, the power of social and individual healing and empowerment through creativity and education.  She has learned a great deal from groups of vulnerable individuals who she has worked with in Latin America, and with them has developed art based education programs. Her commitment and goal is to continue learning and connecting with individuals and communities through nature, education, music and creativity.

J. Zeiger – Visual Arts Instructor

J. Barry Zeiger has been creating site-specific installations and exhibiting assembled sculptural objects at art centers and galleries throughout the U.S. and Israel since 1969. He received an NEH grant for research into the Texts of the Pre-Columbian /Spanish Encounters, 1492-1650 and was then awarded an 8 month Artist Residency at the Arad Arts Project in Israel. He received an artist grant from the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation Change Inc. Zeiger holds an MFA from Claremont Graduate University and a BFA from the Cooper Union College of Art. Zeiger developed and directed the art departments at ENMU in Roswell, NM and San Juan College in Farmington, NM for a total of 22 years. In Santa Fe, Jay has been a visiting artist in the public and private schools for about 20 years and has been the Art Instructor at both Kaune and NAVA Elementary Schools. Zeiger directed and developed the After-School program for Challenge New Mexico serving 5 elementary schools, and has worked with young, Native federal offenders for Intermountain Youth Centers in Santa Fe.