Helping raise RRPS/SVES Montessori awareness


I’ve had some parents recently ask me for more detail about the Sandia Vista Elementary School (SVES) Montessori program.  In an effort to help more folks here, I went looking on the Rio Rancho Public School (RRPS) website to check on what public materials were out there.  Unfortunately all those references I had read about in the past are either dead links or don’t exist.  I think most of this lack of information is due to the Montessori administration moving from a district office to SVES.  We gave the school a ring and were told more detail will appear on the school website, they are just not there yet.

Here is the SVES school website …

So for all those looking into the program, it’s still around and running strong.  Here is what the 2013-14 SVES Student/Parent Handbook (PDF) says:

MONTESSORI PROGRAM Montessori is a comprehensive educational approach to learning, from birth to adulthood, based on the observation of children‟s needs in a variety of cultures all around the world. Dr. Maria Montessori developed this educational approach based on her understanding of children‟s natural learning tendencies as they unfold in “prepared environments” for multi-age groups (0-3, 3-6, 6-9, 9-12, and 12-14). The Montessori environment contains specially-designed manipulative materials for development that invite children to engage in learning activities of their own individual choice. Children in a Montessori classroom learn by making discoveries with the materials, cultivating concentration, motivation, self-discipline, and a love of learning. Sandia Vista is very proud to include a Montessori Program in our public elementary school for the fifth year! Three primary classes with students ages 3-5, three lower elementary classes with students 6-8, and two upper elementary classes, with students 9-11, will be included this year, with all eight classrooms being housed in the primary wing of the school. The school principal is the director of the program. She oversees the day-to-day operation of the program, as well as the supervision of the staff and students. Montessori students and staff are a regular part of the Sandia Vista community, and we are excited that the Program has been a great success, and is continuing to grow.

If you want more up to date details please give SVES a call … (505) 338-2526

As always, I hope this helps those poking around the internet trying to find answers.

– Dom

Sandia Vista Elementary School Montessori Program – a hidden gem in the Rio Rancho Public School System (RRPS)

We are about to complete our first full school year in the Rio Rancho Public School (RRPS) Montessori Program and we could not be happier with the progress our kids are making in school.

To tell you the truth, we actually stumbled across this hidden gem when looking to buy a house after moving to Albuquerque, NM from Tucson, AZ.  We looked at many houses in the northeast part of Albuquerque and contemplated Corrales.  We eventually found a house we were interested in not far from the intersection of highway 528 and Idalia Road.  In addition to checking out the house, we checked out where the elementary school was.  This led us to the Sandia Vista Elementary School website.  The website has since changed, but back then, the RRPS Montessori program was highlighted right on the school website.  Since we previously had our boys in a Montessori school in Tucson (Casa Ninos School of Montessori) we really wanted to continue the education method of Maria Montessori for as long as possible.

Our oldest (soon to be 6) is in Kindergarten and the cost of his Montessori school is covered by the state.  Our other son (4 years now) is in the pre-kindergarten (or preschool, or affectionately called “tomato garden” in the family) program which costs us $600 a month (this is not nursery school, our youngest had to use the toilet for acceptance in the program).  We had the choice to place both our boys in the same classroom, but they spend enough time together outside school that we thought it best to split them up and let them make as many friends as possible.

What amazes me most is how involved the parents are and the effort they put into their kids for this Montessori program.  A percentage of kids that go to school with my boys come in from outside the Sandia Vista school boundary, this means those parents have to drive their kids to and from school.  One benefit … It was quite nice to be invited to a piano recital recently since a classmate was taking piano lessons.

Being Native American and a Laguna Pueblo member, I thought it was awesome that the RRPS is open and committed to diversity, here is an example.  One of the students in the Kindergarten Montessori was from Santa Ana Pueblo and the parent, school, & teacher arranged a field trip to visit the pueblo on its feast day.  A bus full of students & parents got the chance to experience something only Indians get to know and love.  The students & parents watched some social dances in the plaza, had the chance to catch giveaway items from the rooftops in the pueblo, and have a nice hot lunch of green or red chile & various dishes at a relative of the student’s house before heading back to school.

This program is successful because of the commitment of RRPS & the teachers (Ms. Gchachu, Ms. Lance, & other teachers).  Both classroom teachers (and aides Ms. Susan & Ms. Nevin) are Montessori trained and work throughout the year with other Montessori schools in the Albuquerque area to share best practices and keep current.  This is the first we have heard of a public school system doing a Montessori  program.

The RRPS Montessori program is only pre-K to grade 2 for now, but they have a vision for the Montessori program to evolve to grade 5.  Our kids are only in the beginning here, and it is our hope RRPS attracts the attention and mindshare of more parents to grow this new choice in New Mexico child education.  We will certainly do our best to support & encourage it’s growth.

Here is a link if you are interested in more information about the RRPS Montessori program or call (505) 994-2811 extension 531.

Also here is a little history I recently found, sounds like we moved back home to NM at the right time … Click on the Cached Abq Journal links.

– Dom

P.S. … Here are some pictures of the school & classrooms where both of my sons go, pretty neat place and they even integrate computers.  Enjoy!

No sales tax on a vehicle transfer in NM

I recently bought a truck from my sister and financed it through the local Kirtland federal credit union (FCU) in the Albuquerque area.

I was really glad I did, the local branch manager mentioned a interesting little tip to me about vehicle title and transfer when I initially talked to him about the loan.

I was expecting to pay some kind of sales tax along with the transaction, something like 3% (or a little over $500) of the amount financed is typical.

The tip was that a vehicle can be gifted to another family member, this means there is no “money” exchanged between parties and the Bill of Sale amount is marked “Gift”  Along with that another form is filled out detailing the relationship of the people in the transaction called “Affidavit of Gift”.

It is the filling out of these 2 forms that allows family members to avoid paying the 3% sales tax when a vehicle/boat is transferred.

Kirtland FCU also handled getting me a temporary plate (card) and helped register the truck (I still had to pay the registration fee).  When the NM plate comes into the local branch in a couple weeks, all I need to do is just pick it up.

Great customer service, thanks Kirtland FCU!

Hope this is useful, it was to me!

– Dom

My new fly fishing site …

It’s taken a fair amount of work lately, I finally made the time and energy investment to create my own fly fishing website.

One of the motivations for creating it was to capture my experiences as I went out and to share them with others (I’m mostly doing this so my kids have a record of something their father loved).  This fly fishing website will be a little different, it will use different types of media like google maps with video & audio.

All future fly fishing posts will go there now.

Check it out at and let me know what you think.

– Dom

Liz’s Green Chile Stew

At all of the Pueblos in New Mexico you will find the women make some of the most wonderful food using local ingredients, in particular red & green chile. One type of dish found at almost every house is chile stew. Stews in their various forms are a very common occurrence, and as a kid I remember my grandmother’s kitchen always cooking some kind of red or green chile stew.

There is one stew in particular that I loved, and it was from my late aunt Liz. I loved it so much that I asked her how to make it one day. I wanted to be able to re-create her stew since I lived away from New Mexico either going to school or having a career.

It’s a simple dish and I want to share it with you.


  • 1 to 1.5 lbs of some stew meat (I like using pork & made it with chicken once, tofu would be interesting)
  • One 28oz container of Bueno Chopped Green Chile (found in most NM supermarkets) or Two 13oz containers … using the 13oz allows one to mix chile heat levels (mild & mild, mild & hot, hot & hot, also throw autumn roast in there).
  • Two 14.5oz cans of Stewed tomatoes (I’ve used the Del Monte Original Recipe)
  • Two 11oz cans of White Shoepeg Corn (I’ve used the Green Giant brand)
  • 2 to 3 Yellow Squash
  • 2 to 3 Green Squash
  • Optional, can add a diced onion & cilantro for different flavors.


  • I like to cut the stew meat down to smaller bite size pieces, so I prep the meat.
  • In a large stew pot (mine is 20qts), brown the meat using a little oil (here is where the onion can be added)
  • Once the meat is thoroughly cooked, I add the stewed tomatoes (an additional step one can take is to break up the tomatoes into smaller chunks)
  • Add the shoepeg corn
  • Add the chopped green chile
  • Add one to two 28oz chile containers full of water to the pot (2 to 4 of the 13oz), enough to create a thick stew, or more water if you like a thinner stew (be sure you leave room for the squash)
  • Bring to a rolling boil, then lower the heat and cook for about 2 hours
  • Cut up the yellow & green squash (I like thick cuts like the pic above)
  • Add the squash to the pot about 1.5 hours in or earlier if you like softer squash or later if you want firmer squash (can add cilantro at this time also).
  • Done, finished stew for about 6-8 people.

Add some Pueblo oven bread and you have a wonderful New Mexico meal.

– Dom