Superintendent's Message

It is my great pleasure to welcome you to the new fall term as we begin our 27th year of school! In 1995 we began operations in the main building of the Bessom Family business with two classrooms and 40 students, comprising one early childhood class and one lower elementary class. We employed six staff members to oversee the entire organization. (although in hindsight, I realize that we each did the job of five people!) I worked at Cliff’s Amusement Park in the evenings and on weekends to supplement my family’s income so that I could put every dime into the new school. Executive Director by day, Ride Operator by night...and it was a roller coaster in every way! The year 2021 finds us still riding with 7 classrooms, 145 students and 24 faculty members! We occupy six buildings and two greenhouse structures on 7 acres...and we even have our own little steel band! My colleagues of 25 plus years have raised their children in this method, and some even in this school, and are now themselves, grandparents who are seeing their grandbabies enrolled at Cottonwood and performing at the sing-alongs. Happily, five of our former students are now teachers or educational assistants at Cottonwood. Throughout our many years of teaching, it was our fervent hope that this innovative method of education would cultivate independent thinkers and life long learners who carried with them a burning desire to find their place in the world and change it for the better! We believed our educational philosophy could transform lives...and that if only a handful of people would trust us to do this, the results would be phenomenal and become evident in the fullness of time. Though cliché, we often said, “if we build it, they will come.”  And now here you are! You have joined the ranks of those who dared trust, who dared hope for something better for their children! And believe me, YOU HAVE FOUND IT! Want proof? Our teacher’s aide, Audrey Scott, who is working in the Transition class, is a Cottonwood alum who has returned to work with children after traveling the world and earning a degree in Psychology at UNM. Her colleague, Ruby Elizondo, an aide in Ms. Julia’s Senior Elementary class, is also an alum who recently graduated from UNM with a degree in Political Science and Sign Language. Our own Mr. Taylor Black also attended a Montessori school from age 2-11. You already know how picky we are about hand selecting our staff but this was an easy fit!  Many of your Early Childhood and Elementary students who attended this year's Summer Camps are familiar with Kaiti Larese and Taitum Ficklin, who are completing degrees in Business and Education, respectively, so you can already see for yourself what interesting young people they are. One of our students earned a degree in Neuroscience and went on to earn a dual MD and PhD. He came by to visit and tell me that he attributed his success as a student, person and life long learner to his time at Cottonwood and emphasized to me that he is the person he is today because of his early childhood and elementary years spent at this school! He then promised to write up a testimonial for me which I hope to share with all of you someday so that you can see “where all this leads!” So there you have it folks! That same care awaits your child. We are lighting up brains and we are so glad that you and your family will be joining us for what will prove to be some of the greatest times of your children’s lives, played out right here on our campus.

The future is let’s scribble a bit on the blank canvas together, shall we?

Trish Nickerson

Founder/Executive Director

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Cottonwood School  |  3896 Corrales Road  |  Corrales (near Albuquerque and Rio Rancho), NM 87048
Phone:505-897-8375  |  Fax:505-890-1533