Roy and Kathy Catalo Celebrate 20 Years in Montessori
Cave Creek Montessori Couple Serving Parents and Students Since 1993
Ask any parents of young children what’s most important to them in a preschool program, and they’ll respond, “That our child is safe, has fun, and learns a lot.” For twenty years, Roy and Kathy Catalo, the Valley's preeminent Montessori educators, have partnered with parents to ensure that their children spend their days happily engaged in purposeful activities.
High school sweethearts, the Catalos married in 1985. In the early days of their marriage, Roy worked in real estate while Kathy taught, having earned her degree in early childhood education. In 1988, Kathy earned her Montessori teaching certificate. Once they started a family, the Catalos wanted to have more control over their lives and began looking at opportunities to buy or start their own business. As it happened, one afternoon Roy was playing basketball in his driveway with some neighborhood children when his father dropped by. Seeing how much fun Roy and the children were having, he casually suggested that Roy and Kathy open a school. Since that had been Kathy's dream all along, the rest, as they say, is history. It took almost two years to find a good fit, but when Kathy's mentor agreed to sell Arcadia Montessori North, the Catalos jumped at the opportunity. They renamed the school Paradise Valley Montessori, and in just a few years, grew the school from 33 students, ages 3-6, to nearly 250, ranging from preschool to third grade. In search of more family time and a more intimate school, they sold Paradise Valley Montessori in 1998. Just a few months later, Roy came across the perfect site for their new school, a 2.5-acre property – – convenient to Cave Creek, North Phoenix, and North Scottsdale – – with a neat slump block house, a big old barn and large grassy field out front. Cave Creek Montessori opened that August with nine students, two goats, and a horse. The school did double duty that first year, serving as the Catalo family residence as well. Enrollment grew steadily as word spread about this remarkable school where children developed self-confidence and concentration well beyond their peers. In 2004, two new classrooms were added. The new wing blends in seamlessly with the original structure, maintaining its elegant lines and home-like warmth. All the classrooms are large and airy, and each has a canopy-covered wooden deck just outside. Cave Creek Montessori continues to flourish, and Kathy and Roy look forward to their next twenty years in Montessori. When not at school, they're golfing, exercising or traveling – – and almost always together. Roy serves as a director of the Maricopa County Sheriff Department's Youth Assistance Foundation. This year, he's chairing the Toy Drive, which will provide 4,000 toys for needy children. With their two daughters now grown, they've rededicated themselves to Dr. Montessori's vision, “…That humanity which is revealed in all its intellectual splendor during the sweet and tender age of childhood should be respected with a kind of religious veneration. It is like the sun which appears at dawn or a flower just beginning to bloom. Education cannot be effective unless it helps a child to open up himself to life.” Thanks to Kathy and Roy, thousands of young Valley children opened up to life, and as a result, will lead more fulfilling and productive lives. And that's something to celebrate.