Meet Our New Staff!

McDowell Mountain Elementary School is excited to welcome our newest Falcons to the family.

Shelly Jensen
Shelly Jensen
Principal
Biography

About Shelly Jensen

Please give a big Falcon welcome to Shelly Jensen.

Dr. Jensen is the new principal at McDowell Mountain Elementary. Shelly and her husband are moving to beautiful Arizona from South Dakota. Shelly has always had a passion for education and wanted to be a teacher at an early age. She obtained her bachelors degree from South Dakota State University in speech therapy and an endorsement in early childhood special education. She obtained her master’s degree in school administration from the University of Phoenix and an education specialist degree and doctorate in school administration from Cappella University in Minnesota. She has served several districts as a principal and is so excited to continue the rewarding work of educating children. Shelly and her family love football and baseball and are Dallas Cowboys and Atlanta Brave fans. 

Welcome Shelly. We look forward to having you join our Falcon family.

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Melissa Miller
Melissa Miller
Kindergarten Teacher
Biography

About Melissa Miller

Please welcome Melissa Miller to Fountain Hills Unified School District. 

Melissa received her bachelors in liberal studies with an emphasis in early childhood studies from California Baptist University in Riverside, California. Melissa also earned a masters of education with a focus on teaching from California Baptist University. Melissa knew from the age of four that she wanted to be a kindergarten teacher and has always had a passion for learning and helping others learn. Prior to being hired as an elementary teacher, Melissa was a preschool teacher and she tutored students in grades kindergarten to 8th in the areas of math and reading. She has taught elementary school for eight years, spending her first six years of teaching in grades 4th through 6th and the last two years in kindergarten. 

Melissa is relocating from Boise, Idaho and is excited to join the Fountain Hills community as a kindergarten teacher. When not in the classroom, she enjoys camping, biking, off-roading, jet-skiing, and anything that gets her outdoors.

Welcome, Melissa, to the Falcon family!

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Ally Negrich
Ally Negrich
Second Grade Teacher
Biography

About Ally Negrich

Please welcome Ally Negrich to FHUSD!

Ally graduated from Arizona State University with a bachelor of science in elementary education. She has lived in Arizona most of her life and attended all public schools in the Scottsdale school district. She first became passionate about education when she was in elementary school and looked up to her teachers, who inspired her to become a teacher herself.

Ally enjoys spending time with her family and friends on the weekends. She also enjoys spending time outside, trying new coffee places, watching movies, listening to music, and traveling. 

Ally has noticed how friendly and welcoming the Fountain Hills community has been, and she is super excited to be part of the FHUSD team, teaching second grade.

Welcome to the Falcon family, Ally!

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Maureen O’Brien
Maureen O’Brien
Structured English Immersion Teacher
Biography

About Maureen O’Brien

Welcome Maureen O’Brien to Fountain Hills Unified School District (FHUSD). She is very excited to be a part of the Fountain Hills community as the new structured English immersion teacher at McDowell Mountain Elementary School and Fountain Hills Middle School. 

Maureen also known as Mo is looking forward to working with you and helping our students achieve success. Mo graduated from the University of Minnesota with a bachelor of arts in international relations and a minor in German. Continuing with her education she earned her German teaching certification from Augsburg University in Minneapolis, Minnesota. While teaching and raising a beautiful daughter, she earned a master’s in education from University of Minnesota, Twin Cities in curriculum and instruction along with a certificate to teach English as a second language. As her passion for education and professional development continues, she earned her reading endorsement from Hamline University in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Maureen has been teaching for over 20 years in the Minneapolis Public School District and is now excited about teaching in Fountain Hills. Mo has a wonderful husband and an adventurous daughter who is now flying helicopters for the army. For fun, Mo enjoys hiking, jogging, reading, traveling, and spending time with her family. Mo is looking forward to joining the Fountain Hills community.

Welcome, Mo, to the FHUSD family!

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Brenda Peralo
Brenda Peralo
Reading Intervention Teacher
Biography

About Brenda Peralo

Please welcome Mrs. Brenda Peralo to our Falcon family. Brenda is excited to share her love for learning as the reading intervention teacher at McDowell Mountain Elementary.

Brenda moved to Fountain Hills in August from Alabama where she was teaching 2nd grade. She received her B.A. in elementary education from the University of Wyoming and her M.A. in school administration at California State University, San Bernardino. Brenda has had the pleasure of teaching elementary school in California, Colorado, Texas, and Alabama. Recently, Brenda received her structured English immersion endorsement and completed a course on Dyslexia: Literacy Development and the Structure of Language.

Brenda and her husband Tony moved to Fountain Hills to be closer to family and to enjoy the beautiful desert. They have three young adult children, a two year old grandson, and a chocolate lab named Lyla. Their youngest daughter goes to the University of Arizona. Brenda enjoys mountain biking, hiking, reading, and traveling. 

Brenda already loves living in Fountain Hills and feels lucky to be part of the Fountain Hills Unified School District (FHUSD) team.

Please welcome Brenda Peralo to the FHUSD family!

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April Schwab
April Schwab
Administrative Assistant
Biography

About April Schwab

Please welcome April Schwab, our newest administrative assistant at McDowell Mountain Elementary.

April graduated from Forest Hills High School in New York with a typewriter and steno pad in hand. She started working in the Garment District of New York City as an administrative assistant for a clothing label manufacturer. Her calling was to be a legal secretary, and in just a few short months, she found a home at a very large Park Avenue law firm.

In 1997, April moved to Arizona with her husband, two young sons, and the family dog. April worked her way up through several insurance brokerages, obtained her health, life, and AD&D license, and honed her excellent written and verbal skills.  She enjoys communicating with a diverse population, such as school officials, parents, students, and vendors. April is a detail-oriented multitasker who possesses strong time management and problem-solving skills.

April is very excited to become a Falcon. She is a Fountain Hills resident and feels very lucky and special to be able to join the FHUSD team!

April enjoys her free time and loves to cook, read, needlepoint, and play word games.  She is a wife, mom, glamma (grandmother), and fur mom (4 pugs). Nothing means more to her than family and friends, and she is looking forward to becoming a part of the FHUSD family and making many new friends.

Welcome to the Falcon family, April!

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Nicole Valentino
Nicole Valentino
Preschool Teacher
Biography

About Nicole Valentino

Please welcome Nicole Valentino to Fountain Hills Unified School District!

Nicole received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Roosevelt University in Chicago, Illinois. In addition, Nicole also earned a master’s degree in early childhood professions from Roosevelt University, and a master’s degree in early childhood education from Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Arizona.

Nicole has a love for learning and knew from a very young age she wanted to become a preschool teacher. During her teaching career, Nicole has taught preschool in Illinois, Ohio, and Arizona over the past thirteen years. 

During the past six years, Nicole has been living in Arizona and she is enjoying the daily sunshine year-round. The warm weather has been most welcoming considering Nicole was born and raised in Chicago, where the weather is always quite different.

Nicole is very excited to join the Fountain Hills community as a preschool teacher.

When not in the classroom, Nicole enjoys traveling, concerts, spending time with family and friends, and especially with her schnauzer Rudy. Besides teaching young children, Nicole has been very active in volunteering at several children’s hospitals. Her volunteer areas include facilitating playgroups for hospitalized children and family grief support classes.

Lastly, Nicole is an avid sports fan and can always be found cheering for the Chicago Cubs and Chicago Bears teams.

Welcome, Nicole, to the Falcon family!

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