Montessori welcomes new principal for next year

First-grader Shea Linton, left, joined Soldotna Montessori Charter School’s new principal John DeVolld at an ice cream social event on Tuesday night at the school. The event was organized by the school’s PTO to welcome DeVolld as the new principal for the upcoming school year. (Kat Sorensen/Peninsula Clarion)

Soldotna Montessori Charter School will have a new principal next year, but it’s a familiar face.


John DeVolld, who is currently the assistant principal at Mountain View Elementary School, will take the helm of Soldotna Montessori from Mo Sanders at the beginning of next year, after Sanders’ retirement.

DeVolld has walked the halls of Soldotna Montessori before. He worked as a teacher in the school for 10 years before moving to Mountain View, where he spent two years as the assistant principal.

“I loved every moment of (teaching at Soldotna Montessori),” DeVolld said on Tuesday night to a group of students, family and colleagues gathered in the school gymnasium at a Parent-Teacher Organization ice cream social. “…When I left Montessori, my intent was that as soon as I could be back here with you all, if I had that opportunity and if it was granted to me, then that would be fantastic. This is home for me.”

Parents, students, staff and teachers used the time to socialize and celebrate Sanders’ career while welcoming DeVolld back.

“We’re having an ice cream social to say goodbye to Mo and hello to Mr. DeVolld,” said Sarah Michael of Sterling, a PTO member. “It gets our families together and builds community in our school.”

DeVolld is a lifelong Alaska resident, born in Soldotna and a University of Alaska Anchorage alumnus. He currently lives in Soldotna with his family in a home he built himself, with his father’s help, he said.

DeVolld has worked in the district for nearly 17 years. He was initially hired as Mountain View’s librarian. After five years in that role, he moved to Montessori.

“I love the atmosphere of [Montessori], the culture of the school, the student-driven attitude, student-oriented,” he said. “Students take the leadership role in a lot of things. We give them a lot of opportunities and I appreciate that approach to education.”

DeVolld said that he admires the community that Montessori fosters. Students aren’t just students from grades K through sixth grade — they are lifelong Montessori students, he said.

“I love learning about families, about who you are,” he said. “We want to have as many voices involved in our school as we can. Again, the more we get our student involvement in our school, the better. I welcome that input and the unity we already have. I am just so happy to be back here.”

After spending 17 years at Soldotna Montessori, Sanders said she would miss the school’s students and staff.

“There is nothing like it,” she said. “I don’t think there is a school like it anywhere. But my not being here isn’t going to change that. It’s going to go on to be a fabulous school because of the people.”

Kat Sorensen can be reached at