Mariel McDonald

 Director of Special Education

Ms. Mariel was born in Sonora California.  She grew up loving Northern California and all its wondrous beauty. As she grew, she spent countless hours playing soccer and skiing. Ms. Mariel has wanted to be a teacher since she was nine years old. When she began my educational journey, it was her intent to become a nurse. Becoming a nurse was the popular route when she was in high school, but shortly after she started college, she learned quickly that nursing life was not for her.  She changed her major to education. 

While in school she began working as a TA for a local charter school in Sonora California. She fell in love with the environment and knew that becoming an educator was the correct path for her. 
Later, she embarked on a wonderful journey that led her to Alaska. She lived in Alaska for a time continuing her education. Then, she had another opportunity to live in Hawaii. In Hawaii she lived on a military base. She was hired to be a Paraeducator at an elementary school on base. Ms. Mariel was assigned to work with a little boy in kindergarten who was living a life with Autism. In Hawaii, she experienced Special Education for the first time and graduated with an associate degree in Elementary Education. Her heart was full and had found it’s calling. 
Ms. Mariel worked in Hawaii for three years. Eventually, she moved to Washington state where she began another journey working in a fully self-contained classroom as a Paraeducator with six students living life on the spectrum. 
She graduated from Western Governors University with a bachelor’s degree in special education, then she returned to Sonora California where she was a Specialized Academic Instructor at a local Charter School. 
In 2020, she met her partner and moved to Sacramento County.  She is happy to call this area her home. This will be Ms. Mariel’s third year with Rising Sun Montessori. The Montessori way changed her life and my entire outlook on education. She is now committed to weaving the Montessori way with Special Education and the state of California. 
She will be starting her 10th year working in Special Education and her first year as Rising Sun Montessori’s Director of Special Education. In January 2024, she will begin her master’s degree in educational psychology.  She is dedicated to creating individualized environments for all of our students. She looks forward to working with her team and becoming the “portable classroom” for Rising Sun Montessori in order to be a pillar for all students to rely on as they continue their educational journey.