DGM iTeam


iTeam: Integration of emotional (EQ), academic (IQ) and mindfulness (HQ) 

Integration of hands, heads and hearts. 

What is the iTeam? 

The iTeam is a core group of professionals who work alongside students, teachers, staff, parents, and outside service providers to meet the individualized needs of the students both academically and through social-emotional well-being. The ITeam continually aspires to provide services and support consistent with Montessori Philosophy and current scientific research-based practices. Desert Garden works within a framework that views the whole student within the context of their family, classroom and community.  

Our Mission 

To provide customized, comprehensive and integrated support in the optimization of our students, staff and families through positive relational partnerships. 


Our work will be guided and informed by our beliefs and commitments to: 

OPTIMIZE: Guidance to increase potential  

COMPASSION: Completely embrace individuals where they are  

CONNECTION: True connectivity to people we serve.  

INTEGRITY: Commitment to interconnected and comprehensive supports. 

RELEVANT: Strive to source and share current information 

iTeam Services 

A variety of resources and services are provided by our iTeam and outside organizations (this may come at an additional cost). These resources/services include:  

  • Parenting Classes 
  • In-class Peace and Mindfulness Education 
  • Brief Counseling for Students and Parents 
  • Conscious Discipline through Parent, Staff and Student training 
  • Case Management 
  • Social/Emotional Learning 
  • Social Skills Building 
  • Reading Services 
  • Speech and Language Therapy 
  • Occupational Therapy 
  • Crisis Intervention 
  • Liaison to public school’s Exceptional Student Services 
  • Developmental Screeners (ASQ and ASQ-SE) 
  • STAR Testing for math and reading (3rd-12th grade) 
  • DIBELS Screening for reading (Primary 3rd years through 3rd grade) 

How to access iTeam? 

For Parents  

If a parent suspects that their child may require support from the iTeam, the parent may contact the student’s advisee teacher. The teacher will then forward the request to the iTeam during their weekly check-in.  


Mr. Gautham
Mr. Gautham Bala
iTeam Coordinator
Master Social Worker
Email Mr. Gautham

Jagdish DaveDr. Jagdish Dave
Peace Education & Counseling

Crystal Lindquist
Ms. Crystal Lindquist, LMSW
Master Social Worker
Email Ms. Crystal

Linda ChristensenMs. Linda Christensen
Reading Support Specialist
Email Ms. Linda

Mr. Gautham Bala is part of the iTeam at Desert Garden. He obtained a B.S. in Community Health from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a Master’s in Social Work, with a concentration in schools, from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Gautham has learned wellness and mindfulness from our very own Dr. Dave and incorporates it into his own lifestyle. He believes in the importance of promoting mindfulness to students and the benefits it encompasses. Gautham has also coached and played tennis for years and hopes to spread his love for it at DGM. In his free time, Gautham loves to spend his time outdoors, specifically playing spikeball, listening to music, and spending time with friends and family. 

Dr. Jagdish P. Dave’, Ph.D., Psy.D. has had a rich educational, experiential and professional background in Eastern and Western cultures. Dr. Dave’ came to the USA from India in 1959 on the Fulbright Exchange Program. In 1964 he obtained M.A. and Ph.D. in Education from the University of Chicago. In 1992, he obtained another doctoral degree, Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology from Illinois School of Professional Psychology. Since his relocation to the USA in 1959, Dr. Dave’ has been involved in creating innovative programs to meet the needs of culturally and ethnically diversified student populations. 

Dr. Dave’ has taught for 15 years in India and for 40 years in the USA as a high school teacher and as a college and university Professor of Psychology. He has received several awards for his contributions as an educator and for his community services which include an award as an Outstanding Educators of America, Faculty Excellence Award (twice) and Community Service Award at Governors State University. Dr. Dave was Centennial President (2004-2005) of Ahwatukee Foothills Rotary Club. During the past ten years his focus has been on holistic health, stress management, mindfulness parenting, and multidimensional and multicultural wellness conferences and workshops. 

Dr. Dave’, is a member of Phi Delta Kappa, American Psychological Association, International Association of Stress Management and International Rotary. Dr. Dave’ is semi-retired as a University Emeritus Professor of Psychology, is a stress management consultant and has a private practice in Phoenix, AZ. He offers workshops in stress management, wellness, and mindfulness parenting, multicultural counseling and provides community service to several organizations. He has authored two textbooks in Psychology and numerous articles, audio and videotapes on holistic health, stress management, wellness and spiritual growth. 

Currently he works as a consultant, counselor and educator at Desert Garden. He enjoys teaching Peace Education in Primary and Elementary Classrooms as well as engaging in brief counseling sessions with students and parents. Dr. Dave also teaches Science of Happiness to our Middle School students while integrating mindfulness into all areas of the curriculum. In addition to students, he also works with parents through two parenting classes that are taught throughout the year: Happy Parents, Happy Children and Mindful Parenting. 

Ms. Crystal Lindquist is part of our iTeam at Desert Garden and has a B.A. in Psychology and a LMSW in Social Work. Her professional experience has included being a researcher at University of Arizona and Arizona State University, Child/Family Therapist, and a School Social Worker and Child Development Specialist. She is currently a board member on the Infant Toddler Mental Health Coalition of Arizona and is responsible for advocacy and trainings throughout Arizona. Ms. Crystal has always been fascinated with early childhood and how early childhood experiences impact growth and development. She is extremely interested in the relationships formed with parents and caregivers during the early years and how the quality of the relationship sets the foundation for all future development: intellectual, social, emotional, physical and behavioral. Crystal received her certification through the Harris Institute at Southwest Human Development. This certification allowed her to specialize in Infant/Toddler Mental Health. Ms. Crystal is also passionate about mental health in school aged children. She is currently working towards her certified training specialization through Conscious Discipline. Conscious Discipline integrates classroom management and social-emotional learning, discipline and self-regulation. When Ms. Crystal is not working, she enjoys spending quality time with her family. She loves to stay active, travel, and learn from everyone around her. 

Ms. Linda Christensen is the Reading Support Specialist on the iTeam at Desert Garden. She has been employed at Desert Garden since 2001. Ms. Linda grew up in Minnesota where she received her Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education. After teaching in the classroom, Ms. Linda discovered her passion was teaching reading to young students. She went on to complete additional studies in teaching reading and most recently completed the seminar, Screening for Dyslexia. Ms. Linda has two young children who attend Desert Garden. In her free time, she enjoys reading, spending time with her family, and being outdoors. 



To provide customized, comprehensive and integrated support in the optimization of our students, staff and families through positive relational partnerships.


Our work will be guided and informed by our beliefs and commitments to:

OPTIMIZE: Guidance to increase potential
COMPASSION: Completely embrace individuals where they are
CONNECTION: True connectivity to people we serve
INTEGRITY: Commitment to interconnected and comprehensive supports
RELEVANT: Strive to source and share current information


Contact iTeam directly via email:
Email the iTeam Group