Experience and Dedication

Old School Montessori's greatest strength is our people: a diverse team of experienced and dedicated educators, assistants, and administrators. Our Montessori Directresses focus on each child as an individual, helping each become an independent learner and thinker. Each primary and elementary classroom is led by a Montessori Directress and an Assistant. Our Directresses and Assistants facilitate a culture of curiosity and make their classrooms places of discovery.


Vaishali Patel & Nabila hasan 





A Grayslake native and experienced educator, Fran has been working in Montessori schools for 25 years: two years as an assistant and 23 years as a directress. In 1994, she received her Montessori Primary Certification from MECA-Seton. Fran previously worked at Montessori schools in Libertyville and Gurnee before joining Old School Montessori in 2012.

She is the mother of two grown daughters who are married. Her eldest is an associate editor at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Her youngest is a special education teacher at BJ Hooper Elementary in Lake Villa. She is also the proud grandmother of five. In her free time, she loves to read, shop, and spend time with her grandchildren. 

Fran loves being a Montessori Directress because every day in her classroom is different. She finds it fulfilling to see the growth in each and every child during the three-year Montessori cycle. 



Primary Assistant

Jigna Bagaria




An Old School Montessori faculty member for 17 years, Liza brings 31 years of teaching experience (23 of them in a Montessori environment) and boundless enthusiasm to her classroom. Born and raised in the Philippines, where her parents were both teachers, she moved to the United States in 1992 with her husband, a mechanical design engineer. Both are now naturalized United States citizens.

Liza earned her bachelor’s degree in elementary education and master's degree in educational administration in the Philippines with U.S. accreditation. After moving to the U.S., she studied at the Midwest Montessori Teacher Training Center in Illinois and received her Montessori Certificate in 1994.

Her goal is to serve children, bring out the best in them, and meet their educational needs.

Liza spends her time outside Old School volunteering for charities, teaching religious classes at her church, traveling, and making great memories with her family.



 Primary Assistant

jocelyne jaime


Elementary Directress

Colleen Hodges 

In her 19th year of teaching at Old School Montessori, Colleen grew up in Chicago in a family of teachers. She always knew that teaching would be a part of her life and she could not be happier with her choice!

Colleen began her career at the Special Education District of Lake County and spent four years in Libertyville schools before coming to Old School Montessori with the opening of the upper elementary class in 1999.

While her undergraduate major was horticulture and she was an accomplished floral designer, she chose to follow a different path into the world of education. She attended Midwest Montessori Teacher's Training Center for her course work in Montessori education.

Mrs. Hodges is the mother of three grown children with families of their own. Keeping up with her nine beautiful grandchildren keeps her young! She enjoys traveling with her husband, gardening, and sports, especially the Bears, Blackhawks, and White Sox. You can find her curled up with a good mystery whenever she gets the chance to read.

Mrs. Hodges works to create a community of acceptance and friendship in her classroom. She encourages each child to celebrate what makes them unique. Being the spark that ignites the interest of a child is the very best reward for an educator and something she strives for every day.




Elementary Assistant

Anike Bazua




march for babies.jpg

Born and raised in Puerto Rico, Irlim holds a BA in Business Administration and a BBA in Accounting from the Inter American University of Puerto Rico. She has also earned an MBA in Business Administration from Webster University in Missouri. She spent 12 years in accounting and finance for various industries including medical, telecommunications, and financial services. 

Irlim joined the Old School Montessori family as a parent in 2008 and immediately fell in love with OSM and the Montessori method. Inspired by her experience as a parent, she decided to take a different professional path and left her career in Business. After taking Early Childhood courses at the College of Lake County, she joined the OSM staff in 2011 and in 2013 took the Montessori Basics training from the Midwest Montessori Teacher Training Center (MMTTC).

She truly believes that Montessori is the ideal environment for learning and loves interacting with OSM's students and families, as well as her colleagues.

Irlim and her husband of 24 years, Luis, live in Hainesville with their two sons. Her youngest is currently an OSM student and her eldest, an OSM alumnus, is currently attending Grayslake Central High School.

In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, traveling, concerts, listening to music, shopping, and dining out.





Cristina (Titina) Youtsey, originally from Bogota, Colombia, came to the United States to pursue a degree in education. She holds a BA in Bilingual Special Education from Northeastern Illinois University and MA in Bilingual Education from the University of North Texas. After 10 years of working in the public schools of Illinois, Michigan, and Texas as a teacher and later District Coordinator, she joined the Old School Montessori staff as School Administrator in 2008. Since then, she has attended the Montessori Basics training from the Midwest Montessori Teacher Training Center (MMTTC) as well as numerous Montessori conferences and local trainings to gain greater insight into the Montessori philosophy.

Titina has always admired the Montessori Method and was thrilled to have the opportunity to become part of OSM. She never imagined how fast Montessori would become her passion and how it would positively impact her life and the lives of her three children attending Old School Montessori. Titina and her husband Chris have found their home here.

During her free time, Titina enjoys crafting and creating modeling clay pictures and projects that she later shares with her Claytivity students at OSM. She enjoys traveling and good fantasy novels.

Titina is inspired by children working in the Montessori environment and is committed to providing a peaceful, high-academic program where children can develop to their fullest potential.


Program Plus STAFF

aPARNA Bhattacharya


kylie connelly