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Experience and Dedication

Old School Montessori's greatest strength is our people: a diverse team of experienced and dedicated educators, assistants, and administrators—some with us since our founding over 21 years ago. Our Montessori Directresses focus on each child as an individual, helping each become an independent learner and thinker. Each classroom is led by a Montessori Directress and at least one Assistant. Our Directresses and Assistants facilitate a culture of curiosity and make their classrooms places of discovery.


Pre-Primary Directress

Kelly Ong

Kelly's background is in Early Childhood Education and is pursuing Infant/Toddler training at Seton Montessori Institute, a Directress preparation institute that has graduated thousands of qualified educators for 40 years. 

Kelly's passion for education is sparked by watching kids work hard every day to achieve their goals—she finds it amazing to witness and very fulfilling. The aspects of Montessori education that she most values is letting the child take control of their learning, and allowing them to do things they didn't know they could do, by respecting them and giving them choices.

Line time is a very special time in Kelly's classroom. During this time, each child is welcomed to the class and they participate in singing songs they love, dancing, and playing musical instruments. The children look forward to it every day.

Born in Highland Park and raised in Round Lake Beach, Kelly currently lives in Lake Villa. 

Download Ms. Kelly's classroom newsletter

Pre-Primary Assistants
Isabella Valderrama
Vaishali Patel


PRIMARY DIRECTRESS

FRAN BLANDFORD

A Grayslake native and experienced educator, Fran has been working in Montessori schools for 24 years: two years as an assistant and 22 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 four. 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. 

Download Mrs. Fran's classroom newsletter

Assistant
Jigna Bagaria


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PRIMARY DIRECTRESs

sofia vokolos

With the Montessori theory of following the child in mind, Sofia decided to follow her heart into teaching.  She was born in Skokie, Illinois, but moved to Greece when she was six years old.  She enjoyed her time in Greece with her family and at the age of eleven she moved back to the United States. 

Sofia has over twelve years experience in early childhood education and has been at OSM for five years.  Her time spent as an assistant and program plus teacher proved very rewarding and was the catalyst for her to pursue her Montessori training at Seton Montessori Institute.  She is finding great pleasure in guiding her students on their educational journey since the completion of her coursework.  Sofia truly delights in observing the relationships in her primary classroom, the older students mentoring the younger ones, as they grow into the next classroom leaders.  She is sure to give the students many opportunities for independence as they learn to navigate the practical life area of the classroom.  The pride the child feels and their ever evolving self-confidence are the rewards for her effort.  Sofia practices the Montessori Method in her classroom every day and she finds that her students thrive.  She believes strongly in following the teachings of Maria Montessori.

When she is not in her classroom or preparing lessons, Sofia can often be found teaching Saturday Greek School or volunteering at her church. She also enjoys going to concerts and spending time with family and friends.  Sofia has found her place working with children and is able to spend each day following her passion.  

Download Ms. Sofia's classroom newsletter

Assistant
Renée Jewell


PRIMARY DIRECTRESs

LIZA MAGTOTO 

An Old School Montessori faculty member for 16 years, Liza brings 30 years of teaching experience (22 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 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.

Download Mrs. Liza's classroom newsletter

Assistant
Reena Shah


Elementary Directress

Colleen Hodges 

In her 18th 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.

Download Mrs. Hodges' classroom newsletter

Elementary Assistant
Anike Bazua


ELEMENTARY DIRECTRESS

Sandy Wegge 

Born in Chicago, at the age of five Sandy moved to Mt. Prospect, Illinois and graduated from Prospect High School. She attended Northern Illinois University studying Business Accounting where she developed an interest in computers. After transferring to Loyola University she completed a degree in Computer Science with a minor in Business. Mrs. Wegge spent 10 years in IT working at Household International, mainly with mainframe computers that handled banking applications and software.

Married for 33 years to Kurt Wegge, she lives in Grayslake, Illinois. She and Kurt have two daughters, Sarah and Michelle, who attended Old School Montessori. Sarah, an HR manager, is married and is a graduate of Saint Louis University. Michelle is a graduate of Midwestern University with a doctorate in Pharmacy. She is pursing a career as a clinical Pharmacist.

Mrs. Wegge has been with Old School Montessori for 21 years and began her teaching career with OSM as a primary assistant. She spent five years in the primary classroom and then completed her Lower Elementary training and has been teaching Lower Elementary with OSM for 16 years.

Mrs. Wegge and her husband were involved with OSM from its conception. She spent the first summer helping OSM prepare to open its doors—her children were among the first students to enter OSM! Her children and her strong belief in the Montessori philosophy are what led her to teaching. She loves that Montessori philosophy believes in a child-centered educational approach to learning and that it encourages and nurtures the child’s intrinsic desire to learn.

Download Mrs. Wegge's classroom newsletter

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Assistant
Melissa Arnold


SCHOOL ADMINISTRATION

 

IRLIM TORRES

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. 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 our school and the Montessori method. Inspired by her experience as an Old School 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 Old School 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 Old School's students and families, as well as her Old School colleagues. Irlim and her husband of 23 years, Luis, live in Hainseville with their two sons. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, traveling, listening to music, shopping, and dining out.

 

CRISTINA “TITINA” YOUTSEY

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.

Mrs. Youtsey 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, Mrs. Youtsey 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.

Mrs. Youtsey 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
 

Morning Program Plus

KELLY ONG

Reena Shah

 

AFTERNOON PROGRAM PLUS

APARNA BHATTACHARYA 

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DARRIAN MASTANDREA

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VAISHALI PATEL

IRVIN TORRES

 

 

EXTRACURRICULAR STAFF
 

ORGANIZED GAMES

RORY LEVINE
 

SPANISH

PAULA FORTINI

 

 

* Staff pictures by Picture Day (https://picture-day.com/).