sophia

Sophia Ginder

 

Position

  • School Administrator

  • School Founder

Time at AVMS 

  • Since its opening in 1998

Education 

  • Bachelor’s Degree, Science Secondary Education— Northeastern IL University 

  • Certificate, School Administration

Personal History 

Sophia was born and raised in Greece and moved to USA in 1973. She attended Northeastern Illinois University and she received her B.S in Science Secondary Education.  She taught Greek Language to elementary students at a Chicago parochial school while in college and after graduation from college she taught Biology, Chemistry and General Science at several High Schools in the Chicago area.

Sophia discovered Montessori by chance in 1989 when she and her family moved to California and she was looking for a career change. Her first experience with Montessori was as the Assistant Administrator at a California Montessori School. The owner and administrator of that school became her first mentor and teacher about Montessori theory and practice as well as school administration. To a traditionally trained teacher looking for something different in education, Montessori was like a miracle and Sophia continued her studies and work with Montessori for the next seven years until she moved back to Illinois and founded Alta Vista Montessori School in 1998.

Sophia has two daughters and two grandchildren, both Alta Vista Montessori students. She lives in Wauconda with her husband, “Mr. Bob, the fix it man”, as the Alta Vista students like to call him.

Sophia enjoys traveling in the United States and abroad and has been fortunate enough to have traveled to many places around the world. In the summers Sophia loves gardening especially vegetable that she can share with her grandchildren and perennial gardens. Her new love these days is her grandchildren and spending time with them is very special.

cheryl

Cheryl Jaworsky

Position

  • After School/Childcare Days Coordinator

Time at AVMS

  • Since 2010

Education

  • Montessori Assistant Certificate - Well Spring Montessori Center, Glen Ellyn

  • AA Degree in Marketing

  • Certificate in Banking

Personal History

Cheryl was born and raised in Bluffton, Indiana, but has lived in the Chicago area for many years. She obtained her AA Degree in Marketing from Indian University in Fort Wayne and her Certificate in Banking from Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education in Chicago. She worked as a legal secretary for 7 years and as a vice president for a trust company for 15 years. She lives with her husband of many years. While raising her two sons she became involved with the Boys Scouts where she discovered that working with children was something she loved and enjoyed.  In 2010 her desire for a career change led her to AVMS. After completing her assistant Montessori training, she started her work at our school as a teaching assistant first in our toddler program, then in the primary and next in the infant. Presently Cheryl is in charge of our afternoon programs at all levels primary, toddler, infant.

Cheryl enjoys camping and relaxing outdoors as wells as hosting summer parties for family and friends. She has enjoyed traveling to Europe with her older son and has so many wonderful memories from their trips. 

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Samantha Kunio

Position

  • Primary Montessori Teacher - Rose Room

  • Educational Director

Time at AVMS

  • Since 2015

Education

  • Association Montessori Internationale Primary Diploma— Montessori Northwest

  • Association Montessori Internationale Elementary Diploma— Montessori Institute of Milwaukee

  • Masters in Montessori Education—Loyola University Maryland

  • B.A., History, Minor in Classics— University of Wisconsin, Madison

Personal History 

Samantha was born in Chicago and spent her childhood in Denver, San Francisco and the Chicago suburbs. She received her B.A. in History from the University of Wisconsin—Madison in 2006. She began working as a summer teaching assistant at Alta Vista during the summer of 2002, and she continued this summer work for a number of years. She immediately loved everything about Montessori, especially the joy of learning it promotes. She pursued her passion to become a Montessori teacher and completed her AMI Elementary Teacher Certification in 2007. Once she obtained her diploma she accepted an Elementary Teaching Position in Portland Oregon, where she enjoyed teaching lower elementary for 7 years. While living in Portland she obtained a Masters in Montessori Education from Loyola University of Maryland and also an AMI Primary Teaching Certificate from Montessori Northwest.

In 2014, Samantha and her family moved back to Illinois and she joined the Alta Vista team. Samantha has two children at Alta Vista; her son Jameson is in Primary and her daughter Laurel is in toddler. In her free time Samantha loves cooking, reading, yoga, traveling and spending time with her family and friends.

alicia

Alicia Armstrong

Position

  • Primary Montessori Teacher— Lilac Room

Time at AVMS

  • Since 2010

Education

  • Association Montessori Internationale Primary Diploma—Montessori Institute of Milwaukee
  • B.A., Psychology (in progress, graduating summer 2019)— Columbia College of Missouri

Personal History

Alicia grew up in the local area and graduated from Libertyville High School.  Alicia started working at AVMS in 2009 as an after school staff member. In2010 she became a primary classroom assistant. She decided that she wanted to pursue a career in Montessori education and in 2014 she obtained her AMI Primary Teacher Diploma from the Montessori Institute of Milwaukee. She is currently working on her B. A. in Psychology with a focus on children from Columbia College of Missouri.

Alicia enjoys reading, going to the dog park with her two dogs, Milo and Wrigley and traveling. Some of her most memorable experiences include her travels, including an extended trip to a small village in Mexico. She had the opportunity to really experience rural Mexican life and participate in a number of local cultural experiences.

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Racheal Lotz

Position

  • Primary Teaching Assistant - Rose Room

Time at AVMS

  • Since 2019

Education

  • B. S. Major in Biology, Minor in Interdisciplinary Studies - Texas A & M University Texarkana

Personal History

Racheal grew up in Northeast Texas. She graduated in 2013 with a B.S. in Biology from Texas A&M-Texarkana and received her Texas Educator Certification in Life Science (8-12). She taught Biology and coached volleyball for a year in Texas before moving to Honduras in 2015. She lived and taught at an at-risk children’s home with World Gospel Outreach. Racheal taught PE, Math, and Science at Ebenezer Academy for three years.

After meeting her husband, Racheal moved back to the United States in 2018 where she learned of Montessori and began pursuing a career in this field of education. In her spare time Racheal enjoys reading, hiking, camping, traveling, playing board games and spending time with friends and family. 

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Sky Garcia

Position

  • Primary Montessori Trained Teaching Assistant - Lilac Room

Time at AVMS

  • Since 2017

Education

  • Association Montessori Internationale Primary Diploma (training completed, graduation in Summer 2020) — Montessori Training Center of St. Louis
  • A.A. Degree in Early Childhood Education, The University of Texas Pan-American

Personal History

Sky was born and raised in Texas and recently moved to Illinois. Her first language was Spanish since her family is from Mexico. She loves working with children and enjoys teaching them Spanish in the classroom.  Sky loves traveling and she has traveled in the United States and Caribbean. Her next adventure will be a trip to Dubai.

courtney

Courtney Buliga

Position

  • Toddler Montessori Teacher— Ivy Room

Time at AVMS

  • Since 2011

Education

  • Association Montessori Internationale Primary Diploma—Montessori Training Center of St. Louis
  • A.A. Degree, Early Childhood Education (in progress)— College of Lake County
  • Nursing Assistant Certification

Personal History

Courtney was born and raised in Mundelein. In October 2011, while obtaining her Nursing Assistant Certification, she started working at AVMS as a part time teacher’s aide.  Her exposure to Montessori inspired her to change her educational goals and switch from Nursing to Early Childhood Education at the College of Lake County. Courtney has worked with both the Toddlers and Primary students during her time as an assistant. In the summer of 2016, Courtney went to the Montessori Training Center of St. Louis to obtain her AMI Assistance to Infancy diploma, which will be completed in August 2017.

In her free time, Courtney enjoys spending time with her husband and two dogs. She also enjoys reading, watching movies, and visiting family in Tennessee.

suzanne

Suzanne Booth

Position

  • Toddler Montessori Teacher— Lily Room

Time at AVMS

  • Since 2006

Education

  • Association Montessori Internationale A to I Diploma— Montessori Institute of Denver
  • B.A., Major in music with vocal and choral conducting emphasis and Minor in  Health Science and French— Bradley University

Personal History

Suzanne was born and raised in the Chicago area. She and her husband Karl have two boys, the younger is a current student at Alta Vista and their older son has graduated from Alta Vista. Suzanne attended Bradley University and graduated in 2006 with a B.A. in music with a vocal and choral conducting emphasis.

One of her most memorable experiences is touring and signing in various cathedrals in Europe with the Bradley University Chorale.

In 2006, Suzanne began working at AVMS as a teaching assistant in the toddler community. She decided to pursue Montessori training and she graduated with her Assistance to Infancy Montessori Diploma (ages birth to 3) from the Montessori Institute of Denver in 2007 and took over the position of lead toddler teacher.

In her free time, Suzanne enjoys running, music, cooking, keeping up with her vocal training, and spending time with her family.

gisella

Gisella Maniscalco

Position

  • Toddler Teaching Assistant—Lily Room

Time at AVMS

  •  Since 2008

Education

  • High School Diploma (Infant Care Certificate)

Personal History

Gisella was born and raised in the small Sicilian town of Burgio.  She completed her infant teaching certification in 1996 in Italy.  After graduating she worked with infants for 3 years. In 1998 she married her husband, Bartolo. Gisella and her husband moved to the United States and started a family. They have two sons, Francesco and Nino, who are both graduates of AVMS.

Gisella began working at Alta Vista in 2008 as our Toddler Teaching Assistant. She has said that Montessori feels like home to her and she does not feel like she is at work. She loves singing Italian songs and teaching Italian words to the children as well as baking and cooking with them.

Gisella enjoys cooking, spending time with her family and friends and going on vacation with her family.

Rose

Rosanna Brugioni Piacenza

Position

  • Toddler Teacher's Assistant—Ivy Room

Time at AVMS

  •  Since 2018

Education

  •  Early Childhood Education - College of Lake County
  • CDA Preschool Certificate

Personal History

Rose was born in Highland Park and was raised in Highwood. Her family is first generation from Italy. Rose has worked in the Early Childhood Education field for 15 years, but working at Alta Vista is her first experience with Montessori, which for her it is a wonderful new challenge.  Rose currently resides in Grayslake with her husband. In their free time enjoy camping, traveling, ice fishing, and hanging out with family and friends.

Angela 1

Angela Burkhart-Pierce

Position

  • Infant Montessori Teacher - Nido Room

Time at AVMS

  • Since 2018

Education

  • American Montessori Society Infant & Toddler Credential — Seton Montessori Institute
  • B.A., Early Childhood Education — Kendall College
  • Masters, Child Development - Erikson Institute

Personal History

Angela grew up in Chicago. Her family moved to Evanston while she was in high school. After graduating from high school she stayed in Evanston to be near her family and help her mom raise the newest member of the family, her infant brother. Inspired by the birth and development of her young brother, Angela began her studies in early childhood education at Kendall college.
During her college studies she began working with young children at Chiaravalle Montessori School. She also married during this time and had her first child. While working at Chiaravalle she fell in love with the pedagogy and began her studies to become a Montessori educator. She enrolled at Seton Montessori Institute and earned her birth to three credential. Upon graduating from Kendall, Angela began working toward a masters degree in child development at the Erikson Institute.

Angela now lives in Evanston with her two daughters, 3 dogs and 2 cats. She enjoys reading, dancing, camping, yoga and meditation.

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Kealy Mruk

Position

  • Infant Teacher's Assistant - Nido Room

Time at AVMS

  • Since 2019

Education

Personal History

 

Cathy 1

Cathryn LaRoi

Position

  • Infant Teacher's Assistant - Nido Room

Time at AVMS

  • Since 2018

Education

  • B.A., Merchandising - Iowa State University

Personal History

 

 

 

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Isabel Morales

Position

  • Infant Teacher's Assistant - Nido Room

Time at AVMS

  • Since 2019

Education

  • Student at the College of Lake County

Personal History

 

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Susan Day

Position

  • Afternoon Infant/Toddler Assistant

Time at AVMS

  • Since 2017

Education

  • B.A, Sociology - Western Illinois University

Personal History

Susan was born and raised in the western suburbs of Chicago. After college she worked as a medical social worker for 12 years. Currently she lives in Mundelein with her husband of 31 years. Susan has raised four children and she has been a great addition to our afternoon program. She enjoys long walks, reading and being with her family.

 

 

 

fozia

Fozia Abbasi

Position

  • Substitute Teacher

Time at AVMS

  • Since 2003

Education

  • Reading College of Technology, England - Hotel Management & Business/Finance

  • Continuing Education - Food & Nutrition and Child Psychology

Personal History

Fozia was born and raised in Wimbledon, England.  

After college she got married and moved to Chicago in 1990.  She has two daughters, both graduates from U of I. She has the distinct honor of being the most senior employee at Alta Vista aside from our Administrator.

Fozia enjoys working with children. She  finds it life enriching and rewarding. She has developed a great appreciation for Montessori especially the structure in the toddler and primary environments.

She love to travel with her family, visiting art museums, gardening and yoga. 

butterfly

Stephanie Pedersen

Position

  • Substitute Teacher

Time at AVMS

  • Since 2017