Teaching Faculty

Our faculty is comprised of dedicated, talented, and caring educators. Each of our Lead Teachers holds a Montessori Certification and a minimum of a Bachelor’s Degree, with many holding advanced degrees. As master teachers, the Seton Montessori teaching faculty serve as mentors for student teachers, lecturers and advisors for the Seton Montessori Institute teacher certification programs.

INFANT-TODDLER COMMUNITY

img_20160930_151645Elizabeth Norman is the Toddler House Coordinator and lead teacher in the Young Toddler class. Beth has a BFA in Graphic Design from the University of Illinois. After the birth of her three children, she discovered the Montessori method of education and pursued a new career pathway (which has become a way of life). With over 10 years of Montessori experience Beth has been an educator, administrator, and teacher education program faculty member. Outside of Seton, Beth and her family can be found most often on foot, bikes, or kayaks exploring the greater Chicagoland area. Beth holds Infant-Toddler, Early Childhood and Administrator credentials.
Susana  (Suzy) Avitia is assisting in the Young Toddler classroom this year. New to the Seton faculty, Suzy is a certified massage therapist and the sister of an Infant-Toddler educator. Exploring this pathway to working with young children has long been a dream of hers. Suzy is astounded by the capabilities of the young toddler child, and is delighted in the process of observing and exploring the activities with them. Other passions she enjoys are theater and Mexican dance performance.

 

Kathy Robertaccio is the lead teacher in the Infant Program. Kathy has been working for over thirty years as a Montessori Directress for Infant-Toddler and Early Childhood programs at our lab schools in North Barrington and Seton.  Kathy has a B.S. in Biology, and her Montessori Credentials for 0-3 and 3-6. In her time outside of Seton, she enjoys sports, the performing arts and music. Kathy is married and has a grown daughter.

 

DSC_0075Melissa Zheng is an assistant in the Infant room. She has a B.A. in Linguistics and Chinese from Lawrence University. She received her 6-12 Elementary training at Seton and was a Lower Elementary teacher for the past three years in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Melissa loves how imaginative and creative children can be. She has enjoyed working with elementary children, and decided to switch over to infants and toddlers because of her interest in learning more about this age group. In her spare time, Melissa enjoys cooking, yoga, and exploring the great outdoors.

 

 

IMG_2602Hanya Jilani is an Assistant in the Infant room. She and her husband live in Willowbrook with their two children. She enjoys cooking and walking and being with her family. She has been been at Seton for the past six years.

 

 

 

4ac35c66-755f-4a00-9352-6a1ac0cbd40dCaitlin Daley is the lead teacher in the Half Day 2s and 3s classroom. She holds a B.A. in Theater from Concordia University Chicago. Prior to joining Seton, Caitlin worked as an Instructional Teaching Assistant at the Helping Hand School for Children with Autism. She is married and she and her husband Matt have a Rottweiler Beagle mix named Peanut. In her free time, Caitlin likes to be outdoors, riding her bike, reading, and spending time with her family. Caitlin enjoys watching children grow and gain new skills. She enjoys learning from the children as they learn in the classroom.

 

 

Faiza Shahid is an Assistant in the Half Day and All Day 2’s and 3s Program. She is a native of Pakistan, and is married with two sons, one in high school and one studying to become an electrical engineer. Faiza received her degree in  Pakistan, where she majored in education. From her college days she has always wanted to work with children, and she took Montessori education courses at the Ali Institute in Pakistan before coming to the Chicago area. She heard about Seton Montessori from a friend, and completed the Paraprofessional training in 2013. She absolutely loves watching children grow and learn different skills, and hugs from the children are her favorite things. In her spare time she loves cooking, yoga, watching comedy movies and going out with family.

 

Marzena Staron is the Lead Teacher in the All Day 2’s and 3’s Program. She is originally from Poland and she and her husband have two children, Kasia,16, and Asia, 14. This is her 19th year working in Montessori education. She finished her Infant-Toddler and Early Childhood AMS Certifications in Montessori at Seton. Marzena loves to work and interact with children and delights when children accomplish their work and then feel good about themselves. During weekends she teaches Polish. Marzena’s hobbies include scrap-booking and working with different arts and crafts.

DSC_0082Nosheen Akhtar is assisting in the All Day 2s and 3s classroom. A native of Pakistan, Nosheen and her husband and their daughter are settling in to their new country after having recently immigrated. She loves to bake, cook, and explore the new community. Already in her role as an assistant she is seeing the value of routine, and the joy the toddler finds in life!

 

 

Jenny Santiago is an Assistant in the Half Day and All Day 2’s and 3’s classrooms. Jenny is originally from Puerto Rico. She has a son named Jenzen and studied business in the Interamerican University of Puerto Rico.  She really enjoys visiting museums, in particular the ones where she can learn about history, science and people. She likes to give back to her community and do volunteer work as part of her social responsibility. The thing that she likes most about working with children is to be able to see their achievements, and help them to reach their maximum potential.

 

 

HALF DAY 3-6 PROGRAM

Jennifer Nolan serves as the Half Day 3-6 Program as Coordinator. See her full bio on the administration page

 Ceci Aviles is a Co-Teacher in the Blue Room for the morning class and leads the Spanish Immersion Program in the afternoon. She knew she had found her calling many years ago when she observed a Montessori classroom and was inspired by the freedom of choice, the focus given to children as individuals, and the positive environment. Ceci holds an Early Childhood certification and has been building on her experience each year since she started at Seton in 2004. Her favorite part about working with the children is their innocence and their curiosity about the world.

 

DSC_1027Jamie Conn is a Co-Teacher in the Blue Room in the mornings and assists in the All Day Program in the afternoons, after finishing her Early Childhood teacher certification at Seton. Previously she worked on an organic farm in Browntown, WI. Her love of children inspired her to work as a nanny for many years before finally deciding to become a teacher. She loves empowering children to do things for themselves and the freedom and excitement learning new things brings them. She lives in Warrenville with her dog, Sammy, and her husband Nate.

 

 

May Elqaq is the Lead Teacher in the Purple Room, both AM and PM classes, and has been at Seton for sixteen years. May has two daughters, Farah, who is an Elementary teacher, and Rund, 23, a recent UIC graduate. May has her 3-6 Montessori Certificate as well as an Associate’s Degree in Office Technology Information. May loves working with children because of their innocence. She finds it wonderful to teach them and watch them grow. She finds that children need our love, patience and sense of humor. May also enjoys cooking, spending time with family, and traveling with her daughters.

Miriam Audino, is beginning her third year at Seton. She will complete her Early Childhood teacher certification internship in the Purple Room morning class, and assists the Spanish Immersion class in the afternoons this year. She has worked with children in many informal settings, including two years spent traveling with a youth outreach team throughout the United States, India and Nepal. She also worked as a preschool teacher in Ohio. Miriam earned her B.A in Cross Cultural Studies and Comparative Religion at Nyack College in New York. She loves all things creative, but has recently been learning to knit and sew. She and her husband have two children, and they love to hike, spend time in nature, cook elaborate meals and read books. She loves working with children and being present with them as they discover the joy and freedom that learning brings.

ALL DAY 3-6 PROGRAM

Sue Buntrock is the Head Teacher of the Green Room and is the Program Coordinator of the All Day Early Childhood Program. She has been at Seton for 39 years. Previously Sue taught special needs children, and she holds a B.S. in Applied Behavioral Science, and a 3-6 Montessori Certificate. Sue is married and has one daughter, Ashley, who is Seton’s Elementary Program Coordinator and Lower Elementary teacher. Sue loves to read and enjoys attending the theater with her husband. The spontaneous joy children have in all that they see and discover is what she likes best about working with children.

dsc_0823Lisa Power is a Co-Teacher in the Green Room. She holds a B.A. in Art History and completed her Early Childhood certification at Seton Montessori Institute. She has been learning about Montessori most of her life beginning as a student herself and later as a parent. She enjoys taking walks with her husband John, looking for snakes and salamanders in the forest with her son Jake, and watching her son Ryan play soccer. Being able to experience a child’s joy when he says “I did it!” is one of her favorite parts of being in the classroom.

 


Hilda Manzanares is an Assistant Teacher in the Green Room, and has worked at Seton since 1985. She is married to José Manzanares and has four children between the ages of 20 and 30, and four grandchildren. She attended the Paraprofessional Course here at Seton. Hilda loves to take walks with José, and she most enjoys seeing the smiles on her student’s faces each day.

 

DSC_1024Melissa Mulvaney is the Assistant Coordinator of the All Day Program and Lead Teacher in the Yellow Room. Melissa taught dance, acting and directed children’s theater to students of all ages for over ten years, and continues to share her talents here at Seton. Working with children in the arts deepened her new love of teaching and motivated her to seek out the Montessori method.  Melissa and her husband, Chris have a seven-year-old daughter. Melissa enjoys sharing the joy of discovery and accomplishment with the children.

 

FullSizeRenderAida Quiles Rodriguez is beginning her fifth year as an Assistant Teacher in the Yellow Room. She completed the Paraprofessional course at Seton and previously worked with youth at her church. Aida got her introduction to Montessori through a friend who operated a Montessori program in her home. In her free time, Aida is actively involved in youth ministry and recently completed her degree in ministry.

 

 

img_20160930_152024-1Sarah Stanevicius is beginning her second year at Seton, working as an Assistant in the Yellow Room. Prior to working at Seton, Sarah also worked as an Instructional Teaching Assistant at the Helping Hand School for Children with Autism. Sarah has completed the Paraprofessional Course at Seton and is currently pursuing a Masters Degree in Occupational Therapy.

 

 


Riffat Sadiq is an Assistant Teacher in the All Day Preprimary Program. She has been with Seton for over twenty years, and holds her 0-3 and 3-6 Montessori Certificates as well as a Master’s degree in Urdu. She is married and has three children, and cares for her father. Her special interests are reading and “wishing for writing”. Riffat loves observing, helping and being hugged by the children.

 

 

DSC_1014Mary Carol Kobler is an afternoon Aide in the Green Room, and has been working at Seton since 2001. She completed her teacher training in Suzuki Method for Piano Book 1 in Summer 1999, and wrote a book, “The Importance of Nature and Animals in a Montessori Environment and at Home,” for the children of Seton Montessori. Mary Carol holds a B.A. in American Studies with a concentration in Cultural History & Literature from DePaul University. Mary Carol is a cantor at her church every weekend and also enjoys singing in DuPage Chorale at COD. She has traveled throughout Europe doing choral festivals and tours. She loves spending quality time with her husband David, her family, and her three-year-old cockatiel, Charlie.

 

7d4f2845-f5e7-494a-98ec-9eed0a629822Iram Jilani is an Aide in the All Day Program. She has three children, her oldest daughter is 18 and a senior at Hinsdale Cental, her son 16, is a sophomore also at Hinsdale Central, and her youngest daughter is seven and attends Holmes school. Iram enjoys cooking, walking, and sewing. She is originally from Pakistan. She and her husband live in Willowbrook.

 

 

Cristina Perry is a Seton alumnus and is the Art Specialist on campus. Cristina holds her Infant-Toddler AMS credential and received her Early Childhood credential from Xavier University as a part of her Master’s Degree in Education. Cristina has inspired young artists throughout her years in the classroom and works with children at all program levels. She opened the Summer Camp Art Studio in 2013, a summer camp favorite, and is assisting in the development of the outdoor Atelier. In her free time, Cristina enjoys doing origami and spending time with her dogs, Nicky and Rita.

 

 

Elementary Program

 

DSC_1021Ashley Buntrock is Elementary Coordinator and Co-teacher of the Lower Elementary classroom. Ashley has been a teacher at Seton for nine years. A Seton graduate herself, Ashley holds a B.A. in Early Childhood Education from Xavier University, and her 3-6 and 6-12 Montessori credentials. Ashley is the daughter of Sue Buntrock, Head teacher in the Green Room. Teaching in the Seton Elementary Program since its inception, Ashley loves the children’s joy of learning and that every day is new. In her free time she loves the opportunity to read a good book.

 

 

 

Olivia Dvorak is completing her Elementary internship in the Lower Elementary this year. She has been teaching Spanish at Elementary for the past several years and previously taught in Seton’s All Day and Half Day Programs. Before coming to Seton she taught at a traditional Elementary school in Mexico. Olivia has a B.A. in Elementary Education, a 3-6 AMS Certificate, and is presently working on her Elementary Montessori 6-9 certification. She and her husband have a son, Diego, in the All Day 3-6 Program. Olivia likes to read, take walks, go to the beach on vacations and spend time with her husband and friends. She loves being with children because they teach us so much; children are instinctively accepting of you the way you are, and they do not judge people. Olivia feels that she learns something from the children every day!

Divina Cruz is a Co-Teacher in the newly opened second Lower Elementary classroom. After earning her B.A. in Political Science and Philosophy she went to law school and decided it was best to follow her passion: working with children. Upon leaving law school, Divina came to Seton to learn more about Montessori, where she completed her 0-3, 3-6 and 6-9 Montessori certifications. Divina was a Lead Teacher in a 3-6 classroom for many years. She is married with two children, one in junior high and the other who is a student in Seton’s Upper Elementary Program. Divina also serves at the Practicum Coordinator for the Seton Montessori Institute. Divina says the best part about working with the children is watching their joy when they learn something new. 

David Chorney is a Co-Teacher in the “lower” Lower Elementary classroom. He found Seton after being urged to become a certified Montessori teacher by the faculty of Denali Montessori in Alaska where he was an aide and substitute for seven years. Previous to that, David graduated with a B.A. in English and Sociology from Augustana College. David and his wife enjoy time with their German Shepherd Husky mix dog. In his spare time, David likes to fish, hike, bike, mountain climb and climb trees. David loves seeing the growth in the children from the first day to the end of the year. He loves witnessing each child’s individual strengths and loves helping find solutions to any weaknesses.

Gwen Carr is the Lead Teacher of the Upper Elementary Classroom. After teaching Montessori Early Childhood for ten years and assisting/interning in Elementary in the afternoons for three, she was excited about the new experience of working with Elementary students full-time. Gwen has been called the “Curator of the Living Lab” as her work has been fundamental in creating and maintaining the laboratory. Along with her 3-6 and 6-12 Montessori Certificates, she holds a B.A. in Humanities. Previously, Gwen provided individualized instruction for a one-room schoolhouse of 6-12 year olds and home-schooled her own children and others for nine years. Gwen enjoys gardening, interacting with animals, reading, writing, cooking and preserving food. Gwen is married to “Harry the Sheep Farmer” and have two grown children.  She enjoys working with children because of the wonder in their eyes and the love in their hearts, both so willingly shared.

Rumya Rao is an Assistant in the Upper Elementary classroom. With a degree in Mathematics, Rumya was a coordinator of clinical trials in a hospital prior to joining Seton. She says a combination of perfect timing and a lifelong desire to teach are what drew her to Montessori education. Rumya and her husband Sri have a daughters Rohini and Shreya who attends Seton. Rumya enjoys singing, gardening and cooking in her free time. She feels she learns even more than the children every day as she witnesses their social interaction and connects with them in the classroom.

Linda Davis serves as the Elementary Certification Program Coordinator for the Seton Montessori Institute and also mentors and supports the work of the Seton classrooms. Linda Davis completed her first Montessori Teacher Training in 1971.  Since then she has worked in Montessori environments with students ages 3 to 6, 6 to 9, 9 to 12, and 12 to 15. Brief encounters with groups of children from birth to three and young people older than 15 have been intriguing, but so far she has preferred one-to-one interactions with those age groups. Experiences with other work outside the world Montessori have been brief and left her convinced she has the best job in the world.

Sara Kelly is our Student Resource Specialist. Sara has a rich background in assisting children and coaching teachers on working with children with learning differences. Sara will be working with children in all program levels.

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