Our Staff

“A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.” – Henry Adams

Our Staff

staff_imageAnn Phillips, School Director
Head of School

My name is Ann Phillips and I was trained in the Montessori Method at the Seton Montessori Institute in Hinsdale, Illinois. I began teaching in 1998 at Highland Park Montessori School where I completed my practicum training and then held a lead teacher position for four years. After moving to Libertyville with my family, I founded Village Green Montessori in 2002 and continued as the lead teacher until 2012. The school was named after my childhood street where I grew up the youngest of six children in a wonderful neighborhood. My respect of the Montessori method of teaching grew as I witnessed an atmosphere where younger and older children work together forming community much like a family or neighborhood. Developing respect, compassion, self-esteem, grace, courtesy, and kindness are primary goals of Village Green Montessori. VGM was created to provide a comfortable environment where children come joyfully and grow at their own pace to their fullest potential. I have the great privilege of working with an amazing group of loving teachers who are dedicated and enthusiastic making VGM a great place to be a kid! I live in Libertyville with my husband Don, Labrador Morgan, and French Bulldog puppy Payton. My daughter Lauren, 28, just completed her Doctorate Program at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Applied Behavioral Analysis. Lauren is a Clinic Director in Sacramento, CA and works with therapists and families of children with behavior disorders. My son Sean, 26, works in Des Moines, IA at Vision Financial Group as a financial analyst. I enjoy photography, yoga, movies, reading, and writing. I love spending time with family and friends and hope to make everyone feel like a part of the VGM Family. Village Green Montessori is a member of the American Montessori Society, and the Illinois Association of Montessori Schools. VGM is a not-for-profit corporation. Welcome To Our School.

 

Teiama Sippio-Heath
Head Directress Green Room

I love being the Head Montessori Directress of the Green Room class. This is my 10th year teaching at VGM! I have worked with students and families for the past 22 years and am excited about getting to know you and your child. I am also excited to be working with Ms. Analise and Ms. Jess!  Prior to coming to Village Green, I was a Pre-Kindergarten teacher at Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville, IL. Previously, I taught Kindergarten at Lion’s Math and Science Academy in Waukegan. I have had the pleasure of studying a variety of interesting subjects; I received a Bachelor of Arts degree with a double minor in Education and Psychology from Columbia College of Missouri. In 2012, I completed Montessori Director Certification at the Midwest Montessori Teacher Training Center in Evanston. My goals for children are to guide them towards leadership while focusing on having fun! I am structured but loving, and always enjoy learning from my students. I treat my class as if they are an extension of my own family. Any second of free time I get, I spend it with my family! I have two children, my son Damazz (22), and my daughter Denver (15). My children and my husband Charles are indeed the loves of my life. I enjoy fun family field trips, attending my husband’s live music gigs around the world, Zumba aerobics, makeup artistry and peaceful nature walks. Village Green Montessori is an incredible place that I am proud to call home.

Analise Cristino
Assistant Teacher Green Room

My name is Analise Cristino and I am so excited to have joined Village Green Montessori as an Assistant Teacher last Spring! I am looking forward to teaching with Ms. Teiama and our new teacher, Ms. Jess. I attended Chapman University in Orange California where I received my Bachelor of Arts in Integrated Educational Studies and double minors in Sociology and Language & Literacy. I was first exposed to the Montessori philosophy during my time at Chapman and was intrigued by its practices. This fall I will be attending the Seton Montessori Institute Paraprofessional training.  During my time in college, I was an after-school tutor for children in Kindergarten through eighth grade at a non-profit organization called The Friendly Center. I grew up in Mundelein where I babysat and nannied for various families in the area. I also worked at Mundelein Trails Day Camp for the past four summers as a camp counselor and most recently at VGM summer camp with Ms. Roberta and Ms. Audrey. In my free time, I enjoy reading, attending concerts, going on long walks, cooking, and spending time with my family and friends. My passion has always been working with children and I cannot wait to get to know all of the families and children at VGM.

Jessica Bilello
Assistant Teacher Green Room

My name is Jessica Bilello and I am so happy to join VGM as an assistant teacher alongside Ms. Teiama and Ms. Analise. I studied English Language and Literature and Spanish at Valparaiso University. As the oldest of nine siblings and one of many cousins, I have always loved working with children. When I learned about the Montessori philosophy I was immediately hooked. To further my professional development, I attended a training course at the Midwest Montessori Teacher Training Center this summer. As part of my previous nonprofit work, I ran leadership camps for children whose goals were to have fun and grow in character and friendship during the summer and also during the school year. I have worked in the hospitality field where part of my responsibilities included training programs for high school and college age young people.

I grew up in Mundelein with my four younger brothers and four younger sisters. We are all very close in age and are good friends; and we are close with our many cousins who live in the area as well. My hobbies include reading (especially classic literature like Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, and The Lord of the Rings,) running, hiking, biking, cooking with my mom, and spending time with my family and friends.

Kathy Olson
Lead Teacher Yellow Room
and Discover Science Program Teacher

My name is Kathy Olson and I am thrilled to be back for my ninth year at Village Green Montessori as a lead teacher in the Yellow Room. I am looking forward to a wonderful school year working alongside Ms. Audrey and Ms. Roberta. I am excited to see all the returning families and getting to know new families joining VGM. I received a BA in Elementary Education with a minor in Early Childhood Education from St. Norbert College. My husband and I spent six years in the Pacific Northwest where I taught second grade in Washington State before we moved back to the Midwest. I completed the Montessori assistant training course at Midwest Montessori Teacher Training Center in 2011. After working with many dedicated and talented directresses at VGM, where I became fully immersed in the Montessori philosophy, last Spring I began Montessori Director training at Seton Montessori Institute. I live in Libertyville with my husband David and our three children, Matthew (19) who will be a sophomore at the University of Dayton, Katie (17) who is a senior at LHS and Nicholas (13) who is in 8th grade at Highland. I enjoy biking, hiking, reading, watching football and spending time with family and friends. I love the nurturing and supportive nature of the VGM community. I believe that children thrive in the Montessori classroom because of the respect given to individual differences and the emphasis on social graces. When a child feels secure and loved, they flourish!

Audrey Felland
Directress Yellow Room

Greetings new and returning families of Village Green Montessori! I’m thrilled to be reunited with the VGM staff as an Early Childhood Educator this coming Fall. For those of you who do not know me, my name is Audrey Felland.

I graduated from UW-Whitewater with a B.A. in Communication Sciences and Disorders, including two years of early childhood studies. I have been a teacher for a total of seven years, five of which specifically dedicated to Montessori education. I began my Montessori journey when I met Ann Philips over five years ago. We quickly became friends and soon after, I joined the VGM family as a co-teacher in the Green room for one year. I was beyond grateful for the opportunity to be a part of such a beautiful school and warm community. Although my time at Village Green was short, I was able to dive into the method of Montessori and share my new found knowledge and passion with others.

After making a big move to California, I taught at Valley Village Montessori for two years, where I had the opportunity to teach 2-5-year-old children. Valley Village is a charming single classroom school, that had just opened the same year I arrived. It was both a humbling and educational experience to say the least. I quickly fell in love with the community and all of the families that I had the privilege to get to know. Although I cherished my time teaching and being surrounded by the many diverse cultures of California, my heart called me back home to Chicagoland.

After making my way closer to family and to where my Montessori career originally began, I was blessed to teach at Glencoe Montessori for two years. I began the Director training at Seton Montessori Institute and completed my final evaluation for certification this past summer. Also, I was pleased to be able to teach three weeks of summer camp at VGM and get a chance to meet some of my upcoming students and families.

Everything has come full-circle (so to speak) and I couldn’t be more thrilled. My dream is to continue to share my passion for learning, as well as my enthusiasm and dedication as a teacher here at Village Green Montessori. I will also continue to bring a positive and energetic spirit to the classroom each day, while providing the proper guidance for each child to learn and grow.

In my spare time, I enjoy traveling, reading, paddle boarding, hiking, yoga, dancing (Zumba), etc. I try to keep active and embrace nature, while admiring all of its wonders. I am very happy to have been welcomed back by the amazingly talented staff of VGM. It almost feels like I never left. I am excited to be working alongside Ms. Kathy and Ms. Roberta in the yellow room.

I look forward to meeting and sharing my passion for learning with your children.

Roberta Jacobson
Assistant Teacher Yellow Room

My name is Roberta Jacobson, and this is my fourth year working at Village Green as an assistant teacher in the Yellow Room. I am extremely excited and grateful to be a part of the VGM family! This coming year is going to be great one in the yellow room! I am so excited to be working beside Ms. Kathy and Ms. Audrey while continuing to learn and grow in the yellow room. Ever since I can remember I wanted to work with children. Since I was very young, I have cared for children from infants to 10 years old. I have also tutored children who struggled in Mathematics, English, and handwriting skills. I have my Associates in Science and Art and I am currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education at National Louis University where I will be graduating this December. To better my role as an assistant teacher I attended the Seton Montessori Institute Basics Paraprofessional Course. In my spare time, I like to do DIY projects, work out, spin, binge watch tv shows, cook, bake, listen to music, read and spend time with my friends and family. It warms my heart to witness the happiness in children while learning. I can’t wait to work with you and your children! It’s going to be a fantastic year!

Abbey Olson
Directress Blue Room

I feel privileged to be a part of the Village Green staff for my seventh school year. I always strive to provide a nurturing, stimulating environment where a child’s natural sense of wonder can lead to meaningful learning experiences. My mission is to foster a love of learning and self-confidence in each child that will last a lifetime!

I graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in philosophy and a certificate in environmental studies. I attended graduate school at National-Louis University where I earned my Master’s degree in Teaching and my Elementary Teaching Certificate. Lastly, I received my Montessori Teaching Credential from the Seton Montessori Institute where I was grateful to have studied under experts in the Montessori field.

My twins, Catcher and Dakota, are VGM graduates, and from the perspective of both a parent and educator, I fell in love with the Montessori philosophy. The Village Green community holds a special place in my heart, and I truly appreciate the opportunity to get to know each child and parent who walks through our door.

In addition to being a teacher, I am also a published children’s author. “When I Grow Up, I Want to Be Perfect” was released last year, and I hope it will become a springboard for important conversations with children about making mistakes and being kind to ourselves when we do. Some of my other favorite pastimes include hiking in the National Parks, volunteering with a local animal rescue group, and going to concerts with my husband.

Cheryl Carroll
Assistant Teacher Blue Room

Hi my name is Cheryl Carroll and I’ve been substitute teaching in all of the classrooms at VGM over the past 6 months. I’m excited to come aboard as an assistant teacher with Ms. Abbey in the Blue Room! In preparation for my role as a VGM assistant teacher, I will be attending the Seton Montessori Institute’s Paraprofessional course this summer. I live in Libertyville with my husband and my four children: (Dermott 16, Meghan 15, Gavin 13, and MaryEllen 11 (VGM Alum!)) I’ve been active in the Libertyville schools over the years; sitting on the PTO at Copeland Elementary & Highland Middle Schools, as well as being the FAD70 president.  In my spare time, I enjoy learning more about essential oils and chemically free living, running, yoga, cooking, baking, eating, and spending time with my friends and family. I’m looking forward to the next year and caring for your children!

Jessica Brown
Directress Orange Room

My name is Jessica Brown, and I am delighted to be returning to Village Green for my fifth year as the lead teacher of the Toddler Classroom.

I have a bachelor’s degree in English Education from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and a master’s degree in Curriculum & Instruction from National-Louis University. Before my children were born, I taught middle school language arts for seven years–there are more similarities between 12s and 2s than you might imagine! –and directed my district’s summer school program for three years.

VGM has been such an important place for our family since my son began as a brand-new three-year-old in 2009. My daughter couldn’t wait to start five years later–she’d been coming to the Yellow Room since the week she was born. As a Montessori kid myself (my husband too!), it’s not surprising that we chose Village Green for our children. We were drawn to the school by its warm environment and its respect for the individual needs of each child, and it far surpassed our expectations. It was so gratifying to see my children thrive in this nurturing and supportive setting, and then to watch them flourish in public school once they had finished kindergarten at VGM.

After several years at home with my kids, I began substituting in the four classrooms in 2014, learning so much from VGM’s fantastic teachers throughout that time. In 2015, following much observation, planning, and preparation, we excitedly welcomed our first class of tots to the Orange Room. I began my Infant-Toddler training at Seton Montessori Institute in 2016 and completed my certification in May 2018. Having devoted the first part of my career to fostering literacy in older children, I enjoy translating some of these same approaches to toddlers during this critical period of language development. I love being a part of their learning as they explore the world around them!
I live in Libertyville with my husband, Mike, and our kids, Alex (13) and Libby (8). Outside of school, I enjoy spending time with friends and family, knitting, and reading. I look forward to getting to know your child and your family!

Anna Lettenmair
Lead Afternoon, Nap and After School Club Teacher Orange Room

My name is Anna Lettenmair and I am so excited to be returning to VGM for my fifth year! Ever since I was young, I have had a passion for working with kids. I received my BS in Elementary Education from Southern Illinois University in 2011 and I have 15+ years of experience working with children, both in schools and as a nanny. I have also been to Africa twice to volunteer in orphanages, teach English and Mathematics to elementary-aged children, and to help start a school. It is my personal goal to create a positive learning environment in which the students in my classroom feel comfortable, confident, and inspired to explore. I am committed to enriching student learning by addressing all learning styles and abilities, and I am a big believer in the Montessori philosophy. In 2017, I completed the Seton Montessori Institute Paraprofessional training. I live in Libertyville with my husband, and in my free time I enjoy reading, taking walks, watching sports, and spending time with family and friends. I am really looking forward to working with all of our new and returning students, and I can’t wait to get to know you and your children!

Sara Yost
Assistant Teacher Orange Room

My name is Sara Yost and I am thrilled to start my third year teaching in the VGM tot room. Prior to VGM, I spent six years as a lead teacher at Celebrations Childcare in Libertyville working with 2 and 3-year olds. I also was an assistant teacher at Crossways Preschool for two years where I worked with 3-year olds.  My passion for Montessori school began when I first enrolled my son at VGM.  Watching the beautiful way that he learned, over the years, inspired me to carry on the Montessori Method in a nurturing setting.  Last summer I completed my Seton Montessori Institute Paraprofessional training.  I love that I have the opportunity to impact children’s lives, knowing that I have the ability to create a loving, caring, and friendly environment for my students is such a wonderful feeling. Watching children as they learn and explore new things and ideas inspires me. My hope is to learn as much from them as they will from me.  I live in Libertyville with my husband BJ and my son Robby (5), who recently completed three years at VGM.  In my free time I enjoy spending time with my family and friends, gardening, cooking, playing tennis, geocaching and traveling. I look forward to meeting the newest families of Village Green and welcoming all the children to our classroom.

Sarah Lynn Sparrowgrove
Morning Assistant Teacher Orange Room
Lead Afternoon, Nap and After School Club Blue Room

My name is Sarah-Lynn Sparrowgrove.  I am excited to be back teaching at Village Green Montessori.  I have always had a passion for working with young children.  I received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Early Childhood Education, with a concentration in Infant and Toddler Development.  I have accumulated 20 years of experience working with children. Most recently, I had a licensed Home Daycare, where I cared for many children and developed relationships with each child and their families. I learned about VGM years ago when I was a nanny for a child who attended VGM.  During that time, I developed a relationship with Ms. Ann, who was the lead teacher in yellow room.  I began working as an assistant teacher in the green room for a year, then chose to stay home to be with my children.  I felt that Village Green was not only a wonderful school for young children to grow and learn, but also a warm and welcoming environment for parents and caregivers.  I feel so lucky and appreciative to have stayed home with my two children to care for them and share new experiences with them.  My husband, Jake, and I have two children; Audrey who is 5 and Ethan who is 3.  We love to play outside, visit the library, create art projects, go on field trips to new places, and spend time with family and friends. I look forward to getting to know you and your child!

Jamie Tran
Support Teacher Orange Room

My name is Jamie Tran and I’m very happy to be joining the orange room at Village Green Montessori. I love working with young children, especially the twos, as this is such an amazing age where children are really coming into their own and growing in so many ways. I have worked with children for the past 25 years. I received my Bachelors in psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where I also spent two years working on a special interdisciplinary team studying and working in early intervention. Following college, I pursued dual Master’s degrees in social work and child development, with a certification in infant studies (0-3 years old). Upon completing my Master’s degrees, I worked for two years as an assistant director of a preschool before leaving to have my first child. I am passionate about the social emotional development of the child and I can’t wait to get back to working with children and families again.
I live in Buffalo Grove with my husband Jay, and 3 sons Joah (9), Benjamin (7), and Harrison (5). I have loved being at home and raising my boys and feel so lucky to have been able to do so for the past 9 years. Spending time with my family and friends is what makes me happiest. I also enjoy exploring new places and new foods, reading, taking exercise classes, and music and art. I am really looking forward to getting to know all of the families here!

Tinaz Sevak
Support Teacher Orange Room

My name is Tinaz Sevak and I’m delighted to return to the Orange Tot Room as a Tuesday/Thursday support teacher. This will be my fifth year teaching at VGM during the school year and summer camps. I’ve also had the honor of being a camp leader for Fox and Trove’s World Changer summer camp and this last fall I completed the Seton Montessori Institute Paraprofessional Course. I truly love working with children and being a mom has been my greatest joy.
I graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing. I then spent the next eight years holding various Human Resources and Benefits positions until the birth of my second child (a VGM alum!), at which point I decided to become a stay-at-home mom. I am expecting my third child this fall, after which I will be taking a leave of absence from VGM. I have tremendous respect for the Montessori Method which I became familiar with as I carefully researched preschools for my children. It is truly an honor to support such great teachers and work with your precious little ones as they learn, grow, and form friendships within the loving and nurturing environment here at VGM.
I live in Buffalo Grove with my husband, Deepak, and our two boys, Raj (9) and Neal (7). When I’m not chasing after my kids, I love reading, running, hiking, baking, meditation, attempting to get in shape and spending time with friends and family. I look forward to meeting you and your children!

Jan Schuett
Assistant Teacher Afternoon Nap Room and After School Club

It is my privilege to be joining the VGM staff.  I have been a substitute teacher at VGM for the last school year, working in all four classrooms.  My experience working with children started in my tween years.  The nursery at my church needed sitters during worship service, what a good way to get out of worship I thought! Little did I know, I would love being with the little ones and naturally good at taking care of them. However, the true learning and teaching happened while raising my three children. My children are two years, eleven months apart- so I had three children under three years of age!  I volunteered at my children’s school and our church in every children’s program possible. When the position of Director of Children’s Ministries (“DCM”) became open at our church, I applied.  For eighteen years I was blessed to be the DCM. Libertyville has been my home for 34 years. My oldest son lives in Libertyville with his family. My youngest daughter lives with her family in Chicago.  I am a grandma to five!

Besides the joy from helping children reach their own potential through work and play, I love observing the children’s creativity, imagination, curiosity, energy, compassion and laughter (just to name a few.)

I am so excited for this school year to start. Looking forward to seeing returning faces and meeting new ones!

Kelley Wilson
Support Teacher

Hello, my name is Kelley Wilson and I am excited to be returning to Village Green for my twelfth year! I look forward being support teacher in the Blue & Green rooms. This year I will be helping with assistant teacher training.  Previously, I have enjoyed working in many of the Village Green Montessori classrooms as a support teacher, substitute teacher, and Kindergarten/5 Club leader with Ms. Colleen. My philosophy is to provide a caring environment where children feel safe to explore and grow, foster a love of learning and teach them to care about the earth and all its wonders. I love the caring environment that VGM provides to the children which also extends to the community. I live in Libertyville with my husband, Bill, we have two sons Sam (24) who just graduated from Illinois State and is starting his career, and Bobby (28) who lives and works in Richland, MI. We enjoy boating and going to sporting events as a family, I enjoy biking, gardening, yoga and going to the theatre with friends.

Lori Burns
Support Teacher

This will be my seventh year at Village Green Montessori School. This year I will be working in the Blue Room on Friday mornings along with subbing in all classrooms. I am attending a Basics class at the Midwest Montessori Teacher Training Center in Evanston this summer. I am excited about attending this training class so I can have a better understanding of the Montessori Method. I have enjoyed getting to know all the children and parents at VGM these past 7 years. My husband, Kevin and I moved to Libertyville from Connecticut in 1996. Our three grown sons attended Libertyville public schools. We love the Libertyville Community! In my spare time, I like walking, cooking, reading and making creative lessons for my little friends. I am also involved with Kindred Life Ministry which mentors teen moms and teen dads. I am looking forward to another wonderful year at VGM!

Colleen Weiglein
Support Teacher Yellow and Blue Rooms and K5 Club

My name is Colleen Weiglein and I am happy to be returning to A Village Green for my tenth year. This year I am looking forward to working in the Yellow Room, implementing the Fox and Trove Kindness Curriculum at VGM, teaching yoga and continuing to run the Kindergarten/5 Club with Miss Kelley. I completed Seton Montessori Institute Assistant Paraprofessional course and Yoga Kids International training in 2010, and recently earned my RYT 200 (registered yoga teacher). I know that children need to feel safe, loved and understood to open their minds. It is my purpose to listen to what they are saying in their verbal and non-verbal voices to connect with them and nurture their love of learning. I am delighted to be part of your child’s self-directed learning. It is a privilege to be part of the amazing VGM family and to be affecting the lives of children through Montessori discovery of what she referred to as “ the child’s true normal nature.” I received my BA at the University of Dayton in communications, marketing and psychology. I spent many years in corporate America as a training specialist, stock market radio broadcaster, marketing manager and pharmaceutical sales executive. My husband Glenn and I live in Libertyville. We have three children; Abbey, Elise and Andrew. Away from VGM you can find me teaching yoga at several local studios, spending time with family and friends, traveling and volunteering. I so look forward to meeting all my new friends. This is going to be one fantastic year!

Shelly Sisk
Office Manager

Hello, my name is Shelly Sisk. I am happy to be returning to VGM as an Office Manager for my fourteenth year. I live in Grayslake with my husband Jim, and we have two children: Courtney 22, a multimedia journalist for WIFR in Rockford, and Michael 19, a sophomore at Indiana University. I spent several years at home with my children, then worked as a Contract Closer for Chicago Title Company. Prior to that, I spent 10 years as an Office Manager for a real estate management company. In my free time I enjoy exercising, gardening, cooking and spending time with my family and friends. I love being a part of the VGM Staff and I am looking forward to continue working with and meeting all of our new families.

Angela Crocco
Office Manager

Hello, my name is Angela Crocco. This is my sixth year returning to VGM as an Office Manager.  I live in Libertyville with my husband Tom, our son Alexander, a 3rd Grader at Adler, (and VGM alum!) and our mini Australian shepherd girl, Indie. Prior to staying home with Alex, I worked in Human Resources for Cisco Systems in San Francisco and was an Executive Assistant and HR Manager for Red Envelope. During my free time, I enjoy gardening, cooking, reading, traveling and spending time with family and friends. I love working with Shelly Sisk and being a part of the VGM office staff. I look forward to catching up with my VGM friends and meeting our new families!

“SPECIALS” TEACHERS
LeAnn Malecha
Music Teacher

My name is LeAnn Malecha and I look forward to spending time with the children and staff at VGM teaching music as a “special” that will rotate throughout the VGM morning classes.  I was a teacher for 24 years in the public school system. Most recently, I held the position of Music Teacher for K-5 children at Millburn School.

Prior to that, I was the music specialist for 2-4 year olds at Condell’s Intergenerational Center. I currently direct a Pre-School/Kindergarten choir and the Jr./Sr. High choir at First Presbyterian Church in Libertyville. I am an assistant choir director with the Red Rose Childrens’ choirs and I give private piano lessons. I enjoy singing in church choirs, playing the piano, and having mini concerts with my three daughters, Camille and Beth who both attended Augustana College and Emily, now a music student at Monmouth College.  I love spending time sharing my passion with the children at VGM.

Sofia Seely
Spanish Teacher

My name is Sofia Seely and this is my fifth year teaching afternoon Spanish on Wednesdays.  I love spending time with the children and the teachers of VGM and my daughter is a VGM graduate!

I was born and raised in Mexico City and when I was growing up my dream was to be a Montessori teacher.  I’m happy I can fulfill part of this dream by teaching Spanish weekly to VGM students.  I also enjoy teaching swimming to children at Goldfish Swim School.  I’m looking forward to seeing everyone this year!