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Staff

Our exceptional faculty includes internationally recognized, innovative teachers who combine strong teaching skills with specialty expertise. They mentor, advise and consult teachers and schools from around the world through affiliate organization Montessori Teachers Institute for Professional Studies.

In Montessori schools, children educate themselves via independent activity. Consequently, the role of our teachers is quite different from that of traditional educators. During training, the Montessori teacher learns to observe each child's total development with patience, curiosity and love. He or she carefully prepares and maintains an environment which is able to support the intellectual, physical, social and spiritual needs of each child in the classroom. As custodian of the classroom, the teacher is responsible for the atmosphere and order of the room, the presentation of materials and for the educational program.

According to the National Institute for Early Education Research, early childhood education programs have an average annual turnover rate of 25-50%. On the contrary, the CMS teaching staff has an average tenure of 15 years. Teacher turnover is rare. All have specialized training in various areas. Many are National and International Presenters. The staff at CMS are also on the staff of the Montessori Teachers Institute for Professional Studies, an organization that offers experienced Montessori teachers the opportunity for further education.

Read below and get to know us:


Wendy Calise

Position

  • Head of School
  • Director, Montessori Teachers Institute for Professional Studies

Time at CMS

22 years

Education

  • Bachelor's Degree - Northwestern University Major: psychology
  • Association Montessori Internationale Primary and Elementary Diplomas
  • Certificate for Mediation Skills Training related to Alternative Dispute Resolution at Northwestern University School of Continuing Studies

Experience

Primary Classroom Teacher, Elementary Classroom Teacher, Educational Director, Swimming Teacher, Published Author, National and International Montessori Presenter, Consultant for MTIPS, Teacher Mentor, Founder of the Montessori Teachers Institute for Professional Studies, Board Member - Roycemore School

Personal History

Wendy is a Northbrook native having moved to this suburb when she was two years old. She continues to reside in Northbrook today. Wendy is a daughter of the Founders of Countryside, Frank and Annette Kulle. She attended CMS through elementary. Following her time at Countryside, she went to the local public schools for four years and then transferred to Roycemore School in Evanston where she graduated Valedictorian of her class. She is married to Elementary Teacher, Guy Calise, and has three children. Dante, 15 years old, who graduated in 2010 and now attends the Montessori High School in Cleveland; Cecilia, 11 years old, who attends CMS Elementary; and Rino, 8 years old, who attends the All Year Montessori Program. In 2009, Wendy founded the Montessori Teachers Institute for Professional Studies. This organization helps teachers and schools across the United States and Internationally improve their practice of Montessori by offering conferences, consulting and mentoring. Many of the Countryside staff serve as presenters at the Annual Summer Institute held at CMS and are also school consultants and teacher mentors.

Interests

Wendy first and foremost loves to read, both fiction and non-fiction. She is currently working on a Masters Degree in Science at DePaul University. She also enjoys traveling the United States with her family to visit the natural wonders of our country. She is a writer and has had articles published in several professional journals. Wendy runs 25-30 miles per week, though she doesn't love that so much.
Email Wendy Calise


Veronica Armenta

Position

Toddler Teacher

Time at CMS

15 years

Education

  • Association Montessori Internationale Toddler Diploma
  • Early Childhood Education, Kendall College and St. Augustine College

Experience

Toddler Classroom Assistant, Care Club Assistant Spanish Teacher and Spanish Teacher

Personal History

Veronica was born in Acapulco, Mexico and moved to Chicago in 1989. She has been married to her husband Juan for twenty years and has four children, Christian 18, Danny 17, Juan Jr. 15, and Jessica 7. She currently resides in Morton Grove. Veronica enjoys working with young children and she likes increasing her knowledge of child development. She is also very excited and nervous to have her eldest son Christian in college and her youngest in third grade!

Interests

In her "spare time,” Veronica enjoys spending time with her family and friends outdoors. She also enjoys, swimming, walking, and biking in the forest preserve.
Email Veronica Armenta


Michele Aspinall

Position

Director and Teacher of All Year Montessori Program

Time at CMS

22 years

Education

  • Association Montessori Internationale Primary Diploma
  • B.A. Graphic Design, Illinois Institute of Art

Experience

Primary Classroom Assistant, CareClub Director, Published Author, Ad Designer, National Montessori Presenter

Personal History

Michele grew up in Glenview where she later met her "husband-to-be", Jim Aspinall, in high school. Michele and her husband Jim now live Northbrook and have two children who attend Countryside. Michele began her journey in Montessori at Countryside as a part-time assistant in the before and after school program in 1989. She went on to assist in the toddler, primary and elementary environments. Michele directed the many variations of the school's day care program while earning a BA in graphic art in 1995 from the Illinois Institute of Art. She later earned her AMI primary diploma from the Milwaukee Montessori Institute in 2000.

Michele is a pioneer in the creation of one of the first authentic All Year Montessori models in the US. She began her work on this project in 2000, twelve years ago. Since that time she has nurtured and tailored this program into a truly magnificent experience for children who spend much of their lives at school. The program runs from 7:30 - 5:30 for 245 days per year. Over the last two summers Michele presented workshops on her program to over 120 attendees coming from over 16 states and as far as Mexico and Chile.

Michele also wrote an article, "The Road Less Taken", which was published in the AMI USA Newsletter in 2001. Michele shared her All Year Montessori story at an AMI conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 2002. In addition, Michele spoke about the importance of peaceful transitions at a North American Montessori Teachers' Association (NAMTA) conference held in Austin, Texas. Michele continues to teach in the All Year environment. Michele and her husband Jim live in Northbrook and have two children who attend Countryside.

Interests

Michele likes to spend her spare time in the kitchen. Cakes, cookies, pies; you name it and she bakes it! Michele also enjoys antiquing and locating good finds.
Email Michele Aspinall


Jennifer Rogers

Position

Founding Adolescent Guide

Time at CMS

10 years

Education

  • Association Montessori Internationale Assistants to Infancy Diploma
  • Association Montessori Internationale Primary Diploma
  • NAMTA Middle School Certification
  • M.T.S. Emory University, Atlanta, GA
  • B.A., Religious Studies and English, Albion College, Albion, MI
  • Certified Orton Gillingham tutor

Experience

Primary Teacher, Reading Specialist,Toddler Teacher, Published Author, Regular Contributor to mariamontessori.com, Soccer Coach and MTIPS Presenter

Personal History

Jennifer Rogers has been a primary teacher for almost 20 years, the last 10 at Countryside Montessori School. This year she attended the Montessori Adolescent training in Cleveland, Ohio. She will join the middle school students in their new building this year. Mrs. Rogers has a bachelor’s degree in religious studies and English from Albion College and a Master of Theological Studies from Candler Seminary at Emory University. She enjoys writing about the work she loves, and has had articles published in Parenting for a New World, Public School Montessorian, Independent School and Chicago Parent. She is a regular contributor to the mariamontesori.com blog. This August the North American Montessori Teacher’s Association will publish Mrs. Rogers’ first short book for parents and teachers, Faith in a Child. Jennifer has three children enrolled at Countryside. She resides in Northbrook with her family.

Interests

Jennifer has been married to Andy for 19 years, and still enjoys his company. She has played soprano and alto recorders most of her married life and continues to enjoy occasional duets with Andy’s guitar. Jennifer also enjoys walking, camping, reading and baking bread. She has for six seasons coached an undefeated second grade boys’ soccer team. It keeps her humble and active, and brings her great joy.
Email Jennifer Rogers


Kim Shultz

Position

Primary Teacher

Time at CMS

17 Years

Education

  • Association Montessori Internationale Primary Diploma
  • B.A., Fine Art, Indiana University

Experience

Primary Classroom Assistant, Care Club Assistant, Published Author, Dining Room/Kitchen Assistant, Elementary Assistant, Director of Assistants

Personal History

Kim grew up on a farm in a small rural community in Indiana. She grew up in the same hometown as her husband, Dennis and they have been married for 24 years. She set off for Bloomington, IN after graduating from high school and earned her B.A. in Fine Arts from Indiana University. Kim and Dennis lived in California for 10 years, moving down the coast from Santa Clara, to Burbank, and finally to Upland. She was an Assistant Manager in the retail banking industry during that time. Dennis accepted a position in the Chicago area and though they had enjoyed their time in California, it was good to be moving close to home. Once they had decided to move back to the midwest, Kim felt it was time for a change. She had always enjoyed being with children so after seeing an ad in the local paper Kim took a position as an Assistant Teacher at Countryside Montessori. Kim new this was the place for her and going on 17 years now she has never looked back. Kim and Dennis have two sons, Dustin 16 and Dane 14 who began their Montessori experience at just 6 weeks and graduated from CMS. Kim was in the first class to attend the Montessori Institute of North Texas graduating in 2007.

Interests

Kim and her family enjoy boating on Lake Michigan and around the Great Lakes each Summer. She spends time at their family farm renovating the house and an occasional ride on the four wheeler! Kim enjoys sewing particularly hand stitching. Of course reading is a given for rainy afternoons. The boys both play high school football so during football season you will find the Shultz family cheering the team on in all kind of weather!
Email Kim Shultz


Kim Anderson

Position

Teacher, Lower Elementary Class, ages 6-9

Time at CMS

11 years

Education

  • Association Montessori Internationale Elementary Diploma ages 6-12
  • Masters of Education, Loyola University, Maryland
  • B.S. Special Education, L.D., B.D., E.M.H certifications, Illinois State University

Experience

Elementary Teacher, Primary Classroom Assistant, Toddler Classroom Assistant, High School Special Education Teacher

Personal History

Kim has been a parent at Countryside for fifteen years and a teacher for eleven years. She has four children ranging in age from 20 years old to 1 year old. She has had children in each of the last three decades. By the time all of her children have graduated from Countryside she will have been a parent at Countryside for the past 28 years.

Interests

Kim started a neighborhood book club 10 years ago that is still going strong. She is a voracious reader of fiction. She prefers historical fiction and regional mysteries. In retirement, Kim would love to own a small bookstore that would become a family business. Kim loves to wander the Botanic Gardens and attend concerts at Ravinia during the summer months. Some day, Kim would love to visit Paris, France and take an African Safari with her family.
Email Kim Anderson


Guy Calise

Position

  • Founding Director of Middle School

Time at CMS

23 years

Education

  • BS in Biology from Illinois State University
  • AMI Elementary certificate from Washington Montessori Institute
  • NAMTA/AMI Adolescent certificate from Cleveland Adolescent Orientation
  • Experience

    23 years teaching as an Elementary director, 6 years as head of the Upper school, national presenter and workshop leader.

    Personal History

    Born in Providence Rhode Island into a family of Italian bakers. Calise Bakery is currently the largest bakery on the East Coast.

    Interests

    I play Men’s senior baseball and nothing makes me happier than driving a ball deep on a warm summer day.
    Email Guy Calise


    Krista Delaney

    Position

    Director and Teacher of the Primary Physical Education Program

    Time at CMS

    34 years

    Education

    • Association Montessori Internationale Assistants to Infancy Diploma
    • Attended Barat College

    Experience

    Primary Classroom Assistant, Elementary Classroom Assistant, Toddler Classroom Assistant, Summer Camp Director, Swim Instructor, Primary Physical Education Director, Toddler Teacher Mentor, Admissions Director, Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable, Reading Tutor, and almost everything else! She is also an MTIPS Consultant.

    Personal History

    Born in Germany and raised in Northbrook, Krista has two children, ages 15 and 14. Her eldest graduated from CMS in 2009 and her youngest graduated from CMS in 2011. They are now a junior and freshman in high school.

    Interests

    Reading Fictional Novels, Camping Locally, Keeping Fit


    Ben Price

    Position

    Elementary Teacher Assistant/Elementary Physical Education Instructor

    Time at CMS

    1 year

    Education

    • BBA, Marketing, Organization Management, Emory University
    • MS, Education: Kinesiology, Coaching, Michigan State University

    Experience

    Service Learning Liaison, Middle School/High School and Elementary Teacher Assistant (North Shore Academy/Elementary),Instructional Assistant in self-contained Autistic Spectrum Disorder classrooms (District 54), Basketball Coach, Fitness Specialist (Buffalo Grove Park District)

    Personal History

    Ben grew up in Mount Prospect and attended Hersey High School in Arlington Heights before attending Emory University in Atlanta where, despite a degree earned in business, began his pursuit of coaching basketball professionally. This led to attendance at Michigan State University and an advanced degree before once again, and finally, shifting his professional pursuits toward education.

    Interests

    Ben has been a high school basketball coach the last 8 years and is currently coaching at Hersey High School while he continues the pursuit of his own high school program, Ben is also a published author and writes frequently in his free-time.


    Joseph Francavilla

    Position

    Music Director

    Time at CMS

    12 years

    Education

    • Masters of Music, Piano Performance, Northwestern University
    • Bachelors of Music, Piano Performance, Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University

    Experience

    Piano Instructor, Chorus Director, Composer, Performer, Published Music Arranger, Piano Technician,MTIPS Presenter

    Personal History

    Joe was born and raised outside of Washington, DC. As a child he began his musical studies on guitar, and a few years later, piano. While in college he also studied voice, harpsichord, and organ. After graduation, Joe worked for several years as a professional performer and accompanist before joining the staff at Countryside, where he teaches piano lessons, directs several choral ensembles, and coordinates musical activity. Most recently, he composed his third children’s opera and published a set of music appreciation materials with Montessori educator Sanford Jones.

    Interests

    In his spare time, Joe enjoys playing the piano, reading, humor writing, running, and hiking in the Rocky Mountains. After studying instrument construction, he built a harpsichord based on an original instrument by Albertus Delin in 1770.


    Karen O'Malley

    Position

    Director of Admissions/Business Manager

    Time at CMS

    15 years

    Education

    • St. Mary's University, Winona, Minnesota
    • BA Accounting

    Experience

    Except for teaching, there isn't much she hasn't had her hands on!

    Personal History

    Born and raised in the Chicago area, Karen and her husband have 3 grown children and 2 grandchildren. She has worn many hats at Countryside but her passion is introducing new families to the school.

    Interests

    Karen enjoys running, boating, biking, window shopping and spending time with her family and friends.


    Jim Aspinall

    Position

    • Director of Operations

    Time at CMS

    6 years

    Education

    • B.S. Loyola University at Chicago

    Experience

    Technology Leasing, Equipment Portfolio Management

    Personal History

    Jim grew up in Glenview, recreating as many John Hughes scenes as possible. He works at CMS with his wife Michele, who works right down the hall. He has two children, one in AYM and the other in the elementary class.

    Interests

    Bike riding (all kinds), running, White Sox, endurance events


    Lisa Sanden

    Position

    • Director of Development
    • Head of Lower School

    Time at CMS

    21 years

    Education

    • Association Montessori Internationale, Consultant's Certification
    • Association Montessori Internationale Primary Diploma
    • B.S., Geology, University of Miami, Coral Gables, Florida Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa

    Experience

    Primary Classroom Assistant, Primary Classroom Teacher, Teacher Mentor, Swimming Teacher, Published Author, National Montessori Presenter

    Personal History

    Lisa grew up in Glenview, behind the old Pier One. She spent most of her childhood running the neighborhood with the 20 other kids from her street and the neighborhoods nearby. Once, she found 40 small frogs in a pond and happily brought them home to her mom, thinking mom would be just as thrilled. An error in judgment, perhaps, but definitely an indication of her love of the natural world. Lisa now lives with her husband of 12 years, their fabulous mutt Dodger, and the last of four children at home, who goes off to college next fall. She is beginning a new adventure this year, leaving the class after 19 years and moving into the office where she will be working on marketing and development.

    Interests

    Lisa is working towards a Masters degree in human development, and enjoys taking yoga classes, boating and swimming.


    Frank and Annette Kulle

    Founders

    Frank grew up on the South side of Chicago and graduated from the University of Illinois with a degree in General Engineering and Business Administration. He met Annette on her first day of college and they were married one week after graduation.

    They spent two years in Germany in the Corps of Engineers where he talked Annette into her first camping adventure in a pup tent in Italy. The rest, as they say, is history. They have camped all over the US and Canada including Alaska and the Yukon; they camped in Europe; and have been four-wheel drive camping in Australia five times!

    Annette is a native of Chicago. She graduated from the University of Illinois with a degree in Math. She and Frank have been married for 51 years.

    Annette and Frank have three children, Krista, Jay and Wendy - all former CMS students, all former CMS students - and seven grandchildren, Riley, Dante, Rogan, Gianni, Cecilia, Christian, and Rino. Annette likes to think of them as one for each day of the week!

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