ADMINISTRATION

Rita Nolan
Executive Director of the Montessori Network
Dr. Nyela Wells
Principal

Rita Nolan is the Montessori Network Executive and the founder of the Montessori School of Englewood.  She previously served as the Upper School Director for Chicago’s Near North Montessori School from 2003 and 2009.  Originally from Ireland, Rita has a degree in Geography and Greek and Roman Civilization from the Univeristy College Dublin.  Ms. Nolan also holds an M. Ed in Curriculum and Instruction and is certified in the Montessori Method at the primary and elementary levels.  Rita was selected as a Ryan Fellow and had the opportunity to gain entrepreneurial insights on education reform learned through a Summer Institute at Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management and a Field Study at Alain Locke Charter School. Rita is an Experience School Leader with a demonstrated history of working in the nonprofit organization management industry.  Rita displays experience in Operation Start-up for Nonprofit Organizations, Instructional Leadership, and school curriculum. During her tenure as Executive Director, Rita was instrumental in creating the Chicago Montessori Residency Program to grow the ranks of Montessori Public Schools for children living in underserved communities.  Rita was granted the Dennis Schapiro Award for Innovation in Montessori Teacher Education, which is awarded to individuals who have brought significant change to teacher education. Rita has presented at many State and National Conferences focusing on Montessori pedagogy and its application in under-resourced communities.

Dr. Nyela Wells joined The Montessori School of Englewood in 2015, following over 20 years of service within education from preschool to college. Her career began at the elementary level, where she taught preschool through 8th grade in both private and public sectors for 15 years before moving on to open her tutoring center. She later taught academic and business language strategies on the West, North, and Southside of Chicago. Dr. Wells has also taught at City Colleges of Chicago for the past five years. Dr. Wells grew up in Chicago and attended school in the East Garfield Park neighborhood. She received her undergraduate degree from Northeastern Illinois University in Psychology with a specialization in Educational Psychology. She earned her master’s degree in Inner City Studies Education, a second master’s in Adult Education, and finally a doctorate in Education focusing on Race and Equity. Dr. Wells views a collaborative school environment as the key to creating successful teachers and students. She prides herself on being an empathetic listener and works diligently to create a school environment that challenges and empowers students. Dr. Wells is devoted to creating a Montessori environment that is culturally relevant. She believes partnerships with parents and community partners are essential to enriching the experience at The Montessori School of Englewood. During her free time, Dr. Wells enjoys spending time with both immediate and extended family. Married for 30 years, she loves to watch old Westerns with the hubby, spending time with her three daughters and four grandchildren, as well as reading about race and equity issues.

Jamie Knight
Assistant Principal
Maggie Mikuzis
Director of Operations
  • Education and Career Background: Attended Montessori school for primary and elementary; Bowdoin College (BA in English Literature, 2007), Loyola University School of Law (JD, 2012, certificate in juvenile law)

  • Approach to Learning and Teaching: I believe that children learn best when they are given the freedom to explore their interests. I've taught in traditional public schools and Montessori programs, and believe this approach to teaching and learning leads to more motivation, creativity, and passion for learning in children. Students in Montessori schools don't work for gold stars or high grades - they work because they love to learn.

  • Hobbies/Interests: Running, playing the piano, cooking, hanging out with my dogs and 2-year-old

Maggie Mikuzis joined the Montessori School of Englewood Community in 2017 as an Executive Assistant and moved into the role of Director of Operations for the 2018-2019 school year. Maggie graduated from DePaul University with a double Bachelors Degree in Public Relations and Journalism. After college, Maggie became a Site Director and managed the curriculum, financials, and staff supervision of sites in a south suburban school district. During this time, Maggie decided to continue her education at DePaul University and received a dual Masters in Organizational and Multicultural Communication with a concentration in Training and Development. Maggie completed her field work at the YMCA Corporate Office and developed trainings for executives, centers, teachers, and assistants focusing on a variety of child related, compliance, and safety topics. After graduating, Maggie decided to spend time teaching to truly understand the whole child. Maggie taught Kindergarten through second grade in Chicago’s Chinatown neighborhood, specifically focusing on rigorous test-prep for selective enrollment schools. As she enjoyed teaching, she wanted to expand her operational knowledge and joined a national start-up educational firm as an Associate Director of City-Wide Operations for Chicago, St. Louis, Milwaukee, and Indianapolis. Maggie developed systematic ways to connect experienced tutors with individual students through personalized learning plans on a live learning platform. After helping expand this company to reach over 20 cities, Maggie decided to bring her work closer to home. She joined a consulting firm that focused on recruiting, training, and onboarding early education teachers for center based programs. Maggie was born and raised on the South Side of Chicago and knew her passion for education would lead her back there. Maggie enjoys seeing students at TMSOE make connections in and out of the classroom that contributes to them becoming future leaders. In Maggie’s spare time she enjoys spending time with friends and family, cooking, traveling, volunteering, and judging high school competitive speech competitions in Chicago.

Stephanie Toon
CMR Director/Lower Elementary Level Head
  • Education and Career Background: BA English and Political Science, University of Madison-Wisconsin. MPA (Masters of Public Administration) from UIC. AMS trained teacher from Midwest Montessori Training Center.

  • Approach to Learning and Teaching: I believe in fostering creativity and independence to help students become leaders. I believe that all children have the ability to learn, and finding the right way to access their capabilities is the main job of the Montessori guide.

  • Hobbies/Interests: Soccer, running, hiking, camping, scuba diving, cooking (and eating, hehe).

Kristen O’Meara
SPED Director
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Calvin Barksdale
IT Specialist
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Julie Drew
Montessori Coach
  • Education and Career Background: DePaul University Bachelor of Arts in Social Science Secondary Education, DePaul University Early Childhood Subsequent Certificate. I have taught in both public and private Montessori schools and have seven years of teaching experience in both Primary (3-6) and Lower Elementary (6-9).

  • Approach to Learning and Teaching: I believe my role as a teacher is to guide children in their learning without inserting myself into the center of their learning experience. With a management style of firm but fair, I try to make my classroom a place that nurtures students to be both responsible and independent, as well as active citizens in both their classroom and beyond.

  • Hobbies/Interests: I enjoy spending time with my family and close friends, doing home projects, baking, live music, working out, and being outdoors.