Lupita Carrasquillo nurtures the artist in all of us. She is queer chicana boriqua born and raised in Chicago. She is a poet, educator and organizer with Brown and Proud Press, a collective of artists and idependent publishers. Lupita has been teaching youth art, writing and zine making for over 4 years.

Ms. Maribel joined OPFS in the fall of 2016. She has an Associates Degree in Early Childhood Education. Ms. Maribel has been working with children from 3 months up to 12 years old for 12 years. She loves working with infants, and toddlers. She loves making crafts with the children, and playing with sensory activities! Maribel is an animal lover, she has two dogs, five birds, and a cat. Maribel believes that play is the highest form of research, and it gives children a chance to practice what they are learning!

Mercedez has been in the childcare field since 2009 when during high school she worked at a home center. She sought out a quality education for childcare management at Rust College. She has been a lead teacher since graduating in 2018. In 2021, she earned a Masters in Early Childhood Education Administration. Mercedez has a son of her own who she spends a lot of time with. She likes to read and practice photography on her free time. She looks forward to working with you and your child(ren).

My name is Aaliyah and I am a born and raised Chicago native. I grew up on the
south-side and I’ve always been interested in the arts. I graduated from Columbia College
Chicago with a BFA in Fine Arts. I have been working with children for many years, starting very
young with babysitting and moving on to nannying and other childcare related employment. I
absolutely love children and I found that I especially love working with infants, watching them
grow and learn so quickly in such a short amount of time. I am very passionate about creativity
with children. Even when they’re young, it is always important to try to explore art and
creating, even if that only means finger painting for a while. I love reading and I find that it is so
fundamental to every child’s learning experience.

Ginkgo

Gabriella joined the OPFS team this fall and is very excited to be in one of our pre-k classrooms! She began her experience with children by babysitting for her own family and different families in the Oak Park and River Forest area. While she was traveling to pursue interests in other fields and moving away for work, she became an aunt! Soon after, she moved back to Oak Park and discovered her passion for understanding child development. She will be pursuing her Early Childhood Advanced Career Pathway Level III Certificate and believes very strongly in simplistic values and building mentally healthy humans from an early age. She loves hiking, exercise, creating greeting cards, and spending time with her nieces and nephew.

Fiona BIO Coming Soon

Danielle began her adventures with OPFS in 2015 as a teacher in the Blue Room (now Maple). In 2021 when the school expanded she moved to help a bit all over from the front desk. She has a bachelor's in studio art and brings experience as a nanny and a foster carer. She gained an indelible appreciation for teamwork + curiosity here. 

Hi! I'm Ellen and I'm new to OPFS. I have lived in Illinois for the last 20 years. I'm originally from Wisconsin and am an extreme animal lover! As a child I was in 4H club my proudest moment was having a grand champion rooster and rabbit in the local fair. It was that love that lead me to becoming a dog trainer which I'm so passionate about. I have an awesome loving family which includes my fiancé, 2 step children, a 3 year old daughter, a crazy dog and 2 cats. I have a passion for helping others and so love children. I'm so excited to start in the infant classroom.

Our Subs & Floaters

Ms. Allison has been with OPFS as a lead teacher in the Blue Room since July 2015. She has been in childcare for over 12 years and has a college background in early childhood education. She has two beautiful boys at home (Patrick and Mando) and loves spending her extra time with them. Her philosophy for the kids in the classroom is the same as the philosophy she has for her sons. She strives to help the children be independent and confident in everything they do. She believes in open communication so please feel free to stop in and chat with her whenever you need.

Ursula joined OPFS in May of 2021. She recently graduated from  college with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology, as she plans to work in the field of prevention-based mental health care with children in the future. Throughout her time in school, she earned Early Childhood Education certifications and worked as a classified staff member at the  campus children’s center, with children from 6 weeks to 5 years old. She is very excited to  continue working with the infants here at OPFS! In her free time, she enjoys creating art and spending time in nature. I enjoy creating art in my free time— especially oil paintings and scratchboard pieces— and love spending time in nature.

​Kathy grew up right here in Oak Park! Her educational background is in Early Childhood Education and Therapeutic Recreation. She has over 20 years experience working in a variety of early childhood settings including Maryville’s Crisis Nursery, Parenthesis (now part of New Moms), and, most recently, for 8 years at Pilgrim Community Nursery School where she worked in a number of different classrooms with children ages 2-6 years. Kathy joined OP Friends in 2019. Her Early Childhood philosophy is to meet children where they are at cognitively, emotionally, and socially. She feels it is vital that each child and family sees themselves reflected in the classroom. Being part of a multi-racial family herself has made Kathy feel even more passionately about this. Kathy lives in Forest Park with her husband and 4 grown-ish children. In her free time, she enjoys reading, crafts, and watching movies.

​Maple

Seedling

Paige has been with OPFS since the summer of 2015. She worked for many years in the baby room and has transitioned as the kindergarten teacher. Paige is a yoga instructor and has her masters in early childhood education. She is a mama to her daughter Luna and a dog mom. Her hobbies include spending time with her family, exercising, reiki and all the good stuff! 

Chloe has raised her family in Oak Park (around the corner from OPFS) for the past 18 years. She began working with Talley in 2013 and together, they officially established OP Friends School in the Spring of 2014. Chloe has a background in fine art. She has three children-- Josie, Fiona, and Owen --one husband, one goldfish, and one scruffy dog named Gertie.  Chloe enjoys books, film, yoga, art, and travel. She used to play roller derby. She does not like balloons. 

Elle began working with children six years ago and quickly found a passion for child  development and child welfare. She holds an associate degree in liberal arts with an early  childhood concentration as well as over 20 DCFS certifications. Elle's few favorite things  about working with children are watching children test their hypothesis, using everyday  materials to help them explore and prompting them to talk through their feelings. Elle is  currently completing a bachelor’s in social work with a minor in child advocacy studies  and is also a registered yoga instructor.


Penny joined OPFS March 2021. She just graduated high school in the  spring and is taking a gap year to work and save money. Penny is a singer/songwriter and is currently in a band called "Space Cake" that has a  song on Spotify called "Wonder". She loves working with the babies and  getting to know their fun individual personalities! Her mission is to make sure the kids are happy and comfortable wherever they are.  

Idu, Lauren, Magali, Evelyn, Trish. . . BIOS Coming Soon

Birch

Ms. Marisol has been part of OPFS since the beginning. She has many years of experience working with all ages. She likes to help her own 4 year old daughter, Alicia, and other children explore their environment in fun and messy ways.  She is a big animal lover and always teaches the children about respecting all living creatures big and small. She is excited to be a part of each child’s journey and loves to see them grow. She and Alicia moved into the Cicero area in early 2020. 

Morgan has been with OPFS since Sept 2016. He lives in Berwyn, IL with his  wife and three kids. Before OPFS Morgan worked at UPS and had his own  business buying and selling vintage/antique furniture. In 2021 he became a  teacher in the Acorn Room and is looking forward to growing his experience with all ages. Morgan is also in charge of all maintenance and housekeeping at OPFS. Morgan loves playing and taking care of babies and toddlers.

Mariko has had 5 years of teaching experience with ages from preschool through adults.  She got her bachelor's degree in 2019 in Japanese and TESOL (Teaching English to  Speakers of Other Languages). She spent 2019-2020 teaching English to elementary school  students in Japan but came back due to COVID. In September, she began working at OPFS  as an assistant for our blind student during E-Learning. Now that E-Learning has finished,  she is excited to begin working with the Oak Room! She has plans to pursue a Master’s in Education next fall to further her passion in teaching. Her hobbies are dancing and  traveling. Fun fact, she owns around 40 tarantulas, 5 scorpions and 3 centipedes!

Big Kids - Grades 2 3 4 & 5


Hello, my name is Crystal. I’ve worked in Early Childhood for a year now and I’ve
enjoyed every second of it! I’m a full time student at Morton College majoring in Early Childhood Education. I plan on finishing up my courses and graduate by this summer.
Interests include coffee, baking, watching movies/tv shows, listening to Korean pop music and
Japanese city pop, reading, learning new languages and traveling. I’m currently learning
Korean and I hope to visit South Korea in the future.

Willow

Mr. Chris joined the OPFS team in the summer of 2015 as a part of the Orange Room team, and he is very excited to work with your children this year! After seeing how his own two children were being cared for at OPFS, Chris decided to teach here because of OPFS’s play-based approach and community atmosphere. He comes from a background in music, performance, and composition. His hobbies are playing and listening to music and reading.

 

​​​Director of School Age Programming, Jessie, is currently a student at Lewis University working towards a degree in Education and Special Education and has been working with children in and out of the classroom for three years. He was a senior counselor at a summer sports camp at DePaul University and served as a Registered Behavior Therapist for children with autism. His hobbies include listening to and finding new music and being active with friends.

Alvita & Katrinia BIOS coming soon too!

​Alissa grew up in Shaker Heights, Ohio. She has a BA from Tufts University and a MSW from Boston University School of Social Work. She and her husband moved to Oak Park in 1993 and have two sons (22 and 19) and a daughter (16) . Alissa worked as a Family Support Specialist at Parc Early Intervention Program serving children ages 0-3 years with developmental delays/disabilities and their families. She was lead teacher for 6 years in the 2-year-old classroom at Pilgrim Community Nursery School. She joined OP Friends School in 2017.  Alissa has also interned/volunteered in a variety of settings with children including a music therapy program, Sunday school, a Waldorfschule in Germany, Tufts University's Educational Day Care Center, a children's rehabilitation hospital, and a therapeutic day school. In her free time, Alissa loves to read, knit, sew, play piano and travel the world.

Oak

Kaitlyn is a junior at OPRF, she lives in Oak Park with her parents, two younger  siblings and her two dogs. Kaitlyn started working at OPFS in May 2021 and has been  babysitting since she was 11 years old. Kaitlyn loves working with children and getting to  know their different personalities and watching them grow. Kaitlyn hopes to one day  become an elementary school teacher. During her free time, she enjoys hanging out with  her friends and family, watching movies, walking her dogs and listening to music. Katlyn  will be spending her time between Birch and Willow classrooms. 

K-Care - Kindergarten

Joel has been with OPFS since 2015 when we were a home daycare.  With over 30 years of experience working with children from birth to 12 years old, a Bachelor’s in Early Childhood Education and a Master's of Education in Curriculum and Instruction, Joel is a Director extraordinaire with hours in every classroom and a place in his heart for every kiddo. Joel teams up with DCFS to keep us safe, the Collaboration for Early Childhood to keep us educated and supported, with teachers to help children feel seen and loved and with our kids to help them navigate challenges. He has a strong passion for being a part of making a difference in children’s lives. Mr. Joel is a proud grandfather of five and always enjoys being with family. 

Kitchen manager, Tara is an eccentric, part-time stay at home mom of 2 energetic and creative kiddos. She has a background in Theatre Arts and a passion for the dramatic. She loves playing with and hanging out with babies, children, kids, teens and beyond. Tara grew up on a rural farm in the middle of nowhere and dreamed of moving to the big city, a dream which she reached when she moved to New York City in 2006 and eventually Oak Park in 2010.  She is a volunteer facilitator and curriculum developer for Oak Park Our Whole Lives and is always taking on volunteer projects.  Her passions include travel, travel planning, listening to music and streaming TV of all kinds. 

​Elm

My name is Olivia and I am currently a junior at Dominican University studying psychology with a concentration in child psychology. I have worked at Oak Park Friends for a little over a year now and currently work with the 1st and 2nd-grade E-learning pod. I am also the 1st-5th grade After School lead. I love getting to see the kids every day and help them navigate school and life through the pandemic. I love to draw, paint, read, listen to music and go thrift shopping in my free time!

Hello! My name is Yasmin, I am 27 years old. I was born and raised in Chicago but currently live in Berwyn. I enjoy reading, trips to the bookstore, spending time with friends and family, and exploring the city. I graduated from Northeastern Illinois University and obtained a Bachelors Degree in Justice Studies with a Sociology minor. Throughout my college experience I had the pleasure of nannying for a family in the west loop. It was then that I discovered my love for working with children. Since graduating in 2016 I have worked both as an assistant and a lead teacher in pre-k, preschool, toddler, and infant classrooms. While I absolutely love working with all children I have found that the toddler classroom holds a special place in my heart. I believe it is important to create a safe, loving, and conducive environment in which the children can learn and grow. I look forward to molding curious minds and I am very excited to share everything I have learned along the way. I welcome all conversation and look forward to getting to know each and every one of you! 

Chestnut

Hi families! My name is Emily and this is my third year working with after school kindergarten! I’ve worked with all ages, but kindergarten will forever be my favorite. I am currently taking a gap from school but I plan on going to college for early childhood education. My end goal is to become a teacher! I can’t wait for a wonderful school year with the kids, and to get to know all of you!

Kelly moved from the UK to Chicago in 2012 and lives here with her husband and two children.
Kelly’s background is in training and development and she obtained her Bachelors degree from
Cardiff University, in Broadcast Media and Culture. Kelly is currently obtaining her Masters
degree at Erikson Institute in Early Childhood Education with a focus on Social Emotional
Learning. Kelly is passionate about helping children manage their feelings and loves engaging
with children through mindfulness practices and art projects. In her free time Kelly
enjoys spending time with her husband and their two children, traveling, writing and exploring
new places.

Wondercare - 1st Grade

Vivek, Annika, Thomas & Alyssa BIOS Coming Soon

Acorn

Administration

Owen, Will & Suzanne - BIOS Coming Soon 

Support Staff

Gordana joined OPFS summer 2021. She has been in childcare 12 years, and has Infant/Toddler Child Development Associate, credits in Early Childhood Education, Teaching Strategies GOLD Certified and Creative Curriculum Certified. Her passion is to provide for the children healthy, stimulating and developmentally appropriate environment! Her goal is not to teach the children numbers and letters, but to teach them about love, kindness, and friendship! Her mission is to create relationships based on love and trust, which will benefit their future self-esteem.

Talley has worked with kids since she can remember.  First babysitting, then teaching everything from early childhood through university.  Talley has lived in Oak Park since 1998, and Chicago since 1991, moving here from the East Coast to attend Northwestern and then never leaving.  She lives with her supportive Husband Rob, and three sons Greg, Elliot, and Thomas just up the street from OP Friends. Her biggest joy at OPFS is working with the parents as they navigate the craziness of parenthood.

Matt has worked in the OPFS afterschool/summer camp program for three years, and  last year co-taught the OPFS kindergarten class. During these past 4 years, he has  worked with kids of all ages from 5- to 10-year-olds, and hopes to take those experiences and enhance them, to provide a safe and enriching space for your children  to learn and grow. Matt is currently studying early childhood education at Concordia  University, although he took the 2020-2021 year off due to the pandemic, he will be back in school this fall. Matt will not be here in the spring of 2022 unfortunately because  he will be student teaching. Matt is looking forward to working with your kids and gaining as much experience as possible. Matt  loves sports and exercising in his free time, as well as biking, spending time with his family, and watching  movies and tv! He has 2 cats, and 5 chickens. He lives in a household full of animals. 


My name is Chelsea and I’m the Pod leader for our 1-2 Pod at OPFS. I am a furloughed senior at Northeastern Illinois University, and enrolled in their graphic arts program. I am also a singer-songwriter and guitarist in my band Sycophant, and play music on the weekends with friends when I can. While on furlough from university, I was excited to find the opportunity to work at Friends School and all the great support they offer to both parents and students during these difficult times. I have ample experience working with younger kids and hope to use those skills to help your students have the most rewarding experience possible this school year.

I'm Ms Estrella and I joined the OPFS team as an assistant teacher in 2021. I’m a senior at the University of Illinois majoring in Elementary Education. I’ve had the pleasure to work with children ranging from 2-11 years old through my student teaching and work experiences. I enjoy every aspect of teaching and the opportunity to watch the students grow and flourish. During my free time, I like to run, read, and watch movies. I love to travel and experience new cultures. It allows me to experience something unfamiliar and leave with new skills and knowledge.

Our Staff

Ms Melinda - Born and raised in Chicago’s northwest side, I eventually settled in Oak Park area with my family (husband, two daughters and a dog) in 2014 and am loving our community here. I have a Masters of Art in Teaching from National Louis University and have over 10 years teaching experience. I have spent the past 7 years working in early childhood classrooms and enjoy it very much! In addition to teaching, I have a creative arts background as well as a pastry certificate so you can often find me baking in my spare time for friends and family. My other interests include traveling, hiking, yoga, music, crafting, and spending time with friends and family. I am a proud Spanish speaker and in our home you may also hear Tagalog and Waray languages spoken as well. I am excited to join the OPFS team and look forward to the future.

Corrina, Leany and Isabella - BIOs Coming Soon

Jessica has been part of the Oak Park Friends community since 2013 - first as a parent and now as part of our staff. Jessica has a Masters in Elementary Education and a Masters in Non-Profit Administration from DePaul University. This job is a perfect fit for her love of children, Pinterest, and spreadsheets. Jessica lives up the street from OPFS with her husband, 3 kids, and their perfect dog, Perry the Perro. She enjoys spending time with her family and neighbors, yoga, and baking.

I am Joanna and I was born and raised in Oak Park.  I am the mother of five adult children, ages 21, 23, 26, 29 and 31.  Four sons and a daughter in the middle. I am grateful for the kind people they have grown to be and so enjoy spending time with them. I am also a true animal lover and rescuer and enjoy nature.  I so love children and truly appreciate the phrase “from the mouths of babes”.  Children amaze me.

Ms. Lauren has been working with OPFS since they were in Ms. Talley and Ms. Chloe’s house. She is going on her 8th year working with the Friends Community. Ms. Lauren has been working with kids since the age of 11 and has worked with young infants to young teens. She studied Education and Psychology at the Evergreen State College, and she loves the outdoors, art, music, dancing, and having fun!!!

Justine Bio coming soon

Jess BIO coming soon 

Helena BIO Coming Soon 

Ruby BIO Coming Soon