Acorn

Administration

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. 

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. 

Iduvina is a loving parent and grandparent. She even shares a workplace and a classroom with family! Idu is also a loving teacher. She is patient, sees and empowers the children and is always making someone laugh. She also enjoys cooking. 


​​​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.

Karen's BIO coming soon too!

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.  

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.

My name is SheDerica but I mainly go by Erica. I am originally from Las Vegas, Nevada and moved here to Chicago as a missionary 2 years ago! I currently am finishing up my last semester at UIC in Human development and learning and have been working in ECE the past 5 years! I love being able to be creative and try new things and I’m looking forward to continuing my growth here at OPFS.

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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!

Blanca Bio

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.

Willow

Ellen joined OPFS in fall of 2021. An Illinoisian for 20 years, Wisconsin is her original home. As a child she was in the 4H club and her proudest moment was having both a grand champion rooster and rabbit in the local fair. She is an extreme animal lover! This passion later led her to become a dog trainer. She has an awesome, loving family which includes her fiancé, 2 step children, a 3-year old daughter, a crazy dog and 2 cats. Ellen adores children and is excited to work with the Acorn Room babies and their families.

Helena started at OPFS in the spring of 2018. Her love for children has led her to work with kids of all ages and opened her eyes to a whole new (dazzling) world. In addition to teaching, Helena earned her Associates degree in graphic design and loves art and creativity. Helena is  happy to be part of the Acorn Room team and OPFS as a whole.

I'm Ms Estrella and I joined the OPFS team as an assistant teacher in 2021. I graduated from the University of Illinois with a major 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.

​Maple

Laeny has been working with children for 3 1/2 years and enjoys every second of it. In her free time she likes to draw, write, listen to music, play video games and go shopping.

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. 

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.

 

Katrinia has been working with children for over 23 years and she had five of her own to prepare her. She loves to cook and spend time with her family. Katrinia strives to have a positive impact on the children she works with through her understanding and patient presence. 

​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


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! 

Ginkgo

Mrs. Lisett has been in the early education field for 7 years and very much loves teaching children, communicating with caregivers and getting to know families. She hopes to bring lots of love and exciting new experiences to OPFS. Excited to be here, she also can't wait to reach milestones alongside the children. She is bilingual and integrates Spanish in the classroom. Mrs. Lisett is very easy going, always willing to help however she can and communicates as transparently as possible, please don't hesitate to come to her with any issue.

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.

Jessica has been a part of OPFS since November 2021. She was born and raised in the Chicagoland area. Recently engaged, Jessica is getting married in November 2022. She attended Triton College and Northern Illinois University, studying business and accounting. She has been taking early childhood courses since high school and has worked with children just as long. . . in gyms, summer camps, a Montessori school, a daycare for 8 years, a beloved nanny family for 4 and now OPFS. She is excited to expand her education and work with your kiddos.

Ms. Aaliyah has been with the OPFS team since late 2020 and she has dipped her toes in the majority of age groups. Spending the most time with the lower school toddlers in Seedlings, she also loves having opportunities to move around the school. Ms Aaliyah moved to Oak Park in 2020 and found she really enjoys going outdoors and spending time with her husband and son. She also enjoys resting, watching her favorite TV shows, and faithfully participating in and attending church. She has been working in childcare for several years and she loves watching the children grow and develop. She studied classical fine art at Columbia College and hopes to be able to utilize her artistic abilities to further engage her students in interactive and immersive activities, meant to help with exploring colors, shapes, textures, etc., while also maintaining a healthy play-based education.

Kitchen manager, Tara is an eccentric, mom of 2 energetic and creative kiddos. She has an MFA in Theatre Arts Management and a passion for the dramatic. She loves playing with and hanging out with babies, children, kids, teens and beyond. Tara is a certified food safety manager and mild foodie. She is a facilitator for Oak Park Our Whole Lives and loves having the hard conversations.  Her passions include travel, travel planning, attending theatre, listening to music and streaming TV of all kinds.

Gabriella joined the OPFS team in the fall of 2021. 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. 

Dani began her adventures with OPFS in 2015 as a teacher in the Blue Room (now Maple/Elm). 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's gained an indelible appreciation for wonder and teamwork here. 

Ms. Justine has enjoyed being an early childhood educator for 11 years. She discovered her passion for children when she started baby-sitting at age 14. Since then, she earned an associates degree in child development, received her certification in preschool and continues to work on furthering her education in child development. She hopes to make a difference in the lives of children by continuing to follow her passion and embarking on many more learning adventures! 

Chestnut

Our Staff

Seedling

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 in her free time. She looks forward to working with you and your child(ren).

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.

Ursula joined OPFS in the Spring of 2021. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and has been working in early childhood education since 2018, with children from six weeks to five years old. Ursula plans to work in the field of prevention-based mental health care with children in the future. In her free time, she enjoys creating art and spending time in nature. Ursula is very excited to continue working with the infants and toddlers here at OPFS!

Support Staff

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. 

 

Hi families! My name is Emily and this is my 4th year working with kindergarteners! 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 summer with the kids, and to get to know all of you!

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.

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.

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!!!

Tatiana graduated with an Associate degree in Preschool Education and has over 13 years of experience. She strongly believes that every student learns and develops at their own pace. As a Teacher of a diverse, inclusive and culture-sensitive classroom, her priority is to treat and teach every student individually according to their individual developmental needs, interests, culture and home language. She is always looking to improve and grow her professional skills and looks forward to further developing relationships at OPFS and working on advocating for our community of learners.

Trish brings with her a lifetime of experience caring for children.  Her teaching philosophy is to let the children be the guides while helping them learn  boundaries. She loves nature-based learning and can be found helping the kids climb, swing, and create using materials from nature. Fun Fact: she has more tattoos than any other OPFS staff, and despite her mother’s doubts, she still has no regrets.

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.

​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.


​School Age Programming 

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! 

Evelyn is an Elementary Education major at Harold Washington College.  She has large collections of siblings, plants and Pokemon, all thriving. In her free time she enjoys painting, singing and reading.

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 2 years as a lead in a mixture of school aged rooms and pods. 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!

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.

​Elm

Birch