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.
Vivek, Jasmine, Annika, Thomas & Alyssa BIOS Coming Soon
Born and raised on Chicago’s northwest side, Ms. Melinda eventually settled in the Oak Park area with her family (husband, two daughters and a dog) in 2014 and she is loving her community here. She earned a Masters of Art in Teaching from National Louis University and has over 10 years teaching experience. Her most recent 7 years were in early childhood classrooms, and enjoying it very much! In addition to teaching, she has 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. Melinda is a proud Spanish speaker and her home you may also hear Tagalog and Waray languages spoken as well. She is excited to be a part of the OPFS team and looks forward to the future.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
K-Care - Kindergarten
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.
Karen's BIO coming soon too!
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.
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.
Owen, Will, Suzanne and Nyah bios coming soon
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.
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!
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.
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
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.
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.
Dani 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's gained an indelible appreciation for teamwork plus curiosity here.
Our Subs & Floaters
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.
Isabella - BIO Coming Soon
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
Corrina has been a dedicated member of the Maple Room team for just over a year. And what a year, Corrina earned her high school diploma early and began taking classes towards a nursing degree. Here, she especially enjoys facilitating a good story time and getting outside with the kids.
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.
Mikey and Fiona BIOs Coming Soon
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.
Christina joined us in early 2022. She is a happy, new mom of one! She is currently in school to further her experience with youth as the years go on. Right now, she is loving working with children and is excited to grow with OPFS.
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!
Wondercare - 1st Grade
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.
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!
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.
Big Kids - Grades 2 3 4 & 5
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!!!
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!
6300 Roosevelt Road, Oak Park, IL 60304
PH: (708)686-2030 F: (708)628-3354 Email: Info@opfs.org
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