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Below please find biographies for several of the Summer 2023 lecturers and faculty members at the The Montessori Residency of Chicago.


Rita Nolan

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 University 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. 

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Stephanie Toon

Stephanie Toon has been part of the Montessori School of Englewood community for six years, and has been involved with TMROC for four. She holds a dual undergrad degree from the University of Wisconsin in English and Political Science, as well as a Master’s Degree from the University of Illinois in Public Administration and Nonprofit Management. She began her career in teaching as an AMS certified instructor at MSE in a 6-9 classroom when the school first opened. Following three years of experience in the school, she became the Department Head of Lower Elementary, managing a team of six teachers at her grade band. Stephanie is also a teacher trainer, instructional coach, and Montessori consultant at other public Montessori schools in Chicago.  Most recently, she accepted a position as the Director of Training of the The Montessori Residency of Chicago. This urban Montessori training center is housed at the Montessori School of Englewood.

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Maria Barksdale

Maria Barksdale is a former home-schooler and a mother of five (and grandmother of two). She holds a degree in education and taught in both public (3years) and private (2years) schools. I am currently the lead upper elementary teacher at The Montessori School of Englewood in Chicago. I have been with the school since its inception in 2012 and have taught at the lower elementary, upper elementary and middle school classrooms.


Reena Vohra Morgan

Reena has 20 years of experience in the Montessori sector. She was a Primary teacher for 7 years, an Early Childhood Director for 13 years, and currently consults with Chicago area schools, offering mentorship and support to teachers and administrators.  Reena has both her AMS and AMI Primary Certifications, and holds a Masters Degree in Child Development from the Erikson Institute, Chicago. Reena's best teachers are her own children, who currently attend Near North Montessori School in Chicago. 


Anne Matern Bergen

Anne has over 30 years of experience working in education. After she completed Montessori training, Anne started teaching at the 6-9 level at Near North Montessori School in Chicago. Anne later transitioned to teaching at the 9-12 level. A promotion to Elementary Director allowed Anne to share her decades worth of knowledge and experience with teachers, providing an excellent education for children. She has experience facilitating success for children, parents, educators, and administrators. Her experience inside and outside of the classroom allows her to look at situations from a variety of perspectives which always benefit the child and parents. As a skillful communicator, Anne effectively shares insight to a variety of audiences. Anne is passionate about the optimal education of children and has a wealth of knowledge, earned through decades of service, that she enjoys sharing with others. Anne is a wife, mother to three children (all successful adults who attended Montessori), and a “dog grandma.” She enjoys spending time with her family, reading, and gardening in her free time.

Anne is AMI Elementary trained (ages 6-12) and has received numerous trainings and certifications in leadership and curriculum development. Anne is passionate about elevating her expertise in teaching Literacy and Math through innovative and engaging practices.

Additional Faculty Information & Bios Coming Soon!