Melanie Morgan, Head of School
Ms. Melanie earned Bachelor's degrees in Journalism and Psychology and a Master's degree in Early Childhood Education. She also holds a license to teach birth through third grade and an endorsement to teach English as a Second Language. Ms. Melanie began her career in Early Childhood as a researcher first, then as a teacher. She has worked in Early Childhood Administration for the past four years and just recently fell in love with Montessori after the birth of her daughter last year. In her free time, she enjoys walks with her family and exploring the city.
Jennifer Schwartz, Lead Guide - Children's House Community
Jennifer Schwartz has over 20 years of experience teaching children of all ages. She holds a Master's in the Art of Teaching from National-Louis University and a Montessori certification from Midwest Montessori Teacher Training Center. She is truly passionate about the work she does with children and is consistently delighted in watching children grow and learn. Jennifer worked in public schools and traditional preschools before finding her true calling in Montessori. She loves working in the Children's House community because she is committed to helping young children become independent and find joy in learning. Jennifer enjoys camping, exploring the outdoors, and taking city adventures with her husband and two children.
Kaitlyn Sliwski, Junior Guide, Children's House Community
Kaitlyn earned a bachelor’s degree in Business Management & Administration from Bradley University and is currently completing a master's degree in Early Childhood Education from the University of Missouri. She is also completing her Montessori Children’s House certification through The Prepared Montessorian Institute. She has over ten years of experience as a nanny and three years in early childhood education. She worked in corporate human resources for five years upon graduating from Bradley, while maintaining a part-time nanny position. After discovering the Montessori Method, she knew she had to pursue her calling in early childhood education full-time. Her goal is to guide children’s development of independence, self-confidence, and above all, a life-long passion for learning. Kaitlyn is a fur mother to two cats and a Vizsla. She is originally from Chicago but has also lived in Nashville and Austin. Whenever she gets a chance, she loves exploring new cities, hiking, and camping.
Kara Gidcumb, Assistant Guide, Children's House Community
Kara Gidcumb was born and raised in a Suburb in Chicago. She received her degree in English from St. Norbert College and then realized how much she loved teaching. She returned to school and received her elementary teaching certificate at DePaul University. She has taught from preschool to fourth grade in Illinois, and also taught abroad in South Korea and Bulgaria. After searching for alternate ways to help her students grow, Kara discovered the Montessori method and has been passionate in guiding children to develop physically, socially and emotionally. She enjoys reading, hiking and spending time with her two nieces.
Taylor Fleurissaint, Lead Guide - Nido Community
Taylor Fleurissaint received her Bachelor's degree in Psychology from Columbia University in New York City. She went on to teach with Teach for America in New York City and simultaneously earn her M.Ed. from Bank Street College of Education. A love of learning and a desire to help children grow led Taylor to Guidepost. Taylor is continuing her Guidepost Montessori Teaching Qualification. She is excited to be part of the community and to include her daughter as a student at Guidepost.
Jessica Benjamin, Assistant Guide, Nido Community
Her experience with children started at an early age starting from within her own home, growing up as the second oldest with two younger siblings. She gained more experience working at her aunt's home daycare and preschool on and off from age 12-15; becoming a permanent employee from 2011-2013. This gave her a push towards her career goals.
From 2013-2016, Jessica attended Mississippi Valley State University, majoring in Early Childhood Education. Successfully completing three years as an undergraduate, with plans to complete her last year.
Buki Ogundipe, Lead Guide - Toddler Community
Ms Buki (pronounced similar to cookie) was born in Lagos, and moved to the U.S.A at 11. She has been living in the Midwest (Illinois, Indiana) since. As the oldest child in her family, she started babysitting early on and volunteered as a Sunday School Teacher for 2 years old while in High school. She attended the University of Illinois at Chicago graduating with a BA in English Literature and Psychology. Afterwards, she completed her MA in Women's and Gender Studies at DePaul University in 2014. Since graduating, she has worked primarily in Early Childhood Education in a variety of roles such as After School Tutor, Co-Teacher, and Assistant Teacher. She was introduced to the Montessori method in 2017 while working as an Assistant Teacher. She is excited to deepen her understanding of the Montessori method with Guidepost and become certified. Outside of work, Buki loves reading (especially fantasy novels), watching movies, trying out new recipes, listening to music, and drawing.
Liliana Velazquez, Assistant Guide - Toddler Community
Ms. Liliana has completed an Associates of Arts in Early Childhood Education after experiencing two wonderful years of collaboration with her son's preschool teachers. This November will be her fifth year teaching Early Childhood Education and her third year working at a Montessori school. She is so fascinated with Maria Montessori’s method of teaching that she is pursuing her Montessori Certification.
Vanessa Rojas, Lead Guide - Toddler Community
Ms. Vanessa went through Montessori training through AMS for ages 0-3 at Seton Montessori. She has been a Montessori teacher for 6 years. Ms. Vanessa studied bilingual education majoring as a bilingual specialist with a minor in Spanish. She has also taken an extensive amount of Early Childhood Education courses. Education, psychology, and health sciences have been her biggest interests. The Montessori philosophy caught her attention and she instantly fell in love with the method when she learned more about it. Ms. Vanessa is passionate about teaching and works toward guiding and challenging children to reach their fullest potential. Ms. Vanessa is fluent in English and Spanish. She loves to spend time with her family and enjoys trying new foods. Some of the things she likes to do with family include attending baseball and basketball games and attending parks and museums. Ms. Vanessa enjoys teaching her daughter about nature and different cultures.
Natalie Whetstone, Assistant Guide - Toddler Community
My name is Natalie Whetstone and I earned my bachelor's degree in Early Childhood Education from Sonoma State University in Rohnert Park, California. I have been working with children and families in a child-care/preschool setting for the past three years. I have always had a passion for working with young children and I have recently found a new passion for learning and teaching the Montessori method. In my free time, I enjoy cooking, going to the gym, and spending time with my family and friends. My goal is to become Montessori certified and to keep growing and learning to better myself for my students.
Lizeth Gonzalez, Assistant Guide, Young Toddler Community
Mrs. Gonzalez earned her Associate Degree in Social and Behavioral Sciences from Arrupe College of Loyola University. She plans to earn a degree in Early Childhood Education. Mrs. Gonzalez fell in love with caring and teaching children when she worked at a daycare. She hopes to gain more experience as she beings to work at Montessori. In her free time, Mrs. Gonzalez loves to swim, read and explore nature.
Jocelyn Garcia, Assistant Guide - Young Toddler Community
Jocelyn Garcia is a Chicago native. Currently attends Roosevelt University majoring in psychology and minoring in criminal justice. She has two semesters left to complete her bachelors degree. For the past six years she has been working at a Pediatric Occupational therapy specializing in kids with developmental disabilities. She has always shared a love for children and helping them learn and grow. Jocelyn has a one year old daughter. She is eager and excited to learn more about Montessori teaching and grow within Guidepost Montessori. On her free time she enjoys cooking, going to the gym, and spending time with her daughter.