Mrs. Barb Labotka


The most important period of life is not the age of university studies, but the first one, the period from birth to the age of six.  For that is the time when man’s intelligence itself, his greatest implement, is being formed.” —Dr. Maria Montessori

Mrs. Barb Labotka is a product of Archdiocese of Chicago Catholic schools. She attended Our Lady of Perpetual Help School in Glenview for grade school, St. Louise de Marillac High School in Northfield and Loyola University Chicago for undergraduate studies. She holds Montessori certification from Seton Montessori Institute in early childhood and is completing a credential for Montessori Leadership and Administration (2020) also from Seton Montessori Institute.

She holds a Master’s degree in Teaching and Learning with a specialization in teaching literacy and language and is completing a second Masters degree in Educational Leadership with a specialization in Catholic School Leadership (2020) from DePaul University. Mrs. Barb has experience opening Montessori classrooms and has taught pre-k, kindergarten and elementary students for 14 years before becoming a principal.

Mrs. Barb enjoys spending time with her husband Tom, to whom she has been happily married for 25 years. They have two children in college, Hannah and Charlie. A fun fact about Mrs. Barb is that she was confirmed by Cardinal Bernardin in eighth grade!

Liana Giannoni

Assistant Principal and 0-3 Directress

Ms. Liana Giannoni has a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education and an Infant-Toddler Specialist certificate from Erickson Institute. She was honored to receive one of five Kohl-McCormick Early Childhood Teaching Awards in 1998 for her dedication and service to children and their families. Ms. Liana also had the privilege to go to Italy to study the Reggio-Emilia philosophy.

In her spare time, Ms. Liana loves to try looking at the world through children’s eyes and create welcoming environments that inspire children to explore. Her other interests include swimming, crocheting, reading mystery books and picking blueberries.

Ms. Liana serves as assistant principal at Cardinal Bernardin Montessori Academy, as well as directress for the infant-toddler transition class.

Joan Cahill

P2 Master Teacher

“We must help the child to act for himself, will for himself, think for himself; this is the art of those who aspire to serve the spirit.” —Maria Montessori (Education for a New World)

Ms. Joan attended Lakeland College in Wisconsin and earned her AMS Montessori Certification from Seton Montessori Institute in 1987. Ms. Joan has held a plethora of academic positions. She was the directress at the Montessori School of Western Springs at the Grace Lutheran Church of Westchester Preschool, served as a social and play therapist at Giant Steps Autistic Center, and worked for several years in District 103 as support staff for special education students.

When she’s not in the classroom, Ms. Joan enjoys spending time with her six grandchildren. She also loves traveling the world, reading, crocheting, knitting and quilting. Ms. Joan is also an active member of the PEO, which is a philanthropic organization in which women celebrate advancement of women through education.

Ms. Joan joined the Academy in 2004 and is Primary Directress for Room 102. Ms. Joan is dedicated to the children and the Montessori theory, and she looks forward to helping the children grow each and every day.

Adriana Matus

P2 Teacher Aide

“The child is both a hope and a promise for mankind.”- Maria Montessori

Born and raised in Belize, Adriana has lived in her mother’s homeland, Costa Rica, Miami, Washington DC, Seattle, Chicago, Madrid andPamplona, Spain and finally Cape Town, South Africa before settling down in Chicago with her husband, daughter and dog.

Adriana has a B.A. in Mass Communication from Florida International University, a M.A. in Public Relations and Advertising from DePaul University, and both Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages(TESOL) certification and Teaching Business English(TBE) Certification from The Cape Town TEFL/TESOL Training Institute in Cape Town, South Africa. Bilingual in both English and Spanish, she is a lover of language and is excited to transmit this and enthusiasm for learning in the classroom.

She has had professional experience in both in the Advertising and Public Relations sectors working for The Washington Post and Telemundo Network. But it was in South Africa where she volunteered to teach English to young refugees from Congo, Angola and Burundi that she realized the power of education and the tremendous ability it gave her students to rebuild their lives.

After having her daughter, she learned what Maria Montessori always believed, “The child is truly a miraculous being and this should be felt deeply by the educator.”

In reading about Maria Montessori and her approach, she knew that this was in line with what she instinctively wanted for her child, for children, and for herself professionally.

Adriana is currently training at Midwest Montessori Teacher Training towards AMS certification. She is thrilled to join Cardinal Bernadin’s community and be of service to her colleagues, students and parents.

Jessica Santiago

P3 Primary Directress

“It is my belief that the thing which we should cultivate in our teachers is more the spirit than the mechanical skill of the scientist; that is, the direction of the preparation should be toward the spirit rather than toward the mechanism.” —Maria Montessori

Originally from Brooklyn, New York, Ms. Jessica relocated to Chicago in 2012. She earned her BS in English from Rutgers University in New Jersey and then continued her education by obtaining her MS and Illinois State license in Early Childhood Education from Dominican University. She also retrieved a Leadership Academy certificate from the Archdiocese of Chicago and is currently working toward her Montessori certification at the Midwest Montessori Training Center.

Ms. Jessica began her journey interning at Nickelodeon and went on to work for Simon & Schuster, Inc. in New York City after college. She then decided to pursue working with children in Chicago. She has taught enrichment classes at Catholic schools and gained experience working in a Montessori school in Oak Park. In addition, she has taught Sunday school for a few years.

In her spare time, Ms. Jessica loves hiking and traveling the world. In May 2017, she hiked the Camino de Santiago trail, extending from France through Spain. She’s also participated in several mission trips in Kenya, Israel and El Salvador. She is hoping to visit family in Dubai on her next trip! Jessica enjoys going to the beach and writing fiction.

Ms. Jessica joined the Academy in 2016 and is Primary Directress for Room 103. She looks forward to working with the children and is grateful to be a part of such a wonderful school community.

Kathy Spreitzer

P3 Teacher Aide

“The child who concentrates is immensely happy.” —Maria Montessori

Ms. Kathy Spreitzer received her Para Professional Montessori Certificate from Midwest Montessori. Prior to that, she earned her BS in Elementary Education from DePaul University and her MS in Human Resource Administration from Spertus Institute. Kathy is licensed in the state of Illinois for grades K-9.

In her spare time, Ms. Kathy enjoys traveling the world.

Ms. Kathy has been with the Academy for five years and has been with the Archdiocese of Chicago for 35.

Mrs. Kayla Copsey-Mazur

P4 Primary Directress

“Free the child’s potential, and you will transform him into the world.” —Maria Montessori

Mrs. Kayla Copsey-Mazur received her Michigan teaching certificate and holds a B.S. in Elementary Education with a major in Child Development from Central Michigan University. She has been with Cardinal Bernardin Montessori Academy for 2 years.

Her personal teaching philosophy has always centered around a child’s boundless potential. Even before she discovered the Montessori Method, she believed it is her duty as a teacher to help guide each child to their greatest potential. Her goal is to share the joy of learning and prepare each child to be a lifelong learner.

When not in the classroom, she spends most of her time with her husband and dog, Bane. She loves to travel, cook, read, garden and be with friends and family.

Erinn Toth

P4 Teacher Aide

“The teacher, when she begins work in our schools, must have a kind of faith that the child will reveal himself through work.” —Maria Montessori, The Absorbent Mind

Ms. Erinn received her BA in Psychology from Saint Mary’s College and her MS in Pre-Kindergarten Exceptional Student Education from University of Miami. She also earned her Illinois Professional Educator License.

She has spent the last 18 years working with children with and without disabilities, most of her experience in the early childhood field. In her spare time, Ms. Erinn enjoys spending time with her large family, being outdoors and going to brunch.

She joined the Academy in 2018 and is Primary Directress of Room 101.

Mrs. Robin Fowler

P5 Primary Directress

“Our care of children should be governed, not by the desire to make them learn things, but by the endeavor always to keep burning within them the light which is called intelligence.” —Maria Montessori

Ms. Robin received her AMS Montessori credential from Seton Montessori Institute in 2006. Prior to that, she earned her B.A. in Art Education, K-12, from Purdue University.

esides “anything creative,” Ms. Robin loves to travel and experience new cultures around the world and spend time with her adult children in Chicago and San Francisco. She is also an avid cyclist.

She joined the Academy in 2018 and is Primary Directress of Room 105.

Alexis Pomietlo

P5 Teacher Aide

“When people say I wish to lower the teacher in status, that is untrue; I really wish to illuminate her role. To find our correct place is a long road, but if and when we find it, we find that it is smaller than we thought it would be. We are, as it were, waking from a sleep in finding that place where we are…In waking, I am perhaps beginning to do real work, if only a little. That humility is the beginning of work, of accomplishing something, has always been the fundamental principle of the spiritual life. This humility, however, is not humiliation, but it is an elevation and the basic principle of producing anything.”– Maria Montessori

Alexis comes to the Cardinal Bernardin family with a Bachelor’s Degree in Philosophy and Theology from Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula, CA. Originally from a family of six in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, she was raised by a teacher and a painter and dabbled in education by teaching catechism during her latter high school years. Ultimately she pursued the aforementioned classical education in California, where a friend introduced her to Dr. Maria Montessori and her philosophy. Initially she opted to take a year off after graduation in 2018 and au pair in northwestern France, but God had other plans in store. A sudden turn of events led to her pursuing culinary–specifically baking–interests in southwestern Wisconsin. Reflecting on her deep regard for education and love for children she returned to a further investigation of the Montessori method and found Cardinal Bernardin Montessori Academy. Attracted to the Catholic character and strong adherence to Dr. Montessori’s principles, she desired to join the team and serve the children in the early childhood environment. Currently receiving her certification from the Midwest Montessori Teacher Training Center in Evanston, IL, she is savoring the process of becoming a well-formed directress. Her interests include an immense love for her Catholic faith, as well as Saint John Paul the Great and Saint Teresa of Calcutta, and a devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. She loves spending time with her family and friends, baking pies, living an active life filled with biking, hiking, pilates, running, gardening, dancing, along with reading and writing. 

Emily Prill


“We must clearly understand that when we give the child freedom and independence, we are giving freedom to a worker already braced for action, who cannot live without working and being active.” — Maria Montessori

Ms. Emily received her teaching certificate from Oakland University in Michigan. She majored in Elementary education with a minor in Mathematics and Science. She is AMS-certified for ages 6-9 and completed has a year of experience teaching in a 6-9 Montessori classroom. This is will her first year teaching at Cardinal Bernardin Montessori Academy.

She has just moved to the Chicago area from Michigan. She is excited to explore everything that Chicago has to offer. She enjoys being outdoors, trying new foods, and being with family.

Ms. Emily is passionate about the Montessori Philosophy and looks forward to building relationships with the children.

Sarah Makkawy


“Children are human beings to whom respect is due, superior to us by reason of their innocence and of the greater possibilities of their future.” —Maria Montessori

Ms. Sarah earned her BA in Elementary Education from Benedictine College in Atchison, KS, and is certified to teach grades K-6. She has been teaching since Fall 2016.

Ms. Sarah loves visual and performing arts—specifically dancing, theatre and drawing.

She joined the Academy in 2018 as the catechist. Her goal is to help the children build personal relationships with Jesus, our Good Shepherd.

Jackie Theibert

Mr. Aaron Giannoni

Classroom Aide and Director of Aftercare

Mr. Lester Mosio


Ms. Diane Urgo

School Office Manager

Marta Brown

Marketing Intern

Adelaida Kagan

Parent Education and Virtue Education Coordinator