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.

Janne Laurencelle

Primary Directress for Room 101

“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain one once we grow up.” —Pablo Picasso

Ms. Janne received her BA from the Art Institute of Chicago. She then spent five years living and working as a nanny and grad student in Amsterdam. She even lived down the street from Maria Montessori’s last home!

When she moved back to the U.S., Ms. Janne found herself teaching art at a Montessori school. She loved it so much that she decided to go back for her Montessori certification. Since then, she has led two classrooms and added two children to her family, both students at Cardinal Bernardin Montessori Academy.

She enjoys how the most charming people challenge her creativity every day, which makes the Academy a joyful place to spend her days as Primary Directress for Room 101.

Erinn Toth

Primary Directress of Room 101

“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.

Marcy Flanagan

Primary Directress for Room 102

“The greatest gifts we can give our children are the roots of responsibility and the wings of independence.” —Maria Montessori

Ms. Marcy Flanagan received her AMS Montessori credential from Seton Montessori Institute. Prior to that, she earned her BA in Women’s Studies from Ohio State University.

Ms. Marcy is the mother of two children: her four-year-old son Micah and her one-year-old daughter Agnes. In her spare time, she enjoys reading and dancing.

Ms. Marcy has been teaching for 11 years and has been with Cardinal Bernardin for the past 12 years. She is Primary Directress for Room 102.

Kathy Spreitzer

Primary Directress for Room 102

“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.

Fr. Matthew Uchenna

Intern for Room 102

Fr. Matthew Uchenna has a been with Cardinal Bernardin Montessori Academy for 8 months and holds a B.A Theology from Bigard Memorial Seminary in Enugu, Nigeria.

Father will be an intern in room 102.

Jessica Santiago

Primary Directress for Room 103

“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.

Joan Cahill

Primary Directress for Room 103

“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.

Lindsay Murray

Primary Directress for Room 104

“So here it begins the new path, where it will not be the teacher who teaches the child, but the child who teaches the teacher.” —Maria Montessori (Education for a New World)

Lindsay Murray is AMI Primary Trained and has earned a BA in Merchandising and a MA in progress in Education. She has 5 years teaching experience including 1 year with Cardinal Bernardin. She enjoy spending most of my free time with my husband Chris, practicing yoga, rock climbing, playing with art, reading, and being outside.

Mary Kate Curley

Elementary Directress for Room 104

“The child is endowed with unknown powers, which can guide us to a radiant future. If what we really want is a new world, then education must take as its aim the development of these hidden possibilities.” —Maria Montessori

Ms. Curley earned her BA in Women and Gender Studies and this is her first year teaching and at Cardinal Bernardin.

In her free time she enjoys reading, writing, photography, running, hiking, knitting/crocheting, visiting museums, and most importantly spending time with her amazing family.

Robin Fowler

Primary Directress of Room 105

“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.

Besides “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.

Mrs. Kayla Copsey-Mazur

Primary Directress of Room 105

“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.

Kate Flynn

Elementary Directress for Room 203

“For the children of today are still the bright new hope for mankind.” —Maria Montessori

Ms. Kate Flynn has 35 years of teaching experience. She is AMI-certified for ages 0-14 and earned her B.A. in Journalism from University of Missouri–Columbia. Ms. Kate is a boomerang to Cardinal Bernardin, being that she worked at the Academy from 2001 to 2004 and came back to teach again in 2018.

Ms. Kate has been married for 21 years, raised her two children in Edgewater and recently relocated to East Lakeview, where she and her husband met. She enjoys reading and swing dancing.

She is Elementary Directress in room 203

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.

Ms. Diane Urgo

School Office Manager

Mr. Aaron Giannoni

Classroom Aide and Director of Aftercare

Kaitlin Holyk

Marketing and Communications Assistant

Mr. Richard Giannoni

Director of Maintenance

Nathan Doo

Advertising and Public Relations Assistant