Meet Our Staff


Head of School

Mary Sue Reutebuch
Mary Sue Reutebuch, pictured above with her son, Jeremy, and husband, Tim
Head of School


Mary Sue has showcased her passion for education, Montessori principles, and community building throughout the last 30-plus years via her work within educational organizations as a teacher, director, advisor, consultant, and mentor to peers and school leadership teams.

Since entering the Montessori world in 1990, she has consistently honed her craft in fostering the Montessori principles in the lives of students and their families. Her past roles have afforded her extensive experience in developing and implementing Montessori curricula and programs with organizations, teachers, and parents.

She has obtained multiple educational degrees and certifications, including a pre-primary Montessori certification through MECA (Montessori Education Centers Associated), a Bachelor of Science in Education Communication from Ohio University, and a Master’s of Arts in Pastoral Theology from St. Meinrad College/Seminary.

Teaching Staff

Young Child (2 Year Olds)

Roxanne McCarren
Roxanne McCarren
Classroom Director


I discovered Maria Montessori by reading her work, The Absorbent Mind, over thirty years ago, and I have been hooked and inspired ever since. I am certified as both an assistant and a Montessori directress in Early Childhood, and I completed my Montessori training at Seton Montessori Institute. This is my eighth year in the Young Child class, and I am amazed by these two year-olds every day.

I have been married for over 40 years and have a son and daughter who both attended Montessori through the sixth grade.

I enjoy spending time with family and friends, gardening, reading, writing and escaping to just about any coast to collect sharks’ teeth and sea glass.


Amber Senn
Classroom Assistant


I discovered Montessori when hired as an assistant at Montessori Learning Path over 10 years ago. Since then, I’ve had many other jobs in early education including a nanny to twin boys, a head teacher in a traditional two year-old classroom and a daycare provider.

I graduated from Rasmussen College with an Associates in Early Education and am excited to get back to Montessori!

I am married with two children and am thrilled to have my son attend Montessori Private Academy! I love to be outdoors spending time in our pool, hiking, boating and waterskiing. We recently just bought a new travel trailer and are so excited to make many new memories camping this year.


Early Childhood (3-6 Year Olds)

Julie Jamison
Lead Teacher


I have been teaching in the Montessori 3-6 classroom since 1984. I am a certified Montessori teacher and received my American Montessori Society credential from Seton Montessori Institute in 1983. I started at MPA, but I took a year off when I gave birth to my first child. I returned to teaching the following year at Montessori Learning Path and spent 22 years teaching there. I rejoined MPA in 2011, and I thoroughly enjoy my time here. I like the outdoors, gardening, travel and spending time with my husband, Jeff, my two married children, Josh and Meghan, and our five grandchildren.


Angelica Villafuerte-Prosser
Lead Teacher


I have been with MPA since 2009 and hold a Bachelor’s in Education from Illinois State University. Every year, I am amazed to see how the children grow. They are able to do so much when we give them the tools they need. I have worked with children since I was 15 years old, from babysitting nieces and nephews, to teaching dance, and continue to do what I love today. My husband, Ryan, and I have one beautiful girl, Shonterria, and we love spending time outdoors hiking, camping, and whenever possible, traveling to our beautiful National Parks.


Joy Hyacinthe
Lead Teacher

I am honored to be working with the children and families here at MPA! I started my education at Western Illinois University. However, I knew I had found my educational home once I met Montessori Education. Returning to school for Montessori Training and now serving as a Lead Teacher at MPA is a dream come true.

My siblings and I are Montessori Private Academy alumni. You can say I have
come full circle. I am now giving back the love of learning that was given to me!

Hannah Mattis
Assistant Teacher

I started at MPA in 2016, and left to stay home with my daughter, Kinleigh, in 2018. I am now back as an Early Childhood assistant and my daughter is here as well in Ms. Julie’s class. We both thoroughly enjoy our time here! I enjoy seeing the children grow into their own, and the excitement that comes with gaining independence and mastering works.

My husband’s name is Tyve, and we also share two dogs, a golden retriever named Delilah and a Dachshund named Mia. As a family we enjoy being on the water, riding dirt bikes, and exploring new places together.

Bev Wowk
Assistant Teacher

Tessa Cornelius
Assistant Teacher

Elementary I (1st-3rd Grade)

Shelly Stoddard
Lead Teacher

My daughter is a Montessori child and my love of the Montessori method started when I first began volunteering in her Early Childhood classroom many years ago. Later, I became an assistant at a public Montessori school in South Carolina. I loved it so much I obtained my Early Childhood certification and worked in Early Childhood for 13 years.

I have been at MPA since 2016 and have been in the Elementary classroom since 2017. I received my AMS Elementary I Credential from Seton Montessori Institute in 2019, my AMS Early Childhood credential in 2011 from the Florence School District Montessori Teacher Education Program in Florence, South Carolina and in 2015, graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Liberal Studies and a minor in Psychology from Limestone College in Gaffney, South Carolina.

I married my husband, Rich in 2020 and we live in Rochelle with part of our blended family and our rescue dog, Jake. I enjoy reading, gardening, and crafting. My number one passion is teaching and I am looking forward to a fun and exciting year with your children!

Tera Painter
Assistant Teacher
Some familiar faces might recognize me from my previous position as an Early Child Assistant at Montessori Private Academy. I will certainly miss my sweet little EC friends, but I am eager to join Ms. Shelly for the academic adventures of Elementary 1. As for my educational background, I graduated from Northern Illinois University in 2009 with a Bachelor of Science in Education. I taught as a lead teacher for 4 years in a 3rd/4th grade multiage classroom in an environmental public charter school in Grayslake, Illinois. I have served as a substitute teacher across various grade levels, have taught (and learned) at farm and summer camps, and have held paraprofessional and teacher aide positions. I was promoted to Mom in 2015 and again in 2016. While looking for a meaningful education for my own two daughters, I was fortunate to have found this beautiful school. The concrete, foundational progression of learning is fascinating to me. There is a serene buzz as children independently navigate their carefully curated classroom. I longed to be a part of this seemingly magical, intentional learning environment, so here I am!

As for my time spent outside the classroom, I enjoy spending time with my husband, Daniel, my two daughters, Ella and Thea, and our floofy golden retriever, Arrow. I continue to explore and learn in my kitchen and garden. Coffee is one of my love languages! I am an avid reader and enjoy creative art endeavors. I cherish the time spent teaching and learning with my students and I look forward to working with yours!

Elementary II (4th-6th Grade)

Noah Elrod
Lead Teacher

My Montessori journey began in 2017, as I was a restless first grade teacher in Rockford, after formerly becoming a restless music teacher in 2011. I found myself yearning for a place where I could devote significant time to developing kind individuals, in addition to clever ones. I taught at Maria Montessori in Rockford for two years in Lower Elementary, before moving to MPA in 2019. Here my class community is not only allowed–but encouraged to go on walks, sit beneath trees, conduct experiments, cook for the school community, plant flowers, practice mindfulness, and engage in rigorous academic work. Needless to say, I am no longer restless. Rather, I am home.

Middle School (7th-9th Grade)

Cooper Simon-Tobin
Classroom Director


I have been with MPA since 2003, when I started working in the after care program while also attending college. In 2008, I helped develop the middle school program and implemented it that fall with MPA’s first middle school class. I have been teaching the middle school program since and am most proud of adding a self-designed 9th grade curriculum to the program in 2013, completing Montessori’s vision for a three-year cycle.

Currently I live in Belvidere, where my father and his family have lived since the late 1800s. I have been married since 2007 to my wonderful husband, and I am having fun keeping up with my seven year-old daughter, Emerson, who attends MPA. My early experience at MPA impacted me. I was so excited by what I saw, that after 2 years of college, I changed my major to education because I knew I wanted to be a part of the school. I earned a Bachelor’s in Elementary Education with a middle school endorsement from Rockford University in 2008 and a Masters in Montessori education in 2012 from St. Catherine University.

In my spare time I love cooking, reading, and writing. In the future I would like to publish a book on early adolescence. (I have more than enough writing material!)


Dave Gustafson
Math Teacher

In 2003, my wife Julie and I discovered MPA and have been involved in the school ever since. Our oldest daughter Hannah graduated from MPA in 2006 and then Haley was part of the first graduating class from our Middle School in 2010. I have been leading our MPA Chess Club for almost 20 years, our math teams for 10 and teaching mathematics for 14.

I have an engineering degree in Aeronautics from St. Louis University, an Airline Transport Rating from the Federal Aviation Administration and instructor certifications for instructing both Tower and Radar Air Traffic Control. I have flight instructor certificates for single engine, multi-engine airplanes and have logged over 5000 hours of flight time. I also have obtained certification in Secondary Montessori for non-lead teachers through the American Montessori Society.

In my spare time I enjoy flying an antique airplane that was manufactured in1946! I love mathematics and working with so many independent, self-directed students. Be forewarned I enjoy sharing about math, airplanes, chess and Montessori. Ask me about the Unit Circle!


Shannon Englert
Music Teacher

I have been teaching music at Montessori Private Academy since 2014. I have a Bachelor’s in Music Education from Wheaton College and am an Orff trained music teacher.  I love watching students grow in their musical ability and character as I spend time working with them each week. In our times together, students are empowered to take an active role in the music making process and to create something beautiful as a community.
I live in the Byron area with my husband and three children. When I’m not making music I enjoy sewing, gardening, and taking long bike rides with my family.


Tina Ingrassia
Science Teacher

I teach STEM at MPA. I grew up in Rockford. I studied Language Arts and Biological Sciences at Eastern Illinois University. In addition to working at MPA, I am a personal assistant. I work in a group home; where I assist three amazing people with special needs. When I am not working, I like to travel. I also enjoy learning about new things. My favorite thing to do is spend time with my daughter.


Lindsey Hearn
Spanish/Physical Education Teacher

Bio coming soon!


Additional Staff

Front Desk & Admissions

Jennifer Kingsbury
Office Operations Manager

My love of Montessori education began when my daughter was turning two. I was looking for an educational program that would provide both a stimulating environment for learning and development in peer to peer relationships. MPA exceeded my expectations and she is now in 2nd grade with Ms. Shelly!

I have my BA in Management and Organizational Leadership, but changed directions after staying home with my daughter. I was a substitute teacher, then an assistant teacher in EC and now I have returned to my roots, in business, as the Office Operations Coordinator. 

I am passionate about the welfare of children and animals and have 4 rescued cats. In my free time I enjoy traveling with my daughter, reading and spending time with family and friends.


Launa Alkhabbaz 
Coordinator of Account Operations

I found MPA after researching the efficacy of different teaching methods around the world.  I enrolled my twins in the Young Child classroom in 2014 and my youngest child followed in 2015.  I stepped in to assist the MPA staff in January of 2022 and during that time I fell in love with the students, families and staff here at MPA.  I was compelled to help the school blossom which led me to an administrative position as Coordinator of Account Operations.  My goal is to create a smooth and efficient process for our families to rely on throughout their years at MPA.
When I’m not working, I like to visit my family and friends in Kentucky and Lebanon.  We also enjoy taking vacations to National Parks across the U.S.


Hannah Garner
Technology Communications Coordinator

Technology is a very powerful resource that helps us plan for tomorrow. I am thrilled be apart of MPA and to share my love for technology and its uses to students and staff.  I have experience in data science and general troubleshooting, and am always here to lend a hand to anyone that may need help in our digital realm.

In my free time, I enjoy visiting historical sites around the midwest as well as exploring metropolitan areas such as Chicago, Milwaukee, and St. Louis. I love nonfiction books around various topics in science and history, and collect records and hi-fi equipment.

Accounting & Finance

Jeanne Marler
Jeanne Marler
Business Manager

I discovered Montessori many years ago as a young mother with two children ages 0 and 3. Rockford had no Montessori school at that time, but I knew I had to have Montessori for my children. So, I began studying Montessori’s writings and applying her ideas to our home environment. This led me to a few like-minded friends, and together we either made or purchased the basic Montessori materials and started a small Montessori school.

As our children moved on to elementary school, I began supporting my husband as his dental assistant and bookkeeper in his dental practice. Then, twenty years ago, I was recruited by a friend, Mary Dunkel, who was then the school’s director, to become Montessori’s part-time finance manager. I jumped at the chance to become actively involved with Montessori once again.

It has been so wonderful being part of the stellar growth of MPA. My responsibilities with school business and financial matters have also kept up with the growth. I have learned many of my added responsibilities the “Montessori way”, with the support and friendship of a wonderful staff.
Each day, I experience pure joy watching our children grow in capability and confidence. I love greeting them throughout the day, and I think to myself, “Aren’t these the luckiest little children!”


School Nurse

Maria Villafuerte
School Nurse


Bio coming soon!