Characteristics of Professional Excellence

Our guides…

Meet Our Lead Guides

Ms. Heidi Geiger, Head of School

Serving as an educator since 1996, Heidi embraced Montessori education in 2002 after 6 years of traditional teaching in both public and private school sectors. In 2003, she began her AMS Elementary I-II training at MMTTC (Midwest Montessori Teacher Training Center) in Evanston, IL followed by several years serving as an Elementary Directress. Upon the birth of her daughter in 2008, she took the Infant-Toddler training through Seton Montessori Institute in Clarendon Hills, IL and began her new journey serving toddlers at Seton for the next six years. Though she loved her role as a directress, she began getting more involved in administrative and speaking event roles. Over the next two years, she worked closely with Montessori schools, parent groups, clinics and the like to provide an array of parent education opportunities, promoting nutrition and Montessori practices in the community and homes.

Heidi is a native to Michigan where she grew up with organic goodness and wide open spaces on 15 acres of land. She continues to make frequent visits to see her extended family and childhood friends. She has lived in the Chicago suburbs for 15 years, making Illinois her new home and the birth home to her two children, whom both attend JMS. After serving 21 years as an educator in 7 different schools, Heidi decided to join JMS as Head of School in 2017.

Ms. Kristina Reid, Primary Level Guide

A guide at the Primary Level, Kristina has had many years of experience as a classroom assistant here at JMS, having come to the school in August of 2005. She and her husband moved to Joliet at this time, and then to Shorewood in 2006. She had been in the social work field but upon the move didn’t find work in that field, so applied at the school. She “fell in love with Montessori” immediately and has been a distinct asset to the school ever since.

Ms. Reid has recently completed her training at Seton Montessori Institute in Clarendon Hills, IL, with the bulk of the training completed in the summer of 2014. She attended seminars throughout the school year and obtained her certificate after completing her student teaching in 2015. She appreciates the wealth of Montessori experience here at JMS, and the support and guidance from her colleagues.

Kristina grew up on a farm in Odell, IL and enjoys running, working out, Bears football and her family.

Mrs. Gosia Wolf, Primary Level Guide

My path to the wonderful world of Montessori education was a long journey, spanning two continents and a variety of occupations. A Polish native, I came to the USA to complete my BA in Psychology I had started in my home country. During my first years as a student in Poland I became fascinated with developmental psychology, critical (or sensitive) periods for learning, the work of pioneers like Jean Piaget and Maria Montessori.

The birth of my daughter made me revisit those old fascinations and theories. I knew I wanted to create an environment that would facilitate her learning and development in the best way possible. That led to more research and soon I was completely enthralled by the Montessori method. It was a pivotal point in my professional career. I suddenly knew that my place was in the classroom, serving children the way Maria Montessori intended.

I first completed the Paraprofessional Course at Seton Montessori Institute to prepare myself for the role of a classroom assistant, the very job I held for three years at Montessori School of Lemont. My role quickly grew as I began my AMS teacher preparation course and assumed more responsibilities in the classroom while I completed my training. I was certified in July of 2017.

Ms. Suzannah Walter, Lower Elementary Level Guide

Suzannah joined the JMS team in 2009.  After receiving her Bachelor of Arts Degree from Columbia College in Chicago, she went on to earn her AMI Montessori Elementary certification in 1998 from the Washington Montessori Institute.  She has also earned an Orton-Gillingham certificate from the International Dyslexia Association.

Ms. Suzannah worked at Near North Montessori in Chicago for 10 years until 2003, when she moved with her family to Sandwich, IL.  Before coming to JMS, she was the co-founder and director of Stone Prairie Montessori in Ottawa, IL.

Ms. Suzannah enjoys traveling, the arts and spending time with her family in the great outdoors.

Mrs. Ashley Zupan, Upper Elementary Level Guide

Right out of college, Ashley started working at Nature’s Classroom in Mukwonago, Wisconsin as an environmental educator. Ashley was exposed to Montessori education through the visiting students and also through the Montessori school associated with Nature’s Classroom.

Ashley wished to work in Illinois, and so came to JMS in the fall of 2012 as a math specialist with the Adolescent Level students.

In the summer of 2014 she attended her first of 3 summers of Elementary Level training at the Montessori Institute of Milwaukee. She looks forward to earning her Master’s Degree in Montessori education by 2017. She loves making a difference in the lives of children.

Ashley grew up in Manhattan, IL having attended Lincoln-Way High School. She lived in Fort Myers for 5 years where she attended Florida Gulf Coast University, and then moved to Mukwonago, Wisconsin. She currently resides in New Lenox with her husband.

Ashley loves outdoor activities, all sports, volunteering, and hobbies that include crochet, reading, movies and cooking.

Mrs. Vicki Hartmann, Adolescent Level Guide

Vicki Hartmann was hired as the Adolescent Guide in 2012 after having been a volunteer parent at JMS for a number of years. She has a B.A. in Elementary Education, with a minor in Psychology, from Eureka College in Eureka, Illinois. She received her Adolescent Training at the AMI Montessori Orientation to Adolescent Studies course provided by North American Montessori Teachers Association in 2013.

Some of her interests include gardening, reading, the environment, art, theater, photography and politics.



Adolescent Graduation Day

06-06-2020 LEARN MORE



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