about RPMS

We are a community of families and educators guided by the philosophy of Maria Montessori

Rogers Park Montessori School (RPMS) is a not for profit (501)c3, non-sectarian, educational organization located in the Andersonville neighborhood on the north side of Chicago, Illinois.  It is a co-educational day school that enrolls children from ages 2 to 14.  We are a community of families and educators guided by the philosophy of Maria Montessori.  RPMS is accredited by the American Montessori Society (AMS) and the Independent Schools Association of Central States (ISACS).  

Please refer to our RPMS Non-Discrimination Policy

RPMS at a glance

RPMS At a Glance: 2019-2020

Founded in Rogers Park in 1966
Student Body: 324 (ages 2-14)
Students receiving tuition assistance: 12%
Students of color: 30.3%

Most of our families live within five miles of RPMS and come from the following neighborhoods:  Andersonville, Lincoln Square, Edgewater, Rogers Park, Bowmanville, Lakeview, Ravenswood, and Lincoln Park.

virtual tour

please enjoy a stroll through our school

our history

Rogers Park Montessori School was founded by ten Rogers Park parents in September of 1966 in a converted space at St. Ignatius parish and has provided quality education to the children of Chicago ever since. 

In 1975, the school moved its site to Bethany Lutheran Church at 1244 W. Thorndale. RPMS gradually expanded to offer a Toddler class, five Children's House classrooms, and after school care for working families.  The RPMS elementary program launched in 1991 and in three years, the class grew from its initial enrollment of 7 to 18 students.

In 1994, RPMS opened a 9-12 program and a year later, with the continued growth of the elementary program, new space was leased at 1020 West Bryn Mawr in the Edgewater Presbyterian Church. This building housed our 6-9 and 9-12 classrooms and after-school elementary program.  The combination of growth and separate buildings created the need to look for a single site to house both our programs. This search spanned over 10 years.

In 2004, RPMS purchased and began construction on our current home, a 47,000 sq. ft. educational facility at 1800 West Balmoral. Thanks to the hard work, support, and continued energy of RPMS parents, a state-of-the-art school that incorporates the Montessori philosophy into its design opened in January 2006. The facility includes Montessori programming from Toddler to Middle School, two gyms, library, green roof, playgrounds, and green space.

In 2014, enrollment demands and a desire to expand led the school to develop plans for a 14,000 square foot addition to the existing building. The expansion allowed the school to add a middle school wing with science stations, a central group presentation area, and breakout learning spaces. Dedicated library, drama, music, and resource rooms were added along with additional administration office space and rooftop recreation playspace and gardens. The large gym was retrofitted with commercial grade lighting, sound, and audiovisual equipment for use in staging performances and hosting events. The expansion also enabled the school to grow its lower and upper elementary program by renovating the existing building to add two new classrooms.

academic staff

Rogers Park Montessori School attracts and retains an experienced and dedicated faculty. Our teachers hold Bachelors or Masters degrees, are Montessori certified, and have many years of in-class experience.

early childhood
teaching staff

Our early childhood staff creates a special sense of continuity and belonging for the youngest members of our community.  Their knowledge of child development and Montessori education, as well as their practical expertise, make for an environment that is both child and parent friendly.

middle school
teaching staff

At the elementary level, our Montessori trained classroom teachers are joined by specialists who lead the co-curricular programming of Spanish, drama, art, music, and physical education.  Many of our teachers have taught at RPMS for over 15 years.  Their loyalty, talent, and professionalism are exceptional, and their dedication and commitment to children have garnered RPMS a reputation for excellence in Montessori education.

montessori teacher training

Montessori teacher training is specific to age groups:

  • Toddler (2 year olds)
  • Children's House (3-6 year olds)
  • Lower Elementary (6-9 year olds)
  • Upper Elementary (9-12 year olds)
  • Middle School/Adolescent (12-14 year olds).

RPMS partners with a variety of both AMI and AMS Montessori training centers throughout the United States for teacher training.


RPMS is a board-governed 501(c)(3) organization.  The Board of Directors meets approximately eight times per year, and focuses on the school’s strategic direction and long term sustainability in line with our mission and core values. Committees of the board include business finance, diversity and inclusion, marketing, committee on trustees, advancement, and alumni relations.

board members

Ben Blair

RPMS Principal

Ben Blair, the Principal at Rogers Park Montessori School, holds a Bachelor's in Cultural Anthropology from the University of Illinois, a Masters of Arts in Teaching from Columbia College Chicago, and a Montessori I & II Elementary Credential.  For the past 14 years, he has served the RPMS community, first as a classroom teacher and more recently as the Elementary Program Director.  In addition to his work at RPMS, Ben has served as a site consultant for Montessori training centers.  Montessori's focus on the whole child, coupled with her vision of children as humanity's best hope for peace, has imbued his life as an educator.  He values the compassion, mutual respect, and adaptability of his staff and faculty above all else.  In addition to serving as the school's principal, he is the parent of a second grader and first year in the Children's House program at the school.

Lori Morlock

Board President

Lori joined the Board in 2015 after helping with the school’s Raising Our Future Capital Campaign. She and her husband, Lee, have three children at RPMS: Taryn (Aspen), Emily (Oak), and Tessa (Poplar). Lori graduated from Harvard Law School in 2004 and worked in private practice in Chicago before turning her attention to writing fiction. Her first published novel will be released in April 2021. If she’s not writing, Lori can probably be found riding her horse, Charlie, or taking long walks with the family dog, Lucky.

Anand Swaminathan

Vice President, Trustees Committee Chair

Anand joined the Board in 2019. He and his wife, Bethany, have a daughter Priya (Redwood) and a son Pavanaj (Sassafras). Anand was a Montessori kid long ago, and these days spends as much time as possible on the ground with the kids. He also enjoys cooking, biking, basking in the sun, and buying books he never makes time to read. Anand is a civil rights attorney at Loevy & Loevy.

Paul Herbert

Treasurer, Business Finance and Audit Committee Chair 

Paul joined the RPMS Board in 2018 after working as a non-board member on the Business, Finance, and Audit Committee for a year.  Paul and his wife Karen have been a part of the RPMS community since 2012.  Daughters Nora and Josie are currently students in Oak and Hawthorne, and son brother Wes is in Magnolia.  Paul is Managing Director at Harbor Capital Advisors, Inc., an investment management firm.  Paul likes hanging out with the family, and playing guitar and tennis.

Kathy Barakat


Kathy is an attorney licensed to practice law in Illinois since 1998. For the past 17 years, Kathy's practice has focused primarily on employment law. Most recently, Kathy held an Of Counsel position at Barakat Law Group and served as Senior Counsel in the City of Chicago's Department of Law Employment Litigation Division. Kathy also has been an active member of ROOTS, RPMS's parent organization. Specifically, Kathy chaired ROOTS' New Families Committee and co-ran ROOTS' Leadership Team from 2016-2019. Her son Omar is a sixth grader in Sequoia.

Miguel Cano

Marketing Committee Chair 

Miguel joined the RPMS Board in 2019. He along with his wife Lee and son Max (Sequoia) have been members of the RPMS community since 2013. Miguel is a native Chicagoan who grew up in Albany Park. He is a business owner (The Coffee Studio) and designer (Design Union) who spends his free time drawing comics, perfecting simple cocktails, and making music.  

Yvette Gonzales

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee Chair 

Yvette joined the RPMS Board in 2018 and currently chairs the Diversity and Inclusion parent committee at RPMS. Yvette and her partner, Eileen Murphy, have two sons at RPMS, Colin (Walnut) and Emmett (Palm).  Yvette is a lifelong Chicagoan and works as a Software Engineer and Data Scientist. Yvette enjoys biking, hiking and camping with her family. 

Mita Jain

Mita joined the RPMS Board in 2017 after working as a non-board member on the Business, Finance, and Audit Committee for a year. She and her husband, Manu, have two daughters, Riya and Sonali (both in Aspen). Mita has held various roles in finance for more than 20 years and is currently the SVP of Tax & Treasury at Edelman, a global public relations company.  When Mita has free time, she enjoys spending time with her family, traveling, hiking, and learning to cook new vegetarian recipes.

Jennifer Lakomy

Jennifer joined the RPMS Board in 2020 after working for a year as a non-board member on the Business, Finance, and Audit Committee and volunteering for several other roles within the school.  Jennifer, her husband, Kevin and their two daughters, Avery (Walnut) and Madison (Hawthorne) have been part of the RPMS community since 2012.  Jennifer experience includes various accounting and finance positions and she is currently a VP/Director at Diversified Financial Management Corp., a private family office.  Outside of work, Jennifer enjoys spending time with her family, including cheering on her kids sports teams, cooking, traveling and hopefully someday, playing tennis again.

Mark Levine

Development Committee Chair

Mark has over 20 years experience working with startups to multinationals. He has been both an IT and a Management Consultant assisting a wide variety of clients including Kellogg's, SnapOn Tools, and a satellite phone startup. He took an active interest in the internet, both working for, as well as founding, his own Internet Consultancy. Most recently he has combined those experiences and is working in IT compliance for a global financial services firm. He has one son at RPMS who started at Kindergarten and is currently in Aspen. 


Nancy Nassr

Nancy Nassr is an experienced educator and Head of School at the Ancona School, a Montessori-inspired school in Hyde Park. Nancy joined the Ancona community in 2016 as Assistant Head of School and served as Ancona’s Interim Head of School during the 2017-2018 school year. Nancy has been an educator for over 15 years: as a classroom teacher, instructional coach, and school leader.  

Nancy has presented at national and international conferences on issues of restorative practices; creativity in the classroom; and using games and digital platforms to engage, challenge and assess student learning. She is an active volunteer in several nonprofits serving the Muslim community. She believes that teaching and learning are fundamental human experiences and is dedicated to cultivating school environments built upon respect, collaboration, and educating the whole child. She is dedicated to social justice—both in and outside the classroom— and committed to the use of restorative practices for conflict management.

Chris Paluch

Alumni Relations Chair

Chris became a member of the RPMS community in 2003.  He and his wife Susan Bennett have two children: Anya (alumnus; class of 2014) and Ben (alumnus; class of 2015). He has participated in many activities at RPMS throughout the years including coaching basketball, building the playground, chaperoning field trips, TS Love, carpool and many more.  Chris is a woodworker/furniture builder.  He stays fit by playing basketball and soccer.

Todd Schrade

Todd Schrade (Henry - Oak) joined the building and finance committee in 2019 and accepted a position with the RPMS board in 2020. He has been a parent in the RPMS community since 2012. Todd is a partner at Midway Capital Research & Management, and he is a Certified Public Accountant. When he isn't reading or parenting, Todd enjoys competitive swimming, classical music, and Legos.

american montessori society accreditation

excelerate accreditation

isacs accreditation

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1800 W. Balmoral Ave Chicago, IL 60640

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