Mahdi Dadrass, Executive Director and Co-Founder

As our Executive Director, Mahdi Dadrass is the head of the school and oversees all programs and long-term initiatives. His passion is rooted in a legacy of Montessori education, with the Dadrass family owning and operating three other highly regarded Montessori Schools (Northbrook Montessori School, The Grove Montessori School and Lincolnshire Montessori School) located on Chicago’s Northshore and in its northwest suburbs. Mahdi is a certified (AMS) Montessori educator with a decade of Montessori teaching and administrative experience. He trained at the Seton Montessori Institute, holds a Montessori 3-6 Certification and taught at the highly esteemed Near North Montessori School in Chicago. Mahdi’s extensive involvement with his family’s existing schools — leading the expansion of classrooms, enrollment and programs — combined with his experiences, observations and collaborations with other leading Montessori institutes have given him a deep understanding of the ideal Montessori learning environment. Mahdi holds a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering degree from The University of Wisconsin-Madison as well as a certificate of Vocational Specialist in Montessori Early Childhood Education with High Honors. You can contact Mahdi at or (312) 431-8050.

Sameer Shanbag, Administrative Director and Co-Founder

As our Administrative Director, Sameer Shanbag manages the school’s day-to-day operations. He has worked as a management consultant for a global consulting agency and as a corporate attorney for a large Chicago law firm — and throughout his career, Sameer has shown a dedication to education. Prior to attending law school, he was the business manager and administrator for a new engineering program at Northwestern University and served the City Year AmeriCorps program as a teacher of literacy for kindergartners in a low-income Chicago Public School (CPS). For the Princeton Review, he served as an SAT teacher and his involvement in undergrad and law school mentorship programs was instrumental to the growth and the success of students and mentees. Sameer has also worked with large not-for-profits, including volunteer teaching roles educating CPS students on legal concepts. Sameer holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business and a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Illinois’ College of Law. You can contact Sameer at or (312) 431-8050.

Mina Dadrass, Chair of Advisory Committee

As Chair of the Advisory Committee of South Loop Montessori School, Mina Dadrass provides guidance to the school’s management and educational staff regarding programs, operations and other initiatives. She is the owner and directress of Northbrook Montessori School, The Grove Montessori School and Lincolnshire Montessori School. As a certified (AMS) Montessori educator and with more than 20 years of Montessori teaching and administration experience, including founding, owning, operating and directing existing, successful Montessori schools, Mina is a key counselor and contributor to the growth and success of South Loop Montessori School.

Tiffany Monreal, Assistant Administrative Director

Tiffany came to South Loop Montessori School in September 2017 as the Administrative Assistant after spending three years teaching elementary English in Gwangju, South Korea, as part of the Fulbright Program. She has since transitioned to the position of Assistant Administrative Director and helps in managing the day-to-day operations at South Loop Montessori School. Tiffany is a Chicago native and attended elementary and high school on the north side of the city. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in International Relations and Economics & Business from Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa.

“The secret of good teaching is to regard the child’s intelligence as a fertile field
in which seeds may be sown, to grow under the heat of flaming imagination.”

Our AMS / AMI Montessori Certified educators promote joy in learning and the development of each child’s true potential by enabling their intellectual, emotional, physical, and social growth through the Montessori philosophy and approach. Lead Teachers include:

Elementary Lead Teacher: Nancy Green

Nancy Green joined the SLMS faculty in July 2018. She has had a thirty-year career in Montessori education and is currently mentoring two teachers in our elementary program. Nancy has been an elementary coordinator, has founded a Montessori elementary program in Barrington, IL, and has been a presenter at an American Montessori Society’s national conference. Nancy has been trained as a primary and elementary teacher, and she has a genuine dedication and love of the Montessori philosophy, believing that all children can thrive and benefit greatly in our learning community.

Primary Program Lead Teacher: Kylee Burke

Kylee Burke is the Lead Teacher for the Primary Classroom. While in high school she had the opportunity to learn about the Montessori philosophy from a family friend and fell in love with its holistic approach to education. Kylee then decided to attend Xavier University where she earned her Bachelor of Science in Montessori Education along with her 3-6 AMS Credentials. While attending Xavier she had the opportunity to student teach at a local private Montessori school as well as one of the first public Montessori schools in the country. After college she moved to the Chicago-area and join the South Loop Montessori community in 2013. Kylee has enjoyed being apart of the community at South Loop Montessori School and looks forward to continuing to grow along with it.

Primary Lead Teacher: Anya Talladen

A Chicago native, Anya holds a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration from Dominican University and trained at Seton Montessori Institute for her 3-6 AMS credential. Anya taught Preschool, Kindergarten and Special Education in West suburban elementary schools, as well as dance for several years — and was in an active member of a performing dance company. She would bring her dance students to volunteer as a group to Feed My Starving Children, donating time to children at Mercy Home for Boys and Girls in Chicago, as well as fundraise for Lurie Children’s Hospital. Shortly after, during her student teaching, Anya realized that she truly wanted to incorporate the Montessori Method to her teaching style as the most effective and humble approach to education. Anya is absolutely thrilled to be a part of the South Loop Montessori faculty and is excited to continue to grow with children on her journey!

Primary Program Lead Teacher: Brooke Holton

 Pre-Primary Program Lead Teacher: Victoria Bautist

Victoria Bautista is the Lead Teacher for the Pre-Primary Classroom. She attended St. Cloud State University where she studied Athletic Training and then transferred to Northern Illinois University to study Kinesiology with a focus on Physical Education and a minor in Nutrition. She began her Montessori journey through a teaching internship at Seton Montessori School in Clarendon Hills, after which she accepted a full-time position as an assistant in that school’s Toddler Program for a 3-year tenure. She then accepted a position in the Pre-Primary classroom of South Loop Montessori School and attended 0-3 AMS teacher training at Seton Montessori Institute, through which she is currently completing her 0-3 AMS credential through a self-study program.


Pre-Primary Program Lead Teacher: Dalyn-Rae Koetje

Dalyn has been an active member of the Montessori Community for five years, including the last two year at South Loop Montessori School where she completed her American Montessori Society training. She has deep experience working closely with children at the Pre-Primary level and Primary level and recently opened her own Pre-Primary classroom in the newly renovated first floor of SLMS. When she’s not at school, Dalyn enjoys traveling for music events, baking, gardening, and hiking.

Toddler Lead Teacher: Katelyn Emberson

Infant Lead Teacher: Nancy De Leon

Nancy has worked with children since the age of 12 as a church volunteer. She came across the Montessori philosophy in 2011, working for three years at Lectura Montessori in Berwyn in its young toddler environment. She also provided child care to as a private nanny to three children (starting when they were age 3 months, 2 years and 4 years old) — and while working with that family, attended Seton Montessori Institute to obtain her 0-3 lead teacher certification. She is also the Directress of the Children’s Ministry at her church, where she oversees three classrooms and also teaches 5-10-year-old. Children. She is currently enrolled at Harold Washington college and will soon transfer to Northeastern to complete her Bachelors Degree in Early Childhood. Nancy enjoys interpretive dance and was a former church choreographer for the girls’ dance team. She is the oldest of four sisters and she enjoys spending time with them and witnessing their growth.