Neelam Walia – Teacher

Neelam Walia is a highly qualified Montessori teacher with more than 20 years of experience. She grew up in New Delhi, India where she attended New Delhi University and received a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in political science. She obtained a preschool and kindergarten certification through North American Montessori Center in 2006 and an Early Childhood certification through American Montessori School in 2009. She has taught in several schools in the Naperville area and is highly praised by both her colleagues and her students’ parents. She has two sons who both attended Northwestern University for their undergraduate education. Her oldest son is currently completing his final year of medical school, and her youngest son is in dental school. She joined the Casa Dei Bambini family in 2017 and looks forward to continuing to serve the local community.

Anila Ali – Teacher

My name is Anila Ali. I have been married since 2007 and have 2 children, a boy and a girl. I have been working in the field of Early Childhood for 5 years. I received my Associate’s Degree in Child Development in 2013. I am currently working on my Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education Leadership - Child Development Specialization from Rasmussen College. Although my previous years of experience was in traditional teaching, my passion has always been to learn Montessori philosophy. Therefore, I completed my Montessori training in 2016 and received my Montessori 3-6 Credential with American Montessori Society(AMS) in 2017.

I believe all children deserve to receive a safe educational and nurturing environment where they get opportunities to learn and grow to become a well equipped person of the world. My goal is to follow the child to meet his or her individual needs and interests. This will prepare him or her in different domains of development as well as focus on academic learnings.

Please know that your child will be in a safe learning environment where he or she will have freedom to make their own choices, but with guided limits. It is my honor to be a part of their daily lives as we grow and learn together. I am very fortunate to be a part of Casa Dei Bambini school family and I look forward to a wonderful year with all of our children and families.

Shara Stephens – Teacher

Shara Stephens is a Montessori Directress for ages 3-6 at CDBM, Aurora, IL. She grew up in South Dakota and Minnesota, and moved to Chicago at age 19. She has 3 adult children. She has been in the Montessori field for 28 years, teaching for 23 and an administrator for 15. She received her Montessori certification from Meca-Seton in 1994 and is currently working on her degree in Psychology. She is an avid animal lover with 2 horses, 2 goats, a dog, and 2 cats. She is also a certified equine massage therapist and volunteers at an equine rescue in Elburn. She is very excited to be part of the CDBM family and looks forward to sharing her knowledge and experience in this nurturing and holistic environment.

Rachelle Kates – Fine Arts Instructor

Rachelle Kates is the Music Teacher at CDBM Aurora Illinois campus. She lives in Naperville Illinois with her wonderful husband and young son. You may not believe it by her age, but she has over 20 years of experience in music. After graduating from West Chicago Community High school, Rachelle attended College of Dupage for a degree in Fine Art. She then aggressively pursued a career in Musical Theatre; Most recently and notably starring as Maria in The Sound of Music, Christine in Phantom of the Opera, Truly Scrumptious in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and Belle in Beauty and the Beast. You can currently see Ms. Rachelle in Chicago’s premier production of Hunchback of Notre Dame, as Esmeralda. After a very busy, ongoing, and successful career in theatre, she thought she would slow things down and take up teaching children music. She had no idea the profound effect it would have on her life. Working with children and watching them be inspired and overcome with a love for music became her greatest passion. Seeing a child light up in her classroom is more important to her now then her being lit up on stage. After discovering this newfound passion, Ms. Rachelle plans to continue her education and receive her degree in Early Childhood Education. She is also looking forward to becoming certified at the North American Montessori Center. She is so excited to explore and make beautiful music with your children.

“I would teach children music, physics, and philosophy; but most importantly music, for the patterns in music and all the arts are the keys to learning.” ― Plato