Patty grew up on a farm in central Michigan as the youngest of 6 children.  While she considers herself a city person, she still loves to visit the farm.  She was a Rotary Exchange student in Brazil for a year in high school, which fueled her passion for travel.  She graduated from Stephens College and also studied in Salamanca Spain for her junior year.  She completed her first AMI training at the Montessori Institute of Denver for ages 0-3.  She couldn’t get enough Montessori, so she went back for more and became certified in AMI for ages 3-6 at the Milwaukee Montessori Institute.  


Patty has delighted in working with children for over 25 years.  

She has worked at some incredible AMI Montessori schools in 

the Chicago area including Forest Bluff School and Countryside Montessori.  She feels blessed to be 

a part of the WSMS community and her youngest daughter attends the school.  Patty has been at WSMS since 2012.


Patty lives in La Grange with her husband Scott and three children.  In her free time she 

enjoys walking with friends, traveling, gardening, camping and driving to countless soccer games 

and cross country meets!

Patty Eggerding - Head of School

Emily Peterson - Lower Elementary Guide

Emily grew up in Western Springs, Illinois with three brothers and five cats. She was a Girl Scout from kindergarten through senior year of high school and received the Gold Award after organizing and carrying out a school supply drive for a school that she visited in Tanzania.  


After high school, Emily attended Saint Louis University and studied elementary education, ran for the cross-country and track teams (Go Billikens!), and ate a lot of Ted Drewes Frozen Custard. Then, Emily moved to Milwaukee to become elementary Montessori trained at the Montessori Institute of Milwaukee. After her year of Montessori training in Milwaukee, she continued her studies during the summer at Loyola University Maryland to receive a Masters of Education in Montessori education.


Emily has been at WSMS as an elementary directress since 2015. She looks forward to coming to work in such a beautiful community every day.


Carolyn McDonald was born in Dublin, Ireland. She attended a Montessori school from ages 3 to 6, while growing up in a small rural Irish town. Later, her family moved to Texas, where she spent the majority of her childhood. Carolyn moved to Chicago to attend the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where she received a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Ceramics and Community Based Art Education. Carolyn has taught art to children at contemporary art museums, art galleries, summer camps, park districts, and other not-for-profit institutions. It was while working at the Oak Park Art League that she found her way to WSMS and reconnected with her love for Montessori. 

Carolyn completed the AMI 3-6 Primary training at the Montessori Institute of North Texas under the direction of Uma Ramani and Beth Ann Slater. 

Carolyn lives in Oak Park with her partner Mike. They enjoy playing disc golf and fostering English bulldogs through Chicago English Bulldog Rescue. In her free time Carolyn makes her art at a local ceramics studio and listens to lots of podcasts. 

Carolyn McDonald - Primary Guide

Greta Nagel - Primary Guide

Greta grew up in Lake Bluff, Illinois, where she attended Forest Bluff School from the age of 18 months through 8th grade. As a Montessori child, she loved reading and writing, as well as the performing arts. In high school, Greta’s favorite class was English Literature, which she credits in large part to her Montessori education.


Greta always knew that after college she wanted to be a Montessori teacher. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Northwestern University with a BA in English Literature, and immediately moved to Maryland, where she received her AMI Primary (3-6) diploma from the Washington Montessori Institute and her MA in Education from Loyola University Maryland. She spent the next three years starting a new Primary classroom at a farm school in northern Virginia. Now, she is absolutely thrilled to become a part of the West Suburban Montessori community.


Heather Ellis grew up in Batavia, Illinois with a younger sister and one oversized kitty. Her parents both come from large families, so her home life was populated with grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. They always kept her laughing with their stories of hilarious misadventures. Heather spent many happy hours of her childhood gathering her friends for bike rides, sleepovers, and skating parties. In the sixth grade, she began taking flute lessons and joined the school band.

Heather filled every break from school with child care positions that she adored. After graduating from the University of Arizona with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, her summer job became her career. In 2004, she discovered the brilliance of the Montessori method and became a student once again. Heather followed the advice of her mentors and became a primary guide and later, an AMI/USA consultant. She is thrilled to be a member of the WSMS team!

Heather lives in Oak Park with her husband and daughter and their two dogs. She loves road trips with her family because they belt out the lyrics to every song. Her idea of a perfect day includes dancing, boating, and several rounds of non-competitive ping-pong.

Heather Elllis – Primary Guide


Jeff Peters - Upper Elementary Guide

Jeff Peters grew up in Canandaigua, NY (a small community in the Finger Lakes of Western New York). During elementary, junior high and high school, he was very active playing trombone in the band, winning a NY State Field Band Championship in the process, and also playing tennis avidly. He graduated in 1986.


After high school, Jeff attended Earlham College, a small Quaker college in Richmond, Indiana. While in college, he majored in English Literature and minored in Spanish. During those years, he was fortunate to have the opportunity to live in Mexico on two separate occasions. He also played lacrosse on the college’s lacrosse club. He graduated in 1990.


Following graduation from college, Jeff moved to Chicago where his father had grown up and his grandparents still lived. After working in a restaurant for a year, Jeff answered an ad for Spanish-speaking assistants at Near North Montessori School. He was eventually hired as the classroom assistant in an Upper Elementary classroom. During that first year, he fell in love with teaching and decided to take Montessori training. The rest is history.


Jeff taught at Near North Montessori from 1991-2018, serving as elementary chair in his last two years there. Throughout his tenure, Jeff has served on many school committees.  Jeff’s wife Jennifer is a toddler teacher at NNM and his son Zachary is a student there. Jeff has a multitude of interests outside of the classroom and, among others, enjoys cooking, playing the banjo, reading, traveling whenever possible, and trying to keep up with his son. 


Jeff joined the WSMS community in Fall 2018 and is enjoying the opportunities and challenges of growing the upper elementary program.