Maria Steele

I graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Alaska Anchorage with a B.A. in English and a minor in history. My studies included classes on literature, composition, rhetoric, and linguistics with an emphasis on English education. As a graduate student, I worked as a teaching assistant and taught first year English composition and technical writing at UAA before deciding to switch focuses and pursue a career in early childhood education. I earned my Montessori certificate through NAMC (the North American Montessori Center) and continue to take classes in early childhood development and education.

I am very passionate about education in general. Though I changed my major numerous times in college, the one thing I always knew for certain was that I wanted to teach and share my knowledge with others. To that end, I work as a professional tutoring specialist in my spare time and have taught and tutored elementary age children, middle schoolers, high schoolers, and college aged students (both undergraduate and graduate students). I tutor students in language arts, SAT/ACT prep, and the social sciences (sociology, psychology, anthropology, history, political science, and communications studies). My favorite age groups to teach or tutor are 4-5 year olds, high school students, and college students. I am particularly passionate about language arts, interpersonal communication, conflict resolution, and the social and emotional development of children and young adults.

Alicia Villarroel

My name is Alicia Villarroel. I was born in Lima, Peru. I moved to Virginia in 2003 and worked there for 2 years. I moved to Anchorage in 2005. I’m married and have two daughters, Alicia is 8 and Aurora is 5. We love to do puzzles, paint, and ice skate.

I started to work at Children’s World since 2007. I began working at the Preschool program. I had the honor to work with amazing teachers, such as Lisa, Monica and Indhira. I learned a lot from them and became more interested in the Montessori method, thanks to them.

I have a Montessori certification in Early Childhood in ages 3-6; and I’m also working towards my CDA. I am a member of the National Association of Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and the Anchorage Association for the Education of Young Children (AAEYC).

I have been working with the Pre Kindergarten classroom since 2015. I am very thrilled to work with this age group and to teach them all I know, especially in Spanish.  It’s a big change for the child to know that Kindergarten is coming. Thanks to Maria Montessori, we have incredible material in the classroom available, that will help each child’s developing stages. I am happy to see how they grow, and I’m proud to see their accomplishments through out the years.

As Maria Montessori said, “The child has a mind able to absorb knowledge.  He has the power to teach himself.”


Ana Maria Bruno

My name is Ana María Bruno; I’m from Dominican Republic. I came to Alaska to accompany my sisters. My hobbies are cooking and going for a walk to contemplate nature.

I have a Bachelor degree in Education in Social Sciences. After working for 20 years in Education, in the Dominican Republic, I respectfully retired. I’ve continued my education here in Alaska and continued to partake in several Early Childhood Education training’s, including my CDA, to continue my work with children. I have been working at Children’s World for 6 years and I love my job. I enjoy working with this group of children at this age; since I love children and they love me!

Yuri Donis

My name is Yuri Donis, I am 27 years old, I was born and raised in Guatemala. I met my husband when I was 17 years old, while he was a traveling in my country. I was 19 when I married him and then I moved to Alaska 6 years ago to begin a family.

When I moved to Alaska I was bringing with me all of my dreams. The first year was hard and a challenge, as I did not know the language. There were a lot of things I had to overcome, but today I am very thankful for all that I have.

I have truly loved working at Children’s World and my job is what motivates me the most to keep growing. It is not an easy job, but watching them grow in each area of knowldege is an indescribable feeling. Being a part of my student’s lives is just the most beautiful reward.  

It’s been almost 6 years within the field. I hold a CDA since 2015, I am a member on NAEYC, I am on level 6 on the Alaska System for Early Education Development and I just received my Montessori certification. I feel like this is just the beginning of something great!  

Jhoana Severson

I’m originally from Colombia, where I’ve lived until I moved to Alaska in early 2017.  I’ve been working at Children’s World Bilingual Montessori since June of 2017.   My experience working with preschool age children motivated me to take my Child Development Associate credential to continue in my current field. 

I enjoy working with this age group because it gives me the opportunity to make a lasting positive impact in their lives and see all of the ways they can learn and grow.

I love exploring the outdoors and seeing the wildlife that Alaska has to offer; of which I have seen plenty.  During my down time, I enjoy reading and spending time with my family.  I also love traveling to other beautiful places.

Older Toddler

Bianka Ytzel Lopez

I am from Michoacan, Mexico. I came to Alaska for a “short vacation” and after two months our family decided to stay. During the summer time, I love to go camping with my family. I am married and have one, very cute, daughter who is 8 years old.

I have been working with Children’s World for 5 years and during this time I have received my Montessori Diploma. I love working with children because every child is different and I am able to help each student discover their strengths and talents.

Younger Toddler

Maria Rincon-Ruiz

I am originally from Comala, Colima, Mexico. I came to the U.S. in 1997 after I got married and lived in Oregon for 14 years. There I had three children, Daniela (20), Mariela (16), and Gustavo (14). One of the biggest battles I went through upon arriving to the U.S., and establishing, was learning that my eldest daughter, Daniela, had been born with Cerebral Palsy, which affected the left side of her body. She was diagnosed with this condition within the first 6 months of her life. Many specialists gave me the same diagnosis, expressing that Daniela would never be able to walk and would always need a wheelchair. Despite her diagnosis, she received therapy to help with movement and strength, ultimately, after three surgeries Daniela was able to walk. Gustavo, my youngest was also diagnosed with Autism. Learning about his condition was tough and trying to adjust accordingly to his needs and work with teachers to provide him with a better education.

Afterwards, I moved up to Anchorage, Alaska in hopes to provide a better life for my children in terms of receiving a better education, a new environment, and better medical help with specialists.

I have been teaching at Children’s World for six years and a half, I have been able to complete the Montessori Training and am certified with the CDA. I enjoy working with my age group because I get to witness the development of true independence, the desire to fend for themselves and the wonderful manners each have. In addition, I enjoy to see their will to volunteer and want to participate in group activities.

Baby Toddler

Massiel Reyes

I was born and raised in Nicaragua. Once I graduated from high school, I moved to Alaska in 2011. I am married and we have a beautiful 6-year-old daughter. I love spending all my free time with my daughter and enjoy teaching her everything I can while we are together. I came to work for Children’s World in 2013 and found my joy in working with the little ones in my program. I have my CDA and am Montessori Certified.



I have been married for 35 years, with 2 children and 4 grandchildren. My favorite time is when I am with my family, which is my purpose in my life. I graduated from the university in the Dominican Republic in 2006, Magna Cum Laude, with a Bachelors in Social Science and began working as a teacher. Around 2003, I began teaching at home to offer classes to children who need help with school, reading, writing, math, etc. I started working with Children’s World in September 2011 as head of the infant program, which I enjoy to the fullest. I have received special training that has to do with the development of the infant from birth, both in physical, emotional and cognitive. I belong to the active body of the Church that I attend. I am a servant and I participate in the groups that will finish or develop what is the Matrimonial Mind Worldwide, which is a retreat for married couples. What most love about working with infants is to see how they develop both physically, emotionally and cognitively and the love and attachment shown to us, the teachers.

Melissa Tabares

I was born and raised in the city of Medellin, Colombia. I planned to visit Alaska for only a few months and then move to the lower 48 to live. I found that I really enjoyed the beautiful nature and amazing scenery of Alaska and decided to make Alaska my home. I enjoy all outdoor activities; hiking, camping and roads trips year round.

Soon after I decided to live in Alaska, I was given the opportunity to work at Children’s World Bilingual Montessori. I began by rotating through all the classes and enjoyed the experience of working with children at all different ages. After my first year, I began helping in the Infant Program and I found myself very interest in this age group. I have a strong belief that the infant and toddler years are the most important in the development and growth of a child. I decided to work with this group and provide as much help as I can to aide in the success of each child.

I have attended Montessori training, which has allowed me to maximize my teaching skills to create the most beneficial learning environment for my students. I continue to enjoy working with the infant program, as it gives me a sense of happiness when I see my students grow in their independence.