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.”


Lisa Steele

I have been working with young children for almost 30 years. The summer I turned 30, I decided to return to school to earn a degree in Early Childhood Education and pursue my dream of becoming a Kindergarten or 1st grade teacher. After completing my degree, I had the pleasure of meeting Maria De Leon and joining her brand new school, Children’s World Bilingual Montessori. I have since had the opportunity to participate in and watch it’s growth and transition to the amazing school it is today. I have been blessed to work with many talented and passionate teachers and administrators during my adventure as a Children’s World Bilingual Montessori maestra.

I have had many titles during my career as an educator, including home care provider, ASD assistant, Administrative Director, teacher and mentor to upcoming early childhood educators. I have a degree in Early Childhood Education and am Montessori Certified. I consider myself a lifelong learner and spend a great deal of my free time extending my knowledge of early childhood education, the Montessori method and creating engaging curriculum for the children in my care.

I have been married to my best friend and high school sweetheart for 36 years and have one daughter. I also share my life with a very sweet and cuddly chihuahua/pug mix named Bigley, an energetic and spunky shiba-inu puppy named Kinley and two older kitties named Loki and Felix.


My name is Francisca Avendano. I am from Iquique, Chile. I’m married and I have a beautiful 7 year old daughter. I moved here in 2018 looking for a new adventure.

I have a degree in Psychology and I worked in child psychology for five years before moving here. I have been working at Children’s World Bilingual Montessori for 3 years and chose this profession because I believe that children are our future. I love working with preschoolers because it brings me joy watching them learn new skills and watching their effort to grow into a better person.

I love camping, nature, reading books, eating salmon and drinking coffee!

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 two, very cute, daughters.

I have been working with Children’s World for 8 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.

Edith Sanchez

I was born and raised in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico. I moved to Anchorage, Alaska in May of 2014, with my parents. I am happily married. I enjoy scenic walks, traveling and new cultures. I attended the University of Univer at Guadalajara, Jalisco, where I studied Child Psychology.

I have been teaching at Children’s World Bilingual Montessori for approximately 8 years. In April 2017, I took a 10-month sabbatical. I returned to work in February of 2018.

I have taken multiple courses in toddler education and well-being. I am currently working on obtaining my Child Development Associate Credential.

One of my biggest passions is art, which is why I love working with children. I love to be surrounded with different colors and shapes. Creativity is emphasized in the Older Toddler Program, which allows me to have open imagination with the activities we create for the children. Working with children has been an amazing experience because we are not just teaching them, they are also teaching us.

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 9 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

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 and completed my Montessori training, which has allowed me to maximize my teaching skills to create the most beneficial learning environment for my students.



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.