Downstairs A.R.T.S. Director, Practical Life, Montessori
Maureen Fahey joined the Academy family in 2004 when her two sons began attending preschool. In 2009 when her daughter started preschool, she became the Practical Life teacher in the Art/Music/Montessori room. She enjoyed learning more about the Montessori method and introducing the children to new ideas each week at the practical life table. Maureen loves the unique preschool experience that the Academy offers families in the community. She studied Family and Consumer Science at Eastern Illinois University and worked in management and consumer relations after college. In her free time Maureen enjoys reading, yoga and spending time with her family especially outside in nature! Maureen lives in Oak Park with her husband and three kids and is excited to begin her 7th year as Downstairs A.R.T.S Director.
Upstairs A.R.T.S. Director, Art, Cultural Awareness, Literature
Nathalie Yanguas is originally from Switzerland. She has an MA in Egyptology from the University of Geneva, Switzerland. Before moving to the United States in 2015, Nathalie taught French for 11 years, working primarily with adults and teenagers, in particular immigrants and refugees. She now lives in River Forest with her husband and her daughter. Nathalie started at the Academy as a parent volunteer when her daughter was in preschool, then as an aide in 2017 and as a French teacher in 2018. She worked in almost all the A.R.T.S. classes, from Art, Creative Art and Literature & Culture to Music, Creative Movement and Physical Fitness. On Fridays, she has worked in the Montessori/Practical Life area and Science. She also taught French at Lincoln Elementary School in River Forest and works from time to time as a freelance translator. She is looking forward to her third year as Upstairs A.R.T.S. Director.
Grace Beifuss is a performing artist, educator and early childhood professional. In education she has worked as a literacy coach with the Illinois library system, private tutor, classroom aid and art room assistant 1st - 8th grade at the Green House school, Wheaton, IL. She studied Early Development and Psychology at College of DuPage before moving into Theater, graduating from the Acting Conservatory program at Black Box Chicago. She has loved her time as an Actress and PA working in Theatre, film and TV. Grace also grew up dancing! studying different styles of dance, her favorite was Hawaiian dance, which she performed professionally with the Hawaiian style dancers of Chicago. She is coming back for her third school year with the A.R.T.S. program. She is excited to share her love of the arts with the youngest and most creative members of our community.
Judy Bianchi has been on staff since 1999. She began as an aid for physical fitness, and since has emerged through the Academy programs. She has taught Physical Fitness, Montessori, and Upstairs Montessori. Judy is married and has three daughters. Two of her daughters have danced at the Academy and were Momenta dancers. Judy has also taken a number of dance classes at the Academy herself. She was a Gymnast as a student. Floor exercise was her specialty. She also learned the art of Rhythmic Gymnastics. Judy has taught teens floor exercise at High school camps. She also volunteered at Whittier Elementary School as a classroom aide helping children better develop their reading and comprehension skills. Judy truly enjoys working with young children and is very happy and gratified to have the opportunity to work in all the creative programs at the Academy. Judy is now a grandmother of four. Two are Academy Preschool Alums. Her granddaughter is now in her fourth year of dance at the Academy.
Heléna Gorgol graduated from the University of Illinois spring of 2022 with a BFA in Dance. She is also a graduate of the Academy A.R.T.S. pre-school program, class of 2005. She grew up dancing at the Academy from the age of 4 through her senior year of high school. She began demonstrating for dance classes at the age of 10 and worked in the A.R.T.S. program and taught dance classes during summers throughout high school and college. Helena also spent two years teaching intermediate levels of ballet at the Champaign Park district. She has loved working at the Academy for years, and she is excited to be able to spend the school year getting to know her students and being a part of nurturing their early development.
Estella Gorgol is an O.P. native who graduated from OPRFHS in 2022. She herself is an alum of the Academy A.R.T.S. preschool program and was also an Academy dance student for 8 years. Estella enjoys hiking and exploring the woods, 80's alternative fashion and music, creating multimedia rainbow art and drawing, and is a small dog enthusiast. Estella discovered a love for working with small childrenduring her first year as an ARTS classroom aide and is excited to begin her second year in August.
Jennie Hills, born and raised in Oak Park, attended Irving School, Asension (1988), OPRFHS (1992), Utah State University (1995). Growing up in Oak Park, she was the neighborhood babysitter, and her first job was at a daycare center. Jennie loves helping kids grow, discover, learn, and have fun. She has two daughters, her oldest is a recent OPRFHS grad (2022) who attends Carthage College Kenosha, Wisconsin, and is on the Women’s Wrestling team. Her youngest just graduated Julian and is about to begin Freshmen year at OPRFHS. Jennie’s hobbies include reading books. Her favorite place is the Book Table. She enjoys backyard gardening and raising butterflies in the summer. She’s creative so she’s always doing something “Art” – chalk drawing, painting rocks, coloring and lettering, anything she can. Jennie’s also into food. She loves to cook family recipes and she’s a huge fan of fresh fruits!