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Maria Paaver


Dear TIS family!

I have been part of Tartu International School’s community for ten years, as a teacher, as a director of development and as a parent, and since July 2022 I am the principal of this wonderful school.
I have studied Estonian language and literature, and have a Master’s degree in education from the University of Tartu. I believe in child centered education, happy and supportive learning environment, hands-on and inquiry-based learning, eco-friendly mindset, promoting creativity and reading.
I’m very excited to work together with such a dedicated teaching team and look forward to having inspiring conversations with our students and parents.

Kärt Mõttus

Kindergarten Head of Studies

I was raised in southern Estonia, by the deepest lake in Estonia, Rõuge. After graduating from secondary school, I came to Tartu in order to study to become a primary school teacher and English as a foreign language teacher. Between my studies in the university I spent a fantastic year in Norway as an au-pair. After finishing my studies I worked some years in school. When I came to Tartu International School, I understood that working in the kindergarten is the thing I really love. Working with children never gets boring, it’s always full of surprises, one learns every day something from the little ones. I’m really glad to be a member of the Tartu International Kindergarten.

Maris Vohla

PYP Coordinator

I was born in a little town called Kohtla-Järve that is located in the north-east of Estonia, only 50 km from the Russian border. I spent my childhood there until I graduated upper secondary school and moved to Tartu to study to be an Estonian as a foreign language teacher. After graduating, I moved to London to learn English and to travel. I started working at TIS in 2005 and have remained since then. I have also worked teaching adult learners in a Russian school. Working at TIS is positively challenging and there are never two years that are alike. The positive, friendly, and tolerant atmosphere creates an endearing place for both students and teachers.

Liis Pariis

Kindergarten Teacher for Ages 5 and 6 (temporarily away)

I was born in Tartu grew up in a little village near Viljandi. After graduation from high school, I decided to take one year off. Life led me to Italy where I worked as a babysitter. After coming back to Estonia, I started studying educational sciences at Tartu University. After graduation, I moved to Finland where I also worked as a teacher at an English-immersion kindergarten. As an Estonian my heart will always belong to Estonia, so after six years I came back. I have been working at TIS since September 2017. It has been a great journey full of new experiences and knowledge, wonderful children and good friendships. I love my work! I spend most of my free time with my family. We love to take nature trips, go to the cinema and theatre, and experience new things. 

Riin Sats

Temporary Kindergarten Teacher For Ages 5 and 6

I was born and raised in Tartu. After graduating from the Estonian University of Life Sciences with a master’s degree in horticulture, I moved to the Netherlands, where I stayed for 8 years working in the field of pharmaceutical industry. From my early teens I have worked as a babysitter for international families, during the summers as a daycare teacher and in my student years as a teacher in the Children Center of Annelinn. I have always enjoyed the interaction with children, seeing how they learn and discover.
In my free time I love to spend time with my children and my large family, reading and going for walks.

Hanna-Liisa Roone

Kindergarten Nursery Teacher for Ages 1½ to 3

I grew up in a small village in eastern Estonia. After graduating high school I lived in Tallinn, but I decided to move to Tartu to study tourism management at Tartu Vocational Education Centre; thanks to that, I lived for six months in New Jersey, USA. When I came back I started to train as an early-years teacher at Tartu University. My mother tongue is Estonian. I have worked at TIS since 2020 and I am really happy to be here! My students have little hands and big hearts. I’m proud to be a kindergarten teacher.

Aleksandra Griffel

Kindergarten Teacher

I was born and raised in Tallinn, after finishing high school I moved to Viljandi to study youth work in University of Tartu Viljandi Culture Academy. After graduation I moved to Austria to work as a volunteer for a year. I ended up living in Austria for 4 years. The last 3 years I spent in Australia working and traveling around. Traveling has broadened my views of the world, made me a more open person and taught me the importance of always being yourself. In those 7 years I spent away from Estonia I got to know myself better and realized the things that really make me happy in life. I have dreamed about being a kindergarten teacher for years and finally my dream has come true! I have started studying to become an early years teacher in University of Tartu and found my way to Tartu International Kindergarten. I couldn’t be happier! Working with children is something that inspires me and while we teach kids all about life, they teach us what life is all about!

Kaisa Haugas

Kindergarten Teacher

I grew up in Rakvere, lived in Tallinn during high school and one year in the Netherlands. I changed the direction from my previous studies to early childhood education after my son was born – I co-founded a small outdoor-orientated daycare and by now that path has brought me to
the Master´s degree in early childhood education and care. I have worked with children aged 2 –7 for the past seven years now and this is my second year at TIS.
Working with children allows me to sing, dance, play and sledge down the hill during the working hours. When it comes to learning and teaching, I value rich and various learning environment, creativity and freedom, humor, playful learning and at the same time also routines
and boundaries. I have many dear memories of my own kindergarten years that I spent in a small Waldorf kindergarten: playing outdoors with my friends, the smell of wooden toys and beeswax that was used for modelling, baking Tuesdays, hiking Wednesdays, sticking barley under the table during lunch as we were supposed to eat the whole plate… I try to keep in mind that every day is a small piece of my students´ childhood.
In my spare time I enjoy reading, hiking and being in nature with my family and dog.

Evelina Aništšenko

Kindergarten Assistant Teacher

I was born and raised in Võru. After graduating high school, I moved to Tartu and went to Tartu University where I am still studying to get my MA degree as a primary school teacher and English as a foreign language teacher. I think I could say that I have 2 mother tongues, Russian and Estonian, because I grew up speaking these two languages. I came to TIS at the end of 2020 as a substitute teacher and luckily had an opportunity to stay here longer than just a week. I am very lucky to be here and I really enjoy working with kids.

Dagmar Linnasmägi

Kindergarten Assistant Teacher

I was born in Tartu but grew up in Tõrvandi, a small place near Tartu. So I had a great opportunity to grow up in the middle of nature. For 4 years I lived in Tallinn when I went to university to study law. After finishing university I came back to Tartu and have lived here ever since. My career has been colorful – after working as a secretary in Notary office for eight years, two law offices, and also as a project manager in translation office for eight years, I felt that I needed a change from office work and decided to start a course as preschool teacher in University of Tartu. At the same time I started working as a teacher in Haaslava kindergarten. My decision to switch careers is the best decision I’ve made. I love children’s honesty and simplicity. I started work as a teacher’s assistant in Tartu International Kindergarten in December 2021.

Alexandra-Marie Mihhailova

Kindergarten Assistant Teacher

Hi, my name is Alexandra. I’m local here in Tartu. I went to university in Viljandi where I studied leisure time management for kids and youth. After that I lived and worked abroad for a while in 3 different countries. First I went to Italy, then France and then Slovakia. I have tried various different jobs (youth worker, waitress, chef, project coordinator..). Jack of many trades. On my free time I play board games and occasionally travel somewhere.


Emely  Arranzado

Kindergarten Replacement Teacher

My name is Emely and I was born in the country of the thousands Islands, the Philippines. The Philippines are in the Pacific Ocean between Japan and Australia. The Island I was born on is called Cebu. My mother tongues are Cebuano and Tagalog. I can speak as well English, Arabic and some Estonian. At the moment I am attending the Estonian course A2-level at the University of Tartu. Before that I worked for 12 years as a housing administrator at a University in Saudi Arabia. There I also
helped out at the children daycare center because I love kids so much. It is a dream come true to work with Kindergarten Kids the whole day.
In my spare time I am vlogging at YouTube about life, and I like do to sports, especially archery.


Brita Herja

Kindergarten Replacement Teacher

Tartu is my hometown, I have lived here for my whole life. At age 14 I was asked by my teacher if I wanted to participate in an international project since I had good English skills. I said yes and have loved travelling and meeting new people, cities, and culture since. After I finished high school I started working with children as a summer camp counsellor and have continued being a group leader every summer since. I also started working as a youth worker (also known as a yellow cat :)) in the Vanemuine theatre. When I got the opportunity to work in the International Kindergarten, I learned how much joy the children bring to the teacher and with supportive coworkers I feel very thankful to be here.


Krista Pensa

Kindergarten Replacement Teacher



Vesta Voltein


I was born and raised in Tartu. In 1992 I moved to Tallinn to study at the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre and I lived there for 8 years. Since 2000 I am back in Tartu. My mother tongue is Estonian and I speak English and Russian as well. I love Music. Children too. Let’s sing and play! The choir or the band- music is fun!

Hasso Paap

Physical Education

I was born in Viljandi but raised in Vändra – this is a small village in southwest of Estonia. After finishing the high school in 2001, I came to Tartu in order to start my university studies in Tartu University. There I studied sports and physical education. At the moment I am working as a trainer and a teacher, but I have also worked in a sports shop. My passion is sports and long distance running. I hope that I can transfer some of my passion to my students too!

Mikko Saarivuori

Robotics Teacher

I grew up in a small city called Rauma that is located on the west coast of Finland. I have also lived a few years in Turku and moved to Tartu in 2016. I have studied sports and coaching. I have worked with children in schools, kindergartens, sports clubs and as a personal assistant for people with special needs. I also coach floorball in Tartu. My native tongue is Finnish, and I speak English and some Estonian. In my free time I like to play floorball, ice hockey, airsoft and go fishing.

Kersti Türk


My home town is Tartu, but I feel like a very global person who loves travelling and meeting people from different cultures and places. I have experience in nearly every position in the field of education. My favourite discoveries have been related to people and their individual growth, brain research, lifelong-learning opportunities, environments that support learning and mental health. I believe in relationships. I believe that to love someone means to listen. I believe that good relationships are the bases for everyone’s learning and well-being. At Tartu International School, I work as a school counsellor and social pedagogue – helping both our students and staff to find ways to take care of their well-being, as well as building social skills, learning motivational techniques, methods of stress management, and self-compassion.