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Kristi Aria


I was born and raised in southern Estonia and have lived in Tartu over 20 years. I am qualified as a primary school teacher and English as a foreign language teacher. I hold a master’s degree in school management from Tartu University. 

I have worked for Tartu International School since its foundation in 2001. As the first teacher and principal I was given a wonderful opportunity to help to create and develop our school. This has been, and still is, an exciting and inspiring journey! 

At TIS we are proud of the caring and inclusive ethos via which we set high standards and expectations for our students and teachers so that they can achieve their very best. It is very important for me that all our students and staff members feel happy and safe at school. I believe that a friendly and welcoming environment helps us all work and achieve better. 

As principal I am privileged to lead a group of dedicated, professional and talented teachers and staff members. They introduce themselves in short profiles below, but really, I hope that you will get a chance to meet them in person at our school in Tartu. Tartu successfully combines the infrastructure and facilities of a big city and the green and friendly environment of a small town; it is a wonderful place to work and learn. Welcome!

Kristi Aria is laureate of the Tartu School Leader of the Year 2018 award and was a nominee for the Estonian School Leader of the Year 2018. In 2016 Kristi was awarded a Citizen’s Day award by the Estonian Ministry of the Interior for bringing together the national and international communities of Tartu. Kristi has been awarded with the Baltic Defence College Medal of Merit Bronze.

Kärt Mõttus

Head of Studies

Kindergarten Teacher for Ages 4 to 5

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 (temporarly 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. 

Hanna-Liisa Roone

Kindergarten 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.

Triin Simso

Pre-school Teacher

I’m from Põlva- born and raised. In 2016 I moved to Tartu to study at the University of Tartu. From that moment I knew that my heart belonged here. So I wanted to work also in Tartu. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Early Education and Master’s in Education Innovation. My big passion is cooking. Experimenting with some new techniques or different cuisine is really exciting. I really love Mediterranean cuisine. I wanted to become a kindergarten teacher because I have always enjoyed spending time with children. Also kindergarten teacher work is never boring. For me, it is very important to love my job. I like working with children and supporting their development. Tartu International Kindergarten definitely offers me new challenges and I have to step out of my comfort zone and this gives me the best opportunity to prove that I am doing something that I absolutely love.

Kaisa Haugas

Kindergarten Teacher fo Ages 3 to 4

I was born in Tallinn, grew up in Rakvere, lived one year in the Netherlands, lived in Tallinn again and have now been living in Tartu for many years. I have studied nature tour guiding and early years education and care. By May 2022 I will (hopefully) hold a master’s degree in early childhood education. I have worked with children from 2 – 7 for the past six years. My mother tongue is Estonian, I speak English and used to speak some Dutch (I need more practice though). In my spare time I love to dance, read, hike and enjoy being in nature (pine forest and the sea are the best).

Evelina Aništšenko

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

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.

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

Free-time Club Teacher, 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

School counsellor

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.

Eevi Allikvee

Dinner Lady

I was born in a small village called Puhja and have lived my whole life in Tartu. I am a trained baker. I have had many jobs and they have all been connected to food. I have worked as a baker in restaurant Volga, as a chef in a kindergarten, as a beer maker in Tartu Beer Factory and a baker in Astri Bakery. And now I have been working in Tartu International School for more than a decade already.