Leadership

What makes Bennett Day School different? We believe that everyone who works in our school, including teachers, staff, building custodians, and administration, impacts the lives of our students and helps shape our community. Here, we’re all educators.

Kate Cicchelli

Co-founder, Principal, Chief Academic Officer

kate.cicchelli@bennettday.org

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With fifteen years of education experience and a passion for all things pedagogy, Kate joins Bennett Day School as the Principal of our first school and Chief Academic Officer, directly responsible for the development and implementation of our curriculum.

Kate was a teacher leader at the Francis W. Parker School before joining Bennett Day School.  At Parker, she has served on the school’s Corinthian Council in both elected and appointed positions. This school body is heavily involved in administrative activities related to staff professional development, admissions, hiring, and various school-wide initiatives.  Kate has also served as the Faculty Advisor responsible for program curriculum and coordination for Morning Ex, an assembly program held three times per week for JK-12 students to demonstrate their knowledge and skills for the entire school.  The Board of Trustees at Parker counted on her to serve as their Lower School Representative, attending and reporting at board meetings and, in turn, sharing with the faculty issues of importance from board meetings. In her classroom, Kate created compelling and engaging curricula for her students, and believed in building strong relationships with other teachers, school members, and her students’ families. Interested in opportunities to improve and innovate her curriculum, she was at the vanguard of efforts to utilize a math curriculum developed in Singapore, recognized by the Programme for International Assessment (PISA) as a leader in global education.

Prior to Parker, Kate worked in preprimary through intermediate classrooms in teaching and leadership roles at North Shore Country Day School in Winnetka, Illinois and the Park West Cooperative in downtown Chicago.  As an educational consultant, Kate has been involved with a wide variety of local, national, and international projects addressing topics ranging from school design and community leadership to curriculum development.  Her projects have included curriculum consulting at schools in West Africa and Central America.

Kate has served as a visiting evaluation team member on multiple occasions with the Independent Schools Association of the Central States (ISACS) for schools completing their accreditation processes.  Kate holds an M.Ed in Educational Leadership from the University of Illinois, a B.A. in English from Kenyon College and is an alumna of the Francis W. Parker School.

Cameron Smith

Co-founder, Chief Executive Officer

cameron.smith@bennettday.org

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Cameron was inspired to create Bennett Day School after the birth of his first son in 2010. As a new parent, he recognized that there are very few options for progressive independent schooling in Chicago.  Many parents resort to moving to the suburbs when they would prefer to continue to live, work, and learn downtown.  Both the motivation to innovate and a commitment to the city inspired the creation of Bennett Day School.  Cameron was thrilled that his oldest son was a member of our first JK class in 2014; his younger son will soon be in PreK as well.

Cameron served on the Board of the Namaste Charter School where he was the Treasurer and Chair of the Investment Committee.  A licensed attorney in Illinois, he is a member of the Education Law Committee of the Chicago Bar Association.  As a member of the North American Reggio Emilia Alliance, Cameron is energized by the ideas and best practices he observes as a regular participant at educational conferences and gatherings.

Cameron was previously a Vice President at private equity firm CHS Capital LLC in Chicago where he focused on investing in education and healthcare services companies.  While at CHS, he served on the Board of Royall & Company, the leading provider of strategic enrollment marketing services to traditional colleges and universities.  He currently serves on three external boards, including the non-profit Neighborhood Parent Network of Chicago (NPN). Cameron is also a member of the Chicago Chapter of Conscious Capitalism.  He holds a B.S. degree from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania as well as J.D. and M.B.A. degrees from Northwestern University.

Amanda McQuade

Director of Admissions

amanda.mcquade@bennettday.org

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As Director of Admissions and Marketing, Amanda McQuade comes to Bennett Day School with a passion for early childhood education and a dedication to furthering the development of young children.

Amanda graduated from Salve Regina University with a B.S. in Early Childhood Education and a minor in Special Education.  After graduation, Amanda was a lead teacher at Chalk Preschool in Chicago, where her experience provided an excellent foundation in various learning styles and allowed Amanda the opportunity to design and plan lessons suited to each student’s individuality and learning style.

With a shift into an administrative role, Amanda gained experience in business operations, then transitioned careers and took a position in Operations with a hedge fund in New York, where her responsibilities included accounting and serving as the primary assistant to the Chief Financial Officer.  Eventually she came back to Chicago with a hedge fund in Lake Forest, and then ultimately back to her roots in Education in an administrative and operations role at Bennett Day School.

Amanda now heads Admissions and Marketing at Bennett Day School, where she has been able to use her unique business background within an educational platform.  She is proud to be part of the excellent group of educators and founding team at Bennett Day School as well as the school’s community of families and students.

Kei Milbrook

Director of Operations

kei.milbrook@bennettday.org

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A mother of two and daughter of an educator, Kei has always valued the importance of education and an ingrained love of learning. Having grown up in Glenview, Illinois and leaving to attend boarding school for two years, Kei returned to Illinois, attending Northwestern University.

Kei comes to Bennett Day with experience in accounting, customer service, account coordination, management and analytics. Her diverse industry knowledge gained from working for a small healthcare business consulting firm to a major international communications company, has given her varied experience and perspective. Kei is a self described organizational and efficiency zealot loving most to bring order to chaos while utilizing her time wisely which she has found increasingly more difficult with two teenagers at home. Her mother taught her to always seek to leave the somewhere better than when you got there. Kei has been involved in her children’s school PTA, and has participated in and organized multiple small charitable events for her previous employer.

Christa Reed

Director of Marketing and Development

christa.reed@bennettday.org

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Christa Reed, a born and raised Chicagoan, comes to Bennett Day School as Director of Marketing and Development. She studied Television Production and Marketing at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale and earned a Masters Degree in Communications Management from the University of Southern California. Passionate about Chicago, children, and education, her role as the Director of Marketing and Development at Bennett Day School was a natural fit. In her free time, she volunteers for the Little Giraffe Foundation who supports parents and patients of the neonatal intensive care unit and loves to watch sports. She lives in her dogs’ Chicago home with her son and husband.

Colin Reynolds

TinkerLab Curator

colin.reynolds@bennettday.org

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Dedicated to the utility of technology as a tool for harvesting and documenting learning, Colin returns to the Bennett Day School team as the TinkerLab Curator and Director of Accreditation.
Colin is a graduate of Valparaiso University and earned his master’s in educational leadership from Loyola University Chicago. He is a tenured classroom teacher in Oak Park District 97 where he taught first grade for three years and fourth grade for two years. In 2009, he was named a Golden Apple Teacher of Distinction during his time as a first grade teacher. Colin also has five years of experience teaching and directing Camp Invention, an inquiry-based science camp sponsored by the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

Martin Moran

Director of Upper School

martin.moran@bennettday.org

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Martin received a B.A. in History at the University of Illinois-Chicago and an M.A. in History of Counterterrorism and Counterinsurgency at DePaul University. For five years, he served as an educator and technology developer at Evanston Township High School. He is in his seventh year at the Upper School at Francis W. Parker in Chicago.

At Parker, he has worked as a history teacher, technology staff developer and curriculum team leader. He was charged with creating a new 9th and 10th grade World History curriculum from scratch which included authoring a text for the course. He was also responsible for developing a technology strategy for the Upper School. In 2011, he became the director of the Parker Summer School for Teaching and Learning, an experimental summer school built around the philosophies of progressive education. As the Director of Technology, Martin is responsible for overseeing and fostering curriculum development through technology and bringing innovative tech-based teaching approaches to the faculty and administration. Martin has presented at numerous conferences and was recently named an NAIS ”Teacher of the Future.”

Meg Fitzgerald

Director of Early Childhood Campus

meg.fitzgerald@bennettday.org

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With a strong love for early childhood education and a passion for best-practice teaching, Meg returns to the Bennett Day School as the Director of the Early Childhood Campus.

Meg earned a B.S. in Early Childhood Education from DePaul University. Having spent five years teaching both three- and four-year old preschool at a local parochial school, she stepped into the administrative role of Early Childhood Coordinator in 2011 at the Immaculate Conception School in Chicago. Meg joined Bennett Day in 2013 as a Founding Teacher and taught PreK the last two years and served as the Curriculum Coordinator. Wanting to deepen her foundation and understanding of early childhood learning and growth, Meg completed her Master’s degree in Child Development with a specialization in Administration from Erikson Institute in the spring of 2015. She looks forward to working with all PreK and JK students and families this year in her Director role.

Board of Advisors

J. Michael Locke

Managing Director, Giles Richard

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J. Michael Locke is the Managing Director of Giles Richard LLC, an education advisory and investment firm.  The son of a school teacher from Decatur, Illinois, he is a graduate of Harvard University Law School, Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management and DePauw University.  Michael has been a senior executive and investor in four businesses involving technology and education.  Most recently, he founded and served as Chief Executive Officer of Rasmussen, the parent organization of Deltak edu, Rasmussen College and Collegis Education, from 2003 through 2013.  He has also worked as an investment banker at Montgomery Securities and attorney at Sullivan & Cromwell.

Michael currently serves on the Board of Directors of Collegis Education, the Cancer Research Foundation, and the Graham School of Professional Studies at the University of Chicago. He is an Education Technology Advisor to OCA Ventures and has also been appointed to the American Academy Commission on the Future of Postsecondary Education.  Michael and his wife Heather are the proud parents of Skip, Cate, Caroline, and Graham.

Patrick Branham

Senior VP and CFO, Collegis Education

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Patrick Branham is Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer (CFO) at Collegis Education, which provides sophisticated enrollment and technology solutions to post-secondary institutions.  As an advisor to Bennett Day School, he brings experience with high growth organizations spanning finance, accounting, human resources, legal operations, and more.

Before joining Collegis, Patrick served as CFO of Aftermath Services LLC and Rasmussen, Inc., which owns and operates Rasmussen College, a regionally accredited private college.  Previously, he was a Senior Manager in the Transaction Advisory Services group of Ernst & Young focused on the education sector.  A Certified Public Accountant (CPA), he holds a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting from Illinois State University and an MBA in Finance and Accounting from The University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

Jie-Qi (Jackie) Chen

Professor, Erikson Institute

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Jie-Qi has worked in early childhood classrooms in both China and the United States. For more than 20 years she has contributed to teacher professional development efforts in Boston and Chicago Public Schools. Currently, she serves as the principal investigator for the Early Mathematics Education Project at the Erikson Institute.

A Fulbright Senior Specialist and an applied child development specialist, Jie-QI’s work focuses on cognitive development, multiple intelligences theory, classroom assessment, early mathematics education, and school-based intervention. She authored the multiple intelligences entries for The Encyclopedia of Education (2nd ed., 2002) and for The International Encyclopedia of Early Childhood Education (2007). Her work also includes assessment and curriculum development for Head Start programs and several books on Multiple Intelligence in collaboration with Howard Gardner. Jie-Qi has a Ph.D. in Applied Child Development from Tufts University, a MA in Early Childhood Education from University of Northern Iowa, and a BA in Child Development and Early Education from Beijing Normal University.

Cyrus Patel

CEO, Scholar Partners

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Cyrus Patel brings considerable operations and strategy experience to his role as an advisor to Bennett Day School.  He has experience in education, consumer products, healthcare, distribution and manufacturing and has built a reputation for leading committees and boards through growth.  He previously served, as part of the Sterling Partners Accelerator program, as the Vice President of Strategy and Business Planning for the Meritas Family of Schools, a network of college prep schools serving over 11,000 students worldwide.  In this role, he worked directly with the CEO of Meritas to drive operational and strategic change throughout the organization and created a strategy and business planning department that managed all strategic planning, pricing, budgeting, forecasting, and capital planning functions.

Prior to Meritas, he worked for Marakon Associates, a premier management consulting firm.  He is currently the CEO of Scholar Partners, a group purchasing organization that he founded to aggregate purchasing power for independent and charter schools.  Cyrus earned a B.A. in Economics and Government from Cornell University and an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management.

Bill Spruce

Principal, JABRY Consulting

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Bill Spruce has worked in K-12 education since 1997.  As a partner in The North Broward Preparatory School in Florida, Bill was part of a small group of dedicated educators and business people who grew the small K-8 prep school from 300 students to more than 1,500 students in seven years.  Responsible for the day-to-day operations of the school, Bill oversaw the land acquisition, design and construction of a new 70-acre campus.  In 2005, North Broward became part of the Meritas Family of Schools formed by Sterling Partners, and Bill joined as Senior Vice President of Real Estate and Development.   Meritas grew to ten schools in four countries with more than 11,000 students.

In 2013, Bill left Meritas and started his own consulting firm, JABRY Consulting, to help schools and school groups develop and implement their growth and expansion plans.  Starting his career as an attorney, Bill is a member of the Florida Bar.  Prior to North Broward and Meritas, Bill worked as an attorney for Transportation Financial Group (TFG), a holding company of transportation and insurance companies, where he then served as a member of the Board of Directors.  He earned his B.A. in Politics and History from Curry College and his J.D. from The Thomas M. Cooley Law School.  Bill offers extensive experience in real estate and school development as an advisor to Bennett Day School

Education Advisors

Ashley Cadwell

Education Consultant

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Ashley is the co-founder of Cadwell Collaborative, an education consulting group focusing on sustainability education and school design. With 30 years experience in the field, his work has helped pioneer best practices in school throughout North America and abroad.

Ashley is deeply connected to both progressive education and the schools of Reggio Emilia, Italy. He believes in school building design that fosters the curricula and community of a school. Ashley’s expertise includes integrated, multidisciplinary curriculum development; faculty collaboration and leadership; parent and community involvement; and building and school renovation and design. Ashley earned a Masters in Literature from Middlebury College and a Masters in Education Administration from the University of Vermont.

Carol Montag

Executive Coach

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Carol is a progressive educator and Certified Professional Coach with over forty years of independent school experience as a teacher, administrator and mentor. For more than two decades as a Lower School teacher at the University of Chicago Laboratory School, she served on the first grade writing team for Everyday Mathematics. She has also headed two progressive independent schools and served as an interim head for a third, mentored for the NAIS Aspiring School Heads, and served on evaluation teams for ISACS, Florida Council for Independent Schools (FCIS), Association of Independent Maryland Schools (AIMS), and the North Dakota Study Group (NDSG).

She has extensive experience with curriculum development, evaluation, professional development, school expansion and site analysis, and Head of School search committees. She is also currently Secretary of the Board of Mostly Music Chicago and coordinator of its outreach program, a member of the Guild of the Chicago History Museum, a member of the University of Chicago’s Women’s Board, a long-standing member of The Arts Club of Chicago, and an active member of other civic committees.