Our Faculty

 

Jose Aguayo

Second Grade Co-Lead Teacher

 
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Jose is a California native and graduated from UCLA with degrees in History and Political Science. As an undergraduate, he worked with preschool students to develop language and literacy skills, which convinced him to enter teaching. Jose came to Chicago with Teach for America to work with third grade students and developed an interest for skills-based learning. Jose believes the learning process should be an empowering experience that is driven by student interest and is excited to support students as they discover their intellectual passions. Prior to Bennett Day, Jose taught high school science at a Chicago charter school, where he still continues to teach summer school. Outside of the classroom Jose enjoys running, cooking, and biking along Lake Michigan.
 

Allison Bartolozzi

Pre-Kindergarten Co-Lead Teacher

 
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From an early age, Allison knew she had a passion for education and felt a connection with the exploratory world of children’s learning. Her first encounter with the Reggio Emilia approach was during her undergrad years at Ohio University where she worked at the Child Development Center. Nature has been a major part of Allison’s life from her early years and can is often intertwined in her classroom ideals. Moving to Chicago in 2009, she started working one on one with a young girl and then proceeded to work in a budding school sharing the ideas of progressive education. In 2013, Allison began teaching in Bangkok, Thailand where she delved further into Reggio Emilia principles and ideas. Being introduced to music and arts at a young age has influenced her work in and out of the classroom. Throughout her time in Thailand, Allison picked up a few hobbies that attribute to her teaching style. With a love for jazz she joined Bangkok Swing Dancing and has been dancing for the last five years. It has helped her learn about movement, musicality and overall self expression.

Sarah Baatile

Fourth Grade Apprentice Teacher

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Sarah joins Bennett Day School as a Fourth Grade Apprentice Teacher. Before coming to Bennett Day, Sarah specialized in K-8 STEM and English-Language Arts instruction at St. Mary of the Angels School and at the high school level with The Noble Network of Charter Schools. Sarah began her career coordinating for the Teach for America Chicago Institute. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Geosciences from Denison University and her Master of Arts in Teaching—ELA Instruction from Relay Graduate School of Education here in Chicago. Having been a student in progressive schools herself, she deeply values its impact on her life and is excited to bring her experiences to Bennett Day School’s Fourth Grade Program.

Allison Borys

First Grade Co-Lead Teacher

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Allison is a graduate of Indiana University where she earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education with a Reading License addition.  After time spent substitute teaching in Ann Arbor, MI she decided to move to Chicago to expand her horizons and continue on a path in the elementary education field.  She feels very lucky to have found Bennett Day along with her coaching position as the Whitney Young HS Girls Lacrosse head coach where she can share her love of lacrosse with high schoolers in the city.
 

Kasey Dahlberg

Junior Kindergarten Co-Lead Teacher

 
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Kasey graduated from Illinois State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology.  She researched teacher satisfaction in special education classrooms. She has always been interested in working with children and knew she was meant to teach in a classroom setting.  Kasey has over ten years of experience working with children.  She first became interested in providing therapy for children with Autism and worked as a therapist for a year.  After graduating from college, Kasey joined a preschool team and fell in love with early childhood education. She has been a preschool teacher for over 6 years now and it has become a great passion of hers to continue working with kids throughout her career.  Kasey looks forward to starting the school year in the JK classroom and can’t wait to meet everyone. She is so excited to be silly, creative, loving and patient with all of her new students!
 

Kari Camacho

Senior Kindergarten Co-Lead Teacher

 
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Kari received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin Platteville in Elementary Education with an Early Childhood minor. She has 8 years of teaching experience in various early childhood settings which have solidified her passion for early childhood education. Before moving to Illinois from central Wisconsin, Kari worked in a Reggio Emilia inspired school; this experience altered her career path from traditional education to progressive. 
 

Josiah Colombo-Espinoza

Learning Specialist

 
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Josiah Columbo-Espinoza has taught for over a decade in K-12 private, public and charter school settings, including both teaching and administrative positions with The Noble Network and Teach for America as a Director and Facilitator of services for diverse learners. He is excited to help Bennett Day students become lifelong learners by helping them develop their individual strengths towards an effort to become citizens in a global community. He enjoys being part of a learning community that emphasizes educating the whole child; values social-emotional learning; and encourages all teachers to get to know their students and how they learn best. Josiah loves figuring out how different minds work; identifying the best ways to teach them; and then watching young minds develop over time. He finds inspiration in children, families and colleagues he works with, and appreciates the sense of joy and belonging that comes from creating a community together. Josiah holds a Master’s of Education Degree from Loyola University, a Bachelor’s Degree in Science in Elementary Education K-6, and a Learning Behavior Specialist Certificate from National-Louis University. He also has an English Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) endorsement. Josiah is trained in Orton-Gillingham and Wired for Reading methodologies. He also previously served as a Board Member of the Washington State Branch of the International Dyslexia Association (WABIDA). Outside of school, he enjoys sharing time with his family and friends, eating too much chocolate, reading non-fiction, exploring the City and traveling.
 

Clare Cunningham

Junior Kindergarten Co-Lead Teacher

 
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After graduating from Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Indiana, Clare took a lead teacher position in a preschool three-year-old program in Chicago and has loved every minute of teaching for the past eight years. The value of exploration deeply influences Clare’s practice, as she truly sees children learn when exploring their environment. Allowing the time for children to deeply invest in explorations allows for a deeper understanding and discovery, and these are the moments when Clare has found it most rewarding to teach young children. After spending time in the classroom, Clare was inspired to continue her education at Erikson Institute, where she graduated in from Erikson Institute with a M.S. in Child Development.
 

Julia DaSilva

Senior Kindergarten Co-Lead Teacher

 
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After graduating from Francis W. Parker School in 2005, she moved to California and earned her B.A. in Psychology from the University of Redlands. When Julia graduated in 2009, she moved back to Chicago and began working in the after-school program at Francis W. Parker. She worked with JK-5th grade students to establish a safe and fun after-school setting. Julia was also a 3rd grade Assistant Teacher for 2.5 years at Francis W. Parker while earning her M. Ed. in Elementary Education from DePaul University. After exploring parochial and public schools, Julia decided to return to a private school setting as the 4th-5th grade Parker PM coordinator. She is happy to have found her her niche at private schools and at Bennett Day.
 

Katie Gertler

Senior Kindergarten Co-Lead Teacher

 
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Prior to Bennett, she spent three years as a Second Grade Assistant Teacher at the Latin School of Chicago and has held numerous leadership/director roles at summer camps. While in college, Katie volunteered in several charter schools in New Orleans, furthering her devotion to education. She graduated from Tulane University in 2013 with a B.A. in Sociology and received her Masters’ in Elementary Education from DePaul University in March 2016. Katie grew up in downtown Chicago and is an alumna of the Latin School of Chicago. 

Peter Granquist

Music Teacher

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Peter received his Bachelor of Arts degree in musicology from Bates College in Lewiston, Maine. Moving to the vibrant progressive education community of San Francisco, Peter worked for 5 years as a 3rd grade teaching assistant at The San Francisco School while simultaneously being mentored in the Orff Schulwerk approach to music education.  After teaching music at various Bay Area schools, he spent the last 2 years establishing and growing a music program at The Presidio Knolls School, a mandarin immersion, Reggio Emilia-inspired independent school.  He has completed all three levels of the Orff Certification Course with the world-renowned teachers of the San Francisco International Orff Course.  Peter brings a joyful energy and a firm belief in Orff’s power to develop the mind and uplift the soul.  When not teaching, Peter gigs as a professional drummer and vocalist.

Yvonne Villafuerte

School Counselor

 
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Yvonne graduated from Erikson Institute in Chicago with a Masters in Child Development with a Specialization in Infancy and New Language Learning. Yvonne is passionate about working with children and families and specifically worked with bilingual families, children with autism, and other developmental delays. She has experience in various settings such as schools, daycares and parenting education classes, and has created and implemented early childhood curriculum and parenting workshops. Yvonne believes that family relationships play a critical role in a child’s development, and that collaborating with families directly impacts the progress the child makes. She feels that a child’s learning can be enhanced by incorporating therapeutic strategies into daily routines. Yvonne is bilingual in English and Spanish.
 

Nathan Gygar

Senior Kindergarten Co-Lead Teacher

 
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Growing up in and around Brisbane, Australia, Nathan had ample access to the great outdoors, making the natural surroundings a formative part of his own learning and lifestyle. After graduating from Griffith University with a Bachelor of Leisure Management in 2003, Nathan went on to spend many years involved in community development organizations, events coordination and service related industries, while pursuing a personal passion for creative arts. During this time, Nathan’s work involved diverse groups of people with a variety of interests, backgrounds and cultures. It was when he moved to Thailand in 2011 that he discovered the rewards of teaching, completing a Graduate Diploma in Teaching & Learning in Early Years through the Association for Early Childhood Educators Singapore (AECES) in 2015.

Nathan has spent the last 6 years working in kindergarten classrooms. Following the creativity and curiosity of his students, he has a strong belief in the incorporation of physical exploration in spaces where children’s thinking can be visible. He continues to support children’s opportunities for inquiry based learning, drawn to the ideas and values fostered in progressive learning environments. Since arriving in Chicago in August of 2016, Nathan has remained engaged with educators moved by similar forces.

 

Frances Judd

Early Childhood TESLab Teacher/Special Projects Leader

 
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Frances Judd teaches TESlab classes for early childhood students in PK, JK and SK grade levels. As Special Projects Coordinator of Bennett Day School, her work includes fostering student-inquiry projects, faculty innovation, and unique collaborations between Bennett Day School and other organizations such as Northwestern University’s TIDAL Lab (Tangible Interaction Design and Learning). Frances Judd’s undergraduate degrees in Elementary Education, Special Education, and Art Education were completed at the University of Texas at Austin. Upon moving to Chicago she pursued training in K-1st literacy instruction at DePaul University, and then attended Erikson Institute for her graduate studies in Early Childhood Education and Child Development. Frances’ connections with Erikson Institute remain strong through her recent collaborations with the TEC Center at Erikson Institute and her founding of the Tangible Tech Collaborative. Ms. Judd taught for over 25 years at Francis W. Parker School’s JK, and before that her work was primarily in SK, 4th Grade and roles of Curriculum Coordination. Frances Judd also served as a freelance designer/consultant with Playskool Toy Company, Arrow Toys, Hasbro Inc., and KBooM! Games (developing the iPad app series “Mrs. Judd’s Games”). Current research/advisory work includes “Osmo Coding,” “Osmo Coding Jam,” and new forms of computational literacy in the early years.
 

Victoria Katz

Fourth Grade Lead Teacher

 
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Victoria Katz is delighted to be part of the Bennett Day community as a 4th Grade Lead Teacher.  Previously, Ms. Katz taught for thirteen years in both independent and public schools on the West Coast.  She developed her expertise in teaching students through hands-on, Reggio-inspired curriculum at the Helios School for Gifted Children.  Her specialties include peer mentorship, project-based learning, Singapore Math, and differentiated curriculum. During her years teaching, Victoria has developed a deep appreciation for progressive education and the importance of valuing the whole child; creating an enriching classroom environment that instills self-confidence and wonder; and supporting and celebrating each child’s individuality.  This approach leads to wonderful discovery and learning together. She received her Bachelor’s Degree from the University of California at Davis and holds a multiple-subject teaching credential from California State, Northridge.  In her free time, Victoria enjoys spending time with her family, reading, watching movies, yoga, hiking, and volunteering as an instructor with Reading in Motion.
 

Simon Lockwood-Bean

First Grade Co-Lead Teacher

 
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With a Bachelor’s degree in Molecular Biology from the University of Illinois and a Masters in Elementary Education from DePaul University, Simon brings a unique and exciting perspective to Bennett Day. As a native Chicagoan and product of a progressive education, Simon is a staunch proponent of the progressive learning approach. He believes that learning happens in a multitude of ways and that play is vital to children’s growth and development. Simon encourages his students to ask questions, investigate the world around them, and reflect on the process of finding solutions. 
 

Marissa McDonald

Pre Kindergarten Co-Lead Teacher

 
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From an early age, Marissa always knew she wanted to work with children. As she entered college at North Park University, she decided to major in Early Childhood Education. After graduation, Marissa began working at an Early Childhood Center in a two year old room, which is where her passion for Reggio inspired education began. After working with that age group for a year, she moved to a Kindergarten Prep classroom and carried her knowledge of education over to 4 and 5 year olds. As Marissa moves through her career, she has learned so much throughout each passing day. She is extremely excited to be a part of the Bennett Day School team and is thrilled to get the opportunity to work with faculty that has the same passion for education as she does!
 

Amanda Meyer

Second Grade Co-Lead Teacher

 
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Amanda is a graduate of the Early Childhood Education/Special Education Master’s program at The University of Illinois at Chicago. After working as a nanny in the Chicago area for years, and developing a passion for working with young children in early intervention, Amanda enrolled at UIC to pursue early childhood education as a career. Throughout her time at UIC, Amanda gained hands-on experience in PreK classrooms as well as the Chicago Public School system in all primary grades.
 

Nate Nearpass

Junior Kindergarten Co-Lead Teacher

 
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Nate is a Chicago area native who grew up in the south suburbs of Chicago. After completing undergrad at The Moody Bible Institute, he spent 5 years working in Los Angeles in the non-profit sector as a coordinator for a summer day camp and an after-school program. In 2015, Nate moved, with his wife, back to Chicago, and decided to shift his focus to teaching. He worked for three years as an assistant teacher at The Latin School of Chicago. While at Latin, Nate also worked as a volunteer coordinator for the summer day camp. In June, he received a Masters of Arts in Teaching from National Louis University. Nate is very excited to start teaching at Bennett. He is passionate about progressive education and passionate about the Reggio Emilia philosophy. He is looking forward to bringing curiosity, creativity, and inquiry to a classroom of young learners.
 

Cheryl Okuda

Pre Kindergarten Apprentice Teacher

 
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Cheryl graduated from Columbia College Chicago in May 2014 with a B.A. in Early Childhood Education, Type 04 Teaching License, and a minor in dance. She’s also taught dance classes in various styles to children and adults of all ages for over 10 years all over the Chicagoland area. It was in the dance studio that she realized her true calling was to teach! During her time in a Reggio Emilia Approach-focused program, she was taught to thoughtfully integrate art and nature into all aspects of the classroom. This was further inspired when she traveled to Reggio Emilia, Italy and attended conferences and school tours with Italian Early Childhood Educators. When Cheryl is not teaching, she’s rehearsing and performing with a Chicago-based hip hop dance company and keeping up with her teaching blog/Instagram.
 

Shay Phee

Second Grade Co-Lead Teacher

 
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Shay graduated from National-Louis University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education and a Minor in Psychology.  Prior to joining the Bennett Day School team, Shay taught First Grade for six years and co-taught Science and Social Studies in 1st and Second Grade at a school with emphasis on ESL students.  Shay has been involved in helping execute summer programs that included, reading, math, science, art, and teaching the fundamentals soccer.  She also participated in school committees such Box Tops, BSF scholarship, and tutoring programs.  Shay’s accomplishments in the classroom were recognized with the 2012 Symetra Hero in the Classroom Award for Outstanding Leadership and Instructional Skills, presented in association with the Chicago Bears.

 

Amber Powell

Pre Kindergarten Lead Teacher

 
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Amber is a dedicated educator with a passion for children’s learning and care.  Amber has 15 plus years of experience with families and children.  Her experience has been in both educational and home environments, with children aged birth through second grade. Amber has a Bachelors in Early Childhood Education from Kendall College. She also attended Lewis University, where she completed her Masters in Organizational Leadership. She is creative, enthusiastic and sensitive to children’s individual needs.  She believes that the quality of education and care a person receives in the early stages of life, is essential in bringing out that child’s potential and that all children should have access to quality learning and care. Amber is thrilled to be returning Bennett Day School and she looks forward to working with other passionate educators and families as well.
 

Kim Schofield

First Grade Apprentice Teacher

 
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Kim graduated from the University of Illinois in 2009 with a BFA in dance and minor in Spanish. Since then, she has lived and taught in New York City, Madrid, Los Angeles and Chicago. Prior to starting at Bennett Day School, she worked as a collaborating teacher at GEMS World Academy Chicago and an Assistant Teacher at The Mirman School for gifted children in Los Angeles. She is currently pursuing her Masters in Teaching Elementary Education at National Louis University. Kim is incredibly excited for the opportunity to work at Bennett Day School and really looking forward to starting the new school year!
 

Molly Simmons

Junior Kindergarten Co-Lead Teacher

 
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Excited to use her passion for a Reggio Emilia, play-based learning experience, Molly is eager to join the faculty at Bennett Day. Molly found her love for Reggio education at Syracuse University’s child care center, where she received her bachelor’s degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders. While spending a brief time in San Antonio, TX, Molly helped pilot one of the nation’s first city-funded preschool programs in the country. The challenge of working with the underserved community of San Antonio only deepened her love for quality, responsive education. In this time, Molly realized the importance of a social and emotional focus on preschool learning.   Molly is from the Finger Lakes of NY and has been living in Chicago for just over a year, most recently in Lakeview.. Molly can be found out running with her dogs at the lake and picnicking at movies in the park.
 

Carmen Suarez

Spanish Teacher

 
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Carmen is passionate about Second Language Acquisition and ways to provide plenty of comprehensible input. She feels it’s important to do so during her sessions so students rise steadily in confidence and proficiency. She has taught Spanish to children for 4 years and worked on refining the practice as a Lead Teacher and trainer of others teachers in a private school. She brings a BA in Literary Studies from Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Bogotá, in her native Colombia, where she also studied photography, radio and television.  She applied her varied background to a multidisciplinary project for the Colombian Ministry of Culture by spending six weeks living with a tribe in the Amazon region. There she worked as a writer-recorder and photographer of the indigenous dietary traditions of that zone. At times she has done freelance text editing of Spanish documents. She is currently pursuing her Master of Teaching Spanish in the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Ayesha Sumbal

Third Grade Lead Teacher

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Ayesha is thrilled to be joining the Bennett Day family as the 3rd grade lead teacher. Ayesha graduated from Michigan State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in English; minor in Child Development, attended Eastern Michigan University for her elementary teaching certificate and received her Masters in Educational Leadership from Northern Arizona University. She also holds her National Board Certificate in English As A New Language; Early and Middle Childhood. Ayesha brings ten years of teaching experience with her to Bennett Day. She has taught in a variety of locations, as well as teaching contexts. She began her teaching career in Phoenix, Arizona where she spent five years teaching primarily 2nd and 5th grades. During this time, she also held an instructional coaching role in which she was able to collaborate with several  teachers district-wide on best teaching practices for English Language Learners. Her next teaching position took her to Shanghai, China. She spent two years focused on learning the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme at an American-style International School attended by children of expatriates. This is where Ayesha’s love for an inquiry-based, student-centered approach was realized. With a desire to repatriate back to the United States, Ayesha decided to return to the Midwest. She  worked at both The Ogden International School of Chicago and Darwin Elementary within the Chicago Public School System upon her return. She taught 4th and 5th grades during this time. Ayesha was charged with organizing the PYP Exhibition, the Primary Years Programmes’ culminating project for her 5th grade students. During this process, she realized the importance of a project-based teaching approach that heavily incorporates student interest.
 

Rachel Trisch

Third Grade Apprentice Teacher

 
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Rachel recently graduated from Grand Valley State University with a degree in Elementary Education and English. Her time at Grand Valley allowed her to gain invaluable experience in a variety of classrooms, with ages ranging from kindergarten to 5th grade in both urban and suburban environments. Rachel loves to travel, and last summer, had the opportunity to work in a 1st grade classroom at United World College, an international school in The Netherlands! This experience helped shape her passion for project and play-based learning. Rachel is originally from Grand Rapids, Michigan, but is so excited to have the opportunity to now live in her favorite city in the world! Some of her hobbies include writing, reading, running, and spending time with her family and friends. She also loves music, attending concerts and has gone to some big music festivals in the past two years. She enjoys a pretty wide variety of music, but if she’s being honest, one of her favorite bands is One Direction! She is also a big fan of musical theatre, and can’t wait to check out some shows here in Chicago. Rachel is so excited to join the team at Bennett Day School! The unique approach to learning through progressive education is something that she is deeply passionate about. She is sure that she will learn as much from her students as they will from her. She is eager to meet everyone and for the school year to begin!
 

Zak Thompson

TESLab Teacher

 
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Zak Thompson is excited to be joining Bennett Day School this fall in the Tinker and Engineering Sciences lab. After receiving a degree in political science from Illinois Wesleyan University and a time coaching youth sports and leading a community center for the Park District of Oak Park, Zak pursued a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from the University of Illinois at Chicago. He was drawn to that program’s focus on urban, constructivist education with an emphasis on social justice. Following UIC, Zak accepted a position at an elementary school in Chicago Public Schools. He has been a homeroom teacher for fourth and fifth grade, but found his true passion to be in the school’s technology lab. As an educational technology and IB Design teacher, Zak transformed a computer lab that was once simply a space for math facts and typing practice into a design lab and makerspace where students created, designed, sculpted, 3D printed, and more. Zak is thrilled to be joining a school where every classroom embraces creativity, encourages making, and rewards curiosity.
 

Sara Violante

First Grade Lead Teacher

 
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Through a strong desire to provide children with a loving and caring environment to learn and play in, Sara joined the Bennett Day School team as an SK Teacher in fall of 2015. After looping with her children to First Grade last year, Sara is excited to be back in SK this year with a whole new group of students. Sara is a graduate of Santa Clara University in Northern California where she earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications. During this time, she worked at the University’s Daycare and Preschool center where she was an assistant teacher and helped provide meaningful experiences while learning alongside with her students. After graduating, she lived and worked as an Au Pair for a French family in Paris. While there she enjoyed travelling and spending time with the family she worked for. From her experiences, she realized her dream of becoming a teacher and moved back to Chicago in 2011. Soon after she enrolled at Erikson Institute and earned her Master’s in Early Childhood Education with specializations in both ESL and Special Education learning. Sara is looking forward to working with her co-teacher in the SK classroom, collaborating with her students and families and facilitating experiences that spark her students’ natural curiosities and inspire them to be lifelong learners.
 

Lisa Weber

Art Teacher

 
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Being raised by two artists that met at the American Academy of Art, Lisa always knew her journey in life would be an artistic one. Lisa attended five years at Columbia College in Chicago, where she studied art of several mediums and earned a Bachelor’s of Fine Art. Her interest in Art History lead her to pursue a minor in the subject while taking courses abroad in Florence, Italy.   Lisa went on to National Louis University and received her Masters of Art in Teaching. While at National Louis, she spent a year-long internship studying and practicing the teaching styles of Baker Demonstration School. Since her time at National Louis, Lisa has been the art teacher for Holy Family School in Chicago’s Lawndale neighborhood. While teaching Kindergarten through 8th grade Art, she also runs an art based after school program, assists struggling students in a Saturday learning academy, and spends her summer with an Adventures in Learning program. Lisa will be continuing her work with Holy Family on days that she’s not getting messy in the art room with Bennett students.
 

Veronica Green

School Nurse

veronica.green@bennettday.org

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Veronica is a lifelong Chicagoan and an alumnus of the University of Illinois at Chicago, where she received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing. She originally began her career as a Nurse’s Assistant where she had various experiences in the hospital. These experiences encouraged her goal of becoming a Pediatric Nurse with a focus on primary care.
Veronica, after receiving her RN, worked at a hospital on the north shore in Pediatrics and the Infant Special Care Unit. With this job experience Veronica relished the opportunity to connect with families; empowering parents to feel comfortable with healthcare for their child and needing to consider each child’s developmental level to provide care.
After working in the hospital, Veronica became a nurse for an elementary school. She enjoys the school setting, helping students with everything from injuries to learning how to manage their chronic illness while away from home.
Veronica wishes to further continue her commitment to contributing to community-based health and is currently working on her Doctor of Nursing Practice to become a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner. She is also very excited to join Bennett Day because of Bennett’s very strong community and dedication to students and families.
 

Janessa Juarez

Admissions Associate

janessa.juarez@bennettday.org

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Janessa graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2008 with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism. She followed her passion for equitable education and was accepted to Teach For America upon graduation. Janessa served in New York City from 2008 to 2010 and taught pre-kindergarten at an elementary school in the Bronx. While in NYC, she received her Master’s of Science of Education in Early Childhood Education from Lehman College. In 2010 she returned to the Midwest and spent six years teaching at several elementary schools in Chicago, most recently at the Latin School of Chicago. Janessa is a certified Reading Recovery teacher and spent a year taking graduate school courses, focused on struggling readers and early literacy intervention, from National Louis University. Janessa is excited to leverage her teaching experience in her role as Admissions Associate at Bennett Day!

Sarah Skvara

Front Office Administrator

sarah.skvara@bennettday.org

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Sarah holds a B.A. in Communications from Marquette University with a major in Theatre Arts. She spent her early time in Chicago performing with Second City along with various other theatre companies and also helped establish a production company. Sarah then followed her passion for education and became a graduate of National-Louis University with a Master of Arts in Teaching. She was in the classroom for seven years teaching grades from Kindergarten through second grade and doubled as a middle school drama teacher before she made the transition to administration. Sarah is very excited to be part of the Bennett Day team as Front Office Administrator.  She has always identified with the mission of collaboration and lifelong learning both in her classroom and personal practices. Sarah can’t wait to bring her enthusiasm for education and the arts to Bennett!
 

Lauren Vander Pluym

Marketing Associate

lauren.vanderpluym@bennettday.org

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Lauren joins Bennett Day School as Marketing Associate after ten years of progressive classroom teaching and leadership in both Illinois and Colorado schools. She received her BA in Secondary Education, Social Sciences from Millikin University and her MA in Anthropology from The University of Chicago. Lauren is a trained diversity and inclusion facilitator through The National SEED Project (Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity) and has developed SEED groups at two of her previous schools. Most recently, Lauren served as Technology Coordinator at The Logan School for Creative Learning in Denver, CO, a progressive K-8 school that provides individualized, project-based curriculum for each child. The move to Bennett Day School was a natural and exciting philosophical fit. Prior to her time in Colorado, Lauren taught grades 6-8 humanities and served as a Team Leader and Technology Leader at Bernard Zell Anshe Emet Day School here in Chicago. She also taught grades 9-12 history and served as a Model United Nations coach at Walter Payton College Preparatory High School. Outside of school life, Lauren is a passionate family and wedding photographer and freelance writer with her business, Lauren Vander Pluym Creative. Lauren is excited to bring her knowledge of K-8 independent school life, diversity and inclusion training, and her technological and creative skills to the Bennett Day School Marketing Team.
 

Megan Young

HR Coordinator

megan.young@bennettday.org

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Having worked as an Early Childhood Educator and Educational Coordinator at CHALK Preschool for six years in Chicago, Megan joined the Bennett Day School team in 2016 as the Front Office Administrator and AfterCare Director. She has loved every minute of building relationships with the students, families and faculty that walk in the door each day. Since becoming HR Coordinator, Megan strives to internally promote health, happiness, growth and development for each faculty member at Bennett Day School. Before making the move to Chicago, Megan grew up in Bay City, Michigan and is a Michigan State University alumni. Go Green! Her bachelor’s degree is in Elementary Education, with minors in Mathematics and English. She is also a member of the Association for Talent Development (ATD), where she continues to expand upon her knowledge of internal leadership development.