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.

Jackie Miller

Principal, Chief Academic Officer (she/her)

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Jackie brings a decade of educational leadership in Chicago independent schools. Prior to Bennett Day, she served as Principal of the 4th-8th Grade campus at the Frances Xavier Warde School (FXW) before becoming the school’s Director of Curriculum and Instruction for their entire K-8th Grade program. During her leadership tenure at FXW, Jackie led a successful rollout of a new math curriculum with a philosophy rooted in growth mindset and content designed around the Singapore model of teaching through problem-solving. She has led school-wide professional development initiatives around reflective instructional practices such as the use of the Japanese model of Lesson Study. Jackie is a S.E.E.D. (Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity) facilitator and has presented at conferences on fostering collaborative communities, shifting mathematical mindsets, and standards-based grading. She has served as a visiting evaluation team member for the Independent Schools Association of the Central States (ISACS) for schools completing their accreditation review process. Jackie sits on the SIBS Board at Misericordia Heart of Mercy. She started her career as a fourth-grade teacher and is passionate about collaborating with faculty and families to enhance the learning experience for every student. Jackie is a graduate of Indiana University where she earned her Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education. She also holds a M.Ed. from Loyola University.

Cameron Smith

Co-founder, Chief Executive Officer (he/him)

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Cameron Smith is the CEO and Co-Founder at Bennett Day School, a future-focused PreK-12 educational organization, in the innovative Fulton Market district of Chicago.

Cameron was first inspired as a parent to create Bennett in 2014 for families in Chicago. Today, over 300 students at Bennett from 55 zip codes grow as learners, problem solvers, and critical thinkers with purpose in their lives. Bennett delivers happy, accomplished, and engaged students, families, and faculty via a world-class, dynamic project-based learning program that delivers exceptional outcomes. Bennett also shares resources beyond its own campus with other like-minded educators and schools via the Bennett Labs Collaborative in order to positively impact the lives of as many school children, teachers, and families as possible.

Named a Crain’s Chicago Notable Entrepreneur in 2019, Cameron was previously a Vice President at CHS Capital in Chicago where he focused on investing in education services companies. At CHS, he served on the board of Royall, the leading provider of strategic enrollment marketing services to colleges and universities. He has served on the board of ten organizations also including Premier Early Childhood Education Partners, New York Kids Club, Namaste Charter School in Chicago as Treasurer & Investment Committee Chair, and the Neighborhood Parents Network of Chicago. He is also a member of the Chicago Chapter of Conscious Capitalism.

Cameron holds a B.S. Degree from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania; a Certificate in Space Resources from the Colorado School of Mines given his love of outer space; as well as J.D. and M.B.A. Degrees from Northwestern University. The son of a locomotive engineer and elementary school teacher, Cameron grew up in the Detroit area and lives in the Logan Square neighborhood in Chicago with his wife Erica and their two boys.

Meg Fitzgerald

Director of Early Childhood (she/her)

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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 Early Childhood Director, bringing sixteen years of experience working with our youngest learners and families.

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 Director in 2011 at Immaculate Conception-St. Joseph School in Chicago. Meg joined Bennett Day in 2013 as a Founding Teacher and taught in our PreK program while also serving 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 has been serving as the Director of the Early Childhood program since 2016 and is thrilled to continue her administrative work with Bambini – Senior Kindergarten students and families. Meg has presented at ISACS and NAEYC conferences on the value of Reggio-inspired environments, collaborative relationships, and documentation, and will be published this winter in NAEYC’s Teaching Young Children journal. Meg currently serves on the school board of ICSJ as well as the Commercial Park Advisory Council.

Lisa Kennedy

Director of Lower School (she/her)

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Lisa joined Bennett Day with almost two decades of educational experience in both elementary and intermediate grades in a variety of school settings. Lisa believes in using positive reinforcement teaching techniques to encourage student engagement and growth. She has taught in Chicago Public Schools, abroad at the Walworth Barbour American International School in Israel, Oak Park District #97, and most recently at The Frances Xavier Warde School (FXW) in Chicago. During her time at FXW, Lisa served as a reading specialist, as the English Language Arts Department Chair for grades K–3, has planned and implemented professional development for K-8 ELA teachers, served as a mentor for first grade extended day program teachers, and has experience in supporting FXW’s Admissions Team. In addition, Lisa has provided professional development for the East Aurora School District #131 and with the Greenly Center for Catholic Education at Loyola University in Chicago. Lisa received a B.S. in Business Management from Hampton University, an M.S. in Elementary Education from Chicago State University, an M.S. in Reading, and an M.S. in Principal Leadership from Loyola University. She was drawn to Bennett’s nurturing and innovative environment for learning and their hands-on approach to social justice concerns and community awareness. Lisa is a mother to three children, one of which is a Bennett Day student, and resides with them in Chicago. She enjoys cooking, Chicago restaurants, gardening, and travel.

Kimberly Burks

Director of Middle and Upper School (she/her)

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Kimberly grew up on the South Side of Chicago, where she attended elementary and high school in a neighboring south suburb. She joined Bennett Day School in 2021-22 as the Intermediate & Middle School Director and has now transitioned into the role of Middle & Upper School Director for the 2022-23 year after holding various school leadership positions in Washington, DC, and Chicago. She has over 15 years of school leadership experience working in elementary and secondary education and has taught math and science to middle school students. Prior to becoming a teacher, Kimberly earned her B.A. in Merchandising from Howard University and worked as an intern each summer with Chicago Public Schools. While teaching middle school math and science she earned her Master’s degree in Administration with a concentration in School Leadership and Supervision from Trinity University, Washington, DC, and a certificate in education finance from Georgetown University. Kim is excited to combine all of her unique academic, business, and life experiences to create a dynamic instructional program dedicated to bringing out the best in every child at Bennett. Kimberly resides in Bronzeville, enjoys traveling and interior design, and is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.

Martin Moran

Lead Designer of Middle and Upper School & Recruiting and Onboarding Manager (he/him)

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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 then worked as a history teacher, technology staff developer and curriculum team leader at Francis W. Parker School. He was charged with creating a new 9th and 10th grade World History curriculum from scratch which included authoring a text for the course. 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. At Parker, he helped design the TIDES program, a concrete effort to maximize the tools (technology, design, entrepreneurial skills) of the 21st century to provide students with learning experiences that make them impactful, socially conscious leaders in a globalizing world. In addition, he coordinated a redesign of learning spaces at Parker, helped develop the long- and short-term technology plans, oversaw a 1:1 Middle School iPad program, a 2:1 Upper School laptop/iPad program, and the development of mobile and stationary technology centers throughout the building.

Martin has presented at numerous conferences, sits on the board of South by Southwest EDU, and was recognized by the National Association of Independent Schools as a ”Teacher of the Future.”

Laura Maheshwary

Director of Enrollment (PreK-2) (she/her)

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Laura Maheshwary comes to Bennett Day School after wearing a number of hats in education. She possesses a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and a MFA in Creative Writing from Lesley University. Most recently, Laura served as an education consultant in the Chicagoland area and sat on the board of Park West Cooperative Nursery School. While working at area non-profit, Christopher House, Laura visited Reggio Emilia on a study tour, and became passionate about the Reggio approach. This is one of many aspects that excite her about Bennett Day School. Laura also worked as an education reporter throughout the country documenting what made successful schools excel, while others struggled during the advent of No Child Left Behind. She later transitioned into teaching and then non-profit administration working in public and private schools in Boston, New York, and Chicago. She lives with her husband and two girls who are both Bennett Day School students.

Stephanie Castrounis

Director of Enrollment (3-12) (she/her)

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Stephanie studied History and Political Science at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, which is also where she is from. She then spent two years teaching English in San Luis Potosi, Mexico where she developed her love of education and achieved her goal of becoming fluent in Spanish. After returning to the U.S., Stephanie earned a Master of Arts in Teaching at Marian University in Indianapolis.

Stephanie spent seven years teaching in both public and private schools in Indianapolis. In 2013, when she and her husband moved to Chicago, she decided to step out of the classroom and took the role of Director of Admissions at Josephinum Academy of the Sacred Heart in Wicker Park. After four years of working in that wonderful community, she decided to take on a new challenge and accepted the position of Director of Enrollment at Bennett Day. She is thrilled to work in such a collaborative community where the mission of the school is truly lived. In her spare time, Stephanie loves to cook, travel, read, and watch sports.

Cally Vevers

Director of Facilities (they/them)

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Cally Vevers has spent the last decade working as a Coach, Youth Program Developer, and Camp Director. While attending UIC she began coaching with Lil Sluggers and found her passion for working with children. After coaching with several programs, she became the Youth Program Director at the Northbrook Accelerated Center where she developed after-school programs, camps, and leagues with a sport and STEAM focus. Cally has now turned her attention to consulting with the hopes of creating safe and fun youth programs across Chicago.

Aaron Robinson

Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (he/him)

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Aaron grew up in Michigan outside the city of Lansing and in the city of Detroit. He is a proud Detroiter and has no problem representing his hometown any chance he gets. He received a BA in History and English from Wayne State University and his Masters in Education from Michigan State University, and served his country as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the People’s Republic of China. 

Aaron is returning to Bennett with his expertise in adolescent and adult education to support and expand Bennett’s commitment to equity and inclusiveness as our first Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. He previously worked as a middle school and high school teacher before becoming a Diversity Consultant in Chicago. Aaron has provided professional development, strategic leadership, and curriculum consulting with over a dozen schools, districts, and organizations in their DEI efforts. 

Sam Rud

Director of Marketing (she/her)

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Sam joined Bennett Day in 2019 after spending two years as a Senior Marketing Coordinator at LaSalle Network, a high-growth staffing and recruiting firm. She studied Public Relations and Marketing at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, and moved to Chicago in 2017 after graduation. During her time in college, she gained admissions experience as a student ambassador and is thrilled to be back in the world of education. As a marketer, she strives to mirror the innovative, adaptive, and thoughtful approach that she grew up watching her mom model as an educator. She loves helping other families discover Bennett Day and its innovative, project-based approach!

Marcus Duncan

Director of IT and Communications (he/him)

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Throughout his career, Marcus has helped organizations build tools to translate their ideas into stories and live into their missions. His education and experience in visual design and strategy are foundational to his understanding of the convergence of technology and communication. His passion for progressive education began nearly ten years ago when he led the technology implementation and distribution of experiential, project-based curricula and developed further over the past five years by applying design solutions to internal and external communication and technology infrastructure at GCE Lab School in Chicago.

Originally from central Indiana, Marcus marvels at the diversity of ideas, stories, and experiences we all carry with us and the incredible forum Chicago and schools like Bennett Day provide us to share and learn from one another.

Peggy Lofgren

Business Officer

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Peggy has been working as a Director of Finance and Operations in private and public K-12 education for 9 years. She worked at Urban Prairie Waldorf School and oversaw their growth from 50 to 150 students. Most recently she worked at Chicago Tech Academy High School, a project-based learning school. Prior to working education, she was a General Manager and VP of Operations in the spa industry overseeing 9 day spa locations in the Midwest and West. Peggy is originally from Denver and attended Colorado State University with a BA in History. After college, she began her career in hospitality and had the opportunity to move throughout the US from Arizona to Aspen to Mississippi and eventually a year in Saudi Arabia after which she and her husband settled down in Chicago. They have two teenage children Isabelle, 17 and Lewis, 14. When Peggy is not at work she enjoys cooking, traveling and spending time with their dog, Addy and cat, Milosh.

Board Members

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.


Cyrus Patel

Director, TRC Advisory

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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.

Cyrus is currently the Director at TRC Advisory, a boutique consulting firm. Prior to this, he was 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.


George Fogel

Chief Executive Officer, Premier Early Childhood Education Partners

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Mr. Fogel has over 25 years of education services, operational, and development experience. Prior to becoming CEO at Premier Early Childhood, Mr. Fogel served as Strategic Advisor to the CEO at Bennett Day School. Before that, he held senior positions with Rasmussen College and Deltak, a leader in online higher education partnership and technology solutions. Mr. Fogel holds an MBA from The Booth School of Business at The University of Chicago and a BA in Economics from DePauw University.

Gail Ward

Founding Principal, Walter Payton College Preparatory High School

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Gail Ward, the Founding Principal of Walter Payton College Preparatory High School, is rejoining the board after being with Bennett Day in the very beginning. She recently ended her board term at Chicago Public Schools where she also served earlier as their Chief Officer for Principal Preparation and Development. Gail is also a board member of the Chicago History Museum. With nearly 40 years of experience as a teacher, counselor, and principal, she is thrilled to once again share her insight and expertise with Bennett Day in this exciting time of growth.


Betsy Morton

CEO & Founder, BeMOR, HR Strategy Consulting and Coaching

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Betsy has been a Chief Human Resources Officer for over 15 years in global consumer products, manufacturing and retail organizations including with the Visual Comfort Group, Chamberlain Group, Inc., and Jockey International. She is known for making a positive impact on the business in which she works by integrating effective and innovative human capital and business strategies. She is a national board member of Camp Kesem, a network that provides camp experiences for children whose families have been impacted by cancer. Betsy is also a board member of Premier Early Childhood Education Partners, an organization with the mission to improve the lives of children, parents, and staff by providing safe, fun, curriculum-focused early education in a collaborative and child-focused environment. Betsy holds her BS from the University of Wisconsin, Madison and her M.Ed from Loyola University where she majored in Adult and Corporate Education and minored in Organizational Development.


Patrick Branham

Chief Financial Officer, Conscious Discipline

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Patrick is the Chief Financial Officer at Conscious Discipline, an educational organization that creates evidence-based social and emotional learning and classroom management resources. Before joining Conscious Discipline, Patrick Branham was the Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer at Collegis Education, a company that 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.

Previously, Patrick served as CFO of Aftermath Services LLC and Rasmussen, Inc., which owns and operates Rasmussen College, a regionally accredited private college. 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.



Colin Reynolds

Learning Curator and Education Advisor

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Colin is a founding teacher, administrator, and TinkerLab Curator of Bennett Day School and is currently serving as a Learning Curator and Education Advisor.  With more than ten years of experience as a classroom teacher and administrator, Colin strives to design educational programs and constructionist learning environments that center on experiential co-creation and learning.  As a graduate of Valparaiso University and Loyola University Chicago, he is an educator dedicated to the utility of technology as a tool to harvest, document, and advance learning experiences.

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.


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


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.


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.