Board of Directors

Our Board meets monthly throughout the academic year. Faculty, staff, parents and members of the community are welcome to attend our Board meetings. To see our agenda or minutes from past board meetings, please contact the administrative office by phone or email, and we would be happy to provide you with copies.

The Children's School is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization governed by an elected Board of four officers and seven other members. The Board's responsibilities fall into four area: fiscal oversight, institutional policy-making, long-range vision and planning, and hiring and evaluating of the Director of Curriculum and Instruction and the Director of Administration. Please direct questions on these topics to Board members in their official capacities.

B.A., Economics, University of Chicago
M.B.A., University of Chicago

Leader in Enterprise Analytics, Northern Trust

“We have two children at The Children's School. I value TCS commitment to creating a vibrant learning environment where my sons can collaborate with their fellow students and let their imagination shape amazing learning opportunities, which allow them to immerse themselves in their course of study. I am a strong supporter of progressive education because our children must be able to think, create, and constantly reinvent themselves as technology and the world rapidly evolves around them. ”

Andy Curtis, President


Vice President - Vacant


Jennifer Hamilton, Treasurer


Ph.D., Statistics, University of Maryland

M.A.,Education Policy, The George Washington University

B.A. Literature/Woman’s Studies, The George Washington University

Vice President, Education and Child Development, NORC at the University of Chicago


"As a first generation college student who has been working in the field of education research for nearly 30 years, I am delighted to be able to serve on the Board of The Children’s School. Our daughter enrolled in 3rd grade in the fall of 2019, and I was immediately impressed with the school’s educational philosophy. TCS consistently emphasizes the importance of diversity, multiculturalism, multiple intelligences, cooperative and collaborative learning, and a child-centered approach to teaching. My daughter particularly loves to work on projects with her peers and appreciates how civics and democracy are embedded into school life. After just one short year, she has learned the most important lesson of all - learning is not a task, but a fun and challenging thing to do, a way of life."

Secretary - Vacant


Julia Huff, Alumni Member at Large

B.S., Early Childhood Education, Concordia University
Preschool Teacher, Chicago Public Schools

"My daughter joined TCS in the fall of 2011 for her kindergarten year. I value The Children's School for providing a place for children to explore, create, and discover. The focus on environmental and social issues is a strong component, and I appreciate the focus on learning, not testing. Progressive education is important today because it shows a strong respect for children's voices and allows for a variety of learners to achieve goals. As a board member, I feel it is most important to make connections to families and listen to their ideas/concerns."

Ahmed Dola, Member at Large


B.S., Leadership and Management, New York University
with certificate in Project Management

"I believe strongly in progressive education and a project-based approach to learning. Our kids have greatly benefited from the experience and the love of learning it fosters. I see a great deal of potential for growth at TCS. I believe that to effect change, you need to be part of it. It requires more than just the school’s administration and leadership to make that happen. We are all stewards that can map the direction that we want to sail and at the same time have the resilience to mitigate unforeseen events. I want to be part of the ongoing conversation and enable transformative changes to realize the mission and vision of a world class education that we would all like to see for our children."

Mary Quest, Community Member at Large


M.A., Early Childhood Education, Concordia University Chicago

"We have been part of the TCS community since my oldest was in kindergarten and every year we have seen incredible growth in our children, not only in terms of academic skills, but in their ability to identify their own strengths and interests, to be a good friend, to self regulate, to communicate in a wide range of ways and to listen to what others have to say. I am appreciative every day that my children are part of a community that supports them in learning about rights and responsibilities as well as how to identify issues of social justice and to use their voices to advocate for equity.  As faculty at Erikson Institute, where I now teach social and emotional development and teacher education coursework, I find myself sharing examples of the ways that The Children's School is a model of what is possible in the larger world of education because children's voices are heard and their strengths are recognized. "

B.A., Humanities, Yale College
J.D., University of Chicago

“I love being around children. Most children like to be silly, but they’re very earnest about the things that are important to them. I’m the same way. I love learning and am curious about just about every topic. At the Children’s School I get to explore with the children. I never knew anything about mummification or Ancient Japan or hatching chicks until I studied them with my class.”

Christina Martin, J.D., Director of Curriculum and Instruction


Danielle Cruz, Faculty Representative


B.A., Communications with Minor in Psychology, Depaul University

"As a teenager, I spent a portion of every summer traveling with a group to impoverished areas in Appalachia to help in fixing and rebuilding homes for families who did not have the means to do it themselves.  A working plumbing system, a bedroom I did not have to share with my entire family and a strong roof that protected my home from flooding during rainstorms were all things I took for granted, yet were life-changing for the families I encountered.  It was there that I learned compassion, gratitude and the importance of giving back.  It has set the tone for the rest of my life and it is where I began on my path of working to be a part of change.  I believe that one person can make a difference, but I hope to show children the power of community, compassion and how they can utilize their skills to change the world."

Honorary Board Members (non-Voting)

BJ Richards, Honorary Board Member


40+ years in Early Childhood Education
Owner, licensed child-led, play-based child care home with an anti-bias learning environment

“I was interested in TCS as soon as I heard Daniel Ryan was starting a new progressive school in Oak Park.  I have been working in Early Childhood for many years and wish TCS had been around when my daughter was in school. Progressive education is important today because education has become more about test scores, grades, worksheets and rigid rules that do not allow a child to develop their imagination, creativity, curiosity and the love of learning about what they are interested in.  Many children do not learn through memorization and book work -- they need a more hands-on approach.  I believe progressive education helps develop a child’s strengths and sees them for who they are, instead of trying to make them fit the mold of what our education system thinks they should be.”

Board Member Emeritus

B.A., Education, University of Michigan
M.Ed., Educational Administration, Harvard University
Ed.D., Educational Administration, Teachers College, Columbia University
Principal, Nursery -2nd Grade, University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, Chicago, IL


  "As the Founder of The Children's School, I am pleased that we have created a learning community that honors the voices of children.  Through projects, academic discourse, and democratic processes, children are fully engaged in their own learning. Since our first year in 2004, children have built castles, covered wagons, organic gardens and more. With expert guidance from teachers, these projects evolve from the ideas and interests of the children. Using progressive educational practices, The Children's School is a community of children, teachers, and parents that celebrate and nurture the unique learning needs of each child."

Daniel P. Ryan, Ed.D., Founder, Board Member Emeritus


“Education is not preparation for life;
education is life itself.” 

John Dewey

  • Facebook Social Icon
  • Instagram Social Icon
  • YouTube Social  Icon

© 2018 The Children's School - 200 S. Oak Park Ave., Oak Park, IL 60302  |  708-484-8033

website by Tracy Litsey at | photographs by Lindsay Schumaier Photography,  Eileen Moloney Photography, and Laura Donoghue