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.Arch., University of Notre Dame
Registered Architect in Illinois and Ohio
"My middle child began fourth grade at The Children's School two years ago, and we are so pleased with his experience. TCS has brought back his love of school, exploring new ideas, and learning about the world around him. My husband and I find the progressive education TCS provides so important to a child's personal and social growth. Our youngest is now in the first grade, and the learning through play approach suits his needs so well. I enjoy being an active part of my children's educational community."
Sandi Carr, President
Fellow of the Society of Actuaries (FSA)
BSBA, Drake University
Lead Strategic Actuary, Kuvare Holdings
"We are new to The Children's School community as my daughter began first grade there in the fall of 2020. The alignment of values and core beliefs made the decision to join TCS an easy one.
We have been so impressed with the communication, thoughtfulness, and decision-making process during this challenging time. I look forward to partnering my passion for children's progressive education with my skill set to help TCS navigate our ever-changing environment."
Emily Lorentzen, Vice President
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."
Mary Quest, Secretary
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. "
Julia Huff, Alumni Representative
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."
Michael McGuire, Member at Large
B.A., Business Administration, Pacific Lutheran University
M.B.A., Elmhurst University
Sr. Account Manager FedEx Services
“Every child is uniquely special, and all children must learn on their own trajectory. We can guide them on their path, but the discovery and navigation of that path is an important part of the learning process. We found The Children’s School five years ago when we were looking for an appropriate school for our son Colin. He had some learning challenges and would have been shuffled around and lost in the public system. Pam and Christy were extremely reassuring that this was the right place for Colin, and they were not wrong. TCS has provided a home for both of our boys now, and we couldn’t be happier with the ethos and child-centered pedagogy of the curriculum. Colin and Finn have both flourished at the school, which I believe provides one roadmap for what effective childhood education can be.”
Rachel Douglas Swanson, Member at Large
Rachel is mom to Isaiah (2nd grade) and Solomon (2 years old) and partner to Doug. She found out about TCS while pregnant with Isaiah and therefore decided where he would attend school before she decided whether or not to use cloth diapers. In her free time, Rachel is a Creativity Coach, working with schools across the country to provide more engaging, equitable, and creative learning experiences for students and teachers. Formerly Rachel has been a teacher in Chicago Public Schools, an instructional coach in CPS and Elmwood Park School District, and the Academic Director for the Lutheran Schools of Chicago. Rachel is an avid reader and lover of laughter.
Haj Herbert, Community Member
B.A., Art Education, Northern Illinois University
M.S., Child Development, Erikson Institute
Certificate in Reggio Emilla Approach, Antioch University
Haj Herbert is the founder of and teacher at Magical Minds Studio. As community representative to the Board, Haj brings a wealth of knowledge and experience with preschool, elementary, middle and high school students in creative, collaborative art and design spaces. We are thrilled to have her join our Board of Directors in providing fiscal and policy guidance and community ambassadorship for the school.
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
Lucy Coria, Faculty Representative
B.A., Television Post-Production, Columbia College, Chicago
M.Ed., Loyola University, Maryland
Certified AMI Montessori Primary Education
DONA Doula and Childbirth Educator
"As a child, I remember my senses awakened while walking through the blocks of Humboldt Park. For blocks, you could smell the lingering aroma of spices as we walked past restaurants and street vendors. I could hear the bass exploding through the stereos that were propped up on windowsills. I could see the crowds of children racing to a vacant lot to catch up on the never-ending basketball game. It was there, as a first-row audience member to this lively neighborhood that I pulled influence and inspiration. As an artist and an educator, I am constantly reminded of the power of community."
Publications, Presentations & Awards
"Transforming an Urban Asphalt Space into a Magical Outdoor Space on a Shoestring Budget"2019 Progressive Education Network Presentation
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