top of page

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.

Parents: To access Board Meeting minutes, please use same password as the one used for the Directory.

Profile Photo.png

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


Rachel Douglas Swanson.png
Rachel Douglas Swanson, Vice President


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. 

Emily Lorentzen.jpg

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, Treasurer


MQuest Head Shot 2019-08-29 at 4.27.13 P
Mary Quest, Secretary


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

PhD, Child Development, Loyola University Chicago and Erikson Institute

"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.  When I teach child 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."

Michael McGuire
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.”

Courtney Bledsoe.jpg
Courtney Bledsoe, Member at Large


B.A., Psychology and Human Development, University of Kansas

A.M., University of Chicago, Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy and Practice

Clinical Social Worker, Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago and
Pop Pediatric Therapy Services

"We have been at TCS since 2018 and my kids are now in 4th and 2nd grades. We were fortunate to discover progressive education through the preschool my children attended and knew that we wanted to find a similar play and project-based approach for elementary and middle school.

I am a clinical social worker and have spent my career working in mental health with kids and families. Finding a school community that aligns with our values has been a real blessing. It is important to me to be an active member of the school community and support TCS as they continue to bring progressive education to life."

Noola Laguardia, Member at Large


B. A. Fiction Writing, Columbia College Chicago

Noola Laguardia is the mother of two TCS children and has been a parent at the school since 2018. She has a child in the pond and the ocean that both love and thrive at TCS. Noola and her husband Fred chose TCS for its project-based learning but also its dedication to social justice, the same reason they chose to raise their family in Oak Park. "Children need to feel safe and secure during childhood in order to go out and make effective impacts in the world, and that is especially true for any child that is identified as a minority in America," says Noola.

Noola has volunteered for the fundraising gala since her family came to TCS and is dedicated to ensuring this progressive education school remains financially stable and competitive to other progressive schools in the Chicagoland area. 

As a leader she has spent years working on DEI initiatives to ensure that not only are people getting hired but also being mentored into leadership roles with the belief that leaders of diversity at the table are what really brings meaningful change and growth to any organization or community. 

Julia Huff.jpg
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."

Brynne Hovde, Community At-Large Member

B.A., Communications and Media Studies, Ohio University

Brynne Hovde (she/her) lives in Oak Park with her partner Matt, their child Hattie and her mother Sue.  Hattie is currently in Kindergarten at TCS, heading to 1st grade in 23/24 school year. 

Brynne is a co-founding partner of a Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Belonging firm, The Nova Collective ( - which began in 2016, and currently operates across North America with 20 employees.   Brynne is also a co-founding board member of Race Conscious Dialogues (, an Oak Park-based organization that supports antiracist dialogue and learning for white-identified people.

Other areas of interest and experience include:  theater (musicals!), baseball (Cubs!), local-ish politics (let's discuss in person!), and pop culture (a mess!).  


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


"I have been part of TCS since 2004, when my youngest daughter was part of the very first Kindergarten class. Subsequently, I became a Board member, a teacher, and a director. I have watched this community and its many members--children and adults--thrive and flourish in so many ways.

The work of the Board is extremely important in providing fiscal guidance, policy oversight, and long-range planning input. I am honored to be part of this hard-working group."

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


Kendra Roberts, Faculty Representative


Current Student, Early Childhood Education, DePaul University


"Education! Let’s respectfully start with you.  


What comes to mind when you hear the word education? What was your education like? If your school and teachers were still available to teach your child, would you rush to enroll them? What do you know to be true about education? What’s considered standard and who gets to decide?  What type of learner are you? Should the classroom’s pedagogy be teacher or student-led? Did your teachers foster wonder? Did they allow you to make a fancy mess? Did your teachers value your voice?  Or what about your differences?  Could you express your big feelings?  Make a mistake without the fear of shame?  Arrive to school with your right shoe on your left foot, and your left shoe on your right foot, without being redirected?  Do you consider education to be a sprint or marathon? Does education bring you joy?


A very wise woman once said, with a smile, 'You ask a lot of questions!' My Grandma. As I was becoming, she was encouraging!"

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


bottom of page