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At The Children’s School, students are active participants in their own learning. It is the teacher’s role to guide their curiosity and help them find meaning through intrinsic motivation. Our teachers are passionate educators, the lead learners in their classrooms. At times, the teacher will direct the learning activity and at other times during the day the children are given opportunities to choose from a selection of activities. As children grow, they embrace their responsibilities and learn to manage their own work.


Learning to collaborate with others and navigate a large project can be challenging for children. Our commitment to small class sizes (typically 15) allows our faculty to support students whether they are working independently, in groups, or in multi-aged teams. Additionally, we support our faculty with professional and personal development and continuing education opportunities along with a community of colleagues that honor and support each other's ideas and professional growth.


B.A., Special Education, Illinois State University

“This summer I took a clay class. In addition to using a new medium artistically, I gained some important insights as a teacher. I find the process of using clay and a potter’s wheel very challenging. I’m using parts of my brain and body in ways that I have never needed to use them in the past. I asked myself - how might it feel to be a child struggling to understand or to learn a new skill? What kind of support did I need to overcome my frustrations and to be comfortable with learning something new? It is my hope that these insights will help me as I continually reflect upon my teaching.”

Publications, Presentations & Awards

  • "Transforming an Urban Asphalt Space into a Magical Outdoor Space on a Shoestring Budget" 2019 Progressive Education Network Presentation

Nadine Brockman, Kindergarten Teacher

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De'ja Jones, Associate Teacher, Kindergarten


A.A., Early Childhood Education, Triton College,


Our newest associate teacher has several years of experience working with young children as a classroom assistant. Her long-term plans are for a career working with children and pursuing her own education, including possibly her doctorate. She brings a strong understanding of the developmental needs of Kindergarteners and progressive philosophy, and creative strategies to address students’ social-emotional needs. She believes in the importance of always going in with a plan, but also knows that sometimes you will have to change that plan.  Her teaching style is patient, gentle, calm, and professional.  

Lucy Coria Progressive Teacher

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

Lucy Coria, 1st/2nd Grade Teacher


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Lizbeth Marquez, Associate Teacher, 1st/2nd Grade

B.A., Early Childhood Education, Dominican University.


"I am a loving, caring, patient, and adventurous person. I have been working at a child care facility where I have had the opportunity to meet many little friends and cherish moments of joy and learning. My first memory of teaching was as a child pretending to be my cousins’ teacher. Hearing the words, 'yes, teacher!' and being seen as the teacher filled me with happiness and excitement. It felt so real, especially since my cousins were younger than me and looked up to me. The idea of creating a fun project and asking my cousins to do it with me to create a piece of artwork made me feel so proud. I continue to cherish those teacher moments with my little cousins and siblings and thank them for making me realize my true aspiration. This is what led me to consider and pursue this career. Once I started experiencing teaching in a school setting, I felt it was the right place for me. I would like to continue doing this and make a positive impact on children’s lives. I am excited to have the opportunity to student teach at The Children’s School. I look forward to starting my career here and continue to reinforce my teaching skills."


M.A., Early Childhood Education, Dominican University 
B.A., Elementary Education and Psychology, North Park College

“One of my greatest adventures was rafting on the Blue Nile in Uganda. I recall our guide telling us that at some point we would find ourselves thrown from our raft, under churning water, not knowing which end was up. His advice was to relax. “You can hold your breath for ten seconds,” he insisted. “Hold your breath and trust that you will come to the surface. Eventually you will reach calm waters and return to the raft.” It all happened just as he described. This experience has become one of my favorite metaphors for life.”

Publications, Presentations & Awards

  • "Transforming an Urban Asphalt Space into a Magical Outdoor Space on a Shoestring Budget"
    2​019 Progressive Education Network Presentation

Dana Nasralla, 1st/2nd Grade Teacher


Kendra Roberts
Kendra Roberts, Co-Teacher, 1st/2nd Grade

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! 

Angela Whitacre de Resendiz Progressive

B.A., Women’s Studies, San Diego State University


"My favorite book as a child was A Wrinkle in Time. But maybe my favorite reading experience was Einstein's Dreams. I read it in 8th grade and it introduced me to thinking Science was this mystical journey in time and space and the result of intense daydreams. I remember very clearly the click in my head while reading that Math, Philosophy, Science, History and Imagination were the same thing."

Publications, Presentations & Awards

  • "Calculating Justice? Using Mathematical Mindsets for Teaching from a Social Justice Perspective." chapter co-author for the book Unsettling Education: Searching for Ethical Footing in a Time of Reform (winner of the 2021 Society of Professors of Education Outstanding Book Award)

  • Workshop Presenter: "Let's Read a Book Together - How to select quality, historically accurate and appropriate books to build a diverse and justice-oriented library." TCS 2012

  • Panel Participant - "Never Too Early: Talking to Children About Race" TCS 2013

  • "It's Okay: Integrating Race, Diversity, and other Controversial Topics Into the Curriculum."
    2019 Progressive Education Network Presentation

  • Panel Participant: "Progressive Education in Action" - 2013 American Association of Teaching and Curriculum National Conference 

Angela Whitacre de Resendiz, 3rd Grade Teacher


Danielle Cruz

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 rain storms 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."

Danielle Cruz, Associate Teacher, 3rd Grade


Lisa Friedman
Lisa Friedman, 4th Grade Teacher

B.A., Art History, The University of Chicago
J.D., The University of Chicago


"Voice! Voice! Voice!  I was a really quiet kid, who raised my hand and answered questions, but didn’t interact, ask questions, or advocate for myself. Coming into my voice has been a product of years of Socratic method in law school, participating in uncomfortable and then more comfortable art critiques in drawing and painting classes. I’ve even recently pushed myself to submit paintings and photographs to galleries and art shows. I love the way we nurture the voices of children here at The Children’s School.  We encourage their creative voices, their ability and willingness to advocate for themselves, their ability to listen and then ask questions, even to ask questions of power. Through story writing, art class, democratic processes, class and town hall meetings, the children are unapologetically encouraged to grow into their full selves. And I am so proud to be a part of that."

Lori Nitzsche Progressive Teacher
Lori Nitzsche, 5th Grade Teacher


B.S., Education, Greenville College
Elementary Education, Special Education (Learning Disabilities)

“What a delight it is to participate with children in their experiences as they grow. It is abundantly clear to me that they build their own foundations best through activities that pique their interest. With literature, materials, play, projects, music, walks in the woods, museums, art, talking, listening, moving, trying, and trying again, their education builds and interconnects. I am delighted to join The Children's School where students and teachers are learning together in such meaningful ways.”

Julio Resendiz
Julio Resendiz, Associate Teacher, 5th Grade


B.A.,Spanish Language and Literature,
Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), Mexico City

"I grew up in a very poor neighborhood in Mexico City. After the '85 earthquake, we literally  took classes in the street. This proved to me that real learning can happen anywhere and that everyone’s experience is unique. We need to be open to other readings of a situation, and to new ways of relating to people. When we sterilize cultural impact or assume we understand someone's behavior because of stereotypes, we do not allow that person to be their best self and we also miss a chance to learn and open our own experiences. As an educator, this means asking, "Explain that to me," or "How are you thinking about this?" rather than being stuck in right and wrong. Diversity always makes for a richer experience. With children, this means listening deeply and helping them to learn to express themselves, think about their own reasoning, and learn to be more accepting of others."

Mika Yamamoto
Mika Yamamoto, 6th/7th Grade Teacher


B.A., Comparative Literature, University of Southern California

M.A., English Language and Literature, Central Michigan University


"When I was in elementary school, I was very happy at my public school; I loved to learn and had a lot of friends. But on Saturdays, I went to Japanese school, where I cheated on kanji tests and remained friendless year after year. On Saturdays, my socks didn’t even match… which in the 80’s was not yet cool. Same child, and yet, I felt differently about myself and showed up differently. No one was explicitly mean to me; I just didn’t feel like I belonged. Never mind that I didn’t learn, that was secondary to my misery. No child should ever feel so miserable. But in third-grade, I had a Japanese school teacher who made extra effort to make me feel seen. That year, I got A’s on my kanji tests and made two friends. Most importantly, I was happy. This has become my touchstone story for how I believe children need to be treated. All week long, I had the same body, the same brain, the same family, the same home… the only thing that was different was my school environment, and it turned out one adult made all the difference. Since then, research has verified this is true. My unhappiness was not inherent or inevitable; I was not destined to be unhappy, not even just on Saturdays. I just needed one kind face; but the flipside was that without it I could not be happy."

Louie Kertgen
Louie Kertgen, 6th/7th Grade Teacher


B.A., Interdisciplinary Studies, Illinois State University

"Growing up, I always found myself bouncing between what interested me. I would spend 3-4 months really immersing myself in a hobby or activity before I moved on to the next one. When I was young, this ranged from basketball, baseball, skateboarding, LEGO building, working on cars, and water polo. Then as I got older, my passion for music and art emerged. I began drawing more and playing music. Music is the lens through which I see the world and feel as though it is a beautiful reflection of society at that given moment. As I went through my college journey I found that music was the only constant in my life whereas other areas of interest simply faded away. When it comes to education, I have worked with a wide range of students from early elementary through high school. As I teach, I try to incorporate music into my lessons as much as possible, whether it be as simple as background music to help students focus, finding ways that it can add to a lesson, or have students research artists and discover for themselves how their favorite artists came to be. I feel as though in a time where there is so much division across our society, music is the common denominator. We all have an artist we are passionate about and my goal as an educator is to use that connection to help students better understand the world around them.”

Gloria Mitchell
Gloria Mitchell, 8th Grade Teacher

B.A., English, University of Iowa
M.Ed., Secondary Education, DePaul University

“Teachers often name student engagement as one of their goals, but I think you can't understand engagement without understanding something about its opposite, which is boredom. Boredom is the discomfort we feel when we sense that what we are doing lacks sufficient meaning. When children are bored at school, adults sometimes believe that the solution is for them to move through the curriculum at a faster pace, but doing an insufficiently meaningful activity faster doesn't fix the problem. To engage students means to place important issues at the center of school life, and to give them opportunities to do work that matters. And although what is important to children changes as they learn and grow, we should try never to underestimate their desire—or their ability—to pursue the great questions of human existence.”

Publications, Presentations & Awards


B.A., English Composition, University of North Texas
M.A.T. Biological Science, Miami University
National Board Certification - English as a New Language


“Growing up as a chronically under-motivated student, I was always more interested in what lay beyond the classroom than what I found within. It was the woods, creeks, and Outer Banks of North Carolina that captured my attention and prompted my earliest inquiries into marine biology and forest ecology. After a family move to Texas in high school, my interests turned to music and performance. During and after college, I immersed myself in the language, culture, and history of Mexico and Central America. As an educator, I have worked with students of all ages from all over the world. Over the years I have learned, and continue to be reminded, that the impact of what I teach is superseded by the impact I make on the quality of a day, how students feel about learning, and…ultimately, about themselves. Teaching and learning is less about the transmission of information than creating opportunities for the discovery of new and deeper understandings about the world and our place in it.“

Publications, Presentations & Awards

Will Hudson, Middle Level Science Teacher


B.A., Music, Carleton College
M.A., Music Composition and Theory, University of Minnesota

"I listen to music all the time; in the car, while I'm cooking, while I'm jogging. I am constantly asking myself, 'Would the children at school like to sing this?', and I imagine their enthusiastic clear voices in renditions of Bach or Elvis. Making music with young people is a great joy, and I am lucky to spend a lot of time doing just that. I teach private piano and direct a children's choir in Oak Park. My children are musicians as well, and there's rarely a quiet moment in our house."

Jennifer Trueman Resek, Choral Music Teacher


Naomi Martinez
Naomi Martinez, Art Teacher




"In grammar school, I always enjoyed making things with my hands and it felt very natural to be drawing and painting from my imagination. I recall that slowly into my adolescence I started to feel not good enough or like I had nothing important to say. Not until my sophomore year in high school when my literature teacher, Ms. Galanopoulos taught us about Greek mythology and encouraged us to seek out stories and art from our own heritage did I begin to feel seen. It led me to discover, on my own, a better understanding of my Mexican roots and the history of our community organizing right here in Chicago. The Latinx writers and artists I was finding out about in this time were also my inspiration to be brave and let art be my voice in the world. I started to open up more to my teachers who helped me apply for a new Apprentice Artist program at the time called Gallery 37. During this program I learned that my story lived in my memories of Chicago, in my mother’s sewing and stories, in the graffiti art in my neighborhood and in the sketchbooks that my friends and I would share with each other. As a young girl that had decided to become an artist, I was met with criticism not only from my family but from a mostly male artist community. Art in all its forms is a powerful tool that can be used to express so many of our life experiences. I tell my students that techniques can be learned but making art that carries something uniquely yours and what you care about will make it yours. What our young people have to say and the creative ways in which they choose to say it is valid. Beautiful works of art together with education are what continue to help us connect to our humanity and to each other. "

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B.M., Cello Performance, Manhattan School of Music
M.M., Cello Performance, Carnegie Mellon University
M.L.I.S. (Library and Information Science), Dominican University

"I’m a lucky librarian--so many TCS kids are eager readers! They love to talk about, recommend and generally geek out about books and we have many great conversations. But some kids are less enthusiastic and for them I work extra hard. In my experience, sometimes all it takes is one book. Was there that one particular book from your childhood that made reading click for you? For me it was Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh.  I consider it a wonderful privilege to help kids find that book (or author or genre or topic) that can put them on the path to being life-long readers."

Polly Smith, Librarian


Polly Smith
Ricky Halle-Podell

B.S., Psychology, University of Illinois, MAT, Licensed Massage Therapist
Water Safety and Lifeguard Instructor
Certified Yoga Instructor, Credential 2


"I am excited to be a part of The Children's School family and share my love for physical activity, sports, and team building. Throughout my professional career I have worked with children and adults as a mental health professional, massage therapist, stress management consultant and physical welfare instructor. I love to bike, hike, and play hockey and guitar. Most recently I learned to sew, making my son a Tallis for his Bar Mitzvah. Remember: 'Healthy Active Kids Learn Better' and 'Exercise Grows Brain Cells'."

Ricky Halle-Podell, Physical Wellness Instructor



Donna Patitucci, Learning Specialist

B.A., English, Columbia College Chicago

Illinois Teacher Certification, National-Louis University

Certified Wilson Practitioner


"Reading fiction is a pastime that brings me great joy. When one of my sons was struggling to learn how to read, I became nervous that he would always be “behind” his peers and never get to experience that same joy from reading a book. As he got the support he needed and started making progress through the Wilson Reading System, I found myself intrigued by this way of teaching and completed the intensive year-long Wilson certification program. 


I have been a TCS parent for nearly 10 years and I am happy to also be part of the community as a learning specialist, providing extra help to students in reading and math. I enjoy being in this role to offer the same support to students that my son needed to become a reader. It is wonderful to see children gain confidence in their reading skills and comprehension once they have had help cracking the code."

Donna Patitucci, Learning Specialist



B.A. General Psychology, University of Illinois at Chicago

M.A. Clinical Psychology, Illinois School of Professional Psychology
M.S.W. UIC, Jane Addams College of Social Work
L.C.S.W., Licensed Clinical Social Worker

"I have found my calling and I can’t believe that my good fortune landed me at The Children’s School!  One of my favorite quotes is: 'Receive the children in reverence, educate them with love, and send them forth in freedom' (Rudolf Steiner).  I cannot think of a more perfect mandate for a school social worker.  When I think of these words, I am reminded that I have been given a tremendous responsibility.  I am impacting souls who will one day give themselves to our world.  This moves me to awe, joy and deep gratitude."

Parvaneh Shidnia-Smith, LCSW, Social Worker


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