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.”
Nadine Brockman, Kindergarten Teacher
Julio Resendiz, Kindergarten Associate Teacher
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."
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."
Lucy Coria, First 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.”
Lori Nitzsche, First Grade Associate Teacher
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.”
Dana Nasralla, Second Grade Teacher
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 day dreams. I remember very clearly the click in my head while reading that Math, Philosophy, Science, History and Imagination were the same thing."
Angela Whitacre de Resendiz, Third/Fourth Grade Teacher
B.A., Liberal Studies with concentration in Elementary Ed and Music
"I had the amazing opportunity to take an adventurous road trip from Los Angeles to Chicago this summer! I saw amazing sights like the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, gorgeous mountains behind a vast desert landscape in Nevada, deep ravines and waterfalls in Idaho, breathtaking scenery, wildlife and geological wonders in Yellowstone and the Badlands of South Dakota. I saw how one man's vision inspired his family for decades to continue his life's work in creating a homage to a great Native American hero, Crazy Horse and just too many things to list. I was reminded that the truest, deepest learning comes from our experiences. I had read about many of these places. But that did not even begin to tell the story of these amazing sites. We are able to really appreciate and take in what we can experience with all of our senses. I am grateful to be able to learn and teach in an environment that embraces this daily.
Chrissie Boehlen, Third/Fourth Grade Teacher
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, Third & Fourth Grade Associate Teacher
Jasmine Davis, Fifth Grade Teacher
B.S., Elementary Education, Northern Illinois University
"Since I was very young, I have always been a person who wonders about so many things. I remember being a young child and always asking adults around me questions about everything, because to me these were the people who had all the answers. As I grew older I was fortunate enough to be introduced to books, and museums, and various people of all different cultures and beliefs. It was then that I realized that the answers didn’t just come from the adults in my life; I realized that learning simply came from living and experiencing life and the people in it. This discovery is the reason why I teach. Every day I get to see the excitement from students learning from the world around them, and realizing that as long as they keep questioning and wondering that joy of learning will never stop.”
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.“
Will Hudson, Sixth Grade Teacher
Middle Level Coordinator
B.A., Elementary Education, Northeastern Illinois University
"My greatest adventure as a child was during a family cruise to Alaska. Although I was only 7 years old I can still vividly recall the cool, refreshing taste of the fresh glacial water I drank while standing atop an Alaskan glacier. As a child I viewed the stream as this mystical gift from the glacier and developed a growing appreciation for the natural world. After returning home I immersed myself in studying the Alaskan culture and geography. The event on the glacier inspired me to gain more knowledge about the experience. To this day I share the memory with the same enthusiasm and excitement I had as a young child. When I first entered the Children’s School as a member of the Progressive Education Consortium I saw that same enthusiasm to learn and share experiences and interests with others in the students. The current students described the projects they were developing with so much passion and joy. At that point I knew when I took on my role as a teacher my purpose should always be to aid in developing experiences for students that excite them to pursue and share their knowledge with the world."
Melissa Barone, Seventh Grade Teacher
Gloria Mitchell, Eighth Grade Teacher
High School Transition Coordinator
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.”
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
B.A., Political Science, Carleton College, Northfield, MN
M.A., Music, Concordia University Chicago, River Forest, IL
"Music moves me in a way that no other art form does, and I simply love bringing that possibility to others through teaching. Music encourages connection - with our own thoughts and feelings as we play, with other cultures and times, with the people we play with, and with those we play for - and connection is what life is all about. In music class we work together, individuals with a common goal, and there's nothing better than hearing a room full of kids playing music together! Here at the Children's School, people work every day building connection with each student and helping the students build connection with each other and the world we all live in, and that's one of the things that makes this a very special place."
Mary Anne Wolff Gardner, Recorder/Music Teacher
Aileen Berg, Art Teacher
B.F.A., Ceramics, Art Institute of Chicago
"The main reason I have always wanted to teach was to give others the same opportunities I was lucky enough to have. There is nothing more satisfying than sharing love and knowledge of clay with students. I believe art education is so important and should be readily available to all students. One of my goals as an educator and artist is to make the joys of clay as accessible as possible. I spent two years as a resident artist at Terra Incognito and also currently work at Oak Park and River Forest High School and The Elmhurst Art Museum. I've also set up a small studio space in my mother’s garage (thanks Mom!) and enjoy a busy life of making work and teaching classes."
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
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 Talis for his Bar Mitzvah. Remember: 'Healthy Active Kids Learn Better' and 'Exercise Grows Brain Cells'."
Ricky Halle-Podell, Physical Wellness Instructor
B.S., Elementary Education, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
M.S., Educational Studies, University of Illinois at Chicago
M.S, Special Education, University of Illinois at Chicago
Ph.D. - Special Education, University of Illinois at Chicago – in progress
"Each student experiences the learning process in a unique way. Learning challenges, cognitive strengths/weaknesses, individual interests, temperament and other social factors can impact how a child both experiences and functions within the learning environment. As a Learning Specialist, I work with students by embedding a deep understanding that each child’s unique qualities, learning strengths and needs, and student/parent/educators goals need to be at the heart of the educational experience."
Kristen is a licensed educator with extensive experience serving students with learning differences. She is certified in Orton-Gillingham, and regularly utilizes a multi-sensory approach to instruction.
Read more about Kristen McShane here: www.kristenmcshane.com
Kristen McShane, Learning Support 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
"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, Social Worker