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Highlights from our 20th Anniversary Bash

The Children's School officially celebrated its 20th anniversary at an event held on April 12th at the 19th Century Club in Oak Park. In addition to commemorating two decades of offering progressive education, we formally welcomed a new Head of School, Michelle Candelaria-Dunstan. We also expressed our heartfelt gratitude as a school community in our farewell to Director of Curriculum and Instruction Christina Martin, and Director of Administration Pamela Freese. Ms. Freese has recently retired from her position, and Ms. Martin will be leaving in early May.

Speakers for the 20th Anniversary event included our founder Daniel P. Ryan, Ed.D, Board Member David Novak, Interim Director of Curriculum and Instruction Gloria Mitchell, and Head of School Michelle Candelaria-Dunstan.

Our new TCS Head of School, Michelle, warmly addressed our community, and spoke to the magic that can happen when learning follows from actions launched spontaneously out of children's own natural curiosity.

She shared inspiration and stories from her previous years at Anser Charter School in Idaho, including an unforgettable tale of a student project on ants (sound familiar?)!

To sum up her wishes for both each adult, child, and our collective organization, she shared a favorite quote often cited by a mentor:

"There is more in us than we know. If we can be made to see it, perhaps, for the rest of our lives we will be unwilling to settle for less."

Kurt Hahn

Each speaker had the bittersweet task of thanking and wishing our two most recent directors farewell on behalf of the school community: Director of Curriculum and Instruction Christina Martin who will be leaving this May, and Ms. Pamela Freese who recently left her position this month. (Pam is currently a consultant for TCS to assist the new Head of School in learning necessary administrative policies and procedures. )

Ms. Gloria Mitchell, former TCS parent and current 8th-grade teacher, is now our interim Director for Curriculum and Instruction. After teaching in our Middle School for more than 8 years, she recounted how Christina Martin's example lit the fire in her to pursue a teaching career for herself.

David Novak, a member of the TCS Board, spoke to how Pam and Christy operated as a seamless team — moving fluidly from demanding tasks like negotiating leases to the humblest of tasks like restocking paper towels in washrooms, without missing a beat.

Both together and separately, Christy and Pam's kindness and sincerity toward each individual - whether they be adults or children - left a lasting impression. Their creativity, focus, and dedication to the principles of progressive education fueled an almost magical atmosphere of sharing, learning, and inclusivity. This is the magic that encouraged each individual to bring out the best in themselves too — just as Christy and Pam did. They will be dearly missed and forever appreciated by our TCS community.

More Photos!

The event raised approximately $26,000 in funds for TCS thanks to donors, ticket sales, and proceeds from our silent auction.

All of us at The Children's School would like to extend our heartfelt appreciation for those who worked so hard to make our 20th Anniversary celebration a success:

  • Chairs Anna Knight, Allison Maloney, and Rachel Stark

  • Speakers Daniel Ryan, Gloria Mitchell, David Novak, and Michelle Candelaria-Dunstan

  • Emcee Mickey Sweeney

  • Volunteer team: Laurie Christofano, Kiersten Essenpries, Tara Lattanzi, Kirsten Mallik, Kyle Maloney, Elle Morton, Mickey Sweeney

  • Everyone who donated items to the silent auction and raffles

If you missed our Bash, but would still like to make a special donation to commemorate our 20th Anniversary, please click the button below:


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