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Welcome to our new staff!
Welcome to our new staff!
Faith Behr
Monday, September 09, 2019

A number of new staff members joined Salt Creek District 48 family this year, the result of retirements and resignations. Please join us in welcoming them to our schools.

 

Mary Cahill

Pre-K Teacher

Salt Creek Primary

Cahill worked as an early childhood teacher in the Villa Park School District 45 for 11 years and tutored home bound special needs students in District 45. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood with Special Education concentration from Elmhurst College and a Master of Arts in Teaching and Leadership from St. Xavier University.

When and why did you decide to become an educator?

I always knew I wanted to teach from the time I was a young child. I enjoyed working with infants, toddlers and young children so I chose early childhood. My classroom experiences led me to pursue a career working with special needs and at-risk students.

What do you like most about teaching?

Working with children and their families and seeing the amazing amount one can grow and learn while having fun. Every year is a new group of students, which presents new challenges and experiences so I’m always learning as well.

What interests do you explore outside of the classroom?

Anything I can do with my children and family! I love reading and working out in my free time.

Best advice?

To be flexible! It’s always changing.

How would you like your students to remember you?

As someone who cares deeply about them and a teacher who made learning fun! I’d love to help them begin on a path to a lifelong love of learning.

Lauren Cho

Speech/Language Pathologist Assistant/Special Education Assistant

Salt Creek Primary, Swartz Intermediate

Cho served as a Behavorial Interventionist for Easter Seals in Anaheim, CA. and for two private practices. She recently moved to Illinois and worked as a Paraeducator in Des Plaines. She has a Bachelor's of Arts in Communicative Disorders from California State University-Fullerton. In addition, during college, she was an ESL tutor for international students.

 When and why did you decide to become an educator?

During undergrad, I knew I wanted to help people, especially those with special needs. I discovered the field of communication disorders and fell in love with the idea of advocating for those who are not heard. Every individual is of value and has a right to be heard.

What do you like most about teaching?

I enjoy being able to teach students how to be independent, communicate effectively, and support them to be successful in multiple areas.

What interests do you explore outside of the classroom?

Swimming, music, playing board games and anything outdoors. 

Best advice?

It's a marathon not a sprint. Enjoy every step of the learning process even the slow and awkward parts, not just for students, but for you too.

 How would you like your students to remember you?

I hope that they would remember me as someone they respect, someone they can trust, and someone who really cares for them.

Kathleen Cummane

Special Education Learning Behavior Specialist

Albright Middle

Cummane taught 2nd grade in Berkeley School District 87, 6th grade in West Harvey Dixmoor District 147, and served as a STEM enrichment instructor at the Center for Talent Development, Northwestern University. She has a Bachelor’s in English from Eastern Illinois University, Master's in Education with a Special Education endorsement from the University of St. Francis.           

When and why did you decide to become an educator?

I decided to become a teacher when I was working as a tutor. I really enjoyed helping kids find academic success. 

What do you like most about teaching?

I love helping students succeed and watching their faces light up when they experience success.

What interests do you explore outside of the classroom?

Bike riding, Bocce Ball, spending time with family and friends.

 Best advice?

Be flexible and open to new ideas and strategies.

How would you like your students to remember you?

As someone that has encouraged them to be individuals and think for themselves.

Heather Guidice

4th Grade Teacher

Swartz Intermediate

Guidice worked the last nine years as a teacher in Lyons District 103 and as a math interventionist. She also served on the building leadership team, MTSS team and the PBIS team, coached the cheerleading team and co-chaired the Yearbook Club. She has a Bachelor’s of Arts in Elementary Education from Northeastern Illinois University and later receiving an ESL endorsement from the University of St. Francis. She is currently pursuing a Masters of Science in Teaching and Learning from the University of St Francis.

When and why did you decide to become an educator?

It is the job I just always knew I was meant to do. I am a nurturer. It is who I am and teaching fulfills all the passions I could ever dream of.

What do you like most about teaching?

The thing I love most is that every year is a new adventure. Each year I have a new group of students with a new dynamic to work with and it's impossible to be bored.

What interests do you explore outside of the classroom?

I spend most of my time with my three young children. We are taking walks, playing at the park, visiting the zoo or swimming at the local pools.

Best advice?

Not to be too hard on myself. Some things are out of our control and I have to remember that my best is enough.

How would you like your students to remember you?

I hope my students remember me as a teacher who took an interest in them and their passions; someone who tried to make learning fun and always had the best intentions for her students.


Erin Hewitt

5th and 6th grade Math Teacher

Albright Middle

Hewitt taught 7th grade math part-time at Albright for the second half of the school year. Prior to that, she taught College Algebra at Dominican University and middle school math at schools in Arlington Heights and Algonquin. In addition to teaching, she has served as Student Council sponsor and swim team assistant coach.

She has a Bachelor's of Arts in Mathematics and Secondary Education from the University of Iowa and a Master's in Curriculum and Instruction from National Louis.

When and why did you decide to become an educator?

I struggled with math at times, and I had a few teachers that gave me the extra help I needed to be successful. These teachers made math fun and taught me that everyone can learn math if they are willing to try. I decided to become a teacher because I absolutely love helping my students see that math makes sense.

What do you like most about teaching?

Getting to know my students as individuals and as learners. I also love how every day is different!

What interests do you explore outside of the classroom?

I like to swim, spend time with my family, and read.

Best advice?

"You don't have to create everything on your own".

How would you like your students to remember you?

I hope my students remember me as someone who cared about them and made learning math fun.

 

Marissa Jurgutis

3rd grade teacher

Swartz Intermediate

 

Jurgutis has previously taught 1st grade at Brook Forest in Oak Brook as a long-term substitute and as a reading interventionist for grades K-3 at a school in Ohio. A college level athlete, she has also coached girls basketball at Butler Jr. High School and worked as a summer camp counselor and director for the Itasca Park District.

She has a Bachelor’s in Elementary Education from Augustana College, where she played varsity basketball all four years, earning All-Academic and All-Conference. She was also named one of the top 10 leading scorers list of all time at Augustana.

 When and why did you decide to become a teacher?

As a second semester freshman, I took a course called Introductions to Vocations and read a book “Let Your Life Speak,” by Parker J. Palmer. As I read and reflected on my childhood experiences of what I naturally enjoyed doing as "play" (free from the thought of money and career). I couldn't help but think back to my childhood bedroom; where I had a white board, chalk board, and cork board hanging on my wall. It was the place where I would make my little brother and friends my "students" and teach them math facts and spelling for fun. I loved to play school! After that, I started connecting little life moments from my past which would only point me towards a career in teaching; in high school, my senior project was about how to best teach students with ADD and ADHD.

What do you like most about teaching?

 “My favorite thing is the energy and enthusiasm that children bring to the classroom. Kids have such an excitement for learning which fuels me every day. I love getting to know all my students individually and seeing my students grow in knowledge, confidence, and skills.”

What interests do you explore outside of the classroom?

I love to be active by exercising and playing sports. I also love spending time with my family.

Best advice?

Mistakes are how we learn and how kids learn too! So don't be afraid to apologize to your students when you make mistakes. Always trust your instincts and do not be afraid to do your own thing in order to meet the needs of your students. 

How would you like your students to remember you?

As a teacher who made a difference in their education; A teacher who cared deeply about each student and took the time to listen and make them feel important; One who challenged them and helped them develop confidence in themselves as life-long learners.

 

Allison Stoner

Occupational Therapist

Salt Creek Primary, Swartz Intermediate, Albright Middle

 

Stoner served as an occupational therapist at Easter Seals Academy in Chicago for 3 years and prior to that worked in two outpatient clinics. She has a Bachelor's of Science in Biology and Psychology from Augustana College where she was captain of the Equestrian Team and a Masters of Science in Occupational Therapy from University of Illinois at Chicago.

When and why did you decide to become an OT?

I knew I wanted a career where I worked with people. I was also very good at math and science. My mom worked for a non-profit and she set me up to shadow their speech therapist and occupational therapist.

I loved how OT helped kids learn new functional skills that they used in their everyday life.

What do you like most about role?

Working with the students and seeing them make progress!

What interests do you explore outside of the classroom?

I play a lot with my toddler, and I enjoy yoga and riding horses. We also love to travel and enjoy spending time as a family at the beach.

What's the best advice you received about being a teacher?

Always remember the why. Why are you teaching that skill? How will it help the student long term?

 

How would you like your students to remember you?

As the fun, kind person who helped them learn things they have trouble with.

Katelyn Strom

School Nurse

Salt Creek Primary, Swartz Intermediate, Albright Middle

Before joining District 48, Strom was a school nurse in Lombard District 44. Prior to that she served as a fertility nurse for nine years. She has a Bachelor's of Science in Nursing from Bradley University and a certificate in school nursing from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

When and why did you decide to become a school nurse?

 After talking to a friend who was a school nurse I immediately started looking into it and I'm so glad I did! It's been such a rewarding experience being around students and working in a school.

What do you like most about your role?

I love being around kids and families and educating them about different health topics.

What interests do you explore outside of the classroom?

I enjoy going on walks, playing beach volleyball, and spending time with family and friends.

What's the best advice you received about being a teacher?

In addition to getting to know the students it's also important to get to know their family.

How would you like your students to remember you?

I want the students to feel comfortable coming to talk to me about anything.

  

Clare Thomas

8th Grade Math Teacher & Math Specialist

Swartz, Albright

 

Thomas taught 7th grade math for 14 years at Elm Middle School in Elmwood Park where she sponsored the math club and coached cross country. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Secondary Mathematics from DePaul University where she was named Outstanding Senior Leader and received the Monsignor John Egan Award for Outstanding Leadership. In addition to work, she is an avid volunteer, working with organizations such as Harley Helping Hands (raises funds for adults with brain cancer), Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation (raises funds to support research), and SPRED (a group through the Archdiocese of Chicago for adults with developmental disabilities.)

When and why did you decide to become an educator?

I had the same math teacher for 5th-8th grade who inspired me to pursue the profession. I wanted to help students experience success in the same way my teacher helped me and my peers achieve it.

What do you like most about teaching?

I like helping students become more self confident and independent in their learning.

What interests do you explore outside of the classroom?

I enjoy reading and running.

Best advice?

Fostering positive relationships with students is the best way to help them learn.

How would you like your students to remember you?

I would like my students to remember my class as one they genuinely enjoyed attending every day because I created an engaging environment that was safe for them to ask questions and make mistakes. I want my students to remember that I would always put in the extra time and effort to help them be successful.

 

William Yung

Grade 8 Social Studies & ELA

Albright Middle

 

Yung served as an 8th grade English Language Arts teacher in District 60, a Humanities teacher in Bahrain and Humanities teacher and secondary Teaching Librarian in China. Prior to joining the profession, he was an attorney with the Illinois Attorney General, was the State's Attorney Appellate prosecutor and served in a private law practice in Beijing, China. He earned two Bachelors of Arts Degrees from the University of Illinois at Chicago, Juris Doctorate from Loyola University Chicago, Masters of Law from Peking University and Masters in Teaching from University of Southern California. During his time teaching, he coached badminton and gymnastics, debate and scholastic bowl.

When and why did you decide to become an educator?

I transitioned to education after taking a legal advisor role in China, teaching U.S. law and helping young lawyers understand the reasoning behind legal constructs. However, it wasn't until I started teaching middle school students that I found my calling. The combination of enthusiasm and creativity continually sparks optimism for a future that holds endless possibilities. While some label it naivety, I have seen young people impact the world around us in positive and powerful ways.

What do you like most about teaching?

Everything. 

What interests do you explore outside of the classroom?

I have a beautiful family that equally loves traveling, volunteering, learning about cultures and cheering on the Bears.

Best advice

Learn to learn first, then learn to teach.

How would you like your students to remember you?

Someone who cared deeply about them, their education and who they are becoming.

 

Kristy Scholtes

Social worker

Salt Creek Primary, Swartz Intermediate

Scholtes has experience as a school social worker in Downers Grove and Plainfield and has also served as a therapist for children and adolescents. She has a Bachelor’s in Psychology from Elmhurst College and Masters of Social Work from University of Illinois at Chicago.

When and why did you decide to become a social worker?

I love being able to help both children and their families.

What do you like most about your role?

I love helping children learn to be successful in school and helping them manage their emotions in school and learn social skills to connect and make friendships.

What interests do you explore outside of the classroom?

I love family time at home, playing games, cooking dinner together and reading.

How would you like your students to remember you?

I would like them to remember that I was always there for them, that I was a good listener and I could help them problem solve.

 

Lauren Rein

Kindergarten teacher

Salt Creek Primary

 

Rein comes to Salt Creek following a career in the private school sector, most recently as a preschool teacher at St. Cletus School and as a Kindergarten teacher at St. Joan of Arc School. She also served as a track coach at Nazareth Academy and Girls on the Run coach at St. Cletus School. She has a Bachelor's in Elementary Education from Carroll University, where she was on the indoor and outdoor track teams.

 

When and why did you decide to become an educator?

I love being able to watch each student grow from the beginning of the year to the end of the school year!

 

Kayla Nykiel

Special Education Resource Teacher

Swartz Intermediate School 

Nykiel was a long-term substitute in special education in Darien. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Special Education/Elementary Education from Lewis University.

When and why did you decide to become an educator?

Ever since I was little, I wanted to become a teacher. I knew teachers help students gain new knowledge, become interested in different subjects and develop creativity. Teachers nurture students and help them develop the necessary skills and talents to lead productive lives.

What do you like most about your role?

I like to see my students grow, learn, and accomplish their goals they have set for themselves.

What interests do you explore outside of the classroom?

Getting out and going for a walk or a hike, professional development to learn more about different topics, baking and cooking.

Best advice

At the end of the day, it doesn't matter how fancy your room looks, or how awesome your lesson plan is, it is about how you as a teacher interact and get to know your students because they will remember you if you spend the time to get to know them and to make learning fun.

How would you like your students to remember you?

I would like my students to remember that I helped them achieve their full potentials and inspired them to become better human beings.