Donald Abernathy, 6th Grade Math
Don was born in North Carolina but grew up in South Chicagoland and attended Whitney Young Magnet High School. He then went to North Central College (1999-2003) in Naperville, IL, where he majored in Psychology with a minor in Professional Conflict Resolution. Before entering the field of education, he worked as a job coach for differently abled adults at a non-profit organization in Blue Island. Don attended St. Xavier University (2009-2011) to obtain a Master's Degree in Elementary Education with a Middle School Math Endorsement and taught his first 3 years in Roseland. After two years at public districts in the south suburbs he is excited to return to Roseland and especially to work at Chicago Collegiate with such a supportive, welcoming staff!
harrison baker, principal in residence
Harrison is a native of Prince George’s County, Maryland, and a graduate of Bucknell University where he majored in Business Management with a concentration in finance, and a minor in Religious Studies. After graduating, Harrison worked as an Investment Bank Analyst for JPMorgan Chase; however, his passion for urban education lead him to a drastic career change. Harrison joined the 2012 Cohort of Philadelphia Teaching Fellows and is excited to continue his service to students and families at Chicago Collegiate. Outside of work, Harrison enjoys cycling, reading, and spending time with his family.
Maddie Basil, Executive Assistant
Maddie grew up in the Twin Cities and then spent six years completing two programs through the University of Notre Dame - an Undergraduate degree and a Masters of Education. In her Masters program, Maddie was living and teaching 5th grade in Peoria, Illinois. She decided to move to Chicago following graduation and is ecstatic about pursing her passion of education in a new way - a Network role at Chicago Collegiate. Maddie loves the core value of Pride and believes in all actions that make you are proud of those actions and yourself. In Maddie’s spare time, she loves photography, visiting her family in Minnesota, and trying new hobbies.
Shreya Baxi, Dean of Students
After growing up in the suburbs of Chicago, Shreya attended the University of Missouri where she double majored in magazine journalism and psychology. Upon graduating, she joined Teach for America's 2009 corps and taught preschool in a Head Start classroom. During this time, Shreya also obtained her Master's in Early Childhood Education, and was nominated for Teach for America's Sue Lehmann Excellence in Teaching Award for her work in the classroom. She then spent two years working for Teach for America's recruitment team but was thrilled to return to the classroom as a founding fourth grade reading teacher here at Chicago Collegiate. She absolutely loves the energy and humor of her students. Shreya's favorite part of working at Chicago Collegiate is having the opportunity to shape the school culture and the reading program as the school grows and evolves.
Enjema Beckley, 9th Grade History
Enjema Beckley is the daughter of a corporate salesman turned career educator from the south suburbs of Chicago (Markham). Throughout her life education was always the main focus in the household. While attending Loyola University Chicago Enjema discovered her passion for youth will working as a youth mentor at H.O.W. (Housing opportunities for women) in Chicago's Howard community. Enjema graduated from Loyola with a Bachelor’s degree in psychology. She eventually joined teach for America and as a 2014 corp member she taught Geography and Histories of the World, Economics and dual credit psychology to youth in Indianapolis's south side. She then moved back to Illinois and worked as a Job Coach working with high schoolers in Chicago Public Schools helping them find and maintain employment. Now she is returning to the classroom and her true loves of youth education and history and is excited to be part of the Chicago Collegiate Team!
Tiffany Booker, 7th Grade Math
Tiffany Booker was born and raised on the Southside of Chicago. As the second eldest of seven children in a single parent household, she always dreamed of becoming a teacher. Ms. Booker earned a Bachelor's degree in Biological Sciences from the University of Chicago. After college, she decided to start her teaching career in New Orleans, Louisiana where she lived for four years. In 2012, she decided to come back home to Chicago and became a founding 9th grade Algebra teacher at Hansberry College Prep. Ms. Booker’s favorite part about working at Chicago Collegiate is preparing her students for high school math.
Tikkara Cooper, Operations Manager
Tikkara is a native of the Southside of Chicago. She attended DeVry Advantage Academy High School and graduated from Syracuse University in New York with a Bachelors Degree in International Relations and Advertising. After graduation, she completed a fellowship with the University of Chicago’s Urban Education Department, teaching math at Chicago Vocational Career Academy to freshman and sophomore students. She then moved to Istanbul, Turkey for the summer to develop the English curriculum at an early development school. Upon her return, she landed in Operations and has been in this specific sector ever since. She is passionate about equitable and quality educational resources and attainment for low-income, black and brown students.
Beth Degnan, Director of College Counseling
Beth grew up in Kansas City and completed her Bachelor’s degree at the University of Denver, studying psychology and music. She then moved to Boston to earn her Master’s in Counseling Psychology from Boston College. Beth is a licensed school counselor who began her career at Cristo Rey Boston High School where she served for just over nine years as Director of Counseling & Wellness and then as the school’s Principal. Beth is excited to be in Chicago, closer to family, and she’s thrilled to return to her passion of counseling and supporting students to and through college!
Shannon Donnelly, Chief Operating Officer
Shannon Donnelly grew up primarily in Long Beach, IN, and attended college at Princeton University, where she graduated with a degree in Politics and a certificate in Political Economy. She began her career in education reform and nonprofit employment as a Project 55 summer intern, working at KIPP Foundation in San Francisco after her sophomore year. In her senior year, Shannon began working for Teach For America as a campus recruiter, and after graduation she moved to Washington DC and joined full-time staff at Teach For America. She worked there for over twelve years on operations for teacher training. Shannon moved back to northwest Indiana in October 2013, settling in Chesterton near her family, and in March 2016, she joined the Chicago Collegiate team. She is the proud mother of two young girls and now gets to experience the public school system from the parent perspective. Shannon is beyond excited to be at Chicago Collegiate where she can work towards educational equity and expanding opportunities for all students on a local level.
Kendra Epstein, 7th and 8th Grade Reading Specialist
Kendra graduated from Denison University with a degree in History. Following graduation, she joined an AmeriCorps program called City Year which brought her back to her native New York. She supported a fifth grade classroom and helped run an afterschool program in East New York where she discovered a passion helping students see their potential. She served a second year with City Year New York as a team leader, helping coach a team of ten young adults to benefit their own classrooms. Realizing how much she missed being in the classroom she joined Teach For American in Chicago. Chicago Collegiate is her TFA placement school and she is excited to learn and grow with the school!
Daniella Espinoza, 9th Grade Biology
Daniella Espinoza grew up in the Little Village neighborhood of Chicago. She attended Eckerd College in Saint Petersburg, Florida, where obtained her Bachelor's Degree in Biology and minors in Psychology and Spanish. Ms. Espinoza is currently working towards earning her Master of Arts in Teaching with Relay Graduate School of Education. Prior to joining Chicago Collegiate, Ms. Espinoza taught 9th grade Environmental Science and was a College Counselor at Golder College Prep. Ms. Espinoza is beyond excited to be a part of the Chicago Collegiate family!
Elle Fabian, Student Support Services Coordinator and Social Worker
Elle grew up in Milwaukee, WI before she moved a few hours west to complete her Bachelor's degree from the University of Wisconsin in Madison (Go Badgers!) in English. After spending a year teaching in Chicago, she moved to Philadelphia to earn her Masters in Social Work from the University of Pennsylvania. As much as she loved Philly, the Midwest, and Chicago Collegiate, were calling her back! Ms. Fabian is zesty about football, trying new foods, and reading a good book. Her favorite core value is Pride - she likes to show Pride by having a positive attitude and performing random acts of kindness. Her favorite thing about working at Chicago Collegiate is the close relationships she's built with coworkers.
Amy Follett, 8th Grade English Language Arts
Amy is an 8th Grade ELA teacher at Chicago Collegiate. She grew up in Madison, WI and graduated from UW Madison (Go Badgers!) with a dual major in Political Science and Legal Studies. After graduation, she taught middle school reading in Indianapolis Public Schools with Teach For America and 9th grade reading in Chicago. She has also worked with Chicago Public School parents as a community organizer with Stand for Children. Amy is so excited to be back in the classroom! Her favorite thing about Collegiate is being able to instill her love of reading in her students!
Carly Goldberg, 4th Grade Nonfiction Studies (Science and Social Studies)
Carly is a graduate of the University of Michigan Ann Arbor (Go Blue!). At the University, she studied Environmental Science and Economics. She also taught 4th Grade Spanish at the nearby elementary school. After graduating, she joined Teach for America. She taught 6th-8th Grade Science in Chicago Public Schools before joining onto the Chicago Collegiate Team in 2013. At Collegiate, she LOVES teaching Science. Her favorite science topics are geology and ecology. The best part about working at Collegiate is the zest found in all facets of the school: lessons, school-wide incentives, staff meetings, and classrooms. In her free time, she enjoys playing volleyball, cheering on Michigan sports, hanging out with her family and friends, and riding her bike.
Ashley Hegwood, Assistant Principal
Ashley Hegwood is a Chicago native, born and raised on the south side of Chicago. She attended Sutherland Elementary School in Beverly and is a graduate of Morgan Park High School. Ashley attended the University of Chicago where she earned her BA in Biology and MA in the Art of Teaching. After college, Ashley taught at Barton Elementary and Dodge School of Excellence on the south and west side of Chicago. She then ventured into school leadership, working as the MTSS Coordinator at Marquette School of Excellence on Chicago's south side. Ashley has been a CPS educator for almost a decade and her service to the students of Chicago continues at Chicago Collegiate. Ashley is most excited about helping children and families realize their full potential. She is enthusiastic about working with the teachers, staff, and families of Chicago Collegiate.
Taylor Holley, 8th Grade Reading
Taylor Holley is an 8th grade-reading instructor at Chicago collegiate Charter school. She cultivated her love of reading and writing at Columbia College Chicago where she still occasionally studies in the library. She loves the smell of books and freshly sharpened number two pencils. She has a passion for helping students become life long learners and is committed to the mission of Chicago Collegiate!
Austen Huigens, 6th Grade English Language Arts
Austen Huigens studied Modern Languages and Teaching English as a Second Language at Beloit College in Wisconsin. She obtained her Masters degree in Education while teaching in Harlem and the Central Bronx. After graduate school, she moved back to her hometown of Chicago to teach 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade in Gary, IN. After another 3 years as a Family Engagement Supervisor, Ms. Huigens is thrilled to be teaching English Language Arts at CCCS. Ms. Huigens loves great literature, foreign films, and art museums. Her favorite part about teaching at Collegiate is how reflective her students are about their own learning abilities and personal growth.
Kathleen Leahy, 7th Grade English Language Arts
Kathleen Leahy grew up in and around Chicagoland. After obtaining a BA in Creative Writing from Loyola University Chicago, her social justice journey took her to Walterboro, SC where she taught 7th grade ELA for three years through Teach for America. After obtaining her Master’s Degree in Education, she moved back to Chicago and began working with Collegiate and Team CollegeBound in Summer 2016. Ms. Leahy is overjoyed to be back home in Chicago, where she can cheer on the Bears and enjoy her favorite food- deep dish! Her favorite part about teaching at Collegiate is observing scholars interact with their world and one another through their thoughtful annotations of text.
Eve Lipton, 7th Grade Math
Eve grew up in the Chicago suburbs and in Pittsburgh, PA. After graduating from DePaul University with a bachelor's degree in Mathematics, she moved to San Diego, where she earned a master's degree in mathematics from the University of California. Upon earning her degree, Eve returned to Chicago where she worked as a textbook editor for 5 years. She missed interacting with students and seeing their individual growth, so she returned to the classroom. Because her love of mathematics education could be best expressed working with grade school students, Eve is completing a master's degree in math education. In her free time, she spends time with her family, including two cats, and finds math problems to share with her students. Eve's favorite part about Chicago Collegiate is the passion for learning shared by staff and scholars.
Lauren Murdock, 5th Grade Writing
Lauren Murdock comes to Chicago Collegiate as a Chicago native with a strong passion for education equality. During her undergraduate career, she studied Political Science with a minor in Community Action and Social Change at the University of Michigan. Upon graduating, Ms. Murdock pursued her passion in education by joining Teach for America’s Chicago corps. Ms. Murdock has taught 5th, 6th, and 2nd graders while in the Chicago Public School system on the South and West side. One of her most rewarding aspects of working at Chicago Collegiate is being able to see the amazing growth in the school as well as each student individually. Her favorite part about working at Chicago Collegiate is the tremendous amount of pride that staff and students show for all members of our family.
Beverly Nicholson, Paraprofessional
Beverly Nicholson was born and raised in Chicago, IL. She attended Chicago State University and earned her Bachelor and Master’s Degrees in Criminal Justice from Kaplan University. While working on her Master’s Degree, Beverly worked at the Cook County Department of Corrections. Beverly returned to the education field, where she has over 30 years’ experience working as a behavior specialist, paraprofessional, substitute teacher and scholar success advocate (assistant dean). She joined Chicago Collegiate in August. Her favorite part of Chicago Collegiate is being part of a great team that provides students with a foundation for a college education and educates students to be creative, critical thinkers, and responsible citizens at school, home and in the community.
Stephanie Niro, 6th Grade Nonfiction
Stephanie grew up in the suburbs of Chicago, and attended college at Miami University where she graduated with a double major in Theatre and History in 2014. Upon graduating she moved back to Chicago and worked as a teaching artist where she taught integrated Theatre Arts in Visual Art and English classrooms as well as after school programs across the city. In 2016 Stephanie joined the Teach For America in Chicago. She is thrilled to be working at Chicago Collegiate and is looking forward to working with the incredible staff and families. In her free time she enjoys reading, biking along the lake shore, trying new places to eat, and spending time with family and friends.
Kelsea Noone, 4th Grade Math
Kelsea is the 4th grade math teacher at Chicago Collegiate. She attended the University of Arizona and majored in Molecular and Cellular Biology and Psychology. After college, she joined Teach for America's 2014 corps and taught 4th, 5th and 6th grade math and science. During her time with the corps, Kelsea worked in the Roseland community for two years and earned her Master's Degree from Dominican University in teaching. Kelsea is passionate about making math fun even when it's challenging and positioning students to feel empowered when they are solving problems! She is also very excited to coach Chicago Collegiate's first Lego Robotics team! She loves to listen to music, hang out with friends and family, explore the city, occasionally call in to radio stations and sleep on her free time. Her favorite thing about Chicago Collegiate is working with a strong and supportive team and passing on her love for math to her wonderful scholars!
Predrag Obradovic, Physical Education
Predrag was born and raised in Serbia. He graduated from Belgrade University with a degree in Health and Physical Education. He competed with his national karate team and is a three-time medal winner. In 2006, he came to the U.S. and worked with the most decorated karate athletes in U.S.history and helped the U.S. national team prepare for the world championship. He eventually settled in Chicago and has been teaching physical education and coaching martial arts in Chicago for the last eight years. He loves teaching and is excited to start a physical education and martial arts program at Chicago Collegiate.
Ellie Phillips, 5th Grade Reading
Ellie Phillips graduated from Indiana University in 2005 and was a founding 4th grade teacher at West Gary Lighthouse Charter School. She taught 3rd and 4th grade for 6 years at West Gary before transitioning into the Director of Student Services role for 2 years. Ellie also completed the Reading Specialist Program at DePaul University earning a MEd in 2012. She has a love of teaching reading and is extremely excited to be teaching 5th grade reading at Chicago Collegiate Charter School. Her favorite part of working at Chicago Collegiate is working with students and staff that are all excited about learning and becoming better at what they do!
Eric Rosecrants, Director, Talent & Marketing
Eric grew up in Zanesville, Ohio, and graduated from Ohio University's Scripps School of Journalism with a degree in News Writing & Editing and a specialization in Political Science. While in college, he was a proud member of the Marching 110, Ohio University's marching band. He travels back to campus each fall for Homecoming, an opportunity for him to meet up with lifelong friends and break out his trombone once again. After receiving his degree, Eric joined Teach For America as a corps member teaching eighth-grade English in the Bronx for three years. He then moved to Orlando, Florida, joining full-time staff at Teach For America where he would spend nearly eight years pursuing a variety of operations, finance, and communications roles. Before moving to Chicago he made a brief three-year pit stop in Washington D.C. Eric joined the Chicago Collegiate team in the 2017 summer and loves being back around the buzz and brilliant energy of a school each day.
Andrew Schaefer, 7th and 8th Grade Science
Andrew is a proud graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he double majored in History and Geography. After college, he successfully completed the Denver Teacher Residency program while earning his Master of Arts in Curriculum and Instruction. After teaching for three years in Denver Public Schools, he could not be happier to be a part of the Chicago Collegiate Charter School team teaching content he is passionate about. His absolute favorite thing about Chicago Collegiate is the people, students and staff alike. He is grateful to work alongside such an incredibly talented and dedicated team serving an energetic group of zesty students.
Julia Schrier, 8th Grade Math
Julia graduated from Mount Marty College in Yankton, South Dakota with B.A in Mathematics and Secondary Education. Teach for America brought her to Chicago and she has been teaching in the south side of Chicago for the past two years. She has her Masters in Teaching with an emphasis in Secondary Mathematics through Relay GSE. Julia has a passion and love for mathematics that is evident in her teaching. Her favorite part of working at Chicago Collegiate is being a part of the amazing team here! She loves the people she works with and is constantly feeling appreciated and supported by her team.
Ebony Scott, Director, Community Engagement
Ebony Scott was born and raised in Chicago and is very proud of this fact. She attended high school at Loyola Academy and studied Urban & Regional Planning at Michigan State University. She began her public sector career as a staffer for an Alderman on the West Side of Chicago. This experience solidified her life long commitment to working to improve the quality of life for people of color in Chicago. She enjoys doing work that blends her love of politics with her passion for developing the leadership of young people and building strong coalitions. After leaving her role at the City of Chicago, Ebony later went on to work for Public Allies for a number of years where she managed all aspects of organization and it’s programs. She has also worked on the Alumni Affairs team at Teach for America and as the Coalition Director for One Chance Illinois. She is the proud parent of Thaddeus. When not working she and Thaddeus can be found playing with his impressive collection of Transformers and Legos.
Trey Taylor, Paraprofessional
Native to the South Side of Chicago, Trey comes to us from Dartmouth with a love of working with children and a passion for helping the youth. He has done work at his neighborhood church, Dixon Elementary, and Gary Comer College Prep, His favorite part about working at Chicago Collegiate is helping students who were once in his shoes know that life is bigger than the South Side and that they have the potential to do whatever they set their minds to.
Gretchen Thomas, Paraprofessional
Gretchen was born and raised on the south side of Chicago. She attended Mississippi Valley State University and Argosy University with a major in Psychology and minor in Child Development. She has a passion and love for children. She has held positions in case management and human resources but somehow always ended up doing what she enjoyed the most and that is working with children. Gretchen has worked for CPS, YMCA of Metro Chicago and Catalyst Charter School system. What she enjoys most about Chicago Collegiate Charter School is that every one shares the same vision for our children and that is instilling the value of education and that success is not easy but definitely obtainable.
Cassie VanAcker, Learning Specialist
Cassie graduated from the University of Michigan (Go Blue!) with a degree in Kinesiology. After graduating, she joined an Americorps program called City Year in which she worked to support middle school students with tutoring and behavior coaching. Following City Year, she continued with Americorps and joined Teach for America. Chicago Collegiate is her TFA placement school and she could not be happier with it! When not at school, Cassie enjoys cooking, traveling, and reading. Her favorite thing about Chicago Collegiate is how friendly and welcoming the staff is.
Sarah Walker, Director, Academic Program & Support
After graduating from Indiana University with a B.A. in journalism and political science, Sarah taught high school writing and English in Harlem as a Teach For America corps member. After her first class of students graduated, she moved on to train, coach, and support new teachers as a program director for Teach For America—New York. Missing the classroom, she went back to teach 6th and 8th grade writing at KIPP:Infinity Middle School in New York City. Outside her classroom, Sarah led KIPP:NYC’s middle school writing teachers in creating and implementing a common writing assessment system and building a continuum of excellent student writing. She has also taught at the graduate level with Relay Graduate School of Education as an Adjunct Professor in Secondary Literacy in New York and most recently as an Assistant Professor of Practice in Chicago. Sarah loves being a part of the Chicago College team, working alongside the incredibly talented and dedicated teachers who work to ensure ALL of our hard-working, zesty, and thoughtful students are on the path to and through college!
Kirsten Winston, Social Worker
Kirsten was born and raised on the north side of Chicago. She went away to Halifax, Nova Scotia in Canada for her first year of college because she thought she wanted to be a marine biologist but realized she hated science and being so far from home. She finished her undergraduate degree at University of Illinois at Chicago to be a teacher. After teaching for a year and subbing for four years, she went back to school to Jane Addams at UIC to get her Masters in Social Work to be a school social worker. Since finishing her masters she has worked at alternative high schools with older high school students and is excited to work with younger students and high school students. Since getting married, she has lived on the south side of Chicago with her husband and four daughters.
Ivy Woods, Administrative Assistant
Ivy graduated from Illinois State University in 2002, with a Bachelor of Science in Applied Science and Technology. She has also recently completed an Executive Certificate in Business Administration through the University of Notre Dame, Mendoza College of Business. Having recently relocated back to Illinois from California, after living life as a Military Spouse for 3 years, Ivy joined Chicago Collegiate, ready to dive in and embark on a new school year with the Pride. In her spare time, Ivy enjoys shopping, writing, developing new cooking ideas/techniques and spending quality time with friends and family. Her favorite part of working at Chicago Collegiate is the fulfillment she gets from seeing smiles on students and parents faces each day. As much as they learn from her, she learns from them!