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Meet the Fresh New Faces Helping to Develop Young Minds in Elmhurst Unit District 205

On the job for more than a month now, it's about time we introduce you to the new District 205 hires.

Elmhurst Patch wants to introduce the 48 teachers and support staff who have joined Elmhurst District 205 this year. We had them provide a little background about themselves at the beginning of the year, and here's what they said (in alphabetical order):

Rita Blaiszik

Position: speech language pathologist, Emerson Elementary School
Education: bachelor's degree from University of Illinois, master's degree from Northern Illinois University
Previous job: Urbana School District 116
She is most excited about: working with the students, families and staff at Emerson. "I love speech and language," she said.

Angie Bowen

Position: kindergarten teacher, Jackson Elementary School
Education: bachelor's degree in elementary education from Indiana University
Previous job: Hamilton Southeastern Schools (Fishers, Ind.)
She is most excited: to meet her students

Serena Briggs

Position: math teacher at York High School, freshman albegra A-B, senior pre-calculus honors, algebra help
Education: bachelor's degree in math from Illinois State University, master's degree in math education from DePaul University
Previous job: teacher at Glenbard South High School and College of DuPage
She is most excited about: "Getting to know my students, helping them to see that everyone can learn math, meeting them where they are and taking them to the next level, wherever/whatever it will be for them. I am very excited to help my seniors feel comfortable with college-level math and get them ready for success post graduation. And for my freshmen, I look forward to easing their transition to high school and motivating them for a great four years at York."

Denise Byrne

Position: Speech-language pathologist, Madison Early Childhood Center and Hawthorne Elementary School
Education: bachelor's and master's degrees from Illinois State University
Previous job: N/A
She is most excited about: "working with children with a variety of strengths and needs and helping them reach their full potential."

Corinne Fagan

Position: fourth-grade teacher at Lincoln Elementary School
Education: bachelor's degree in communication disorders and master's degree in elementary education from Truman State University
Previous job: Champaign Unit School District 4
She is most excited about: "working with the families and the staff at Lincoln. I got hired late in the summer and I had so many people helping me out in a variety of ways. It's such a wonderful community to be a part of."

Linda Fehrenbacher

Position: Principal of Jefferson Elementary School
Education: bachelor's degree in elementary education from University of Illinois at Chicago, master's degree in education from University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Previous job: taught 16 years in Flossmoor District 161, served five years as assistant principal in School District 303 in St. Charles, and served as principal for one year in Maywood School District 89
She is most excited about: "I am very excited to meet the students, parents and staff, and begin our school year at Jefferson."

Jennifer Figiel

Position: Spanish teacher at York High School, levels 2, 3 and 3 honors
Education: bachelor's degree in Spanish from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Previous job: District 118, Wauconda, and in District 205 at Sandburg Middle School
She is most excited about: getting to know her new students and colleagues

Teri Finley

Position: school social work intern, York High School
Education: bachelor's degree from Purdue University, master of social work, Loyola University
Previous job: The Youth Campus at The Community House
She is most excited about: "Learning the details of what a school social worker does first-hand. I am looking forward to getting to know the staff and students. Although I am an intern, I hope to make a difference in the lives of the students I am lucky enough to work with."

Elizabeth Firak

Position: fourth-grade teacher at Hawthorne Elementary School
Education: bachelor's degree in elementary education from Illinois State University
Previous job: educational assistant in Elmhurst District 205
She is most excited about: "getting the opportunity to teach in a great school. I am also excited to see how my students grow and improve as the year goes on."

Kasey Holaday

Position: special education resource, Field Elementary School
Education: bachelor's degree, Illinois State University, learning and behavior specialist
Previous job: Special Education Association of Peoria County, Farmington District 265
She is most excited: "to join the excellent team at Field Elementary School. I look forward to collaborating with the staff and meeting all of the students. I can't wait to start making a difference in students' lives."

Jill Jensen

Position: teacher at Churchville Middle School, seventh-grade pre-algebra, sixth-grade English and seventh-grade social studies
Education: bachelor's degree from Lewis University
Previous job: Pleasantdale Elementary District 107
She is most excited about: getting to know her new students and colleagues.

Don Kasper

Position: teacher at York High School
Education: bachelor's degree in athletic training, certified in physical education, health and drivers education
Previous job: N/A
He is most excited about: getting to know the students and staff.

Mary Klepper

Position: reading specialist at Churchville Middle School
Education: bachelor's degree in elementary education from Purdue University, master's degree in literacy from Benedictine University
Previous job: Schaumburg District 54
She is most excited about: working with the students, teachers and Elmhurst community.

Anne Korzenecki

Position: special education, deaf and hard-of-hearing teacher at York High School
Education: Illinois State University and MacMurray College, bachelor's degree in deaf education
Previous job: School Association for Special Education in DuPage
She is most excited about "working with staff, students and families at York. I'm really excited about becoming a part of this district and the Elmhurst community."

Allison Kuhar

Position: special education grades 1-3, ABC Room, autism unit at Hawthorne Elementary School
Education: bachelor's degree in education, health and human services; intervention specialist for students with moderate/intensive educational needs, Kent State University
Previous job: Garfield Heights City Schools, Garfield Heights, Ohio
She is most excited about: "Working with students with autism is truly a passion of mine. It inspires creativity in me and challenges me to critically think of ways to provide these students with the tools and support they need to be successful. I am very excited to work with this population, as well as my co-workers, who have already shared with me their knowledge and support in working with individuals with autism."

Ashley Kurcz

Position: special education resource at Jefferson Elementary School
Education: bachelor's degree in special education from Lewis University, master's degree in counseling and guidance from Lewis University
Previous job: Oak Park District 97
She is most excited about: "working with my new colleagues and students. I am excited to meet new people and work in Jefferson as a resource teacher. I am ecstatic about my commute. My last two years, I drove an hour and 15 minutes to work every day. Now, employed in District 205, my commute is 15 minutes."

Kathleen Kuziel

Position: reading specialist at Bryan Middle School
Education: bachelor's degree in history from Loyola University, New Orleans; master's degree in teaching, National Lewis University; certificate of advanced studies, reading, Type 75 School Leadership certification, Concordia University
Previous job: literacy coach, Schaumburg District 54
She is most excited about: "working with middle school students to improve academic achievement and be 'high school ready.' I also look forward to being a part of the Elmhurst community."

Ann Lepore

Position: freshman, sophomore and senior level English teacher at York High School
Education: bachelor's degree in special education, University of Illinois, learning and behavior specialist program
Previous job: N/A
She is most excited about: "being in the classroom with students again. Having graduated from York High School, I am also extremely excited about being back at York and having the opportunity to work with some of my former teachers."

Sarah Maluta

Position: special education, math, York High School
Education: bachelor's degree in special education with a minor in math from Eastern Illinois University
Previous job: Rich Township High School District 227
She is most excited about: "teaching in Elmhurst and being a part of the great community that exists here at York High School."

Maria Marotta

Position: art teacher at Emerson Elementary School
Education: K-12 art education, Elmhurst College
Previous job: substitute teacher in District 83 and District 205
She is most excited about: "motivating and connecting with my new students. I can't wait to teach them about the many exciting techniques and materials available to them for art-making, and also inspire them by sharing works from artists and art collections to enhance their understanding and appreciation for the arts."

Patricia Meza

Position: bilingual kindergarten, English language learners grades one through five, Hawthorne Elementary School
Education: bachelor's degree from University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, master's degree in education from Northern Illinois University
She is most excited about: "getting back to work after the summer and servicing a variety of grade levels."

Maureen Mohan

Position: York High School guidance counselor
Education: bachelor's degree from DePauw University, master's degree in counseling and Type 09 teacher certificate from National Louis University
Previous job: Lyons Township High School District 204
She is most excited about: "being able to work with students and their families in the counseling realm of education. I look forward to meeting all of the students on my caseload at York and learning the traditions of the high school."

Karen Mulattieri

Position: coordinator for social studies in grades K-12 and English language learning pre-K through 12
Education: bachelor's degree in education from University of Michigan, emphasis in bilingual education; master's degree in education from Concordia University, emphasis in school administration
Previous job: assistant superintendent at Cicero District 99, principal at Batavia District 101, ISBE division administrator, West Chicago District 33, director
She is most excited about: "the opportunity to incorporate inquiry-based learning into the social studies curriculum and to inspire students to read for a purpose and to develop their own point of view. I am also fortunate to be working in a K-12 district where we can develop a continuum of programs and are able to align instruction. I am working in District 205 at a time when the English language learners population is increasing and am able to work with a dedicated staff to serve the families in the community."

Kathryn Nugent

Position: third-grade teacher at Edison School
Education: teacher certification from Trinity Christian College
Previous job: educational assistant in District 205
She is most excited about: getting to know her new students

Steve Nye

Position: York High School business teacher, head football coach and assistant athletic director; eighth-grade social studies teacher at Bryan Middle School
Education: bachelor's degree from Northern Illinois University, master of business administration degree from Loyola University
Previous job: Brother Rice High School
He is most excited about: "the opportunity to work with the students at York to achieve at their highest level on and off the playing field."

Brittany O'Brien

Position: bilingual and Spanish language teacher at Conrad Fischer Elementary School
Education: bachelor's degree in Spanish education from Augustana College; endorsement bilingual and English as a second language K-12, National Louis University
Previous job: Streamwood High School District 46 and Schaumburg High School District 211
She is most excited about: her first experience working with elementary school students and the primary grades. "I'm excited about learning different methods and strategies when working with bilingual learners and how children build their literacy skills from a young age. I'm also looking forward to team-teaching with several of the teachers at Fischer to create innovative and collaborative instruction."

Diane Oliveros

Position: English language learners and history teacher at York High School
Education: bachelor's degree in secondary education/history, minor in bilingual education from Loyola University
Previous job: N/A
She is most excited about: "getting to work with the students and making an impact on their lives. Also, working with faculty and enriching our professional lives."

Jennifer Ozanic

Position: seventh-grade language arts teacher at Churchville Middle School
Education: associate's degree from Harper College, bachelor's degree in English with a minor in reading from Elmhurst College
Previous job: teaching assistant in District 211, part-time language arts teacher in District 205
She is most excited about: "continuing my experience in District 205. I am looking forward to the opportunity to become involved in the whole school culture by leading extracurriculur activities. I want my role to represent my philosophy of fostering an environment for the students to grow academically, socially, emotionally and physically."

Betsy Pardo

Position: special education resource teacher K-3 at Emerson Elementary School
Education: special education and elementary education degrees from Eastern Illinois University
Previous job: N/A
She is most excited about: "all of the opportunities I will have throughout the school year to work with such wonderful students and co-workers."

Stephanie Payleitner

Position: psychologist intern at York High School, Sandburg Middle School and Edison Elementary School
Education: bachelor's degree in psychology from University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, specialist in school psychology, Western Illinois University (2013)
Previous job: N/A
She is most excited about: "gaining more practical experience with students and staff. I am very fortunate to get to work with all age levels in the district and look forward to learning more about how each grade level functions."

Kyrstin Pearson

Position: seventh- and eighth-grade math and science teacher at Bryan Middle School
Education: bachelor's degree in education from Illinois State University
Previous job: paraprofessional in Winfield
She is most excited about: "being a part of the Bryan team and Elmhurst community. I can't wait to get to know my students and have a fun and exciting school year."

Lisa Pellico

Position: special education teacher at Bryan Middle School
Education: bachelor's degree in psychology and communications from Elmhurst College, master's degree in teaching, learning and behavior specialist, National-Louis University
Previous job: teacher in District 205
She is most excited about: "continuing my career with District 205. For the past five years, I have been educating my students as an educational assistant. This will be my first year teaching in a slightly different role. I am excited to join the Bryan team as a special education teacher and to continue devoting my career within the Elmhurst community."

Gina Pogue Reeder

Position: assistant principal at Churchville Middle School
Education: bachelor's degree from University of Illinois, master of social work from Loyola University Chicago, master's degree from Concordia University
Previous job: Woodridge School District 68
She is most excited about: "becoming a Charger! I am excited to be joining such a dynamic and caring staff. Churchville is such an exciting community and I look forward to working with staff and students in a collaborative manner to help achieve our goals. Go Chargers!"

Nikki Prafke

Position: third-grade teacher at Field Elementary School
Education: bachelor's degree in elementary education with a minor in Spanish from Elmhurst College; master's degree in school leadership Type 75 approval from Concordia University; English as a second language endorsement from National Louis University
Previous job: Carol Stream District 93; Schaumburg Distrit 54; Elmhurst District 205
She is most excited about: beginning her second year at Field School. "I am extremely excited to be teaching third grade again. This is my first year out of five that I haven't had to switch grade levels. I am also very excited about working with my third-grade team and improving on instructional strategies. As always, I am excited to meet the students with whom I will be spending the year and getting more involved in the school by sponsoring clubs and joining committees within the district."

Lynn Provost

Position: family and consumer science teacher at Sandburg Middle School (sixth and eighth grade, foods and nutrition, and seventh grade, sewing)
Education: bachelor's degree in textile technology from Western Michigan University, teacher certification for family and consumer sciences from Northern Illinois University
Previous job: N/A
She is most excited about: "meeting all the students at Sandburg and cooking or sewing with them. I am also looking forward to getting to know the other teachers and staff at Sandburg."

Michelle Rodriguez

Position: physical education/personal fitness teacher at York High School
Education: bachelor's degree in health education with a minor in physical education from Illinois State University
Previous job: J. Sterling Morton High School District 201 in Cicero and Plainfield District 202
She is most excited about: "having the opportunity to create a whole new class/curriculum for the PE department/students and being able to teach them a whole new angle of health, fitness and dance. And, of course, being able to put on an amazing show at the end of each semester to showcase the stduents' talents and hard work."

Lorenzo Rubio

Position: Spanish heritage I and II teacher, English language learners and bilingual world studies at York High School
Education: bachelor's degree in history/secondary education from the University of Texas, master's degree in humanities from University of Chicago, master's degree in English as a second language and bilingual education from Loyola University (in progress)
Previous job: N/A
He is most excited about: "helping students break through language barriers to achieve their goals. Providing a positive example (myself) of a successful Latino student and scholar. Getting to know my students."

Shelley Rzewuski

Position: reading specialist at Lincoln Elementary School
Education: bachelor's degree in elementary education from the University of West Florida, master's degree in reading from Northern Illinois University
Previous job: N/A
She is most excited about: "working in the Elmhurst community. I look forward to building a strong rapport with the students, parents and community members of Elmhurst."

Tamara Salamon

Position: K-8 bilingual school psychologist at Conrad Fischer Elementary and Churchville Middle School
Education: bachelor's degree in psychology and Spanish from Pennsylvania State University, master's degree in teaching/secondary education Spanish at Pace University, master's degree, certificate of advanced graduate study in school psychology from George Mason University
Previous job: Summit District 104
She is most excited about: "working collaboratively with staff to ensure the most appropriate instruction for our culturally and linguistically diverse students."

Katie Schroeder

Position: social studies, AP psychology teacher at York High School
Education: bachelor's degree in history from Elmhurst College
Previous job: N/A
She is most excited about: "Being a York graduate, I was inspired by teachers that I had, and now I have the opportunity to have that kind of influence on my own students and hopefully help them the way my teachers helped me."

Helen M. Shaughnessy

Position: intermediate classroom teacher grades 2-5 at Field Elementary School
Education: learning behavior specialist, Northern Illinois University
Previous job: N/A
She is most excited about: "working with a collaborative team to create a positive, engaging learning environment for each student I work with in my classroom."

Michelle Solesky

Position: seventh-grade physical education and health teacher at Sandburg Middle School, K-5 physical education teacher at Edison Elementary School
Education: bachelor's degree in physical education with a minor in health education from Illinois State University
Previous job: N/A
She is most excited about: "meeting my new students as well as teachers in the district. I am very excited to educate the students, share the importance of physical education and expose them to fun and educational games. I am very excited to be a teacher in this district and am looking forward to what will be a fun year ahead."

Teresa Soria

Position: Pre-K bilingual classroom at Madison Early Childhood Education Center
Education: bachelor's of social work from University of Illinois, master's degree in early childhood from Roosevelt University, Type 04 early childhood teaching certificate
Previous job: N/A
She is most excited about: "meeting my new students and being a part of their first classroom experiences."

Jennifer Thiede

Position: physical education teacher at York High School
Education: bachelor's degree in education from Arizona State University
Previous job: Mesquite High School in Gilbert, Ariz., and Waubansie Valley High School in Aurora
She is most excited about: "getting to share my love for wellness and yoga with the students of York, being a part of York's physical education department and starting an orchesis dance program."

Mary Jo Tobalin

Position: Spanish teacher at York High School
Education: bachelor's degree in Spanish education from Illinois State University
Previous job: District 219
She is most excited: "to resume my teaching career. I look forward to having the opporotunity to interact daily with my students."

Lucy Villalobos

Position: English language learners teacher, Churchville Middle School
Education: bachelor's degree from Northern Illinois University, master's degree in elementary education from Roosevelt University
Previous job: District 59, Arlington Heights
She is most excited about: "working with ELL students. I grew up as an ELL student and I am very excited about helping students like me and making learning fun and meaningful for them. I am very excited about being part of the Churchville staff and learning more about this community."

Gerardo E. Vivas

Position: bilingual, English language learners teacher at Conrad Fischer Elementary School
Education: bachelor's degree and master's degree in teaching from Loyola University and Northeastern Illinois University
Previous job: Glen Ellyn
He is most excited about: "working with students and staff in a great district. I look forward to developing connections with families and students as well as collaborating with my colleagues."

Nancy Wolski

Position: biology teacher at York High School
Education: bachelor's degree and teaching certification from St. Xavier University, master's degree in biology from Mississippi State University
Previous position: adjunct biology instructor at South Suburban College and Moraine Valley College. Also taught for Rich Township High School District 227 in Park Forest and Queen of Peace High School in Burbank.
She is most excited about: "Everyone has been warm in welcoming me as part of the York community. The students are wonderful and are eager to learn, lending to dynamic class discussions. The science department models collaboration at its best. I am most excited about all of it. It's a great place to be."

Stewart Levine October 04, 2012 at 10:22 AM
wow only 3 males out of all those teachers... perhaps district 205 is slightly biased?
Joe O'Malley October 05, 2012 at 02:53 AM
"Welcome to Shangri la ladies and gentlemen! I'm sure you've been introduced to Rocco and Vito, our local representatives of the Illinois Federation of Teachers. They will be in the back of the room to answer any questions you may have and to make sure all your paperwork is in order.......All of it!"

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