Our Faculty and Staff

Our Faculty and Staff


Emily Friend

Director of Teaching & Learning

University of Colorado – B.S. Geography & Biology
University of Illinois-Chicago – M.Ed. Curriculum & Instruction

It brings me great joy to help people be creative, intentional, and innovative in their teaching. I am particularly passionate about fostering global citizenship in students through service learning and in creating equitable and affirming school spaces for all learners.

Laura McCammack

Director of Development & Communications

Butler University – B.S. Elementary Education, Minor Technology in Education
Lesley University – M.Ed. Elementary Curriculum & Instruction
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign – M.S. Library & Information Sciences (in progress)

I appreciate the dedicated teachers at NPES, and the hands-on, inquiry-based activities in which our students engage. I also love that each student is honored and respected as an individual.

John Novick

Head of School

Loyola University – B.A. English, Minor American Politics
Loyola University – M.Ed. Historical Foundations of Education
Northwestern University – Kellogg School of Management/ISACS Leadership Academy Certification

Our school’s combination of engaging and rigorous academics–in the context of a supportive, inclusive, and optimistic community committed to the social-emotional wellbeing of all and to equity and justice–is rare, and it’s exactly what children need today.

Brad Riggs

Director of Instructional Technology

University of Wisconsin – B.S. English Literature Minor Writing
Boston University – M.A. Teaching

Teaching students to learn new things and use those skills to help others motivates me as an educator.

Kim Smith

Director of Learning Services & High School Guidance Counselor

St. Louis University – B.S. Social Work
University of Texas at Arlington – M.S. Social Work

It makes me happy every day to witness laughter, smiles, growth, excitement for teaching and learning, and self-advocacy. I appreciate being a part of an educational community that values every member for their individual and collective impact on the world.

Marshall Warren

Director of Business & Operations

Illinois Wesleyan University – B.A. Political Science/History
DePaul University – M.S. Public Service Management
Benedictine University – Ed.D. Higher Education Administration and Organizational Change

North Park Elementary School is a Community of highly-engaged and accomplished parents who inspire and support the faculty and administration as we seek to constantly innovate and improve all aspects of the school. From curricular revisions to operational enhancements, our dedicated employees feel empowered to explore and implement change which keeps our educational program meaningfully relevant, authentic and impactful.

Anne Zagotta

Director of Admissions & Marketing

University of Missouri – B.S. Journalism

I appreciate the inspiring, creative, and affirming community at NPES. Our faculty and staff honor each student by celebrating individuality, creating a nurturing and supportive learning environment, and preparing them for the next phase of their educational journey.

Faculty and Staff

Nicole Allen

4th/5th Grade STEM Teacher

Northland College – B.A. Elementary Education, Minor Environmental Education

I appreciate teaching at NPES because of our caring, curious students and the supportive community of staff and families.

Wendy Andrews

Creative Drama Teacher

Bennington College and Northwestern University – B.S. Speech Education

I am grateful for our sense of community and how we build our community with students and families as they progress from preschool to eighth grade.

Zoe Ardito

Kindergarten Teacher

North Park University – B.A. Early Childhood Education, Spanish Concentration 

Teaching children to read is one of the greatest joys in my life. Opening up the world of literacy, broadening perspective, and inspiring kids in their own abilities is an incredible endeavor!

Greg Basil

Facility Maintenance

Talia Blivaiss

3rd Grade Teacher

University of Michigan – B.A. Elementary Education with Distinction
Bank Street College of Education – M.S. Education, Literacy Specialization

I love teaching third graders because their curiosity and creativity are blossoming. They have acquired the skills to think on a deep level, make connections to their own lives and the world around them, and have big ideas about how to make positive change. My favorite unit to teach is about immigration because I love watching the children make connections between the past and present. They begin to realize how their learning connects to and shapes their lives, as well.

Paul Bulgajewski

1st Grade Associate Teacher

University of Illinois at Chicago – B.S. Finance
Keller Graduate School of Management – M.B.A. in Accounting
National Louis University – M.A.T. Early Childhood Education (expected winter 2022)

Rebecca Butler

Student Services Coordinator

Kansas State University – B.A. Theatre
Kansas State University – M.A. Theatre

I am constantly impressed by the dedication, enthusiasm, and creativity of the teachers and staff at NPES.

Connor Dillon

4th/5th Grade Humanities Teacher

Knox College – B.A. Elementary Education, Minor Art

Avery Finden

SHIELD Testing & After Care Associate

California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo – B.S. Biology
Mira Costa College – A.A. Graphic Design
Arizona State University – M.A. Early Childhood Education (in progress)

I appreciate how kind the students are to each other at NPES, and our culture of open-mindedness and acceptance.

Tessa Forte

K-3rd Grade Learning Services Teacher

Northwestern University – B.S. Speech, Learning Disabilities Concentration
Northwestern University – M.A. in Learning Disabilities

Interacting with children and watching their personalities develop are reasons why I love teaching.

David Hemak

4th/5th Grade Associate Teacher

St. John’s University – B.A. Studio Art

I love working in a school because every day is different and there is always laughter.

Rob Hirsch

K-8th Grade Physical Education Teacher

North Park University – B.S. K-12 Physical Education
North Park University – M.Ed. ESL and Special Education certification

I have been the PE teacher at NPES since 2014. During the winter, I coach middle school basketball, and during the fall I coach varsity boys golf for Lane Tech High School. Thanks to my New England upbringing, I am an avid Boston sports fan.

Rhodi Hotaling

Middle School Math Teacher

DePauw University – B.A. Education
National Louis University – M.A. Teaching

One of my favorite units to teach is a unit in 6th grade where the students learn about algebra tiles. This unit really makes variables come alive and become more tangible. Also, it allows 6th grade students to interact with quadratic equations they will use in 8th grade in an hands-on way.

Janice Hovey

K-8th Grade Art Teacher

Minneapolis College of Art and Design – B.F.A.
Northeastern Illinois University – Teaching Certification

I love to see kids take pride in their art and get as excited about making things as I do.

Sheri Klepper

After Care Associate

NPES is a great school and a great community. I love supervising lunch and recess when I get to hang out with the students. I also enjoy covering the front desk and getting to see so many people.

Shelby Klingberg

In-House Daily Substitute Teacher

DePaul University – B.A Peace, Justice & Conflict Studies

I teach because the classroom is a radical space of possibility.

Nikki Lawrence

1st Grade Teacher

Northeastern Illinois University – B.A. Early Childhood Education
North Park University – M.Ed. Education/Teacher Leadership

I appreciate our strong sense of community. The relationships between parents, teachers, students, and faculty make North Park special. I am lucky to be a part of it.

Adam Litt

2nd Grade Teacher

University of Michigan – B.A. History and Spanish
Bank Street Graduate School of Education – M.A. K-6 Teaching

I am grateful for how welcoming our school community is!

Megean Lundberg

Preschool 4 Associate Teacher

Indiana University – B.A. Telecommunications and Gender Studies

It’s a joy to work in a community that embraces everyones’ uniqueness and supports one another to take risks and embrace challenges.

Kerry Maman

Office Manager

Indiana University – B.S. Early Childhood/Primary Education
Northeastern Illinois University – M.Ed. Special Education (Learning Behavior Specialist)

Being in the office, I most appreciate that I get to work with all NPES students. I love seeing their smiling faces enter the building each day.

Franko Mansilla

4th-8th Grade Spanish Language & Cultures Teacher

Instituto Guatemalteco Americano Guatemala – B.S. Bilingual/Bicultural Elementary Education

I love teaching folklore. Among my favorites is “Day of the Dead” taught from different cultural points of view.

Anna Nardulli

Preschool Art Teacher

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign – B.F.A. Painting
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign – B.F.A. Art Education
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign – M.A. in Art Education

I love to work with my students in a variety of art materials as they draw inspiration from nature, works by other artists, and their understanding of the world around them.

Vicki Panoutsos

After Care Associate

I’ve been a member of the NPES community for about 20 years. Both of my sons are graduates. I have been lucky to work in a variety of roles for the school. I enjoy working with the students and the close relationships I’ve developed with our terrific faculty and staff.

Brenda Pantle


The spirit and the culture of our school is why I’ve been here for twenty-five years. Students get the academic foundation they need but also get the ethical foundation and community support that helps them in the future.

Justin Past

Music Teacher and Band Director

McHenry College and Northeastern Illinois University – B.A. Music Education

I appreciate our school’s commitment to co-curricular courses in developing the hearts, minds, and bodies of our children, and NPES’ active journey of growth in diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Melissa Payne

Middle School Language Arts Teacher

Illinois State University – B.A. English Education
DePaul University – M.A./M.Ed. Language, Literacy, and Specialized Instruction (Reading Specialist)

Two things I appreciate most about NPES are the community and the creative environment.

Shelby Perkins

After School Associate

Lincoln Park High School

Liz Prado

After Care Associate

North Park University – B.A. Psychology (in progress)

Helen Rosenberg


Colorado State University
Dominican University – M.S. Library Science

The units I love the most are the ones based on the Illinois State Book Awards programs. Every year provides a new batch of outstanding books and we have a lot of fun with activities based on those books.

Lauren Russell

Preschool 4 Lead Teacher & Preschool Program Lead

Miami University (OH) – B.S. Health Studies, Minor Family Relationships
DePaul University – M.Ed. Early Childhood Education

I appreciate the flexibility NPES allows teachers in meeting each child where they are by helping them achieve through building relationships, creating personalized curriculum, and learning through play and creation.

Aimee Schnabel

Preschool-3rd Grade Spanish Language & Cultures Teacher

Knox College – B.A. Spanish and Sociology
University of Minnesota – M.A. Second Languages and Cultures Education
Concordia University – M.S. Education (School Leadership)

I love opening the world to students, especially hearing students speak Spanish, noticing language and culture, and making connections to their own language and cultures.

Steven Schneider

COVID Testing Coordinator & On-Call Substitute Teacher

Clemson University – B.S. Biological Sciences
University of Kentucky – M.S. Molecular Parasitology

Katie Serr

Middle School Associate Teacher

The Ohio State University – B.F.A. Dance
National Louis University – M.A. Teaching

I have a passion for creating an environment that fosters students’ love of learning.

Nicole Smart

Preschool 3 Lead Teacher

National Louis University – B.A. Early Childhood Education and Psychology & Human Development

Two things I appreciate most about NPES is the supportive parent community, and being a part of a talented teaching community that embraces the uniqueness of each child and who also fosters children’s social-emotional growth as well as their academic achievements.

Daniel Swanson-Nystrom, ’08

Preschool 3 Associate Teacher

Macalester College – B.A. Geography

I love reading books to the kids, especially when I can give each character a unique voice.

Morgan Tate Pippin

3rd Grade Associate Teacher

Missouri State University – B.F.A. Acting

I love teaching science because it is so hands-on and engaging. It brings me joy to watch the kids explore their world with so much curiosity and wonder.

Pete Tortorici

Middle School Science Teacher

Saint Peter’s University – B.S. Accounting
Loyola University Chicago – M.Ed. Curriculum
Northeastern Illinois University – M.A. Education Leadership

I enjoy incorporating the scientific method, the engineering process, and current events into the unit content.

Katherine Weil

2nd Grade Associate Teacher

University of New Orleans – B.S. Economics
Old Dominion University – Teacher Certification Program

Science is my favorite subject to teach because it lends itself to a variety of experiential learning opportunities and is fascinating for children and teachers to explore together.

Mary Wells

Middle School Social Studies Teacher

North Park University – B.A. History
North Park University – M.Ed. in Language, Literacy, and Culture

My favorite activities to teach are the ones where students take the reins. I love watching students discuss thought-provoking questions during socratic seminars, show off their knowledge through student-led projects, and negotiate during Model UN conferences.

Sarah Woltmann

Kindergarten Associate Teacher

Northeastern Illinois University – B.A. Early Childhood Education,  Type 04 Certification, Minor Psychology

I am passionate about science because it offers hands-on learning that showcases both success and failure through different lessons and experiments, which in turn challenges students and creates such diverse learning opportunities. I love watching the light in a student’s eyes when they realize that they have mastered something or are well on their way. Seeing the pride they take when accomplishing a personal learning goal is very rewarding.

Fyona Young

After Care Associate

Wilbur Wright College – A.A. Business (in progress)
Chicago Real Estate School – Real Estate Brokers License (in progress)

Nya Young

After Care Associate

Elmhurst University – B.A. Communication Sciences & Disorders (in progress)

I appreciate the close connections I’ve made with NPES families through babysitting over the years and the incredible sense of community that students, educators, and administration have built.