At Latin we are trying to create an atmosphere that makes the children feel engaged and challenged at the right level. I want them to know that it is o.k. to make mistakes and that it is o.k. to learn from them.
The lower school is a place where children are treasured, where eager learners are encouraged to take the next step, to ask the next question and to discover the next truth.
Our students publish their own books, put on plays, host art shows, participate in interscholastic athletics, and work on community service projects, all while building the educational foundation that will prepare them for the rest of their lives.
Our lower school faculty are extensively trained in early childhood and elementary education. Our teachers use a team approach, gathering input from parents and on-staff learning resource specialists—as well as their own close observations—to customize their teaching methods and content to address each child’s strengths and interests.
Latin first grade students started the year building their community. It was important to establish to ensure all feel safe and comfortable taking risks, making mistakes, asking for help and supporting one another.
As students listened to some of their favorite songs, they got inspired. The song, “Wave your Flag” by K’Nann, in particular, sparked a lot of inspiration. Some may be familiar with this song as it is the anthem of the World Cup. As the first graders listened to the song, they thought it might be fun to create their own flags.
As students began to explore their identities and community, they discovered that flags often represent groups of people who are related in some way. For example, city flags can represent folks who live in the same city. Team flags can represent fans of a particular team. State/country flags represent people who come from those places.
Each student then created their own flag to represent pieces of their identity. The process started with the exploration of identity, authenticity, symbols, and flags. A lot of time was spent considering the difference between things we like/love, and pieces of our identity. As an abstract concept, teachers worked with students in small groups to help them understand the differences. Students then filled out an identity bubble map and began the process of designing their flags. Each student received a planning sheet to select important colors, symbols and shapes they wanted to include in their flags.
After each individual flag was created, the grade level came together as a community, to explore how they could create one class/community flag to represent all individuals in the group. This process worked on skills such as compromise, collaboration and communication. The students problem-solved and suggested ways to include everyone in the community. The outcome being one community flag to represent the Latin first grade communities.
Take a look at the flags students made to reflect their voices and choices.
Latin’s annual Homecoming & Reunion Week took place Friday, September 29 - Sunday, October 1. Families, faculty, staff and alumni gathered at Montrose East and West Fields on Saturday, September 30 to cheer on our Roman athletes, volunteer with the Parent Association, and show their Roman Pride at Romans Run.
Check out the scoreboard from the weekend.
JV Girls B Volleyball vs. Amundsen HS, L
JV Girls A Volleyball vs. Amundsen HS, W
Varsity Girls Volleyball vs. Amundsen HS, W
Varsity Girls Swimming vs Trinity HS, W 97-71
MS Girls Field Hockey vs.
MS Boys Soccer vs.
JV Girls Blue Field Hockey vs. Francis Parker, W 1-0
JV Girls Orange Field Hockey vs. Oak Park River Forest, L 0-2
Varsity Girls Field Hockey vs. Francis Parker, L 0-1 (penalty shoot-outs)
JV Boys Blue Soccer vs. Francis Parker, W 6-0
JV Boys Orange Soccer vs. Francis Parker, W 1-0
Varsity Boys Soccer vs. Francis Parker, W 2-1
Over 300 alumni, faculty alumni, and friends returned to Latin for Homecoming & Reunion Weekend. The annual LGBTQ+ Alumni & Friends Gathering kicked off the weekend on Friday where LGBTQ+ alumni and allies collaborated on a community art piece featuring encouraging messages for students (currently on display in the upper school Learning Commons). On Saturday, alumni and their families gathered at Montrose Field to cheer on our athletic teams for their homecoming games, grabbed lunch from local food trucks, and played yard games under the alumni tent with friends.
Alumni in reunion classes, Golden Romans, and former and current faculty celebrated their connections to Latin at the reunion cocktail party on Saturday evening. Highlights included Clarisse Casalino '13, presentation of her inspiring and thought-provoking artwork and celebrating the grand opening of the new Marsha Dragonetti Languages Center! Throughout the night, faculty-led tours of the upper school for alumni to see the many updates on campus. Classes continued the celebration at class gatherings around the city, including at private homes, Mario's Table, Harry Caray's Restaurant, Hopsmith and Old Town Ale House.
On Sunday, we finished off the successful weekend with two brunches: one for Golden Romans consisting of alumni who have previously celebrated their 50th reunions, and our annual homecoming brunch for Alumni of Color.
Each fall Latin welcomes many new faces to its community. We are pleased to introduce a dedicated group of teachers and staff members who have chosen to make Latin their home. Visit the Directory to discover more faculty and staff members.
Ryan Allen '95
Assistant Head of School
Ryan joins Latin School of Chicago as an alum, after spending a number of years at the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, as a Dean of Students and then a Division Director. Ryan also has experience in Charter Schools here in Chicago, as well as in administration at the college level. Ryan holds a B.A. degree in Psychology with a minor in Black Studies from the College of Wooster and a Master's in Educational Leadership from Lehigh University. When he is not working, Ryan spends time with his family and friends exploring all that Chicago has to offer.
Lower School Assistant Teacher
Amara is excited to join Latin as a Lower School Assistant Teacher. She recently graduated from the University of Georgia with a bachelor’s degree in history after spending two years in New York City. Originally from Northern Indiana, she is happy to be moving back to the area. In her free time, Amara loves to sing, watch football and basketball, and explore restaurants in the city.
Lower School Assistant Teacher
Lauren grew up in Georgia and moved to Chicago to earn a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She is very excited to join the Latin team this year as an assistant teacher for third grade. Beyond work, she spends her time making comics and reading on the train.
Lower School Assistant Teacher
Laura is from Anchorage, Alaska and could not be more excited to join the Latin team as an assistant teacher. She has previous experience working as a preschool teacher and camp counselor. She is currently pursuing her MA in Elementary Education at Roosevelt University, where she is the founder and President of the Roosevelt Art Club. Aside from working with children, Laura is passionate about art, animals, music, and food.
Upper School History Teacher
John comes to Latin from The Wellington School in Columbus, Ohio, the most recent stop in a teaching career that has spanned most of the last two decades and included an extended stay in the Tampa, Florida area. His family includes an amazing spouse, two daughters and a son. When he is not in the classroom, John enjoys the occasional round of golf and all kinds of puzzles, especially the NY Times Spelling Bee. He is a self-proclaimed trivia nerd and a baseball aficionado who supports the Rays and every OSU sports alum (like Chicago’s own Justin Fields).
Junior Kindergarten Lead Teacher
Viviana was born and raised on the east coast and moved to Chicago in 2013. During her undergraduate career, she had the opportunity to join the AmeriCorps program, Jumpstart, where she volunteered in a low income neighborhood. It was then that she realized she found her passion and calling to become a teacher. After graduating from DePaul University with her BA in Psychology, she returned to complete her masters in Early Childhood Education. She began her teaching career at Lincoln Park Preschool where she was a lead teacher for the Two's classroom. She is thrilled and excited to be joining the Latin Community. In her free time, you can find her at her favorite coffee shop-Hip Hop Coffee and Mental Health, running by the lakefront or boxing!
Assistant Director of College Counseling
Justin is very excited to join Latin as the newest member of the College Counseling Office. He grew up in the Chicagoland area and is a proud alum of Northwestern University - Go Cats! In addition to experience in undergraduate admissions at his alma mater, Justin also brings a skillset in graduate admissions from Depaul University's Kellstadt Graduate School of Business and, most recently, served as the Director of Recruitment for Thrive Scholars. When he's not working with our amazing juniors and seniors, Justin enjoys taking his dog Mojo for a run, exploring new restaurants in the city, and catching any concerts whenever he can.
Perla De La Torre
Upper and Middle School Counselor (8th and 9th Grade)
Perla is a proud graduate of Chicago Public Schools and a lifelong Chicagoan. Perla is fluent in English and Spanish. She has decades of experience working in non-profit organizations and hospitals. Perla worked in Chicago Public Schools for 20 years. During her time in Chicago Public Schools, she primarily worked as a social worker, social work manager and assistant principal. In her free time, Perla enjoys reading books and being outside in nature. Finally, spending time with her family, and friends and volunteering to give back to the community is another important component of her life.
Lower School Assistant Teacher
Kendall was born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago and has resided in Lincoln Park, Chicago since her graduation from Saint Mary’s College in 2020. She worked for a year in the Venture Capital industry before she learned her true passion for working with children. She will be earning her Master of Teaching in Early Childhood Education in 2024, and she is looking forward to starting her teaching career at Latin!
Third Grade Lead Teacher
Chris comes to Latin from New York, where he taught Kindergarten through third grade at independent schools in Brooklyn and Manhattan. Before teaching in schools, he was a museum educator, designing and leading educational programs for museum visitors of all ages. When he's not teaching, Chris enjoys cooking, running, making art, and coding. He is looking forward to getting to know Latin learners and families!
Lower School Assistant Teacher
Ariel was born and raised in Chicago. While earning her bachelor's degree at Denison University, she served as a childcare provider for underprivileged families during a summer internship in Memphis, TN. It was then that she discovered her passion for working with children. Ariel continued to work with children by working at a daycare during her last year of college. In 2022, she graduated from Denison University with a double major in Anthropology/Sociology and Black Studies. While earning a master's degree in Early Childhood Education, she also worked as a lead teacher at a daycare for young children.
Upper School English Teacher
Pedro was born and raised in Chicago, IL, so the diversity of food, arts, and culture has had a great impact on their life. Pedro grew up writing and performing spoken word and poetry for several years, which led him to pursue his passion in literature. Pedro has been teaching for 10 years working with youth from all over the city, developing curriculum, and taking on leadership roles to work with teachers on interdisciplinary work, coaching, and curriculum design. Pedro has also coached JV and Varsity Volleyball. Pedro loves playing volleyball, exploring the arts in the city, music, food, travel, singing, and writing. Pedro will be being their 11th year of teaching at Latin is excited to embark on this new chapter.
Middle School Science Faculty
Cory is a Wisconsin native (Green Bay Area) and Minnesota Gopher Alum. After spending 9 years in Colorado he moved back to the Midwest to be closer to his parents, 3 older siblings, and 6 nieces and nephews! He is happy to be in Chicago! As a marathon runner, there is no race that can top the energy or excitement of the Chicago Marathon!
Lower School Counselor (2nd - 4th Grade)
Maggie is thrilled to join Latin the Latin Lower School. She grew up in Glenview, Illinois and attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison for undergrad before going on to earn her Master of Social Work at Loyola University Chicago. Maggie's professional background ranges from case management to individual psychotherapy, and she has experience working with children, adolescents and adults. In her free time, she enjoys live music, 1000-piece puzzles and reading.
Lower School Assistant Teacher
Serra comes to Latin as an assistant teacher and is very eager to join the community. She has lived on two ends of the county—in Los Angeles and New York—and is recently making her way back to her hometown, Chicago. She is ecstatic to be joining the team and excited for a good year.
Fourth Grade Lead Teacher
Marley is thrilled to be joining the Latin community. Born and raised in the Chicagoland area she has been teaching since she graduated with a B.A. in Elementary Education from Indiana University in Bloomington. She brings 17 years of teaching experience with her. She has taught everything from 3 year olds to second grade. She is so excited to be teaching fourth grade this year. Marley loves nothing more than being in a classroom full of students doing her thing! When she is not in the classroom she loves cooking, reading, and walking around Chicago.
Lower School Assistant Teacher
Rachel is excited to join the Latin team as she starts her second year in the field of education. Last year she served as a paraprofessional at Donald J. Marquez Elementary School. Family and friends are her world. Vacations to the mountains of Asheville, North Carolina and running on the lake path in Chicago are two of her favorite pastimes.
Athletics Operations Coordinator
Previously a coach and part-time employee at Latin, Jamie is thrilled to be back as a part of the Athletics department and Romans community. They were born and raised in Naperville, Illinois, and have lived in Chicago since 2016. They attended DePaul University and achieved a B.A. in Communications & Media with Summa Cum Laude honors. Jamie's background includes non-profit communications, content writing, and marketing. Outside of work, they enjoy playing basketball, yoga, biking, and doing improv around Chicago.
Lo Miles Lower School Assistant Teacher
After two years living in Japan, Lo is excited and grateful to find themselves at Latin. When not in the classroom, you can find Lo on stage or in some sort of rehearsal space. They love acting, writing, knitting, and their two cats!
Lauren Minga Lower School Assistant Teacher
Lauren is thrilled to join the Latin community while she completes her Master's degree in Elementary Education at Grand Canyon University. Originally from the south suburbs, Lauren completed her BA in American Studies and Art History at DePaul University. She is passionate about creating validating and positive educational experiences. From birdwatching to swimming in Lake Michigan, Lauren loves to explore all that nature has to offer in her free time.
Lower School Assistant Teacher
Kyler was born and raised in Chicago. She just graduated in May from Northeastern Illinois University. They are excited to begin their first year at Latin as a lower school assistant teacher. In her free time, she enjoys capturing moments and landscapes on her camera as well as taking any opportunity to stick her nose in a book, explore new places, and meet new people.
Director of Philanthropic Strategy
A Chicago native, Karl is very excited to be joining Latin's Development team and returning to the world of education. Prior to Latin, Karl spent many years as a practiced fundraiser across Chicago's performing arts sector, most recently serving as the Associate Director of Individual Giving at the Grant Park Music Festival. Karl began his career as a licensed educator following the completion of a BM in Music Education from Miami University. Additionally, he is nearing the completion of his MBA at The University of Chicago's Booth School of Business. Outside of work and school, Karl loves exploring Chicago's rich food and beverage scene, seeing live theater and musical performances, and traveling to see friends and family around the world.
Upper School French Teacher
Bonjour! Tania is a French teacher passionate about learning foreign languages, Francophone culture and teaching. She has a bachelor's degree in teaching Foreign Languages English-French and a Master's Degree in French and Francophone Studies. Tania likes hiking, biking and photography. During this new school year, she will be teaching French in the Upper Latin School. Tania is very happy to start teaching at Latin!
Upper School Learning Specialist (11th and 12th Grade)
Elizabeth is thrilled to join the Latin community as an Upper School Learning Specialist. She was born and raised in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and attended Clemson University. Elizabeth then attended Northwestern University to pursue a Masters in Learning Disabilities. Her program allowed her to work in both the remediation and diagnostic clinics, which provided a rich foundation in the field. Since 2011, Elizabeth has worked as a learning specialist and a special education teacher in Chicago. She was most recently the Head of Learning Support at DePaul College Prep and looks forward to continuing her work with high school students. Elizabeth is energized by helping students develop strategies to support their learning, self-awareness, and advocacy. She currently lives in Lincoln Park with her husband, daughter, and beloved Goldendoodle. Elizabeth has a love of the arts, having danced for 18 years all the way through college. She always enjoys any opportunity to see a live performance!
Lower School Division Assistant
Chantel is a Chicago native and loves to try new cuisines and explore the outdoors. One of her absolute favorite hobbies of all time is going River walking. This is where she finder her most peaceful state and can observe nature and intake the beautiful Chicago Skyline. She also enjoys going to Pilates! Chantel has been in the education system for 8 years and is excited for the upcoming school year to start!
Upper School Science Teacher
Faye is a Chicago native who has been teaching science at the high school and collegiate level for the last couple of decades. Faye has had the privilege to teach at Latin School of Chicago from 2009-2021, and is excited to return for the interim science position for the 2023-2024 school year. She will be teaching 3 sections of Biology and 1 section of Chemistry this year, as well as continuing to teach for Global Online academy (i.e. Global Health, Organic Chemistry, Medical Problem Solving).
Middle School Director
Born and raised in Savannah, Georgia, Tray dedicates his upbringing and values to his grandparents, Herbert and Ella White, who raised him and instilled the love of learning, power of family/community and dreams of achieving liberation through education. Tray’s grandparents believed in the structure and overall effectiveness of Catholic and Independent School education and he is grateful for the sacrifices, commitments and foresight that they had to invest their belief and resources then, so that he could be in the space and position that he is now.
With over 15 years of experience in parochial and independent schools, Tray’s background and training spans across several educational domains including classrooms, courts, fields, and clinical and therapeutic settings.
Prior to joining Latin, Tray served as the Assistant Principal and Academic Dean at Sidwell Friends School in Washington, D.C. Tray spent three years as Dean of Student Life of Intermediate and Middle Schools at Francis W. Parker School in Chicago, Illinois. In addition to his role as Dean, he also served as a diversity-equity-inclusion coordinator, student advisor, mentor and basketball coach.
Additionally, before his move to Chicago, Tray spent seven years at Augusta Preparatory Day School in Augusta, Georgia where he served in various teaching, counseling and coaching roles. During his time in Augusta, had experience as a Middle School Counselor, Academic Services Coordinator, Student Advisor and Coach. Tray also served as a Lower and Middle School Physical Education teacher, Upper School History instructor and Varsity Football and Middle School Basketball Coach.
Tray loves all things fitness, reading, podcasting and is a self-proclaimed high school and college football fanatic.
Tressa Wilde Upper School Science Teacher
Tressa grew up in Colorado, but has lived in and loved other places including Lawrence, KS, Budapest, Hungary, Northwest Cameroon, and New York City (& now Chicago!). She obtained her B.S. in Civil Engineering, after which she joined the Peace Corps and taught secondary physics and math in Cameroon. Upon returning to the United States, she continued working in the realms of youth development and education. Tressa graduated from NYU in 2020 with her M.A. in International Education. She loves a lot of things, including wandering through the woods for days at a time, running, biking, eating delicious food with good friends, both reading and smelling books, and social justice. Tressa and her partner are the proud mothers of two cuddle-loving cats, Belly & Bodega, & a sassy, fluffy dog named Arlo.
We would like to say a very heartfelt thank you to the faculty and staff who will be leaving Latin this year for their service to the school. We wish you well in your next adventures!
Suzanne Callis, Dean of Community Learning
Jeremy Foster, Upper School Science Lab Manager
Barbara McKenzie, US Learning Resources Specialist
Andrew Miller, Upper Schol Counselor
Lucie Wright, Upper School History Teacher
Kelly Wyatt, Middle School French Teacher
Brian Jerger, Middle School History and Social Studies Teacher
Nick Goodspeed, Junior Kindergarten Lead Teacher
Benjamin Hollister, Third Grade Lead Teacher
Michael Keenan, Music Teacher (Sabbatical Leave)
Avani Tandon, Fourth Grade Lead Teacher
Aveva Yufit (retiree), Counselor
LS Assistant Teachers:
Stephanie Chu, Director of Alumni Engagement
Ibrahim Fetuga, Associate Director of Enrollment Management for Diversity and Inclusion
Shelley Greenwood (retiree), Assistant Head of School
Nicholette Lindsay, Receptionist
Deb Sampey (retiree), Middle School Division Director
David VanderMeulen (retiree), Upper School Director of Athletics
Community & Traditions
Windows & Mirrors at Latin
We provide children with opportunities to see not only themselves, but also other people, cultures, perspectives and ideas.
Manners, Kindness, and Civility
We value the potential that Latin will provide our children with the determination, resilience and curiosity to be successful in the world.
How We Approach Teaching and Learning
Latin's excellent caliber of teachers, coupled with strong resources, allows us to implement the best of research-based practices. At Latin, we understand that learning is not linear, and that often mistakes are the most important learning opportunities. We allow students to lead you in their own wonder, challenges and resilience.
In a responsive classroom, the exercise of naming hopes and dreams is critical to feeling personally connected to and engaged in learning.
Lower school students took the school's theme of action to heart and defined things they hoped to accomplish over the course of the school year.
The value lies in the well-formulated question rather than on the right answer.
Singing the praises of Singapore math
As part of the lower school Singapore Math curriculum, fourth grade teacher Amanda Schirmacher noted that her students love sharing their methods, which she can project on a screen after taking a picture of the method with her tablet. "They are getting more comfortable with their speaking and presentation skills," she said. "It enables them to be confident in sharing their thinking," a skill that will serve them well as they enter middle and high school. "The earlier you find your voice, the better," she said.
Latin 360° provides before- and after-school programming for lower school students in a fun and safe environment where they can try new classes or to engage in activities they love within the school building.
Families enjoy the opportunity for their child to engage in extracurriculars without having to organize extra transportation!
Before school - 7:15 a.m. earliest drop off
After school - 6 p.m. latest pick up
Extended Day provides a balance of organized activities as well as free play. Quiet reading space is also available for older students if desired.
The program is available every full day that the Lower School is in session.
There are four sessions of Extended Day throughout the school year. The cost of the program is based on the pick-up time frame (3:30, 4:30, 5:30, 6 p.m.) decided by the family. Drop-in care is not permitted. With advanced notice, arrangements can be made for flexible, less consistent, use of the program.
After school - 3:30-4:30 p.m.
(Extended Day available after 4:30 p.m. if later pick up is needed)
ASR offers a variety of after school classes for students covering a wide range of activity types including, but not limited to: sports/movement, STEAM, strategic thinking/problem solving-based options, and other sought after theme-based classes. A complete list of offerings is available prior to each session.
There are four sessions of ASR throughout the school year. Class offerings vary depending on the session.
Students can participate in an ASR class in conjunction with Extended Day if they need to be at school later than 4:30 p.m. The cost of the program is calculated by session.
Research shows that reading is the most important thing for elementary age children – whether it is being read to or independently reading books. Students are expected to engage with books on a daily basis outside of school. Occasionally, teachers in junior kindergarten through third grade will assign a project for students to work on with family members. Formal homework begins in the fourth grade. Incorporated within formal homework are executive functioning skills that require students to plan, organize and schedule their time.
In the lower school we do not assess students with numerical or letter grades. Parents of junior and senior kindergarten students receive detailed reports of cognitive, social, emotional and physical development at the end of the school year. For students in grades one through four, reports are sent home twice a year. These reports contain formal, written assessments of students’ progress. In addition to these written reports, teachers and parents meet together for two scheduled conferences, and teachers often meet with parents at other times throughout the year as well.
Physical activity and the development of physical skills play an integral part in the lower school curriculum. Students in junior kindergarten through second grade participate in structured physical education classes every day for 30 minutes. Third and fourth grade students attend physical education class every other day for one hour. Our students also participate in recess daily.
In addition to scheduled physical activity built into the school day, students can join the Rising Romans athletics program starting in third grade. Rising Romans includes the lower school cross country, intramural basketball, volleyball and soccer teams. There are also After School Resource opportunities that involve sports and games.
Latin School of Chicago is a peanut/tree nut allergy aware school, which means we do not purchase or produce nut products in any of our cafeterias. Additionally, every effort is made to keep peanuts, tree nuts or derivatives (nut butters, nut oils) out of our school buildings. We ask that faculty, staff, students, parents, vendors and other visitors do not bring these items into the lower, middle and upper school buildings.
Families are welcomed members of our community. One of the best ways for families to connect is to share with their child’s class family traditions, celebrations or careers to name a few. On occasion family members may be asked to volunteer for a special project or field trip.
We recognize the importance of differentiated instruction and assistance for our students. Our classrooms are structured so that students receive whole-group, small-group and one-on-one time with teachers. Our Reading Resource and Math Intervention programs are designed to help provide early support. Our Learning Resources program directly serves the student population with diagnosed learning differences.