A coeducational day school serving students JK-12

Welcome to Our New Faculty and Staff 2023-2024

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


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.

 
Amara Ball


Amara Ball
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.

 
 
Lauren Beatty


Lauren Beatty
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.

 

 
Laura Bronson


Laura Bronson
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.

 
 
John Brown


John Brown
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).

 

 
Viviana Castellano


Viviana Castellano
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!

 
 
Justin Clarke


Justin Clarke
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


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.

 
 
Kendall Gallagher

Kendall Gallagher
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!

 

 
Chris Gollmar

Chris Gollmar
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! 

 
 
Ariel Gomez

Ariel Gomez
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.  

 
Pedro Gonzalez

Pedro Gonzalez
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.

 
 
Cory Graef

Cory Graef
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!

 

 
Maggie Kmiecik

Maggie Kmiecik
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.

 
 
Serra Kook

Serra Kook
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.

 
Marley Kotler

Marley Kotler
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.

 
 
Rachel Lewis

Rachel Lewis
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.

 
Jamie McInerney

Jamie McInerney
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

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

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.

 
 
Kyler Sanders


Kyler Sanders
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.

 

 
Karl Sissman


Karl Sissman
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.

 
 
Tania Smith


Tania Smith
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!

 

 
Elizabeth Underwood


 

Elizabeth Underwood
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!

 
 
Chantel Urquiza


Chantel Urquiza
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!

 
Faye Wells


Faye Wells,
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).

 
 
Tray White

Tray White
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


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.

 

 

Not pictured, but we are also pleased to welcome:

  • Hannah Bannec, Lower School Assistant Teacher
  • Jordan Nelson, Middle School French Teacher

Our Voices

  • Around School
  • Our Voices
  • lower school
  • middle school
  • upper school
Welcome to Our New Faculty and Staff 2023-2024

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


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.

 
Amara Ball


Amara Ball
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.

 
 
Lauren Beatty


Lauren Beatty
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.

 

 
Laura Bronson


Laura Bronson
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.

 
 
John Brown


John Brown
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).

 

 
Viviana Castellano


Viviana Castellano
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!

 
 
Justin Clarke


Justin Clarke
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


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.

 
 
Kendall Gallagher

Kendall Gallagher
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!

 

 
Chris Gollmar

Chris Gollmar
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! 

 
 
Ariel Gomez

Ariel Gomez
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.  

 
Pedro Gonzalez

Pedro Gonzalez
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.

 
 
Cory Graef

Cory Graef
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!

 

 
Maggie Kmiecik

Maggie Kmiecik
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.

 
 
Serra Kook

Serra Kook
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.

 
Marley Kotler

Marley Kotler
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.

 
 
Rachel Lewis

Rachel Lewis
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.

 
Jamie McInerney

Jamie McInerney
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

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

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.

 
 
Kyler Sanders


Kyler Sanders
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.

 

 
Karl Sissman


Karl Sissman
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.

 
 
Tania Smith


Tania Smith
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!

 

 
Elizabeth Underwood


 

Elizabeth Underwood
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!

 
 
Chantel Urquiza


Chantel Urquiza
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!

 
Faye Wells


Faye Wells,
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).

 
 
Tray White

Tray White
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


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.

 

 

Not pictured, but we are also pleased to welcome:

  • Hannah Bannec, Lower School Assistant Teacher
  • Jordan Nelson, Middle School French Teacher

Our Voices

Explore Our News & Stories

Latin Students Earn Prestigious Art and Writing Awards

Twenty-five Latin students were recently recognized by the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers in conjunction with its Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. The entries they submitted for the regional competition earned a total of 42 awards, including three Gold Keys, 18 Silver Keys and 21 Honorable Mentions. Below are the names of the students, the awards they won and the categories in which the awards were received. 

The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards honor "the vision, ingenuity and talent of our nation’s youth, and provide opportunities for creative teens to be celebrated." You can learn more about them by visiting https://www.artandwriting.org/

We want to congratulate all of the award winners on being recognized for their amazing work. We also want to thank our teachers for all they do to nurture the talents of our students.

Art Award Winners

  • Lyla G. - Gold Key (Drawing & Illustration); Silver Key (Design)
  • Thomas A. - Silver Key (Photography)
  • Malia C. - Silver Key (Sculpture) 
  • Keya D. - Silver Key (Photography)
  • Ben L. - Silver Key (Photography) 
  • Wyatt P. - Two Silver Keys (Drawing & Illustration)
  • Gideon B. - Honorable Mention (Photography)
  • Emily G. - Honorable Mention (Sculpture) 
  • Michael G. - Honorable Mention (Photography)
  • Miles H. - Honorable Mention (Photography)
  • Edie P. - Honorable Mention (Photography) 
  • Tomas P. - Honorable Mention (Photography)
  • Carolena T. - Honorable Mention (Photography)

Writing Award Winners

  • Keya D. - Gold Key and Silver Key (Journalism); Honorable Mention (Poetry); Honorable Mention (Flash Fiction)
  • Rohin S. - Gold Key (Journalism) 
  • Noa B. - Two Silver Keys (Poetry) 
  • Malia C. - Silver Key (Short Story)
  • Hannah D. - Silver Key and Two Honorable Mentions (Poetry) 
  • Scarlet G. - Silver Key and Honorable Mention (Journalism); Silver Key (Poetry); Honorable Mention (Critical Essay) 
  • Miles H. - Two Silver Keys and Three Honorable Mentions (Poetry); Silver Key and an Honorable Mention (Flash Fiction) 
  • Zoe H. - Silver Key (Personal Essay & Memoir)
  • Laila C. - Honorable Mention (Poetry)
  • Kate E. - Honorable Mention (Poetry)
  • Kai G. - Honorable Mention (Personal Essay & Memoir) 
  • Isadora S. - Honorable Mention (Critical Essay)
     
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First Grade Flag Project

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. 

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US Marine Science Uses the City as the Classroom

New to the upper school Science course offerings this year, is a Marine Science course taught by Mr. Wisnieski. 

Students in this course are exploring the aquatic environments near Latin and around the city. In September they took a kayaking trip to the Wild Mile, a portion of the Chicago River that is being rehabilitated by the Urban Rivers organization.

Students toured the river on kayaks and studied the organisms living in the new habitats that have been constructed. More recently, students monitored the water quality in Lake Michigan. 

Take a look at the #opportunities found inside and outside the classroom at Latin.

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Do You Know? René Moreno

Get to know René Moreno, Lower School Visual Art Teacher.

FAVORITE QUOTE
"Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” -Pablo Picasso

EDUCATION
I earned a BFA from RISD (Rhode Island School of Design) and majored in Illustration.

Position and title at LatinI am the Visual Arts teacher in the Lower School. This is my 5th year at Latin. I was here as an assistant art teacher for 3 years while I worked on my teaching certification, and I am so happy to be back!

I also find a lot of joy in working with the kids. I love their eagerness to try new things and their enthusiasm for learning.
What are your favorite things about Latin? I am constantly inspired by my colleagues, who are excellent at what they do and are so passionate about their work. I also find a lot of joy in working with the kids. I love their eagerness to try new things and their enthusiasm for learning.

Why did you decide that you wanted to work at a school? As an illustrator, I visited schools and libraries to promote my books and I usually taught a little art project at those visits. I loved working with kids, so I decided to get my teaching certification.

Who is your favorite artist?
It’s a tie between Frida Kahlo and Vincent Van Gogh.

What was the last good book you read?I am currently reading a wonderful book called Everything Sad is Untrue, an autobiographical novel about an Iranian refugee growing up in Oklahoma. It’s funny and heartbreaking at the same time.

What are your hobbies and interests?I enjoy collecting children’s books, walking outside, listening to music, and practicing yoga.

What was your first job?After college, I worked several jobs all at once: I worked as a freelance illustrator for children’s books, worked as a waitress and barista, and also painted silk for a fashion designer.

What is one piece of advice you would want to tell your lower school self? You can do hard things!

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