A coeducational day school serving students JK-12

Lower School

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.

Danyelle Post, JK Teacher

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.

Around the Lower School

lower school student, faculty and staff at The Circles Assembly on October 7, 2022
This fall, every lower school classroom received a copy of The Circles All Around Us by Brad Montague for the all-Lower School Read. The book is about understanding and expanding our circles of friendship, family, and community and was selected with our theme of #RomansTogether in mind.

On October 7, lower school students came together for an assembly to celebrate The Circles All Around Us. Students and teachers reflected on the circles of care that begin with our personal circles and extend out to our classroom and school communities. During the assembly, students participated in a mindful meditation exercise, tried a circle challenge with their grade level, and sang a heartwarming song about our circles of care led by the talented lower school music teachers.

Students and teachers reflected on the circles of care that begin with our personal circles and extend out to our classroom and school communities.The assembly wrapped up with a Circles Challenge, an invitation for the lower school community to continue creating both small and big moments of filling their circles with kindness. Some examples were offered to inspire the students such as singing, making art, and spending time with loved ones. And two examples of caring for our community circles were highlighted: (1) a “greeting committee”, initiated by the leadership of a current fourth and third grader, that welcomes fellow students as they enter the lower school in the mornings (2) Socktober, an invitation to participate in a drive to collect socks for people in the Chicago community during the month of October.
Learn more and experience the impact of The Circles All Around Us! Please enjoy this read aloud of the full book, these slides from the assembly, and the video below of our lower school singing The Circles song.


  • Around School
  • lower school
Homecoming 2022

Latin’s annual Romans Run filled Montrose East and West Fields on Saturday, October 1, 2022. Families, faculty, staff and alumni donned their best and brightest orange and blue for an afternoon of races in the park.

fans at homecoming games

Fanatic fans cheered on the Romans at the homecoming games on both Friday and Saturday. Check out the scoreboard from the weekend.

  • JV Girls Field Hockey vs. Francis Parker, W 3-0
  • Varsity Girls Field Hockey vs. Francis Parker, L 0-2
  • JV Boys Soccer vs. Francis Parker, W 2-1
  • JV Boys Soccer vs. Francis Parker, W 1-0
  • Varsity Boys Soccer vs. Francis Parker, W 3-0
  • Varsity Girls Swimming vs Trinity HS, W 84-81
  • Freshman Girls Volleyball vs. Amundsen HS, W
  • JV Girls Volleyball vs. Amundsen HS, W
  • Varsity Girls Volleyball vs. Amundsen HS, L
student with pizza from Billy Brick's standing in front of Aztec Dave's food truck

Cheering for these Romans worked up an appetite, so attendees dined on the go from some of the city’s tastiest food trucks, including Aztec Dave's Food Truck, Billy Bricks Food Truck, Cheesie's Food Truck and CheSa's Gourmet Food Truck.

homecoming 2022 collage

Over 250 alumni, faculty alumni and friends returned to Latin for Homecoming & Reunion Weekend. A virtual fireside chat with Head of School Thomas Hagerman kicked off the weekend, followed by the annual LGBTQ+ Alumni & Friends Gathering 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). Alumni and their families joined us at Montrose Field to honor the 2021 and 2022 Hall of Fame inductees.

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 88-year-old former lower school teacher Pat Peterson reconnecting with the Class of '92, her former third graders! Throughout the night, faculty-led tours of the upper school, hugs and laughter abounded and the photobooth was in high demand. Many classes continued the celebration at class gatherings around the city, including at private homes, The Weiner Circle, Green Street Local, The University Club and Uproar.

On Sunday, Latin hosted two brunches: one for Golden Romans who have already celebrated their 50th reunions, and our annual homecoming brunch for alumni of color. We finished off the weekend with the alumni annual orange and blue soccer game.


  • Alumni
  • Features
  • lower school
  • middle school
  • upper school
Welcome Back Romans!

It’s a great feeling to be Romans Together! Our teachers, students, faculty and staff are all back together again and it’s such a great feeling. Experience the joy in this video.


  • Around School
  • lower school
  • middle school
  • upper school
New faculty/staff

Each fall Latin welcomes many new faces to its community. As always, 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 read the full bios and discover more faculty and staff members.



photo of Ahmed Ashoor
Ahmed Ashoor, Assistant Teacher
Ahmed was raised on two different continents as a child–Asia and Africa–before moving to North America. Prior to living in Chicago, he spent time in Toronto, Canada, where he became a huge Toronto Raptors basketball fan. He also loves to coach and play sports, listen to music and try out new restaurants in the city.



photo of Marc Blettry
Marc Blettry, Director of Technology & Data
Marc joins Latin to lead the IT team after spending more than 10 years as the IT director at the Lycee Francais de Chicago. He also served as senior director of technology at the McGaw YMCA and spent time at the Active Transportation Alliance where he lead the digital transformation of the organization. Marc was born and raised in France.



photo of Dottie Bris-Bois
Dottie Bris-Bois, Chief Development Officer
Dottie is thrilled to be joining the team at Latin and is dedicated to strengthening the school's culture of philanthropy and championing its institutional priorities. Dottie was most recently the director of development at Chicago Shakespeare Theater and brings over a decade of fundraising experience to her role.



photo of Philip Brownlee
Phillip Brownlee, Vocal Music Director
Phil is excited to start making music with the Latin community as the Vocal Music Director for the middle and upper schools. Originally from Iowa, Phil now resides in Chicago and is an honors graduate of DePaul University's School of Music. Music has been an integral part of Phil's life since he first started playing the violin at the age of five. Phil would later go on to study violin, flute and voice as part of his music education journey and finds joy in every opportunity to make music.



photo of Sheila Burke
Sheila Burke, Lower School Division Assistant
Sheila comes to us from North Shore Country Day School, where she was the administrative assistant to the Head of the Middle School and Lower School. She has nearly 20 years of experience in education and corporate administration. Sheila enjoys spending time near the water, martial arts, cooking and writing.



photo of Courtney Coleman
Courtney Coleman, Assistant Teacher (Art)
Courtney came to Chicago in 2010 to complete her undergraduate degree at the School of the Art Institute. Since then, she has worked as an independent artist, as well as at a non-profit mentoring college students and as a kindergarten teacher assistant. She loves learning and exploring alongside children.



photo of Erin Crowley
Erin Crowley, Nurse
Erin is very excited to join Latin as one of the school nurses. She grew up in the Chicagoland area, and after moving to Wisconsin for nursing school, she recently moved back to the city. After two years at Lutheran General Hospital working as a pediatric nurse and volunteering as a camp counselor, she is looking forward to continuing her work with kids.



photo of Jen Damaska
Jen Damaska, Assistant to the Head of School
Jen Damaska comes to us by way of Cincinnati, Ohio where she was most recently an Executive Assistant to the CEO at a Tech firm in the area. Prior to moving into Tech, Jen served as the Executive Assistant to the General Manager/COO of The Cincinnati Country Club choosing to change careers and end her tenure after 20 years. 



photo of Jenny Cook Deters
Jenny Cook Deters, Upper School Learning Specialist
Jenny comes to Latin as an upper school learning specialist and is very excited to be a part of the community. She has taught all over the country, from California to Washington D.C., but grateful to plant roots in Chicago! She recently got married and is still feeling all the joy from that special day. She can't wait to bring all this good energy into Latin!


Alyssa Dudzik

Alyssa Dudzik, First Grade Teacher
Alyssa is excited to join the Latin community this year as a first grade teacher. Alyssa grew up in Connecticut and earned her B.A. in psychology from Amherst College. After earning an M.S. in childhood general and special education from Bank Street College of Education in 2013, she moved to Chicago and fell in love with the Midwest! Alyssa has always had a passion for working with children, and loves the energy and enthusiasm they bring to each new experience.



photo of Zach Duffy
Zach Duffy, Upper School English Teacher
Zach grew up in Wisconsin and graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a bachelor's degree in English. He began his career in 2002, teaching elementary school in Chicago's Englewood community as a Teach For America corps member before teaching middle school English in Boston and Seattle.



photo of Jonty Faulkner
Jonty Faulkner, Upper School Science Teacher
Jonty is honored to be joining Latin as an upper school chemistry and physics teacher. He was born and raised in the Southwest of England, where his formative years were spent surfing, sailing and hiking. While earning his BSc in chemistry and law from the University of Exeter, he developed a love for the sport of rowing and has seen some successes over the years competing and coaching. 



photo of Jennifer Funchess
Jennifer Funchess, Assistant Director of Development, Annual Giving
Jennifer was born and raised in Texas. After graduating from the University of Georgia in 2017 with a ABJ in advertising, she moved to Atlanta, Georgia, to begin her career with a large media firm. She spent the last five years helping her clients navigate and negotiate the evolving media landscape. With her years of experience planning successful media campaigns and managing client relationships, she is excited to join the Latin community as the assistant director of annual giving. 



photo of Lenny Goldman
Lenny Goldman, English Teacher
As a Chicagoland native, Lenny is thrilled to be joining the Latin community. After earning his degree in journalism from the University of Missouri, Lenny pivoted into education when he joined Teach for America in 2011. After teaching in Brooklyn for almost a decade, Lenny and his wife decided to move back home to Chicago. 



photo of Laura Grandau
Laura Grandau, Lower School Math Interventionist
Laura has worked in math education for more than 25 years, teaching math in schools, museums, libraries, and nature centers, and emphasizing curiosity and play as central components of learning. She has a B.A. and M.A. from the University of Chicago, and a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction/math education from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Laura is always excited to partner with children and adults in exploring the beauty and joy of mathematics!



photo of Thomas Hagerman
Thomas Hagerman, Head of School
Thomas served as the Superintendent of the Scarsdale Public Schools in Scarsdale, New York. Prior to his role in Scarsdale, he held superintendent positions in school districts in Winnetka and River Forest, Illinois and Portland, Oregon. A career educator, Thomas' first job was as a middle and upper school teacher in the Portland public schools.



photo of Katie Harrison
Katie Harrison, Assistant to the Chief Development Officer
Katie is a native Chicagoan who graduated from Latin in 1992. She is thrilled to be returning to her alma mater as a part of the Development team. After living on the East Coast for the past 22 years, she is looking forward to rediscovering everything Chicago has to offer. 



photo of Ben Hollister
Ben Hollister, Lead Teacher - Third Grade
Ben is incredibly excited to be joining the Latin community. He brings sixteen years of teaching experience spanning first, second and third grades. He began his career in a rural education setting. Teaching environmental education in the states of Alaska, Hawaii and Washington has inspired him to bring nature into his urban classroom.



photo of Molly Jenkins
Molly Jenkins, Lower School Lead Teacher - Fourth Grade
Molly enthusiastically joins Latin this year as a fourth grade lead teacher. Molly earned her bachelor's degree at Barnard College of Columbia University studying history, psychology, and Spanish before completing her master's degree in education and social policy at Northwestern University in 2012. 


Michael Keenan

Michael Keenan,  Lower School Music Teacher
Michael relocated to Chicago from the land of bbq and the delta blues, Memphis, Tennessee. As a lifelong musician and learner, Michael earned his bachelor’s of music education from the University of Tennessee at Martin in 2018 and has been teaching lower school music in Memphis ever since. He is excited to experience Chicago and proud to join the Latin community as the lower school music teacher.



photo of Melissa Klein
Melissa Klein, Lower School Assistant Teacher
Melissa grew up in La Canada Flintridge, California, a suburb of Los Angeles. In May, she graduated from Indiana University in Bloomington with a B.S. in elementary education. Her passion for teaching stems from many summers as a sleep-away camp counselor. Melissa is excited about exploring her new adopted home of Chicago!



photo of Xiaorong Li
Xiaorong Li, Director of Studies and Educational Technology
Xiaorong was born and grew up in Qingdao, a coastal city on the east coast of China. She came to the United States about 20 years ago to pursue her doctoral studies at Carnegie Mellon University. Over the past decade, she has worked at independent schools on both sides of the country. She has recently moved from Southern California to Chicago with her husband. Xiaorong is thrilled to join Latin as the director of studies and educational technology. 



photo of Andrew Miller
Andrew Miller, Upper School Counselor
Andrew is thrilled to be joining the counseling team in the upper school. He grew up in north central Indiana and is coming to Latin most recently from The Frances Xavier Warde School. Prior to that, Andrew spent five years as the school psychologist at Culver Academies in Culver, Indiana. 



photo of Mallory Moore
Mallory Moore, Assistant Teacher
Originally from Washington D.C., Mallory recently graduated from the University of Chicago and is delighted to begin her postgraduate chapter as a fourth grade assistant teacher at Latin. She is enthusiastic about integrating social emotional learning with academics. 



photo of Genna Newquist
Genna Newquist, Lower School Assistant Teacher
Genna grew up in Highland Park, Illinois and spent four years in Colorado completing her bachelor's degree in history at the University of Denver. She is excited to return to the Chicago area to begin her first year at Latin as a lower school assistant teacher and to pursue a master's degree in secondary education. 



photo of arlos Ocampo
Carlos Ocampo, Lower School Assistant Teacher
Carlos is a graduate of University of Wisconsin-Parkside. He was raised in Lake Zurich, Illinois, and graduated from Lake Zurich High School. He began his career at Latin as a substitute teacher and summer camp counselor. He is excited to be part of the senior kindergarten team and is looking forward to getting to know the incoming class. 



photo of Carlo Ordoñez
Carlo Ordoñez, Upper School Mathematics Teacher
Carlo enjoyed studying mathematics for as long as he can remember. He obtained a B.A. in mathematics at Dartmouth College and an M.S. at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. He serendipitously found his first job teaching in 2007, and he hasn't looked back. Since 2015, he has taught full-time at the high school level, and he looks forward to continuing that work at Latin.



photo of Kirsten Richter
Kirsten Richter, Director of Athletics

Kirsten is excited to join the Latin community as the Director of Athletics. Prior to joining Latin, she served in multiple leadership and student development roles at Franklin & Marshall College, in both the Department of Athletics and the Division of Student Affairs. 



photo of Rick Rivera
Rick Rivera, Assistant Director of Operations
Ricardo has worked as a Director of Operations in the field of long term care since 2011. He brings 15 years experience of operations management. Ricardo attends national training sessions to stay current with updated IDPH and NFPA regulations. He is passionate about serving the residents in his communities and now he wants to apply his skills and talents in the education field. 



photo of Ingrid Surkan
Ingrid Surkan, Nurse
Ingrid was born and raised in the Chicago area, leaving in her mid-20s to complete a Master of Education in Massachusetts, where she eventually met and married her husband of 22 years. She taught French, German, and Spanish, primarily to middle and upper school students while raising her two daughters. However, she had always been passionate about health care and began her path to earning a Master of Nursing degree in 2016. 



photo of Tiffany Tafe
Tiffany Tafe, First Grade Teacher
Tiffany was born and raised on the East Coast in Maryland which influenced her great love of everything outdoors, especially the water. Tiffany knew from an early age she enjoyed learning, and helping others achieve their goals and dreams. Over the last 10 years she has built her teaching practice on the understanding that cultivating rich and lasting relationships are key to learning. Sharing power, providing choice and building inclusive learning environments are the hallmarks of her pedagogy. 



photo of Cristina Vásquez
Cristina Vásquez, Middle School Counselor
Cristina is primarily from Long Island, New York, but grew up all over the U.S. and abroad in countries such as Japan and Italy. She received her B.A. in psychology and a minor in gender studies from the University of South Florida and an MEd in counseling from DePaul University. Cristina comes to Latin from a south side CPS high school. As a counselor, Cristina loves small group, walk-and-talk therapy and strengths-based counseling. She is very excited to work with the middle school students.



photo of Jonathan Yenkin
Jonathan Yenkin, Assistant Teacher
Jonathan is excited to join the team at Latin while he completes his master's degree in elementary teaching at National Louis University. He changed careers to go into teaching after working more than 20 years in technology product development, and before that in the field of journalism. He feels passionate about working with children to nurture their love of learning.



Not pictured, but we are also pleased to welcome:

  • Carlos Bernal, Assistant Teacher
  • India Clark, Receptionist
  • Aimee Frank, Math Teacher
  • Natalie Hogan, Assistant Teacher
  • Kayla Kausal, Computer Technician
  • Jonah Koslofsky, Development and Alumni Assistant
  • Rene Moreno, Lower School Art Teacher
  • Lisa Patton, Upper School Librarian
  • Kai Stolze, Assistant Teacher
  • Derrick Streater, Assistant Director of Human Resources


Our Voices

  • Our Voices
  • lower school
  • middle school
  • upper school

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

- the Lower School motto

We value the potential that Latin will provide our children with the determination, resilience and curiosity to be successful in the world.

- Latin parent

How We Approach Teaching and Learning

Bliss Tobin

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.

Lower School Director Bliss Tobin 

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.

hopes and dreams


Singapore Math

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°

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!

Please email asr@latinschool.org or extendedday@latinschool.org for more information on these programs offered at Latin.

Before and After School Care Options


Do you have questions? We would love to hear from you.

Lorraine Loomis

Lorraine Loomis

Titles: Assistant Lower School Director
Degrees: B.A. Wheaton College
MEd National Louis University
Bliss Tobin

Bliss Tobin

Titles: Lower School Director
Degrees: B.A. Yale University
MEd University of Chicago

lower school

Nurturing Inquisitive Minds

lower schoolers at desk in class