The years from fifth grade through eighth grade are an important time for self-discovery. They are a time when students develop their interests, learn new talents, and face challenges that are unique to their age group. At Latin, middle school students are introduced to a world of new concepts and ideas.
Our middle school curriculum covers all the traditional core subject areas—math, science, English and language arts, social studies and language—but we use a range of innovative, creative ways to present the material. Middle school students learn best when they are engaged with the subject matter through concrete experiences like role playing, simulations, lab work or exploration outside the classroom. Dynamic discussions and interactive lectures are designed to relate to issues and ideas we know middle school-aged kids are thinking about.
I think Latin has one of the most challenging curricula out there, and one that helps my child reach her full potential as an academic and a person.
New Middle School Director Tray White joined the Latin leadership team in July. While Tray is new to Latin this year, he is well-versed in the implementation and support of social emotional learning for middle school students.
In a recent email Tray noted middle school faculty and staff are engaged in the daily process of nurturing and guiding the development of essential academic and social-emotional skills, building classroom culture and community, and reinforcing key classroom routines and procedures. All of these culminate to center around the joy and fun that comes with learning with a community of peers in an environment that promotes each student’s academic, social-emotional, and physical growth and well-being.
At the October Board of Trustee meeting, Tray expanded on some of Middle School’s practices regarding student wellness.
He spoke about the Affective Education program’s purpose of nurturing students’ social-emotional growth and curating learning opportunities for students to explore a variety of topics that enrich the student experience. Several of the topics are facilitated by the MS Counseling Team, Dean of Students, Director of Student Life, and Computer Science faculty.
Another example of social emotional learning in practice is through Middle School Affinity Groups. The purpose of these groups is to provide opportunities for students to share and explore life and experiences within safe and supportive spaces defined by membership and/or connection(s) to specific identity group(s). The Middle School has expanded from one Affinity group to many, including the Gender & Sexuality Alliance, South Asian Women Alliance, Girls in Math, and Students of Color affinity groups.
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. She 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
When learning resonates with the students' own values and beliefs, the content is seen as relevant and tied to real-world concerns and projects.
Scratching beneath the surface of the syrian refugee crisis
Seventh grade students in the Global Perspectives course researched the lives of individual Syrian refugees and told their stories using a programming language called Scratch. The project takes users on the journey of a real-life Syrian refugee, the choices they face, as well as the realities of the refugee experience.
Students are well versed in the "power of yet" and the value in continuing to grow, defying expectations or limitations.
Latin should never change how comfortable it makes us feel. Which means that we aren't afraid to make mistakes.
I understood the value of this education first hand when I went off to college. My persistence and strong desire to learn and connect with my professors was a reflection of the close relationships I made with my teachers at Latin.
Students are thrilled to have new kids join the class. When applicants visit the school one of the most frequent responses we hear from parents is, “my child felt the most comfortable on the Latin visit because the students were the friendliest.”
Absolutely, get involved. We encourage all students to join a co-curricular activity. The middle school offers a wide range of extracurricular activities with time commitments varying from once a week to daily. Students have time to make friends, pursue an interest, and exercise their mind and body and still do the homework. The new students who tend to have the easiest time adjusting to Latin are those who participate in after-school activities.
Our goal is to keep students challenged in courses with their peers. The curriculum, pedagogy, and assessments are designed to challenge different kids at different levels with the same topics. Math is the one exception, and math ability groups begin in sixth grade. We are committed to the development of the whole child, and this is best accomplished when students are with their peers.
The after-school activities program was designed to encourage all students, athletes or not, to explore a wide range of interests. Approximately 80 percent of middle school students participate in at least one sport, and most also join a club, academic team, or participate in a play.
Latin's middle school strives to adopt the school-as-community-center concept. The building buzzes with kids from 7 a.m. until 6 p.m. daily. Students are encouraged to utilize the many resources Latin has to offer before and after school, whether it is the cafeteria, library, or the common areas. Teachers often can be found meeting with students, playing a pick-up game of chess, watching a movie, or talking about yesterday’s game. Students are able to meet in classrooms or the library to work on group projects. The goal is to have all students feel like Latin is where they enjoy being before, during, and after school!
Do you have questions? We would love to hear from you.