Magazine of Latin School of Chicago

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 Vegetable Garden

We are excited to announce the start of Latin School of Chicago’s Vegetable Garden located in the Greenwood Garden. The garden is producing nutritious vegetables this summer, which are being harvested and donated to local organizations for those facing food insecurity. This is one way Latin connects with communities in the city and promotes sustainability.

If you are interested in donating your garden-grown vegetables, please email organizer Helen Jeno at hjeno@latinschool.org and drop the veggies off at Latin’s US front desk on Wednesdays during the summer.

Take a look at our photo gallery here.

To learn more about the garden, please read the mission statement below. 

Latin School of Chicago Vegetable Garden Mission
As part of Latin’s mission to integrate our students into Chicago communities and promote sustainability, the Latin School of Chicago Vegetable Garden is dedicated to building enduring relationships with food-insecure communities in Chicago. We are committed to using Latin’s resources to cultivate healthful food and donate it to local organizations serving those in need. Additionally, we strive to foster mutually beneficial partnerships with these organizations to provide students with valuable insights into urban farming and the systemic disparities contributing to food insecurity.

  • Around School
Latin alum Kent Farrington ’99 represents Team USA in 2024 Paris Olympics

A huge congratulations to Latin alum Kent Farrington ’99 on being one of three Americans who will be competing in equestrian events at the 2024 Paris Olympics!

Farrington, who was born and raised in Chicago, started learning how to ride when he was 8 years old.

This is not the first time Farrington has represented Team USA. He was part of the bronze medal-winning team at the 2016 Rio Olympics, and finished 31st in the individual competition at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

  • Alumni

Below is a list of the faculty and staff members who left Latin at the end of the 2023-24 school year. 

We want to thank them for their hard work and dedicated service on behalf of our school and students, and wish them the best in their future endeavors. 

Upper School

John Brown, History Teacher
Justin Clarke, Counselor
John Layer, French Teacher
Stephanie Stephens, History Teacher (Sabbatical Leave)
Faye Wells, Science Teacher

Middle School

Matt Eighmy, Librarian
Cory Graef, Science Teacher
Michael Hurley, Math Specialist and Math Department Chair
Kia London, Spanish Teacher

Lower School

Alyssa Dudzik, First Grade Lead Teacher
Katie King, Second Grade Lead Teacher

LS Assistant Teachers:

Amara Ball
Lauren Beatty
Kat Behling
Ariel Gomez
Melissa Klein
Jasmine Madrid
Lo Miles
Lauren Ming
Genna Newquist
Carlos Ocampo

Staff

Nick Bennett, Athletics Operations Coordinator
Erin Crowley, School Nurse
Chase Mangoni, Assistant Director of Latin 360
Veronica McCoy, Major Gifts Officer
Justine Venegoni, Lead School Nurse
 

  • Around School
Head of School Yearly Round Up

Dear Latin Community, 

The past several days on campus have been filled with ceremonies and celebrations, hugs and handshakes, and memories and milestones. We completed final assessments and projects; honored students, faculty, and staff for their accomplishments in and out of the classroom; and participated in annual events and activities that mark the end of the school year. We witnessed the transformation of our fourth grade students into middle schoolers, our eighth grade students into high schoolers, and our seniors into proud alums, who are poised to begin the next phase of their lives. 

While there is something somber about seeing the empty hallways, quiet cafeterias, and cleaned-out classrooms, the absence of the persistent buzz and infectious energy in our buildings has provided both the time and opportunity to reflect on our successes from this past year. For example, we made significant progress on the goals and initiatives tied to our strategic plan, including the ongoing alignment of our curricular and co-curricular programs. We continued to cultivate a strong sense of community and belonging through our DEI efforts (e.g., professional development, anti-bias training, affinity groups, etc.). We excelled on the courts and playing fields during all three of our athletic seasons, and had equally amazing results in the performing and visual arts. We helped those in need through volunteerism, service projects, and experiential learning opportunities. In addition, we raised a record $1.8 million during Romans Raise & Revel that will provide critical assistance to students who benefit from financial support. 

None of these achievements would have been possible without the tireless dedication of our faculty, staff, and administrators; the unwavering commitment of our Board of Trustees, Senior Advisory Council, Parent Association and Alumni Association; and the steadfast support of our families. For all of this, we thank you.

When I look ahead to the 2024-25 school year, there is much to be excited about. We will begin the next phase of our strategic planning, invest in priorities that are critical to the success of our students (e.g., health and wellness, technology and innovation, and experiential experiences), and continue working toward a more sustainable future for our School. These are topics we will explore in greater detail this fall.

As we depart for what I hope will be a relaxing summer break, there are a couple things I would like to ask each of us to do. The first is to think about the ways we can further strengthen and affirm our shared values of excellence, community, and integrity. While the good from this year far outweighed the bad, there were instances across our divisions where issues and challenges led us away from these values. With this in mind, I want us to reflect on how we can recommit ourselves to the standards and expectations that help define who we are. I also want us to consider how we can preserve and protect the principles that serve as the guideposts for all we do, and keep them at the center of the efforts we are undertaking to shape the future of our School. 

The second is to carve out ample time to rest, recharge, and reconnect. The stresses and strains of the school year take their toll on everyone. Let’s use the next two months to engage in self-care, focus on our overall health and well-being, and spend as much quality time as possible with friends and families. If we can do these things, I truly believe we will be poised and prepared to accomplish anything we set our minds to when we return in August.

Warm regards, 

Thomas Hagerman
Head of School
 

  • Academics
  • Around School