2021 - 2022 Teacher Bios
BECCA BAGGETT: (Government / Civics) Becca has a degree in Social Studies Education and was homeschooled herself through 6th grade. She spent several years in Northern Ireland after college and worked in youth ministry for almost 5 years. She and her husband, Nate, have two young boys and love being outside and playing all sorts of board games. Contact info: [email protected].
LIZ CASSIDY: (FUN WITH MATH, DISCOVERY SCIENCE) LIZ is a 23 year veteran homeschool mom of nine, with a BS degree in Math/Computer Science from University of Illinois, Champaign/Urbana. A love for math and discovery of learning for children makes teaching a joy for her and those learning. She has taught religious education for a number of years to all different levels of education. She is actively involved with church and loves to cook, read, and garden. She has been a member of CHAMPS since 2016.
DEBBIE CHENAULT: (5th – 6th Grade Literature; Jr. High Literature; HS Literature; Traditional Logic) Debbie is excited to be teaching literature to all ages. Her love of good books began when she was a young girl, and she is looking forward to sharing that love with students. Traditional Logic is a new course this year. Her children took the course through Memoria Press. In these times, it is very important that our children are able to think logically and present arguments without fallacies. Debbie is looking forward to helping students develop these skills. Debbie and her husband, Bill, have home schooled their children for thirteen years. The Chenaults have been members of Champs since 2009. Contact info: [email protected]
ISABELA CIUCA: (SQL Programming; Introduction to Video Game Programming) Isabela has been teaching computer programming courses at community college in the last 5 years and has been working with SQL programming in her job for the past 10 years. She is looking forward in sharing her SQL programming interest and knowledge with her students at Champs this coming fall. Contact info: [email protected]
MICHAEL DREW: (Guitar) Michael started taking piano lessons when he turned nine years old. As any reluctant youth would be so accustomed to do, he didn't take his musical aspirations very seriously-----much to his parents chagrin. Days after the September 11 attacks, Michael was watching the "Concert for New York" and was so inspired by the gifted musicians that he vowed to learn how to play guitar. Thus began his dedication to music and Michael's decision to ensure that it would always be a main focus of his life.
Throughout high school, Michael practiced the guitar for five hours a day, proving to himself and his parents that even though he did not come from a musical family, nothing was going to stop him from making his dream become a reality. To hone his skills on a deeper level, Michael studied classical guitar and music theory at Judson University. This decision proved worthwhile. Michael realized that teaching others how to play guitar and piano was a great way to earn a living while continuing to play music.
Michael is a member of one the hottest up and coming Chicago-based alternative rock bands, Adora. The band has received a host of national press, including mentions in AP magazine, and band highlights on FUSE TV. Adora has played many of the top Chicago venues, including sold out show at the Metro and House of Blues. The band is currently finishing final production work on their second EP which is due to be available in early 2012.
Michael also is engaged in a number of personal musical projects. He is a musician at Westridge Community Church, is forming a cover band that will begin touring local venues in the near future, and recently finished his first solo EP. Contact info: [email protected]
MASHA FURMANOVA: (Children's Theatre I and II and Improv for Pre-Teens and Teens) I came to Champs 6 years ago with my then-homeschooling daughter. (She is now in a private high school.) We instantly realized that this was where we belonged on Mondays. In search of an improv class for my daughter, Champs gave me the opportunity to create such a class. This led to my developing a new theatre class - that implies improvisation- for very young children.
Masha has been involved in theatre for years: College plays, Christmas concerts at church, creating a backyard play of my parent's history (performed by their grandchildren), to being a student of improv for going on 12 years. I absolutely love theatre - but the joy in childrens' eyes as they come to life through imagination and creativity is what really makes it worth teaching said classes. Contact info: [email protected]
NANCY GILLES: (Art) Nancy studied at Indiana University and received a BFA in Fine Arts, certified to teach K - 12. She received a MAR (Masters of Arts and Religion) from Trinity International University. She taught Art History and Applied Fine Arts at Trinity College for 2 years. Nancy has taught at CHAMPs since 2002. Contact info: [email protected]
ARLENE HARDMAN: (Spanish) Arlene received a BS in bilingual education/elementary education with a minor in Spanish. She received her MA in Christian Ed. from Trinity Seminary, and has been working with children since her first experiences as a teacher's aide in a migrant program for Spanish-speaking kids while she was in college. She has done mission work in Panama, Mexico, Honduras, and Venezuela. She taught in Waukegan in a bilingual program for 2 years, and was an ESL teacher in Mundelein while in seminary. Arlene has taught Spanish to kids in an after-school program for public school students, as well as to home-schooled students in another co-op. Learning Spanish has opened up a whole new world for Arlene, and she looks forward to making Spanish fun for your children. Arlene has taught at CHAMPs since 2007. Contact info: [email protected]
JIM HARDMAN: (Spanish) Jim has a Master’s Degree from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Deerfield, IL. He has lived in two countries outside of the US, is fluent in Spanish and has 6 years of formal Greek studies. Jim and his wife, Arlene, have four adult children and are members of Gracepointe Church in Mundelein. This will be Jim’s seventeenth year teaching at CHAMPs. Contact info: [email protected]
JACKELYN HERR: (Pre-school) Jackelyn is married to Jon Herr and is a mother of four children, ages seven to seven months. Jackie has a Social Worker degree and has worked in the adoption field until moving to Illinois in 2017. She currently home schools her children and keeps busy at home with her family and church family. Contact info: [email protected]
JEREMY HUNTINGTON: (High School Running Club) Jeremy's father was a high school cross country and track coach for 30 years in Ohio. Jeremy didn't really get interested in running until he was in college and he has run regularly since then. Jeremy has completed two Chicago marathons, several half marathons, and many other shorter races. Jeremy enjoys participating in and watching all kinds of sports. He has coached youth sports and helps out with Awana and children's ministry at his church. Jeremy and his wife, Kristen, began homeschooling their three kids in 2020. Contact info: [email protected]
KRISTEN HUNTINGTON: (PE 8 – 12 yos.) As the daughter of two P.E. professors, Kristen knows the importance of physical activity in the lives of children. She has a B.S. in Exercise Science and an M.S. in Sport Management. She spent time working in both the fitness and education fields. She has been married to her husband Jeremy for 15 years and they have 3 children. She enjoys outdoor activities and tending her perennial garden. Contact info: [email protected]
CATHY JONES-ENDRES: (Lego League Robotics) Cathy attended the University of Illinois and received her BS in Mechanical Engineering. She has been a coach/mentor and judge of FIRST Lego League since 2003. Cathy is a mentor to the FIRST FRC High School Robotics team(s) for the last 10 years. She has been a member of CHAMPS since 2015. Contact info: [email protected]
JOANNA KRAS (Creative Movement/Preschool PE): Joanna graduated from Simpson College with a bachelors in music – vocal performance. She received an MS in Music Therapy. Joanna has experience working with children, teens, and the geriatric population. Joanna currently homeschools her four children and cantors at St Theresa Parish.
MELISSA LOFRANO (3D Printing STEM and 3D Printing Engineering and Entrepreneur Classes): Melissa has been teaching 3D Printing classes since the spring of 2015 in home school co-ops as well as various afterschool programs. She has an MBA from North Park University and a B.S. Degree in Industrial Engineering from UIC, as well as 15+ years work experience in various manufacturing sectors. This includes experience training both adults and children. In her free time, Melissa enjoys knitting and spending time with her husband, two sons and two dogs. Contact Info: Email:[email protected], Cell:(847) 749-3054.
KINGA MACIEJEWSKI: (Five-in-a-Row / Jr. Literature for 5 – 7 yos; Creative Movement) Kinga has homeschooled her two children since 2019. She has had experience working with children in many group settings. After graduating from the University of Illinois, she has worked as a speech therapy paraprofessional at a school for children with developmental disabilities. She enjoys using adapted and interactive books with children, as they create a fun and positive learning environment. Kinga is excited to continue her journey at CHAMPS.
TAMMY MASSEY: (Chemistry, Physics, Marine Biology) Tammy has a Bachelor of Science in Biology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, and a Master of Science in Education from Northwestern University, Evanston, IL. She taught high school biology and physical science at Schaumburg High School from 1996-2001. At that point she stayed home to raise her two boys and started homeschooling when they were young. In 2015, Tammy began teaching high school biology again to homeschooled students as an independent teacher and has continued to teach each of the core sciences, rotating through biology, physics and chemistry. She also teaches a marine biology class. This will be her first year with CHAMPS. Tammy loves the opportunity to inspire students to explore the amazing world around them through the lens of each core science while guiding and preparing them for future classes in high school and beyond. Contact info: [email protected]
CANDY MURRAY: (Piano/Music Teacher): Candy received her BA in Theology/Music from Kent Christian College in 1992. She has predominately used her gift to further the kingdom of God as a minister of music. Candy has played and taught piano since 1985 although occasionally she plays flute, accordion and organ. Her styles of teaching include; classical, chord charts and ear training. She currently teaches privately in several suburbs of Chicago. She is married and the mother to three, Jeremy, Abigail, and Alex. Candy is passionate about her relationship with Christ and is very involved in her local church. In her down time, Candy enjoys reading and traveling with her family. Contact info [email protected]
LEA PAPRITZ: (Children's Choir / Teen Choir / Private Voice and Piano Lessons) Lea has been a homeschool mom for almost 15 years. She and her husband Dave began this journey somewhat tentatively, in Northbrook, when their third born daughter began first grade. Their fourth child, and only son (with 5 sisters!) will be graduating from high school this spring.
Lea leads the children’s and teen choirs at Champs, and offers private voice lessons. She is also willing to teach beginning through intermediate level piano students. (Lea does have experience with reading chords and some piano improv for interested students.) Her degree in vocal music performance was obtained from Luther College. She takes great delight in leading worship, and writing contemporary Christian music centered on Christ, and the gospel. Contact info: [email protected]
EMILEE PETERSON: (Ballet / Social Dance / Private Dance Lessons / Sewing): Emilee began studying Ballet and Jazz at the age of six. For twelve years she trained at the Lisa Boehm School of Ballet, performing in solo roles and the corps de ballet for the EAPA’s and Lisa Boehm’s production of the Nutcracker. She then went on to train at The Faubourg School of Ballet, with the world known and acclaimed Watmora Casey, where she performed a duet in the ballet Paquita, which helped land her a scholarship to study at the Joffrey Ballet School in NYC. Emilee also studied Drama for several years, performing in 42nd Street, On the Town, Guys-n- Dolls, Macbeth and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
After finishing High School, Emilee attended the International Academy of Merchandising and Design in Chicago. She graduated with an Associates Degree in Fashion Design in 1999.
In 2000 Emilee was introduced to the world of competitive Ballroom Dancing. She began teaching ballroom dancing and training here in Chicago at Chicago Dance. In 2001 Emilee started competing as a Professional Ballroom dancer and a Pro-Am competitor, taking first place in many competitions all over the country in both categories. In 2003 she started her costume design business, Mimi G Designs, making custom ballroom dance costumes and apparel. All of this eventually took her back to NYC for more intensive dance training with the country’s top coaches and directors. While in NYC, Emilee continued to teach and compete in Pro-Am competitions, and perform with her professional dance partner. In 2007 they performed the lead dramatic roles in The Rhythm of Love, at the Palace Theatre in Stamford, CT. Emilee also continued to build Mimi G Designs and has had her costumes televised on America’s Ballroom Challenge, Dance Fever, the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, and most recently was featured in a Ford commercial during the season premiere of Smash. After returning to Chicago, Emilee happily joined with the Lookingglass Theatre as the choreographer for their 2012 and 2014 productions of Cascabel.
Nearly twenty years after taking her first dance steps at Chicago Dance, Emilee is happy to now own and operate Chicago Dance Ballroom and Latin Studio, located in Chicago.
She is thrilled to be sharing her love for Ballet, Ballroom Dance, and design/clothing construction with you. Contact info: [email protected]
BRIAN PREWITT: (Introduction to Apologetics) Brian received an M.Div. at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, a J.D. from the University of Virginia, and a B.A. in Political Science and Psychology from Rice University. He is currently the Preaching Minister for Cardinal Drive Church of Christ in Rolling Meadows, and has previously served churches in Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina. He has previously worked as a prosecutor and in the areas of business litigation and criminal defense in North Carolina. Contact info: [email protected]
LAURA VANDERCAR: (Violin) Laura has over 25 years of teaching experience. She taught at Palatine Music Center for 19 years and is currently teaching at the Music Room in Palatine as well as Rolling Meadows High School. Her teaching style includes a blend of Suzuki and traditional methods.
Laura has always had a love for music. But, she has an utter joy for playing and teaching others the violin and viola. She first learned how to play the violin through the Suzuki Method and fondly recalls her learning experiences as a child. Laura draws upon some of these early learning memories to better connect with young students. It also helps that Laura is the mother of five with ages ranging from 29 to 12 years old who taught her unlimited patience.
Laura always enjoys the enthusiasm of all beginners, especially adults first learning to play. She also loves the middle and senior high school violinist who is frequently in need of technical instruction and lyrical coaching. She is highly skilled in observation and analysis and thereby is able to trouble shoot and correct technique using creative methods.
Laura graduated cum laude from Illinois State University and holds a Master’s degree from Northeastern Illinois University. She applies her knowledge of anatomy, physiology, and body mechanics to make playing the violin easier for all ages and skill levels. Laura’s playing experience includes performances for local churches, pit orchestras, weddings, music therapy in nursing facilities as well as other private events.
Laura teaches a wide variety of musical styles, including classical, gypsy, Celtic, and country. Contact info: [email protected]
TAIT WASSER: (Physical Eduction / Private Pilot Ground School): Tait and his wife Marijana, have homeschooled their 3 daughters for the past 14 years. At their previous co-op in Pennsylvania Tait taught both physical education and running club for 5 years. Tait enjoys passing on his passion for running and sports to today's youth. Tait enjoys spending time with his family and any outdoor activity. Contact info [email protected]