After a busy summer hiring and planning, I’m excited to welcome the following new faces to our Avoca team this school year!
New Staff Members
Elizabeth Bowman (Avoca West Creative Drama Teacher): Elizabeth moved to Chicago from Ohio many years ago to pursue her acting career. She quickly discovered a love of working with students and teachers to bringing drama into schools throughout the Chicago area. After spending several years in a consultative role, she joined the staff at Healy Elementary School in the city to begin a creative drama program. Three years later, their loss is our gain! We’re excited to have her bring her expertise and that “grass roots” experience to Avoca West this year!
Rebecca Cross (Avoca West 5th Grade Teacher): Becky is finally back in the United States after spending the past two years in Abu Dhabi at a private middle school level academy. There she headed the math department, but she is eager to return to an elementary setting. Becky loves to travel and was able to feed her travel bug while overseas, visiting several countries on her bucket list. We’re excited to have her bring her multicultural mindset and eight years of prior teaching to our staff and students at Avoca West!
Hannah Edgren (Avoca West Kindergarten Teacher): Though the last name is new, after a wedding this past May, Hannah is a familiar face around Avoca West. She spent the 2014-2015 year filling two maternity leave positions in PE and in 1st grade. Her heart is in working with our primary aged students, and she can’t wait to bring her experiences as a kindergarten teacher to our team. As one of the first faces our kindergarten kiddos will see at Avoca West, I’m confident that we will put each child off on the right foot each day as they see her smile!
Brandon Howe (Avoca West 4th Grade Teacher): Brandon is new to Avoca West, but spent last year at Marie Murphy as an instructional assistant. He is thrilled to get back into an elementary school setting and to stretch his long legs in a classroom of his own. Brandon is excited to bring his love of sports and coaching into the classroom as he coaches his students to be their very best each day. Here’s to an exciting year ahead at Avoca!
Stacie Nanus (Avoca West 4th Grade Teacher): Stacie is the newest member of our 4th grade team at Avoca West and brings with her eight years of teaching in a variety of grade levels and capacities — from primary aged to middle schoolers. She is a graduate of Western Michigan and has been working to build her knowledge of working with English Learners in her graduate school work. Stacie is not only excited to jump back into a classroom of her own, but to find a new school family closer than her previous Kildeer school! As a testament to her flexibility and positive attitude, Stacie was interviewed by our team via Skype from the country of Columbia. Welcome aboard!
Emily Bierbower (Avoca West English Language Learner Teacher): Emily is a graduate of U of I at Champaign/Urbana and earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education with Middle School endorsements in math, reading, science and social studies, and most recently completed her work to add English Language teacher. A trip to China was part of her U of I educational experience. She is eager to work with our students and to learn from our incredible staff here at Avoca West.
Olivia Kamysz (Avoca West English Language Learner Teacher): Olivia is well traveled and fluent in Polish and can converse politely in Spanish. Her Bachelor of Science is from Loyola University in Elementary Education with a minor in English as a Second Language and endorsements in Middle School math and science. Dance, biking, hiking and playing tennis are all sports she enjoys. This summer she and friends took a quick vacation out east to Baltimore. Olivia is looking forward to the start of school and will have plenty of stories to share from her summer traveling!
Jennifer Panek (Avoca West Elementary Learning Resource Specialist): After graduation from Arizona State University, Jennifer completed her Master’s in Elementary and Special Education with DePaul University in Chicago. Jennifer student-taught 3rd grade at Avoca West in 2013 and has already been serving our students this summer in our Extended School Year Summer Program. A fun fact. . . the same week she was asked to join Avoca, she also received a marriage proposal (and accepted both)!
Erika Slagel (Avoca West Instructional Assistant): Erika has been out east for the past several years earning her elementary and special education certifications/licenses. She is looking forward to being back in an elementary setting learning from our fabulous staff! Her warm demeanor and creativity will certainly be a bonus as she works with our primary students and classroom teachers this school year.
Here’s to another fabulous school year!