Faculty and Staff

Ms. Basil

DIRECTOR, SPECIAL PROJECTS

Ms. Basil grew up in the Twin Cities and then spent six years completing two programs through the University of Notre Dame - an Undergraduate degree and a Masters of Education. In her Masters program, Maddie was living and teaching 5th grade in Peoria, Illinois. She decided to move to Chicago following graduation and is ecstatic about pursing her passion of education in a new way - a Network role at Chicago Collegiate. Maddie loves the core value of Pride and believes in all actions that make you are proud of those actions and yourself. In Maddie’s spare time, she loves photography, visiting her family in Minnesota, and trying new hobbies. 

Ms. Belawske

HIGH SCHOOL ENGLISH/HISTORY

Ms. Belawske  has been teaching Social Studies for over 24 years in urban, suburban, and rural settings.  She believes that Civic Education is the heart of the entire education system.  Ms. Belawske earned a B.S.E. in Social Studies Comprehension from Mansfield University, Mansfield, PA, and a Masters’ Degree in Education Curriculum and Instruction from New England College, Henniker, NH.  She enjoys preparing her students to take on AP courses in the future, and teaching electives such as Model UN and Law to her students. Creative problem-solving is one of her favorite activities.

Ms. Betts

MIDDLE SCHOOL DEAN

Bio coming soon.

Ms. Carew

CONSULTANT

Raised on the South Side of Chicago, Jillian is committed to ensuring all students have access to a quality education. She earned a BA from the U of I @ Urbana-Champaign, a MAT from UNLV as a TFA corps member, and is currently pursuing her PhD at Eastern Michigan University. She taught grades 3, 9, and 11 before going on to serve as a dean, assistant principal, and eventually principal. During her time as a school leader, she secured more than a half million dollars in grant money to personalize learning for her students and dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline by creating a pathway to college for all kids. Her passion for the work can be best summarized by a quote from Marian Wright Edelman: “The question is not whether we can afford to invest in every child; it is whether we can afford not to.” Jillian is committed to changing the narrative and proving what is possible for Black and Brown kids and in the city of Chicago. She loves to collect sneakers and travel in her spare time.

Ms. Childress

PARAPROFESSIONAL

Ms. Childress was born in Chicago Heights IL. She graduated from Le Cordon Bleu College with a Diploma in Patisserie and Baking and an Associates in Applied Science. Her most memorable professional experience was working with a bakery owner during her externship in college. She is passionate about gaining experience and constantly learning new things. In her free time Ms. Childress loves experimenting with new baking ideas and binge watching shows on TV. This year she looks forward to having some form of normalcy and being able to get out and have a life outside of home again.

Ms. Daniels

DANCE AND THEATER ARTS

Ms. Daniels started as the Performing Arts Teacher at Chicago Collegiate Charter School in 2017. A native of Louisville, KY and mother of one son, Ms. Daniels relocated to Chicago in 1972. Ms. Daniels has always had a passion for the Arts. She received a Music Scholarship to Jackson State University majoring in Voice Performance. Ms. Tiffany received her BA & MA in Inner City Studies Education at Northeastern Illinois University. Ms. Daniels’ formal dance training began at the age of five. She has received technical and theoretical training from the Jewel McNair Dance Studio, Mayfair Academy, Duncan YMCA, Blyden Center for Creative Development, Muntu Dance Company, Bryant Ballet Company, and the Joel Hall Dance Center. Deeply rooted in her African/American Heritage and Artistic Awareness, Ms. Daniels began her teaching career in 1998, in the capacity of Multi-Disciplined dance, and Theater Education. She founded the Nubian Cultural Center-NFP, Inc. and its Healing through the Arts Dance program in 2005 which has been providing Performing Arts and Mentoring workshops to various Public and Charter Schools who lack culturally enriched arts programs in Chicago. Ms. Daniels has the desire to leave a legacy of Creative Freedom to children and families who are artistically expressive regardless of age, size, gender, and ethnicity, which will lead them to an empowering alternative, and an optimistic and purposeful future.

Ms. Donnelly

CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER

Ms. Donnelly grew up primarily in Long Beach, IN, and attended college at Princeton University, where she graduated with a degree in Politics and a certificate in Political Economy. She began her career in education reform and nonprofit employment as a Project 55 summer intern, working at KIPP Foundation in San Francisco after her sophomore year. In her senior year, Shannon began working for Teach For America as a campus recruiter, and after graduation she moved to Washington DC and joined full-time staff at Teach For America. She worked there for over twelve years on operations for teacher training. Shannon moved back to northwest Indiana in October 2013, settling in Chesterton near her family, and in March 2016, she joined the Chicago Collegiate team. She is the proud mother of two young girls and now gets to experience the public school system from the parent perspective. Shannon is beyond excited to be at Chicago Collegiate where she can work towards educational equity and expanding opportunities for all students on a local level.

Ms. Drigotas

HIGH SCHOOL BIOLOGY

Ms. Drigotas is originally from Baltimore, Maryland, and moved to Chicago in 2015 to attend the University of Chicago. At UChicago she studied biology and comparative human development. Ms. Drigotas began her educational journey by joining Teach for America, where she taught summer school at Urban Prep Englewood. Her placement school is Chicago Collegiate. Ms. Drigotas is excited to enter her second year with Collegiate as a Biology and Chemistry teacher.

Ms. Epstein

LEARNING SPECIALIST

Ms. Epstein was born and raised about an hour North of New York City. After graduating with a degree in History from Denison University, her love of working with students brought her back to New York to work with City Year. After two amazing years in the classroom, Ms. Epstein realized she had found her passion and joined Teach For America to continue a career in education while also pursuing a Masters degree in Diverse Learning. Ms. Epstein was placed at Chicago Collegiate during her TFA years and is excited to continue growing and learning with the school. Her favorite part about teaching at Collegiate is seeing students realize they are capable of achieving things they previously thought were unattainable.

Ms. Finley

HIGH SCHOOL MATH

Ms. Finley grew up in the South Suburbs of Chicago. As a child she always knew she wanted to be a teacher. She attended the University of Missouri - Columbia, MO graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in Middle School Math Education. Ari taught for a year in Kansas City before returning home to Chicago. Her favorite part about teaching at Chicago Collegiate is building relationships with scholars and helping them see their potential.

Mr. Gordon

RESTORATIVE JUSTICE & P.E.

Mr. Gordon was born in Gary, Indiana and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Mr. Gordon attended Central Christian College of McPherson, Kansas where he was recruited on a basketball scholarship with a partial academic scholarship. He later transferred to University of Wisconsin-Whitewater where he studied business marketing. His most memorable professional moment at Chicago Collegiate is being able to bring athletics to the school. Mr. Gordon prides himself on the many relationships he has with the students. When he is not at Collegiate, he is being a father to his biological kids Emily and Coby, as well as being a father figure to the kids in his GS Youth Community Development Organization NFP. Mr. Gordon uses this platform to train, coach, tutor, and mentor inner city youth.

Ms. Gralewski

ELEMENTARY SCHOOL LEARNING SPECIALIST

Ms. Gralewski was born and raised on the southside of Chicago. She grew up in the back of the Yards neighborhood and currently resides in Beverly/Morgan Park area. Cailie graduated from Saint Xavier University with a Secondary Education/ History degree. In 2018 she earned her learning behavior specialist endorsement and is now a learning specialist for Math and Core. Cailie is extremely passionate about urban education because she believes that every child deserves equal access to a quality education. Cailie is most excited to build strong relationships with families in the Roseland community this year. 

Mr. Hegwood

RESTORATIVE JUSTICE COORDINATOR

It takes patience, dedication, and compassion to serve students in the city of Chicago. Mr. Hegwood displays these characteristics every single day. Dean Hegwood was raised in Calumet Park, Illinois, which is a south suburb of Chicago. He is a graduate of Alan B. Shepard High School where he thrived in football, wrestling, and concert choir. His education career started in 2010 at Dodge Renaissance Academy, which was a CPS school on the west-side of Chicago. This is where his life changed for the better because he met the Love of his life. Dean Hegwood is married and is the proud father of two wonderful children. Dean Hegwood has an Associates Degree in Criminal Justice from Colorado Technical University, and is currently enrolled at Governors State University where he will earn his Bachelors Degree. As the Restorative Justice Coordinator, he seeks to motivate students to reach their full potential by creating a safe environment so that students can succeed in academics and in character. As we embark on this virtual journey, Hegwood is embracing this school year - willing and able to do whatever is needed for students at Collegiate to thrive. Dean Hegwood values education and his vision is articulated in this quote by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr: "Intelligence plus character–that is the goal of true education". Dean Hegwood enjoys spending time with family, exercising, bowling, mentoring young men, and he actively serves at church as a Minister.

Ms. Howard

ELEMENTARY SCHOOL ELA

Ms. Howard is a 5th grade ELA teacher here at Chicago Collegiate. She was born and raised on the South Side of Chicago. She attended Bradley University in Peoria, IL where she joined Sigma Gamma Rho, Sorority Inc. and graduated with her Bachelor's in Early Childhood Education. After graduating she moved back to Chicago where she taught Pre-K for two years. Her favorite part about Chicago Collegiate is how they give teachers the support they need in order for them to be the teachers that our students deserve. 

Ms. Jamison

PARAPROFESSIONAL

Ms. Jamison was born and raised on Chicago‘s south side. From a young age she knew that she would grow to serve the community that made who her who she was. After studying at Northern Illinois University, she came home to work a small part-time job as a clerk at Chicago Collegiate, while just trying to figure out post-college life. Never in her wildest dreams did she think that she would form such strong bonds with the students and staff there. It quickly became clear to her that she wanted to pursue a career in education and help children in her own neighborhood reach their fullest potential. This year Ms. Jamison just hopes to make the best out of complicated hand we’ve all been dealt.

Ms. Johnson

MATH

Ms. Johnson was born and raised on the southside of Chicago. As the second eldest of seven children in a single parent household, she always dreamed of becoming a teacher. Ms. Johnson earned a Bachelor's degree in Biological Sciences from the University of Chicago. After college, she decided to start her teaching career in New Orleans, Louisiana where she lived for four years. In 2012, she decided to come back home to Chicago and become a founding 9th grade Algebra teacher at Hansberry College Prep. In 2016, she graduated from the Relay Graduate School of Education with a Master's degree in Secondary Mathematics. 

Mr. Jordon

HIGH SCHOOL LEARNING SPECIALIST

Bio coming soon.

Ms. Leahy

BARR, COLLEGE COMPLETION & ONEGOAL COORDINATOR

Ms. Leahy grew up in and around Chicagoland. After obtaining a BA in Creative Writing from Loyola University Chicago, her social justice journey took her to Walterboro, SC where she taught 7th grade ELA for three years through Teach for America. After obtaining her Master’s Degree in Education, she moved back to Chicago and began working with Collegiate and Team CollegeBound in Summer 2016. Ms. Leahy is overjoyed to be back home in Chicago, where she can cheer on the Bears and enjoy her favorite food- deep dish! Her favorite part about teaching at Collegiate is observing scholars interact with their world and one another through their thoughtful annotations of text.

Ms. C Lewis

MIDDLE SCHOOL TEACHER

Ms. C. Lewis grew up on the Southside of Chicago. She graduated with a Bachelors degree in education from Chicago State University, and is currently pursuing her Masters in special education at Depaul University. She has been in education for about 5 years where she worked with diverse learners for two and a half of those years as a dedicated paraprofessional and in a self contained classroom. The other two years she taught fifth grade ELA, and then her last half of a year she was a dedicated paraprofessional to a high school diverse learner. Helping kids has always been a passion of her, and she discovered it was a part of her many purposes in life, when she started in the education field years ago.

Ms. T Lewis

HIGH SCHOOL OPERATIONS COORDINATOR

Ms. Lewis is from Chicago. She attended Indiana State University,  where she received both her B.S. and M.S. in Criminology and Criminal Justice. Tammy has spent most of her early career working for students and families to provide post-secondary opportunities which includes attending college/universities, job readiness, and trade opportunities along with two years as a second grade teacher assistant. Currently Tammy is working to receive her Ed.D in Education and Ethical Leadership from Olivet Nazarene University via online. Tammy is passionate about education and providing great customer service to families and their children. 

Mrs. Lucas-Curtis

HIGH SCHOOL CLERK

Ms. Lucas was born and raised on the South-side of Chicago. As the oldest of four, her expectations were established for her to be the best example that she can be! Ms. Lucas obtained her Bachelor's Degree from Roosevelt University where she majored in Criminal Justice and minored in African American Studies. Prior to attending Roosevelt University, she obtained her Associate's Degree from Harold Washington College. While in school, Ms. Lucas worked closely with the Social Justice Department and participated in the Black Student Union. Furthermore, Ms. Lucas gained administrative experience from her previous positions as a operations coordinator, consultant, and receptionist. What keeps Ms. Lucas going is Langston Hughes poem "Mother to Son"! Her favorite hobbies are reading, dancing, and spending time with her family. Ms. Lucas joined the Chicago Collegiate family because she wanted to make a difference and has a passion for young people. 

Mrs. Powell

TEACHER

Mrs. Powell was born and raised in Iowa. She has been educating young children for more than 20 years. She has a special gift for working with struggling readers, as well as super readers and everyone in between. She has taught in several Chicago neighborhoods, as well as in Iowa, Florida, The United Arab Emirates and China. She earned a bachelor's degree in Elementary Education from Clarke College. She holds a master's degree in Educational Leadership from Capella University, and a master's degree in Reading from Grand Canyon University. She is married to Anthony, and has a lovely 8 year old daughter named Casey.

Ms. Mills

SOCIAL WORKER

Ms. Mills grew up in La Grange, IL and graduated from Jane Addams College of Social Work. She worked for Metropolitan Family Services (MFS) in their Roseland office. Ms. Mills was part of an intensive counseling team that provided services in the home on both the south and west sides. Later, she provided crisis and mental health services to children and families in the South Chicago office of MFS. Ms. Mills worked at and then directed a shelter for women and children fleeing violence. Her passion is helping people process what they have lived through, and identifying the patterns of power and control that have prevented them from recognizing their strengths. She enjoy spending time with her wife and friends. Ms. Mills likes to bike, do yoga, meditate and read. She is a hobby herbalist who is learning about harvesting herbs and making teas and medicines from them.

Ms. Montgomery

PARAPROFESSIONAL

Bio coming soon.

Ms. Nicholson

PARAPROFESSIONAL

Ms. Nicholson was born and raised in Chicago, IL. She attended Chicago State University and earned her Bachelor and Master’s Degrees in Criminal Justice from Kaplan University. While working on her Master’s Degree, Beverly worked at the Cook County Department of Corrections. She returned to the education field, where she has over 30 years’ experience working as a behavior specialist, paraprofessional, substitute teacher and scholar success advocate (assistant dean).  She joined Chicago Collegiate in August. Her favorite part of Chicago Collegiate is being part of a great team that provides students with a foundation for a college education and educates students to be creative, critical thinkers, and responsible citizens at school, home and in the community. 

Ms. Pates

STUDENT AND FAMILY SUPPORT SPECIALIST

Ms. Pates was born in Chicago, IL and studied at Chicago State University. Ms. Pates' most memorable professional experience was teaching PAT (Parents as Teachers curriculum) to families connected to SGA Youth and Family Service. Before long, SGA partnered Ms. Pates with Chicago Collegiate Charter School as the Student and Family Support Liaison. Ms. Pates is passionate about serving the community and coaching others to advocate for themselves. In her free time, she likes to party plan and make memories with her family. This year, Ms. Pates looks forward to building stronger family and school relationships.

Ms. Petty

SCHOOL CLERK

Ms. Petty grew up in a small city known as Muskegon, MI. She is the 11th of thirteen children and has two children of her own. While in Muskegon she studied Anthropology at Muskegon Community College. She relocated to Houston, TX then to Chicago, IL nearly thirty years ago. While in Houston Essie worked as an estimator and a paste up artist for a printing company. Upon her arrival to Chicago she studied Court Reporting at Chicago College of Commerce. Later she studied Human Resource Management and Old World Religion at St. Xavier University on the Southside of Chicago. Since then she has worked as a Human Resource Administrator for two major corporations, Jays Potato Chips and Robert Bosch Automotive Division. Being passionate and devoted to works that uplift the community by any means necessary, Essie is a constant agent in community partnerships. She loves to read, is a feral cat caretaker, an Advisory Council Member for Kairos Outside Illinois, a Board Member for a domestic violence ministry, and a Board Member/Treasurer at her church. She works with youth in the high school's main office. 

Mr. Pilcher

PARAPROFESSIONAL

Bio coming soon.

Ms. Plebanski

ENGLISH

Ms. Plebanski was born on the south side of Chicago, IL. She graduated from Bradley University. She is most passionate about making sure she encourages the people around her to be the best version of themselves. In her free time, Ms. Plebanski likes to go on walks by the lakefront in the summer and spend time baking the fall/winter seasons. This year, Ms. Plebanski is looking forward to teaching her amazing mathematicians whether it be virtual or in person!

Ms. Pointe

MIDDLE SCHOOL TEACHER

Ms. Pointe was raised in the midlands of South Carolina, but has had the privilege of living and working with students across the United States, Europe, and Africa during her seventeen year career in education. Ms. Pointe has taught many grade levels from preschool to college, and has served as an administrator. Ms. Pointe is active in the community as a volunteer with the Chicago Urban League, Deborah's Place Women's Shelters, and several charity organizations supporting children in foster care. Ms. Pointe is also a literary researcher and student with the Department of Education of The University of Oxford where she is working with educators around the world on literary research and linguistic strategies to reshape the early childhood learning process. Ms. Pointe enjoys traveling, reading and tacos, in that order.

Mr. Pyle

CASE MANAGER

Derrick was born and raised in South Bend, Indiana. He joined the United States Marine Corps in 2007 and earned an Honorable Discharge in 2015. He received a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Criminal Justice from Indiana University before joining the prestigious Philadelphia Teaching Fellows in 2012. He embraced their mission to transform academic outcomes and reduce the achievement gap of students in educationally underserved neighborhoods.  Derrick continued his education while teaching in inner city Philadelphia and obtained a Master’s Degree in Education with a certification in Special Education in 2014 from Chestnut Hill College. Derrick was voted Teacher of the Year at Universal Creighton Charter School in 2019. He relocated to Chicago with his family and accepted a Case Manager position at Chicago Collegiate Charter School. He enjoys playing with his two children as well as sitting back and watching movies with his wife on his down time. Derrick hopes to bring his giant personality and ability to bring the “joy factor” into every classroom at Collegiate. 

Ms. Richards

ENGLISH LANGUAGE ARTS

Ms. Richards is the epitome of "Your circumstance and environment doesn't have to shape who you are." Ms. Richards was born and raised on the westside of Chicago in Ogden Courts Housing Projects. She decided to teach because she wanted to be the teacher that she needed. She comes from the same background as many of our scholars, so she relates well with them. SHE STRIVES TO PROVE TO EACH INDIVIDUAL THAT THEY MATTER AND THEY CAN SUCCEED!

Mr. Rosecrants

MANAGING DIRECTOR, SCHOOL OPERATIONS

Mr. Rosecrants grew up in Zanesville, Ohio, and graduated from Ohio University's Scripps School of Journalism with a degree in News Writing & Editing and a specialization in Political Science. While in college, he was a proud member of the Marching 110, Ohio University's marching band. He travels back to campus each fall for Homecoming, an opportunity for him to meet up with lifelong friends and break out his trombone once again. After receiving his degree, he joined Teach For America as a corps member teaching eighth-grade English in the Bronx for three years. He then moved to Orlando, Florida, joining full-time staff at Teach For America where he would spend nearly eight years pursuing a variety of operations, finance, and communications roles. Before moving to Chicago he made a brief three-year pit stop in Washington D.C. He joined the Chicago Collegiate team in the 2017 summer and loves being back around the buzz and brilliant energy of a school each day.   

Ms. Ruiz-Villalvazo

ELEMENTARY SCHOOL CLERK

Dolores was born and raised on the south side of Chicago, residing in the Roseland community for over 50 years.  She attended DePaul University, majoring in Sociology.  Dolores' career has primarily focused on event planning and management as well as fundraising and marketing.  She has served on the boards of the Roseland Boys and Girls Club, Chicago Family Health and Metropolitan Family Services and is active in CAPS.  In her spare time, Dolores enjoys creating custom cakes, going for walks, and reading.

Mr. Saunders

A Graduate from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, with possession of a Broadcast Journalism Degree. Additionally, high experience working in the Urban Education, with qualifications succeeding in many areas such as Instructional behavior, Effective Learning environment, Commitment, and Team Work. Originally from Chicago, IL, moving to the south suburbs in early education, graduating from Homewood-Flossmoor High School. Mr. Saunders enjoys, traveling, exploring, and learning more about the world while doing it. Planning to eventually become a TV Director. Mr. Saunders, enjoys educating our youth while doing it.

Ms. Scaife

MATH

Ms. Scaife was born and raised on the South Side of Chicago. She attended the University of Missouri- Columbia with a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Development and Family Studies- Child Development and Education. After graduating she moved back to Chicago where she worked as an Inclusion Aide for the Chicago Park District and shortly after taught Preschool for two years. She has worked with children of all ages in various settings and looks forward to working with more. Ms. Scaife joined Chicago Collegiate because she is passionate about education, building strong relationships, and making a difference.

Ms. Sims

7TH AND 8TH GRADE HISTORY

Ms. Sims was born in Chicago, IL and has worked in education for 14+ years. A graduate of Governors State University with a Bachelors of Arts in Elementary Education and Masters of Arts in Educational Administration, she is looking forward to one day adding a doctorate degree to her list of accomplishments. Her favorite part of working at Chicago Collegiate is the family atmosphere among the staff and students. In her spare time, Ms. Sims enjoys record collecting, spending time with her son, and watching 90's sitcoms.

Ms. Soo

OPERATIONS COORDINATOR

Ms. Soo is from Naperville, IL and graduated from Vanderbilt University, majoring in Human & Organizational Development. After graduation, she joined Teach for America in Chicago and was a founding Kindergarten and 2nd grade teacher at Great Lakes Academy. During her three years of teaching, she also earned her Master's Degree in Elementary Education from Dominican University. Last year, she was teaching English in South Korea as a Fulbright Scholar and had the time of her life! Now, she is thrilled to be part of the Operations Team at Chicago Collegiate! In her free time, she loves coffee, traveling, and exploring new restaurants in Chicago!

Mr. Sullivan

Mr. Sullivan grew up in the Morgan Park area of Chicago. His journey from there to Chicago Collegiate involves Acting and English Bachelor’s Degrees from Illinois State University and over a decade of teaching both subjects at the high school level.  He is excited to be a part of Chicago Collegiate and help students grow as readers, writers, and thinkers.

Ms. Talbot-Lovemore

I was born in Chicago, IL. I graduated from UIC with a bachelor in English, minor in statistics. My most memorable professional is forming relationships with my students. I am extremely passionate about educating the youth. I am most excited about scholars exceeding beyond expectations. 

Ms. Thomas

PARAPROFESSIONAL

Ms. Thomas was born and raised on the south side of Chicago. She attended Mississippi Valley State University and Argosy University with a major in Psychology and minor in Child Development. She has a passion and love for children. She has held positions in case management and human resources but somehow  always ended up doing what she enjoyed the most and that is working with children. Gretchen has worked for CPS, YMCA of Metro Chicago and Catalyst Charter School system. What she enjoys most about Chicago Collegiate Charter School is that everyone shares the same vision for our children and that is instilling the value of education and that success is not easy but definitely obtainable.

Ms. Thomas

PARAPROFESSIONAL

Ms. Thomas was born and raised on the South Side of Chicago. She graduated from Hyde Park Career Academy and went on to work in the medical field, obtaining her CNA Certificate. Changing careers from medical to education has proven to be very rewarding for Ms. Thomas. Currently in school to obtain her Bachelors in Education, Ms. Thomas loves working with children. Ms. Thomas joined Chicago Collegiate in November of 2017 as a Paraprofessional.

Ms. Wilbourn

PARAPROFESSIONAL

Ms. Wilbourn was born on Chicago's Near North side, in the Cabrini Housing Projects. However she moved out at the age of 10 to the South Side where she still resides. In her free time, Ms. Wilbourn likes to watch Youtube tutorials and listen to music. This year Ms. Wilbourn looks forward to spending all of her free time with her new granddaughter.