Faculty and Staff


Ms. Belawske

TEACHER

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 ASSISTANT PRINCIPAL

Ms. Betts is a Chicago native with two amazing sons she calls her SONshines. She is the eldest child of six and comes from a very large extended family. Ms. Betts has been in education for 16 years, and four have been spent as a dean and administrative team member. She received her Associates in Early Childhood Education from Malcolm X, Bachelor’s in Early Childhood Education from Chicago State University, and Master’s in Children and Adolescent Psychology from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology. Additionally, she received her Grad Certificate in Applied Behavior Analysis from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology and is currently working on her PH.D. Ms. Betts enjoys family time; her mom is literally my best friend. She is a newbie to traveling and once she took her first flight as an adult, she has been ready to travel ever since. She recently opened up two Black owned businesses: the first, Queen Bee-ish LLC, was created for her mom who is a fighter of MS. Ms. Betts loves shopping, family and friends time, comedy, romantic movies, art galleries and spoken word (poetry).

Mr. Bilbro

FAMILY SUPPORT SPECIALIST

Bio coming soon.


Ms. Brooks Lawrence

PARAPROFESSIONAL

Bio coming soon.


Ms. Daniels

TEACHER

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. She 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. Drigotas

TEACHER

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. Claire became 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 next year at Collegiate. 


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

TEACHER

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. Ms. Finley 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. Gary

PHYSICAL EDUCATION / ASSISTANT DEAN

Mr. Gary grew up on the Southside of Chicago in the Roseland Community. He graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing from Chicago State University. He has been in the education field for almost 7 years. He started out as a paraprofessional, and within a short timeframe became a disciplinarian later becoming a Dean. Mentoring the youth has always been a passion of his, and found his calling through playing sports and coaching. In his spare time he enjoys reading especially manga, working out, watching/playing sports, coaching basketball/baseball, watching ESPN, traveling and enjoying nature.


Mr. Gordon

RESTORATIVE JUSTICE

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.


Mr. Hegwood

RESTORATIVE JUSTICE

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, Mr. 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. Henderson

FAMILY SUPPORT SPECIALIST

Mrs. Henderson was born and raised in Chicago, IL. She is a proud alum of Southern Illinois University of Carbondale (Saluki), where she obtained her Bachelor’s in Social Science/Social Work. Mrs. Henderson has been in Social Service for 17 years helping families reach their full potential. In her free time she loves spending time with family, friends and creating memories for others, through her passion of event planning. Her joys are bowling, shopping, traveling, fishing and practicing self-care. 


Ms. Howard

TEACHER

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.


Mr. Jordan

LEARNING SPECIALIST

Mr. Jordan is a Chicago suburb native, being born and raised in University Park Illinois. He graduated from Crete Monee High School in 2003 with a track scholarship to Indiana State University. While there he accumulated multiple championships and MVP honors. It is at this time that he also became a member of the Zeta Rho Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha. Mr. Jordan moved to Boston and NYC following his time at Indiana State. This is where he began his teaching and education career over 12 years ago. He has worked with the non-profit YouthBuild USA, taught young people and adults in Brooklyn and Manhattan, and worked as a graduate school adjunct professor for Long Island University – Brooklyn, his alma mater where he obtained his Master of Education in 2016. What Mr. Jordan enjoys most about Chicago Collegiate is the close-knit staff, and the push for everyone from scholar to adult to family to succeed.

Mr. Lawrence

CUSTODIAN

Bio coming soon.


Mrs. Lewis-Kelton

DIRECTOR, HIGH SCHOOL OPERATIONS

Mrs. Lewis-Kelton is from Chicago. She attended Indiana State University,  where she received both her B.S. and M.S. in Criminology and Criminal Justice. She 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, Mrs. Lewis-Kelton is working to receive her Ed.D in Education and Ethical Leadership from Olivet Nazarene University via online. She is passionate about education and providing great customer service to families and their children. 


Mrs. Lucas-Curtis

HIGH SCHOOL CLERK

Mrs. Lucas-Curtis 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! She 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, Mrs. Lucas-Curtis obtained her Associate’s Degree from Harold Washington College. While in school, she worked closely with the Social Justice Department and participated in the Black Student Union. Furthermore, she gained administrative experience from her previous positions as a operations coordinator, consultant, and receptionist. What keeps Mrs. Lucas-Curtis going is Langston Hughes’ poem, “Mother to Son!” Her favorite hobbies are reading, dancing, and spending time with her family. Mrs. Lucas-Curtis joined the Chicago Collegiate family because she wanted to make a difference and has a passion for young people. 

Ms. Malone

LEARNING SPECIALIST

Ms. Malone was born and raised in the Roseland community. She graduated from Corliss High School at the top of her class. Her Undergraduate degree is from Southern Illinois University where she majored in Social Work. Her Masters degree is from Grand Canyon University, where she received her Masters in Special Education. Being a child of 8 she always wanted to be around people. She wanted to help where she could. Ms. Malone started her career in DCFS working at an all boys group home in Englewood. While trying to meet the needs of her clients she knew the only escape from poverty is education and this is when she started her teaching career in Englewood. Starting as an SECA and now a 5-8 special education teacher she has been in the schools for 10 years. Ms. Malone also is the owner of Rose Cafe, which is coming to the Roseland Community. Ms. Malone is trying to cut the “book desert” in the 60628 by giving the community easy access to representational books that can help with transitional change. She is also the mom of two boys who dedicates all her new works to.


Mr. Manning

DEAN

Mr. Manning-Macaire was born and raised on the Southwest Side of Chicago, IL. He graduated with his bachelor’s degree from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Shortly after, he obtained his master’s degree from DePaul University. Mr. Manning-Macaire has worked in education for over 10 years.  He is passionate about pushing scholars to be “Great on Purpose”. Mr. Manning-Macaire is also a professional photographer who loves capturing the most precious moments in life. When he’s not at Collegiate, he sings at church and skates. Mr. Manning-Macaire is a member of the illustrious Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. He is a loving father of 24 and husband of Mrs. Bethel-Macaire.  Mr. Manning-Macaire looks forward to having an amazing first year at Chicago Collegiate Middle School. 


Mr. Martinez Brito

TEACHER

Mr. Martinez is a Chicago native and is the fourth eldest child of five. He earned his Bachelor’s in Mathematics and Secondary Education Studies from Middlebury College. Mr. Martinez is passionate about gaining experience developing mathematical mindsets and finding mathematical applications in our everyday lives. In his free time, Mr. Martinez likes to play volleyball, listen to music, and play mobas. This year, Mr. Martinez looks forward to building relationships with scholars and learning about the communities he will be working with. 


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

Ms. Montgomery grew up in the south Chicagoland area. She has an educational background as a CNA, a massage therapist, and worked years in the warehouse industry. Ms. Montgomery enjoys the culture at Chicago collegiate because of its dedication to education and the drive to motivate and encourage each and every student.


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, Ms. Nicholson 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 several years ago. 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. Nixon

PARAPROFESSIONAL

Bio coming soon.


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, Ms. Petty 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. 


Ms. Plebanski

TEACHER

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

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.


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.


Mr. Pyle

CASE MANAGER

Mr. Pyle 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.  Mr. Pyle 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. He 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. Mr. Pyle enjoys playing with his two children as well as sitting back and watching movies with his wife in his down time. Mr. Pyle hopes to bring his giant personality and ability to bring the “joy factor” into every classroom at Collegiate. 


Ms. Ruiz-Villalvazo

MIDDLE SCHOOL CLERK

Ms. Ruiz-Villalvazo 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. Her 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, Ms. Ruiz-Villalvazo enjoys creating custom cakes, going for walks, and reading.


Mr. Saunders

TEACHER

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

TEACHER

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

TEACHER

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

DIRECTOR, MIDDLE SCHOOL OPERATIONS

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!


Mrs. Stennes Basil

DIRECTOR, COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT AND DEVELOPMENT

Mrs. Stennes 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, Mrs. Stennes Basil 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. She loves the core value of Pride and believes in all actions that make you are proud of those actions and yourself. In her spare time, she loves photography, visiting her family in Minnesota, and trying new hobbies. 


Ms. Styka

TEACHER

Bio coming soon.


Mr. Sullivan

TEACHER

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

TEACHER

Ms. Talbot-Lovemore was born in Chicago, IL. She graduated from UIC with a bachelor in English and minor in statistics. Her most memorable professional is forming relationships with her students. Ms. Talbot-Lovemore is extremely passionate about educating the youth. She is most excited about scholars exceeding beyond expectations. 


Ms. G. 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. She 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. N. 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.


Mr. VONHANSON

PARAPROFESSIONAL

Mr. VonHanson is new to the paraprofessional position but deeply believe this could be the start of something huge for him and his Collegiate family! He is a huge anime, gaming, and sports nerd and also loves a T-Bone medium rare cooked steak. Mr. VonHanson is big on spreading positivity and that’s what he is here to do as well as prepare our scholars for true greatness!

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.