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SY20 Teacher Advisory Council

Advisory Councils Members

  • Toni Armer

    Toni has been teaching since 2008 and joined CPS in 2012. Currently she is a middle school Diverse Learners teacher. Her position as a resident mentor, grade band lead and Extended Impart Teacher has fueled her desire to be a teacher leader. Toni loves working with her students, seeing them gain confidence, and making strides. She believes that with the right supports, all students can learn and all teachers will be able to enhance their practice to increase the impact they have on their students’ learning.

  • Cynthia Benoit

    Cynthia is entering her 16th year of teaching at Mount Greenwood Elementary. Currently, she teaches seventh grade social studies, and has taught many subjects and grade levels at her school. Her students’ work has been presented during the “RQI Midwest Seminar-Best Practices in Question Formulation” and the Summer Institute for “Ready…Set…Teach.” She is also a teacher reviewer for the Curriculum Equity Initiative and often participates in a variety of Teacher Focus Groups. Her passion is helping students to realize the tools they have within them to reach their full potential and equipping parents with strategies to support their learning.

  • Lilian Blaser

    As a first-generation American and English language learner, Lilian’s lens has been focused on equity and the importance of quality education. Her approach to teaching and learning are rooted in ensuring that all students engage in a learner-centered classroom that is facilitated by empowered and well-equipped teachers. For eight years, Lilian has been working at schools as a teacher and instructional coach. Her goal is to engage and develop lifelong learners, hoping to inspire students to be reflective and to critically examine their classroom learning to understand the connection to the real world.

  • Alexis Covarrubias

  • Nora Dandurand

    Nora has been a middle school ELA teacher in CPS for six years. Her goal is to encourage students to be lifelong lovers of reading who appropriately question the world around them. It is her pleasure to work with young people every day to prepare the next generation of leaders.

  • Melissa Dippel

    Melissa is in her ninth year of teaching. She has taught literacy at all grade bands and is currently focused on middle school ELA/resource. She’s passionate about helping students find joy in reading.

  • Laura Ferdinandt

    Laura has been a CPS teacher since 2007 and has had the opportunity to work in several different classrooms and schools. Her current role as Curriculum Coordinator at Spry Elementary School has opened her eyes to the world of school leadership and supporting adults in the school environment. Laura feels she has learned so much in her time with CPS and is grateful to work for a district that is always changing and adapting to meet the needs of our students.

  • Chloe Hannan

    Chloe began her teaching career with CPS and has worked in the district for five years. She has had the opportunity to teach in a variety of primary classes and subjects. Her work outside of the classroom with committees and teams introduced her to many talented professionals and supportive families. Chloe feels fortunate to be working with talented teachers in our district to reach their shared goal of providing high quality education for all students.

  • Anna Huynh

    Anna has been teaching in public school since 2008. She has taught in settings ranging from general education classrooms to court-ordered therapeutic settings. Anna enjoys renewing the love of learning for all students by designing and implementing inclusive classrooms that make content accessible to all students regardless of ability and language. She completed her master’s degree in Special Education and her master’s in Educational Leadership. She loves empowering and equipping inclusive teams of teachers to further develop their inclusive practices. Anna is thrilled and honored to be a part of the Teacher Advisory Council and is excited to see more CPS students become CPS teachers. The best future educators are in our classrooms now!

  • Ryan Johnson

    Ryan has taught in Chicago for the past eight years and currently teaches middle school science. He tries to always channel his inner “kid” to help make science interesting, hands-on, inquiry-based, appropriately challenging, and, most of all, FUN!

  • Marquita Jones

    Marquita has taught special education at Phoenix Military Academy (PMA) for 11 years. She began at PMA as a tutor and developed a passion for educating and decided to become certified in special education. As a special educator, she feels she has learned a great deal about student learning styles, differentiation, and the importance of access and equity in an educational environment. She joined the Teacher Advisory Council (TAC) as an opportunity to further her leadership abilities. Marquita believes that TAC has allowed her to gain perspectives from teacher leaders across the district. These perspectives and her leadership roles within PMA have inspired Marquita to pursue other leadership opportunities within the district.

  • Lily Kanefield

    Lily is the intermediate inclusion teacher at Hitch Elementary where she has been teaching for the past three years. During her free time you can find her on the Hitch track coaching middle school cross-country and track and field. Lily’s core belief is that the classroom should be a place where above all else students feel safe, supported, and challenged.

  • Daisy Lopez

    Daisy has been teaching second grade at Brentano for three years. Prior to that, she taught dual language kindergarten in the northern suburbs. This July, Daisy will be leaving the classroom to work as a lead coach at the Office of Teaching and Learning

  • Julie McHugh

  • Ashley Meyer

    Ashley has worked with children for 10-plus years in the educational world, giving her an abundant amount of experience in multiple areas of child/student development. She spent four years as the Program Director at the Little Gym for children four months to 12 years of age, two years teaching in a college (human physiology and contemporary biology), and five years teaching at the high school level. She currently holds the position of STEM Director at Victoria Soto High School, where she is passionate about pushing her team in the right direction and providing them with coaching opportunities. This is all the while providing real world application of the sciences for her students such as her current project pairing her school with the Lincoln Park Zoo in the Partners in Fieldwork program. She has acquired in-depth research experience both in the field and in the lab and cannot wait to continue to provide this for her students.

  • Jason Mink

    Jason has taught for 19 years in CPS. He currently teaches math and social studies to seventh and eighth graders at Skinner West. Jason enjoys sharing his love of learning and the subject with his students.

  • Angela Papa

  • Elizabeth Perez

  • Alex Pruitt

  • Jacob Sklarsky

  • Sara Spachman

    Sara joined CPS in 1999 as an English teacher at Curie Metro High School, which she proudly calls home to this day. She has been Nationally Board Certified since 2004 and continues to seek out ways to improve her own instructional practice and to facilitate learning for her colleagues. Since 2018, Sara has split her time between teaching English to ninth grade students and guiding Curie's teachers on equitable grading and assessment practices. She is also currently a Teach Plus Senior Change Agent, leading a cross-disciplinary team focused on learning how to teach students to transfer writing knowledge and skills across content areas.

  • Dowanna Spaulding

    Dowanna has worked with CPS in various positions since 1989. She finds great pleasure in serving and teaching students pre-K through high school since 2001. She firmly believes that "Teamwork Equals Success" inside and outside the classroom environments. Dowanna is ambitious when it comes to students, their learning, how they are taught, and their student educational rights.

  • Abena Story

    Abena is an educator with 20 years of experience at CPS. She is currently the Curriculum and Instruction Coach at George Manierre Elementary School. Abena is dedicated to providing students and teachers with the tools they need to be successful in their educational endeavors.

  • Virginia Valdez

    Virginia is a kindergarten teacher at Jamieson Elementary School. She serves children of diverse linguistic, cultural, and socioeconomic backgrounds. Virginia believes in equitable education that integrates a philosophy of shared responsibility between home and school. She has a wide range of professional experiences both inside and outside the field of education. In her current position, Virginia has received state and national recognition for her work as a classroom teacher as well as provided professional development to families, educators, and administrators at the local, state, and national levels.

  • Alberto Vargas

  • Michelle Velez

    Michelle is a third-grade teacher at Jose De Diego, where she started her career seven years ago. Since then she has had the opportunity to grow as a math teacher and teacher leader. Michelle also serves as a Multi-Classroom Leader with the CPS Empowered Schools cohort, where she is able to support other math teachers as an instructional coach. She feels it is an honor to actively be a part of seeing teachers and students thrive in education, particularly in CPS, where she was a student herself. Michelle is grateful for the opportunity to extend that impact through the Teacher Advisory Council.

  • Tiffany Watkins

    Tiffany has taught in CPS for over 20 years. At Wescott, she is also the ESL Teacher/Coordinator, the Wellness Champion, Garden Lead, PPC, and LSC member. At the district level, she facilitates training to Full Day Pre-K Teacher and facilitates at the Ready, Set, Teach Summer Institute. She also serves on the Bias Review Committee for ILTS. Tiffany wrote and received numerous grants, including the "Ready To Learn" Early Childhood Grant to obtain a second classroom/new Pre-K special education blended program in 2013. The CLOCC Grant for $2000 and the FF&V Grant for weekly healthy samples. Finally, she enjoys teaching her young students how to give back as she has raised over $3000 with her Pre-K students during their annual Trike-A-Thon for St. Jude Children's Hospital.

  • Lauren Wilkie

    With a background in literacy, as well as educational leadership/administration coursework, Lauren strives to implement best practices in her classroom, and lead others to improve educational outcomes for those in urban contexts. Lauren is a composition teacher, Writing Center director, and "cluster"/department lead at Solorio Academy High School. Recently she was elected as the Midwest Regional Representative for the Secondary Schools Writing Center Association (SSWCA), and Lauren also is an NCTE CEL Emerging Literacy Fellow. She hopes that the programs and policies recommended through the collaborative work of the Teacher Advisory Council encourages positive systemic change that is equitable and reflective of the diverse needs of Chicago's students and families.