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Ms. Sara Wodrich – Preschool
Ms. Sara has been with the Science Academy of Chicago for five fulfilling years. She began as the third through eighth grade art teacher, but quickly found her niche with the most interesting group of children; the Jr. Kindergartners. Ms. Sara became a teacher because of her love for learning. Little did she know the lessons these tiny adults would continue to show her each passing day. With each inquisitive “why”, our children are learning to question not only our words but our actions and Ms. Sara is able to experience the growth and development of each class. Ms. Sara knows that there is no other profession that would give her the satisfaction and joy she gets from her classroom of pint sized humans.
Ms. Hiral Amin – Kindergarten Junior
Ms. Amin is very excited to be a new addition to the Science Academy of Chicago. She attended the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) for her Bachelors of Arts in Applied Psychology. She also holds a Masters of Arts in Elementary Education from Roosevelt University. She has a type 03 Illinois certificate and has had the opportunity to work at numerous elementary schools in both the city of Chicago and the suburbs. She completed her student teaching at Field Elementary in Park Ridge where she feels she has gained tremendous experience working with children. She became a teacher because she loves to learn and she wants to be able to create an environment where students can learn from her and she can learn from them. She feels that teaching is one of the most rewarding careers and she is very excited to have been given the opportunity to work with you and your children here at the Science Academy of Chicago.
Mrs. Kristy Richardson - Senior Kindergarten
Kristy Richardson joined the SAOC staff as a kindergarten teacher for the first time this year. Previously, she taught at the SAOC aftercare program were they did homework, made art projects and performed science experiments. Born and raised in the Chicago area she received her Bachelor’s degree in English Literature in 2003 from Truman State University in Kirksville, MO and worked as a preschool teacher after college where she discovered her love for teaching young children. She is thrilled to be able to share her love of science and literature with her class and also to introduce kindergartners to quality children’s literature while instilling a love of communication through writing. Mrs. Richardson lives in Chicago with her husband and two year old son.
Ms. Zorin Daramjee – Senior Kindergarten
Ms. Zorin has her Bachelor’s of Arts from Northeastern Illinois University with a minor in Sociology of Childhood. She is currently working on her masters in school administration. She comes to SAC with a strong background in constructive teaching. Due to this Ms. Zorin believes in creating an exciting, loving, and nurturing environment that will provide children a foundation for a lifelong creative learning experience; ensuring that children reach their full potential.
Ms. Zorin’s goal is to balance learning by incorporating hands-on fun filled activities followed by curriculum and brain development projects throughout the day. Her teaching methods and curriculum support state standards and value reading, math, science, social studies, as well as character development skills. In addition, SAC’s daily advanced enrichment classes include creative movement, Art, Music, Spanish, computer class, and Physical Education. This is also followed by outstanding after school clubs that, using hands-on techniques, engage the child’s brain development by allowing them to use their critical thinking skills. Ms. Zorin’s curriculum enforces the needs of the child and his or her physical, intellectual, social and emotional development.
Kindergarten is filled with energized learning adventures that help children learn and experience the world around them. Ms.Zorin believes in fun-filled engaging activities that help the children understand their personal style of learning while giving them the tools to succeed in life. Ms.Zorin strives to educate children and help them grow into responsible and successful citizens in society.
Ms.Zorin is someone who inspires children and instills the love of life-long learning. Children should be able to view everyday as a new opportunity to learn and grow. She likes to see children prosper and develop with the best of their ability. She has a strong passion for teaching and loves working with children. Ms. Zorin encourages children to reach for the stars, in each and every aspect of their lives.
Ms. Katharine Panek – 1st grade
Ms. Panek has four years experience working with children in various arenas of education. In-between 2008-2010, she gained two years classroom experience during her practica, which gave her exposure to teaching and the tools to accommodate children of various abilities and ages. In 2010 she began her career as a teacher working with preschoolers, which was an unexpected source of hands on learning. Ms. Panek was also able to understand how students develop from a young age. At the same time, Ms. Panek began volunteering as a board member for a youth ministry. While there she helped facilitate extra-curricular activities for young adults. She also taught first grade religious education, where she discovered her love for this primary age group.
It is Ms. Panek’s belief that school should be a safe, caring, and stimulating environment for each child. The atmosphere should nurture curiosity and allow a child to mature socially, emotionally, physically and intellectually. As a teacher, she views herself as a guide who helps foster wonder and self-respect for each individual child and indoctrinates him or her with a genuine love to learn and discover.
Ms. Panek chose to be a teacher because she is dedicated to the education and development of children of all ages. She enjoys seeing children succeed. Ms. Panek feels rewarded, in turn, by flourishing as a teacher as she reflects on the changes and growth of each of her students.
Her background in education is from Marquette University where she received a Bachelor Degree in secondary education and history upon graduating in 2010.
Ms. Kristi Irwin- grade 2
Ms. Irwin received her Master’s degree in Elementary Education at DePaul University. She taught second grade for three years at the Science Academy of Chicago and worked as a Title I Reading Teacher in Franklin Park. After this, Ms. Irwin joined North Shore Pediatric Therapy as a Reading Specialist. She is excited to be back at the Science Academy of Chicago and looks forward to working with students in the classroom setting. Her interests include combining effective reading strategies with individual goals so that every student excels.
Ms. Jessica Thacker- grades 3-5 Language Arts and Social Studies
Ms. Thacker graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago, majoring in Elementary Education; specializing in Psychology and Social Studies instruction. Based on the location of her university, most of her previous educational experience was in Chicago Public Schools. Just prior to joining the Science Academy of Chicago team, Ms. Thacker was an instructor with the Lincoln Park Zoo’s educational department.
Ms. Thacker’s passion is to create a cooperative and supportive learning environment where all students are capable of reaching success. She became interested in teaching at a young age. Through her experiences, Ms. Thacker became fascinated with the learning process. She wants her students to feel that learning is an active process that not only deepens their understanding of the world around them but is enjoyable. Ms. Thacker hopes that through her instruction students can develop a life-long love for learning and discovery, just as she did.
Ms. Halime Cavus- grade 3-8 Math
Mrs. Cavus is our 3rd-8th grade Math teacher here at Science Academy of Chicago. She has been teaching for two years, and we are happy to welcome her to her third here at SAC.
Mrs. Cavus believes life is much like math; you will always have some problems to solve. Any obstacles you choose, there is always a solution. When you get the results, you are the happiest person in the world. Mrs. Cavus also believes that education is a crucial service to help people around the world, especially children. Children need more guidance than adults, and they are our future. Each and every child deserves the best education, and Mrs. Cavus feels lucky to be a part of that process.
In 1996 Mrs. Cavus graduated from Black Sea Technical University; which is one of the most popular universities in the Black Sea Region of Turkey. She proudly received second place in her graduating class. After that, Mrs. Cavus worked for 11 years as a Math teacher in several private college preparation courses. Many of her students have become doctors, lawyers, teachers, engineers, and more! Mrs. Cavus is now very happy to share her experience in education with the students at SAC.
Mr. Hamit Yilmaz – Science
Mr. Yilmaz holds a Master Degree in teaching w/ a major in Chemistry from Baliksir University in Turkey. He is a very dedicated teacher who loves working with children and has great passion in science. Mr. Yilmaz believes that children learn and retain by conducting hands on projects and activities.
Mrs. Pankti Kapadia – 6-8 grade Language Arts and Social Studies
Mrs. Pankti Kapadia received her bachelor’s of science in education from Sam Houston State University and holds a type 03 certification in grades K-9. Over the last six years Mrs. Kapadia’s life has been centered around children in a variety of ways. Her areas of expertise and experience encompass teaching English as a second language, teaching preschool, and teaching fifth, sixth, and seventh grade social studies. Mrs. Kapadia was also a differentiated instructional leader, Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support chairman, and involved in many after school programs. Mrs. Kapadia believes that each child is a unique individual who needs a secure, caring, and stimulating atmosphere in which to grow and mature emotionally, intellectually, physically, and socially. It is her desire as an educator to help students meet their fullest potential in these areas by providing an environment that is safe, supports risk-taking, and invites a sharing of ideas. There are three elements that Mrs. Kapadia believes are conducive to establishing such an environment, the teacher acting as a guide, allowing the child’s natural curiosity to direct his/her learning, and promoting respect for all things and all people. “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Nelson Mandela
Mrs. Kapadia is originally from Houston, TX and moved to Illinois to start a new chapter in her life with her husband. She enjoys reading, baking, listening to good music, and spending time with her family and friends.
Ms. Katherine Young – Music and Character Education
Ms. Young has been teaching and playing stringed instruments from a very young age. She gave private lessons as early as high school and then continued along that path to build a teaching career. She started teaching at L. Gilbert Carroll Middle School in Lumberton, North Carolina. At CMS, she taught large-group string lessons, and many extra-curricular ensembles. She is credited with the formation of the CMS “Honors Orchestra,” a group of first and second year advanced string players who came to extra practice sessions after school and received superior ratings at their first music competition.
After studying Performance at the University of Akron, Ms. Young continued her love of teaching at the Science Academy of Chicago. As the first full-time music teacher at SAC, Ms. Young hopes to educate all students in the area of music appreciation and enrich their lives musically, socially, and use music as a way of accessing the other core educational disciplines. The first year proved to be a wonderful success and Ms. Young hopes to improve and build on that success each year.
Ms. Young received her Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education from The Ohio State University. She studied viola with Dr. Katherine Carroll who also teaches at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music and Dr. Robert Gillespie, who is renowned across the nation for his string methods and co-author of the Essential Elements Books. Ms. Young also had the wonderful opportunity to study with Professor Bodman at the University of Akron, who is also part of the Meadowmount School of Music Faculty.
Ms. Young has performed with The Ohio State Symphony Orchestra,University of Akron Symphony Orchestra, the Central Ohio Symphony Orchestra, the Bexley Community Orchestra, the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, and many small ensembles, including performing with members from the Columbus Symphony Orchestra.
Mrs. Adele Moy – Computer
Mrs. Adele graduated from Loyola University with a Bachelor’s in Business Administration. Mrs. Adele has been working in the Information Technology field for over 20 years. She feels children today are very comfortable using technology. She enjoys working with all of our students by giving them the technical foundation they will need throughout their education and beyond.
Ms. Natalya Sturlis – Art
Ms. Sturlis graduated from The School of the Art institute of Chicago in 2010 with emphasis on painting and drawing, while at school she began teaching art at Brickton Art Center in Park Ridge. The age of her students has been kindergarten to senior, and she teaches in a vast variety of medium that ranges from painting, ceramics, screen-printing, to drawing, printing and beyond. Besides teaching she works as a freelance artist and has exhibited around Chicago.
She enjoys teaching art to children because she grew up with parents who saw talent and pushed it foreword, and now she would like to do the same. Though not every child is gifted or is even interested, art is necessary. It is essential to a child to have a healthy life. She teaches kids to use art as a tool to help them understand the world around them and their emotions. A creative mind will not only benefit in painting a picture but also excelling in science and technology. She believes our world needs creativity now more then ever, and with kids it is a great place to start.
Mr. Svetlozar Zahariev – K – 8th grade Physical Education / Health
Mr. Svetlozar Zahariev received his Bachelors in Education at Eastern Illinois University. Prior to teaching Mr. Svet coached competitive travel soccer teams, and organized majority of camps throughout the Chicago land area. Mr Zahariev believes in creating a positive environment where students experience and excel through a variety of different activities. Mr Zahariev curriculum supports the Illinois State Standards. His 3rd year at Science Academy of Chicago.
Mrs. Celina Martinez – Spanish
Mrs. (Anguiano) Martinez is the SAOC Spanish and ESL teacher. She graduated from one of the most diverse colleges in the city of Chicago, Northeastern Illinois University, with honors in Elementary Education and minor in History. She received a teaching certificate for the state of Illinois and has endorsements in Language Arts, Social Science, and Middle School. She is currently attending National Louis University and working towards a masters in Curriculum and Instruction. Mrs. Martinez has taught in Chicago Public Schools and some that have reached as far as the west side of the city. In her spare time she volunteers at the American Indian Center and is very active in the betterment of the Native American community. In being a part of this community, she has had the opportunity to develop Native curricula and be a part of a research grant that has extended Urban Native Americans the resources needed to develop a nature based science programs. She is an avid learner and is always interested in learning all she can about others cultures. SAOC has been a great fit for her and she’s looks forward to growing with the families and their children.